Donald Robinson Saunders

Generations of Saunders and Curry descendants played along the Green Turtle Cay shores in Abaco, Bahamas.  Included in this company were the Curry sisters,  Edith “Edie” and Bessie.  As noted in prior posts, Edie married Robbie Saunders and Bessie married Howard Lowe.  Like their parents and grandparents, they raised their families on this remote Cay of the British Empire.  This required reliance on God’s provisions from the land and sea for sustenance.

Here we meet Edie’s son, Donald Robinson Saunders. Born in July 1924, Edie and Robbie welcomed a son into their family, the fourth of five children.

Ma Saunders Family
Widow Edie with her five children. Photo courtesy of Mary Saunders McCluskey, Donald’s daughter.

Back (L to R): Donald, Deloris, Cedric.  Front (L to R): Sybil, Edie, Audrey.

Donald Saunders Birtha.jpg
Entry #1 – Birth of Virginia Curry to Herman Curry and Mae Gates Curry / Entry #5 – Birth of Donald Saunders to Robbie Saunders and Edith Curry Saunders

Three weeks prior to Donald’s birth, Edie’s brother Herman and wife Mae Gates Curry welcomed their first child, daughter Virginia Sylvia (just a few weeks ago, Virgie Curry Carey passed away at the age of 91).  The next year (1925), their sister Bessie gave birth to my Dad, John Wesley Lowe.  Many from this generation of Abaconians broke the traditional role of raising their families on that same island.

These first cousins, all less than a year apart, spent their school days climbing the hill to the Green Turtle Cay All-Age School and fishing from the dock with occasional tomfoolery.

A former Green Turtle Cay resident recalls:

Most people at the Cay were poor, really poor.  Robbie (Saunders) fished with the other men on the Cay. They sold the fish by the pound. If an amberjack was caught at a certain time of the year, people wanted to buy some of this rarer treat.

The 1932 hurricane hovered. Persistent, strong winds weakened and smashed structures. Another perspective will add details of those days of horror.

Donald’s sister, Audrey Saunders, told Joy Lowe Jossi in a telephone interview:

My brother Donald was born 1924 in the stone hotel building that dad had owned. After Donald’s birth, mother was not well. The doctor said that she needed to live where she could breathe the fresh air. That’s when daddy built the house at the seaside. It stands today.

I was 10 years old when the 1932 hurricane shook us at Green Turtle Cay for three days and three nights. Donald was eight years.       

Our house, at the water’s edge, held fast. The separate dining room building fell. It blew away into the sea. Sammy Sawyer told us that he watched it float away. 

Afraid, we left our house and went to Aunt Lorrie’s house. Both fathers were absent. Mother held Donald close. She paced the room alongside Donald, his hand in hers. Her lower legs and feet swelled from the long days on them. 

My daddy and a group of men were on a fishing trip, caught away in the northern cays—Uncle Norwood, Uncle Cecil…and more. We kept watch with every boat that appeared, hoping that the men might return.

During the hurricane, people moved from one house to another for safety. Hartley Key’s roof fell in—some men passed children from one to another and into a dining room window.  

After the storm, lots of people slept in our house for shelter—Harold Hodgkins and his sister Nellie, and more…

Besides the hurricane terror, concern reigned for Donald’s father and the group of men caught far away at sea. Missing—ten heads of families. Did they perish in the hurricane?  The trauma that gripped hearts imprinted lifelong memories.  Exposed, the stranded men survived the hurricane.  They took shelter under the canvas of the boat that they dragged ashore. How did the 1932 hurricane impact this eight-year-old boy, Donald?

Donald’s schoolteacher Herbert Roberts and his young bride Emma along with Herbert’s parents took refuge in the stone kitchen of the teacher’s residence (now the Albert Lowe Museum property). Next door, the Captain Hartley Roberts’ large house sheltered nearly a hundred people, including my Dad.

Donald told his sister-in-law Joy Lowe Jossi…

Medical and other relief came from Nassau. The Nassau Board of Works sent Mr. Charles Harry Roberts to erect on the same hilltop site a new school building. The building is still in use. Mr. Harry Robert’s son, Junior Roberts, and I, became friends.

Herbert Roberts (1911-2003) served the Green Turtle Cay community as teacher 1931-1943 with assistant Amy Lowe Roberts. These fine leaders influenced Donald and my Dad.

Donald completed his foundational education at the Green Turtle Cay All-Age School at the age of 16, two years longer than the typical legal age 14.  The teacher, R. Herbert Roberts, told his young male students of available jobs at Hatchet Bay, Eleuthera. A wealthy American, Austin Levy, had developed Hatchet Bay Plantations, a dairy and poultry farm.

