First Mate

My paternal grandfather, Howard Lowe, had a brief life on this earth.  He was born on April 20, 1898 in Green Turtle Cay, Abaco.  According to the Bahamas Death Register on November 11, 1927, he died at the age of 29 of chronic rheumatism.  Howard married Bessie Caroline Curry on March 3, 1924 and fifteen months later they became the proud parents of a baby boy John Wesley Lowe, my Dad.

04-20 Howard Lowe Passport Photo 1919
Howard Lowe – passport photo circa 1919

Howard Lowe Death RegisterBahamas Death Register Howard Lowe – November 11, 1927

The only tangible item that Dad possessed from his father was a passport.  Howard was twenty-one at the time his passport was issued.  The photograph inside was the only picture of Howard in our possession for years.

The passport denotes “given at Government House, Nassau, in the Colony of the Bahamas, the 15th day of September 1919.”   The Description of Bearer provides us with his physical features.  Howard was five feet seven inches tall.  The passport notes blue eyes, dark brown hair, a sharp nose, a prominent chin, and a ‘tear on left cheek.’  Two government stamps provide clues of his travels.  Trips to Miami, Florida for work as a fisherman are indicated in September 1919 and also in May 1920.

In March 1914, a month prior to his sixteenth birthday, Howard joined the Green Turtle Cay Church of God assembly.  This church was organized in July 1913 by missionary Carl M. Padgett.  Howard’s father, John Aquilla Lowe, was appointed as the first pastor.  In 1915, Howard was appointed Clerk of the church and continued in that role until his death in 1927.

GTC First Assembly - John A. Lowe and Howard Lowe 2
Green Turtle Cay Church of God congregation organized in 1913. Front Row (L to R) – Hartley Roberts and Mira Lowe Roberts holding their daughter Mizpah Roberts White, Overseer Carl M. Padgett, unknown, Mildred Pearce Lowe holding son John Estwick “Ekkie” Lowe. Back Row – unknown, William R. Franks, John Aquilla Lowe, Howard Lowe, Osgood Lowe.

In May 2013, the church celebrated its 100 anniversary and has the distinction of being the oldest Church of God assembly outside the United States.  My wife and I had the privilege to attend this anniversary service where my grandfather, Howard, was honored for his years of service as Clerk of the church.

Howard Lowe, my father, the youngest son of John Aquilla Lowe and Minnie Curry, grew up on the small island of Green Turtle Cay, Abaco in the Bahamas.  As a young man, he enlisted with Hartley Roberts, his brother-in-law, working as the first mate on the mail boat, Priscilla.

I have no recollection on my father.  His journey on this earth was brief. Five months prior to his thirtieth birthday, he was called to his heavenly home.  His cause of death remains somewhat a mystery.  An infected knee, perhaps an injury on the mail boat, could have played a role.  At his funeral, two British pennies were placed on his eyes to keep them closed.

Journals of John W. Lowe

The minutes of the church noted the following on November 11, 1927…

Brother Howard Lowe, Clerk of the Church of God at Green Turtle Cay, fell asleep in Jesus.  He left a bright and glorious testimony saying it was well with my soul.  He leaves a loving wife and one little son to mourn his departure.

W.A. Barelis, Pastor

A formal tombstone was also commissioned by the Church of God for the 100th anniversary celebration.  My cousin’s recent blog post  (Green Turtle Cay’s Historic Cemetery – Little House by the Ferrygives a fantastic picturesque synopsis of this historic cemetery, where many of our mutualancestors are laid to rest.


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