I came across this item in the Albert Lowe Museum’s kitchen building, and it’s got me stumped. Turns out nobody knows exactly what it is… Do you?
I came across this item in the Albert Lowe Museum’s kitchen building, and it’s got me stumped. Turns out nobody knows exactly what it is… Do you?
I received a bit of great news recently. My book, Those Who Stayed: The Tale of the Hardy Few Who Built Green Turtle Cay has been named a finalist by the Next Generation Indie Book Awards program.
Presented by the Independent Book Publishing Professionals Group, the Next Generation Indie Book Awards (NGIBA) program recognizes and honours excellence in independent publishing. Each year, more than 60 monetary prizes and trophies are awarded to independent authors and publishers worldwide.
Amy Roberts residence – New Plymouth, Green Turtle Cay
If you haven’t visited Green Turtle Cay’s Albert Lowe Museum lately, you should definitely drop by and meet our new volunteer tour guide, Esther Bethel.
A descendant of the Roberts family who built the home which now houses the museum, Esther would love to give you a tour, share her knowledge of Abaco’s history and show you original oil paintings by world-renowned Bahamian artist (and museum founder) Alton Lowe.
Pink hibiscus at the Albert Lowe Museum – Green Turtle Cay.
Featuring thirteen colourful Green Turtle Cay photographs, this 12-month, spiral-bound wall calendar is printed on premium, glossy card stock.
It measures 8.5” x 11” (11” x 17” when open), and includes public holidays for the Bahamas, U.S. and Canada. Cost: $24, which includes shipping.
A full-colour, hard-cover, 185-page coffee table book featuring 200+ historic photographs and two dozen original oil paintings by Bahamian artist Alton Lowe.
Visitors often describe New Plymouth on Green Turtle Cay as a charming fishing village, its narrow streets, clapboard homes and colourful flowers reminiscent of a New England town. But beneath this sweet façade is a past of piracy, poverty and privilege.
Hints of New Plymouth’s history are all around. A rusted anchor at Settlement Point. Two cannon standing guard on the public dock. Broken tombstones on the beach. An old jail with stairs that lead nowhere.
For more than a thousand years, settlers have come here, drawn by the safety of the land and the bounty of the sea. And as the waves contour the shore, so have these migrants shaped this tiny cay.
By fate and occasionally by force, most were carried away. A resilient few remained. This is their story.
Questions? Contact me.
Thank you, and Merry Christmas to all!
Historic graves in the Green Turtle Cay cemetery – Abaco, Bahamas.
A few weeks ago, I received this photo from one of my best friends in Vancouver.
Her seven-year-old daughter, Zoe, chose my book Those Who Stayed, to bring to school for show and tell. How cool is that?!
Zoe told her grade two classmates that the book was written by her mom’s friend. She explained that Those Who Stayed is about Green Turtle Cay and its history, and she showed a number of photographs from the book.
According to Zoe, the kids really liked the cover image, a painting by Bahamian artist Alton Lowe.
Zoe, I’m sooo touched that you took my book to share with your class. Tom and I can’t wait to have you come and visit Green Turtle Cay for yourself!
As we count down the days to the upcoming Island Roots Heritage Festival, I thought I’d take a look back at the very first Island Roots events, held nearly 40 years ago.
The original Island Roots concept was conceived shortly after Bahamian artist and Green Turtle Cay resident Alton Lowe opened the Albert Lowe Museum in 1976.
The morning after the museum’s opening ceremonies, Florida historian Betty Bruce (whose own ancestors came from Green Turtle Cay) asked Alton what he had planned as a follow-up. As their conversation evolved, so did the idea of a festival that would honour the common Loyalist roots of the residents of Green Turtle Cay and Key West, Florida.
In the late 18th century, having suffered persecution in the aftermath of the American Revolution, many British Loyalists fled to the Bahamas, hoping to establish plantations. Sadly, many of these settlers were unprepared for the hardships of 18th century island living. When it became clear that the local soil was in fact unsuitable for large-scale farming, many packed up their belongings, their families and in some cases, even their houses, and returned to the U.S., where they helped establish Key West.
In the months following Betty and Alton’s original conversation, their idea gained popularity and plans began to take shape, both in Key West and on Green Turtle Cay.
A year later, in November 1977, Island Roots festivals were held in both communities.
More than thirty thousand people attended the Key West event, where they enjoyed art exhibits, a fashion show, a musical performance by the Royal Bahamian Police Band, a Junkanoo parade — and a slice of the world’s largest key lime pie.
In commemoration of their common heritage, and with the support of both governments, New Plymouth and Key West proclaimed themselves sister cities.
The celebrations continued the following day, as hundreds of visitors descended upon the New Plymouth settlement. The two-day inaugural Green Turtle Cay Island Roots Festival featured Bahamian music, dance and dramatic performances, a traditional Maypole plaiting and, of course, a Junkanoo rush.
Subsequent Island Roots festivities have been staged over the years and more recently, the Island Roots Heritage Festival has become an annual Green Turtle Cay event, celebrating New Plymouth’s Loyalist heritage and relationship with Key West, and reuniting Abaconians with family members from the U.S., Canada and beyond.
