The Saba Islander

by Will Johnson

Lunch with Vice Commander Richard Johnson of Saba.

Account of a visit to Saba from February 13th to February 16th 1829

The Mountain

The fourth and final part of the book by M.D. Teenstra of his visit to the Island of Saba in 1829.

Martin Duwes Teenstra Visited Saba from Friday February 13th to Monday February 16th 1829.

The Fourth Chapter of his book “De Nederlandsch West Indische Eilanden” Curacao, St. Maarten, Sint Eustatius; Saba.

In 1837 the publishing house of C.G. Sulpke published “The Dutch West Indian Islands in their present day state.” Written by M.D. Teenstra.

About the Author.

From the Encyclopedia of the Dutch West Indies, and reprinted by S. Emmering, Amsterdam (1981).

Teenstra (Marrten Douwers) born in Ruige Zand on 17th Septemer 1795, deid 29th October 1864 at Ulrum, practised arable farming in the Netherlands in his young days but not successfully.

In order to retrieve his fortune he went to the East Indies around 1825 where he would not be successful either. Shortly after his return to Holland the Dutch Government sent him to Surinam as an agronomist in 1828, when Van Den Bosch commissioned him to explore the riches of the forests. He became a president of agricultural society “Prodsse Conamur” founded May 16th 1829. Shortly after his arrival he was appointed superintendent of Bridges. Roads and Hydraulics in Paramaribo, and state cultivator.

He visited the Dutch West Indian islands in 1828/29 and 1833/34 returning to Holland in 1834 after holding a post as a senior clerk at the registry of the Court in Surinam for a short time. He was well known when alive as he wrote quite a number of books including one on South Africa where he stayed for some time after getting ill on his way to the East Indies.

Teenstra ( Marten Douwes) born 17th September 1795 and died October 29th 1864.

The Fourth Chapter of his book covers the history and his visit to Saba.


Saba lies 5.5 geographic miles N. of St. Eustatius, 8.5 miles S.W. of St. Barth’s, and 7 miles S.W. to South of St. Martin. The village in the middle of the island lies at 17-29 Latitude and 63.19 Longitude.

Chapter 2

Size and Shape

Saba is only 15 miles (*) in circumference and 18000 acres in area (+)

  1. Miles of 1760 Igards, the Igard of 36 Rhineland inches.
  2. (+) An acre is 4860 Tjard or 302.5 Rhineland rods.It rises as a barren rock very steep out of the sea, and presents itself from some distance as a single mountain, and can be seen from a distance of 15 geographical miles. To the North West side, there rises at a distance of a gunshot from shore, a high and very steep, needle shaped rock, called the Diamond.
The Diamond. Teenstra describes the point of land opposite the “Diamond Rock” as Mary’s Point whereas a British Naval chart of 1816 has the point named “Torrence Point”.

S. and S.S.W. of the island there extends five and three quarter miles from shore, a reef or bank, on which there are 12 to 17 fathoms of water.

At four English miles distance in a Southerly direction from Saba there is a small embankment of shallows, which is covered with water 3 or 4 fathoms and where the sea breaks with tremendous force, when there are strong winds. People believe, that in 1794 an English vessel , going from Jamaica to Martinique, was shipwrecked on these shallows. The exact location of the vessel in question is not known.

Waves breaking on the shallows of the Saba Bank. This photo was taken by me from my verandah in The Level Saba.

In the late afternoon watch of February 6th, 1834 we sailed with the “Echo” over that same area, measured on same, 7.5 fathoms of water, then 9, 10, 11, 20, 25, 30 and after that with 40 fathoms there was no bottom. When we had the highest point of the middle of Saba, N1/2W. and the N.W. corner of St. Eustatius N.E. of E., behind us, we were on the rim of the reef, and the water became a darker colour. This bank which is 100 to 120 Rhineland rods wide, consists of irregular coral stone, of a white and black colour and grey rocky grit. One finds the same noted on the chart, of Noiri, but at larger depths.

Mountains and Valleys

Chapter 3.

The mountains are unusually steep, and only here and there some pasture for the livestock. One can consider the entire island as a single mountain, with some valleys. The highest top is called The Peak and it has an elevation of 3330 feet above sea level. The houses of Chrispeen are 2430 feet, and the church in The Valley rises 1680 feet above the same sea level. The most important valley is called The Bottom, and has besides the mentioned Church some houses which together are called The Village.

Rivers, brooks, bays or harbours are not found on the island. There are three fresh water springs, and five hot water springs. Drinking water here must also be collected in cisterns, which, when they are dry, also serve as prisons.

The Mountain Throughout Saba’s history everyone referred to it as The Mountain. Someone in the mid twentieth century must have given it the name “Mount Scenery”.

There are here only two landing places to be found, Fort Road Stead to the South, and the other, which is the most important one, named The Ladder, lies N.W. to N. of the village. It was here that the pirate ship, the swift sailing schooner “Governor Dorego”, under the Command of Alexander Beriteau, being a vessel of Buenos Aires, together with the Brazilian prize ship “Lebre” , were anchored, when both were captured in April 1829 by his Majesty’s Man-o-War “De Valk”,Commander Van Es, and taken to Surinam. *

(* The pirate Captain Bariteau was condemned by the Court of Civil and Criminal Justice, of the 29th of September 1830, to twenty years of forced labour. The second person Stevan Donay to 15 years; Manuel Echanis and Charles Stuart both for three years, while Eugene Gouvernon as besides the rest of the crew were absolved and set free.)

The roads or rather the paths, which lead from the said landing places to the valley are extraordinarily steep and difficult, and each almost an hour long going, thereby so narrow going up between frightening chasms, that no two persons can go side by side. Everything which one wants to carry up or bring down must be carried in small quantities from or to The Valley, and borne with difficulty.

The blacks however bring with great skill, on their heads, down the hillsides, the frames of boats, which are then built on the coast, which the stranger, had he not seen it, would have considered it impossible to do.

Vice Commander Richard Johnson’s coffee pot regretably damaged but still a worthwhile souvenir.

Chapter 4.


The island is divided in six districts whaich are named Palmetto Point, The Valley, Chrispeen, St. John’s, Hell’s Gate and The Peak. Also here from the middle of July until the middle of October one has to deal with the frighhtening hurricane months. Normally they come from the North, and follow the compass in a Westerly direction, back again in the North. Very seldom however they last for more than 24 hours without a pause. Not withstanding that the Peak, except in the month of February is without clouds, there is less rain than the inhabitants would like to have.

Epedemic diseases are satisfactorily not known here, which is attributed to the refreshing sea breezes. On the entire island there is no medical doctor, why it is to be wondered,how the people become old, and the population is increasing. Only very few lepers are to be found here, and the Jaws and Elephantiasis are not known here at all.

Chapter 5

Village and Fort

The houses are spread out in The Valley, named The Bottom, are, considering there is a church in their midst, called The Village not withstanding that the area called Windward Side has the most houses.

The only religious leader, who lives here is a Prebyterian. Methodists are not tolerated here. The church building after the hurricane of 1772, has been completely rebuilt, for which a collection was taken up in the neighbouring islands. In 1821 it was repaired and noticeably improved. It is not large, an oblong square building, of which the massive walls are built of stone. The same also serves as Council Hall and school.

Anglican Christ Church in The Bottom

The houses in general are not large, but are maintained in a clean and well mintained condition, and not to be exempted, the straw huts standing in between, with their gardens and front yards. There are nowehere piles of rubbish, and houses in disrepair, by which Paramaribo, St. Eustatius and St. Maarten are so poluted,

Chapter 6


The Southern part of the island is called the Fort Bay, one can only find there nothing else but four useless canons. There are no military forces here, but the citizens are good marksmen, and the reverse, the same insignificance would be besides the least bad weather, sufficiently inacessible’

Chapter 7

Means of Existence

Elizabeth Hassell with Adelina Hassell here pounding the Guinea corn.

One finds here only a few small sugar plantations, which are located at The Bottom, which belong to a cetain Dinzey [Thomas]. They have between 20 to 25 acres under cultivation, and a slave workfroce of 60 people, but of which half of them are children. The yield is completely dependent on the more or less extent of rain or drought. The harvest of 1828 amounted to 150 barrels. That of 1829 is anticipated to be not more than 30 barrels.*

(*American flour barrels, containing sugar of between 230 and 240 pounds Troy).

Each home, people calculated, that there are, besides some straw huts, 150 which have its own garden planted with sugarcane and cotton, besides some bananas (Bacova’s) . In the mountain ravines, one can find some very luxuriant and fine quality coffee trees,and on the slopes of the mountains, some corn and a larger quantity of Guinea corn.

Administrator Max Huith on the left inspecting the canon at Fort Bay.

Every home of some importance has a sugar cane handmill, consisting of two horizontal cyclinders, which are turned around against each other by two blacks. The women who plant the cotton, make their own spinning wheels, and knit very fine socks and gloves, which are lovely and strong. For the first I paid six, and for the latter, eight guilders for a dozen.

According to a report of the Governor Cantz’laar, the livestock in 1816 consisted of 1 horse, 8 mules, 191 head of cattle, and many sheep and goats. In 1829 there were here 3 horses, 5 mules, 150 head of cattle, 300 sheep, 800 goats and 600 pigs, among which there were found some weighng more than 300 pounds.

Making cane liquor even in modern times. Fron left to right Police officer Harry L. Johnson, the brothers Cecil and Alvin “Bobby” Every and Al Hassell.

Poultry and “pulputanen” are plentiful, but no ducks or “doksies”. Garden vegetables are here also plentiful such as tubers, potatoes, and other ground vegetables, as well as cabbage and other greens. Bread is baked from cassava meal, which is more

dry and healthy than tasty and is nutritious. If the agriculture and raising of cattle are not profitable any more, than is necessary for local consumption, there is some export to St. Thomas, also trade is very small. The men, a great deal of them fishermen catch a great quantity of turtles and other kind of fish,which they take to other islands for sale, while also on this island excellent and very much sought after rowing boats are built. The women spin and knit different pieces of cotton clothing, while further export exists in the export of some cattle and garden vegetables. The entire export of the mentioned articles is restricted to barter trade with St. Thomas from, of which pieces of clothing, shoes, hats, (on Saba there are neither tailors or shoemakers), salt pork and meat, cotton, coffee, wine and distilled, which in trade are received back in return.

Import duties are very small, and as well as a reult of this, as to the limited import, is the levying thereof of particular little importance and can amount over a whole year period to hardly f.80.–

Chapter 9

Thomas Eric Johnson here milking his cow. Families survived by farming, fishing, and livestocking raising.


The Commander of Saba carries the title of Vice Commander who is assisted by three or four civil servants, and he is responsible to the Commander of St.Eustatius. The present (1829) Vice Commander of Saba, Edward Beaks Jr. , a native of the island was recently dismissed from his position and replaced by Mr. Richard Johnson, an old man age 72, who never went on a boat, much less any foreign region, and even had not set foot on any of the neighbouring islands.

The Council of Policy, consisted of:Messrs. Richard Johnson, President

John Dinzey Winfield, teacher and merchant

Henry Johnson Hassell , member

Henry Hassell, member

Charles Simmons, Secretary

John Davis, Marshall and Postman,

Moses Leverock, Vendu Master.

The only tax levied on the island is for the income of the Vice Commander which amounts to f. 800.– per year, It can be provided from the incoming duties, from the income from the tax on sales and from some scarce emoulements. If all of this amounts to the aformentioned sum, then it is to the benefit of the Vice Commander; if however it is less, then the shortfall is charged to the inhabitants. The Secretary has no other compensation than the benefit of some emoulements, which can yield around 100 guilder per year.

These were the roads between the villages. This one used to be the road between Hell’s Gate and English Quarter and beyond. This was the road which was used until the mid to late nineteen fifties when the motor vehicle road was designed above the old one by Engineer Josephus Lambert Hasssell

Chapter 10

Language, Morals and Customs

The language used here is a dialect English, and not one resident understand a word of Dutch. Although in general poor, the inhabitants of Saba live among each other very peaceful and harmonius, for which is proof when the take over of the island in 1816, not one case was brought before the Judge. For such much is contributed by the common marriages, whereby nearly the entire white population are related to one another. The natives are so attached to their place of birth, that when they go else where even if it settling on one of the neighbouring islands, they die from homesickness. The emigration to St. Eustatius has been done succesfully sometimes by some with good results

The road leading from the Ladder Bay to The Bottom and beyond. It run up through the gut on the left side of the stairs built in 1934 which are on the ridge. This photo is from 1909.

One claims that the women of Saba are the prettiest of all of our West Indian possessions, considering that they are well shaped, white and with blushing colour, have a healthy European appearance. The abbot Raynal, ( and who dares to doubt the witness of an abbot in such matters.*) “Throughout America there is no blood so pure as that of Saba; the women there preserve a freshness of complexion, which is not to be found in any other of the Caribee islands. “

  • A philosophical and political History,of the settlements and trade of Europeans in the East and West Indies X Vol. by the Abbe Raynal. Vol. V page 423
    • For myself, I find the women of Saba more amicable than handsome; in general they are more gentle in nature, and domestic.
    • The slaves are treated here with special humane care. and hardly feel their enslavement. Also with regards to foreigners, the inhabitants, the natives, practice an extraordinary amount of hospitality,and although their language as has already been said is a bastard English, they are however far from prejudiced against the Hollanders, as are the inhabitants of St. Eustatius. In general as well as their simple lifestyle, as their morals and customs are all praiseworthy
A document signed by Richard Johnson still alive at 93.

Chapter 11


Saba was discovered by Colombus in 1492 on a Sunday or Sabbath known by the Spanish Domingo or Saba, which island was unihabited at the time. People claim that the first population consisted of emigrants from Sint Eustatius and St. Kitts (* Hollanders, Scots and Irish, who settled here in 1665) and in the beginning cultivated a bit of cotton and coffee, and later on also sugar, while some things were shipped via St. Eustatius to Holland.

