The Saba Islander

by Will Johnson

Archive for the month “March, 2016”

Zimmerman’s vacation on St. Eustatius

With Zimmerman on vacation in St. Eustatius (1792)

By; Will Johnson

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This etching was made just a few years after Mr. Zimmerman was on Statia and would give you an idea as to how the island looked like when it was cultivated with sugar cane and even after Rodney the commercial activity revived until the embargo against the United STATES was lifted and then the island went into decline.

Without knowledge of the Dutch language many researchers are not privileged to a wealth of information about our islands in the Dutch archives. Such a letter is printed in the second volume of the West Indische Gids, 1919 II, pages 144-150, with an introduction by Dr. J. de Hullu, who was Archivist of the Algemeen Rijksarchief in The Hague.

This was translated into English by Mr. Siegfried Lampe. Zimmerman the elder (as he signs himself) was a young man from the mercantile class, who was sent to St. Eustatius and who took up his pen to tell one of his friends in the Fatherland what had happened to him in the four weeks he was there.  Space will only allow a few choice quotes from the letter but there is much more to it.

His first impression of the land and the people, as it appears from his letter, was favorable. The only objectionable part is like some men today who think that their wives love to be beaten up; he too was of the opinion of the day that the same applied for slaves. Other than that his long letter gives a very good impression of life on St .Eustatius in 1792. He found the heat burdensome and the mosquitoes a nuisance, but for the rest his new home pleased him greatly. “I am very lucky here he wrote. What particularly struck him about St. Eustatius was the free and easy atmosphere that prevailed there, the liberal pace of life that made him always a welcome guest at the parties to which the inhabitants gave themselves up so lustily. From this it appeared that in a manner of speaking he didn’t have eyes enough to look at all the strange and note-worthy that the island had to offer. Nature, climate, the way of life of the people, especially of the mulattos and the blacks, all awoke his interest and made him take up his writing tools to sketch the variegated scene for his friend. A lucky chance provided that his letter would not be lost. The unknown friend to whom it was addressed apparently considered it interesting enough that he provided a copy for the Pensioner Van de Spiegel, and the latter in turn found it too interesting not to give it a place among his papers, which, as is well known, have rested in the Algemeen Rijksarchief since 1895.

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This is what the roadstead would have looked like when Admiral Michael de Ruyter was visiting there in 1665. Not long after his visit the pirates from Port Royal Jamaica invaded the island and took Saba as well. They left a great lasting mark on Saba though as between seventy  and ninety of the pirates remained behind and were the ancestors of many of the Saban families.

That Zimmerman’s letter deserved the honor no one who reads it can deny, it provides an appendix to the history of St. Eustatius of a sort that is unrepresented especially in official documents, and throws light on just what official papers all too often leave in the dark.

We will quote for our readers’ parts from the letter to give an idea of life on Statia in 1792.

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When Mr. Zimmerman spent his vacation on Statia this newspaper was in circulation. The oldest newspaper to have been published in the Dutch West Indies.

“Honored Sir and valued friend:

I will not neglect my promise to send you this. Your Honor will have learned from the letter that I sent your honored father that we had a very speedy and prosperous passage. Thanks to God I enjoy the best of health, and hope to learn the same of you.

Once again, many thanks, my good friend, for the cakes that you provided for my trip, which spared me many dull moments, and I shall attempt to repay your kindness.

I will limit myself to giving you a short account of the situation of this island and of the way of life here. The island is about 2 hours long and a good mile across. All around, the sea washes against the rocky mountain, which is quite high and I should guess sticks up about half an hour’s above the sea. The so called “Punt” or “Punch Bowl” is the highest and is quite hollow inside for which reason it was a volcano. One morning I rode out there with my friends and went down to the bottom – or rather, clambered down through the stillness. In this deep cavern it is twilight and very little of the ground down there is touched by the sun except between 12 and 2 o’clock. In this hollow it is pretty cool. Nature reaches her highest peak of productivity there. Growing wild in this hole are grapes of excellent flavor, oval in shape, resembling little plums. You can find watermelons there of 20 to 30 pounds, rose –colored inside, shading toward the heart to light silver-white, and as 2/3 of the way speckled with black seeds, making a lovely appearance when you cut the melon open. Also ordinary melons, of exceptionally fine flavor, being much riper than any that I’ve ever had in Italy. Also there is mamee, as large as an ordinary melon and tasting like the Persian melon of Europe. Coconuts are plentiful; I’ve seen some that I’d guess weighed 18 pounds. The milk of this fruit is very delicious and is cool in the hot sun. Also cherries, a wonderful fruit, on the top of which a nut grows, but I can’t really describe it. Pomegranates are found in abundance, papayas, oranges, lemons, limes, medlars and a lot of other fruits that I don’t know. One can find wild coffee here, sugar cane, cotton, and wild pod-peas. Also a kind of string beans; 4 or 5 sorts of pepper, of which one kind is frightfully strong, much more so than the so-called Spanish pepper. I saw fig trees there too, but they don’t have the same fruit that I’ve eaten in Italy. On this island the pineapples are the best of the entire West Indies. I’ve seen them of 10 or 12 pounds’ weight, and very ripe. For 5 or 6 Dutch stivers you can buy one from the blacks, and they cost them, so to speak, only the cutting.

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St. Eustatius was an important slave trading island. The Dutch West India Company’s main purpose was to trade in African slaves and encourage sugar cane plantations like Barbados so they could sell more slaves.

There are many sugar plantations here. On each plantation there is usually a village of 30 to 40 little huts, as in sketch #4, where the poor wretched slaves live. I visited a good number of them; most of the friends to whom I had been recommended are plantation owners, through whom I had the good fortune to examine everything minutely, which was very interesting for an inquiring sort of person.

He goes on to describe the houses, the way they are built and furnished and then he continues;” It is horribly hot here as it can possibly be, if it weren’t for the daily east wind I don’t believe I could live long. For instance, I have to change my linen 4 times a day and my other clothes twice a day. Sometimes the sweat runs in streams down my hands and face. I have one comfort; I’ve been told that once I’ve sweated out it’s all over. In the four weeks that I’ve been here I’ve become very thin and have become half Creole in color. I rather like it. I don’t know myself anymore.

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The canon are still at Fort Orange but they may not be the originals.

At 4 o’clock each day I go with friends for a horseback ride making a tour of 2 or 3 hours, and torment the planters who lie on the high land. About 7 we usually come back to dine or else we stay with one or another friend. After that, from 8 o’clock to 1 every one goes about his business and I go from the mountain to the bay, where all the warehouses are – about 600, I should think. This makes a small city in itself. Down there it’s a good three times as hot as up on the mountain; the breeze being cut off by the mountain it is blazing hot. The roadstead is always full of Spanish, American, French and English barks that come and go every day and with whom we do business; the Bay is Little Amsterdam. I am quite fortunate to be able to speak with all these nations. The local language of the natives, as well as the mulattos and blacks, is English. So I’m beginning to be quite an Englishman and speak no Dutch except only with Lans, who knows little or no English.

About 1 o’clock some friend will send me a riding horse and I go up the mountain with it and stop here or there to eat. I’m always invited to 3 or 4 places. Little is accomplished in the afternoon. About six o’clock, or when it is dark, people go to look up friends and stay to be sociable or retire about 8 or 9 o’clock, and by 10 or 11 every one is at rest.

Saint Eustatius Island was once an active volcano.

Saint Eustatius Island was once an active volcano. This photo is from the National Geographic Society and was taken in the nineteen fifties.

They hold many dances here. Recently I was invited to a ball where I found 64 ladies, all brilliantly dressed. The women here are not beautiful, but are good-hearted, which is the most important thing.

