Rum Cay Social Club 13th Anniversary Banquet

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Title:
Rum Cay Social Club 13th Anniversary Banquet
Abbreviated Title:
Rum Cay Social Club
Physical Description:
9 p.
Language:
English
Creator:
Bethel, Clyde B.
Publisher:
Rum Club Social Club
Place of Publication:
Rum Cay, Bahamas
Publication Date:

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Subjects / Keywords:
Rum Cay -- Bahamas   ( lcsh )

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General Note:
This publication provides historical information about Rum Cay.

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Source Institution:
College of The Bahamas
Holding Location:
College of The Bahamas
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All rights reserved by the source institution.
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AA00008699:00001


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I. ------",--' RumClubSocialClub13th Anniversary Banquet PilotHouseHotel, Nassau,N.P.Friday 11thNovember,1988 :RUilfCay Yesterday, Today,Tomorrow MadamPresident,HonouredPatrons, Distinguished --Iamdelightedathavingbeeninvitedtobrieflyaddressyouthiseveningonthe 13th Anniversary of theRumCaySocial Club,andIhavechosenasmysubjectonedear tomyheart,our h'earts. the enchanting island ofRumCay. R.um Cay'shistory,asweknowit,beganin 1492,whenChristopherColumbus,searching for a western route to Asi'a,madealandfallon12th OctoberattheLucayan/Arawakinhabited island of Guanahani,whichherenamedSanSalvador.Twodayslater,on14th October,hediscovered another island12miles longand5 mileswideatitsfurthestpoints,givinganarea of about30square miles,whichthe Lucayans/Arawakscalled Millnana, or Manigua,and ;Ie renameditSanta MariadelaConcepcion (Blessed Virgin Mary),andwhichinlater,timeswasrenamedRumCay.InformationonRUlliCay'searlyhistoryisscant,sincemostbooksdeal with theBahamasas awhole with the separateislands,especiallyoneassmallasRumCay.There aresomebitsof information indifferentbooksthough,whichgive clues toitspasthistory. Caywasinhabitedatthe time of Columbus'arrivalbythe amiable Lucayan/ArawakIndians. Evidence oftheirexistenceonthe islandcanbefound in the HartfordCaveonthe northern coast ofRumCay.Incoralwalls.Mostof the drawings resemble faces or sunsandaresimilartodrawings found in cavesonsomeof themoresoutherlyislands.Intimespast,residentsremovingfertilizer(bat guana)fromthe unearthed Indian bowJs,platesandotherartifacts.ITheArawakswereawedbythe sudden ,---_._-apperance of the Spaniards, thustreatedthemkindly,figuringtheyweresent from the heavens. Unfortunatelyforthe Indians, they themselvesbecamethegreatestcOlllnJoditythe Spanish could find in theBahamaChain.ThesmallBahamianIslandsweretoounprofitablewitlltheirtreacherousshoals,comparedto newly-discovered places suchasHispaniola,CubaIMexico,andPeru,wheretherewerealready sugar

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-2fields,gold mines,andplantations in production.Wherelaborwasneededto maintainthoseindustries,theArawaksweredeceptivelycoaxedonto shipsheadedsouthward,wherethey believedtheirdeparted ancestors' soulsrested.Throughthispractice,theBahamaswerecleared oftheirorigional inhabitantsby1513.Mostofthemdiedattheirlabor or throughdisease,starvation,or suicide. After the SpanishuseduptheArawaklabor supply,theirinterestin theBahamasdiminished.Titleto theBahalllaIslandswasgiven to SpainbythePopeafterColumbus'discovery, but it wasthe EnglishandBermudanswho,during the seventeenth century,firstattempted todoanycolonizing here.Theseattemptswerevery unstable though, because of the buccaneering,pirateering,andwreckingthatwerethe prinlaryenterprisesof the times.Thecoral reefs of themanyscatteredislands provided a conveniently hazardous sea for theseamentoworkin.Withships accidently wreckingonthe reefsandothers being lured or forced into dangerous waters,itwasaprofitablebusinessforthe scavengers.From1670to1718therewereaseriesof twelve proprietary governors in Nassau. Charles II ofEnglandgavetheLordProprietors of the Carolinas a tosetupa government in theBahamascomparable to the type in operation in the Carolinas. Despite the presence of the governors, thepirateswerestillthe majority.Itwasnotuntil1718,afterthelastof the twelve Proprietary Governors,thatsomeordercameto thesettlement,with thearrivalofWoodesRogers.Rogersrealized thestrategiclocation of theBahamas,itslactof leadership,andwantedto develop theislands.TheCrown responded to tiis petitionandgenuineinterestin thearea,andpressured theLordProprietors into givinguptheircivilandmi1itarygovernment of theBahamas.Rogersproceeded then,'with hi s backgroundasaseamanandprivateer,to pacify the area with the containmentandousting of thepirates.In1783whenthethirteen colonies gainedtheirindependance, therewasa migration of Loyalists to the [3ahamas because theywantedtoremainunderBritishrule.Manyof then weresouthern planters withtheirslaves,whichcaused the plantation system in theBahamastoexpandtremendously.Somanypeoplemovedin,thatthe population of the islandstripled,three quarters of thetotalbeingslaves.(Craton1963:163)Withthisgreatinflux of several of theOutIslandsweresettledforthefirsttillle.Thepopulation of theBahamascontinued