When I said before that the island is strenghtened by nature, by the same narrow, steep and difficult to climb mountain paths, the French who sought to capture the island by surprise, experienced this to their loss. The islanders defended themselves by rolling down boulders, whereby the enterprise failed completely. The terrible hurricane of 1772 nearly destroyed Saba. Besides the church 100 houses were destroyed, coffee and cotton trees were carried into the sea and the land was made barren by the salt spray falling over the island. This led to bitter poverty and to the moving of some of the inhabitants elsewhere as a reult. Since then the coffee and cotton which was cultivated here was not sufficient for their own consumption, and that which is lacking is imported from St. Thomas. Also the hurricane of 1819 did extensive damage here, although in less measure than to St. Martin. Of less importance was the hurricane of 1821.

Chapter 12.

These types of huts were still around even into the late nineteen forties. After the Great Hurricane of 1772 some people even had to live in caves. One of my ancestors Jacob Vlaun lived in a cave below the cliff on Hell’s Gate which cave is still called Vlaun’s cave.

Animals, Plants and Minerals

The animal world has nothing noteworthy on this island. Only in the hurricane months, one can find some wild doves. Vermin and insects are here just as abundant and of the same sort as at St. Eustatius.

Besdes the plants mentioned by us in our report on agriculture, one can find in the mountain gullies, in the fertile ground which is difficult to plant in, some cocao and coconut trees and some quantity of Vienca’s cactusses and Aloe plants.

To the Eastern side of the mountain there is a well of perhaps more than 3000 feet depth, or to the surface of the sea. A stone thrown in there cannot be heard falling. Formerly arsenicum (rat poison) was found here, but the fear that the blacks would misuse this, kept the location from being disclosed, and now it has been completely lost.

In the mountain of Chrispeen, there is a cave, in which there is white chalk, sulphur and plume alum. Also on top of the mountain one can find two such mines, which the trouble and costs which would accompany the exploitation, would not compensate for the slight income it would generate.

My grandmother Marie Elizabeth Johnson pictured here with two of her daughters Cora (standing, mother of Bernard, Ethel and Elmer) and seated May, and with her husband Daniel Johnson. Marie was a granddaughter of Vice Commander Richard Johnson and a daughter of his son Thomas who had a number of children by his first wife Eleanor Markoe and after her death he Thomas married at age 65 Ann Louisa Hassell age 29.

Chapter 13

Excursion to Saba

Finally some notes follow which were made by me, in my Journal about a small outing to the island of Saba. I hired for that purpose the same Captain Flaun (Vlaun) and the same sloop, with which before I had sailed to St. Eustatius. We agreed that he would take me to Saba and wait there for two days, after which he would take me back to St. Martin for which I had to pay him twenty guilders, while I would provide myself with food and drinks.

On Friday morning on the 13th of February 1829 I left St. Martin for this trip, and I was accompanied as a travel companion by Mr. A. D. du Cloux, commander of the detachment of riflemen in garrison there.

At 8 am we sailed with a stiff North Easterly cool wind out of Great Bay

and arrived at 1 pm on the South West side of Saba, at the Ladder, at anchor, a miserable landing place. Very wild and barren, the island presents. When sailing around the West side of same, we saw outside of Mary’s Point, the naked rock called the Diamond, rising out of the sea. At 15 fathoms deep it stands completely by itself like a tower 90 feet above water. The breaking of the sea is terrible, as well as on this rock, as on Mary’s Point itself, which amazing steep coast is surrounded by blue and read rocks. Above these rocks one can see on the steep incline of the mountain some humble huts and small houses located there, which neighbourhood bears the name of this point.

***( This needs closer inspection.. Teenstra is referring here to what is called Torrence or Torens Point as “Mary’s Point with the village above on the slope being called by the same name. However the area is being referred to in his story as Palmetto Point, which would include Middle Island and Cow Pasture assumingly. Perhaps this was because the village of Palmetto Point was the most important of the three. Teenstra would have been unaware of the first known map with few details made by Captain E.H. Colombie of the Royal Navu dated 15 April 1816, the year Saba was transferred to the Dutch from the British. The cartographic story of Saba is even shorter. The first map of the island was made by the British Naval Officer E.H. Colombine and printed by the British Hydrographic Office in 1816. No new printed map of Saba was published until well into the twentieth century. The island did appear as an insert on several British maps and on a Dutch nautical chart from 1903. Around 1883, another printed map of Saba must have been published, but this one is known only to us through later copies. Close to the end of the nineteenth century, a manuscript map was made of the village known as The Bottom. In a census of 1861 made by Governor Edward Beaks Jr. the village is clearly referred to by its original name “Palmetto Point” and I have bills-of-sale even in the early twentieth century referring to the seller of the property as residing in Palmetto Point. Could the point have been known then as “Mary’s Point? And if so where did the Naval Officer have got the name “Torrence Point” from. This map of 1816 set the trend for all future maps to refer to it as “Torrence Point” but someone in 1829 must have told Teenstra that the Point of Land opposite the “Diamond” was called “Mary’s Point:” Also in the census of 1823 just six years before Teenstra visited Saba among the names mentioned are those of the heads of households of Palmetto Quarter among them my great-great grandfather and my great-great- greatgrandfather who lived between St. Eustatius and Saba. The list of heads of households for Palmetto Point Quarter was James Horton Sr. and his son James Horton Jr. , John Beal, Peter Simmons, Peter Hassell, John Zeagors, Thomas Zeagors, Peter Collins and James Hassell.

The Census of 1861 made up as required by law at the time.
Landing at the “Fort Bay” in former times posed many problems and the road leading up to The Bottom, while better than that leading up from The Ladder Bay was still a formidable task for those not from Saba.
The road leading up to The Bottom. This was built much later on and Teenstra as described in the story of his visit to Saba landed at The Ladder and took that more tortuous path up to The Bottom.
Landing in calm waters at the Ladder Bay formerly

Sighing I looked up against the steep landing place, and wished from the depth of my heart, that we could already be on the top. If before this time.I was of the opinion that the landing on St. Eustatius was difficult, there is no comparison to be made with the landing at this island. There is no Bay, and the small flat embankment, at the foot of the steep mountain consists of some “vlenten” , or rather round washed up balls and rolling stones, on which there was a high surf present. And after this dangerous landing, the most difficult part of the voyage first begins. With every right the mountain path bears the name of The Ladder because along an irregular formed path of steps, one has to climb to the top. nearly 1700 feet to “The Bottom”, ( Icannot understand. because one must actually, with every effort of force climb for a whole hour before one has actually reached The Bottom). Added to that the late afternoon sun, shined so terrible, and I do not need to say this, that in the sweat of our faces we reached the object of our trip.

At last we were at the top and entered into the large and fertile valley, of which the glorious green, provided a most surprising contrast, with the surrounding naked mountain top. It has two exits, one which leads to the Southern shore, the other to the Western shore. That Saba was a burning mountain, is so evident that such leaves no room for discussion, and it is probably, that this so called Bottom at the time was the crater.

Hardly had we arrived in between the 40 to 50 houses, and looked forward to seeing one of Saba’s so highly f amous beauties, then as if to restrain our desire, the first woman who came limping was so hideously misfigured that she could be an example of all that is ugly, and that immediately when seeing her face, I thought on, that which our Father Cats so accurately described witch came to mind.

W hen we arrived at the Church we were welcomed by the most important inhabitants, who were of the opinion, that we were charged with a most important mission; while they with anxious curiosity tried to uncover the reason for our arrival.

Entering the church we met Mr. James Dinzey Winfield, Member of the Council of Policy,busy in his capacity of teacher, giving lessons in English to some fifteen students, because Dutch is so strange here, that no one even understands it.

We proceeded after that with Mr. Edward Beaks, the former Vice Commander, to his residency next to the church, where we were received exceptionally friendly and with generosity.

I, who had imagined that Saba only had an impoverished population, in civilization half a century behind, experienced, and discovered here that I was deceived in my expectations and for the good.

The house was clean, and expensively furnished, and the food which was served to us and drinks in abundance, and extremely delicious.

After we had consumed a grog od delicious old rum, our wih was to go to bed early, so as the following day with the pleasur of the cool morning to climb the mountains and to see Saba up close;but going to bed was postponed with one cigar after the other, followed by more substantial drinks.

View of Winwardside from 1900. On the right side of the photograph is the home of Vice Commander and he is buried behind the house. The little house in the back belonged to one of his daughters . In this humble little house three young girls made Antillean History. One of them was the mother of the Posner family, one was the mother of Antoine Maduro the famous Papiamento specialist, and the other one was married to a Wever and she was the grandmother of Maggie Wever of Aruba who had some welllknown stores with beauty products.

Because of that a late awakening and some discomfort, I decided to remain another day, which increased the costs of the voyage considerably, as my good friend Flaun (Vlaun), kept himself to the quote; Everyone fishes to his own tide.”

It was already 9 am, when we started out to the East towards the mountains, to climb the 750 feet higher than The Bottom situated Chrispeen; the path leading there follows a winding and rocky mountain path.

The view from there down on the village is picturesque, while because of the strong echo of the noise from below you can call out to anyone. From this height, where it was rather cold, you can see St. Eustatius lying, which from that location seems very close. The living colour of the pastures, which are found here, and on which very good grass grows provides for a very charming view. We wander now from this green slope, downhill, along a veryt narrow and dangerous rocky path, to Windward Side, the residence of Vice Commander Richard Johnson.

This narrow and curvy path which winds halfway up the mountaiin, around deep ravines and steep chasms, is everywhere horrifying. Looking jp to black split cliffs and crumbling huge rocks, which because of the passing clouds appear as falling down, while the wide gaping ravines, the deep chasms, and the broken off mass of rocks, already below, cause the hiker to shudder.

We now heard the call, HELLO, AWOOI, the sign that our approach was already being announced, and shortly after that the Vice Commander and the members of the Council, Hasssell and Winfield, welcomed us on the outskirts of the village, after which we went together to the residence of Mr. Hassell. Here to our shame of getting up late, the gentleman, former Commander Beaks Jr. father of the gentleman of the same name who was accompanying us, a man of 75 years (born 1754) and Matthew Winfield 64 years old (born 1765), who both lived in The Bottom , and who had arrived two hours before us, whereas they to please us had come on foot, on this difficult mountain path, which they had not done in three years.

The devil’s heater and the Devil’ s Hand. Teenstra claims that this was the reason for naming the village Hell’s Gate as only the Prince of Hell could have placed his handprint there as a sign that you were approaching his residence. A pity that this historic rock was dynamited in the nineteen fifties so that the road could be widened.

The inhabitants of Windward Side, live so to speak , in the clouds, yet enjoy in this their seclusion strong and healthy bodies, and domestic pleasures, such as are scarcely found in the world below.

After resting here for a while, we walked to the Spring Bay on the North East side of the island, where there is a Srping of boiling water. From here we arrived in the vicinity of Hell’s Gate or the gate to Hell, a barren steep corner, where 107 people live, who tried to do their utmost, and to help ur research. They showed us strange fish and sea plants, which flower when planted, and some ore and other minerals. They also told us the origin of the name Hell’s Gate, where there exists a rock, in which there are some holes, which together form what looks like a print resembling a very large hand, and because there is no human gifted with such a hand it can only be that of the Prince of Hell.

On the return trip we went to the home of Vice Commander Richard Johnson. His wife was dressed like a Frisian farm wife, and equally strange although less comparable, was the attire and clothing of two of their daughters, who with a graceful face, in which virtue and innocence were expressed, complimented by a lovely figure.

Not one person of the entire household had ever even visited one of the neighbouring islands, and receiving strangers was a novelty for them.

Even though their home was smaller and less luxurious than that of Mr. Beaks, the reception was just as cordial, and everyone exerted themselves to receive us to the best. The table comprised twelve covers which would have been sufficient for three times that amount of people. And not only the meat and fish dishes were more than delicious, but also the vegetables and ground provisions, are better here in smell and taste, more similar to European produce, than those of our lower and warmer colonies, such as the flat and watery Surinam and the Nickerie.

It was already getting dark when we returned to The Bottom, accompanied by our hospitable people.

Sunday morning announced itself with clear skies and so invited us to climb the Peak, on which exhausting climb, Mr. Henry Johnson Hasssell was friendly enough to accompany us. Just as from the Diana peak, we saw from the same Mountain top through the clouds on the expansive sea below, where the frigates and brigs appeared as if they were childrens toys.

Monday morning, February 16th 1829 accompanied by the dignitaries of the island who repeatedly expressed their well wishes and concerns to us, we descended once again to The Ladder, and after we had descended this dreadfull steepness, we arrived through the strong breakers completely soaked back on board. Soon the anchor was raised, we left at 8 o.clock in the morning with a South East, and thus not unfavourable, wind under sail and were back at St. Maarten at three o’clock in the afternoon.

So far my notes are recorded which for the most part can be of some general intereest, and with this end my description of the Dutch West Indian islands.

A map from Dr. Boeke’s book about fishing on the Saba Bank from 1907 showing where the copper banks are supposed to be which cause fish poisoning. When I get a chance I will translate that part of his report which deals with Saba ao that people will know how it was with fishing more than one hundred years ago.

The End

Translated from the Dutch Original by me William Stanley “Will” Johnson

The Level, Windward Side, Wall Street #53

Saba March 5th, 2021

Announcement by The Daily Herald

The “Daily Herald” for which I also write the column “Under The Sea Grape Tree” sent me a message to which I responded about the purpose behind the Saba Islander and on Friday last they carried an article on my blog as they call it. I prefer to look at it as a Saba newspaper and once the road to The Level where I live has been resurfaced and I get some expertise up here we will see how to improve the site. I am getting quite a lot of positive responses and people say they like the historical touches I give to the news of the day.
Saba people have a proud history behind us. I see some of our young people are having children and that is a good thing. What use would it be if all our generation and that of our ancestors would be lost if no one on the island took on the responsibility of having children. What greater love can there be than that between a man and a woman producing children and living on to enjoy your grandchildren. Stay focused on the future and your off spring will inherit the earth.
And by the way today April 7th, 2013 we are having some of the best rains we have had in months and I put out seed the other day in anticipation of the rain we are having today. I also receive Antigua television here by my house with only a rabbit ear antenna. I like to see the West Indian programming they offer and also the weather report. Last night they were giving hope that we would be getting some good rain today, and the rains came.

M.D. Teenstra’s Visit to Saba

Vice Commander Richard Johnson (1828 – 1830)

    By; Will Johnson

I have noticed that Mr. Walter Hillenbrand admires the historian M.D. Teenstra. And so do I. Perhaps for different reasons though, than I do. The thing that I admire most about his book “De Nederlandsch West Indische Eilanden” is that he actually visited the islands which he wrote about.