A local Bahamian newspaper reported:

In 1936 American Austin Levy purchased 2,000 acres of land at Hatchet Bay and started the successful farm that supplied the Bahamas with all of its milk, poultry, eggs and ice cream. Alice Town residents were fully employed.

In 1940, Dwight Roberts, Preston Albury, and Donald Saunders went to work at Hatchet Bay, Eleuthera. After a few months, Donald left Hatchet Bay. A surprise awaited him on arrival in Nassau. He discovered that his parents and family had come on the mail boat to stay (no cell phones back then). His older sister, Audrey, came to work at the Registrar General’s Office. Donald’s parents kept their house at Green Turtle Cay many years. Around this same time, my Dad and Grandma Bessie also relocated to Nassau.

In Nassau, Mr. Arthur Sands of Purity Bakery hired Robbie Saunders, his former classmate at Boys’ Grammar School. Uncle Robbie, and his son, Donald, worked at Purity Bakery. Bicycles transported Uncle Robbie and Donald to and from Purity Bakery, located on South Market Street just beyond the historic Gregory Arch landmark.

Through the years more Saunders family members joined the bakery crew: Donald’s brother Cedric, some nephews, and Charlie Lowe, spouse of Donald’s sister Deloris.

Donald proved himself reliable and eventually became part owner of Purity Bakery.

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Donald R. Saunders.  Photo courtesy of Joy Lowe Jossi.

A family member says:

Donald, a capable, quiet person, was not given to small talk. He’d tackle any task. On-Call 24-hours, the bakery operation depended on him. If a machine faltered at night, Donald was called. He repaired and maintained the machines. This I could not imagine for him—the person I knew wore long-sleeved white shirt and tie with jacket. Could those hands tinker with grease and oil? Yes. Those strong hands showed no sign of all that they did.

He knew that he had cousin connections with Nassau businessmen Harold Saunders, Postmaster Claude Saunders, and Joseph S. Johnson, as well as Roland Saunders with Burdines of Miami. Historical records reveal Saunders families at Harbour Island, Eleuthera, a century before some moved to Abaco.

In Nassau, Donald lived across the street (Sears Road) from his future wife, Natalie Belle Lowe.  From her front porch she would watch the stately, well-dressed young man who worked at Purity Bakery.

N Nat Marg garage roof Sdrs hse
Sisters Natalie (L) and Marg (R). Saunders home porch in the background (circa 1953).  Photo courtesy of Joy Lowe Jossi

Natalie was the second of seven children born to Fanny and Clerihew Lowe of Nassau, formerly of Marsh Harbour, Abaco, Bahamas.

082 sweet Nat Marg
Sisters Natalie (L) and Marg (R) (circa 1954).  Photo courtesy of Joy Lowe Jossi.

Natalie was the personal secretary to attorney Godfrey Higgs at the law firm of Higgs and Johnson.

 

Natalie refused to date Donald until he committed his life to Christ. On November 24, 1954, he attended a tent crusade where Scottish evangelist Bill Patterson conducted meetings. Donald placed his faith in God that evening. Soon afterwards a courtship with Natalie ensued.

084 Marg Donald Nat ~1954
L to R – Marg Lowe, Donald Saunders, Natalie Lowe (circa 1954).  Photo courtesy of Joy Lowe Jossi

On October 7, 1955, Donald, 31, and Natalie tied the knot at Shirley Heights Gospel Chapel in Nassau.

Donald Saunders and Natalie Lowe Marriage.jpgThree children, two girls and a boy, were born to this union. In June 1965, the family faced adversity with the premature birth of the youngest child. Weighing two pounds, two and a half ounces, the preemie boy Paul had to be airlifted to Miami for care. Dr. Meyers Rassin’s wife, Nurse Rosetta, accompanied the infant.

DNM
Donald Saunders and Natalie Lowe Saunders with daughter Mary (circa 1959).  Photo courtesy of grandson, Christopher McCluskey.

Donald’s strong family commitment stepped up when a need arose. He demonstrated care for each person. To his sister Audrey’s sons, he became a father figure.

Donald did self-effacement for the higher purpose. In the church group at Nassau’s Shirley Heights Gospel Chapel on Mount Royal Avenue, he supervised construction projects for the church. His home in Nassau included an apartment often used by missionaries.

At the age of 43 years, Donald retired from Purity Bakery upon its sale to Continental Baking Company in 1967. He continued to be a prudent businessman with investments.

