Wreckers, Rogues and Rebels: Our Adventurous Abaco Ancestors

I always look forward to Green Turtle Cay’s Island Roots Heritage Festival, but this year, I’m even more excited than usual.

13010848_10153753541368500_8267926738831053579_nFirst, I love the theme: Adventure, Enterprise and Infamy. Given the cay’s quaint and relatively conservative atmosphere, it’s hard to believe that some of our Abaconian ancestors were pirates. Many were wreckers. Others made illicit fortunes as blockade runners and bootleggers. I’m really looking forward to exploring the more adventurous (and, in some cases, infamous) sides of our Abaco forefathers.

Speaking of forefathers, if you’d like to know more about yours, the Genealogy Research Center (across from the Gospel Chapel) will be open throughout the festival. It’s a cool, quiet place to research your own Abaco ancestry and get to know some of the Bahamas’ best genealogists.

And, as always, the weekend will be full of Bahamian cuisine, crafts and entertainment, including performances by the Royal Bahamas Defense Force Marching Band, Julien Believe, Green Turtle Cay’s own Gully Roosters, the Sax Man, Sawyerboy and the New Entry Band. And of course, two of my favourites – the plaiting of the Maypole and Junkanoo.

Beyond all this, however, there’s another reason I’m excited about this year’s festival — for the first time, I’ll be giving a presentation as part of the festival lecture series.

Dr. Peter Roberts, of the Bahamas DNA Project, at the Island Roots Heritage Festival, Abaco, Bahamas.

Peter Roberts, of the Bahamas DNA Project, during his presentation at the Island Roots Heritage Festival.

Having attended lectures about Bahamian history, local conservation efforts and genealogy at past Island Roots Heritage Festivals, I’ve found them all to be interesting, entertaining and informative. The lectures are one of my favourite parts of the festival, which is why I’m so excited to be able to present one!

Entitled “Our Wrecking Ancestors: Scoundrels or Saviours?” my presentation takes place at 3:00 pm on Saturday, May 7, at the Catechist George Reckley Hall at St. Peter’s Church, across from Settlement Point.

In conducting research for the book about GTC history on which I’m currently working, I’ve developed a fascination with wrecking — arguably Green Turtle Cay’s first real industry. While some viewed wreckers as saviours, providing life-saving aid to the crews of foundering vessels, many saw them as little more than glorified pirates.

Either way, there’s no denying the vital role that wrecking played in establishing and shaping New Plymouth and other Abaco settlements. As part of my presentation, I’ll share some of the interesting tales — some amusing, others terrifying — I’ve uncovered about wrecking in Abaco.

Other lecturers scheduled for the 2016 festival series include:

  • Peter Roberts of the Bahamas DNA Project, will teach us how to use DNA and WikiTree to trace our Bahamian ancestry. (I attended Peter’s presentation on this topic at last year’s festival, and found it to be extremely helpful with my genealogical pursuits)
  • Shane Cash, history teacher at Forest Heights Academy, will provide an overview of the history of piracy, wrecking, blockade running and bootlegging in the Bahamas.

And for the full schedule of events for the 2016 Island Roots Heritage Festival weekend, click HERE.

Hope to see you there!

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2 thoughts on “Wreckers, Rogues and Rebels: Our Adventurous Abaco Ancestors

  1. Amanda, once again, great stir of appreciation for our Abaco history! I want to hear your talk on Wreckers.

    • Thanks, Joy. I’ve become quite fascinated with the wrecking industry, especially the divided opinion as to whether they were sinners or saints. 🙂 Hope you’ll attend on Saturday.

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