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In Loving Memory

In Loving MemoryIn the three decades since 1976, when the Public Records Office (now the Department of Archives) published a 60-page booklet, titled St. Matthew's Cemetery and The Eastern Burial Ground, the cemeteries have grown so much that it took BHS Life Member Capt. Paul C. Aranha almost two years of time, and 371 pages of letter-size paper, to produce his newly-completed catalogue of the inscriptions on the graves in those same burial places.

IN LOVING MEMORY: A 2005 Guide to Inscriptions on Graves in St. Matthew's Cemetery, the Jewish Cemetery, the Eastern Cemetery and the Centre Burial Ground presents not only the text, but also a photograph, of each inscription. The book divides the four cemeteries into thirteen sections, with a diagram of each section and an index of names.

While its creator has no plans to offer a print-edition, he did present a specially-produced 371-page hardcopy to the Department of Archives, where it is now accessible for research by members of the public.

Paul Aranha's new CD "TWELVE BAHAMIAN CEMETERIES" presents inscriptions in twelve cemetereis in various islands of the Bahamas. This updated work has been expanded to include all the details previously found on "IN LOVING MEMORY: A 2005 Guide to Inscriptions on Graves in St. Matthew's Cemetery, the Jewish Cemetery, the Eastern Cemetery and the Centre Burial Ground", but with numerous improvements, plus eight other cemeteries.

The new CD shows more than 4,000 inscriptions - with at least one photograph of each. The cemeteries covered are: in New Providence - Centre Burial Ground, Eastern Cemetery, Jewish Cemetery, Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Cemetery, St. Mary's Anglican Cemetery, St. Matthew's Anglican Cemetery, Veterans' Cemetery and Western Cemetery; in Andros - All Saint's Anglican Cemetery, Mangrove Cay; in Eleuthera - two cemeteries in Governor's Harbour; in Exuma - St. Andrew's Anglican Cemetery, Georgetown. A comprehensive INDEX of names adds to the value. All this for just $15.00.

If you would like to order your copy, simply fill out the order form below. Currently, we can accept the following methods of payment: cheques drawn on a bank in the Bahamas (price B$15.00) or the U.S. (price US$15.00) or deposit to a German bank account (price €15.00). Your CDs will be shipped once your payment has been received.


Shortly after I became interested in genealogy, research into my mother's family-tree took me to North Carolina, former home of my great, great, great grandfather, Loyalist Maj. Archibald Taylor, who had been second-in-command, under Col. Andrew Deveaux, of the April 1783 raid that recaptured New Providence from the Spaniards.

Finding Bladen County, NC was not as easy I expected but in the county capital, Elizabethtown, the Bladen County Public Library proved a veritable treasure trove, with its history Archive, run by Vivian McDowell, my fifth cousin.

Late in the afternoon, in a remote area beyond the airport, I paced off 1,760 yards, along a narrow road into a dense forest then started to look for the Taylor Cemetery where, in the gathering dusk, I snapped photos of the 200-year-old monuments, before heading back to my 20th-century rental car.

As darkness began to envelop me, and the path became increasingly-difficult to follow, I realised that nobody knew where I was, except - perhaps - the spirits of my long-dead ancestors. Imagining Archibald Taylor Sr. plodding his way through 18th-century Bladen County, I remembered the opening lines of Thomas Gray's "ELEGY WRITTEN IN A COUNTRY CHURCHYARD": -

"The curfew tolls the knell of parting day,
The lowing herd winds slowly o'er the lea,
The ploughman homeward plods his weary way,
And leaves the world to darkness and to me.
Now fades the glimmering landscape on the sight,
And all the air a solemn stillness holds . . . "

One morning, in St. Matthew's Churchyard, while the rush-hour traffic made its slow, noisy way into the City, the word's of Gray's Elegy provided the perfect description of how I felt, as I moved amongst the graves: -

". . . far from the madding crowd's ignoble strife".

Not everyone would choose to spend hours documenting the inscriptions in a graveyard and, as my notes and photographic images grew, I came to respect the work done by the compilers of the 1976 booklet "ST. MATTHEW'S CEMETERY AND THE EASTERN BURIAL GROUND", published by the, then, Public Records Office.

That booklet has become the Bahamian icon on the subject. So great was its success that I found it impossible to buy an original and had to settle for a not-too-perfect photocopy, to grace my home library and further my genealogical ambitions. My enjoyment was, however, enhanced by my neighbour, Mrs. Ralph Seligman, who generously loaned me her 'first issue' and encouraged me to update it - for the 4 cemeteries have changed so much since 1976. Updating proved to be beyond my capabilities, and the result is a totally-new Guide, in a totally-different format, with a totally-new diagram of each section. None of the diagrams is drawn to scale and their only purpose is to help interested persons locate the individual inscriptions. I do not pretend to know anything about ownership of plots.

Using hundreds of digital photographs, with countless hours spent hand-tracing letters and words, I was able to decipher, and copy, most of the inscriptions but I was fortunate to have help from several sources - though any errors and omissions are mine alone. My former airline-colleague, Godfrey Symonette spent several days drawing sketch-plans of the layout of graves. Ms. Amanda Graham explored with me and helped me decipher inscriptions. My wife, Kim, and our son, Scott, accompanied me, on occasion, and succeeded in deciphering several photographs that refused to come into focus for my ageing eyes.

Despite all efforts, several inscriptions defeated our best efforts and, in those cases, I have had to quote from other sources. The 1976 booklet made my work much easier and quotations from that document are clearly indicated, usually with the letters 'PRO'. Also, the 1937 book "THE EARLY SETTLERS OF THE BAHAMAS AND COLONISTS OF NORTH AMERICA", by A. Talbot Bethel, provided valuable reading. Quotations therefrom are indicated with the word

I was born just a few hundred yards from the Eastern Cemetery, used the cemeteries as a regular short-cut and played in them, on countless occasions. I found that so many of the inscriptions are in memory of friends and neighbours, whom I knew well, that I became committed to the three words that typify those inscriptions - "In Memory Of".

The monuments to our ancestors, who are buried in the graveyards throughout the Bahamas, are very much a part of our history and heritage. They should not be allowed to become lost to weeds and indifference. This guide is an attempt to not let that happen in the 4 cemeteries that it covers.

October 18, 2005

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