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Grave of Historical Figure from End of Slavery Rediscovered

May 21, 2007 — After sitting covered in brush for several decades, the grave of a woman associated with the end of slavery in the territory has been uncovered on St. Croix.
Anna Heegaard was the consort of Peter von Scholten, the Danish territory's governor general and the man in charge when enslaved people demanded their freedom on July 3, 1848.
"She's quite an historic figure," said Myron Jackson, director of the V.I. State Historic Preservation Office. Soltec International turned up her grave in April while performing a cultural-resource survey for Urbanika International in conjunction with construction of affordable housing.
Historic records show that Heegaard was buried at Aldershville near the present day Orange Grove.
While some people knew the above-ground grave was there, it was lost to general memory in the 1970s, Jackson said. The headstone was stolen in the 1960s but recovered by the St. Croix Landmarks Society in the 1970s and remains on display at Whim Plantation.
The description of the grave matches those in historical records and photographs, Jackson said. Heegaard is buried in a family cemetery. "It's back in the bushes on the knoll of a hill," he said.
Paul Chakroff, director at the Landmarks Society, said the group has a map that clearly indicates where Heegaard's grave is located. However, he said he's not sure who drew the map and when it was created, so he wants to conduct research to remove any doubt about the validity of the grave's location.
"But I think we know exactly which one it is," he said of the grave.
Photographs show that the grave is in about the same condition as it as in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Chakroff said. Heegaard's grave is one of 10 in the cemetery, on land she set aside as a family cemetery in 1851.
The Landmarks Society is very interested in continuing to work with the local government to make sure the site is preserved in perpetuity for the people of the Virgin Islands, Chakroff said.
Visitors are not welcome to the site because it is on private property, Jackson said.
Heegaard, who was of mixed ancestry, was important because she came from a class in which black women had relationships with white men, Jackson said. She used her position to discuss issues concerning "people of color" with Von Scholten. These discussions enabled social reforms and advancement for blacks in what was then a Danish territory.
"She was an individual with her own personality," Jackson said. Heegard sold a portion of her property to merchant William Clindinen and Johannes Ludwig Wittrog.
According to a news release issued by the State Historic Preservation Office, the agency is discussing the eventual inclusion of the burial ground in the V.I. Registry of Historic Places and as a site on the St. Croix Heritage Trail.
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