School Days

During our recent day excursion to Green Turtle Cay, our clan of eight covered more territory than expected, thanks to local transportation (golf carts) provided by Kool Karts.  With a seemingly endless list of people and places to see, we had to budget our time to not miss the last ferry back to Treasure Cay.  On that list was the school house Dad attended and often reminisced about.

After pausing to savor a fabulous lunch at the Green Turtle Club, we ventured back to New Plymouth.  At the bottom of the hill,  we parked the golf carts and climbed the steps in our flip flops to see this historic school house.  An unexpected flashback occurred of the visit over twenty years ago via the Big Red Boat.  On that day Dad was the one ecstatic to show me the school house, nestled on top of a 65-foot hill overlooking New Plymouth, and the 30 steps cut into the side of a limestone hill.  As my kids climbed the worn and distressed steps, I paused on the crest of the hill to cherish the picturesque view of the settlement below and imagined the path Dad would race along each day to school – barefoot.

Dad and Mom at the Green Turtle Cay School House in 1992.

…From there we walked up the hill. We had to go up thirty steps to the school building. It was the first time for my son and his wife, but for me, it was a reminder of the ten years of my life attending school. Mr. Herbert Roberts was the principal of that school. After many years of service, he was transferred to Nassau to be the principal of a government school…          Journals of John W. Lowe 

Dad & Mom at the bottom of the school house steps in 1992.
My kids on the school house steps in 2014.

Children attended the All Age School around the age of five until fourteen.   Dad recollected writing on slates in class under the tutelage of principal, Herbert Roberts and teacher, Amy Roberts.  It was not uncommon for Amy Roberts to move the classroom outdoors to teach subjects that did not require a blackboard.  Every morning she began the day with a lesson from the Bible.  A tamarind switch from a nearby tree helped to keep order in the classroom.

What we may consider today a simple education, Dad had utmost appreciation for the wisdom and  instruction he received.   At the age of 15, he embarked for Nassau to start a successful career and emerged as a respected businessman in the Bahamian community for nearly 50 years.

The Amy Roberts Primary School – 2014
Herbert Roberts on the left. Photo found in Dad’s album.

While in Nassau, Dad reconnected with former principal, Herbert Roberts, who became a lifelong friend and mentor.  Not only was Mr. Roberts a great educator, but also a successful businessman.  During the era that Dad operated and managed one of Nassau’s thriving furniture companies, he would swing by the office of Mr. Herbert Roberts just a few miles away for counsel.  At that time, Herbert owned Home Furniture in Palmdale, a friendly competitor who often joked with Dad about joining forces with him.

Richard HERBERT Roberts, M.B.E. was born in 1911 in Green Turtle Cay and died in Nassau in 2003 at the age of 92.   In 1929, he and Lambert Lowe were sent by the Bahamas government to Alabama to study agriculture.  And in 1931 he became the principal of the All Age School in Green Turtle Cay, a calling that he would embrace for approximately 12 years.  Joy Lowe Jossi reflects on her Uncle Herbert…

He married my dad, Clarie Lowe’s sister, Emma. Quite the romance with the young school monitor sent about 1929  from GTC to Marsh Harbour to relieve the long-career teacher John GOODWIN Roberts for a sabbatical of travel to Portland, Oregon to visit his oldest son. He befriended Emma’s father, Eldred Lowe, built a boat for him, and asked for his daughter’s hand in marriage in 1932. They married in August 1932 at Marsh Harbour, moved to GTC just before the terrible hurricane in September.

An energetic, friendly, talented teacher who turned business man in Nassau to better provide for his growing family. Downtown Nassau furniture store owner, Joe Garfunkel, tapped the young teacher to come work with him. Many years later, Uncle Herbert became owner of Home Furniture. His three surviving children are in the store today.   Every summer Uncle Herbert and Aunt Emma and family spent a month at Abaco between her Marsh Harbour and his GTC.

Uncle Herbert’s bearing and manner exemplified diligence.  He was a tall, slim man – black hair, dark brown eyes – a quick wit with humour – kind and generous.  His influence impacted his students like your dad, Tony Roberts, Peter Lowe, and Donald Saunders. All became leaders in Nassau’s industry. Their bond with him and esteem stayed strong. He taught them bookkeeping at night school.