N Papa & Nat's fam 1993 bw
L to R – Brian McCluskey, Christopher McCluskey, Mary Saunders McCluskey, Natalie Lowe Saunders, Donald Saunders, Judy Saunders, Paul Saunders.  Seated in front – Clerihew Lowe (circa 1993).  Photo courtesy of Joy Lowe Jossi.

In 1972, the family moved to Hollywood, Florida, where they joined the Hollywood Bible Chapel. Donald served as an elder, oversaw building renovations, taught Bible study classes, and preached to local congregations.

DNSa
Donald Saunders and Natalie Lowe Saunders in front of Hollywood Bible Chapel (circa 1978).  Photo courtesy of grandson Christopher McCluskey.

Meticulous in his work, his firm belief followed God’s Word, even when it was not popular to do so. He believed in not elevating any earthly man, but in all things to give God the preeminence.

After they moved to Florida, Donald’s son recalled his dad taking him and his sister to a lake to sail. Donald explained how to ‘tack’ and the way to scull—skills he had learned as a boy at Green Turtle Cay.

Donald was a faithful and devoted husband to wife Natalie for 41 years. She assisted him in sermon preparation. A wonderful father, he taught by word and example.

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Natalie Lowe Saunders and Donald Saunders (circa 1982).  Photo from collection of John and Doreen Lowe.

In 1995, Donald was diagnosed with cancer. Donald’s faith remained strong. In pain, he possessed inner peace from his Heavenly Father. In September 1996, Donald was called into the presence of the Lord he learned to love.  Lanny Evans, a family friend, wrote and presented the following tribute at Donald’s funeral.

“As We Knew Him”
Just a Man…
GOD’s Man
GOD’s Man of Purpose
GOD’s Man of Purposefully Planned Action
GOD’s Man Always Eager to Venture out for HIM
Just a Man…
But a Godly Man
A Man Who Knew the MIND OF GOD
Seeking IT with a Prayerful Passion
And a Zeal to Know HIS WILL and Do HIS WORK
And to See Others Brought Into the KINGDOM
Just a Man…
A Faithful Family Man
A Man Whose Heart and Soul
Glowed with the Warmth of GOD’s LOVE
Glowing for His Family, for You, for Me
Fueling and Firing His Every Activity
Just a Man…
But a Strong, Tall Friend
An Enduring, Faithful Friend
An Always Understanding Friend
A Forgiving Friend
A Friend Long on Godly Counsel and Time
Just a Man…
An “Assembly Man”
Committed to CHRIST’s CHURCH
A Man Who Loved GOD’s People
Burdened for Their Growth and Christian Maturity
Committed to Building – to the GLORY OF GOD
Just a Man…
But a Servant/Leader
A Student of the WORD
A Teacher of That Which He Had Learned
Faithful to Impart True Knowledge
A Wise Counselor, Applying the WORD to Life
Just a Man…
A Tender, Caring, Compassionate Man
A Generous, Giving Man
A Man of Wise Discernment
A Man of Common Sense
A Man Who Redeemed His Time
Just a Man…
But a Tireless Visionary
A “Maker of Things to Happen”
A Successful Man
An Example of a Man
A Trustworthy Man to All and to Whomever
Just a Man…
A Strong Man, Who Conveyed Strength
A Confident Man, Who Inspired Confidence
A Gentleman, Who Taught Meekness
A Righteous Man, Who Encouraged the Just
An Honest Man, Who Seeks Truth
Just a Man…
But a Blessed Man
A Greatly Favored Man
A Very Much Loved Man
Donald
As We Knew Him to Be
DRS
Donald R. Saunders (circa 1955). Photo courtesy of grandson Christopher McCluskey.

Mary Edith “Edie” Curry Saunders

I am always amazed and blessed on each blog’s journey to search for the puzzle pieces of folks who meant so much to my Dad, John Wesley Lowe.  Like him, I use that loving term, “our heritage.”

First-hand interviews are typically not an option since most of these kinfolk have departed.   I search the internet and through email and of course, FaceBook connect with cousins around the world.  Each connection provides unique pieces to this biographical puzzle of a loved one.  Without the box cover image of the final product, the search to locate pieces can span months, if not years.  The arrival of each new piece brings a renewed excitement for the finished product.  Corners and edge pieces are the coolest!  While my tendency is to locate every piece of this 5000+ puzzle, I realize the need to display the framework so I can solicit more pieces and encourage others to preserve their family’s roots.  Here’s one of the many puzzle frames I lay out on the table…

On October 27, 1894 a second daughter, Mary Edith Curry, arrived into the family of Pa Wes and Ma Lilla.  Dad affectionately called her Aunt Edie. Ma Lilla died in her 40s, perhaps around 1913.  I speculate that Edie, the middle of 5 children, would have been around 19 and no doubt a huge help to Pa Wes with raising younger sisters, Emmie and Grandma Bessie.

