Key West Celebrates Its Island Roots May 19 and 20

Because it’s an election year, Green Turtle Cay’s Island Roots Heritage Festival is on hiatus for 2017.

But the celebrations will go on in Key West, where they’re holding an event next weekend to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the first Island Roots Heritage Festival, held in 1977.

Key West celebrates the 40th anniversary of the Island Roots Heritage Festival on May 19 and 20, 2017.

Alton Lowe and Michelle Roberts of Green Turtle Cay present Key West Mayor Charles McCoy with the New Plymouth flag at the original Island Roots Heritage Festival – May 1977.

The Key West event kicks off on Friday night, May 19th, with a performance by the Barefoot Man and his band at Two Friends Patio Restaurant.

The Barefoot Man (George Nowak) and his band will perform at the Island Roots Heritage Festival in Key West May 19 and 20

On Saturday May 20th, the fun goes from noon until 11:00 pm at the Truman Waterfront Park Field. There will be carnival rides and music, including a performance by children from the Bahama Village Music Program. A variety of vendors will sell food, beverages and island-inspired crafts, and I hear there may even be a Junkanoo rush!

If you’re interested in tracing your own island roots, you won’t want to miss the presentation by Peter Roberts of the Bahamas DNA Project. Peter will have DNA kits available for those who would like to be tested.

Peter Roberts of the Bahamas DNA Project

The sister city relationship between Key West and Green Turtle Cay — first proclaimed in 1977 — will be reaffirmed, and the evening will wrap up with another performance by the Barefoot Man.

Bahamian Member of Parliament George Smith presents the Sister City proclamation to Key West Mayor Charles McCoy – May 1977.

General admission for adults is $5, and includes a wristband so folks can come and go from the event all day. Children will be admitted free, but will still receive a keepsake wristband.

For more details, visit the event’s Facebook page.

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A Direct Flight from Nassau to Green Turtle Cay

Every day this week, as a lead up to my Marsh Harbour book signing on Saturday, May 13th, I’ll be sharing historic Abaco photographs and brief excerpts from my new book, Those Who Stayed.

With the exception of the few years during which Abaco was served by the luxurious Content, travel to and from Nassau meant a long, often unpleasant voyage on the mailboat.

The trip became much easier in the late 1940s, however, when Bahamas Airways began flying amphibious aircraft from Nassau direct to New Plymouth.

Direct Flights from Nassau to Green Turtle Cay

A Bahamas Airways seaplane at Settlement Point. Photo by Lionel Hodgkins, courtesy of Margaret Albury.

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Laying Rope

Every day this week, as a lead up to my Marsh Harbour book signing on Saturday, May 13th, I’ll be sharing historic Abaco photographs and brief excerpts from my new book, Those Who Stayed.

In the late 1880s, believing it held the key to the colony’s economic success, Bahamian Governor Ambrose Shea introduced sisal, a plant that yields a stiff fibre used to make rope, twine, mats and other household items.

Lambert Gates (left) and Vertrum Lowe laying rope, circa 1950. Photo courtesy of the Albert Lowe Museum.

Since the U.S. had no domestic sisal supply, the governor pointed out, there was a ready market nearby. Furthermore, since sisal plants live more than a decade and survive in virtually any condition, they require minimum care. Continue reading

The Surprising Effect of WWII on Green Turtle Cay

Every day this week, as a lead up to my Marsh Harbour book signing on Saturday, May 13th, I’ll be sharing historic Abaco photographs and brief excerpts from my new book, Those Who Stayed.

As the Bahamian sponging industry died and the Depression took hold, many Green Turtle Cay men took up shark fishing — harvesting and exporting hides, fins and livers. More rich in Vitamin A than even cod liver oil, shark livers were the most valuable by-product.

The Surprising Effect of WWII on Green Turtle Cay, Bahamas

Green Turtle Cay shark fishermen land the day’s catch along the shore of Settlement Creek. Photo courtesy of the Albert Lowe Museum.

And though Green Turtle Cay’s shark fishermen had no way to know it, events half a world away would soon have a dramatic impact on their new industry. Continue reading

The Beginning of Modern Tourism in Abaco

Every day this week, as a lead up to my Marsh Harbour book signing on Saturday, May 13th, I’ll be sharing historic Abaco photographs and brief excerpts from my new book, Those Who Stayed.