Amy with Herbert 001
Mr. Herbert Roberts at Green Turtle Cay All Age School. Mrs. Amy Roberts in the back row.  Photo courtesy of Annabelle Cross, granddaughter of Amy Lowe Roberts.
In honor of his years of service to the community, R. Herbert Roberts received the award and title Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (M.B.E) from Queen Elizabeth.  The April 15, 2003 issue of the Abaconian stated,

After moving to Nassau, he never forgot the people of Green Turtle Cay and was there to offer assistance when asked.


As my kids walk down those steps, I found myself reminiscing on that day in 1992 when Dad and I made the same trek.  Not long afterwards, a message came to us.

…I received a message that my former school teacher would like to see us. Her home was about one hundred yards away. I was very glad to see her after many years. She was then a retired school principal. The school building was named in her honour, The Amy Roberts School. Later in life she was honored by the Bahamian government for her dedicated service…     Journals of John W. Lowe

Amy Isabelle Lowe Roberts, B.E.M. was born in Green Turtle Cay in 1910 to John and Maysie Lowe and died in 1993 at the age of 83.  I considered myself blessed to have met her a year before she left this earth on that day when she summoned to see Dad.  As it is not uncommon for residents of GTC to find a common ancestor, likewise Dad and Amy were 3rd cousins, tracing back to patriarch Captain Gideon Lowe.  She married Mr. Albert “Nick” Roberts in 1937.   In recent days, I was able to connect with a granddaughter of Mrs. Amy Roberts, who shared her grandmother’s unpublished autobiography written in the late 1970’s. Some excerpts…

The structure was a two story building with two floors, an open floor downstairs, two rooms on the second floor, which were connected with wooden steps. There were three porches; one to the East side, one on the North and one on the West.  There was a small room on the South East corner where students hung their hats and coats on pegs, when they arrive at 9:45 A.M. giving ample time for an Assembly on the school grounds at 10 A.M.  The Assembly consisted of the singing of a hymn or multiplication tables, followed by the Lord’s Prayer.

In 1915, at the age of five, Amy herself attended the All Age School with Miss Annie Saunders as her Grade I teacher. At age 12, she was appointed a Monitress (student in training) and later Pupil Teacher at the age of 15.  Amy developed her passion and talent under such notable head teachers as Maitland Malone of Hope Town, Lucerne Pinder of Spanish Wells, Mr. R. Herbert Roberts of Green Turtle Cay and Mr. Lambert Lowe of Marsh Harbour.  In her autobiography, she esteems principal R. Herbert Roberts…

He was determined with the Staff’s assistance to bring the school to the top in Education. Mr. Roberts and I worked together for 12 years, studying day and night the best methods to explain the various subjects to the students in the school.

Amy taught for over 55 years, filling in as principal whenever there was a vacancy. Teaching 4 generations of Green Turtle Cay students, her pupils, scattered around the globe, have been successful businessmen, teachers, ministers and leaders in the Bahamian community.  Amongst her many medals, accolades and achievements, in 1983 she was awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) for meritorious civil service by former Governor General of the Bahamas, Sir Gerald Cash.

At the age of 77 years, I attribute all praise to my Heavenly Father, and my redeemer Jesus Christ, for the years I have lived, and all the accomplishments I have obtained, and my assistance I have given to the 1st – 2nd – 3rd – 4th generations on the island.

BACK ROW (standing) L-R: Joyce Curry, Lurey Curry, Gerald Key, Zeddith Saunders, Neville Key (brother of Gerald), Delores Saunders and teacher, Amy Roberts. FRONT ROW (seated) L-R: Anthony Roberts, Merriel Roberts, Joyce Pinder, Iris Roberts, Merlee Lowe. Photo courtesy of Annabelle Cross with facial identifications by Amanda Diedrick
The Girl Guides welcome the Governor General of the Bahamas to New Plymouth.
The Girl Guides welcome the Governor General of the Bahamas to New Plymouth.  Estella Curry, Ena Roberts, Shirley Roberts, Anne Roberts, Beverly Curry, Ivy Saunders,  Julieann Key, Linda Roberts, Rosie Saunders, Hilda Curry, Mavis Lowe, Cynthia Lowe, Amy Roberts & Linda Key (holding flowers).  Photo courtesy of Annabelle Cross, granddaughter.
Amy Isabelle Lowe Roberts June 12, 1910 – October 13, 1993.  Photo courtesy of Annabelle Cross, granddaughter.