There are many mulattoes here. Many of the women are kept by Europeans as mistresses. Those are well dressed, commonly in white lawn with linen edging of various colors and on their heads extra fine English beaver hats, and they have their slaves following behind with parasols. Among these mulattoes are very fine and well made women.

Day before yesterday the captain commandant came to fetch me and asked if I would like to see a Negro company and how they amused themselves. I don’t know that I’ve ever laughed so much. It was a Negro ballet. I wish you could have seen what wondrous and bizarre figures these gentlemen made. They were quite honored with our company and showed us all friendship. They were drinking their punch and grog, which the leader offered us and we accepted. Their music consisted of 2 tambourines, 2 vocalists and one piece of old iron that was beaten with a tenpin, and then a violinist who had probably never played before. There were some mulatto women there in that illustrious company, most of them doing English contra-dances. We danced 2 or 3 dances with them. After we brave ones were worn out we left the company and they thanked us greatly for the honor that we had done them.

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This is what a normal day in the harbour would have looked like when Mr. Zimmerman was on the island.

From St. Kitts – I mean St. Christopher – vegetables are brought in daily; Saba provides excellent veal and mutton; St. Maarten can be seen in clear weather quite well, and provisions come from there too every day. In a word they have here all necessary food in abundance, and quite cheap. Bread is better on this island than in Europe; it is baked from good rich American grain. A 6 stiver loaf weighs the same as a 2 stiver loaf in Europe. There is excellent fish here which is a pleasure to behold, blood-red and swimming around in the water like goldfish; they are called “hang.” I have seen fish of blue and silver that could be mistaken for enamel ware. Lobsters here are four times as large as in Europe, but not so tender and delicious.

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The Andrew Doria fired off its cannons and Governor de Graaf gave permission to his people at Fort Orange to return the salute and thus the new republic to the North got its first recognition from this small Dutch trading post in the Caribbean and as a result was sacked by the English Admiral George Rodney.

Potatoes come from the English islands and are much better than in Europe and are yellow as egg yolks. Lettuce is not of the best, not at all tender, but indeed we have plenty of other things to make up for the lettuce.

Every day I see new things here. Little or no sickness is known here. As soon as someone is sick he is either better or dead in 3 or 4 days; everything goes expeditiously here. It is so with burying; dead in the evening; buried the next day. The sorrow for a deceased friend is washed away with Madeira wine. Remarkable customs! There is a church here but no Minister!

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Johannes de Graaf was Governor of St. Eustatius and gave the orders to salute the flag of the newly proclaimed United States of America.

About two weeks before my arrival there was a terrible cloudburst here. Part of the mountain was washed away and the old road to the top was entirely ruined. Damage at the Bay was reckoned at a million guilders. Perhaps your Honor read about it in the papers. It can rain unbelievably here. I once thought I was going to be swept away, house and all,  and it never let up, but the burning hot sun dried up the water that a quarter of an hour previously had been running in rivers. It can thunder mighty hard here too, terrifying to hear, but people are used to it because they hear it every day.

I shall now bring this to a close, hoping that your Honor can make out my writing. I have written somewhat in haste, and will simply add that I am very lucky and am loved by everyone and am everywhere welcome, which is a great satisfaction  for me and makes me content with everything.

I am respectfully,

Zimmerman the elder

St. Eustatius 10 July 1792.

 

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Lest we forget!! Mr. Siegfried Lampe a native of St. Eustatius and  one of the principal people who you could turn to for information on the history of St. Eustatius. Photo by another historian Walter Hellebrand.

 

 

Captain Matthew Levenston

Just added a nice photo of Mathew and I together.

The Saba Islander

Image (147) Prime Minister Efraim Jonckheer and Commissioner Mathew Levenston in discussion.

Captain John Esmond Mathew Levenston

By: Will Johnson

During hurricane season I often think of him. He once said to me: “Will why you are building your house up on the top of that hill? Did you ever see any of the old timers building up so high?” And then he went on to tell me stories of the hurricanes of old passed down by our ancestors. After hurricane Lenny the officials from the U.S. Weather Bureau in Miami visited Saba and confirmed the same thing to me. Where my house is located, around two thousand feet, a category one hurricane is paying me a category three visit according to the officials.

Captain John Esmond Mathew Levenston was born “Below-the-Gap” on Saba on October 3rd, 1912. He was the son of Joshua Levenston and Mrs. Emilia Levenston born…

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THE SULPHUR MINE

The Sulphur Mine

By: Will Johnson

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Looking towards Flat Point from the main entrance of the mine.

Before Sulphur was being extracted from crude oil those locations where there had been volcanic activity became very valuable as their potential for the then scare commodity was considerable for those days.

The Sulphur mine on Saba started with Peter James Hassell and Jacob Every (from both of whom I and many others are descended), who were the original owners of the lands where the Sulphur mines on Saba are found? The colonial report of 1901 states that the two owners of the property known as the ‘Great Hole’ in 1866 rented these lands for 21 years to Albert G. Marcial with the right to transport and ship Sulphur.

On that same day this Marcial transferred his rights over to Peter F. Stout and William C. Roberts, who again transferred their obtained rights in 1867 to Charles Andrew Poizat.

The same Peter James Hassell and Jacob Every in 1861 had already transferred their rights to the Sulphur, which could be found in aforementioned lands to Daniel James Hassell Every (a Saba/Statia important merchant and landowner) In 1874 he gave half of his rights to the mother for the benefit of her minor child Thomas Nelson Cockfield Pandt . Mr. Everysold the other half to a certain George Doyle.

These last two in turn sold their rights in 1874 and 1875 this time to Nicolas Cornwall Henwood. This Henwood in 1874 bought from the before mentioned Peter James Hassell and Jacob Every the same lands, which Charles A. Poizat was renting.

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Operations in 1905. My grandfather Daniel Johnson in the second row with white shirt. He lived just above the mines.

Because of this a Court Case was initiated between Poizat and Henwood which ended in 1879 with denial of the demand of Poizat against Henwood to abandon the piece of land in question, on grounds that the claimant was lacking in evidence, that he was the first to come in possession of the piece of land.

In 1876 Henwood passed over ¼ of his rights to John Godden and ¼ to G. Thomas MacNish a Scottish merchant living on St. Kitts at that time. In 1889 or 1890 they passed over their rights once again, this time to the Sulphur Mining Company at Philadelphia so that now the Sulphur mines of Saba for ¾ parts was owned by that company and ¼ part  by John Godden. (One hundred years later I was part owner in a company on Curacao owned by the heirs of John Godden and had a correspondence with them but they said that their grandfather must have sold it).

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There were lots of money sharing hands when people were speculating on the potential sulphur supplies.

In June 1876 the work at the Sulphur Mine was stopped and not started up again. Notwithstanding that in 1889 and 1890 new research on the feasibility which initially appeared that new exploitation would be undertaken, this did not take place.

The local situation where the mines are located made the exploitation nearly impossible and the owners do not seem to have found any way whereby profitable exploitation was possible.

The fact that there was Sulphur on Saba was known from ancient times. M.D. Teenstra mentions around 1834 two mines on the top of the mountain, and a pit on the Eastern side of perhaps more than 3000 feet deep, where Sulphur was supposedly found. According to Teenstra ‘the trouble and costs which would be involved with the exploitation would not be worth it. This opinion of the agricultural expert is in fact confirmed by all future experiments.

In 1860 the lands where Sulphur was found (on the North coast not far from Hell’s Gate) via all sorts of intermediaries fell in the hands of North Americans, and the MacNish Sulphur mining company. One of the principal shareholders was John Godden known from the phosphate history of Curacao, began the exploitation (J.Hartog). Two mine workers from Sicily where there are also Sulphur mines, in 1875 opened the shafts. One of them, a married man, also managed to have a daughter by a great aunt of mine who lived at Behind-the-Ridge just above the mines.

