Scene on a Homestead Community near Frederiksted"Farm Security Administration borrower cultivating his sugar cane field, vicinity of Frederiksted, St. Croix, Virgin Islands. He lives in one of the homestead houses." Photography by Jack Delano, 1941. Source: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.
The Works Progress Administration and the Work Projects Administration established, maintained, and operated homestead communities at Estate Whim on St. Croix. The work was funded by a $46,000 emergency relief grant (1933-1940) to the Government of the Virgin Islands. The Estate Whim plantation spread over more than 1400 acres. The Federal government bought the land in the 1920s and later subdivided the plantation for a homestead plan.
The 1933 Annual Report of the Governor of the Virgin Islands mentions the establishment of homesteads in St. Croix: “The six estates known collectively as “Whim”, and located in the southwest portion of St. Croix near Frederiksted, contain 1,450 acres of land, of which about 850 were found to be well suited to horticulture, although they have for many years been in pasture. One hundred and forty-five homesteads of slightly varying size were laid out on these 850 acres, together with suitable roads. By February first, most of these plots were in the hands of homesteaders to whom they had been allotted by selection and drawing from nearly 300 applicants. At the close of this fiscal year the 135 homesteaders have more than 400 acres of growing cane with several hundred additional acres plowed and planted or ready for other crops.”
The 1934 Annual Report of the Governor of the Virgin Islands notes the establishment of homesteads on the islands: “Two large estates, Whim and La Grande Princesse in St. Croix, containing 2,125 acres, were secured with Federal funds, and homesteaded in plots averaging 6 acres each to 230 farmers. Roads were built, drainage installed, and the land was plowed for the homesteaders, when desired, the amount charged to be taken out of the first crop. Contracts were made to amortize the purchase price plus 4 percent interest over 19 annual payments, the first due in July 1934.”
In 1937, the Annual Report of the Governor of the Virgin Islands notes that “The homestead program was continued on existing homestead areas and was successfully administered during the year. It was extended on two additional estates in St. Croix and one in St. Thomas. These estates which were purchased at the close of the last fiscal year total 976 acres. Forty-one additional homesteaders were given homestead contracts during the year. Land development was carried on in this area to permit the establishment of 60 additional homesteaders. Twenty-four homestead houses were constructed. Roads, wells, water supply cisterns, fencing, clearing of land, plowing and other land development work was carried on. The high yield of the sugar crop in St. Croix resulting from extraordinary rainfall permitted homesteaders to reap unusually large returns from their planting. Although the crop was less than 75 percent harvested at the close of the fiscal year, 225 homesteaders on the Whim and LaGranda Princesse estates had paid $9,224 of the $10,878 due to the Government as amortizing rentals and for cultivation loans. In addition $25,851 had at that time been paid to homesteaders. It is estimated that they are netting more than 75, percent of their gross income in addition to equities in installments. About 97 percent of all installments due after 4 years of operation have been paid. With the addition of the homesteaders who had entered into contracts during previous years there are now 380 holders of homestead contracts in both islands.
This program is of fundamental importance and is accomplishing highly desirable social and economic changes in the community. Land and house purchase contracts are drawn on the basis of a 20-year amortization period. Unfortunately, all efforts to make financial provision for the administration and development of this program on a permanent basis have so far failed. Because of the outstanding success of this program and because of its obviously beneficial effects which are being accomplished at a minimum of cost, it is imperative that a means be found of continuing it on a permanent basis. Even if no further extension of the program is attempted, steps must be taken to complete the work of establishing on the land the 380 homesteaders who now hold homestead contracts.”
|Federal Cost||Local Cost||Total Cost||Project #'s|
U.S. Department of the Interior, Annual Report of the Governor of the Virgin Islands for the Fiscal Year Ended June 30, 1933, Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1933, p. 5. U.S. Department of the Interior, Annual Report of the Governor of the Virgin Islands for the Fiscal Year Ended June 30, 1934, Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1934, p. 18-19. U.S. Department of the Interior, Annual Report of the Governor of the Virgin Islands for the Fiscal Year Ended June 30, 1937, Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1937, p. 8. U.S. Department of the Interior, Annual Report of the Governor of the Virgin Islands for the Fiscal Year Ended June 30, 1940, Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1940 p. 67. Library of Congress: (http://www.loc.gov/item/fsa1992000546/PP/), accessed on May 31, 2017.
Project originally submitted by Brent McKee on May 15, 2017.
We welcome contributions of additional information on any New Deal project site.SUBMIT MORE INFORMATION OR PHOTOGRAPHS FOR THIS SITE