    Several Dutch historians of the twentieth century, while doing good work, based their research on documents either found in the archives in The Hague or in Willemstad. Some of them even brought forward theories which are not based on any fact whatsoever. And yet we look at them as the experts.

Dr. J. Hartog especially tried to square us out in a nice Dutch way as if all the people had descended from Dutch burghers. He also believed that all the place names had originally been Dutch.

    In the nineteen sixties Mr. Sydney Lejuez and I used to write for the Windward Islands Opinion. Not much news back then, so we had to make news. In a foolish moment I said to Sydney once, “Man I could write a book just like anyone else.” The next weeks headline in The Opinion was “Will Johnson to write book.” No such intention, mind you. A few weeks later I received a registered letter from a Dr. Hartog on Aruba. Scared me to death. He wrote to tell me that he had copyright on his books and that if I quoted from his books that he would take me to court. Never mind that he had copied from everybody and his sister, and that his use of the Doctor title had been widely questioned. One of the things which I am sorry about is that I did not keep that letter, but believe me this is not a story which I made up. And on top of that treath he sent a letter telling the Governor to keep an eye on me as perhaps I was doing all this wirting during office hours. Since this was first written in the meantime I found the letter.

    Anyway Mr. M.D. Teenstra visited Saba on Friday the 13th, 1829 with a chartered sloop from St.Maarten owned by Captain Vlaun. All the way back then Friday fell on the 13th. You just can’t get rid of those Fridays the 13th can you?

Figure 2 The Anglican church was the only church on Saba when M.D. Teenstra visited in February 1829. It served as a Government meeting hall as well as a school.

  Teenstra wrote that the person in authority on Saba had the title of Vice Commander and was responsible to the Commander on Sint Eustatius. (Locally though, the person was referred to as the Governor). The present (1829) Vice Commander of Saba, Edward Beaks Jr., a native of the island, was recently suspended from his post. Mr. Beaks had been suspended on suspicion that he had owned and had put on a “war footing” a schooner involved in acts of piracy. He was an uncle of the notorious pirate Hiram Beaks who is credited with coining the phrase:”Dead men tell no tales.”Mr. Beaks was replaced by Mr. Richard Johnson, an old man of 72 years, who had never stepped on a boat, much less visited a foreign place, and had not even visited one of the neighboring islands.

   The Court of Policy (Raad van Policie) at that time consisted of: Mr. Richard Johnson, President, Mr. Thomas Dinzey Winfield, Schoolteacher, and Merchant Henry Johnson Hassell, Member, Henry Hassell, Member, Charles Simmons, Secretary, John Davis Marshall and Mozes Leverock vendue master.

    The language of Saba was English and not one inhabitant could be found who could speak a word of Dutch. Teenstra also confirms that the first settlers consisted of emigrants from St.Eustatius and St.Kitts. Dutch, Scots and Irish some of who settled here in 1665. The latter would have been the ninety pirates who remained back in 1665. They had been part of the expedition by Edward and Thomas Morgan out of Port Royal Jamaica. They captured Saba and Sint Eustatius. On his visit to Saba Teenstra was accompanied by Mr. A.D. Du Cloux, Commander of a detachment of soldiers stationed on Sint Maarten.

Figure 3 Teenstra  praises the nicely built and well maintained houses on Saba with in between some thatched roofed houses.

The old tatched roofed houses were located on different parts of the island even up to the nineteen fifties I remember one or two in “The Alley” in the Mountain above the Windward Side.

    Teenstra describes his arrival at the Ladder Bay, the torturous climb up to The Bottom and the warm reception he received at the home of former Commander Edward Beaks. The home was located next to the Anglican Church.

    After a night of heavy drinking and cigar smoking, the next morning he had to make the long climb up to the Windward Side to visit Vice Commander Richard Johnson. The party was welcomed outside the village by the Vice Commander and members of the Council Hassell and Winfield, and they first proceeded to the home of Mr. Hassell. Here they met the old Commander Edward Beaks Jr. father of the one by the same name accompanying them. Although he was 75 years of age and Matthew Winfield 64, both of them had left The Bottom on foot three hours ahead of Teenstra. They had not visited Windward Side in three years.

Figure 4 Some folks here on a picnic at the Well’s Bay. The original well on this spot had been built a couple of centuries before Teenstra visited Saba. The Well served both Middle Island and Palmetto Point villages which had been established after 1629 when the Irish and Scots settled in these villages and name them after villages, they had left behind on St. Kitts.

The Well at Well’s Bay, photo Steve Kruythoff

 After visiting Hell’s Gate, they went to the home of Vice Commander Johnson whose wife was dressed like a Frisian farm wife, but two of their daughter’s present were dressed more plainly. Not one person in the entire household had ever visited any of the neighboring islands, and receiving strangers was a novelty for them. The house is the one now owned by Mr. Peter Granger and Richard Johnson is buried in a private cemetery above the house now owned by Dennis Dowling.

    Even though their residence was smaller and less luxurious than that of Mr. Beaks, the reception was most generous and Teenstra wrote that everyone tried to treat his party to the best. The table comprised twelve places but the food would have been sufficient for three times that amount of people. Teenstra describes the meat and fish dishes as well as the vegetables better tasting than anything similar in Europe. In the evening Teenstra writes that he left the generous and hospitable family and headed to The Bottom.

    On Sunday Teenstra went to the top of the mountain with Henry Johnson Hassell. On Monday February the 16th accompanied by the prominent people of the island he went to the Ladder Bay where Vlaun’s sloop was waiting to take him back to St.Maarten.

   Teenstra was generous to us with his measurements. He described the island as having a circumference of fifteen English miles with 18.000 acres of land, while the mountain was 3330 feet high. Crispeen was 2480 feet and The Valley (The Bottom) 1680 feet. In1829 there were 1200 people living on Saba; and the livestock consisted of 3 horses, five mules, 150 head of cattle, 300 sheep, 800 goats and 600 pigs (of which some of the pigs weighed more than 300 pounds each.)

The new steproad on the ridge built around 1934 and repaired in 1977 replaced the old road which led up through the gut on the left side of the new road, which is just as hard to clim UP to The Bottom.

Figure 5This is part of the original road leading from the Ladder Bay to The Bottom and the rest of the island. It was on the left side of the ridge on which in 1934 the step road was built.

   In 1828 Richard Johnson then aged 71 was the oldest member of the Council. He was appointed as Vice Commander on December 20th, 1828 and started functioning on January 20th, 1829. He stepped down on May 5th, 1830. In his letter of resignation, he stated that “due to advanced age and consequent debility and being far removed from his place of office, he was forced to resign. Henry Johnson Hassell was the second oldest member of the council and briefly succeeded Mr. Richard Johnson. On May 5th 1830 news was received on Saba that Mr. Thomas Dinzey Winfield, Member of the Council, had been appointed to the post of Vice Commander. The title was changed after November 20th 1833 to Commander. Mr. Winfield died on June 10th 1836 and Mr. Edward Beaks was reappointed. I guess he had sold his pirate schooner in the meantime.

    My ancestor Richard Johnson had obviously not read the poem by Locksley Hall, as I did, or else he might have at least ventured on a boat to Statia.

Although Vice Commander Richard Johnson resigned his post at the age of 72 using as argument that he was too old to carry on, here he is still signing documents in the year 1850 when he would have been 92.

……To wander far away,

On from island unto island, to the gateways of the day.

Larger constellations burning, mellow moons and happy skies,

Breadth of tropic shade and palms to cluster, knots of paradise.

‘Droops the heavy blossomed bower, hangs the heavy fruited tree,

Summer isles of Eden lying in dark purple spheres of sea.’

Oh my. “Yes, to wander far away on from island unto island, to the gateways of the day.”

Figure 6 In his report of his sojourn on Saba in1829 Teenstra mentions that cassava bread was the principal staple as bread as flour was hard to obtain back then.

Cassava bread drying out on the roof. This was the case all over the island in the past.

    In doing research on my great-great-grandfather to my surprise I found a document signed on January 1st 1850 by the very same Richard Johnson who in 1830 had declared himself “of advanced age and consequent debility.” He would have been 93 years old in 1850. Who knows when he actually died? He may be still around somewhere signing documents.

The document reads as follows: “We the undersigned natives and residents, Burghers of this island Saba. Do hereby certify and declare that the land situated in Gallops Quarter called the Company’s Land was left by the proprietors for the benefit of the inhabitants of this island and that we have never known it to be Kings Land or called as such, and the said land was sold at auction by order of His Excellency 7th June 1839. Signed: Richard Johnson, former Commander of the Island and Henry J. Hassell former Commander and present Senior Member of the Court. Signed in the presence of me Hercules Hassell, provisional secretary. Saba, 31 January 1850.

Figure 7 The writer also mentions that a number of homes had a sugar mill like this one pictured here and press the sugar cane between the two rollers and produced what we call cane liquor which is still considered a special treat.

   Richard Johnson’s son Thomas, my great grandfather at the age of 64(on April 27th, 1868), married Ann Louisa Hassell aged 28 and fathered my grandmother Marie Elizabeth born May 1869, when he was 65 years old. His first wife Elenanor Markoe died in 1858. Thomas died on August 12th 1879 leaving three small children behind.

Because of that he laid out a shortened path of descent for me from Richard Johnson who was born on Saba in 1747. Richard is also the great-great-great-grandfather of the present Lt. Governor Jonathan Johnson and Commissioner Chris Johnson.

   Though Saba has changed, if Richard could come back, the family could entertain him in similar fashion as he did for Teenstra back on February 14th, 1829. The more things change the more they remain the same. And by the way, nowadays I quoting Dr.J.Hartog straight without fear that he will take me to Court.

Thomas Johnson son of Vice Commander Richard Johnson lost his first wife Eleanor Markoe, when he was around 67 he then married Ann Louis Hassell who was 29 years of age and had three additional children to those he had by his first wife. One of those children was my grandmother Marie Elizabeth Johnson who married Daniel Johnson from Behind-The-Ridge something looked down on as The Quarter people did not care much for Hell’s Gate people. Additional in the picture are two of their ten children. Standing Cora Johnson, mother of Ethel, Bernard and Elmer and seated is May Johnson. Photo from around 1925 or so.


The coffee Jar belonging to Vice Commander Richard Johnson who served from 1828 to 1830. He was born in 1757 and never left Saba not even on a fishing trip. When John William Johnson “Willy” passed away , his son Cletus brought this to me and told me that Willy had wanted me, as a member of the family, to have this coffee mug which had belonged to our common ancestor Richard. Omar was with Cletus when he delivered it to me at my home. Sometime after that I saw Omar coming up the hill. He was a lil rolly polly fellow and told me from the Road “Mr. Will I need to talk to you.” So I told him to come in to the house. He asked me: “Mr. Will, are you from here? ” I told him “Of course,we are all family”, and then I went on to tell him how the family relationship was. He said: “No wonder. You had me puzzled as I wondered why would my grandfather give you that wonderful item which my father brought for you.” Willy was diappoined that he had loaned it out and that the handle had been broken off and the top was lost as this would have had some value. Willy was like me as a boy, he hanged around with our great aun Ann Elizabeth Johnson “Miss Shishi” and others and would question them about life as it was when they were young. And so did I as a boy and Willy passed on lots of valuable information to me about the Saba of the past and I geatly appreciate him leaving this unique family souvenir to me.

Saba’s Permanent need for the use of cisterns

Saba was first settled by Europeans starting with the first settlements of Middle Island and Palmetto Point in 1629. This took place after Nevis and St. Kitts were captured by the Spanish and the English and French citizens were chased from there. The Irish indentured servants and Scottish prisoners of war were allowed to leave. The Iris because of sharing the same faith as the Spaniards were always given special treatment by the Spaniards. The new settlements on Saba were named after two villages on St. Kitts namely where they had lived before. Middle Island and Palmetto Point still exist on St. Kitts.

The village of Palmetto Point in 1909. Named after a village on St. Kitts where the original Irish settlers lived before arriving here on Saba in 1629.

Almost immediately the need for fresh drinking water was felt. A well was dug at what afterwards became known as The Well’s Bay.  Around 1640 settlers were sent by the Dutch West India company out of St. Eustatius and they settled on a small plateau above what would later become the Fort Bay. Several years later a landslide destroyed the settlement which was located above a spring with drinkable water. This spring has been used for hundreds of years and is still being used.

Colorized photo of a group having a picnic at the Well’s Bay in the nineteen twenties. This well was built sometime after the first Irish and Scottish from Palmetto Point and Middle island settled in the cliffs above the bay and named their new villages after those they had left behind on St. Kitts.

On the Eastern side of the island in the area known as “Hells Gate” which was far above sea level a legend was passed down about the settlers having to fight the native Kalinago for the use of the Spring at what became known as “Spring Bay”. According to this legend recorded in the book “Tales from My Grandmother’s Pipe” there was a “Great Injun” guarding the Spring and the settlers could not get past him. So they recruited a strong man named “Johnny Frauw” to engage the Great Injun in battle in order to get access to the Spring. The two men fought each other on “Fair Play Ridge” all day and ended up into the sea where both were drowned. If you look at the area on the back of Flat Point known as “Johnny Frauw’s Pond and see a blue light moving about it is his ghost looking to find the Great Injun. Later on, the Europeans secured the well and built it up for easier access. In the Alice flood of January 2nd, 1955, the Spring was filled up and never repaired. A well was dug later on and in the 1950’s Daniel Thomas Johnson and others renewed it and though not in use it still remains there. It would make sense to relocate the Spring and bring it back into use by also building a cistern next to it. This cistern could be used together with the necessary infrastructure to accommodate locals as well as visitors to the Island to camp out there.

Former Island Council Member Dudley Johnson of Hell’s Gate her checking the hot Springs in Great Hole located below the cliffs and the old Sulphur Mines. The other person is Al Hassell of Windward Side.
The young historian M. Dantes Fortunat ho visited Saba at the age of 19 in the year 1870 when he was writing his history of Haiti and the geography of the West Indies. He was most impressed with Governor Moses Leverock whose lithograph is the only person not from Haiti who appears in the book.