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-3to increase through theendof the eighteenth century,asslaveswerebrought in tofilltheneedfor plantation labor.In1787with theBahamasproceedingsowell,theLordProprietorsgaveuptheirtitleto theislands.The abol1tion of slaverycamein1833.With 1t a system of apprentiships of fourandsix yearsweresetupto help ease thechangetofreedomformasterandslave. Masters often adopted the of givingtheirapprentices landandmoretimeoffinstead of the former alotment of foodandclothing.Toenforceandassistthenewsystems, special magistrateswereplacedontheislands.Manyof the white plantationownersmovedto other islandsthatstillpermitted slavery, while others returned to the nations oftheirbirth.Thegovernmentthenbeganonthe task of accolllllodating the islands to thenewsituationofitspopulation.Theproviding of landwasa major concern; unfortunately, the landshadbeenverymuchoverworkedbythattime. Other concernswerethe establishment of schools, churches,andlocal governments.Asoutlinedbyoneauthor, a period ofcalmensued.Thenineteenth centurysawsome cOllluerci?l advancementfortheislands. The period of theAmericanCivilWarbrought in considerableAmericantrade,allnot necessarilylegal,toNassauinparticular.Industrieswerealso developed insisalrope, pineapple,fishing,sponge,salt,andeventourism, the industrywhich mostsuccessfully today.RumCayHistoryRUinCaywasprobablyfirstresettledasaresultof theAmericanRevolution--if not before.Cra (:on ISHis tory of theBahamas1istsRumCayasoneof theis1andswhereland grantsweregiven to the in-comingAmerica1Loyalists.Theislandmostlikelybecamea plantationsite,as the majority of the Loyalistswereformer southern plantation owners.Theisland probably continued to gain inhabitants through the addition of slaves toitsplantations.TheRoyalRegistry of Slaves,1822-1834liststhe following slave population figures forRumCay:MaleFemaleTotalYearSlaves SlavesSlaves1822102 127229182525121846918282662645301831286 2825681834317330647

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-4In1834,RumCayhadthesixthlargestslave population ofallthe islands in theBahamas,afterNewProvidence (Nassau),TurksandCaicos Islands, Eleuthera,Exuma,andCatIsland.TheplantationsonRumCayproduced mostly cotton,somepineapple,andassorted vegetablesforconsumptionontheisland:corn, potatoes, beans,andpigeon peas.Anengineers ieport of theBahamas in 1858liststhe population ofRumCaytobe ,::>0':;>..:o"/s//.-':4about142 werewhite. Another report givesoneanidea ofwhatRumCaywaslikein 1858,25yearsafterthemanumissionofslaves. :lhis islandcanboast of a veryrareadvantage in theBahamas,of roads,Twogoodonesrunthrough thecay....Thereisnochurch or schoolhousebelonging to the establishment of theisland.Divine serviceisheld in the policeofficeover thejail...There aretwosalinas,PortNelsonandCarmichael.About150persons areemployedonthesaltworksof thefirstof these.Thecanalthathaslatelybeencut through the rock to thesea,toletoffthe rain waterwhichhadflooded thesaltpond, givesthemthehopeof rakingsaltthisyear...Thereisveryexcellentlandandpastureonthisisland,Afewpineapples are raised but thecultivationisnot extensive,thoughthe planting offruittreesgenerallyisprogressing. There are600headofcattle,900headsheep,andafewgoats.Nineyearslater,anAmericanfromSouthCarolina, wroteanofficialreportontheagriculturesituationoneachof theislands.NearBlackRock,henotes, therewasa ten acrefie1d of cotton--quiteequal toanyIsawontheOutIslands...Heretoo I observed themostwantondestruction ofsoilbyfire:not onlywasthesoilburntwhereitwasplanted incotton,but thefirehadbeenapplied to thesoilwherethe timberhadnotbeencut,doing considerabledamage....Thelaboring classes of theOutIslands complainthatthe seasons aremuchdrierthan formerly, I thinkthisisa mistake.Thesoilhasbeendestroyedbyfire...

