If you look on the east side of the steep hill going down to Hawksnest Bay you should see an old stone stairway. This was once the entrance to a house that at one time belonged to Laurance Rockefeller. The house eventually became the property of the Virgin Islands National Park and was demolished. Nothing remains.
Today if you climb the staircase you’ll notice a trail leading through the bromiliads that takes you to the ruins of a stone structure that is said to have once belonged to Peter Duurloo, born on the island of Statia in 1675 and died on St. John 1746. I have also seen his name spelled Durloo and Durloe. The three islands, Henley Cay, Ramgoat Cay and Rata Cay are collectively known as the Durloe Cays and were undoubtedly named after him
Peter Durloo was one of the original planters who took possession of parcels of land on St. John when the Danes laid claim to the island in 1716. Durloo took up what is now some prime real estate, Cinnamon Bay and Caneel Bay, which he named for the bay rum trees (Caneel in Dutch) that were so plentiful there.
Charlotte Dean Stark, who wrote Some True Tales and Legends about Caneel Bay Trunk Bay and a Hundred and One Other Places on St. John, had this to say about Mr. Durloo:
“He was a colored man from one of the more southerly islands, probably Satia, where the Dutch were struggling to keep their foothold. It seems likely that most of the Dutch planters in St. Thomas were the colored sons of Hollanders who had been brought up by their fathers to learn the business, whatever it might be. Not many women went out with the original explorers who seized islands in the chain to the south of us.”
The site has been cleared by Jeff Chabot and his volunteers, but is unlikely to stay that way. So if you’re interested in a little history and don’t mind the uphill walk from the Hawksnest parking lot, you may want to pay a visit while the visiting is good.