Birth Register of Mary Edith Curry courtesy of FamilySearch.org
Birth Register of Mary Edith Curry courtesy of FamilySearch.org

On the day after Christmas (known as Boxing Day in the British Colony of the Bahamas) in 1914, Aunt Edie tied the knot with Gilbert Robinson “Robbie” Saunders in St. Peter’s Church on Green Turtle Cay.  Born April 22, 1892, he was fourth of the six children given to James “Jimmy” Benjamin Saunders and Lydia “Lyddie” Jane Sweeting.

Marriage Register
Marriage Register of Mary Edith Curry and Gilbert Robinson Saunders courtesy of FamilySearch.org

Uncle Robbie descends from one of the core lines in the Bahamas— the SAUNDERS surname traces back to 1700. Robbie’s great grandfather, Uriah Saunders, born in Harbour Island, moved to Green Turtle Cay, perhaps after the 1805 hurricane that devastated Harbour Island.  Uriah was a successful farmer and a shipwright. The remains of a Carrara marble stone plaque about him sits at Green Turtle Cay, Abaco’s museum. It reads…

Sacred

to the memory of

Uriah Saunders, Esq.,

who departed this life

on the 22nd August, 1849

in the 57th year of his age.

He has left a widow and five children to mourn his loss.

His end was sudden and unexpected,

but for the solemn event he was blessedly prepared.

He was converted to God through the instrumentality

of the late Wesleyan Missionaries

when about 23 years of age, and from that

period held fast the hope of the Gospel.

He was a zealous advocate for and the unchanging friend of TEMPERENCE.

For industry, honesty and moral worth,

he was held in universal esteem and

finished his course on earth  

in the full triumph of faith.

Oh death where is thy sting,

Oh grave where is thy victory.

Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord.

grave

When Uncle Robbie was about 10 years of age, his mother died.  In 1903, his older sister, Genie (Eugenia Maud), married Zachary Taylor of Nassau.  He owned a drapery manufacturing store on George Street.  Genie, an easy-going woman, bore 8 children for Zach.  And when her mother died, she took Robbie to live with her family and attend Boys Grammar School in Nassau.  Fellow classmates included Etienne Dupuch, later SIR, knighted 1965 (editor of The Tribune) 1899-1991, Alfred Francis Adderley (attorney), Thaddeus Augustus Toote (attorney), and Arthur Hall Sands 1893-1957 (Purity Bakery owner).

Like his sister Genie, Robbie was a quiet gentleman.  He returned to Green Turtle Cay around the age of 20.  During the Norman’s Castle Lumber Mill years, Uncle Robbie worked as a policeman.  Aunt Edie proudly proclaimed in her unique pronunciation, “He had a badge and carried a pistol.”  During the Sept 1932 hurricane, he was “down the shore” (northwest shore of Abaco) with a group of men.  Exposed, they took shelter under the boat that they dragged ashore.

Ma & Pa Saunders
Uncle Robbie and Aunt Edie circa 1950. Photo courtesy of Mary Saunders McCluskey, granddaughter.

Aunt Edie and Uncle Robbie were blessed with five children, Sybil, Deloris, Audrey, Donald and Cedric.  Dad and first cousin, Donald, were only a year apart in age.  As young boys on the Cay, they spent countless hours together attending the All-Age School under the tutelage of Mrs. Amy Roberts and Herbert Roberts.  Of course the boys engaged in a little afterschool tomfoolery on the shores of this north Abaco island settlement.

Ma Edie with her five children. Back row: Donald, Deloris, Cedric Front row: Sybil, Edie, Audrey. Photo courtesy of Mary Saunders McCluskey, granddaughter.
Ma Edie with her five children. Back row: Donald, Deloris, Cedric Front row: Sybil, Edie, Audrey. Photo courtesy of Mary Saunders McCluskey, granddaughter.

Edie and Robbie’s two oldest children, Sybil and Deloris, were the talk of the town with their double wedding on May 6, 1939.  In the new wooden Methodist Church—the original large, quarried stone edifice fell in the 1932 hurricane—the young, single English minister, William Charles Dyer performed the marriage ceremony.  No doubt Grandma Bessie and Dad were in attendance at her nieces’ unique double wedding (the following year the minister would marry Diana Higgs from Spanish Wells).