When the young Haitian historian Dantes Fortunat visited Saba in 1870 when Governor Moses Leverock was in function in the report on his visit to Saba, he described five springs along the island of which some were hot. We know for sure that there are two hot springs one below the cliffs between Tent Bay and the Ladder which may have been filled in by a large landslide some years ago. The other one is opposite the Green Island and the cliffs under the former Sulphur Mine. Two other Springs which were already mentioned are at the Fort Bay and the Spring Bay.

 In the nineteen eighties a Venezuelan expert was asked by the Saba Government to check out the Springs and the possibility of finding more around Saba. According to him at the time he said that one could detect water flow from the mountain by the difference in colour of the water along the coast. And so, springs could be located.

Stand alone cistern at St. John’s with a cistern plane and not attached to any house. A cistern like this in former times would have been considered to belong to a well-t-do family.

In 1951-52 Drs.J.S. Veenebos published a study he had made which is entitled “A Soil and Land Capability Survey of St. Maarten, St. Eustatius, and Saba with several very useful maps included. He gives some data for Saba from 1949 which is as follows.


Spring            Location Spring Bay sampling July 1949 Cl’mg/l 1410 Total hardness D039 pH8(?).

Spring Bay well. 7 meters deep Cl’mg/l 160 Total Hardness 19 and pH 7.5 (?).

Upper Mountain Water Hole Location: West of Hell’s Gate. Cl’mg/l – 35 Total Hardness Do7 and pH 7 and ¼.

Spring Fort Bay Cl’ mg/l 2000-3000 (estimate) and pH 8’

Warm Water Spring at beach North of Ladder Point. Date of sampling 15 March 1950. Cl’ mg/l 2084 – 2180 Total hardness 102-115 and pH 6.9 – 7.1.

He does not mention the Spring below the Sulphur Mine however that one also has been studied over the years.

Veenebos states the following on the use of cisterns as a solution to water shortages experienced from time to time. He states: “It is felt that underground cisterns could be constructed in St. Maarten, Saba and St. Eustatius, at no undue cost. It would be necessary, however to use cement or concrete, in order to provide good water-holding reservoirs. Each cistern would require its own special-lay out governed by the local situation, so as to insure maximum intake of water. In this way, water supplies could be made available to isolated settlement and plots. The water could be made available to isolated settlements and plots. The water could be pumped up with the help of small wind-mills or brought up with buckets.”

    In the early nineteen fifties the Government built a cistern in Windward Side with a pipeline leading to the English Quarter with two places where you could get water by bucket. It served a very useful purpose for people living there back then. In the Bottom one was also built in the hillside above where the future Medical School is now situated. That one also had pipe lines to the town below. In recent years both have been restored with especially in The Bottom pipelines running to the hospital and the Government Administration Building.

Over the centuries there have been many times of water crisis because of droughts and hurricanes. In Kenneth Bolles book “Caribbean Interlude” on a visit to Saba, he mentions an old timer stressing the importance of The Mountain to the people of Saba. He states that “The Mountain she takes care o’ we.” Bobby Every in an interview said that his father had told him that if it was not for the mountain many people would have died in times of drought. Drought and its consequences were an ever-present concern on the minds of the people living on Saba throughout the centuries. Cisterns were built by those who had means to do so but not everyone could afford such.  Water usage was limited to drinking, cooking and bathing. Every house nearly had a privy built away from the house which also saved on water supply.

Lt. Governor Max Huith with stick, Police Chief Bernard Halley in uniform, Edmund Hassell with Saba tire hat. Photo from 1948 with them checking on the hot spring below the cliffs between the Tent and the Ladder Bay.
To the right of the lady pictured here at the Spring Bay, between her and the cliff more or less in the middle is the Spring which should be located and restored.

In the past fifty years newly, built houses have relatively large cisterns. In some areas like The Level several homes have cisterns with capacity of over thirty thousand gallons of water.

   And the need is still there to build cisterns. Writer of this document members when he was Lt. Governor a.i. giving a lift to a Medical Student on St. John’s. When he got in the car the first advice he gave was: “Never stop building cisterns.” He gave as argument seeing so many people in flooded areas like New Orleans and they were desperate for water as it was too polluted to drink even though you saw water all around. He said such a thing is unlikely to happen on Saba with individual cisterns to each house. Even with the most devastating hurricanes and removal of downspouts before the arrival of the hurricanes, nearly all water in cisterns on the island is fit to use.

     Saba should always be aware of the need for cistern water and should not issue building permits for houses without cisterns and large ones at that.

The Alice flood of January 22nd, took out the road or most of it leading from The Bottom to the Fort Bay.

Floods have also been a continuing occurrence causing costly damage. This could have been avoided by building large cisterns along the road, especially leading to the harbor at the Fort Bay. Cisterns would be able to take up a lot of the flood water going to the harbour before the water could reach there.

Damage done by a flood in 1977 if not mistaken which brought down loads of debris from the Mountain.

Cisterns could be built in front of the home of the Island Governor by temporarily removing the small parking lot and building over into the gut and a very large cistern at that. In the event of a hurricane and the cistern is full the water could be distributed or slowly drained out so the reservoir would be empty. The same could be done at the Back of the S-curve. Build another large cistern there, and another one on the left side of the road under the cliff. The large boulders could be taken out first from there and there would be enough room to build a large reservoir there as well.

 The Yellow Fever mosquito campaign used to have a survey of all cisterns on Saba. This was in the nineteen seventies of all the cisterns on Saba. This could be looked into and updated by checking on abandoned cisterns all over the island, from Behind the Ridge to Below the Gap. A plan could be made in cooperation with the owners to have these cisterns repaired so they can be used again for use in agriculture and in case of fire.

   The Government needs to spearhead a project which would include a survey of water catchments on the island as well as cisterns which are no longer in use and can be repaired.

   Also check on the potential of the “Water Rock” close to “Santa Cruz”. There is/was a sort of Spring there. Perhaps this could be drilled somehow and have a pipeline underground leading to the water catchments along the road at Hell’s Gate.

 In the past year (2020) Saba has been taught a hard lesson. We are grateful for all the help The Netherlands have been giving us then, now and before but we must strive as much as possible to be on our own with food production. Holland too and the rest of the world are going through troubling times which are negatively influencing their economies. Therefore Saba, with the help of The Netherlands, must do everything possible to have a good decentralized water supply in the form of cisterns at every home, and to have a secure food supply by encouraging agriculture as much as possible with a hope that enough can be produced even for export.

    This report on my part has been prepared at the request of Commissioner Rolando Wilson for preparing the necessary technical research and plans for execution of these and other ideas which will come forward in this regard.

Just to give an idea of the difficulty to get from one village to the next here is a photo from around 1948 of the road from Hell’s Gate leading through the guts to English Quarter and beyond.

Done on this the 30th of January in the Year of Our Lord two thousand and twenty-one.

     In duty bound shall forever pray:

William S. “Will” Johnson

Mr. Carl Hassell

Mr. Carl Hassell and his wife Maude

The story behind the Johan Cruyf Sports field

Night view of the Johan Cruyf Sports field

As Commissioner in the Government of Saba one cannot stand here and not mention how this sports field came into existence.

One of the Tennis Clubs in The Bottom from the early nineteen hundreds.

Sports is not new to Saba. In the early part of the past century, when Saba had many captains and owners of large trading schooners, there were sports on Saba. Tennis was a favorite and where the hospital is now located in The Bottom, there was a tennis court. There where the Juliana sports field is now, and which has recently been upgraded, there was a Croquet field. On Booby Hill there was also for a short time a tennis court.

A Croquet Club from the early nineteen hundreds in The Bottom

Going back in time there was a form of cricket which was called batting ball.     In later years, with two world wars to deal with and a more impoverished island, sports which was a leisurely activity was more or less abandoned. The emphasis was then on survival and small-scale farming. With the advent of better economic times the Nuns with their schools and Youth groups, headed by people like teacher Freddie Johnson and government official Ramon Hassell, would have some sports lessons for their scout groups. Also, Mrs. Carmen Simmons-had her Saba Boys and Girls Sports Society.

Her Majesty Queen Beatrix here with Mrs. Lynne Johnson-Renz of the Saba Youth Soccer Foundation at the Sports Field on Booby Hill

But this sports field has a history of it very own. Around 1999 Mrs. Lynne Johnson started doing some soccer lessons with the young boys. An open spot was located in Booby Hill and with the permission of the Leverock family in the United States, the land was cleared off somewhat and the game was on. This effort evolved into the Saba Youth Soccer Foundation. A large open property next to the land being used and owned by Mrs. Winnie Hassell was rented. This was where in years past there was a tennis club for a while.

How time flies. Some of the boys who used to enjoy the field at Booby Hill and who are now grown men some of them married with children.

With the help of Island Council member Mr. Hemmie van Xanten funding of NAF. 17.500.—were acquired from the Zonnige Jeugd Foundation in Holland. These funds were used to level the land and Hemmie supervised this part of the job as well. Even Her Majesty Queen Juliana visited the Sports Field on one of her visits.

With the rental agreement on Booby Hill approaching its end. Mrs. Johnson kept after her husband Will Johnson to try and do something for Saba. He was then Commissioner and spoke to then Minister Leo Chance of Saba about buying the piece of land part of a larger property which ran all the way from the back of the Wilhelmina Park all the way up to the old Public School and was known as the Man-O-War Ground so the decision was made to give the new Foundation that name. One of the Dutch Ministers at the time asked Island Council Member Rolando Wilson why was the Foundation named that way. He replied that “Johnson is planning to buy a Man-O-War to deal with you all.”     The Foundation consisted of two people Commissioner Will Johnson and Dave Levenstone, a civil servant. Both of them started immediately to collect funds to buy the property. They succeeded in collection some fls.130.000. — At the last moment a glitch arose in the transaction which the Foundation had not expected and Commissioner Johnson donated the NAfls 7.000. – needed to acquire the property and pay the costs of the Notary.

After the land purchased to make this field possible only then the headaches started as funding was denied based on the fact that the Foundation was told that Saba already had a sports field the Juliana Sports Field and was not using it. This was difficult to explain but the Government was determined to go ahead with the idea. Many visits were made to this area with locals as well as visiting officials and many doubts were cast on the feasibility of having a Sports Field Here on this spot.  We are proud to say that with help from the Dutch Government via the Johan Cruyf Foundation and with conditions that it must carry his name the field is here, and has now been improved. Also, we are happy that many organizations and young people are making use of this field, and also proud that the Juliana Sports field is now being put to good use. Long Live Saba and her people who never give up when pursuing a goal, from the road that could not be built, to the airport, the harbor all have been achieved and we must give thanks to the Dutch Government for providing funds, something they can be proud of.

The Sports Field on the Man-O-War ground.

The Chronological History of Saba

This is an unfinished document. Word Press has changed the way I used to upload pictures and made it difficult for me to post anything as I did in the past.

Before the European conquest of the West Indies there were Arawak’s, later conquered by the Kalinago who had lived in the Eastern Caribbean for centuries already. A branch of the Arawak’s called Igniris inhabited Saba. They had their own history and culture. Only in the last century has extensive research been done on them and so our history ‘starts’ after the European conquest and much of what is written doubt can be cast on. Historians who never visited the islands and who were dependent on a few scraps of paper back on the continent and speculated on how it was in these islands and later on historians copied their ‘research’ and handed it down as Biblical truth. Also, several historians tried to make the islands history from a Nationalistic point of view ignoring many facts to the contrary. They also ignore oral history as handed down by the ancestors of natives to these islands and local writers and historians are not regarded as credible even though these locals have done much research into the European archives and have balanced out their findings with the oral history handed down to them by their ancestors. And thus, we will start the chronology with the usual Columbus story.

1493. Columbus is the first European explorer to have sailed past Saba on November 13th or 14th. Despite all the speculation to the contrary the name is of Arawak origin. Saba, Aruba, Cuba, and Haiti are all from the same source. In their language Saba means ‘Rock’.

1595. Saba is mentioned by Sir Francis Drake in his journal.

1624. Earliest mention of Saba from a Dutch source when Pieter Schouten passed the island.

1629. The Spanish Armada de Sotavento going to Mexico with 20 galleons and 4.000 men under arms under the Command of Admiral Fadrique Alvarez de Toledo Osoria dropped anchor at Nevis island and captured several English ships anchored there. When Nevis was seized by the Spanish forces, the planters were deserted by their mostly Irish and Scottish captured and enslaved by the English. The enslaved Irish and Scottish called ‘indentured servants’ swam to the Spanish ships to the cries of ‘Liberty, joyful Liberty!’ preferring collaboration with the Spanish than to the subjection of tyrannical English Masters.

    On 7 September 1629 the Spanish expedition moved to the sister island Saint Kitts and burned the entire settlement. They were resisted by the combined French and English, but the latter were weakened by the absence of Thomas Warner who was in England. The defenders included some buccaneer craft, the occasion being the first in which those extraordinary sea rovers figured in a major action. The military superiority of Toledo’s forces was overwhelming. The settlement was devastated. D’Esnambuc the French Commander and most of the English had simply put to sea and found hiding places among the lonely bays of the Virgin Islands, Antigua and Anguilla. Some had gone with the buccaneers to the Western end of Hispaniola (The French in the West Indies).

 Oral tradition handed down by Our ancestors claim that the Spanish allowed the Irish slaves and fellow Roman Catholics to settle on Saba where they named their two villages above the later named Well’s Bay, ‘Palmetto Point’ and ‘Middle Island’ after two similar named villages they had lived in on St. Kitts.

1629. Guillaume Coppier in his book published in 1645 “Histoire et Voyages des Indes Occidentales et de plusiers autres regions, describes a visit to Saba before 1629. He lived on the French part of St. Kitts. After visiting a Frenchman de Cussac who lived on Statia he then went to Saba. “We landed thereafter on the island of Saba, which is also small; there is a very large rock, where very large and palatable lizards are; several sea-turtles come to the shore there; their shield is made into finger rings which are enriched with gold and also various costly combs are made of it. A group of ‘wild people’ live there named Igniris; they go with their body completely naked and they have beards, which is different from all Indians, who pull out their hair as soon as it comes. They are idolatrous and live in cave like places, living like wild animals.

