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.

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!

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Earliest photo of Dad John Wesley Lowe
 
JWL
John Wesley Lowe