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There used to be a cable from the Sulphur Mines to ‘Green Island’ pictured here. It was practically impossible for schooners to load here.

From the cliffs more than 100 meters above the sea, the Sulphur was transported by cable which joined the coast with the small key named ‘Green Island’, to vessels, for which there was no place where it was possible to anchor. There was also a lift going down the cliff to the shore. A local man named “John Pluggie’ fell with the lift down on the rocks below. He survived though severely injured and the fall affected his brain. The North Americans found out that their efforts and costs were not sufficiently rewarded and ceased the exploitation in 1876.

Repeatedly North Americans visited the island after that and even though their opinions were not unfavorable, transactions did not always go through based on the fact the landowners asked too much.10021139

The Sulphur Mines became more an object of speculation than one of exploitation. In 1900 the government started paying more attention to this underground treasure, but the result of another study was not encouraging.

From 1903 to 1905 efforts were made again (I believe it was another married Sicilian who at this time, took my great aunt out of becoming an old maid and she was shipped out by the Nuns to have her baby on Curacao and they remained there), to exploit the Sulphur deposits, but those were also discontinued. The mining engineer G. Duyfjes thought a further study in 1907 justified but because of the inaccessibility of the source nothing came out of it.

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That oven is still there and was used in the exploitation of th sulphur.

This speculation on the actual worth of the Sulphur Mine led to quite some controversy with the death of Mr. Cornwall Henwood whose parents were from Cornwall Great Britain but who had settled on St. Eustatius and had two plantations there.

The New York Times of January 9th, 1881 carries the following article.

SUICIDE IN BROOKLYN HOTEL

A YOUNG ENGLISH GENTLEMAN CUT HIS THROAT WITH A RAZOR.

‘ Mr. Cornwell Henwood, a young Englishman, who came here recently from the West Indies on business, was found in his room in the Pierrepoint House, corner of Hicks and Montague streets, Brooklyn, yesterday morning with his throat cut from ear to ear. Mr. Henwood was undressed, and the razor with which he had taken his life was near him in the bed. Capt. Campbell, of the First Precinct, made an examination of the room and was satisfied that Mr. Henwood had died by his own hand. The cause of the suicide, unless the unfortunate man became suddenly insane is a mystery.

Mr. Henwood owned a Sulphur mine and two plantations in the West Indies and was in prosperous circumstances. His purpose in coming to New York was to interest some capitalists in his Sulphur mine. Among his friends in this city was Mr. F.G. Challenor, of the firm Challenor & Co., commission merchants. Mr. Challenor, with a friend, visited the Pierrepoint House on Friday, and staid with Mr. Henwood in his room until nearly midnight. Mr. Henwood, who for some days had been suffering from an intermittent fever, appeared to be much better, and was in excellent spirits. He was full of plans for developing the Sulphur mine, and showed to his friends on a map the facilities for shipping the Sulphur to the coast after it had been mined. Mr. Henwood was 30 years of age and has a wife and a family living on a small island, about ten miles from the West Indian Island of Saba, where his principal property is situated.

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Dr. Ferwerda exploring the Sulphur Mine in 1956.

After the Coroner had been notified, Mr. Challenor took charge of his friend’s body and will attend to the funeral arrangements. Capt. Campbell took charge of the dead man’s effects and papers. From the fact that Mr. Henwood’s clothes were carefully arranged on a sofa in the room, it is not believed that when retiring to rest he intended to take his life. The supposition is that he awoke during the night, and, suddenly resolving to end his life, reached his hand out and taking a razor which was lying on the bureau, cut his throat. The remains were cold when found.

The New York Times.

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The mines are not to be underestimated , they extend quite a distance into the mountain.

Now who wants to believe that story is free to do so. Nowadays you see so much history being changed to suit ones purpose and there are people who believe all kinds of versions of history. I certainly find this a very odd story.

And the saga with the mines continued.  Thomas MacNish a Scottish merchant on St. Kitts on September 7th, 1885 made a deal with Richard Cauldwell in New York City to sell on his behalf his shares in the mine to a group from the United States. These were Joseph S. Ludlam and his wife Annabella E. Ludlam, Earl A. Thissell (widower), Thomas E. Barry and his wife Helen M. Barry, (assignee of William L. Johnson of the city of Boston) and Henry J. Tram and his wife Ora R. Tram. All residing in Massachussets.

In the book ‘Our West Indian Neighbors’ by Frederick A. Ober we read the following:’ When in Kingston, the traveler will – at least he ought to – visit the mercantile establishment of ‘MacNish Limited’ founded and presided over by Mr. Thomas MacNish, a stalwart Scotchman, who has lived in the West Indies nearly forty years, acquired competency by hard and honest labour in his business, maintained himself in health through many seasons of fever and hurricane and (incidentally be it mentioned) has raised a family of sixteen children of whom any man might be proud.’

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Dr. Ferwerda to the left with guests exploring the mine. 1956.

By Court Order of the Court of Appeals on St. Eustatius dated November 16th, 1886 and Bill of Sale dated November 9th 1886, this procedure took John William Godden and his 2/9’s ownership out of the picture. The MacNisch Company as it was called remained in existence and was registered in Maine. In 1904 the land was rented to Mr. Arthur H. Page for 98 years under certain conditions. On January 5th 1905 he turned over his rights to a company established on Barbados named the Saba Sulphur Company.

In March 1909 Saba Sulphur Company was dissolved and struck from the records. (Page in the meantime had also died in the United States). In my research I think I read somewhere that he had been struck down by a car in Manhattan and died there.

At the end of 1909 the MacNish Sulphur Mining Company was excused from the records in Maine.

In 1928 Governor W.F.M. Lampe in a letter recognizes the ownership of the property by MacNish Sulphur Mine Company as well as Governor Meiners in 1934.

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My brother Thomas Eric Johnson in the center.

For over twenty five years I did research on the Sulphur Mines and their ownership. I reached the conclusion that Mrs. Muriel Thissell Murphy daughter of Philip E. Thissell one of the sons of Earl A. Thissell was the only surviving heir and could claim ownership to the property. She gave me the right of first refusal to the property. In my correspondence with her I made it clear that I would purchase the land with the intention of eventually making a park covering most of that part of the island. I passed over my research to the Saba Conservation Foundation. They in turn got a grant from the World Wildlife Fund to have the property measured. I was excluded from further negotiations but asked to sign the bill of sale. I refused to do so when I found out that without me knowing a company had been set up in Texas for the land to be transferred to so that the lady could get a tax break. It was my impression that the entire land would be given to the people of Saba. I had asked my friend Elmer Linzey to co-sign with me. After assurance from the Notary that the land would be passed over to the Conservation Foundation within one year we both signed.

After I learned that a sizable portion of the land would be given back to Mrs. Thissell I regret that I went ahead and signed.

Anyway it is what it is and now research is being done about all the rest of the land from the Sulphur mine property to the Well’s Bay. My grandfather Daniel Johnson owns besides All-too-far Ridge a considerable piece of land there. Informally I represent the other heirs of my grandfather and it will not go the same way as the story of the Sulphur Mine Company. Whatever the land is appraised at for tax purposes will be asked for in the event the heirs do decide to sell the land.

The Mine was in the news some years ago as a tourist got lost in there and his body was only found by accident by other tourists over a year later. My father grew up above the mine as a boy and he used to know them in and out and we as young people went there with him, but it is no longer permitted and with good reason. I have enough material to write a book on all of this but what is here will suffice to give my readers some idea of the history of the Sulphur Mine on Saba.