The school was later renamed Amy Roberts Primary School in her honor for her years of service and remains in operation today.  Their mission…

to inspire each child to reach beyond their potential so as to secure the future of our country.

Mira Lowe Roberts

My Dad John Wesley Lowe spoke fondly of Aunt Mira and her husband Hartley Bernard Roberts.  Dad spent many boyhood days in their home on Green Turtle Cay.  Dad referred to their place as a second home.  After all, when Dad’s father Howard died at a young age, Aunt Mira (Howard’s sister) and Uncle Hartley provided financial and emotional support to the young widow and her toddler.  Dad recalled his mom Bessie Curry Lowe and Aunt Mira spent many afternoons together baking delicious treats, pies and cakes, including Mira’s famous mango layer cake.  The Roberts’ children, Mizpah, Noel and Minnie, developed a sibling-like bond with Dad.

Hartley Roberts & Mira Lowe with children (left to right) Noel, Minnie, Mizpah
Hartley Bernard Roberts & Mira Lowe with children (left to right) Noel, Minnie, Mizpah


Hartley Roberts
Hartley Bernard Roberts

Hartley Bernard Roberts was born in 1889 on Green Turtle Cay into the seafaring family of Captain William Augustus Roberts and Margaret “Muggie” Sawyer. 

In June 911, he married his love, Mira Lowe, daughter of John Aquilla Lowe and Minnie Curry.   Hartley, a distinguished looking man,  was a successful seaman, farmer and merchant.  Dad referred to him as one of the prominent men on the Cay, often elected to represent the island to welcome visiting dignitaries.  If you visit the Memorial Sculpture Gardens on Green Turtle Cay you will find his bust among those recognized for their outstanding contributions to the island community.

Joy Lowe Jossi shares that her father, the late Mr. Clerihew Lowe, recalled…

The Albertine Adoue was the first mailboat that served Abaco that I can remember. She was in service before 1923. The Albertine Adoue, a sailing vessel, a 60′ schooner, was owned by Capt. William Augustus Roberts of Green Turtle Cay, Abaco. His three sons served as captain: Hartley, Osbourne and Rolland.

In 1923, when the mailboat Priscilla replaced the Albertine Adoue, Uncle Hartley continued to serve as captain.  His crew included first mate, Howard Lowe and ship’s cook, Osgood Lowe (Howard’s brother).

Green Turtle Cay Church of God organized in 1913.  Hartley and Mira (holding daughter, Mizpah) are to the far left
Green Turtle Cay Church of God congregation organized in 1913. Hartley Roberts and Mira Lowe Roberts (holding daughter Mizpah) are to the far left

Hartley retired from his duties at sea and stepped into the pulpit of the Church of God of Green Turtle Cay, the oldest Church of God outside the United States.

In 1911 Mira Lowe Roberts was converted under the ministry of two visiting Church of God ministers.  Two years later Carl M. Padgett returned to the tiny island and established the church with eight members, including Mira and Hartley Roberts.  Mira’s father, John Aquilla Lowe served as the first pastor until his death.

A Granddaughter’s Memories

Mira Lowe Roberts was the third child born to John Aquilla Lowe and his wife Minnie Caroline at their home in Green Turtle Cay in 1890. Wilmont and Osgood were older brothers and Mira was 8 years old when her younger brother, Howard, was born.  She had several sisters that did not survive their infancy.

John Aquilla’s family farmed at Munjack Cay, growing fruit and vegetables and Mira and her siblings’ formal schooling was, of necessity, sporadic.

At 21, Mira married Hartley Roberts, a seaman. Their children were Margaret, Noel, Minnie and Lane, who died in infancy.  They lost twins and one other child. Hartley and Mira were considered a good match. Minnie remembered him as a very affectionate and kind father, generous and outgoing but serious minded. Together they, like Mira’s parents, went to farm on the Mainland for weeks at a time, growing fruit and vegetables and sugar cane, from which they processed cane syrup to sell in their shop.

Hartley and his brother, Roland, had opened a grocery, dry goods and notions store, “Roberts and Brothers”, and with Mira’s love of baking she found an opportunity to make and sell cakes and pies in the store. It was always her pleasure to give baked goods to those who could not afford to buy them.

