The Story Behind the Book
Friends, I don’t usually write a blog post about myself, but I wanted to share a behind-the-scenes look at my first book I recently published.
I’m absolutely thrilled by this accomplishment as you can imagine.
My family memoir is called Vintage St. John, Discover St. John’s History Through Seven Generations of Heartfelt Stories on amazon.
It’s about my family’s love for the Virgin Islands and their long and fascinating heritage.
They had a front-row seat to many of the historic events that took place and a number of their stories have been passed down from generation to generation.
As the family historian, I have enjoyed a lifetime of listening to the tales my grandparents shared about their intriguing past.
Ghost Stories and Pirate Treasure
I remember as a child on an overnight stay with my grandmother, she would entertain my sister and I with ghost stories and tales of pirate treasure.
Many of the homes she grew up in were haunted and she said that on certain occasions she felt the same was true of the house my sister and I were currently living in.
Sometimes, we were scared when it was dark and the sounds of the crickets outside were louder than the TV humming in the next room.
She once taught me a prayer to say in case I ever felt a spirit’s presence in her home. Thank goodness I never did!
Needless to say, it was always an adventure staying with her, one that I’ll cherish forever.
Vintage St. John is a collection of some of those heartfelt stories she and my family shared with me all those years ago.
Sometimes, my grandmother was quite talkative and other times quite secretive. Both intrigued me!
Whenever I had the chance after school, I would stop by the Enid M. Baa Library on Main Street to double-check some of the things she told me. All the baptismal records for our Catholic Church were there on microfilm and I was always so pleasantly surprised when I stumbled on a familiar name.
Not every story my grandmother told me was corroborated at the library and I often wondered why she left someone out of the family tree.
She told me he had no siblings, that he was an only child. Many years later, I discovered that wasn’t the case. He had at least seven brothers and sisters in his family!
No family tree is complete without its secrets. 😊
The stories shared in Vintage St. John begin fifty years after emancipation. My third great-grandfather, Louis Eugene de Lagarde had been a colonial council member representing St. John in the early 1870s.
Twenty years later, he purchased three estates on the island, and ever since, each of his descendants has shared a kinship with the island, recording its history for the next generation.
The family’s love for the land was a common thread throughout their history.
Raising livestock and cultivating bay leaves were the primary industries during the early twentieth century and proved to be successful for them.
Vintage St. John shares the happy events, like the first time a royal visited the island or a famous sea explorer who kayaked his way across the Atlantic.
St. John was known for its superior bay leaf cultivations back then and protecting them was of paramount importance.
Other chapters include my mother’s memories of her summertime stays at the cottage at Francis Bay during the 1940s.
She and her cousins had such fun wandering through the hillsides alone without a care in the world, just nature and its unfolding beauty to entertain them.
By 1956, all of the family lands became a part of the Virgin Islands National Park and yes, there’s an interesting story of how that came to be.
I hope you enjoy these stories and I look forward to hearing your comments and seeing your reviews on amazon.
Warmest wishes, Valerie