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Albertine’s Girl

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Left to right. Haiitian President  Leslie Manigat from Feb.1988 – June 1988. His wife Mirlande Hippolite also ran in 2010 for President. I traveled with both of them to many countries. The last time after his death in 2003, I was with Mirlande in El Salvador in 2010. She was by far the smarter of the two. The second in line was the Chilean Head of the ODCA, then Prime Minister Maria Liberia-Peters, then Nelson Els and then your humble servant.

It was a tumultuous opening of the new parliamentary year 1986. A fragmented and weakened Netherlands Antilles was being launched on January 1st. Aruba after years of bickering and non-cooperation with Curacao had just achieved its own separate status conditioned with independence after ten years. Mayotte and Aruba are the only two places I am aware of which gave up independence, later on, to climb back up into the lap of a perceived European mother.
The National Party had obtained the most parliamentary seats of all the parties running for office on Curacao. On Curacao it is customary to declare a winner out of several parties running for office. The newspapers regularly declare a party with 4 or 5 seats out of a total of 14 seats as the “great winner”. This is confusing to the other islands. To be a great winner in our books you should have at least 8 or more seats. Other than that you are only the largest party. The National Party had obtained the most parliamentary seats of all the parties running for office on Curacao.
On Curacao it is customary to declare a winner out of several parties running for office. The newspapers regularly declare a party with 4 or 5 seats out of a total of 14 seats as the “great winner”. This is confusing to the other islands. To be a great winner in our books you should have at least 8 or more seats. Other than that you are only the largest party. On the night of November 25th, 1985 I went to the radio station to thank the people of Saba for having given me a personal vote of 57% of the votes cast. When I got to the station I was told that Leo Chance had been waiting on the telephone for almost an hour for me to arrive there. He wanted to talk to me urgently and said he would wait on the telephone until I arrived. He did not congratulate me if I remember correctly. He immediately asked me if I would bury the hatchet with Claude Wathey and form a government. I told him I would form a government with anyone who could bring parties from Curacao to the table who represented at least eight seats in parliament. Mr. Chance told me that he and Mr. Wathey had the eight seats on Curacao already. This was only two hours after the polls had closed on the five islands. Chance obviously had done his job. He had been in contact with all possible parties which could form a government, except the National Party obviously.

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This is part of the group who formed the new government while the PNP was resting on its laurels and unaware of what was going on.

Two days later on Curacao Chance proved to me that he could deliver the eight from Curacao at a meeting between parties in the Plaza Hotel. All of this took place without the press even being aware of what was going on. On December 5th, Maria who was then Prime Minister came to help us celebrate Saba Day accompanied by her beloved husband the late Niels Liberia. While the ceremonies were going on we had already negotiated a coalition and signed the agreement at Captains Quarters Hotel with Maria sitting two tables away. The next morning Maria invited me to have breakfast and informed me that someone from her party would be in contact with me in a few days about forming a coalition. I felt obliged to tell her the truth. In retrospect I can understand how upset she was. She was not to blame. I am certain that within her party someone should have been doing what Chance had done. The political culture on Curacao put the National Party to rest on its laurels after having been declared the great winner. As a student of warfare and a disciple of Machiavelli I realize that you are most vulnerable after a great victory. Our political relations were off to a rocky start. I knew all about Maria’s political history to that point. I knew her personally as well.

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Here in the Alameda palace in Santiago the Chile with the President Left to right Prime Minister Maria Liberia-Peters, President of Chile Eduardo Frei-Ruiz-Tagle (1994-1998), his father Eduardo Frei -Montalva was President from 1964 – 1970, then next in line your humble servant, and after that Nelson Els of Bonaire..On my way to this meeting at a restaurant at Miami airport I met a young lady from Chile who told me when you visit my country say hello to the President.Ha.Ha. When I came back and went to the restaurant she was in the kitchen but came out to see me. When I showed her this picture she nearly fainted and was full of apologies. I told her not to worry I was no big shot but it was not enough to convince her. As I turned off I could hear her colleagues asking her as to how she had met that big shot. Ces’t la Vie!!

However I had always been in island politics in the Windward Islands. I was only now starting to work with political parties at the National level. In the years between 1986 and 1988 Maria and her National Party was in opposition to our coalition and there was hell to pay with Maria as opposition leader. Holland is now talking about “Strong Women” as if they need encouragement. Maria taught us what it means to be a strong woman all the way back in the nineteen seventies. She came from generations of strong women who had to survive on this small rock while their husbands were roaming the seas of the world. Often, in parliament I would hear Leo Chance referring to Albertine’s girl and Plantz’ boy (Rufus MacWilliam). He was doing it sarcastically of course and to draw attention to Maria’s Windward Islands heritage. I could not blame him totally. Much of the Curacao electorate were unaware that Maria’s father was from St.Maarten (Louis Peters) and her mother Albertine Hassell was from Saba. A taxi driver on Curacao nearly threw me out of his taxi one night on the way from the airport because of Maria. He was totally amazed that I did not know that Maria was from Banda Abou. I later heard him telling the other taxi drivers in front of the hotel what a stupid man I was that I did not even know where Maria was from. Maria’s parents like many other Windward Islanders had met on Curacao and Aruba while working for the oil refineries. Because of the language issue the people of the Windward Islands formed close bonds of friendship and marriage on Aruba and Curacao. However Maria grew up on Curacao. Her political base and career are from that island. While we appreciate that her roots are from St.Maarten and Saba, we must recognize that she owes allegiance to where she was born, grew up, and was elected time and again. Senator Kenneth van Putten of St.Eustatius, my old friend and sparring partner, used to tease her in parliament about her Windward Islands background. Sometimes while searching for the proper word in Papiamentoe she would use an English expression. Kenneth would turn to me and say loud enough for Maria to hear; “That’s Albertine talking.” And Maria pretending to be angry would look in our direction and say;”Look allyou two. Don’t humbug up my head, you hear.”
It is remarkable how certain things from your youth remain with you throughout life. It is as the author Charlson L. Ong wrote of his Chinese upbringing, “The words of infancy, the vessel of one’s soul, kept in some ancient sanctuary for fear of being lost in a thousand journeys across strange lands.” After 1988 we worked in coalition with Maria. I must give her credit for defending her coalition as strong as she would defend her own National Party. She tried to keep the islands together in a period when the smaller islands were traumatized by the departure of Aruba. The smaller islands believed very much in the Netherlands Antilles, with Aruba. The Windward Islanders had helped to build Aruba. Through their elected representatives on the PPA party on Aruba and the Democrat Party on Curacao, Windward Islanders had enjoyed a relatively large measure of influence and authority disproportionate to the size of their populations on Aruba and Curacao. The Minister of Finance was usually from Aruba and looked favorably on requests for financial aid from the smaller islands. Aruba was the balance needed in the political relationships at the National government level. After 1986 the disintegration of the Netherlands Antilles started almost immediately. The Central Government officials charged with administering finances looked at the “Solidarity Fund” as a sort of separate government for the smaller islands and we got stuck with a contribution to that fund equivalent to that which the Central Government had spent on the small islands in 1982. Maria on a recent visit to the Windward Islands in a statement lamented the animosity between politicians on the various islands and the acrimonious way in which the country was being broken up into separate constitutional units. While I can understand her point, the last eight years as Commissioner of Saba I felt oppressed by the Central Government. So much so, that with the same enthusiasm which I had campaigned in 1994 to keep the islands together, I felt pressed to prepare Sabans to leave the Netherlands Antilles even if it meant asking for complete independence from The Netherlands. An option, which could still be considered if the December 15h, 2008 agreement is not reached. Saba honored Maria in 2005 with a plaque on Saba Day. We did this in the presence of another great Saban Father Simon Wilson. The ecumenical service was held in the Anglican church in Windwardside. I was sitting next to Maria when Father Simon walked in. As he was busy greeting the congregation, I asked her; “How do you think he would do in Curacao politics?” Without hesitation she replied;” Boy I ‘fraid’ he.” So there you have it. This justifies Maria’s recent statement that there are still good relations between the people of the islands, in contrast to the acrimonious relations between the politicians. In Holland recently at a lovely church in the ‘Spaansche Hof’, they were telling us of the Curacao priest ‘Pastoor Wilson’ who had filled up their church for the first time in ages. After the ceremony I informed them privately that a correction was in place as he was from Saba. They were amazed and asked me how a Saban priest could lead the Curacao people like a pied piper wherever he preached in The Netherlands. I felt obliged then to tell them about Albertine;s daughter Maria who for many years had managed to do the same thing in the political field. At that point they concluded that I must be some jokerwho wanted to claim everyone for Saba as they were certain that Maria was from Curacao. Much, if not most, of what I have today I got from Curacao. Whether it is discipline and values I got from Jongenstad Brakkeput on the shores of the lovely Spaansche Water. Whether it is the education I got from the Fraters of Mgr. Zwijsencollege and Radulphus College. Whether it is money I won with the Lottery and on a throw of the dice invested it in the Curacao mining company and did well, thank you. While outspoken on political issues I hold absolutely no animosity against the people of Curacao and can only think back with fond memories of my teenage years spent there. Once on St.Maarten in a heated debate with a gang of Wathey’s supporters at the Sea View Hotel bar, his friend and sometimes driver/bodyguard Mr. Nel Bergland told the hotheads who threatened me ”Quarrel with him all you want, but touch him and you got me to fight.” I will say the same of Maria. Despite the political differences we may have had in opposition and in coalition, we maintained a good personal relationship and I can still consider her as a personal friend. After the islands settle in to their new political status’ and the Netherlands Antilles will only be a memory, I am hopeful that The Kingdom of The Netherlands in their quest for strong women will start a “Senioren Convent” for the Dutch West Indian islands and that Albertine’s girl will be asked to lead such a “Senioren Convent.” After all she proved her salt as a woman, as Prime Minister, as loving wife and mother. The islands will still need the experience and wisdom of one who recognizes that the people of the islands do not have any differences among themselves. Maria, girl, May God bless you and I thank you on behalf of the people of Saba whom I have been privileged to represent until recently, for all you did to help us in times of need.