Hartley died of a heart attack when he was but 52 years old. At some point the shop was moved to a little building in front of their home and Mira continued to bake and sew and ‘keep shop’ as a widow.

Mira Roberts at her GTC home (photo courtesy of Karen Roberts Evans)
Mira Lowe Roberts at her GTC home (photo courtesy of Karen Lowe Evans)

In 1950 she began taking extended trips to Nassau when her daughter Minnie and son-in-law Carl moved there for employment.  She took care of Minnie’s one year old baby girl, Karen, while Minnie worked in downtown, Nassau. Then Stephen came along and she had two to look after.  But she continued to spend time in Green Turtle Cay and, with the help of her niece Pearl, maintained a dry goods store until she could no longer travel back ‘home’.  In 1973 she moved permanently to Miami with Minnie and Carl, subsequently moving up to Hollywood, Florida where she died peacefully at the age of 89.

I remember my grandmother being very friendly, affectionate and generous.  Even as children we heard about her many good deeds to others. Her faith was strong and she wanted to be in church whenever the door was open for services. Mira found great contentment being in God’s House with her church family. And in her later days she enjoyed nothing more than quietly sitting surrounded by her family members just listening with a sweet smile on her face. Everyone remembers Mira as a happy, good-natured and patient lady. She was known to be a chatterbox as well, but never in a malicious way. She was loving and understanding of others, just always interested in who was doing what.

by Karen Caroline Lowe Evans, granddaughter

Aunt Mira kept a close eye on her nephew, making sure he had food to eat and clothes to wear.  Dad recalled Uncle Hartley’s courage and compassion during the devastating 1932 hurricane…

In 1932, when I was seven, a Category 5 hurricane hit the Cay.  Mother and I were forced to leave our home on the water’s edge to the safety of Aunt Mira and Uncle Hartley’s home situated more inland.  Many other island residents sought refuge here as well.  During the storm, the house was compromised by flying debris. We were forced to brave the outside wind and rain and relocate to the kitchen, a separate stone structure on the property.  The winds were so strong that everyone had to crawl on the ground. Uncle Hartley knew the wind was too strong for me.  He held me tight in his arms as he crawled to the building.

Mira Lowe Roberts (photo courtesy of Karen Roberts Evans)
Mira Lowe Roberts (photo courtesy of Karen Lowe Evans)

M/V Priscilla

My dad’s boyhood stories would often include references to “Mail Boat Day” – a much-anticipated event in settlements with relatively no contact from the outside world.   Locals gathered in anticipation of receiving letters or packages from relatives in Nassau.   These boats were originally subsidized by the government to transport mail between Nassau and the family island settlements.  In addition, the government set affordable fare rates for passengers as well as transporting freight (food, supplies, building materials) between islands.

According to David Gale in his book titled Ready About…

Before diesels, mailboats throughout the Bahamas were powered by wind, although Abaco’s only sailing mail was Albertine Adoue.  Her history is a strange mix of success and misfortune.  The 60 foot schooner, built in Green Turtle Cay in 1898, was actually built from salvaged materials from a three-masted vessel of the same name that wrecked on the reef behind Spanish Cay.

Mailboat Albertine Adoue (photo courtesy of Peter Roberts)


Cousin Joy Lowe Jossi, recalls the words from her father, Mr. Cleri Lowe…

The Albertine Adoue was the first mailboat that served Abaco that I can remember. She was in service before 1923. The Albertine Adoue, a sailing vessel, a 60′ schooner, was owned by Capt Wm Augustus Roberts of Green Turtle Cay, Abaco. His three sons served as captain:  Hartley, Osbourne and Rolland.

In 1923 it was replaced and upgraded by the Priscilla, a diesel-powered, converted sailboat approximately 100 feet long.  Dad had heard that the boat was purchased by R.W. Sawyer and R. Farrington.  Dad recounts…

The Priscilla docked at the towns of Cherokee Sound, Hope Town, Marsh Harbour, Man-O-War Car, Guana Cay. Its two week voyage would often include stops to Eleuthera as well.  Before the sun would set, we would head down to the beach on the south side of the island to play on the dock as we scanned the horizon for the faint smoke of the diesel engine.   She had to anchor in the harbor at Green Turtle Cay where a twenty foot tender would haul the goods to the dock.  A section towards the bow of the ship penned in various livestock for transport. My pig eventually made the voyage to Nassau to be sold.

