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The Tribune | Weekend | 25

Friday, May 10, 2019


AbacoFirst settled by Loyalists

In total, between 1,500 and 2,000 Loyalists came to Abaco. But by 1790 most of them, landlubbers as they were, had left. Sailing, fishing and boat-building were the keys to survival in the Bahamas and these skills were introduced by migrants from Harbour Island who, according to Paul Albury, moved to Abaco because the girls there were so pretty. Great Guana Cay, Green Turtle Cay (New Plymouth), Hope Town (founded in 1785) on Elbow Cay and Man O’War Cay were ideally located for access to the fishing grounds. By 1850, Green Turtle Cay had a population of over 1,000 settlers and a fishing fleet of 40 smacks. I was surprised to learn that the original name of Hope Town was Great Harbour. This was also the original name of Clarence Town, Long Island, and there is a Great Harbour Cay in

the Berry Islands. Names like Green Cay and Water Cay are frequently repeated. The famous aviatrix Amelia Earhart once said that one cannot see the beauty of a tree until one has seen its shadow from the air. The aerial photos of Abaco accompanying this article emphasise the advantages of flying. Abaco now has four airstrips – Marsh Harbour, Mores Island, Sandy Point and Treasure Cay. The Loyalists of Marsh Harbour could have never imagined the modern international airport, named after a genuine Abaco boy, Captain Leonard Thompson, the first Bahamian pilot of Bahamas Airways. • For questions and comments, e-mail

Forgotten facts | Paul C Aranha


would like to thank Patrick Bethel, an Abaconian with a well-known name, for sending me a very thoughtful gift – a booklet called “The First Loyalist Settlements in the Abaco: Carleton And Marsh’s Harbour” by Dodge. It is Mr Dodge’s narrative that inspired this article. In 1783, a ship arrived from New York carrying over 600 passengers who founded Abaco’s first Loyalist settlement, called Carleton, after Sir Guy Carleton (1724-1808), who had been

Britain’s commander-in-chief in North America.” Carleton was not a success and its exact location still has not been established, but there is convincing evidence that it was on a point of land, northwest of the beach at today’s Treasure Cay. We know, however, that there had been a serious falling-out between the settlers and a disgruntled majority of them had moved along the shore to create what we now call Marsh Harbour, where subsequent arrivals from New York started their new lives.

Green Turtle Cay. The arrow points to New Plymouth.

Hope Town, formerly called Great Harbour.

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05102019 WEEKEND  

05102019 WEEKEND