Timeline of Human Habitation on St. John

  • Humans first arrived in the Virgin Islands about 2500 to 3000 years ago from South America. This time period is called the Archaic Age. The oldest site found on St. John is just off the beach at Lameshur Bay.
  • South Americans settled the island about 1300 to 2500 years ago and their villages have been found at Cinnamon Bay, Coral Bay, Caneel Bay and Lameshur Bay.
  • There was a population explosion about 1000 to 1300 years ago. Prehistoric villages were established on most of the beaches of St. John.
  • The development of Taino culture occurs around 500 to 1000 years ago. The site at Cinnamon Bay defines Classic Taino Culture in the Virgin Islands.
A Privateer vessel painted by Ambroise Louis Garneray
Privateer Vessel Painted by Ambroise Louis Garneray
  • Europeans discovered the Americas when Columbus came to the islands in 1493. Columbus gave the islands original Spanish names.
  • In the late1500's, piracy began in the islands when Privateers (Pirates) discovered a safe haven in the islands. Powerful European nations invaded Spain's Caribbean territories and battled over ownership.
  • The Danish attempted to establish a settlement in St. Thomas in 1665 but they were not successful until 1672.
  • The Danish claimed St. John in 1718, but the early settlers were from all over Europe and included wealthy planters, pirates, religious refugees, convicts, and free and enslaved Africans.
  • By 1728 there were over a hundred sugar plantations on St. John. The enslaved Africans seized control of the Island for over 7 months in 1733. Troops from the French Island of Martinique finally put down the rebellion.

Last updated: September 18, 2018

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Mailing Address:

1300 Cruz Bay Creek
St. John, VI 00830


(340) 776-6201 x238
Headquarters/Visitor Center phone contact Information.

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