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NEWSLETTER October 2009

Dear Member,

Our New Jubilee Journal will be coming soon free to paid up members!

Contents:

  • President’s Message
  • Editors’ Note
  • In Search of San Salvador: A Cartographic Odyssey - Ronald Shaklee
  • Cemeteries, Histories, and Communities on a Bahamian Family Island: Historical Archaeology and Cemeteries on San Salvador - Jane Baxter and Michael Steven Marshall
  • Kerr Mount: The Material Record of a Plantation Period Plantation - Jane Baxter, John Burton and Marcus Wekenmann
  • Charting The Bahamas: A Preliminary Account of British Naval Surveys, 1815-1840 - Colin Brooker
  • “This Small Act of Courtesy” – Admiral Sir George Willes Watson, Trouble, Trials, and Turmoil in Bahamian Waters - Kenneth Startup
  • U-Boats in the Bahamas - Eric Troels Wiberg
  • A History of Sweetings Cay, Commonwealth of The Bahamas - Scott Sherouse
  • 20th Century Bahamian Labour: Some Personal Perspectives - A Leonard Archer
  • Book Review of Taíno Indian Myth and Practice: The Arrival of a Stranger King - William F. Keegan by Justin Symington
  • Obituary to Basil North - Keva Bethel
  • Research in Progress
  • Talks, Meetings and Events

We also have for sale previous Journals from 1979 to 2008 for a price of $5 ($3 for students) each. And we have only six full sets for sale at $100 per set.....more sets can be made up with a CD of 1991 Journal. Two gentlemen, who are enjoying full sets are the Honourable Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham and former Governor-General Sir Orville Turnquest.


Dont forget our next talk: Thursday, October 15, 2009, at 6 pm - Dr Ronald V. Shaklee - "In Search of San Salvador: A Cartographic Odyssey." Christopher Columbus made his first landfall in the New World on October 12, 1492. Columbus affixed the name of San Salvador to the island that served as the site of his first landfall. Columbus left the island behind in search of the gold and riches of the Indies and never returned. The island of San Salvador, quite literally, fell off of the face of the earth following its role as the landfall of Columbus. The controversy over where Columbus first landed continues to this day. In an effort to determine if early maps of the region might have recorded the island of Columbus’ landfall I surveyed 16th, 17th, and 18th century maps available from various internet sites to determine how the island we currently identify as San Salvador was portrayed on these early maps.

Parking in the ex Psilinakis car park north of the Museum on Elizabeth Avenue – entrance via First Caribbean Bank entrance on Shirley Street.

Don't forget to get your tickets to the Jubilee Banquet on 7th November at Sandals.


It is with great sadness we feel the loss of Sir Clement T Maynard but celebrate his talk to the Society in September 2007. I had the pleasure of introducing him on that evening.

Sir Clement T Maynard

The distinguished gentleman that I have the pleasure to introduce this evening was born in 1928 in that district of Nassau that was known at that time as Free Town – the area between Mackey Street and Kemp Road.

His mother was a Symonette from Wemyss Bight, Eleuthera and his father was a construction worker from Barbados, who came to the Bahamas during the building boom of the 1920s.

As a boy he attended the St Felicitas African Orthodox Church on Bilney Lane (A place that interests me as a Historical Researcher).

He grew up during the great depression following the cessation of Bootlegging and the decline of the sponge industry which killed the construction business. Bahamians of that time became entrepreneurs and his parents then opened a small store.

When our guest speaker was 17 years old his father died and he became the chief breadwinner of the close knit family in one of those true neighbourhoods of yesteryear.

His daytime occupation was as Lab Assistant at the Bahamas General Hospital but he supplemented his low wages by working as a night auditor at the Montagu Hotel.

He married Zoe, the daughter of Dr Roland and Meta Davis Cumberbatch. (I was surprised to learn that the Cumberbatches lived next door to my in-laws the Browns on East Bay Street).

In 1949 our speaker graduated from The Franklin School of Science and Arts in Philadelphia and returned to Nassau to become the first Bahamian Medical Technologist.

In 1950 he joined St James Masonic Lodge and the PLP in 1954. From 1959 to 1967 he became the founding President of the Civil Service Union. After the 1967 General Election he became Leader of the Government in the Senate and the next year he was elected to the House of Assembly and spent 29 years in the House with 25 of those as a Cabinet Minister. He is best known as Minister of Tourism but served in Works, Health, Home Affairs, Foreign Affairs and Deputy Prime Mister.

Our guest was knighted by the Queen and retired from Politics in 1997. In retirement he devotes much of his time helping and advising his former constituents in Yellow Elder.

He has recently written his memoirs and one wonders how so much activity can be packed into one lifetime.

I call on him now “To put on more Speed” - Ladies and gentlemen please welcome Sir Clement Travelyan Maynard.

Our condolences to the family and friends.


