Beachcombing at low tide – Gillam Bay, Green Turtle Cay, Bahamas.
Beachcombing at low tide – Gillam Bay, Green Turtle Cay, Bahamas.
Some of the youngest Junkanoo performers and spectators from this New Year’s Day rush on Green Turtle Cay, Bahamas.
I’ve never considered myself a photographer. But when you’ve got amazing Abaco views everywhere you turn, and you shoot thousands (thousands!) of images, odds are you’ll end up with a few good photos.
After more than a decade of photographing Green Turtle Cay, and nearly three years of featuring daily images from the cay on my blog, I wanted to do something more with the pictures.
As I recently wrote, you’ll spot hints of Green Turtle Cay’s history all around. One glimpse into the past can be found right in the center of town. Across from the basketball court is a small pink building, with stone stairs that seem to lead nowhere. It’s the old New Plymouth gaol.
It’s Museum Monday! Today’s image was taken from the hill overlooking New Plymouth sometime after the 1932 hurricane. At left is the jail, all that remained of the former two-story government building after the storm. The white building behind the jail is the newly built Methodist church, a modest structure compared with the 1200-seat chapel destroyed in the hurricane.
This article is an excerpt from the presentation I gave at the Island Roots Heritage Festival this past May on Green Turtle Cay.
Over the past few centuries, hundreds of ships have met their ends on the countless reefs and shallow seas of the Bahamas. Not surprising then that for much of the 18th and 19th centuries, wrecking was a cornerstone of the Bahamian economy.
If you were born on Green Turtle Bay between the late 1920s and the late 1960s, chances are you were delivered by this woman.
Known as Miss Mary, and among the young people as Dana, her name was Marian Jane Hewitt. And from 1929 until 1968, she served as the island’s midwife.
Following in the footsteps of her aunt and grandmother, both midwives, Dana learned midwifery under Dr. Walter Kendrick, a medical missionary who lived on Green Turtle Cay during the early and mid-1900s.
Her first delivery was a difficult one, in which the lives of both mother and baby were threatened. Although the child died, Dana saved the mother so skillfully that she was immediately established as the town’s midwife, a position she would hold for close to forty years.
Back then, the midwife not only assisted with the delivery, but she cared for mother and baby for nine days afterwards. Early on, Dana earned about $8 for her services. In later years, her fee was about $14.40.
The view down Parliament Street, Green Turtle Cay, Abaco, Bahamas.
Memorial Sculpture Garden, Green Turtle Cay, Abaco, Bahamas.
Sunset from the south side of the New Plymouth Settlement — Green Turtle Cay, Abaco, Bahamas.
Yard in New Plymouth settlement, Green Turtle Cay, Abaco, Bahamas.
I always look forward to Green Turtle Cay’s Island Roots Heritage Festival, but this year, I’m even more excited than usual.
First, 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.
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:
And for the full schedule of events for the 2016 Island Roots Heritage Festival weekend, click HERE.
Hope to see you there!
Island houses in the settlement of New Plymouth — Green Turtle Cay, Abaco, Bahamas.
In honour of the Albert Lowe Museum, which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, all daily photos on Mondays during 2016 will be historic images related to Green Turtle Cay or Abaco.
Today’s Museum Monday photo was taken at Gillam Bay before “the point” as we know it today was formed. At that time, the road from town ended at the bottom of the primary school steps, and most people reached Gillam Bay by walking east along the beach at the south side of the New Plymouth settlement.
(For reference, the photographer was standing roughly where the sea wall is today, facing south toward the Abaco Mainland.)
The public dock, also known as the canon dock, in Green Turtle Cay, Abaco, Bahamas.
Since a few readers have asked, I did a little digging and discovered that yes, prints of selected works by Bahamian artist and Green Turtle Cay native, Alton Lowe, are available for sale on the cay.
Houses along Settlement Creek, Green Turtle Cay, Abaco, Bahamas.
Top end of Settlement Creek, Green Turtle Cay, Abaco, Bahamas. Anyone know what year this would have been? It was pre-ferry dock, pre-Wrecking Tree and before most of the houses at the head of the harbour were built.
Sunset over New Plymouth, Green Turtle Cay, Bahamas.
Green Turtle Cay has lost a number of beloved residents in the past few years. Not all were human.