1635. Pierre d’Esnambuc takes possesion of Saba for the King of France.

1640. Most Dutch historians refer to this year as the approximate settlement by ‘Dutch’ people from Zeeland at a location above the spring at Fort Bay. The historian goes further in claiming that they named what we call The Bottom after a word from Zeeland ‘botte’ or bowl shaped. In all Dutch references to The Bottom I have only found reference to it as ‘De Vallei’ or The Valley. This makes more sense, as if the settlement was at Fort Bay the settlers would have used The Valley for their farming purposes. In a book by Jacqueline Bakker and Ron de Veer published in 1999, they correctly state that;” The colonization of St. Eustatius and Saba was a concern of several wealthy Zeelanders . They rounded up several ‘colonists’ in Europe (among others Irishmen and Scots) and put together a fleet and sent them to the West Indies to start a plantation there. Around 1640 from there (St. Eustatius) they colonized the island of Saba.

1651. A landslide destroyed the coastal settlement and several of the survivors moved up to The Bottom.

1655. A group of enslaved people of African descent describing themselves as Christians and prisoners of war referring to some of their masters as Flemish captured a sloop on Saba and escaped to Puerto Rico. This well documented story now forms part of this the sixth edition of this book.

1659. A petition was sent to the Dutch West India Company in Amsterdam requesting the company to send an English speaking clergyman to the island and no one on the Island spoke Dutch.

1665. Pirates, uncles of Sir Henry Morgan, Edward and Thomas capture St. Eustatius and Saba. Edward died of a heart attack on the Bay in St. Eustatius. The others captured Saba as well. Took a census of the island deported the Dutch settlers to Barbados and Jamaica as indentured servants while some settled on St. Martin. Ninety of the pirates remained on Saba as it appealed to them as a pirate settlement. From them the now famous pirate Hiram Beaks descended. He is credited with coining the phrase; “Dead men tell no tales.”

1665: Thomas Morgan was the first Administrator of Saba. He was an uncle of Sir Henry Morgan of Jamaica fame. When Thomas and his brother Edward captured St. Eustatius and Saba the islands belonged to the Dutch West India Company. The Company had representation on Sint Eustatius and the title was Commander.  However, the capture of Sint Eustatius and Saba was considered a government enterprise by the English Government so that the person in charge was considered a Government representative. After that on Saba the person was referred to as Vice Commander until the end of the West India Company and even after the final takeover by the Dutch in 1816.

1672 to 1679. The English occupied Saba for seven years. The island was well settled at that time with small scale farming going on and the Saba Bank was fished and piracy was conducted out of the Virgin Islands by pirates from Saba. Several islands there like Hans Lollick and Peter Island for many years belonged to native Sabans.

1689. Saba started a campaign of freedom from St. Eustatius and repelled an attack by the French privateer Pinel with a defensive system constructed by the Sabans to defend the island against such attacks.

1699. The census of 1699 is confusing as the names are neither English nor Dutch and caused Dutch historians to think they were Dutch names. The author of this chronology has put the puzzle of the names together by comparing the names from the various census’ taken in 1699, 1705 and 1715 in which case one can clearly see that the person who took the first census wrote down the names as he heard them expressed by the old pirates.

Settlements as told by the Ancestors

While historians not frm here and who never visited Saba calculate their history from archives in The Netherlands and ignored the archives of Spain, England and France, Denmark and Sweden for the most part. They ignored oral history as “old wives tales” part of their attitude towards colonized people on the whole.

Our ancestors told us the story of the settlement of Plametto Point and Middle Island after 1629. Hitorians not from here acted as if these two villages had been created centries after. Then why would they have named the two villages after the two still exisisting villages on St. Kitts? My ancestors among them the Horton’s who settled on Saba moved to St. Eustatius and then back to Saba in 1790. They were from Palmetto Point and moved on to The Bottom and Hell’s Gate. Already in 1728 Palmetto point was an “historic” village. The village of Hell’s Gate was mostly settled from Palmetto Point. It could have had something to do with the Spring at the Spring Bay which was known to have really good drinking water. Many people of Hell’s Gate and Palmetto Point intermarried even into the 20th century. The villages were connected with fairly decent ancient pathways and farming activiity. Dr. J. Hartog in his book “De Bovenwindse Eilanden” admits that the name Hell’s Gate had always been there. He said that in his research he had never seen a reference to that village by any other name. He said that he had been told by a few older heads that it had once been called Zions Hill but could bring no proof to bear after further questioning. In my family background and in dealings with the old timers from the village I never heard even once anyone referring to the village other that the name Hell’s Gate. The chasm between the village and the rest of the island would have been chellenging so that it was viewed as the gate to hell.

With the influx of pirates in 1665 and further settlers coming in during the years of English occupation the villages beyond The Bottom came into existence. St. John’s was mostly Irish settlers which can be easily told by the surnames of the villagers, Barnes, Kelly, Dowling, Darsey, and so on. They farmed in the area known as “Little Rendez-Vous”.

The village of Windward Side referred to in old records as “Over-the-Peak was first settled on Booby Hill. The “Pasture” in what is now the “Windward Side” was used for common pasturage of animals. Big Rendez-Vous is where most people from Windward Side farmed. It was also claimed that there would be the place where people from The Bottom and the Windward Side would meet to defend the island in case of an attack.

To get to the Booby Hill one had to first pass the Fort which is still called that, then the Best Place after which you came on to the plateau called Booby Hill which was easy to defend as on all other sides the bounds were high clifs. At the same time there was an excellent view of the surrounding islands where an attack would come from. After the fear of attacks ceased to exist people started settling wherever they could find land for cultivation.

Ancestral information has been double checked by personal research from archves of various countries by the author and with help from other people with similar interests of setting the historical record straight. We hope that by documenting these ancestral handdowns of where we came from and how the island developed that any disputes over my interpretation will be backed up by facts to the contrary rather than solely on assumptions of the authors involved in claiming a different history to that of mine.

1705. The census of that year seems to have been taken by a person who was literate and who wrote down the correct names from people who most probably could not read or write.

1701. Father Jean Baptiste Labat O.P.  a Roman Catholic priest with a plantation on Martinique and enslaved Africans visited Saba on a pirate ship and writes a description of life on the island at that time.

1710. For a long period the Dutch Reformed Church on St. Eustatius during the time of Pastor Anthony Kowan baptized children from Saba. The irony is that his knowledge of the English language seemed to be not so great. He gave the names he heard a Dutch tint which fooled future Dutch historians and because of that it caused confusion among non-native historians as to where the people of Saba come from.

1728. In the population list there is a John Avery listed as living here. That was the alias used by he pirate Henry Every and which name was used throughout the history of Saba in families who claimed that they descended from that famous pirate.

1772. A category five hurricane on August 31st, caused much destruction to home and small plantations on the island. Some people had to move into caves as they had lost everything. A petition was sent to the West India Company for help.

1775 and before. The Presbyterian Church was active on Saba. The first church was located where a cemetery was established a so-called potter’s field. This is where the World War II monument is now located. The Hill bounding the first church, which is erroneously called Paris Hill should actually be ‘Parish Hill’ as described in the old property records. Dr. Hugh Knox, later teacher of Alexander Hamilton on St. Croix spent 17 years on Saba was married to Mary Simmons daughter of Commander Peter Simmons and his wife Rebecca (Correa).

On his departure to St. Croix the Reverend Knox had less than flattering comments about the lifestyle of the islanders.

1777. The Church of England (Anglican) officially established though they had been active before that date and were the successors of the Presbyterians. A petition was submitted by the Rev. Kirkpatrick to Commander Johannes de Graaf of St. Eustatius which was approved and the church named Christ Church was built in The Bottom. In the British National archives there is mention of the church being repaired in 1777 from the damage it had from the hurricane of 1772.

1780. The Dutch language never much at any time had disappeared from Saba completely. Besides that it is recorded that only five adults could read and write their native English language even. In that year there was another very strong hurricane which did great damage to the island.

1781. Sir James Cockburn captures Saba for Admiral George Rodney. In the same year the French capture Saba and they remain in limited control for three years. The Sabans long accustomed to governing themselves despite European countries claiming ownership, continued cultivating the land and doing whatever was necessary to survive.

1801-1803. During the Napoleonic Wars the British occupied Saba.

1810 – 1816. The British again took over the island.

1816. A well-documented transfer of Saba, by native Administrators, to the Dutch took place. On Paper from that time on Saba was listed among the Dutch colonies. However the island’s people under local Commanders and later on Lt. Governors etc. continued to administer their own affairs and carry on life as they always had. Historians and other writers passed the island and said they were not worth anything to the Dutch but cost them nothing so expressed the wish that it could remain that way forever.

In 1816 there was no public school but some private individuals gave lessons to their children and those of family and friends.

1829 Historian M.D. Teenstra visited Saba from February 13th to February 16th, and gave a very accurate description of life on the island. At the time Richard Johnson then in his seventies was Acting Commander of the Island and all other officials (unpaid) were native Sabans and the island had its own Court of Justice with an appeals Court on the island of St. Eustatius.

In 1829 M.D. Teenstra recorded the domestic animal population as being: 3 horses, 5 mules, 150 head of cattl, 300 sheep, 800 goats, 600 pigs (among which there were some weighing over 300 pounds). Also lots of poultry, and doves.

1830. What little sugar cane plantations there were started to dwindle. Because of the mountainous terrain Saba was never a large sugar cane producer. Around The Bottom there was a small plantation which was owned by Commander Thomas Dinzey and at Spring Bay and part of Flat Point there was a sugar cane plantation owned by Abraham Heyliger of St. Eustatius.

1843. Sarah Mardenborough a native of Windward Side started Roman Catholic religious instruction from her home and is recognized by the Church as the founder of the Roman Catholic Church on Saba.

1854. Mary Gertrude Hassell was born. She later married James Benjamin Johnson. She was a teacher and studied on Curacao at a Convent School. There she learned how to make the drawn thread work from the daughters of elite Venezuelans, and introduced the art to Saba where it is generally known as Spanish work. By doing this she made life in those hard times a little easier for families here as they could partly survive from income derived from selling this craft in the United States.

1860. In the Windward Side the Roman Catholic, St. Paul’s Conversion Church was constructed with stones from the former Sugar cane mill on Spring Bay flat. The land was donated by the family of Peter Hassell and his wife Esther Lovel Johnson for the church to be built.

1863. On July 1st, 708 enslaved people of African descent were emancipated and the owners of these slaves were compensated with no provisions made as to how they who were given their freedom would survive. Many remained on Saba while others tested their new freedom by moving elsewhere. Many of the enslaved people of African descent already knew the outside world ad they had worked on schooners owned by their masters and travelled with them to destinations far and wide. Since they were spread out in small numbers, in households all over the island they mostly remained in the villages where they were born and worked the land together with the whites and fished the Saba Bank and along shore in order to survive. Most of the former enslaved people of African descent were given surnames for the first time most of which were Scottish surnames.

1867. Population of the island was 1411. The attendance at the Anglican Church School was 30 boys and 25 girls.

On December 31st at 9pm there was a large earthquake with aftershocks the following day.

1868. Local resolution to name the town of The Bottom Leverock’s Town to honour Lt. Governor Moses Leverock. In some circles one could hear it referred to as such up to one hundred years later.

1870 Because of the increase in population some people started emigrating to Barbados, Bermuda, Bequia, St. Thomas and the United States while earlier on a number of people during the Swedish occupation of the island of St. Barth’s among them Sir Richard Dinzey had moved to that island.

There was still no public school on the island but a teacher living on the island was given a small compensation to provide free education for needy children. He had around 30 pupils.

1877. Construction of the Holy Trinity Church (Anglican) started in Windward side. The first resident Rector, Revered David Hope arrived on the island. He was the first resident Anglican Priest on the island and before that time the island was served by the Reverend Henry Warneford from Anguilla from 1864 until 1878.

 At the same time construction started of the Roman Catholic Sacred Heart of Jesus church in The Bottom.

1878. More schools had been established one in The Bottom with 41 pupils and in Windward Side there were two schools one with 33 pupils and one with 41 pupils.

1880. Gertrude Johnson-Hassell a teacher started her drawn thread work on Saba. Popularly called ‘Spanish Work’ as she had reportedly learned the art while attending school on Curacao. This proved to be the economic salvation for many families on Saba who could make a dignified living working out from their homes.

1898. The Christian Mission Church (now Wesleyan Holiness) started its work on Saba.

In that same year Charles P. Hassell, born on Saba July 1st, 1863 lost his life in Havana Cuba with the sinking of the U.S. Warship the ‘Maine’.

1905. Sisters Euphrosina and Bertranda arrived on Saba on August 17th to continue with Catholic School education which had been started by Sabans like Sarah Mardenbourough, Gertrude Johnson-Hassell and others.

1906. When Dutch was introduced as the language of instruction in the schools of Saba it caused an exodus of people especially from St. John’s and The Bottom to Barbados. Those who left were the Captains and their families who had been sending their children to schools on Barbados, and to a lesser extent to Antigua and St. Kitts

1909. Saba school of navigation started in The Bottom by Captain Frederick Augustus Simmons and was accredited by the Dutch Government.  Many of the young boys who passed through that school went on to become captains of large ships in the United States merchant marine.

In that same year a new Roman Catholic Church building was built in The Bottom, and replaced the old one.

1911. First Roman Catholic Church, the Church of the Holy Rosary, was built in Hell’s Gate.

The government started an elementary school.

1919. Construction of the present Wesleyan Holiness Church, started in The Bottom.

1920 A new building was constructed to house the Public School in The Bottom.

1922. With the death of Capt. Frederick Simmons the navigation school was closed down much to the regret of our people at the time.

    In that same year a house belonging to the family of Captain Richard Wright Horton Jr., in The Bottom, was purchased by Government to be used as a Guesthouse for visiting government officials mostly. That building is now used by the Dutch Government as Adminsitrative Quarters for some of their obligations to Saba.

Also the house of Captain Thomas Charles Vanterpool was purchased  and the house next to it, by Government to be used as the official residence of the Island Governor and to create the Queen Wilhelmina Park next to it.

1923. Queen Wilhelmina Library established in The Bottom with a branch in Windward Side in 1932.

Archaeological excavations bring to light Indian artifacts in The Bottom, Windward Side, St. John’s and Spring Bay. This was done by Dr. Josselin de Jongh.