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Like a great race horse, Maria too has challenged impossible odds in her life and now she is facing yet another struggle. We pray that this battle too she will win.

Will Johnson

On Meeting Fidel

The Saba Islander

Image (1146)Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin berated the news media for having “power without responsibility – the prerogative of the harlot through the ages,” a charge that he borrowed from Kipling.

When it comes to the Cuban revolution the news media has followed the guidelines from the Washington Consensus and treated Cuba as a breakaway province of the USA.

Not as a sovereign nation which can choose their own leaders and their own social system. And so we in the third world have only been bombarded with one image of Cuba.

In an interview with Jorge Luis Garcia Carneiro, Chief of Defense Staff of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Rosa Elizalde asked him the following question: “General, many Venezuelan military leaders studied in the United States and had a very prejudiced attitude towards Cuba. Is that still the case, or has it changed?”, to which he responded:

“Governments prior to Chavez’s fostered…

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LETTER FROM HAVANA

Welcome to Cuba, President Barack Obama!

The Saba Islander

By: Will Johnson
Printed on the Daily Herald’s Weekender (July 6th, 1997)

Columbus, the first European to set foot on Cuban soil said that he found so much “marvelous beauty that it surpasses all others in charms and graces as the day doth the night in luster.” He went on to say that “I have been overwhelmed by the sight of so much beauty that I have not known how to relate it.”

Che Guevara: Es preferible morir de pie, antes que vivir arrodillado. Che Guevara: Es preferible morir de pie, antes que vivir arrodillado.” It is preferable to die on one’s feet, than to live on one’s knees

Over the centuries which have passed since Columbus first visited the island, the inhumanity of man against man has always found fertile soil on Cuba. The revolution of 1959 tried to put an end to centuries of exploitation of the Cuban people.

Cubans refer to their country as the “first free territory…

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One of a kind;Bobby Every

One of a kind; Bobby Every

By; Will Johnson

Alvin (Bobby) Every carrying home lunch.

Bobby Every coming back from the hunt and God knows what else.

Man does not live by bread alone, but by the lyrics of poets, the wisdom of sages, the holiness of saints, the biographies of great souls.

I was in Florida, experiencing the fury of the mighty tornadoes in Kissimmee, when Bobby died. I had accompanied the group though who had brought him out from “Drunkards Haven” the afternoon I was leaving and the day before he died.

Consequently I did not attend his funeral. There was no need for me to be there. I had buried him once before in a private ceremony and I have the photographs to prove it. He said to me one day: “When you get a chance come over to the house and bring your camera. I want to show you my coffin.” The grave lined with whiskey bottles I had seen many times before. He had built the grave himself and also the coffin.

When I arrived at the “Drunkards Haven”, sometimes renamed to “Paradise Point” when Bobby was on the wagon, he and his dog “Sweet Pea” were there waiting on me. “Now you don’t go pee in the grave yet,” Bobby said, “as I will also want you to take my picture in the grave after we have finished inside.” After viewing the simple pine coffin, Bobby laid himself down in it and played dead. He also asked to take a photo taken of him sitting up in the coffin. “No need to fart or belch for this one, “Bobby said, “as that cheap camera of yours can’t record a fart or a belch.”

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Bobby built his own coffin and here he is practicing it out for me to take his ‘likeness’ as the old timers used to call a photograph.

“You know my great niece from California was here a few weeks ago, and I told her to bring her camera that makes movies. After setting up the movie camera, and I laid down in the coffin, she, all dressed in black, hanged on to the coffin and pretended to be crying. I asked her if it was O.K. to fart and belch in the coffin, and she said, “Go ahead. Me boy, that was some fun!”

Bobby was a man who looked at death as just another phase of life. He even seemed to look forward to it.  When he died at 82 and his friends laid him to rest in his whiskey lined grave at the Drunkard’s Haven, they all went to Scout’s Place for a cocktail party. These arrangements he had made before he died, including a tape of hymns that he wanted them to sing at the grave. He said he wanted an Irish funeral and he got his wish.

Bobby was Saba’s best known taxi driver. He grew up on Saba at a time when people here were dirt poor. I remember him telling me once that Harry Johnson and he as boys had found an old rusty can with three cents in it. Since Harry was an orphan, Bobby told him: “You are worse off than me, you take two cents, and I will take one.” That way of sharing he continued through all his life with friends and family. Like most people at the time he went to Aruba and worked there for some years and he married Ivy Skerritt, also from Saba, while he lived on Aruba. All of his children were born there. In the nineteen fifties he returned to Saba with his family and he brought a Jeep along. He knew something about mechanic work as well as other trades which he had picked up on Aruba, and he kept himself busy with that as well as with farming and fishing. All his life he loved to farm and at the time of his death he left a crop of “quesunchies” (pigeon peas) and other crops and so his family could reap even after he had passed on.

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Bobby lined his grave with used whiskey bottles and gave exact instructions as to how the funeral services should be contacted.