I am no James Joyce but sometimes I find that I find myself in a ‘stream-of-consciousness’ mode. Anthony ‘Skeebo’ Roberts mentioned to me one day that he would like to research and write about the ‘Gallant Thirty’ and I coincidently found the ship they sailed out on. Out of the blue Paul Aranha sent me a list of the contingent and then in one of my recent letters I wrote about the IODE and their Poppy Day Dances. All this reminded me that it will soon be Remembrance Day and that we that know what it is all about should do something to raise public awareness of the debt we owe these heroes.

The Gallant 30 Go Off to the First World War

(The text is mostly taken from The Story of the Bahamas by Paul Albury)

The Bahamas received the news of the outbreak of the First World War in 1914 via the year old Marconi wireless system.

Crowds milled about the government bulletin board to catch every scrap of information as soon as it was posted. Newspapers were quickly bought up as sellers moved along the streets shouting: 'Extra! Extra! Latest War News!' Sponge and sisal merchants were informed by telegram that the markets of the world had collapsed in the face of a possible global upheaval and the resulting uncertainty.

On 7 August, three days after Britain entered the war, the Legislature was called into special session. The Governor, Mr Haddon-Smith, informed members that a bill would be intro­duced to legalize the issuing of necessary proclamations. He spoke of the blow to trade, the probability of hard times for Bahamians, and the possible necessity of relief measures. And he requested the Legislature to authorize the Governor-in-Council to provide what relief might be required.

That same evening, a public meeting was held in Rawson Square. The Governor pointed out that imported food might soon become scarce, and that Bahamians should exercise economy and do all they could to make the colony self-sufficient. A War Relief Committee was formed under the chairmanship of the Speaker of the House of Assembly. The first job this Committee set itself was to undertake a monetary collection. Voluntary contributions came from the well-to-do and the not so well-to-do. Gold sovereigns were mixed with widows' mites. Many workers gave a day's pay; children gave their pennies and half-pennies. Before the end of the year £3000 had been sent to London.

The economic gloom came to be overshadowed by a buoyant spirit of patriotism, the likes of which had not been known since the war of 1812. Many Bahamians were anxious to get into the actual fighting and, after undergoing preliminary training, the first group of selected volunteers turned out on the Eastern Parade for all the town to see. The Governor's wife presented them with a silken flag bearing the colony's Coat of Arms. The flag was attached to an historic staff which had once carried the colours of the old Bahama Militia. On 1 September 1915 this first contingent known as the 'Gallant Thirty' sailed. They were followed by a second contingent of 105 men in November 1915 and, in the following May, by a third contingent of eighty-seven men.

The Gallant Thirty (Thanks to Paul Aranha for the names)

 

Captain William Fletcher Albury

Bruce M Maura

Fletcher Albury

Horatio C O Brown

Origen H Mason

Henry A Roach

Frederick C C Lightbourn

James S Taylor

Heisal S Hall

Robert J Atwill

Charles Bain

G P Bethel

Artie Kemp

Reginald Wood

Harold Bascombe

Frederick Flowers

A Henry Fountain

James Bain

George H Johnson

Charles Bethel

Austin Dean

James H Knowles

George Aranha

William Thompson

Matthew Armbrister

A Vincent Roberts

John Demeritte

Dr R W Albury

Sidney Farrington

John Williams

Altogether, 486 volunteers departed officially to become a part of the British West India Regiment. Other Bahamians joined the regular British, Canadian or American forces, making a grand total of about 700 men. Of those who enlisted in the colony, six were killed in action, three died from wounds and twenty-eight died from other causes.

The cost to the Treasury of recruiting, equipping and despatch­ing Bahamian volunteers was £27,621. Expenditure for a Home Defence Force amounted to £8655. To these two items must be added other contributions made by the Government, which collectively totalled £47,292. Voluntary contributions from the people amounted to £10,316. The economy of the colony did not suffer as much as had been anticipated. Exports to European markets were adversely affected, but those to the United States held up well. In fact some products forged ahead of pre-war years. For example during 1917 sponge sales at the local Exchange totalled £152,000, exceeding the best previous year, 1913, by £53,000. And sisal did better still, bringing in £181,700.

Government revenue, in 1913, amounted to a little more than £100,000. But that was an exceptional year, being more than £23,000 greater than the average of the preceding five years. During the war years it hovered between £77,000 and £90,000, which compared most favourably with pre-war receipts. However, there were annual deficits due chiefly to expenses connected with the contingents. These were met by loans which increased the public debt from £43,000 to £69,000.


Rosemary Hanna wishes to alert our members to the St Agnes Anglican Church website at www.stagnesgt.com. You might find the "Church History", "Biographies" and "Feature Articles" sections of particular interest.

Also for religious music lovers: Fourth Annual Festival of Hymns & Anthems - 15th November 2009. Under the direction of Rosemary C. Hanna. Accompanists: Edward Cox, Allison Dean & Dexter...


We had such a wonderful turnout at our last talk with Prof. Shaklee. Thanks to Andrea Major for photos:


Juliana (Esfakis) Horne found this picture, while clearing out their Market Street property. It just shows one person’s junk is another person’s history.

