Too Soon to Say Goodbye

To date, much of this blog has centered around the history of my maternal grandmother, Lurey Curry Albury. Certainly not because of a lack of interest in the ancestry of my grandfather, Lionel Augustus Albury, but simply due to geography and circumstance.

My grandfather, Lionel Augustus Albury (1919-1980)

My grandfather, Lionel Augustus Albury (1919-1980)

Most of Ma’s family lived nearby us in Nassau, while Pa’s siblings and their families were in Abaco, and we saw them far less frequently. Many I never met.

Plus, we lost my grandfather the day after I turned 13, meaning I didn’t have much opportunity to ask him about his family history.

Which is why, shortly after launching this blog, I was thrilled to receive a long email from my Mom’s first cousin, Jack Albury, who lived in Marsh Harbour. The son of Pa’s brother Ancil, Jack shared with me his memories of the common branches of our family tree.

We corresponded by email and phone in the months that followed. Jack told me about his dad (known as “Spotty,” and a bit of an Abaco legend), whom I’m not sure I ever met, and about his grandparents (my great-grandparents) Frederick Leon Albury and Margaret Eunice Key, both of whom passed away before I was born. Jack answered my questions and queries with patience, humour and honesty.

John Campbell (Jack) Albury, 1943-2015

John Campbell (Jack) Albury MBE, 1943-2015

He recalled picking hog plums from a tree in his grandfather’s yard and spending summer vacations travelling on the Stede Bonnet with his dad, who captained that vessel. As a young boy, Jack sculled passengers to and from Bahamas Airways amphibian aircraft when they landed in the sea near Marsh Harbour.

From the beginning of our Fish Hooks journey, Jack was incredibly supportive of Tom and me. He advised us about shipping and customs, provided referrals to local suppliers and offered encouraging words when we most needed them.

One day, after trying in vain to telephone several Marsh Harbour businesses, I posted a note on Facebook asking if the phones were down. Jack emailed me, confirming that there were in fact phone problems, and asking who I was trying to reach.

I told him, and an hour or so later, I heard back. Jack had physically gone to each of the businesses and asked for their email addresses, so he could send them to me. I was truly touched by his kindness.

Not only did Jack own and operate two local businesses (Frederick’s Agency and Albury’s Trucking) but he helped establish several other companies over the years, including the Boat Harbour Marina. He was an avid supporter of community organizations, such as the Every Child Counts school, and was active for many years in the local political scene.

Seven years ago, in recognition of his business accomplishments and service to the community, Jack was named a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE.)


2008 Queen’s Birthday Honour Recipients. Jack is in the back row, fourth from the right.

A couple of months ago, Jack began experiencing severe neck pain. Thinking he’d pinched a nerve, he went to the States on January 2 to have it checked out. Within a few weeks, however, it became evident that the diagnosis was much more serious.

Jack and Gaye Albury, March 2012

Jack and Gaye Albury, March 2012

This past weekend, less than two months later, my cousin Jack lost his brief and painful battle.

To Jack’s wife, Gaye, their children and grandkids, his siblings and extended family, Tom and I send our love and deepest condolences. We can only imagine how difficult these past weeks have been, and we’ll be thinking of you in the days ahead.

Jack’s love for his family, friends and community was plain to see. It’s our hope that remembering this, and knowing how many lives he touched and made better, will be a source of comfort for you.

I know Jack had many more family tales to tell, and it saddens me that he’ll never have the chance. But I’m so grateful that he reached out to me, and that we got to know each other and enjoy the moments we did share.

Jack’s Home Going Service will be held this Saturday, February 14th at 3:00 pm at Grace Gym, Agape Christian School in Marsh Harbour. In lieu of flowers, his family has asked that donations be made to Every Child Counts or the Abaco Cancer Society.

Testing the New Bahamian Dog Export Procedures

IMG_6081 fffSeveral months ago, I wrote about the Bahamian government’s new requirement that anyone traveling FROM the Bahamas with a dog obtain a Bahamian health certificate prior to departure. I wanted to share my own experience with the updated procedures during our recent trip to Green Turtle Cay.

IMG_2465 fffff_edited-2The impetus for the new system, as explained to me last year by Dr. Godfrey Springer, Head Veterinarian for the Bahamas Ministry of Agriculture, was a recent distemper outbreak in Nassau.

Though most of the Bahamas remained distemper-free, Dr. Springer said, customs and immigration officers in other countries might refuse your pet entry unless you were able to prove s/he was not carrying this highly contagious disease.

A few weeks ago — about 10 days before we were scheduled to fly home to L.A. — I took Wrigley to see Dr. Bailey in Marsh Harbour. Dr. Bailey conducted a thorough physical examination and tested Wrigley for intestinal parasites.