When tourists started coming to Saba, Bobby found his true calling in life. A born comedian, he was a “natural” as a taxi-driver and a tourist guide. A number of articles have been written about him in newspapers and magazines in the United States and Europe. He knew how to treat people, and they appreciated it. I personally have witnessed in the past, someone paying him $15.—for an all day island tour and Bobby thanking him profusely. A moment later the visitor returned and said: “That was for the tour.” He handed Bobby a $100.—bill and said: “And this is for the jokes and the hospitality.” Bobby’s tour would include a visit to his home where he would give his guests a bouquet of flowers and a taste of Saba Spice liqueur. “Good only to throw on your doorstep to keep the witches away,” Bobby would tell them. He usually would only get one tour and stay with his people for the rest of the day. The jokes he would tell were sometimes so off-color as not to be repeated. Guests would send him new jokes by mail and a number of joke books so that he would be up to date. He told me once that he was telling jokes about priests, and that one of his guests was very silent, so he switched to another subject. The man in the back told him: “Bobby, don’t stop the jokes. I want to know what the rest of the world thinks about us priests. I am the Bishop of Chicago.”

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Here is Bobby, Saba’s most famous taxi driver.

People would forever be sending him T-shirts and among his large collection, the one he wore most and which I liked best, read: Sex Instructor. First Lesson Free.”

Bobby owned a large property in The Level. When there was no road there he built a small house which he enlarged over the years. There he used to farm and entertain friends. He named his farm “Drunkards Haven” even though he was on the wagon more often than he was on the booze. I used to spend weekends there sometimes when I would come over from St. Maarten. One morning I thought I heard a phone ringing and out of an old pile of firewood, Bobby picked up an antique phone and listened attentively. “Miss Jones, you mean you heard the noise all the way on St. John’s? I apologize, I had Will Johnson and Alan Busby visiting for the weekend and they had a party. I never thought that you would have heard it all the way over there.” After apologizing once again to Miss Jones he put the old phone back in the woodpile. I was between sleep and wake. Two minutes later, the phone rings again, and Bobby goes through the same exercise. This time it was the Priest phoning to complain. I thought to myself, “We are in trouble.” Of course there was no phone connection to the Drunkards Haven. Bobby had somehow managed to set two alarm clocks to go off about ten minute’s apart. Being half asleep I really thought it was a phone ringing.

At the farm Bobby’s donkey and faithful assistant was named Jezebel. When I lived on St. Maarten and first started publishing the “Saba Herald”, Bobby, Jezebel and Sweet Pea was a source of news, enough to cover at least one page in the newspaper. Long before Sesame Street, I would use Bobby Every as a source to teach my children. For example, in teaching them the alphabet, at each stage I would use him. Bobby in the letter P would be the Pirate, raiding People’s Pots, eating their Pigeon Peas and so on.

As he advanced in years the little boy in Bobby came out more and more. People just his age or a little older, Bobby talked of as if they were old people. If he visited one of his “old” friends and they had left and alarm clock where Bobby could get his hands on it undetected, he would set the alarm to go off at 2 or 3 AM. He would call on them the next day to find out how they had slept.

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Bobby here all dressed up at a reception

Bobby never grew old. He just passed from one phase of life into another. To me it seemed comical that Bobby had a long beard, was stooped, and walked with a stick. It seemed to me that he was just up to one of his jokes.

Drunkards Haven became to Bobby the mythic Land of the Lotus Eaters, where Odysseus’ men debarked on their way back to Ithaca and ate the magical fruit that made them forget they had a home to return to. Bobby chose to live at the Haven, perhaps to meditate, to work, to rest and to prepare for the long journey sure to come. Even when he was being brought out from Drunkards Haven on a stretcher after having suffered a heart attack, I could not help thinking that perhaps he was up to another of his jokes. He even gave me a mischievous smile as they put him in the ambulance. But this time he was entering the final phase of that long journey he had been so diligently preparing himself for.

A week after his sister Mabel died, he had stopped me on the road in Windward Side to announce: “You know,” he said;” Mabel reached. She called last night. It took her a whole week to get there. But “Bungie” and they were happy to see her. They even cooked up a pot of Saba food, pig’s tails and all of that.” That was his view of life beyond those pearly gates.

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Here Bobby is holding the skull of a Ferris a small breed of people who inhabited Saba before the European settlers came to the island. He claims he found it in a cave called the Ferris’ cave. He is among the Ferris’ now and for all you know he might even be on Facebook.

I have not heard from Bobby as yet. He did not call. He had asked me though if I was off island when he died that when I got a chance I could pass by and pee on the grave. I could not be as irreverent as that. I did promise though that I would throw a glass of rum on the grave and tell him the latest joke.

What I do know though is that Saba lost a great soul in the passing of Bobby Every. Man does not live by bread alone, but by beauty and harmony, truth and goodness, work and recreation, affection and friendship, aspiration and worship. Not by bread alone, but by comradeship and high adventure, seeking and finding and being loved.

Rachel Carson once wrote: “If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children I should ask that her gift to each child be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life, an unfailing antidote against the boredom and disenchantment of later years, the sterile preoccupation with things that are artificial, the alienation from the sources of our strength.”

Bobby used to regale me with stories of the fairies who had formerly lived in the “Faeroese’s Cave” below Booby Hill. Carl Zagers also told me that his grandmother used to tell him stories of a small race of Indians who lived above Palmetto Point and who were called “Faeroese’s”.  Perhaps it was one of those fairies who presided over the christening of Bobby Every and gave him the gift of a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life, and served him as an unfailing antidote against the boredom and disenchantment of later years. And I am sure that beyond those pearly gates he is still telling his off color jokes and pulling tricks on the “old people”. And who knows. If Taxi services are required up there he is I am sure the best taxi driver up there that one can find. Fare thee well Bobby my friend. Fare thee well.

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MY DEAR KEES

‘My dear Kees’

Introduced by: Will JohnsonPhotoScan My Dear Kees

A letter in Dutch to me from Arnhem dated March 9th, 1995 reads as follows:

My dear Mr. Johnson,

My wife and I both retain good memories of our meeting a week ago. In the meantime we have in our possession a few copies of “For the Love”, and I have read it with growing interest and agreement.

As we promised you hereby enclosed are a few texts which concern the married couple Hudig-van Romondt: letters from Kees to his sister in Amsterdam, the piece “To my children” which Kees wrote at the age of 80, the memories of St. Maarten, which Bessie Soeters-Hudig – daughter of Kees Hudig and Annie Hudig-van Romondt and mother of my wife – put on paper in 1945, and letters from two people who had worked under Kees and at his departure in 1893 asked for letters of reference.

Much evil has been done to Sint Maarten, we can only hope that it will not get worse. A lot will depend on the counterforces, and we wish those who want to do this all the energy and strength which will be necessary.

And what we further hope is that your following visit (your 23rd) to the Netherlands will take place within a short time and that we will have the opportunity to meet with you (and yours).

With our best wishes to you and friendly greetings

Barthold Hengeveld

The booklet “My dear Kees” contains letters from St. Martin written in 1892 by Ann Sophia van Romondt to her husband Cornelis J. Hudig during his journey to Rotterdam.

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This is what the Great Salt Pond would have looked like when it was being exploited by Mr. Kees Hudig. Those big white spots in the town are the salt heaps.

Who was Kees Hudig?

Between Front Street and Backstreet in Philipsburg, Saint Maarten, there are short connecting roads. At one time local authorities named these small streets after men who, in 19th century public life of the island, played an interesting role. One of the streets bore the name C.J. Hudig.

Cornelis Johannes (Kees) Hudig, 1846 -1930, was born in Rotterdam. He was the youngest of seven children, visited the gymnasium in Rotterdam and went to Delft to study engineering. Before he had finished his studies he was invited by the ‘Exploitation Company of Salt lakes of St. Martin’ in The Hague to go to St. Martin to assist Monsieur Berne, who at that time was the director. Soon after he arrived, in 1869, Berne retired and Hudig was appointed director.

