Wilfred Major is a great friend now sadly in a Nursing Home in Nassau. For years he was “the go to guy” for car rentals at the Rock Sound airport and before he became ill, was our exclusive agent for car rentals for our guests. He was a great oral historian and the source for the following:
100 years ago there were no cars on Eleuthera and narrow horse paths connecting the settlements (villages). There was little communication between the settlements as there was no need for communication. It was (and still is to some extent) bad form to marry outside your settlement. Slavery had been eliminated over 3 generations earlier (1830’s), there was no tourism, the plantations were in ruin and the only external contact with the outside world would be through the touring ministers, some Church mission work and the English teachers who would attempt to staff some “schools.” As a result each settlement developed unique characteristics, dialects, skills, local governance protocols.
Lynnie and I met a local woman about 15 years ago who was an “arm chair” dialectician. She could sit behind a screen and listen to a person read a book and pick out the settlement the person was from!
Ever since Tarpum Bay was the major pineapple shipping port in the early 1800’s the people there have been considered independent and industrious (really) and perhaps a bit haughty by other settlements. Our dear former housekeeper, Mary, now deceased looked down on the people of Greencastle saying condescendingly: “Those people be black down der.”
The mail boat started coming over from Nassau one day a week and would come to Governor’s Harbour. It took three days and two horses to deliver it to the settlements north and south. According to Wilfred the first auto came in 1926 into Governor’s Harbour and the settlements widened the road by hand so the mail could be delivered more quickly. Even then it took the car and driver two days to drop off at all the settlements. Slowly but surely came more cars, finally electricity and telephone and, heavens sakes, air service.
Today there a few wild horses on the island and an excellent riding stable near Governor’s Harbour. The Queen’s Highway makes transportation between the villages easy. Cars abound. Homogenization has taken place….as it has in Cleveland.
I enjoy the history of the settlements, their uniqueness and cultural richness of our dear Eleuthera.