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Bahamas DNA Project

NEWSLETTER September 2011

Dear Members and Friends,

Next Meeting: Thursday, 29th September at 6:00pm
Museum of the Bahamas Historical Society

Heather Hatch will present the topic pursued in her upcoming PhD Thesis:
Harbour Island and Maritime Life in the 17-19th Century Bahamas.

Harbour Island hosts one of the oldest communities in the Bahamas, and one that has looked to the sea for its survival for much of its history. Whether the inhabitants were themselves mariners, merchants, wreckers, fruit growers, fishermen, or (most likely) some combination of these, they certainly had family who engaged directly with the sea in some regard. They were also culturally and historically connected to the wider network of the British Atlantic. The consumer goods available to them were, for the most part, the same ones circulating among the other British colonies. Two years of archaeological research at nine Harbour Island properties were carried out to examine the material culture of the islanders. Combined with historical research at the National Archives of the Bahamas and elsewhere, this material can help explore whether or not the maritime focus of the islands is visible archaeologically.

Heather Hatch is a PhD student in the Nautical Archaeology Program at Texas A&M University. She acquired her BA in Anthropology at the University of New Brunswick in her hometown Fredericton, NB, Canada, and holds MAs in European Historical Archaeology from the University of Sheffield (Sheffield, UK), and Maritime History from the East Carolina University (Greenville, North Carolina, USA). Her interests are focused on the maritime communities, and the relationship between culture, identity, and the environment. Both of her MA degrees focused on researching 18th century piracy, examining pirate flag symbolism as an expression of group identity, and searching for markers of pirate identity at previously excavated archaeological sites. Her present research focuses on understanding the nature of maritime identity, or maritimity, and examining whether this can be seen in the archaeological record.

Andrew McKinney brought me two wonderful photoes that reveal the cultural pastof The Bahamas: Firstly Elgin Forsyth: I first ‘met’ Elgin Forsythe , the boatbuilder, Commissioner and historian through the writings of my late father in law, Paul Albury. I was very impressed by the breadth and depth of the knowledge of both men. Another stalwart historian Paul Aranha has much more information about his ancestral relative Elgin Forsythe.

Elgin Forsythe boatbuilder, Commissioner and Historian


The second photo Andrew McKinney donated was the St Hilda’s Anglican School in the 1920s - situated below Government House. Andrew McKinney is the boy with the starch white open necked shirt standing 4th from left in the 3rd row from front.

 


Donald BrownOBITUARY

Donald Venn Brown

March 20, 1925 - August 7, 2011

Donald Venn Brown was born on March 20, 1925 in Nassau. He attended St. Francis Xavier School. Raised as an Anglican but converted to Catholicism in 1969.

He began his banking career with the Royal Bank of Canada in the late 1940s. Transferred to South America in the early 1950s, where he met his wife Mercedes Grau in Cartagena, Colombia. They had two sons Donald Henry and Michael Venn.

Donald returned with his family to the Bahamas in 1970 and continued his career with the Royal Bank until his retirement in 1985.

He was known for his generosity and civic mindedness. He was most recently the treasurer for the Bahamas Historical Society for many years.

He touched many people's lives and was never too busy to help thos in need. He was a loving and generous man and will always be remembered in the hearts of those who loved him.

The family wishes to thank Sybil and Charles Sweeting for their devoted love and care during his illness. As well as his close friends and relatives for their friendship and support.

In 2009 at our Golden Jubilee Banquet, Donald was honoured by the Society for his long service. Also honoured were: Sir Jeffrey A. D. Johnstone, KCMG, Dr. Vernell L. Allen, MBE, Dr. D. Gail Saunders, OBE, Mr. David Cates, Ms. June Maura, OBE, Mrs. M. Barbara Brown, MBE, Mrs. Dorothea "Dollie" Foster.

The deaths of our members always get me to thinking about the past fifty two years. I always feel a sense of debt and gratitude to those who kept the Bahamas Historical Society alive so that we may benefit. I came across the following photographs of the honourees of the Banquet of 1989. At that time Dr Gail Saunders was the President making the awards.


Dr. Gail Saunders presenting an award to Bryan Thomas.


Dr. Gail Saunders presenting an award to Dawn Davies.


Dr. Gail Saunders presenting an award to Joan Albury.


Dr. Gail Saunders presenting an award to Lorraine Lightbourn.


Dr. Gail Saunders presenting an award to Nancy Cole.


I received an extremely interesting e mail from Paul Aranha as follows: "These images are taken from a 1944 movie, which was filmed at Broadcasting House, in London. The ‘cast’ consists of so-called West Indians, who went to England, to help with the war effort. Several of them were from the Bahamas, including those shown here. http://www.socawarriors.net/forum/index.php?topic=48645.0 These images have been taken from that film, in the hope that names can be put to the faces of the Bahamian volunteers.


(Above) Does this man’s shoulder-flash say BAHAMAS? If so, could he be Fane Solomon?


I thought the following wartime information about World War 2 would also be of interest:

Tribune 23rd January 1943 - The Defences of Nassau..

