Estates of Judith

Estates of Judith's Fancy

St. Croix neighborhood, US Virgin Islands

EARLY HISTORY

The Estate of Judith’s Fancy forms the east side of Salt River Bay which was the center for one of the largest of the Carib Indian settlements. The Carib were a fierce and cannibalistic tribe that were the last dominant tribe on the island. They were preceded by the more peaceful Arawak (same group as Taino tribe) whom they conquered and enslaved. Preceding the Arawak were older tribal groups- most notably the Igneri - evidence of which has been found on St. Croix dating back to 2500 BC.

Judith’s Fancy’s European history began on Nov.14th, 1493. Christopher Columbus sailing on his 2nd Voyage to the New World with a fleet of seventeen ships dropped anchor at the entrance to what is now called Salt River Bay on the western side of Judith’s Fancy. Columbus sent a landing party ashore to a nearly empty

Carib village on the western side of Salt River Bay and freed a number of Arawak slaves who joined his 2nd Voyage. Later that day they encountered and had a very fierce, albeit small, battle with a canoe of four Carib men and two women coming around the northern tip of Judith’s Fancy on the east side of Salt River Bay. By the end of the day’s dramatic events, Columbus departed giving the island its Spanish namesake, “Santa Cruz” (“Holy Cross”), which was later translated to French as “Saint Croix”. He also named the site of the battle “Cabo de las Flechas” or “Cape of the Arrows.

During the succeeding 100 years, St. Croix was largely depopulated of Indians who were pressed into slavery by the Spanish and moved to other islands. The island was then intermittently controlled by the English (1645-1650) and Dutch (1642-1645), and, very briefly thereafter, by the Spanish. In 1650, the French drove out the Spanish. The following year, the French governor of other French Caribbean islands, M. de Poincy, personally purchased St. Croix from the French crown, and, two year later, he sold it to the Knights of Malta who managed the island until 1665 when it was sold back to the French crown.

inset from 1671 map showing Du Bois chateau

Based on a 1671 map of St. Croix, in what is now Judith’s Fancy, the “Maison du Gouverneur” was built by Sieur DuBois who was appointed governor by the French in 1659. It was built in an old French style of a small chateau with two unusual round towers at either end. Although it is reported that DuBois imported the first white-tailed deer commonly seen today in the Judith’s Fancy subdivision for the estate surrounding his chateau, they were more probably introduced over 100 years later in the late 1780’s

Just to the west of the chateau along Salt River Bay, the French located their headquarters and a customs house and landing. Also along the west side of Salt River Bay, in 1642 the Dutch had already an earthwork fortification which the Knights of Malta took-over and named Fort Sale.

In 1695, faced with financial losses on St. Croix, the French King ordered all colonists and slaves removed to Ste Dominge (now Haiti) and the island remained largely unoccupied except for English squatters until 1733 when it was purchased by the Danish West India and Guinea Company from the French crown. First under Company control and then under Danish crown control in 1755, St. Croix was divided into nine “quarters” and about 225 plantation estates (typically of either 225 or 300 acres). Although the island prospered under Danish control, most plantations were actually sold to English, French and Dutch planters from other islands.

The estate believed to contain the DuBois chateau became known as “Hemmers Plantation” or “Hemmersfryd”. In the late 1700’s, Pieter Heyliger, an extensive landowner purchased the plantation and named it in honor of his daughter Judith Aletta Benners, born Heyliger in 1762. Estate Judith’s Fancy ‘s land area straddled the border of “Company Quarter” and “North-side Quarter

From early Danish times through 1900, like many other plantations on St. Croix, Judith’s Fancy operated as a sugar plantation. The mill ruins evolved during this period keeping pace with technology. Until about 1850, sugar cane was crushed using animal-power and wind-power from the formidable 30ft. diameter coral block windmill tower. In the second half of the 1800’s a massive coral block chimney four stories high and almost 10 ft square at the bottom was constructed to adjacent to the old windmill tower which was then used to supplant the new steam-driven mill.

MODERN HISTORY

The Oxford Corporation, a development company, purchased most of the Estate of Judith’s Fancy in 1957 for the purpose of establishing a residential and hotel development. At that time, the plantation was being used for primarily cattle grazing.”