M/V Priscilla (photo courtesty of the Wyannie Malone Historical Museum)
M/V Priscilla (photo courtesty of the Wyannie Malone Historical Society)

The Priscilla was more than a mailboat to our family, it was a livelihood.  Dad’s father, Howard, was a mate on the vessel until his death in 1927.  Family legend has it that Howard had a knee accident on the boat and subsequently died from the infection at the age of 29,  Howard’s brother, Osgood, worked as the cook on the Priscilla.  The Priscilla was captained at that time by Hartley Robert’s, who had married Howard’s sister, Mira, in 1911.  This seafaring Roberts family  had captained these Abaco mailboats for several generations.  One can only imagine the tales these brothers, Howard, Osgood, and Hartley (brother-in-law) experienced as they navigated the treacherous Abaco seas and Atlantic ocean!


 Many mailboats have served the Abacos since the Priscilla, all documented in a unique blog, MailboatsBahamas – dedicated to the history of mail boats of the Bahamas from the 1800s to the present day.  The Priscilla is included as well as the well-known Stede Bonnett and Deborak K, the latter of which I myself made a voyage on to Abaco during the early 1970’s.

Aboard the Deborah K with my Mom on the left and my brother on the right, passing the  Hope Town lighthouse.
Aboard the Deborah K with my Mom on the left and my brother on the right, passing the Hope Town lighthouse.


 Special thanks to a great friend and adopted Bahamian, Joanie Weber, for sharing information that inspired me to pen this article.



The Unknown Curry

During the 1980’s, my interest in family history started to perculate.  As a teenager, I  was fascinated by Dad’s boyhood stories about life on an out island, and as you would expect, his stories included names of family and friends that impacted him, both in Green Turtle Cay and Nassau.  I took crude, handwritten notes as he explained their relationship to me.  Needing to visualize faces, my pursuit for photographs began. However, a camera was considered a “luxury item” on this remote island, which explained the scarcity of pictures.  Hurricanes often destroyed the few pictures that did exist.

Thirty years later, we are overwhelmed with the capabilities that technology advancements provide from digital photography, to online forums and research tools, to websites, email and FaceBook that allow us to connect, collect, share, inquire and research from devices as small as a phone (which can also function as a camera!)

Unknown Child Birth Record - Wesley Curry

For those that may not be aware, one of these tools that has continued to spark my interest in research is an image collection stored by Family Search.  This resource has helped to confirm dates, proper names and identify parents, cause of death, occupation, etc.  The searching process is tedious, but I have often compared family research to an archaeologist’s excavation site.

A CASE STUDY…the photo above is a sample page from the Birth Registers, indicating a son born to Pa Wes and his wife Lilla on August 14, 1887.  Collective family knowledge only recalled one son of Wes and Lilla, Herman, born April 21, 1890.  This additional child, a son, was discovered while I was searching for other records.  Searching the death records would possibly confirm that this son died as an infant or early toddler, a tragedy that often occurred during those times.

Here’s the link to the record database and a brief description:

Bahamas, Civil Registration, 1850-1959. (Civil registration, including births, marriages and deaths, for the Bahamas)

This collection will include records from 1850 to 1959.  The records include births, marriages, and deaths from civil registration in different districts of the Bahamas. Earlier records are handwritten in narrative style; later records are handwritten in formatted records. The text of the records is in English. Records are listed in chronological order.

While family research involves a combination of methods and tools, this one by far has been most rewarding for me!  If you have a few hours to spare and a specific curiosity, grab a cup of coffee and let the search begin.

The Curry’s

The Curry surname has a rich heritage in Green Turtle Cay (GTC).  In the 1930’s William Curry Harllee devoted an entire section in his Kinfolks masterpiece to this family line, tracing back to loyalists during the Revolutionary War.  This family tree is massive and branches often are tangled with each other as one would expect in such a small community.  My grandfather Howard Lowe descends from the Curry line (one of the GTC’s matriarch’s Binky Curry Lowe), and my grandmother Bessie Caroline Curry Lowe descends from another branch of the Curry line.