1925. A wave of emigration started to the islands of Curacao and Aruba where people could find work in the oil fields. Because of the more permanent nature of the employment women also emigrated and most remained there. Emigration to Bermuda and the United States also continued.

The hospital in the building in The Bottom being used for these past years as the Artisans Foundation was named the Princess Juliana Hospital

1926. Governor Nicolaas J.L. Braantjes visited the island and on that occasion opened the Public School in The Bottom. Years later it was named the Dr. Moses L. Crossley School after a famous Saban researcher in the United States.

1931, Telegraphic connection with St. Martin on November 2nd.

1932. Mountain path between the Windward Side and Hell’s Gate was made possible by hard surfacing parts of the footpath which had been in use for centuries.

1934. The village of Palmetto Point (a.k.a Mary’s Point) was evacuated. Several families moved to Hell’s Gate while others were moved to a plot of land, part of the Man-o-War ground in The Bottom and renamed The Promised Land. The people who had lived relatively independent in their remote village were not happy with the arrangement and no effort was made to find a solution to relieve them of their isolation. The cliff below the village was indeed breaking away but even so a solution of moving the village to a higher location was never tried.

Temperatures at the hot springs> Ladder Bay 55C and Great Hole 60 C.

In that same year the present Roman Catholic Church in The Bottom was built and the old wooden church was used for a primary school.

1935. Local telephone system was put into use with 10 connections.

    Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts Founded.

1937. Public School at Windward Side converted into hospital.

1938. Cement Road from Fort Bay started (complete in 1943). It was achieved through the work of Local Councilor Errol Hassell who against the wishes of the Administrator was able to budget ten thousand guilders to build the road. The design was made by the Department of Public Works on Curacao. Labourers were paid sixty five cents a day back then so that the money placed on the budget by Local Councilor Errol Hassell could do the job.

The first start of the road was cleared by three men from Hell’s Gate, James Horton Simmons, Thomas Hassell and Norman Hassell.

1943. Hospital in Windward Side named after Princess Margarite.

1945. Radio-telephone connection with St. Martin established on November 29th.

1946. Mr. Remy F. de Haenen lands off Fort Bay in a Vough Sikorsky type O.S. 2U seaplane On November 26th.

1947. Arrival of the first motor vehicle, a JEEP, on March 17th.

            Mr. Josephus Lambert Hassell came back to the island from Aruba and was a Local Councilor. After that he designed the rest of the ‘road which could not be built’ and supervised the construction to the airport as well as the Road to Rendez-Vous and Bobby Hill and The Level.

1950. First visit of a member of the Royal House – Prince Bernhard on January 26th.

1951. The Island Territory the Windward Islands was formed. Saba gained more autonomy with two elected Commissioners by a Council of five. First Commissioners were Capt. Mathew Levenston and Mr. Ulric Hassell.

St. John’s and Windward side became accessible by automobile. At first the road was just a dirt road and it was several years before the road was cemented.

Last remaining horse on Saba was sent to St. Martin.

First movie house opens in The Bottom by Henry Earl Johnson.

1952. A helicopter from the Dutch aircraft carrier Karel Doorman is the first aircraft to land on Saba at St. John’s on February 14th.

1954. Second movie house opens in Windward Side.

1955. Visit of Her Majesty Queen Juliana and Prince Bernhard on October 24th.New school built in Windward Side. The past years this building has become the Eugenius Johnson Community Center

1957. Investors from the United States started buying old houses on Saba and restoring them.

1958. Visit of Crown Princess Beatrix on February 13th. In that same year a new School was built in The Bottom. Later used by the Saba Government to start the Medical School and the last years has been used as a hardware store.

1959. Shrubbery was cleared from Flat Point on private lands belonging to Daniel Johnson and others and Mr. Remi de Haenen then Mayor of St. Barth’s accompanied by a mechanic, landed the first conventional single-engine aircraft on Saba on February 9th.

Hospital in Windward Side was destroyed by a large fire.

1960. Princess Irene Hospital opened at St. John’s. on March 26th, with 11 beds.Saba’s National Song was written by the nun Christina Maria Jeurisssen a.k.a. Sister Waltruda.

1962. Three helicopters from the carrier Karel Doorman land at Flat Point.

1962. Senator Claude Wathey together with Finance Minister Juancho Irausquin got the finances from Holland to start the airport and Claude was very instrumental in bringing in the heavy equipment needed for the construction which was done by the contractor Jacques Deldevert.

Visit of the Princesses Irene and Margriet on July 19th.

New Roman Catholic Church of the Holy Rosary in Hell’s Gate completed. Inaugurated on May 10th, 1962. Administrator Henry Every did a lot to make this building possible.

Antillean Girls Guild founded February 21st.

1963. Beginning of air service to St. Martin and St. Eustatius on July 24th. (Senator Claude Wathey’s birthday).

Opening of the Juancho E. Irausquin Airport on September 18th.

Opening of first supermarket, owned by Ronny and Eugenius Johnson, in Windward Side.

Electricity becomes available in The Bottom (October 20th).

1964. Electricity reached Windward Side and St. John’s on January 23 and Hell’s Gate later that same year.

First supermarket owned by Clinton Cranston opens in The Bottom.

1965. Caribe Guesthouse owned by John Godfrey Woods opens in The Bottom on February 8th.

Second visit of Crown Princess Beatrix on February 27th.

Second visit of Queen Juliana and Prince Bernhard on October 5th.

Esso gasoline station represented by Commissioner Max Nicholson starts operations at Fort Bay.

Radio communications with the USA established.

‘Jonge Wacht’ youth club founded on June 24th.

Hotel ‘Captain’s Quarters opens in Windward Side December 15h.

1966. The ‘Argonaut’ is the first sizeable cruise ship to call at Saba on January 17th.

Princess Beatrix and Prince Claus arrive by warship on July 28th and spend the night at the hotel Captain’s Quarters.

Saba Girl’s Sport Society founded on September 30th.

1968. Road with 1,064 steps from Windward Side to the top of the Mountain is put into use. It turned out later on to be a major boost to tourism as well as for local inhabitants to enjoy.

1968. Saba on August 24th gets its first newspaper (monthly) established by Will Johnson then living on St. Maarten. It continued until 1993. “The Saba Herald”.

Banco Popular Antiliano N.V. opens a branch in Windward Side on September 13th.

Opening up of the land ‘Under-the-Hill’ for new residential area in The Bottom.

1970. Saba gets 24-hour electricity on December 24th. The company had been sold in the meantime to the G.E.B.E. but continued under the capable management of an all Saba staff headed by Elmer W. Linzey.


W.I.P.M party under the Leadership of Will Johnson elected and brought major changes to Saba in dealing with the Dutch Government for development projects and an aggressive policy in Saba’s relationship with the Central Government on Curacao and the Island Territory the Windward Islands. A subsidy to the privately owned Windward Islands Airways was discontinued, government wages were drastically increased and new investments were encouraged which created some employment in the private sector.

 Saba continued with road building with an automobile road from Upper-Hells-Gate to beyond Above-the-bush. In later years this was continued and with large public water catchments along the new road being built.

Christina Youth Crusade founded on October 10th.

The “Voice of Saba” radio station owned by Mr. Max Nicholson

Started operation on November 25th and was received with great enthusiasm by the population.

1972. The Leo A.I. Chance pier at Fort Bay is dedicated on November 8th his birthday. Many Sabans had fought for a good harbor for over a century and several attempts had been made to build a small jetty which could not stand up against the high waves. Plans had been made and presented and when Mr. Chance a native of Saba became Minister he succeeded in convincing the Dutch Government, together with the local government, to release the necessary funds to build the pier.

It has received much damage with hurricanes over the years and requires costly repairs each time, but overall serves a great purpose for our people.

At the top of the Mountain a microwave relay station was begun by British Cable and Wireless to link Tortola and Antigua via Saba. A section of the elfin rain forest had to be sacrificed but the native population was happy with this development as it provided much needed employment for locals during construction and later on paid an agreed annual license fee to the local government.

West Indies Television Network started construction of a transmitter in Upper Hell’s Gate and linked by microwave to studios on St. Maarten.

The Saba Stone Company N.V., was established at Tent Bay to export crushed stone and sand as well as to supply local demand for the increased development.

1973. The Ministry of Education refused to give any kind of subsidy to the Dr. Moses L. Crossley School due to the poor attendance and the public school was closed down. The building was used for a short time for carpentry classes and then was used as the office of the Department of Works.

1975. On the initiative of Commissioner Will Johnson a call made by him in The Saba Herald in 1968 for Saba to have a national day of its own, ‘SABA DAY’ celebrations were approved by the Executive Council and started on December 6th organized by a Committee headed by Mr. Ray Hassell (later Senator). It was a great success then and enthusiastically celebrated by the people of Saba every year on the first Friday of December.

Saba was able to deal directly with Holland for projects they thought necessary for Saba and many projects were carried out in the following years. The building of a Youth Center in The Bottom, Restoration of the old step road to the Ladder Bay, a Home for the Aged in The Bottom named first to honour Peter Eleanor Hassell and later to honour Henry Every, a new Medical Center opened by Her Majesty Queen Beatrix in 1980 and named the Maude Edwards Medical Center in a new policy adopted to name buildings and other infrastructural projects after local people.Roads were built to open up new areas for development to Booby Hill and The Level, to Rendez Vous, the Dinda Hassell road on Hell’s Gate and so on.

1977. A large property in Windward Side was acquired with help from Mr. John Goodwin and the Dutch Government to be used for a Museum and a park. This was a long fulfilled wish of Commissioner Will Johnson who brought it all together. The Musueum was named in honour of local police officer Harry Luke Johnson who as a hobby had created his own home museum where he sold his paintings.

…The WIPM government of Saba was able to open direct links to Holland and was able to get a number of projects approved.

1979. The Home for the Aged was opened in The Bottom. First named Peter Eleanor Hassell home and later the Henry Carlyle Every home.

1980. Secondary School started was established at St. John’s in the old Princess Irene Hospital.

…The new hospital in The Bottom was opened by Her Majesty Queen Beatrix under the name of Mrs.Maude Othello Edwards-Jackson, founder of the Saba Electric Company N.V. Construction was carried out by the Public Works Department and the architect was Raymond Peterson of Marigot,St. Martin.

…. Secondary education system was established.

1981. Saba got a limited representation in the Parliament of the Netherlands Antilles. An Initiative of Senator Betico Croes of Aruba and Mr. Max Nicholson was elected by the Island Council to represent Saba as ‘Spokesman’ in parliament.

1983. On April 1st the Island Territory of the Windward Islands was dissolved and Saba became an Island Territory on its own with continued limited representation in parliament. Island Council Member will Johnson was elected to represent Saba.

…The former Princess Irene Hospital on St. John’s converted into a secondary school. Architect Raymond Peterson of St. Martin and the work carried out by the Department of Public Works,

…. A new Administration Building was taken into use. Architect Cornelius Wilson and the work carried out by Public Works.

1985. In preparation for the departure of Aruba from the Netherlands Antilles elections were held in November and Will Johnson was elected as a full Member of Parliament.

On December 6th of that year the new Saba flag was presented on Saba Day to great enthusiasm by the people. Commissioners Vernon Hassell and Peter L. Granger with Lt. Governor Wycliffe Smith (all locals) established a Committee headed by Will Johnson in May of that year to prepare the legislation for a new flag, coat of arms and national song. The committee also consisted of Frank Hassell, Patricia Johnson and Shirley Smith. This was achieved as planned and adopted by the Island Council. The design of the flag was won by Edmond Daniel Johnson (18) out of 135 submitted, and the coat of arms design was won by George Seaman (81) from St. Croix and a longtime resident of Saba, and the national song written in 1960 by Sister Waltruda (Christina Maria Jeurissen) was adopted as the national song. She worked on Saba as a teacher from 1959 to 1974.

1986. The English language once again became the language of instruction in both Primary and Secondary Education.

1987. On Saba Day, December 5th Minister Crastell Gumbs presented Senator Will Johnson with all necessary permits from the World Health Organization to start the Saba University School of Medicine. The Foundation was under the name of Dr. de Brauuw and Thomas Eric Johnson.

1988. December 4th Eric Lamb flew into Saba and started a private charter service.

In that same year Island Council Member Mr. Ray Hassell was elected as Senator and Island Council Member.

1989. Hurricane Hugo on September 19th, 1989 did much damage to Saba and was the start of many severe hurricanes yet to come. This hurricane destroyed forty houses and some of the public buildings were also damaged.

…. Proclamation by the Government of Saba that all houses and buildings have to follow the Saba style for exterior design, hipped/abled roofs, green shutters, red roofs and white sides.

1994. Referendum held whereby the people of Saba opted to remain part of the Netherlands Antilles.

1998. Hurricane George, September 21st did massive damage to the island.

1999. Hurricane Lenny: November 20th. Did extensive damage to Saba. The island was under hurricane winds for 35 hours. The hurricane came from the West and stalled over Saba.

2004. Referendum held whereby 86% of the voters voted for Saba to go directly under Holland.

2007. Chris Johnson and Bruce Zagers were elected to the Island Council as well as the Executive Council and continued carying out the WIPM party program as well as the negotiations with the Netherlands on the future of Saba’

2010 October 10th The Netherlands Antilles was dissolved and Saba became an official part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands as a Public entity and a dualistic system of government established, in the sense that the Commissioners can no longer be Members of the Island Council. In the referndum of 2004 he WIPM party had campaigned on the platform that Saba should become a part of the Neterlands in free association while retaining its right to independence. Saba achieved this in the sense that it is a self governing Public Entity in free assocaition with The Netherlands. The used of the term BES to identify the three islands (Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba) should not be interpreted to mean that becuase the Dutch use too many of their services from Bonaire, this does not mean that Saba forms a pert of a constitutional entity called BES

Also in 2010 Will Johnson was elected back as Senator and. was there until October 10th when the Netherlands Antille was disolved.

2016. Commissioner Chris Johnson had the high honour to be asked by the Government of The Netherlands to represent them as Head of their Office on St. Maarten. He resigned from the Island Counil and was replaced by Mr. Vito Charles and also from the Exectuve Council and was replaced by Island Council member Mr. Rolando Wilson who then became Commissioner.