In the original survey made in the process of establishing the subdivision in 1956, the Estate of Judith’s Fancy was found to contain about 383 acres and consisting of Plots #1, #2 and #3 and the Remainder plot. A single large salt pond later transformed by dredging encompassed both of the existing two lagoon areas and the small salt pond found today on the Salt River side of Judith’s Fancy.

In 1958, the first Restrictive Covenants were recorded covering Plots #1, #2 and #3 and the newly subdivided plots #6 through #61 which had been part of the Remainder. At that time, all the roadway areas were designated as Plot #4 and the entire beachfront was designated as Plot #5.

Beginning in 1959 and through the early 1960’s, the Remainder plot (about 336 acres) was subdivided and its lots received one-digit to three-digit numerical plot numbers between 6 and 341. Plots #1 and #2 originally contained 12 and 30 acres, respectively, and were subdivided into residential lots number in series beginning with “1” or “2” followed by one or two letters of the alphabet. Plot #3 consisting of about 4 1/2 acres which traversed the south end of the original salt pond on the Salt River side appears to have been entirely transformed by dredging and was eventually incorporated into a larger development lot.

By 1966, a “Master Plan” drawing showed the Remainder plot fully subdivided into more or less the current residential lots. A “Hotel Site” plot of about 37 acres is shown covering all of the northern tip of the peninsula. A “Yacht Club & Marina Site” reflecting dredging of the original saltpond and consisting of about 16 acres is shown in the vicinity of the existing unfinished remains of a hotel with a steeple-like tower. A further subdivision called “Sugar Bay Cay”

including the existing plots #240 through #251 and proposed plots #252 through #284 (later all re-combined) were located near the marina designated lagoon.

1993 Proposed park map from NPS Brochure

In 1969 the Estates of Judith’s Fancy Owners Association, Inc. was incorporated as a non-profit Virgin Islands corporation and took management responsibilities and title to the common properties and rights-of-way from the Oxford Corporation in 1970. At that time, the Restrictive Covenants were amended to cover properties conveyed or to be in the future conveyed by Oxford Corporation as residential lots. Although the Restrictive Covenants have been amended numerous times, almost all of the provisions of the original covenants are still found in the current revision. The last major revision providing specific building regulations was made in 1988.

The current subdivision consists of 307 residential lots of which 144 are vacant and 163 contain improvements. The Estates of Judith’s Fancy Owners’ Association has title to lots Remainder #1, and lot #6, as well as, the road lots in the plot #4 series.

The four large lots along the east side of Salt River north including the tip of the peninsula which are not considered part of the residential subdivision. Lot #326 (38.3 acres) is the northern tip and original hotel development site. Lot #327 (10.2 acres) and Lot #329 (2.9 acres) covers the Salt River Bay lagoon areas and are the original Yacht Club and Marina site. Lot #343 (17.5 acres) is the entire eastside of the marina lagoon and was formed by the recombination of lots #252 through #284 of the unrealized “Sugar Bay Cay” subdivision. There are three other smaller, privately owned lots (#330, #345, and #346) south of lot #343 which are technically within the Estate of Judith’s Fancy, but are excluded form the residential development.

Various past commercial development on these lots all failed. The last attempt in 1986 prompted conservation groups to push for a park rather than permit a hotel development. In 1992 Congress established the Salt River Bay National Historical Park and Ecological Preserve encompassing 912 acres on both sides of Salt River Bay. The commercial development lots were included in the park boundary.

As of this writing, these properties are in foreclosure by the creditor banks of the failed hotel development and are second on the priority list for purchase by the National Parks Service as funds become available from Congress.

The founding principal of the Oxford Corporation, Mr. Tom Moseley still owns two lots within Judith’s Fancy today and the 6.5 acre greathouse and mill ruins properties(Plots #89 and #98) are owned by a private corporation controlled by Mr. Moseley’s family.

The Estates of Judith’s Fancy Owners’ Association, Inc. is governed by a Board of Directors of twelve volunteer owner / members. Using funds collected from annual assessments, the subdivision’s private roads are maintained, a 24 hour guard service is provided at the entrance gate, roadside grass is cut, and a variety of administrative and technical services related to compliance with the Restrictive Covenants and by-laws and community enhancement. The Board typically meets on a monthly basis and an annual members’ meeting is held the last Wednesday in February each year.