During 24 years he served the Company with all his energy and engineering skills. He improved the quality of the salt and after years of effort even attained a modest profit for the Company.

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The harvested  salt being stacked up in large heaps in the town and getting ready for export.

But the salt works did not yield the results expected by the Company. Johan Hartog, in his book ‘De Bovenwindse Eilanden’, published in 1964 by De Wit, Aruba, gives some reasons:

-the abundance of rain (as compared with the Leeward Islands);

-the frequency of typhoons in this region;

– the difficulty of getting schooners loaded: the ships had to be anchored in the Great Bay for days, during which the salt was picked from the heaps, headed to barges lying ashore and thus brought to the schooner;

-the increasing competition and the import restrictions in the USA.

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This is an old view of Philipsburg or (Great Bay). You can see schooners in the Bay coming for salt. The large white house on the right by the seashore was the town house of Governor D.C. van Romondt.

In the weekly journal ‘De Ingenieur” 1905 nr 25 p 402 -412 Hudig, who was in the editorial staff of the journal since 1901, described ‘De Zout-industrie op het eiland St. Martin’ and, from personal experience, gave additional reasons:

  • The unfavorable situation of the Great Pond, at the base of the Cul-de-Sac and other hills, from which rainwater poured into the pond;
  • The composition of the bottom of the pan: silt, mud from the surrounding hills, with the effect that salt could not be shoveled with spades but had to be lifted by hand and washed in the brine before it was loaded in rafts, a labour-demanding job. After the abolition of slavery labour had become expensive.

From St. Martin Hudig corresponded with his family in Rotterdam. His youngest sister, Maartje Hudig (1845-1941), had married an Amsterdam, Jean Francois van der Waarden. Four of Kees’ letters to Maartje have been saved.

In a letter of May 9, 1871 he writes: you inquire after my acquaintances; almost all are van Romondts, like Diederik, his wife, his daughter Susan and his sister Albertine.’

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Roman Catholic priest Father Nieuwenhuis in 1887 in his last will states that Hudig was living in this house to which later the church was added and then it became the Convent.

This Diederik was Diederik Charles, then 36 years of age, resident of the van Romondt’s country house “Mary’s Fancy’ in Cul de Sac.

Between the many Van Romondts Kees further mentions, there appears: ‘Robert van Romondt, his mother and his sister Ann Sophia’. Ann Sophia was then 21 years old.

In 1872 he writes; ‘This day we are going to sail in the pan with a company of ladies and gentlemen, I hope this time no misses will fall into the pan.’

And in the same letter:’ did you ever imagine your little brother to be a jurist? Neither did I but other folks took a different view and appointed me member of the ‘Court of Justice’!’

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Dr. George Illidge van Romondt (1809-1854) graduated in 1834 from the Medical School at the University of Leiden. He was born on St. Maarten and died there. One of his children was Ann Sophia ‘Annie’ van Romondt who in 1877 married Kees Hudig. 

 

Kees Hudig married Ann Sophia van Romondt January 18th, 1877.

ANNIE VAN ROMONDT

Ann Sophia van Romondt (1849-1926) was born in St. Martin. She was one of the third generation of Van Romondts on the island: her grandfather Diederik Johannes (1781-1849) came to the West in 1801. In 1804 he married Ann Hassell (1784-1845), daughter of a planter. They had eight children, five of them produced their forty-eight grandchildren. In 1820 Diederik Johannes was appointed ‘gezaghebber’ (governor) of St. Martin.

Diederik’s second son Diederik Christiaan (1807-1865) married Susann Pietersen from St. Barth’s. His younger brother George Illidge (1809 -1854) married Angelina Petersen, sister of Susann. Thus the (twelve) children of Diederik Christiaan and the four of George Illidge were first cousins in the double sense.

Diederik Christiaan’s first son was Diederik Charles (1835 – 1904), owner of ‘Mary’s Fancy’; he married Ann Mary du Cloux (1834-1893); he married Ann Mary du Cloux (1834-1893); their fourth child was Diederik Christiaan (1871-1948), who in his later years had some fame as ‘Mr.D.C.’

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George Illidge died at the age of 44. His wife, ‘Miss Gina’, was left with four children. In a few years the oldest son, Charles (1841-1913) left Saint Maarten for Martinique, where he raised a family. The youngest son died at the age of sixteen. Only Robert (1843-1878) and Ann Sophia remained.

There was, however a big ‘extended family’: most of the gentleman’ in Saint Maarten were relatives, and social intercourse was flourishing.

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A view of the town as it would have looked when Hudig was there exploting the Great Salt Pond  to which the town borders on the right.

THE HUDIG FAMILIES

Apart from visits to the neighboring islands Ann Sophia before her marriage had never been abroad. The honeymoon In January 1877 brought her to a wintery Rotterdam and a big family-in-law.

Head of the family in Rotterdam was Kees’ oldest brother, Jan (1838-1924), ship broker and ship owner, member of the city council, patron of the arts, widower with five daughters and one son. One of his sisters, Marie, took care of the children.

Ann Sophia (Annie), though cherishing a keen interest in all her husband’s family, suffered from the cold and bustle of the big city and was happy to be back in Saint Martin.

In the ensuing eleven years their seven children were born: Lina (1878), Nellie (1879) Bessie (1881), Jan (1882), Annie (1884), Frans (1886) and Gaston (1888).

The Hudig family lived in upper Front Street until their departure for Holland: all these years the nanny Ellen Nadoll was with the children.

1892 was a crucial year: the salt ponds did not yield enough. The Exploitation Company sent Adriaan (Ad) ter lag, twenty years of age, to assist Kees Hudig. Moreover: the daughters were in need of further education and epileptic Jan had to be taken care of. It was decided that Kees would make the long journey to Holland.

Six times during his absence Anne had the opportunity to send letters. The older children in turn added their messages. Kees preserved these letters.

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Bringing in the harvested salt on these flat scows after which it will be heaped up on land and would be ready for export.

PARTING FROM SINT MAARTEN

Kees Hudig arrived back in Saint Maarten mid July 1892. Clearly he had prepared the departure of the whole family. One day, early in 1893 the’ Caribee ‘ anchored near Point Blanche, took the family on board and brought them to the States, from where after some time they embarked for Rotterdam.

For six weeks the family was accommodated at Kees’ sisters’ and brothers’ in Rotterdam; after that they lived in The Hague.

After several other jobs Kees in 1901 was appointed deputy-editor of the weekly journal ‘De ingenieur’. At this post he remained until 1926: at the age of 80 he took leave.

For many years Annie and Kees lived with three of their children. Ann Sophia never really got used to Holland, she missed Sin Maarten. She died at the age of 76, early in 1926.

Engelina (Lina), 1878-1931, lived with her parents until their death.

Cornelia Johanna (Nellie), 1879-1960, studied history of art and eventually was appointed conservator of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam; in the family ‘aunt Nellie’ was renowned as a narrator, she was great in oral history.

Elisabeth (Bessie), 1881- 1955, attended the art academy in The Hague; in Indonesia she married D.H. Soeters in 1907 and there her three children were born.

Jan, 1882-1934, stayed with his parents until he was admitted to the Institution of epileptics in December 1927.

Ann Sophia (Annie), 1884-1967, married S.H. Stoffel, factory manager, and lived with him in Delft where her four children were born.

Frans, 1886-1928 studied for the office of notary, stayed with his parents. He acquired a renal disease, stayed with his sister Bessie in Woerden from 1927 and died young.

Gaston, 1888-1965 was a deputy manager in Indonesia. He married twice and had a daughter and two sons.