2017. April 8th, temperature at hot springs below the Sulphur Mine 79 degrees Celsius. By comparison in 1934 the Hot Springs at the Ladder Bay were 55 degrees Centigrade and at the Great Hole 60 degrees Centigrade.

…May 28th Sister Agatha Jansen (97) died in The Netherlands. She was the last of the Dominica Order of Nuns to have worked on Saba.

…. November 11th. Last bull butchered on Saba. In 1996 there were over one hundred head of cattle on the island.

2018. People started importing cattle from St. Eustatius once more. A trade which has existed for hundreds of years. Commissioner Bruce Zagers announced that theDutch Government had approved funds to build a new harbour at a place called the Black RRocks. Construction of which should be started by the year 2022. The airport runway was renewed with a layer of cement and the terminal building renovated and estended.

2019. In the elections for the Island Council the W.I.P.M. party won all five seats on the Island Council. Elected to the Council were Bruce Zagers, Roland Wilson, Carl Buncamper, Eviton Heyliger and Vito Charles. When Zagers and Wilson were elected by the Council as Commissioners then Mr. Hemmie van Zanten and Esmeralda Johnson moved into the Council.

January 1st 2019 Total population was 1914. Voters were 11o6 of which 195 were voters with a foreign nationality and 911 were Dutch subjects.

The 100th anniversary of the Weslyean Holiness Church in The Boottom was celebrated.

January 15th. Ceremony held to show the hospital renovation to the Public. Work done by local contractors Hess Construction N.V.

2020 Saba was affected by the world wide epedemic caused by the influenza. The Overnment of The Netherlands continues to be very generous to Saba in its financial funding and will keep helping as much as it can, even though The Netherlands has also been negatively affected by the virus.

The first time even when Saba was lived on by the Arawaks (Igniri) and the Kalinago there were no children born on Saba. The health Care policy is to send pregnant women all the way to the island of Bonaire to have children.

Captain Thomas Charles Barnes


The town of Gustavia on St. Barth’s as it looked in the late nineteen fifties. Photo Father Bruno Boradori.

His father “Buddy” Barnes  ( Richard Thomas Barnes Sr.) was a Captain and owner of schooners, as well as his brothers Chandlis should be( Chandos Augustin Barnes born 21.07.1889), Robert,(Robert Carlton Barnes born 08.02.1901) Willie (lost at sea in a hurricane) and “Buddy Jr.”  ( should be Richard Thomas Barnes born 28.11.1885) who died at sea while second mate on a six master schooner.’

Charles known to all as “Charlie” cut his teeth sailing the high seas with his seafaring family. I had a difficult time finding him in the site

until I realized that Dutch officials and even local ones registered names as they heard them pronounced. So I decided to look under Barns and there I found him registered as Thomas Charles Barns born 02.07.1894.  I also cannot yet find name and date of his wife’s  Nina (daughter of Johanna Lovelace Dowling ) birth. The Dowlings are largely registered under the surname Dowlin. I seem to remember that his wife was a sister of Viva Dowling married to Ralph Hasssell. Her parents were Peter John Hassell Dowling  and Joanna Lovelace Hassell, but I still could not find Thomas Charles Barnes’ wife in the records nor when and where they married. I did read somewhere that the ancestral home of the Barnes family on St. Barth’s was actually purchased by Johanna Lovelace Dowling in 1912.

netherwoodCaptain Charlie according to my research also had three sisters (Aramenta Barnes born 17.02.1891) who moved to Barbados as so many of the St. John’s people did.

, Estelle Barnes born 10.12.1896,  ( married in Barbados to Raymond Seale)and Elizabeth Ethel born 28.12.1899. (Married in Barbados to Clifford Mayhew).

As Sabans expanded their fleet of schooners many of them emigrated to other islands where there were better opportunities for business and safe anchorage for their schooners something which Saba did not have to offer.

Many Sabans moved to the island of Barbados and carried on the better part of trade between that island and the rest of the West Indies. Others from Saba and especially the white schooner owners from The Bottom and St. John’s also moved to Barbados but some also moved to St. Kitts, Trinidad, Guyana, Bermuda, and in the early part of the twentieth Century to work in the oil refineries of Aruba and Curacao.


Captain Barnes was in to everything. He even bottled rum under this brand name and it was then popular in the islands.

In my book ‘Tales from my Grandmother’s Pipe’ I found some more information connected with Capt. Thomas Charles Barnes.:” Others who went to Barbados were Chandlis Barnes and his cousin Robert Barnes who owned the schooner “Diamond M. Ruby,” built in Barbados, also the three masted “Russel M. Zink”. They traded between  Barbados and Demerara.

” Pennyson’s daughter Winnie married Captain Donny Hassell, who was a steamship captain . He also owned the two-masted schooner “Horniest” which had been purchased in Nova Scotia and ran gasoline between Trinidad and Barbados. He also owned the large two-masted schooner the “Minnie M. Mosher”. He and his wife Aramintha (Minty) a daughter of old Captain “Buddy” Barnes,lived at Belville, St. Michael’s, Barbados. Although they had nine children, still their home was a haven for Sabans just the same as Kaliski’s in New York. People stayed with them until they could find work.


The St, Barth’s captains were traders and had many schooners. This photo is from the collection of Carl Buncamper whose wife Anastacia was a native of St. Barth’s.

During the period in which St. Barth’s belonged to Sweden a number of Sabans moved there to live, and one Saban Richard Dinzey was even Knighted by the King of Sweden. After the economic decline of St. Eustatius mostly due to the independence of the United States being recognized by European powers. They could trade directly with that island. The Jewish merchants who had been expelled by Admiral George Rodney also did not return. They mostly moved to St. Thomas, Curacao and Barbados where they found new business opportunities. So a number of the old prominent families from “Statia” also moved to the island of St. Barth’s.. People like Vaucrosson who I have already written about. He was originally from Martinique and owned a very large house and business complex on the Bay. And a number of others moved to St. Barth’s and started businesses there.

Schooner Roma with Charles Thomas Barnes' home in background.

This schooner seems to be the “Roma” which belonged to Captain Barnes and the two story building with the red roof is his home.

When Captain Thomas Charles Barnes moved to St. Barth’s, Sweden had already returned the island to France.  The island was Swedish from March 7th, 1758. After a referendum, with only ONE vote against, the decision was to return the Swedish colony back to France which took place on May 16th, 1878. One vote! Sweden must have neglected the island very much at the end. One vote only in favour of remaining Swedish. Captain Barnes however established a relationship with Miss Julia Dinzey one of the descendants of Sir Richard Dinzey. When she passed away she left the Dinzey mansion to her neighbours Charlie and his wife. This lovely building was used over periods of time as a Guesthouse and now it belongs to the Swedish Government and is used as a historic and cultural center. When it was a guesthouse a number of boys from Saba worked there. I remember Alvin Every  (Bobby) and I being there at the sqme time once. His son Kenneth was working there at the time. I have covered that story in another article which I wrote on St. Barth’s. Foe the present generation of S Swedish nationals it is a great source of pride that St. Barth’s is the only colony which they ever owned outside of Sweden proper. Their blood relatives the Danes did own the islands which they sold to the United States in 1917 namely the United States Virgin Islands, of St. Thomas , St. Croix and St. John.

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Captain Ramon Beale  here on the schooner the “Roma” which he bought from Captain Barnes. The Beale family on St. Barth’s   also have roots on Saba from the village of Middle Island.

Captain Barnes was a trader. He bought and sold items to the islands surrounding St. Barth’s. In the newspaper “De Slag om Slag” of St. Maarten there are several news items of him having been there to carry salt to other territories. He also carried cattle. St. Barth’s people were traders and enjoyed a safe anchorage for their schooners and they remained on their island. They traded in cattle from St. Maarten and as far away as the Dominican Republic to supply the markets on Guadeloupe and Martinique. There was no refrigeration back then so the trade was in live cattle.  Also they transported sugar and of course salt which was produced on some islands, from one island to the next.


The Roma at the shipyard being outfitted for the transfer to Ramon Beale

With so many schooners Captain “Charlie” saw an opportunity for repairing schooners in the bay right across from his home and business. Even some of the sloops from Saba like those of Captain Randolph Dunkin would go there to repair their sloops.


From  left to right> Barney Gibbs my host on Barbados, Peter Bourne of Collins Lt.  Michael Stoute, me Will Johnson and Michael’s wife from Bolivia.

Taken from my diary of Tuesday November 20th, 2018:” Went to a coffee place with Peter Bourne and Barney Gibbs. there we met Michael Stoute and his wife from Bolivia. His grandmother was Elizabeth Barnes from Saba (sister of Captain Charlie Barnes). She was a sister of Minty Hassell-Barnes. He called an uncle of his who is 90 years old and we spoke. That uncle recalled visiting with Captain Charlie on St. Barth’s.

Captain Charlie acquired quite some land which in today’s world would be valued in the tens of millions. However no one ever imagined that land on St. Barth’s would be so valuable in the future. George Greaux my friend of many years told me that every billionaire on earth wants to be able to tell his friends “I have a piece of land on St. Barth’s you know.” And the St. Barth’s people know that as well. So a small country house which would have brought in to the owner a couple of hundred dollars back less than one hundred years ago will set you back nowadays from six to eight million dollars. That same George Greaux walked into a conversation I was having with a group at the Juliana Airport back around 1972. I was telling the group that Neville Lejuez and I had the opportunity to buy a considerable swath of land on the beach next to Remi de Haenen’s  Eden Rock Hotel. The old couple wanted twelve hundred dollars for it. Living off a salary of just around one hundred dollars a month there was no way that we could buy the land. When George walked into the conversation he let me finish my story and then he said: “Will is not lying. My story is much worse. I had the money and I went to my father for advice. My father told me “George put your money on the bank in St. Thomas. St. Barth’s has no future and will never amount to anything.” Well his father and all of that George decided to put his money on the bank in St. Thomas instead.

Dinzey Mansion

The historic home of Sir Richard Dinzey of Saba. He also built the Anglican church. His remaining heir Julia Dinzey willed it to Captain Barnes. It was later a guesthouse where I stayed. Here is my son Peter then age 15 when we were visiting my friend George Greaux for the weekend in 2004. The Swedish flag on the pole.

Telling this part of the story to introduce David Rockefeller. He had been to Saba and was interested in buying something here. The people here used to curse then Administrator of Saba Walter Buncamper of not wanting to see Rockefeller as he was too busy. There must have been some truth to it Allan Busby is always telling me that story, so just passing it on.

Anyway David Rockefeller fell in love with a beautiful bay and a sizable plot of land and was told it belonged t Captain Barnes. In his old age he was hard of hearing. Rumor would have it that when Mr. Rockefeller asked to buy the property Mr. Barnes asked for forty thousand dollars. Mr. Rockefeller thinking that the price, for the time, was ridiculous said he did not hear him.  Mr. Barnes then turned his good ear to him and said :” Son what did you say your name was? The answer was “David Rockefeller.” Mr. Barnes then said: “Well since you did not hear me, let me tell you that the price of the land is four hundred thousand dollars.” Mr. Rockefeller then asked Mr. Barnes, “Can we continue the discussion through your forty thousand dollar ear?” “I didn’t hear you”, said Mr. Barnes and the deal was closed.

In the period from after the elections in 1971 to 1973 I worked at the Post Office at the Juliana Airport.  The late Janchi Vanterpool who was a porter and a great friend of mine knew everybody including  David Rockefeller. He would park up his jet at Juliana and Janchi would handle the rest. One day while I was sitting in the restaurant area I was introduced to Mr. Rockefeller and we had a nice chat while he was waiting on his charter flight to St. Barth’s. About a year later I was sitting there in the same area with Claude Wathey, Clem Labega, Sam Hazel and Allen Richardson. Who shows up but Mr. David Rockefeller himself. He says to me.: Will are you still here since I last saw you?” Anyway I introduced him to the group and especially my friend Allen Richardson. After Mr. Rockefeller left Allen said “There won’t be holding you anymore. Man how did you get to know Mr. Rockefeller? ” So I embellished the first meeting and Allen would often bring it up when we were at drinking sessions: “This man here is a Personal friend of David Rockefeller, mind you.”

Gustavia back in the fifties.

On the right hand side you can clearly see Captain Thomas Charles Barnes’ home and ship yard.

And back to  Mr. Barnes.As I wrote earlier Mr. Barnes was a trader. I remember once asking him where he had bought his straw hat from. He said “I paid five dollars for it. If you want it I can sell it to you for ten dollars.”

When I first wrote a much smaller version of this story, Captain Charlie’s grandson also named Charles was living in the grandfather’s house. He was a son of Charlie, the only child of Captain Charlie I believe but not so sure. He went to Aruba and worked for the ESSO oil refinery there. When he retired he came to St. Maarten with his family and started a business there. His son, the third generation Charles was married to a Greaux I believe and worked with his grandfather to keep the business going. The Charles, the grandson that is, which I am talking about died young. I believe he had a problem with diabetes and must not have been more than fifty years old. He and his wife had four daughters who in one way or the other are still involved with the business in other forms. I have to be careful here as I will be sure to be corrected on some details. One of the daughters is married to Jerome Montoya who hails from the South of France but carries a Spanish surname. Crossing borders was a tradition back in the day as well.

Anyway Jerome and I became great friends through having mutual interests. I met him here on Saba with his wife some years ago. I advised him to look up the Dinzey archives which I thought Captain Charlie would have kept. Well he found a treasure trove of those old documents when he went back to St. Barth’s. He later on started The St. Barth’s Islander and keeps himself busy with fantastic stories of St. Barth’s past. He is also is in the shipping business representing cruise ships and ferries from St.Maarten and so on.


St. Barth’s very much undeveloped in the  1950’s. Photo by Father Bruno Boradori who was a Roman Catholic priest on St. Barth’s for several years.

The night Captain Charlie died I was in St. Barth’s on a small boat with friends from St. Maarten and the Ukraine. I passed by to say hello to Charles and he said that I could sleep upstairs as his grandfather was in the hospital on St. Maarten and was close to deaths door.  I was sleeping in the old four poster bed upstairs. Downstairs was the business. At 2 am or so his black cat which had been sleeping on top of an old mahogany  armoire let out s scream and made an all claws landing on my stomach. There was no central electricity back then. After hearing that the old man might be going into his last hours I took no chances and kept the old oil lamp on next to the bed. In the scurry with the cat I nearly knocked over the oil lamp. What a thing that would have been as the upstairs was a made from wood.