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5Asfor the condition ofRumCay's stonewalls.hecomplains these old landmarksarefastdisappearing.Ifnotarrestedbytheproprietors.the willbecomplete in a veryfewyears.Theold blackshada veneration for these margins, impresseduponthembytheirold masters.Thepresent generationseemsdetermined to takeallthatisleft,andleave nothing for thosewhocomeafter.ProsperousTimesThemostprosperousandactivetimesknownto the peopleonRumCayseemtohavebeenduring thefirsttwodecades ofthiscentury.Thentherewerefivesettlements,three majorindustriestokeepeveryone busy,androads around the islandwhichcombineditallintoa whole.Thepopulation duringthistimewas529in 1901.and430in 1911. nearly70percent. in thelatercensusyear.livingin theIIcapitalof thedistrict.1IFromPortNelsontravellingNorthwasMajorHill.then PortBoydonNorthside. then west toGinHill (socalledbecause the cotton ginwassituatethere during theplantationera--latertheDeveauxshomestead),TimesCove.LordLand. Carmichael. South to BlackRock.then East toNesbitt.Munroe.theWhiteLandandbackto Port Nelson.Ofthese,Port Nelson. PortBoyd.CarmichaelandBlackRockwerethemainsettlements.Ofallthe places mentioned. PortNelsonisthe only areathat remain5settled. Ithasalwaysbeenthecapitalandharborfortheisland--thecenter ofactivitiesandcivilaffairs.Inthepast.itwasalsoreferredtoasthe I'townshipll or IIharbor.1ITheisland'sonlyjailhouse,constable'soffice.postoffice,conmissioner's house, school,andbusinesseshavebeenlocatedthere.All the childrenfromthe island used towalktogoto school every day. Three churches arealsolocated in Port Nelson.ThefirstchurchwasaMt.ZionBaptistChurchlocated near the school.Itwasdamagedin the1908hurricane.andwasrebuiltatitspresent locationonthe road leading out of town, north towardsMajorHill.St.John'sBaptistChurchwasbuiltnextonthesameroad butcloserto town.St.Christopher's AnglicanChurchcamelast,beingbuiltonthesameroad, butevencloserto the center of town. Churchesweretheoneinstitutionincluded in settlement outside of PortNelson

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6PortBoydhadaBaptistchurch with thesamenameastheonein thecapital,Mt.Zion.Alongwith the church, theyhadtheirownreverendandcemetary. BlackRockhada reverend butnochurch.IndustriesThemajorindustriesofRumCay,whichprovided alotof jobsforthe peopleandbroughtanincometo theisland,weresalt,sisal,andpineapple.SaltwasthelargestindustryonRumCayandRumCaywasoneof thelargestproducers ofsalt.TheSaltLakejusteastof thetownwaswhereitwasallcollected.Therewasalsoa smallsalinain Carmichael. but islanders mentioneditit cenneetionwitRtReiRdu.try dYring tRis TheSaltLakewasspecificallysetupforlarge production.Thelakewasjoined to the ocean intwoplacesforcontrol of thethelake'swaters.TheEastern Canal, on.theeastendof the islandhadadamandgatethatwasusedto regulate the flow of waterintothe pond. Asidebenefitofthatcanalwasitsuseasa fishing place.Theothercanalcameoutonthe southernendof theislandbythetowndock.Itwasused to drain water out of thepondwhentoofullorafterdamagingrain.Italso servedasa waterwayfortheflatboats,to take thebaggedsaltout to the oceanfrontfromthepond Thesaltindustrywasthe biggest businessuntildamagedbythe hurricane of Thedamagedonewasfixablethough,andthe industry continuedata slower paceuntil1926,whenitwasirreparablyruinedbythegreathurricane.TheBahamas,startingin the mid-nineteenth centurywerethefirstcommercialproducers of pineappleonalargescale..ThefirstBahamianpostagestampevenhadapictureof a pineappleonit.OnRumCay, the p ine" industrywasonthe westernendof the islandwheretherewasgoodred "p inesoilII.Thefamiliesthatran the businesswereStrachan,ButlerandDeveaux.This industryIIwentdownllaspeople died ormovedawayfromthearea.Thenthe hurricane of1926callleanddestroyedmuchofwhatwasleftin production, putting afinaldamperontheindustry.Also, other countrieshadbeguntogrowpineappleswhichcut thedemandforthefruit.

