Two weeks ago, my cousin, her two daughters, her granddaughter, and I took a trip to St. Martin in the Virgin Islands to trace my family roots. My father and my cousin’s father were brothers and were from that area. We had talked about going to Sint Maarten and Saba for years, and this summer, we decided to go in November.
The Island itself is not vast in size. Still, it boasts two distinctively different regions worth visiting—the French territory of St. Martin on the north side and the Dutch territory of Sint Maarten on the south end. We stayed on the Dutch side and took a ferry to Saba which was an interesting day trip via a high-speed ferry.
My cousin had done some research, so we had some facts, but we met a cousin who lived on the Island but now lives in Holland. We connected with him while we were in the area and he was very gracious to answer our many questions and share family photos and photos of the area as it developed. Today, Sint Maarten is a tourist area with beautiful weather most of the time. The Island did get hit hard by Hurricane Irma in 2017 and is still recovering. We stayed in a friendly resort and had a wonderful time getting to know the area. The people we met were friendly and welcoming. We all said we would love to visit again!
During our stay, we learned our ancestors had an interesting history. My father’s mother was from Sint Maarten, in Phillipsburg. Her family were teachers and politicians and had a hand in developing the area. My father’s father came from Saba a small area an hour and a half ferry ride from St. Martin. They were engineers and built the roads of this very mountainous area.
At some point, the two met and came to the United States before World War One to make a life. Apparently, there were no jobs and no secondary education on the Island so like many they went to the United States to make a life. My next goal is to check the Ellis Island website to find the year and the ship they came to the United States on.
I am still processing a lot of information. Still, I wanted to share this experience and recommend if you have an interest in learning about your family’s history, visiting the area where your ancestors came from is something I highly recommend you consider. Today with 23 and ME and Ancestry, you can learn much about your family history and make connections that will expand your knowledge!
Have a good week!