Danes tour St. Thomas' historic sites on Transfer Day

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ST. THOMAS - After traveling for 24 hours to reach the Virgin Islands only the night before, a large group of Danes observed Transfer Day on St. Thomas by touring historic sites and private homes.

The group from Denmark led by Torben Eirby was up early Monday morning for a walking tour of Charlotte Amalie with Gail Schulterbrandt.

Schulterbrandt partners with Danish tours as part of her Leonia and Gail Schulterbrandt Historic Series. The goal of the series is to do research, create publications, provide financing and conduct activities focused on the history and culture of the Virgin Islands.

One of the specialties of the Schulterbrandts is the historic homes of Virgin Islanders.

The tour group visited the Britania House on the Blackbeard's Castle property before seeing some homes the public is not typically allowed into, including Schulterbrandt House where members of Gail Schulterbrandt's family still reside.

Professor Viggo Mortensen - no relation to the American actor of the same name - signed up for the tour with his wife, Doris Ottesen, who is writing a book about a Danish novelist who spent about a decade of her life in the Virgin Islands.

The colonial author is Lucie Hörlyck, who was the wife of Simon Hörlyck, a police marshal.

She lived in the Virgin Islands, primarily in Frederiksted, St. Croix, from 1902 to 1912 and wrote novels about the colonial life in the Danish West Indies.

"She has written a set of novels that depict the everyday life of the people who lived here," Mortensen said.

Mortensen said they wanted to come visit to get a better feel for the islands.

"Setting the scene is very important once you start looking into archives," he said.

Mortensen is a professor of colonialism, and is working to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the territory's transfer from Denmark to the United States in 2017. He also wanted to come to see the place for himself and be inspired to help plan commemorative activities in Denmark in two years.

"It's a part of preparation for 2017 that we wanted to have a look," he said.

The first week will be spent on St. Thomas, with a day dedicated to St. John, and a second week will be spent on St. Croix.

- Contact reporter Aldeth Lewin at 714-9111 or email alewin@dailynews.vi.

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