He explained that he was required to physically send his exam results to the Ministry of Agriculture in Nassau, which would review them and issue a formal certificate. Total cost for exam, tests and document processing and shipping — $165.

img114About five days later, Dr. Bailey’s assistant Chamara got in touch to let me know the Ministry of Agriculture document had arrived.

When I picked it up, I was surprised to discover that it did not even mention distemper. All it does is certify that the Bahamas is a rabies-free country (huh?) and endorse Dr. Bailey’s exam report, which says that Wrigley appears free from illness or communicable disease.

Upon checking in for my flight from Marsh Harbour to Miami, I advised the ticket agent that I was traveling with a carry-on pet. She asked to see his papers, and I showed her the original Bahamian import permit I’d had obtained pre-trip, as well as the health certificate prepared by our vet in L.A. before we left for the Bahamas. I didn’t offer or mention the Ministry of Agriculture documentation I had recently obtained.

She glanced at my original L.A. health certificate, checked that Wrigley was vaccinated against rabies and that was it. Never did she mention or ask to see any Bahamian “export” documentation or permit.

Upon arrival in Miami, I declared Wrigley at customs, where the agent asked for his paperwork. Again, I presented only my original L.A. health certificate, which the agent checked to ensure Wrigley was vaccinated against rabies. Again, no mention of distemper, and no request for any Bahamian health certification.

So, to recap… close to $200 spent for the exam, tests, document processing and two round-trip ferry rides and nobody — either in the Bahamas or the U.S. — even asked to see the paperwork. Hmmm.

If you’ve traveled with a dog from the Bahamas in the past six months or so, I’d love to hear how your experience compared with mine. Did you obtain the Ministry of Agriculture health certificate prior to departure? Were you asked to present it, either when leaving the Bahamas or arriving at your destination?

IMG_2117 ssss

Photos Wanted for Museum Exhibit

Green Turtle Cay’s Albert Lowe Museum has put out a call for historic photographs and artifacts to be featured in their upcoming exhibit, Men of the Sea.

Abaco Bahamas Mailboat Stede Bonnet

M/V Stede Bonnet
Photo credit:

The museum is looking for images of Abaconians (at that time, they were usually men) who made their livings at sea by wrecking, fishing, sponging, crawfishing, sharking, shipping and mail delivery, serving as sea captains or crew members on a vessel, etc. Also of interest are related items such as compasses, sextants, documents, etc.

Lionel Augustus Albury

My grandfather, Lionel Albury

My own family’s men of the sea included my grandfather, Lionel Albury, who worked for a time as a crew member on the vessel Anne Bonny, shipping bananas from Haiti to Cuba.

His brother, Ancil (“Spotty”) Albury, captained the Stede Bonnet, which transported mail and supplies between Nassau and Abaco.

And my great-grandfather, Herman Curry (who built Fish Hooks), supported his family by fishing and selling his catch to mailboat crews and the logging camp at Norman’s Castle on the Abaco mainland.

My grandmother spoke often of Pa Herman’s experiences on the sea.

Daddy had a smaller boat at first, then he got a bigger one with a well in it. One day he came in with his boat loaded down with amberjacks. Another day he came with the biggest loggerhead you ever saw tied up beside his boat.

Back then, fish was a ha’penny a pound, about three cents. Amberjacks were four cents. When the mailboat Priscilla was coming, Daddy would get up and clean a dollar’s worth of fish, and that was as much as he could carry in both hands.

He would go fishing seven miles from home. He would drop Mama at Munjack Cay to work at the farm and he would go out to the reef. It was dangerous. If anything happened to him in that little dinghy, Mama would never know.

He sunk a boat once. After that, Virgie (her sister, Virginia) would get to the upstairs window and cry when he left. She could see his boat when he went up around the Bluff. He’d have just a little piece of sail up. He took chances. He had to.”

I know a lot of folks who read this blog have Abaconian ancestors who were sea captains, fishermen, spongers, crawfishermen or mariners of one sort or another. And I suspect that your family attics or albums contain historic photographs or other items that would be ideal for this exhibit.

If you have images or artifacts you’d like to donate or loan to the Men of the Sea exhibit, drop me a note or call the Albert Lowe Museum at (242) 365-4094.

Captain Billy Keeps Watch

Wally Davies, who has owned the New Plymouth Inn since the 1970s, has seen thousands of visitors come and go over the years. One guest, however, has apparently taken up permanent residence.

The building that houses the New Plymouth Inn was constructed nearly 200 years ago as a home for sea captain (and rumoured pirate) William Gustavus (Captain Billy) Roberts. Captain Billy operated a store at street level, and his family resided on the house’s upper floors.

new plymouth inn reduced
Capt. Billy Roberts’ home/general store (left foreground). Photo courtesy of the Albert Lowe Museum.

Local lore says that Captain Billy stashed a large quantity of gold and other valuables somewhere on the property.

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