Grandma Bessie Curry Lowe was the youngest of five children born to Thomas Wesley Curry aka Pa Wes (b. 1865) and his wife Lila/Lilla Carleton (b. 1866), the daughter of Romelda Jane Lowe from GTC and a Mr. Carleton from the USA.  We suspect Pa Wes married around 1883/1884 and over the following 20 years, five children would be born to this union:  Eudora Isabel (Aunt Dora) born in 1884 married William Bramwell Roberts; Thomas Herman (Uncle Herman) born in 1890 married Marion Mayfield Gates; Mary Edith (Aunt Edie) born 1894 married Gilbert Robinson Saunders; Emma Louise (Aunt Emmie) born in 1900 married Thomas Hutchins Pinder and Bessie Caroline (Grandma Bessie) born 1903 married Howard Lowe.

Eudora Curry and William Roberts
Eudora Curry and William Roberts
Herman Curry
Herman Curry
(photo compliments of Amanda Diedrick, great granddaughter)
Ronald & Edith Saunders
Ronald & Edith Saunders
(photo compliments of Mary McCluskey, granddaughter)
Emma Louise Pinder
Emma Louise Pinder
Grandma Bessie with Ashbourne Lowe and Janet
Grandma Bessie with Ashbourne Lowe and Janet

Over a hundred years later (and with the assistance of technology), the descendants of these five Curry siblings living throughout the Bahamas and the United States are now able to reconnect and share family stories of their ancestors.  Future posts will attempt to highlight each one of these siblings.  Stay tuned.

Line fishing

Fishing on Green Turtle in the 1930’s was not considered just a sport…it was considered survival.  002Living off the land and sea was how my dad and his ancestors subsisted on that rustic island for generations.  No state of the art rod and reels, lures, or electronic fish finders.  A simple hand line with a sinker and hook, perhaps crafted by his Aunt May (, was the extent of his fishing gear.

There are many stories to tell of my boyhood days on the island of Green Turtle Cay.  One is them is catching a large bonefish.  At a young age, about ten or twelve, I prepared my fishing tackle and headed for the seashore.  The area I chose was about a mile away from my home.  With the flood tide, the bonefish would come in, feeding close to the shore. 

Bonefish1After tossing the line out into the water, I waited for about thirty minutes, eagerly awaiting for a strike. I felt something attacking the bait.  With great excitement, I suddenly struck back.  The fight was on.  The fish was tugging away.  After several minutes, I was able to pull it close to the shore and then upon the rocks.    It weighed about ten pounds…a very large fish for a young boy.  It was a dream come true!

Journals of John W. Lowe

023Dad never lost his love for fishing.  On Friday afternoons, he would close down the store that he managed and head out fishing with his buddies.  By the time I was born, Dad always had a small boat, preferably a Boston Whaler, if Mom had a say.

As a family, we logged countless hours of summertime fun…fishing, snorkeling, shelling and island hopping.  After fishing for hours at several specially marked fishing shoals, Dad would anchor off a deserted island or cay to relax and enjoy the beauty of God’s creation.  Mom would find the right spot on the island under a shaded tree for lunch while Dad would take the haul of the day to clean on the rocks.

Not surprisingly, our fishing tackle still consisted of hand lines.010

Thomas Wesley “Pa Wes” Curry

The name Wesley derives from Anglo-Norman origins.  It means a field to the west (wes = west / lea = field).  The name’s popularity increased in the 18th century in honor of Methodist founder, John Wesley.  In my family, that name carries great significance.  This name given to my paternal great-grandfather and passed down three generations.

Thomas Wesley “Pa Wes” Curry was born in Green Turtle Cay, Abaco on February 28, 1865 to William and Emmaline Curry.  (siblings)

He married Lila Carleton, who was the daughter of Romelda Lowe.

Their union produced five surviving children: Eudora Isabel, Thomas Herman, Mary Edith, Emma Louise and my grandmother Bessie Caroline.

My dad John Wesley Lowe recalled that  Pa Wes lived on the southern part of the island.