When Abaco’s trusty, long-serving mailboat, the Priscilla, was destroyed in the 1932 hurricane, she was replaced by the Content, a converted luxury yacht.

The mailboat CONTENT - the beginning of modern tourism in Abaco, Bahamas

The mailboat Content (Image courtesy of Eric Wiberg, Mailboats Bahamas, and Earl McMillen, McMillen Yachts, Inc.)

Originally owned by a West Palm Beach millionaire, the 120-foot Content had been purchased by the R.W. Sawyer Co. of Nassau, and converted to a mailboat, captained by Green Turtle Cay’s Roland Roberts and Stanley Weatherford. Continue reading

Wilson City: A Modern Marvel

Every day this week, as a lead up to my Marsh Harbour book signing on Saturday, May 13th, I’ll be sharing historic Abaco photographs and brief excerpts from my new book, Those Who Stayed.

In 1906, an American group calling itself the Bahamas Timber Company obtained a 100-year contract to log pinelands in Abaco. On a site south of Marsh Harbour, they built a state-of-the-art sawmill and an adjacent town, Wilson City, to house employees.

Wilson City (Abaco, Bahamas): A Modern Marvel

Wilson City, Abaco, Bahamas.  Photo courtesy of the Albert Lowe Museum.

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A Sweet Glimpse Into Green Turtle Cay’s Past

Just east of New Plymouth’s government buildings, in the yard behind the customs officer’s residence, sits an unremarkable hunk of rusted equipment. All but overgrown by tall grass, it’s easy to overlook. But it actually represents a window into early 20th-century life on Green Turtle Cay.

The rusted remnants of a sugarcane mill, Green Turtle Cay, Abaco, Bahamas. The years following the turn of the century were lean ones for the residents of New Plymouth. Just a few decades before, the settlement had been vibrant and prosperous. Some of its more adventurous residents made their fortunes as blockade runners during the American Civil War. Others harvested sponges or turtles, or cultivated sisal, citrus and pineapples.

With work plentiful, Green Turtle Cay’s population soared to nearly 2,000. Its streets were lined with large, gracious homes decorated with fine furniture and imported silks and linens. Continue reading

THOSE WHO STAYED Arrives in Nassau June 10th: Pre-Order Your Copy Today

I’m excited to announce that we’re introducing Those Who Stayed in Nassau on Saturday, June 10 with a book signing at Logos Bookstore.

Having been a Logos customer for years, I’m beyond thrilled that my own book will now be part of their great Bahamian history section. Plus, I’m looking forward to meeting some of you Green Turtle Cay and Abaco descendants at the event and discussing our shared ancestry!

A tip for Little House by the Ferry readers — Logos is now accepting pre-orders for the book. Given the volume of inquiries we’ve had, and since I’m bringing a limited number of books with me, I’d recommend that you drop by the store as soon as you can and get your order in. 

If you have any questions, feel free to get in touch with Logos at (242) 394-7040 or info@logosbahamas.com. And of course, you can always contact me directly.

I’d be grateful if you’d forward this blog post to anyone you think might be interested in Those Who Stayed, or in attending the June 10 event at Logos.

Hope to see you there!

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The Best Online Genealogy Forum for Bahamians

If your family tree is rooted in Bahamian soil and you’re interested in tracing your ancestry, check out the Bahamas Genealogy Group (BGG).

The Best Online Genealogy Forum for Bahamians - The Bahamas Genealogy Group

(May 2, 1938) The wedding of Clarence Pedican to Lillian Saunders, Green Turtle Cay, Abaco, Bahamas. (Photo courtesy of the Albert Lowe Museum.)

It’s a Yahoo group of 600+ members, all Bahamian or of Bahamian descent, and its purpose is to promote and preserve quality Bahamian genealogical and historical information. Continue reading

We Have Liftoff! Those Who Stayed Has Officially Launched

In addition to commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Albert Lowe Museum, An Evening to Remember on January 7 was also the official launch of my coffee table book, Those Who Stayed. I’m pleased to report that it went very, very well!

The Launch of Those Who Stayed - a coffee table book about the history of Green Turtle Cay in the Bahamas.

Alton and me at the book signing table

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