After recovering from the fright I decided to open the front door to the verandah, which there was none, I nearly dropped to the street below. held on for dear life till I could get my footing back on the floor and haul myself  up and close back the door which led to a none existing  verandah.

Early the next morning Charles came around. He asked me :” How did you sleep last night?” Before I could answer he said; “You know the old man died at the hospital on St. Maarten around 2 am this morning.” How could I forget  Captain Charlie. And may his memory continue to be blessed.


The man himself Captain Thomas Charles Barnes. Dressed in the hat I admired and in the background his house and business. I have a few more photo’s which I will add to the article but will have to still look for them.




The following story is taken from the Saba Herald Vol. 17, Friday August 24th, 1984, # 193.

Scan1316The Saba Herald was mostly used as a political newspaper or scandal sheet as my opposition was wont to call it. However since there were not elections every year I would give my readers some articles of interest. Many of these were about the lives of our former seamen.  This article is bout the life of Diederick Ambrose Every in an interview which I had with him when he visited Saba back in 1984.

The article reads as follows: ” In our effort each month to bring you the life story of one of our older Sabans this month we present: Diederick Ambrose Every, born on Saba January 9th, 1902 and living in Baltimore U.S.A. He visited here recently and we had an opportunity to interview him. His mother was Bernadina Elizabeth Every born Hassell, and his father John Leverock Every whose mother was Elizabeth Holm. His parents had six children. 1. Marie Louise Every (Miss Lou). 2. Julia Johnson b.Every (Edwin’s wife)3. Diederick Every. 4. Doris Johnson b. Every (Harry’s wife) 5. Winifred Soares b. Every and 6. John Clarence Every.

As a young boy Diederick went to the Roman Catholic school above the church in Windward Side. He used to take care of Capt. Ben’s (William Benjamin Hassell) horse which was named “Shamrock”. He remembers that Mrs. Gertrude Johnson (Daisy’s mother) used to teach in Capt. Tommy Hassell’s house

The first nuns to come to Saba were sisters Bertranda and Sister Winifred; they used to teach. He remembers Father Mulder and Father de Groen.

At the age of TWELVE (12) he started working with Capt. Ben on the schooner the “John Hazel.”, later on the “Maisie Hassell”, the “Esther Anita” and the “Buma” all of them schooners, 2 masted around 85 to 100 feet.


The schooner the Eszter Anita docked up in New York. Saba schooner back one hundred years ago and beyond traded regularly with New York.

After that he went on the schooner the “Estelle” with Capt. Tommy Vanterpool, then he worked under Capt. Knight Simmons of The Bottom who was her captain when the government bought the schooner.

He started out as a cabin boy then ended up as an able bodied seaman. Reuben and Joe Simmons of Hell’s Gate all went to work on the “Estelle” at the same time. Wages then were $14.– (FOURTEEN).dollars a month for a seaman and $20.- (TWENTY) dollars for a cook. Captain Ben used to give him $10.– a month coming from Curacao. Reuben Simmons was the mate. They used to cover all the islands. They would carry Bay Rum from St. Thomas to Barbados, cattle from Tortola and Nevis to Barbados and Trinidad. Capt. Ben was a trader. He didn’t just transport goods but would buy and sell from one island to the next. According to Diederick, Captain Ben was a hard man to work for. They seldom got to come ashore, as they were usually anchored in the road-stead. Only in Barbados and Trinidad did they go ashore as the boats anchored to the pier. In those days there were no social laws so therefore there was no vacation or free time, and no regulated working hours.

On board the “Estelle” there was a chicken coup with chickens, also they carried a lamb or two. Diederick at the age of FIFTEEN (15) was the cook on board. He did the baking on a wood stove. He worked from 5AM until 9 or 10 pm at night. Boys in those days had a mans responsibility at the age of 14 or 15. Diederick worked this way for $20.– a month until he reached the age of 17.

I am inserting the following to this original interview. Several reports were made to the Governor on conditions on the schooner the “Estelle” and the hardships endured while crossing the Caribbean Sea from Curacao to St. Maarten which sometimes took nine days or more. One of those reports mentions that the cook was a mere boy and despite the hardships the writer of one of these reports Canton Judge Mr. F. G. Schalkwijk, and  both the Judge and Lt. Governor Van der Zee had nothing but high praise for the crew who under these circumstances nevertheless managed to be extraordinary helpful to the distressed passengers.”

Schooner Estelle at Fort Bay 1934.

The schooner “Estelle”  here at anchor at Fort Bay Saba. She first belonged to Capt. Tommy Vanterpool and then was sold to the Government for the transport of passengers and mail between the Windward Islands and Curacao as well as St. Kitts and St. Thomas.

In the interview Diederick goes on to tell the following ” He remembers that once he was anchored in St. Kitts road stead  on board the “Ester Anita” in the hurricane season when a hurricane came up quite suddenly. This was around the year 1915 and they had to put out to sea to weather out the hurricane. He was 13 years of age then. While working on the “Buma” they traded between Trinidad and British Guyana and carried drums of oil. The longest he remembers staying away from Saba at sea was pretty near a year or so. He was sailing under Captain Lawrence Johnson at the time. With Capt. Ben he used to get home every two months for two days. In the other islands he mostly stayed on board of the vessels as he had to do the cooking.

In 1919 he went to New York to Mr. Herman Kaliski, as all Sabans used to do in those days. He carried with him a letter from Mr. Thomas Holm (local Councillor and Act. Lt. Governor!) Mr. Kaliski was a Jewish merchant of Russian origin who ran a clothing store at 27 South Street which was headquarters for all the Saban seamen who used the port of New York. Mr. Kaliski got him a job on the steamer named the “Edith” which transported coal between New York and Puerto Rico, and then brought back sugar to Yonkers New York.

Hyman Kaliski Original

Mr. Herman Kaliski a Jewish merchant of 27 South Street  New York who took care of the Saban sailors for more than forty years.

Capt. George Irvin Holm of Saba was at the time first mate. Diederick sailed on that ship for about a year, then he transferred to an old coal tramp on which a Simmons from The Bottom was first mate. After that he went to sail on a brand new ship named the “Collin H. Livingston”.

The first trip he made was to Duinkerk France. He then came back to Norfolk Virginia and sailed around the West Coast of the United States with general cargo. On that ship he had trouble getting paid and the crew walked off the ship in Seattle Washington. Seven of them joined up and bought an old “Lizzie” touring car. they came through the Rocky Mountains to Montana in the month of May. They then sold the car for $100.– after two of them had backed out.

He took the train to Baltimore with a transfer in Chicago. It took him three days and nights to get there. In that city he had three uncles living. They were his mothers brothers: William, Frederick and John Hassell.

William was a Coast guard officer. He came back to Saba once with his wife and three children. Frederick was an engineer for Standard Oil. He never returned to Saba after he left. John was a seafaring man- a boatswain -. He was married to Leisha and was the father of Marcus N. Hassell who worked for the government and who was married and died in Santo Domingo. John’s other child Crystalline was married to Cyrillus Leverock who together had 11 children. The entire family moved to the United States and at the time of this writing they are still living in Florida and Cyrillus was here last month with his daughters Marilyn and Altagracia and their families.

Diederick Ambrose Every with his niece Lucille and her husband Ronnie and children.

Diederick Abrose Every here in Baltimore with his visiting niece Lucille Therese Johnson and her husband Ronald Leon Johnson.

Diederick then joined the Standard Oil Company and started to sail on the tanker “Mosquova” for about 8 months, after which he transferred to a barge which transported fuel from the refinery in Baltimore to Washington D.C. and Norfolk, Virginia. The last barge he worked on only operated around Baltimore for 6 (six) years. He then got married and moved into the refinery on shore and he worked there until 1957 when they shut down the refinery. By then he had 36 years service with the Company. He only had one son who died of a heart attack. His son was a Lutheran Pastor and was named Diederick Clarence Every.

Diederick Every Sr. had been married fifty six and one half years when his wife died. Her name was Mary Magdalena Burton of Baltimore.

Clarence Every and wife

Clarence Every here with his wife who was a native Aruban. Together they had a large family some eleven or twelve children.

W hen I caught up with him for the interview, he was here on Saba with his brother Clarence from Aruba, visiting their brother-in-law Edwin Johnson. At 82 he looked like a man just turned 60.

His uncle Frederick was killed in a car accident in Baltimore by a tram. Killed in that same accident with him was Ellis a brother of Miss Gladys and a son of Richard Hassell.

Diederick has two grandchildren and they live in Baltimore. It will be difficult for our readers to imagine a boy of 12 going to sea and at 15 being he cook on a schooner plying the passenger trade through the stormy waters waters of the Caribbean, but such was life in former times.'”

P.S. I would like to thanks Mrs. Lucille Therese Johnson for supplying the photo’s of her uncle for this article.

Diederick Ambrose Every 1982 Baltimore.

Diederick here in front of a hospital in Baltimore in 1982. Already sailing out at 12 and cook on the schooner the “Estelle” at the age of 15.

Nurse Angele Cagan


Nurse Angele Cagan standing next to her brother Gaston Cagan who was a taxi driver and before that worked for the oil refinery on Aruba. Among the dignitaries present was the Editor of the Windward Islands Opinion, Lionel Bernard Scott, member of the Island Council and a number of her good friends and well wishers.

The Windward Islands Opinion of Saturday October 5th, 1963 carried the following article on the 25th anniversary on the celebration of the 25th anniversary of Nurse Angele Cagan.

“On Sunday September 29th, Miss Angele Cagan, celebrated her Silver Jubilee, 25 years as a nurse in the St. Rose Hospital at Philipsburg.

The occasion was marked by a solemn High Mass at 8 a.m. in the Roman Catholic Church at Philipsburg. The church was crowded with many of her friends, relatives and former patients (some of them had come from as far as Marigot and even Grand Case). The Rev. Father Boradori, Parish Priest; in his remarks about Nurse Angele after the Gospel, pointed out that, in the 25 years that she had been a nurse in the St. Rose Hospital, she had always been a very dedicated nurse and he was sure that she did not work for the money, but instead for the love of bringing relief and comfort to suffering humanity. He compared her dedicated service to the Inn-keeper; in a parable of Jesus (A certain traveler had found a sick man by the wayside, given him assistance and taken him to an Inn. In the morning when the traveler was leaving, the sick man had not fully recovered, so the traveler paid the Inn-Keeper for the night and asked that the sick man be taken care of until he (the traveler) returned, promising that he would pay all the costs on his return. The Inn-Keeper did not ask the traveler to pay in advance – but took care of the sick man with the

St. Rose Hospital 1947

St. Rose Hospital 1947. Here Nurse Angele Cagan worked for the better part of her life.

hope that someday the traveler would return.

“Our dear Nurse Angele,” he said: “Has been taking care of the sick entrusted to her tender care, by Our Lord Jesus Christ, and one day, I am sure, that at the end of her journey, He will return and repay her for all she has done.’

A reception was given in her honour at the St. Rose Hospital, from 11 a.m. to 12 noon, and among the many persons present were: Lt. Governor, J.J. Beaujon, Dr. Levendag, Ex. Lt. Governor and Mrs. W. Buncamper, Mrs. L.C. Fleming, Mr. Cagan (her brother), Mr. Th.A. Illidge, Mr. and Mrs. R. Carty and Mr. and Mrs. L.B. Scott. Most noteworthy among those present were; Mr. Anthony Buncamper (Nurse Angele ‘brought’ his mother to be with him) and his little son (Nurse Angele ‘brought’ his wife to bed with his son)-


Mrs. Olga Buncamper-Hassell signing in the registry for the occasion. Behind her Mrs. Jewel Levendag-Wathey, Mr. Walter Buncamper and Mrs. Lionel Conner-Kruythoff.

Speeches congratulating Nurse Angele were made by the Revered Father Boradori, L.B.Scott, Th.A. Illidge, J.H. Lake, R. Carty and Dr. Levendag – And all the speakers praised her for her unselfish and dedicated service to the sick of this community during the past 25 years – She was also the recipient of many useful and valuable gifts.

The Windward Islands Opinion joins the rest of the community in congratulating our beloved Nurse Angele and prays that the good Lord, may bless and keep her for many more years.

Before she retired she built a house on the Back Street. She would go there during the day but would spend most of her time living with Miss Bertha and the Captain over in Sucker Garden. They had sold the Guest House and built a home over there. Catherine Hodge would drop her off at her home on Back Street in the morning and pick her back up at 5 pm and bring her to sleep at the home of the Hodge family. Catherine told me that being a young woman then that Nurse Angele would sometimes have to wait on her and would let Catherine have it when she was late in picking her up. Later on when they all got older she spent her last years in the St. Martin’s Home.


Nurse Angele assisted with the delivery of many babies during her years at the St. Rose Hospital.

Elsje from the St. Maarten Heritage Foundation said that she would see Nurse Angele coming down the Secretarissteeg (Secretary Alley) to go to work at the St. Rose Hospital. Elsje said she would visit her when she was in the Home. She was in a room that used to be part of the hospital where she had worked most of her life. ‘I always found it a little sad that she worked there and died there. She died on October 17th, 2003 and was buried in the Roman Catholic cemetery. She had no children but lots of nieces and nephews.’

St Maarten St Rose Hospitaal en St Josephschool004 (1)

Nurse Angel Cagan in the middle of the photo with a Nun to her side carrying out a newborn baby from the hospital.

Many of our old timers were true St. Martin islanders and worked where they could. I know of a number of people from the village of Grand Case who found work on the Dutch side and remained working and living there for the rest of their lives. When especially the ESSO refinery called the Lago was recruiting employees who could speak English any number of people from the French side and Anguilla found a way to register via the Dutch side and went on to Aruba. Some of them stayed there and have descendants there still.

And so it was with Nurse Angele who came to the Dutch side as a young woman and remained working and living there until she died. I have fond memories of her and so do the children and grandchildren of Capt. Austin Hodge and his spouse Bertha Lawrence both natives of Grand Case. May the three of them continue to rest in peace.


Nurse Angele Cagan here receiving communion from Father Bruno Boradori who at the time was the  parish priest on St. Maarten.



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