To learn more about the inaugural Island Roots Heritage Festivals, check out the current exhibit in the Wrecker’s Gallery at the Albert Lowe Museum.
All photos courtesy of the Albert Lowe Museum.
Less than two weeks until the next Island Roots festival! Hope to see you there. If you haven’t booked your flight yet, I hear Silver Air is having a last-minute seat sale.
My cousin Evan Lowe (grandson of Pa Herman’s sister, Aunt Bessie) recently sent me this image. Evan is 99% sure that the woman on the right is his grandmother, Bessie Caroline Curry Lowe (b. 1903, Green Turtle Cay), but he’d like to confirm this and identify the other people in the photo.
If you recognize any of these people and/or you recognize the setting where the picture was taken, please let me know. Thanks!
Food. Music. Religion. Art. Politics. And of course, Junkanoo. Though the world knows us for breathtaking beaches, spectacular boating and fishing and some of the best diving on the planet, these are the things about which Bahamians are most passionate, the things that shape our collective identity. And, under the theme, “Celebrating Our Culture,” they’ll be saluted at this year’s Island Roots Heritage Festival, being held May 2-4 in Green Turtle Cay.
Though the event program is still being finalized, the festival committee says this year’s Island Roots will feature a diverse selection of Bahamian musicians, artists, artisans and authors, popular local dishes and culinary delights, traditional island games, informative displays and presentations and a family tree research center.
Island Roots allows visitors to experience authentic Bahamian culture and gives Bahamians the opportunity to learn about and celebrate their individual and collective histories.
Of course, staging this much-loved, three-day festival is not inexpensive. To help with the myriad of event costs (equipment rentals, printing, transportation and accommodation for dozens of presenters and performers, just for starters), the festival committee has planned a number of fundraising events. If you’d like to support the Island Roots Heritage Festival, here’s how:
Attend the Fundraising Grill Out on Saturday, March 8: A grill-out will be held this Saturday evening at the basketball court in the center of New Plymouth. If you’re on the cay, please drop by for dinner and dessert. Grilling begins at 5 pm.
Donate a Raffle Prize: The festival committee is seeking prize donations for their annual raffle. If you’re able to donate merchandise, gift certificates or services, they would much appreciate it. If you’d like to contribute a raffle prize, let me know, and I’ll forward contact information for the festival committee.
Donate Cash: To make a cash donation, large or small, drop me a note and I’ll put you in touch with the committee.
If you’re planning to attend this year’s Island Roots festival and haven’t yet reserved your flights, accommodations, golf cart or rental boat, better get on it. I hear they’re booking up fast. Hope to see you there!
Related Posts: Green Turtle Cay 101: Getting Here, Green Turtle Cay 101: Staying Here, Island Roots Heritage Festival: Celebrating All Things Abaco, Island Roots Heritage Festival: Bridging Past and Future, An Unscheduled Performance at Island Roots
As Bahamian performer Ronnie Butler sings, “Everybody wan’ go to heaven, but nobody wan’ dead.” But if you have to go, I can’t imagine a more beautiful place to be laid to rest than the cemetery in Green Turtle Cay.
The two-acre graveyard, located at the foot of the hill east of town, dates back to the late 1700s, though it’s been destroyed several times since by hurricanes. At low tide, you can still spot fragments of old tombstones on the beach below.
Overlooking the Sea of Abaco, Green Turtle Cay’s historic cemetery is a peaceful space where tropical flowers grow among the graves and dance in the breeze, and from which you can watch pelicans dive for their dinner and fishermen try their luck on the bonefishing flats.
I often wonder whether it’s coincidence that the Tiny Turtles Preschool is located right next door. There’s something sweet and life-affirming about paying respects to those who’ve left us while listening to a new generation of little voices laughing and singing.
Though most of their grave markers have been lost to time and weather, a number of our family members are buried here, including Pa Herman, Mirabelle, my grandmother’s sister who died at six years old, and their youngest sibling, a boy who was stillborn. One of my grandmother’s children, a girl born premature, is also here.
If your ancestors are buried in the Green Turtle Cay cemetery, the Find A Grave website includes a list of the interments for which there are existing markers.
Before they had access to local doctors, neighbourhood pharmacies or affordable transportation, many Bahamians relied on “bush medicine”, the practice of using indigenous plants and herbs to treat ailments and cure illness. My grandmother’s favourite bush remedies were aloe (for burns) and cerasee (for pretty much everything else.)
Though largely replaced in recent years by modern pharmaceuticals, bush medicine is experiencing a revival as people seek more natural and holistic remedies. To preserve and promote traditional practices, Richard (“Blue”) Jones has created a bush medicine garden at the Captain Roland Roberts Environmental Center in Green Turtle Cay. He’s promised to sit down with me next trip and teach me about bush medicine, and of course, I’ll share what I learn here.
In the meantime, I came across a simple, delicious-sounding recipe for hibiscus bush tea on the blog Everywhere with Eryn: “Cut up lemon grass and mint and pull flower petals from hibiscus and put in a tea bag. Put in boiling water and let steep until the color of the tea is a deep pink.” Add a squeeze of lime (and maybe a little honey to cut the cranberry-like tartness) and you’ve got a terrific treatment for colds and flu.