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-7Thegrowingofsisalforropewasthe other big industry inRumCay'shistory.According to Craton,the plantwasfirstintroduced to theBahamasin 1845. This industry reportedlylastedthe longest, notdyingoutuntilthe 1930's,whennylon rope tookitsplace. Additionalincomewasderivedfromroadworkandthesaleof seashells.BeforeWorldWarI,somepeopleworkedoncontract in South in Central America.Alongwith theindustriesandoccupations, therewasthe standard practice of family farmingandanimalhusbandryformainfoodstuffs.GovernmentA commissioner livedandofficiatedonRumCayuntil1950's,whenRumCayandSanSalvadorwereamalgamatedintoonedistrictsoastohavethesamecommissioner.RumCaywasgettingtoo smalltowarrant havingitsown.Whenthe commissioner livedonthe island therewasa twelve-roomwoodenhousewhereanewgovernmentreSi dencenowstands.DeclineThemajor trend in the history of theisland,in the twentieth century,hasbeenitsdecline ineconomicopportunitiesaswellaspopulation. Peoplestartedleavingafterthe hurricane in '26.ManyleftforNassauandthe States to getjobs.'YearMalesFemalesTota11851438420858 1861 3103406501891193209402 1!1901235 294529 !911 171259430\,1921135203338193110115125219438713221919535083133 1963374077 [970 3446801975385593';

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H A bigemploymentopportunitycamewith thestartofWorldWarII.Therewasa contract system of laborsetupbetweenthe United StatesandtheBahamas.TheAmericansneededmorelabor because of thenumberofmenwhowentoffto war.MyearliestrecollectionsofRumCayare thesummersthatI spent withmygrandmotherandother familymembers,whenittookthreedaysto travelfromNassauviaCatIslandandSanSalvador toRumCay.Thecaring,well-knitreligiouscOlTlmunitywhereSundaywasadayof worshipandnothingelse.Thewell= bred goodfishing,crabbingandswimming.Thepristinebeaches, with coconuttreesgalore,barns overflowing with corn, peas,melonsandotherfarmproduce.TheAugustMondaypicnics,etc.RumCayls FutureThenewest chapter inRumCaylshistorybeganin the1950l swhenCarl Heyser acquil acreage inRumCayanddeveloped a smalltouristresort.Thischangedhandsover the yearsuntilDavidMelville took possession in thelate1970l sandtransformedIitintotheRumCayDiveClub,whichofficiallyopened (/8"3., !andisthe life-blood ofRum offering jobs for the majority ofRum Cayans. FredSturrup writing in theNassauGuardianlsFamilyIslandNewscolumnsomeyearsagoquiterightlystatedthatBahamianshavedoneverylittleto preserve the existence ofcommunitiesin our outlyingareas.Ifitwerenot for foreigninvestors,manyof the islandswouldeitherbedesertedonvery.nearthatpoint.TheRumCayDiveClubhasbroughtnewhopeandinspirationtomany.the focusonthisregion through theColumbusQuincentennial in 1992,thiscouldbethe of our homeland, butwemusttogether torestoreourheritage.Coupledwith CelebrationallworkThankstoMr.MelvilleandtheBahamasGovernment,theairstripisbeing repaved. ThisisvitaltoRumCaylsbudding toflism, andequally beneficial toRumCayanswhocantravelfromNassauto PortNelsoninanhour,asopposedto a couple ofweeksin mothers time,andthreedaysthatI couldrememberasa boy.Theother requirement to enhance the redevelopment ofRumCayisa deep-water dock,whichwillfacilitatethe transportation of marine cargoandpassengers. These, coupled with the Quincentennialboomenvisaged, theimprovementofair

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,.. '-9transportationtonearbyExuma,a possible portofentryinNorthLongIsland,continuing development insolarpowerand conmunications, advanced technologies inagricultureandfishing,allpointtoabrighterfutureforRumCay,providedweallcooperativelyworkto rebuild our islandhome.Thechallengeisours.