IMG_0378
Green Turtle Cay, 1939, double wedding of Sybil Saunders & Harold Hodgkins and Deloris Saunders & Charles Lowe. L-R Donald Saunders, Jennie Sweeting, Harold Hodgkins, Sybil Saunders, Charlie Lowe, Deloris Saunders, Archie Lowe, Audrey Saunders, Ritchie Hodgkins, Virginia ‘Virgie’ Curry. Front row left: Madge Lowe, Cedric Saunders. Front row far right: Laverne Hodgkins, Myrtle Lowe.  Photo courtesy of a cousin.

Around 1940, the Saunders family moved to Nassau.  Their youngest daughter, Audrey, had heard of a job at the Registrar General’s office.  Her older brother, Donald, had worked at Hatchet Bay Plantations on Eleuthera just a few months.  He decided to move to Nassau.  On arrival in Nassau, he discovered that his parents and family had come on the mail boat to stay (no cell phones back then).  Around this same time, Dad and Grandma Bessie also relocated to Nassau.

In Nassau, Mr. Arthur Sands of Purity Bakery hired his classmate, Uncle Robbie, and Robbie’s son, Donald, to work at Purity Bakery.  Uncle Robbie rode his bicycle to and from Purity Bakery located on South Market Street.  Soon his son-in-law, Charlie Lowe, spouse of Deloris, joined the bakery crew.

Memories from a granddaughter of Edie…

Ma loved to cook.  She would have our family and Uncle Cedric’s family over each Sunday for lunch as long as she was able.  She enjoyed making johnnycakes and guava duffs.  I’ve never had another guava duff as good as hers.

She believed in staying out of the sun.  If any of us kids got sunburned, she put us in the tub with water and vinegar.  What a smell! Ma also had a folksy cure for all ills.  I remember drinking many cups of mint tea made from mint grown in her yard.  

Although seldom leaving her home in the later years, she kept busy.  She swept her large porch and front steps each day.  When she could no longer take care of herself, she moved in with her daughter, Deloris.  Ma never liked doctors or hospitals, and my recollection is she died in Aunt Deloris’ home.

A cousin recalls…

Edie had a feisty side.  Her loud fuss with neighborhood children confiscated any ball that crossed her wall.  She’d hold the ball high.  Refused to return it.

The children played in a circle that faced her front door.  One day Dr. Hugh Quackenbush came out from a patient visit. He greeted the boys with, “My turn!”  He took the bat.  One threw the ball.  He whacked it hard.  Through Edie’s screen door went the ball, into the house!

“Go, get it,” ordered the doctor.  Not one boy would venture into the gate and house.  So there went Dr. Quackenbush—into the house!  He retrieved the ball.  He threw the ball back.  The boys stood in awe.

Edie served her family with all her heart.  When grandchildren came, she sewed pretty dresses for Margaret at Green Turtle Cay.  Edie would call the neighbor girl, Val Taylor, to come and help her.  She said that Val was the size of Margaret, so she had Val put the dress on for fitting.  Later, when her grandsons lived next door, she showered love on them.

A great granddaughter of Edie also adds…

She baked yeast rolls and johnnycake for her whole family every Saturday.  She had a huge kidney mango tree in her yard and loved to give mangoes to all the grandchildren and great grandchildren.

In his senior years, Uncle Robbie would attend Shirley Heights Chapel on Mount Royal Avenue.  He sat towards the back in his quiet demeanor.  A family diary noted, 29 Dec 1960.  Mr. Robbie Saunders professed to be saved this pm.  Like his esteemed forebear Uriah, in conversion Uncle Robbie prepared for his eternal future in Heaven.

Uncle Robbie died in June 1970, a year after I was born.  However, Aunt Edie lived to the ripe old age of 91.  As a young boy, I tagged along with my Mom and Dad to visit her. She was tender and loving with a smile every time she saw us.  The scarf she draped and wore around her head intrigued me.  Why did she wear it?  I learned that it covered a large tumor on her jaw.  Her disdain of doctors prevented any sort of treatment.  Ironically, her grandmother, Romelda Lowe Carleton, had two jaw tumors.  I pause to recall a personal surgery to remove a growing tumor from the same region on my jaw.  Might there be a genetic trace?

Aunt Edie departed this world in November 1985.  She lived the longest of the five children of Pa Wes and Ma Lilla.  I always appreciated seeing Aunt Edie, perhaps it gave me a tangible, visible sense of her sister, Grandma Bessie, who I never met.

Will you come to the table and fit more pieces into the puzzle picture of Edie Curry and Robbie Saunders?  Stay tuned.

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.

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

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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.