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 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).
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.
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.