Tribune representative taken on a tour of the new RAF Station …At this season of the year Nassau has long been the rendezvous for strangers from all round the world – new faces, new people, pockets bulging with money, young and old, all looking for rest, moderate recreation or rip roaring fun.
And Nassau has something to offer all comers.
For the youth of the town the most attractive features of “the season” was the new crop of young girls the winter drove south and every year from all parts of USA, Canada and great Britain with an occasional continental face give added variety to the patchwork of beauty.
This “season” the town is full of strangers – a different type of stranger….not looking for rest, fun and there is little time for recreation because they are engaged in the serious business of war.
…tables are turned…a new crop of boys attracting the attention of the Nassau girls…only there are not enough girls to go round
There are boys to suit every type and taste: The kilted Celts took a licking here, many fell victim to the charm of the Nassau ladies and signed their names in the book for the duration of life – now they are twain.

Then there are the Canadian and American Troops, the American men on the project and our own khaki lads.
But more and more the uniform of the RAF has come into evidence.
Planes drone overhead all day and all night. The island’s blackouts are not normal events – they are accompanied by planes speeding overhead and the light of flares that expose the objective…..
In recent months terrific explosions have come out of the west that caused the whole island to tremble…baby earthquakes would rock you out of bed.
Ships came, ships went, planes came, planes went – bringing men, material and equipment….
Nassau has been development conscious for a long time. But the greatest development of the age has been carried on behind forbidden boundaries.
From the original pioneer work of Sir Harry Oakes, who first created the landing field, the genius of the US Engineering Department, through the Lend-Lease Plan has now provided the vast network of landing areas to give Nassau one of the largest landing fields in the world – fields that may play an important part in the plans of the British airways for the development of great armadas for trans continental commercial flying after the war.
Nassau is a perfect country for flying. There are no icing conditions and most of the time the visibility is good.
The Oakes Airport was too low – the area settled water every time there was a heavy rainfall. A new airport had to be built in a new location. Hills had to be blasted away so that runways could be located on higher ground.
Along miles of smooth new highway we came to a new country. No longer was the lake seen from the elevation of a hill…the great booms had reduced the hill to the level of the lake.
On the far side of the lake were some fashionable homes of Nassau’s exclusive tourist colony, most now empty. On the other side were evidence of the area that Sir Harry Oakes chugged day after day on his great ‘iron horse’, making roads here there and everywhere.
There are military buildings everywhere..austere barracks for the men, quarters for officers.
In town efforts are being made to entertain the men: football, The Duchess of Windsor’s Canteen in the Bahamian Club premises, dances, and of course ‘the date’ for the lucky few. The airport has a cinema and a recreation hall.
There is a modern Hospital for injuries and sickness.
With the establishment of this airport the old Nassau died…this airport did not kill Nassau, it is merely a symbol of a passing age. But its coming into being has conjured up visions of the future…..this airport seems to write clearly across the landscape a pattern of the new Nassau and the part it is destined to play in the post war world.
We are moving into a new world, a world in which men with vision, faith and enterprise will ride into the sun on the wings of time and progress.
(The tour was conducted by Flying Officer Pulitzer, veteran of American Expeditionary Force in WW1 and now in the Intelligence Branch of RAF…son of Joseph Pulitzer founder of the Pulitzer Prize)


Guardian 14th July 1944 –

Jeanne Bellamy’s Interview with Duke of Windsor from Miami Herald……

headed PROUD OF BAHAMAS ROLE IN WAR

“We are far away from the war zones but we are training air crews for RAF”

“We have provided 6,000 farm labourers for USA”

“Some 80 Bahamians are serving overseas”

“I think for a small place we have not done so badly. It is not spectacular, but it’s a useful job.

I hope we are “moving into a new world, a world in which men (and women) with vision, faith and enterprise will ride into the sun on the wings of time and progress”.


The IODE Headquarters was purpose built in 1952 as an entertainment centre with a stage, dance floor and kitchen. Kindly, in 1976 the IODE donated the building to The Bahamas Historical Society and we created a historical museum in it. We have decided to invite cultural groups to perform in the hall which not only promotes culture and showcases the museum but at the same time raises much needed revenue for the improvements to the building.

The following events will be staged at the museum:

Shakespeare in Paradise: Mariah Brown, a one-woman play by Sandra Riley about an African-Bahamian pioneer to South Florida at the end of the 19th century.

Mariah Brown will be staged at the Bahamas Historical Society at the following times:

  • Tuesday, October 4 @ 11 AM
  • Wednesday, October 5 @ 8 PM
  • Friday, October 6 @ 8 PM
  • Saturday, October 7 @ 8 PM

Reserve via e-mail: tix@shakespeareinparadise.org or call: (242) 431-7197 - Box Office opens at the Dundas on September 19th, Telephone: 393-3728 or 394-7179 (10:00am – 4:00pm Monday-Saturday)

AND
The Nassau Chamber Ensemble presents an afternoon of light classical music to be held at the Bahamas Historical Society Museum on Sunday, 30th October, 2011 at 3:00 pm.

This second concert for this year, would highlight such works from composers like Corelli, Manfredini, Beethoven and Brahms - just to name a few.

Tickets for this event would be available from Tuesday, 18th October, 2011 at the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas. Ticket price for adults $20.00, and for students with ID $10.00. We hope that everyone would be able to join us for this delightful event. Refreshments would be served.

Kind regards,

Jim Lawlor,
President.

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