Eryn reports that this bush tea worked better than any over-the-counter medication for her cold/allergy symptoms. Makes sense, since according to bush medicine practitioners, mint is an effective treatment for congestion and digestive issues, lemongrass helps with fever and cough, and lime and hibiscus are both great sources of Vitamin C. Hibiscus is also said to be rich in antioxidants, and studies have shown that hibiscus tea lowers blood pressure in adults with mild hypertension. (It should go without saying that I’m not a doctor, and nothing you read here should be construed as medical advice.)
Turns out that many cultures around the world — from Africa and the Middle East to Central and Latin America and the Caribbean — make some version of hibiscus tea (also known as roselle, sorrel, flor de jamaica or karkade). Here are just a few of the many recipes I’ve found.
If you don’t have access to pesticide-free hibiscus plants, you can buy the dried flowers at health food stores or online (I found a number of suppliers on Amazon.com.) And if you try any of these recipes, let me know what you think.
As a result of your comments and emails, we can now put names to some of the faces in the photos I posted on September 19 and September 24. A huge thank you to Philip Sawyer, Jack Albury, Jack Lowe, Beth Lowe Sawyer, Priscilla Weatherford, Paula Weech Unhjem, Geanette Hall Albury, Emily Lowe Bethel, Robert Malone, Gloria Chiodo, Tuppy Weatherford, Gail Lowe and my mom, Carolyn Albury Diedrick, for the information they shared.
Thanks also to Eileen Hodgkins and Shirley Roberts, who provided names for all but one of the girls in the photo below. Apparently this was a sewing class in Green Turtle Cay in the late 1930s. (I wonder if it was taught by Miss Jones, who also taught the knitting class…?) If you’d like an unnumbered version of this image, drop me a note.
Back Row: 1 – Sybil Saunders Hodgkins (mother of ferry captain Curtis Hodgkins), 2 – Delores Saunders Lowe (sister of 1), 3 – unknown, 4 – Libby Saunders Lowe (wife of Sidney Lowe), 5 – Merlee Lowe Key (wife of Gerald Key), 6 – Audrey Saunders Semon (sister of 1 and 2), 7 – Merriel Roberts Cash (wife of Leo Cash), 8 – Annis Lowe, 9 – Mamie Preston, 10 – Lillian Russell, 11 – Hilda Saunders Hodgkins, (wife of Ritchie Hodgkins,)
Front Row: 12 – Betty Lowe (wife of Emory Lowe), 13 – Agnes Lowe Roberts, (wife of Doyle Roberts), 14 Olga Roberts, 15 Thalia Saunders Lowe (sister of 11, wife of Chester Lowe.)
This is the second post in a series. You’ll find part one here: Faces in Need of Names
A giant thank you to everyone who sent comments and emails about the collection of photos I posted earlier this week. I’ve received some promising leads and hope to be able to identify many of the faces pictured. Once identities are confirmed, I’ll post an update.
In the meantime, here’s a second batch of photos of unknown people. All I know about these images is that they were likely taken in the Bahamas (Abaco or Nassau) between the 1930s and the 1950s. For ease of reference, all images are numbered (see captions.)
For me, the best part of genealogical research is finding old photographs. It’s fine to read about ancestors — where they were born, when they were married, when they died — but seeing their eyes, their expressions, even their attire, makes them real in a way words never could.
Over time, I’ve amassed a collection of old Bahamian photographs, primarily from my late grandmother, Lurey (Curry) Albury in Nassau and my late uncle, Cuthbert Albury, of Marsh Harbour, Abaco. Though my grandmother was able to identify many faces, I’ve still got dozens of images of people I don’t recognize.
For the next while, I’m going to post small groupings of these photos in hopes that someone can help put names to faces. If the folks in the pictures are ancestors of mine, it would be great to know. If they’re not, I’d love to be able to track down their descendants so I can forward the photos to them.
Do you recognize any of these people or places?
If so, please comment at the bottom of this post or, if you prefer, email me privately. If not, I’d appreciate if you’d forward a link to this page to anyone who might be able to help. (To view full-size images and/or complete captions, just double-click on any photo.)
Finally, I’m always on the hunt for old Abaco photos, particularly of Green Turtle Cay. If you have any you’d like to share, let me know. I’d love to see them.
NOTE: I’m not sure, but I believe most of these photos were taken between the late 1930s and the early 1950s.
This post in the first in a series. Part two: (More) Faces in Need of Names
When the wind died down and the rain subsided, the residents of Green Turtle Cay were relieved that the worst was behind them.
But as they emerged from their battered, flooded shelters, they discovered what misery lay ahead.
Six of their own – George Lewis (85), Thomas Roberts (62), Alice Lowe (58), Insley Sawyer (5) and brothers, DeWees and Bert Lowe, (15 and 2, respectively) – had been fatally wounded. Countless others were injured.
Water from Settlement Creek had surged across the lowest part of town and out into the sea of Abaco, destroying the cemetery and unearthing corpses. (Even today, fragments of grave stones remain on the beach that borders the graveyard.)