During the planning for the first Island Roots Festival, Key West historian Betty Bruce – whose ancestors were among those Abaco families who settled Key West – began gathering the names of other Floridians whose roots stretched across the Gulf Stream to the Bahama islands.
She posted a sign-up sheet in the Monroe County Public Library in Key West and put the word out.
Within just a few months, she had gathered several hundred names on a scroll, which now resides in the archives of the Albert Lowe Museum.
Reading through the scroll, you recognize many common Bahamian surnames, such as Pinder, Knowles, Kemp, Symonette and Moss, from the various Bahamian islands including Eleuthera, Spanish Wells, Harbour Island, Long Island, Nassau and Grand Bahama.
By far, however, the majority of those listed descend from the first families of Abaco, with surnames such as Curry, Lowe, Key, Russell, Albury, Roberts and Sawyer. Not entirely surprising, since wreckers from Abaco were among the first settlers of Key West.
I’m gathering information about the first families of Abaco and their descendants for a series of blog articles. Please feel free to send your family trees, old family photos or any stories you’d like to share to amanda(at)littlehousebytheferry(dot)com.
Also, just between you and me, there’s been some talk of arranging a giant homecoming/ family reunion for the descendants of Abaco’s first families. If you’re interested, drop me a note with your contact details and I’ll make sure you receive all the info once it’s available.