James “Doc” Sands

James Osborne Sands, popularly known as “Doc”, was born at Rock Sound, Eleuthera in 1885 to James Alexander and Sarah Margaret Sands. He was the second of 6 children. Doc’s parents moved to Nassau so that the children would have the opportunity to attend better schools. He was one of the first professional photographers in Nassau. His studio was in the building behind the Masonic Temple. Doc frequently had a nephew take him out to Treasure Island, Hog Island, etc to take pictures. They would start out before dawn so that Doc could be ready with his head under the black cloth, until just the right cloud would get into the right position before taking a picture.

Because of ill health and failing eyesight, Doc gave up photography and for a while sold quality German cameras in his sisters' shop, Home Industries, situated in the Masonic Temple building, later occupied by the Johnson Tortoise Shell business. Doc was almost totally blind the last 8 years of his life, and died at age 93 in 1978.

I must clear up two points from my previous e mail.

The first that Juliana Horne recognized the photo of the young boy was a part of important history and not junk!

The second is that the photo is of Garth Johnson. Ron Lightbourn enlightened me of this and allowed me to use these excerpts from his book - with a gentle reminder that this coming Christmas will be the last chance to make a gift of Reminiscing II to anyone who doesn't yet have a copy. Help the Bahamas Historical Society by buying it there.

Ron writes: This handsome young lad, Garth Johnson, was pho­tographed about 1924 by Doc Sands for his parents, Allan L. Johnson and Miriam Sands Johnson. Miriam was "Doc" Sands' sister.

This story has a tragic ending. During World War II (1939-1945), Garth felt called to duty and was one of those Bahamians who vol­unteered to join in the struggle against Germany. Like my cousin, Warren Lightbourn, he became a Royal Air Force fighter pilot who was killed in action when his plane was shot down.

James Osborne Sands, born in 1885 at Rock Sound, Eleuthera, may have been small of stature, but his work as a professional photographer towers over all others in the 1900s. When he was still a boy he and his family moved to Nassau where, at school leaving age, he became an apprentice to photographer J.F Coonley, whose work the reader has already seen in chapter three. Sands was fascinated by photography, and thrived under Coonley's mature influence. In 1904, when Sands was only eighteen, Coonley retired from his solidly established Nassau business and passed it on to his young apprentice.

Sands was affectionately known as "Doc" all his life, undoubtedly earning the nick­name because of his attitude toward photography, and his tireless pursuit of perfec­tion. He clearly had a "Doctorate in Photography." His nephew, who used to take him to nearby Salt Cay for scenic picture taking, told how "Doc" thought nothing of wait­ing hours for a cloud to move into perfect position. As for my own opinion, I am quite in awe of Doc's photographs, especially his busy street scenes, where he exhibits a remarkable ability to choose the perfect moment for all his unposed characters to be in just the right place to be most natural and effective. To do this with a single-shot view camera, on a tripod, long before the days of high speed Leicas and Nikons, I find to be a stunning accomplishment. On the following pages you will see numerous examples of this, starting with the photograph on the facing page.

Doc Sands continued Coonley's tradition of scenic prints and fine studio portraits, but he also self-published more than 200 postcard scenes of Nassau, many of them beau­tifully hand-coloured. The pictures for these cards were taken during a thirty year peri­od, and to this day are coveted by collectors in England, the US, and the Bahamas.

It is an irony, that the man who photographed so many others, was hardly ever pho­tographed himself.

Don’t forget our Banquet: A Gala Golden Jubilee Banquet under the distinguished patronage of His Excellency, The Hon. Arthur D. Hanna, Governor General of The Commonwealth of The Bahamas, is planned for Saturday, 7th November, 2009, at Sandals Royal Bahamian Resort Ballroom, Cable Beach, and New Providence, Bahamas. Cocktails at 7 pm. Dinner at 8 pm. Dancing and serenading music by Doc's Melody Makers along with other entertainment. Donation $100.00 per person. A souvenir programme is being produced and ad spaces are still open. Tickets are available at BHS and through Committee members. To reserve banquet tickets, and for further information, telephone (242) 322-4231 (daytime).

Eight deserving BHS faithful members, supporters and volunteers will be honoured during the Banquet. These prominent Bahamian citizens, some of whom were past presidents of the Society, are: Geoffrey A. D. Johnstone, KCMG, Dr. Vernell L. Allen, MBE, Dr. D. Gail Saunders, OBE, Mr. David Cates, Miss June Maura, OBE, MVO, Mr. Donald Venn-Brown, Miss M. Barbara Brown, MBE, and Mrs. Dorothea "Dollie" Foster.

And our Next talks: Thursday, 26th November, 2009 Presentation by: Darius Williams, on Liberated African Settlements in the Northern Islands of The Bahamas.

Thursday, Dec. 3/09 Presentation by: Jane Baxter along with co-author Michael Marshall: Historical Cemeteries and Burial Practices on San Salvador. An "Archaeological" Study.

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