Our family history is both quite fascinating and interesting as it unravels.
This is the beginning of all the Fiji "Thaggards":
Our great great grandfather, Captain Peter Heibroch Thagaard, was born October 19, 1834 in Thisted, Denmark.
He began his service for his country as a sergeant in the Danish Navy for several years and continued on to become a master mariner.
He purchased a vessel that he served in during his years in the navy. This vessel was a Brig Danish war ship 233 ton in Copenhagen that was used in the first Schleswig war between 1848-1850. The ship was called "St Thomas".
Interestingly, the "St Thomas" fired the first shot of war under the command of Magnus Suenson in Aabenraa Fjord.
The Danish kingdom depended on strong naval ships to protect the Danish coastlines and passages against the invading Germans.
After the war, Captain Peter Thagaard then transformed "St Thomas" into a merchant ship. He left Denmark and began his trading as a merchant in various countries, China for tea, Jamaica for rum, India for spices, and eventually found a permanent base in Port Louis, Mauritius where he purchased sugar and sold to Port Adelaide.
He married Marie Louis Victor who was born in Port Louis, Mauritius, also of Ceylonese descent. He eventually heard about the sandalwood trade and began his Fiji trade in 1867 carrying cargo between Sydney and Levuka and chartering his ship on multiple occasions. The cargo mainly consisted of cotton, sandalwood and livestock. His crew members were from Denmark, China, Singapore.
Captain Peter Thagaard purchased Valavala estate on Vanua Levu, where he built his home and purchased a string of shops along Savusavu Town.
In September 1869, as the St Thomas was sailing out of Levuka harbour, she ran across the most treacherous Wakaya reef, and onto Ovalau reef,
Captain Thagaard tried to steer her around but he missed twice. Within minutes she lay on her side, a hopeless and total wreck, just opposite from the village of Nasinu.
Captain Thagaard, his crew and nine passengers were saved. Luckily no lives were lost.
The greater part of the luggage and mail was saved. The cargo consisted of coconut oil, cotton and cottonseed in bulk.
Captain Thagaard had insured "St Thomas" in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Mr Otty Cudlip, sold the hull, spars, rigging, anchors and chains by public auction for the sum of 142 pounds and the cargo bought at 124 pounds.
Captain Thagaard piloted another ship called the "Croquett" until he sadly committed suicide on March 24, 1895 on Valavala estate and is buried there. The property is now owned by Sitiveni Rabuka.
He had five children with Marie Louisa Victor. They are: one, Peter Thagaard who married Emily Gwilliam; two, Innis Thagaard; three, Agnes Thaggard who married William Ryland, Dickson Queet, a Mr Smith and also a Mr Louis; four, George Thaggard who married Luse Ryland; five, Emmaline Thagaard who married Veresa Sodrugu Kavetani. There were also two children deceased.
The original spelling of Thagaard was anglicised during the second generation Thaggards in Fiji by my great grandfather, the second Peter Thaggard.
Today there are over 950 collateral descendants and over 105 direct descendants of Captain Peter Thagaard who live in Fiji and abroad.
Many of them have contributed to the community in various areas like business, politics, sport etc.
The first fist crate of Coca cola was sold by George Thaggard in 1972. Hugh Thaggard, member of parliament for the northern constituency, was responsible for the road between Labasa and Savusavu.
Thaggards are well known to have represented Fiji in sports at both international and national levels.
Tennis - Mere Thaggard , Adriana Thaggard and Tania Thaggard.
Lawn Bowls - Peter Thaggard.
Swimming - Julia Thaggard.
Baseketball - Thomas Thaggard.
As a child I was always fascinated with the idea of how people were related in such large families.
Sadly, no one in our entire family knew anything much about Captain Peter Thagaard. There was no written genealogy, no stories documented, no history preserved.
I wanted to know how everyone was related, I wanted to know what kind of people my ancestors were, things they did for a living, and most of all, I wanted to have a well-documented family history and genealogy record for my brothers, sisters and our younger generations to come.
I began the hard slog work of gathering newspaper articles, analysing census records, birth, death certificates, researching old journals, going to LDS family history centres, internet search sites.
I finally came across an expert genealogist and professor( Erling Vester Jacobsen) who helped me trace Captain Peter Thagaard back to his homeland Thisted, Denmark to 1643 and further back to the Norweign Vikings.
This was an amazing discovery, not only for me, but for the entire "Fiji Thaggards".
Later on, I travelled to Denmark specifically to meet Erling and other Thagaards.
I visited all the important places where Captain Peter Thagaard and his family lived.
I was then presented with a historical account of our Denmark Thaggards.
I returned home with the greatest feeling of satisfaction knowing I had the family history records of my great great grandfathers family. I began gathering information on all our Fiji Thaggards and constructing a family tree.
Then I knew the time had come to hold a reunion.
My main purpose was to share this wealth of information with all our Thaggards.
To have every family member receive a well-documented genealogy of our entire Thaggard family history and to stress the importance of keeping a record for the younger generations, so that they know where their roots come from. And as the saying goes "if no one tends to the roots, the tree will wither and die".
Erling Vester Jacobsen has been invited to give a presentation on our Danish family history at the reunion.
This great event is the first official Thaggard reunion and marks a great historical moment in our family history as this is where the Denmark Thagaards meet our Fiji Thaggards for the first time. No connection has ever been made or known before until now.
I now sit happy and content knowing that we have a well documented family history record for all our descendants that will be passed down from one generation to the next.
nTHAGGARD FAMILY REUNION NADI FIJI 2012
( Decendants of Captain Peter Heibrock Thagaard-Denmark)
ALL THAGGARD FAMILIES IN FIJI & ABROAD ARE INVITED TO THE FAMILY REUNION TO BE HELD IN NADI FROM OCTOBER 10TH - 14TH
VENUE : HEXAGON HOTEL , MARTINTAR, NADI
DATES : WEDNESDAY 10TH OCTOBER - 14TH OCTOBER
GUEST SPEAKER - PROFESSOR ERLING VESTER (DENMARK)