In 1924 and at the age of 21, Bessie Caroline married the love of her life, Howard Lowe.  The following year a son was born, John Wesley Lowe.  Howard’s life on earth would come to an abrupt end two years later leaving a young widow and her toddler.  Pa Wes thought it best to move in with his youngest daughter and thus become a father figure for Dad.  He gave his house and land to one of his granddaughters, Tessie Roberts Key.  Tessie’s daughter recalls Pa Wes, walking stick in one hand and a lantern in the other, taking strolls just before sunset to visit his granddaughter.   She also recalls a huge almond tree in that yard that supported a rope swing, which Pa Wes crafted for Tessie’s children.  Dad remembers Pa Wes on occasion smoking a pipe.  Miss Bessie’s shop sold tobacco in plugs, and he would buy a portion of a plug, worth about three cents.

Pa Wes displayed excellent farmer skills.  As a young lad, I sailed with him to his farmland on the Abaco mainland.  He proudly showed me bunches of bananas and fields of pineapples.  The lovely odor of ripe pineapples .  He also farmed on Crab Cay situated to the north of Green Turtle Cay.  He grew melons, cassava, beans and potatoes there.

He told me of an interesting story about his change in plans from fishing to farming.  He had fished many years to support his family, but on a particular frustrating fishing day, he decided to end his fishing career.  He gathered all of his equipment, a tin can of lines, hooks and sinkers, and tossed it overboard and decided to go into farming.        

Journals of John W. Lowe

Map depicting the distance travelled by Pa Wes in his 12′ sailboat
between Green Turtle Cay, Crab Cay and the Abaco Mainland

According to Dad, Pa Wes farmed 20 acres on the Abaco Mainland left by deceased son-in-law, Howard to grow bananas and pineapples. Pa Wes used a 12’ sailboat to navigate the hour trip, depending on the wind,  to Crab Cay as well as to the Abaco Mainland. Leaving early in the morning, he set sail from Green Turtle Cay to farm all day.   To provide relief from the scorching sun as well as inclement weather, he constructed a simple ten by twelve foot shack on the Abaco Mainland farm from materials that he hauled over from Green Turtle Cay.

Around 1940, Pa Wes became very ill.  Grandma Bessie sold her house in Green Turtle Cay and moved to Nassau to seek medical treatment for her father.  My Dad recalls…

At the age of fifteen, my grandfather, Wesley, became very ill.  A decision was made to take him to stay with his daughter, Emmie in Nassau, New Providence. My mother and I went along on the mail boat.

Journals of John W. Lowe

Wesley Curry Land Purchase
1934 Bill of Sale
Pa Wes purchasing land on Green Turtle Cay

Pa Wes died soon afterwards and was buried in the cemetery of the Church of God on Fowler Street.  The exact date of death still remains a mystery as well as details on his wife, Lila Carleton. Dad had no recollection of her and could only recall her first name.  Pa Wes’ legacy lives on…both me and my eldest son share the middle name, Wesley.

The Beginning

GTCChartA favorite place to visit is the quaint town of New Plymouth on the southern tip of Green Turtle Cay, Abaco in the Bahamas.  This close-knit island community is full of historical significance.  Many residents trace their ancestral roots to Loyalists during the American Revolutionary War.  On this cay, approximately three miles long and half-mile wide, my dad John Wesley Lowe was born.

Dad fostered my passion for family history.  His boyhood stories of life on Green Turtle Cay captivated my attention.  Life was unpretentious but entertaining during the 1930’s and 1940’s.  There were no automobiles, no electricity, and certainly no technology.  Dad’s father Howard Lowe died at the age of 29.  A young widowed mother struggled to provide for her son.  The community pitched in to help.  Dad remained grateful to those that encouraged him.  In his journal, Dad noted…

The seventh day of June 1925 was a special day for my parents, Howard & Bessie Lowe.  It was a joyous occasion for them to have a baby boy added to the family.  A name was chosen from each of my grandfathers, John (Lowe)and Wesley (Curry).  It was on a small island located in the northern part of the Bahamas known as Green Turtle Cay chosen by my fore-parents to raise their families for more than two hundred years.

Beside its beauty, there were many good features of the island.  The sandy beaches and beautiful harbours made it convenient for the fisherman to store their boats.  Because of the abundance of seafood, they were able to feed their families.  Fish, lobster and conch were plentiful.  Occasionally, we would have turtle meat for dinner.  With the help of hunting dogs, the men on the island would often catch wild pigs.  It was quite a treat to have pork for a change!

Earliest photo of Dad John Wesley Lowe
John Wesley Lowe