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A view of the Vineyard, one of the many fine homes which were owned by the Van Romondt family. They owned most of St. Martin in their day.

While typing this in the booklet I found a handwritten note dated March 2, 1995 which reads:

Senator William S. Johnson

“To the historian and lover of Saint Maarten my wife and I present the document “My dear Kees’, containing the letter, written in 1892, by lovable Ann Sophia Hudig –van Romondt to her husband Cornelis Johannes Hudig, longtime manager of the Salt lakes of St. Martin.

Yours Sincerely

Berthold Hengeveld, medecin.

The letters are very interesting as it gives an interesting look on life in St. Martin in 1892 and also one of the daughters wrote an interesting story of life growing up back in St. Martin at the time. I will ask the family for permission before proceeding with those letters. I have had no contact with them in years and for all I know they may have published the information they shared with me in book form.

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My book published by MacMillan in which I put the history of the Van Romondt family, after which many members of the family from various parts of the world contacted me and we became friends.

What I will do for this article though is to add two interesting letters written in the same handwriting and both dated St. Martin, March 15th, 1893 and addressed to Mr. C.J. Hudig Esq.

Respected Sir,

I have heard with much regret and heart felt sorrow that you intends leaving us for your native country. Yet I cherished the hope that it would not be in a time like this when we so much needs you. But I have now seen that it is the fact, and so shortly permit me then, Sir, to turn you thanks for the many benefits which I have derived daily from work given me by your generous hands. Sir, I feels grateful & thankful for the many dollars which I have made in your service. I have always took pleasure in serving you and I feel morally convinced that I will never serve under a better. My grandest wishes is that when on your voyage home, yourself and family may have one of the pleasantest shortest and best of passages, and that in your own land or whosesoever you may travel; may God’s blessings, health, wealth and long life attend you and your family. Such Sir is the heart felt wishes of your obedient R (obert) A Cannegieter

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This is what the Front street in Philipsburg would have looked like in the time of Kees Hudig and his family who lived on the  street.

Now Sir I have served you long and I believe honestly and I know not what change may take place, or where I may travel and I feel a recommendation from you would worth me much. It is therefore Sir that I ask you please to confer that last favor on yours Adrianus Cannegieter. The other letter in the same tone but somewhat different wording is from James Henry Labega.

In 1994 Maarten J. Stoffel found the letters from his grandmother Annie van Romondt to her husband Kees Hudig, written in 1892, between old papers. He handed them to his cousin Joy Hengeveld-Soeters, their granddaughter, and her husband. The latter is responsible for copying, introducing and annotating the letters.

An interesting final note is that Mr. Adriaan (Ad) ter Laag, who at the age of twenty, was sent in 1892 by the company to assist Kees Hudig also found himself a wife among the Van Romondt family.

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A JOURNEY TO THE WINDWARD ISLANDS

A JOURNEY TO THE WINDWARD ISLANDS IN 1916.

By; Will JohnsonPhotoScan 653

The ‘Amigoe’ newspaper on Curacao was started in 1884 and was owned by the Roman Catholic Church for over one hundred years.

On Tuesday December 28th, 1915 Father  R.J.C.Wahlen, ‘Amgoe’ Editor and as Secretary accompanying Bishop Msgr. M.G. Vulysteke and Frater Radulphus (Inspector of Education) left Curacao on the Saban schooner the ‘Estelle’. There were 18 passengers on board, listed as first class, and the Captain was Donald Vanterpool of Saba nephew of the owner Capt. Thomas Charles Vanterpool.

There were also six Nuns on board. The Estelle went first to Bonaire after which left on December 29th and headed North in the direction of Puerto Rico. The journey which ended in St. Martin took all of 12 days. They returned to Curacao and arrived there on February 18th, 1916. Father Wahlen describes the trip in a column entitled ‘De Bovenwindsche Stemmen’ or (Windward Voices).

On Thursday afternoon, December 30th the weather turned foul and Father Wahlen describes his admiration for the Saban seamen as follows:

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In former times Sabans  started out at an early age. Pictured here sitting on the rail my friend Captain Laurie Hassell who at age 19 was already Captain of that lovely schooner the ‘Mona Marie’. The man I was named after Captain Will Simmons was already a captain of a large four master schooner the ‘Andrew Adams” at the age of 19 and traveled the world.

‘I can understand that a coachman talks to his horses; those animals know his voice and feels perhaps what he wants.

But the Saban speaks with the sea and with the wind. He bars the waves from his ship, calming them with whispering sounds, and calls the wind in his sails with soft whispers. Sea and wind live for him, he knows them through and through, and knows what he can expect from them. His sharp eyesight notices danger even if that lies buried deeply under the friendly ripple of the water or in the quiet rest of the calmness. One can never trust the wind or the sea that is his life’s principle. Above on the deck we had enjoyed the majesty of the boisterous waves and had seen the Saban, Lord and King, of creation with a single wave of the hand dominate the roughest seas.

He goes on to describe the trip and passing Puerto Rico and a stop at St. Thomas. I am busy translating the entire article but for this one I will start off from when the ‘Estelle’ left St. Thomas.

Schooner Estelle belonging to Capt. Thomas Charles Vanterpool.

For over fifty years Saban owned schooners did all the trade between the Windward Islands and Curacao carrying passengers, freight and the mail on government contract. This is the ‘Estelle’ anchored here at Fort Bay, Saba.

‘Friday morning, January 7th, the sails were raised and we departed St. Thomas. When sailing out of the harbor we passed close to the quarantine station, at the end of the bay, situated on top of a small hill. It looked lovely and friendly, a pretty summer house with a cool verandah and a nice little garden around it.

St. Thomas is known also here as an island for tourists on a short visit.

The ‘Estelle’ moved forward lovely and close to shore. Then between the crevices and gullies between the hills one could see a single road leading to a country house or plantation. We saw a small field with regal plants, but for the greater part the hills were covered with trees, but not farmed. From my observation I estimated that only ten percent of the land was used for agriculture.

That same impression of sailing past dead and uncultivated regions remains with us as we sailed past St. John and the numerous Virgin Islands. To avoid the reefs during the night the Captain took a more Easterly course to ‘Sombrero’ where there is a safe passage. From Sombrero we would tack to St. Martin or St. Eustatius depending on which wind would be the most favorable.

What a happy surprise on Saturday January 8th. In the early morning hours the Saban young man at the wheel had already discovered his cone shaped mountain. In a jiffy we were on deck and we saw only a black cloud.

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One hundred years later if FatherWahlen came to Saba by boat his impressions from 1916 would still be the same. From far it looks like a midget, close up a giant.

Yes, for sure that was Saba, we were assured! Exactly that black cloud was the proof. No other island around here could form such a high and dark background on the horizon. That had to be Saba!

Saba the rock!

At last then, I would be able to behold that mountain, described by all who visited it as renowned for its struggles. Saba, a fruitful land for travel stories, where the fairy tale world is resurrected not in midgets, but in giants and strong robust people.

The dull grey curtain remained closed for a long time and hid the highly anticipated scene.

The sun came up; the golden glow coloured the edges of the clouds, the light came through, tearing its shroud. Saba the rock, beamed in morning luxury before our inquisitive glances.

What a baffling disillusionment! What a battle between imagination and reality!

Is that really Saba?

But that mountain is not that high, and do you think that is so steep? Wait until you have to climb it. I looked glum. So very different I had imagined this rock cone rising out of the sea.

I retreated from my mood and only then noticed the great joy of the Sabans who were in their element, because that mountain was theirs.

My bitter arrows I shot off at their sparkling eyes; that megalomania was lost on me. I had imagined Saba to be much larger. Deceit! Hallucination! It was absolutely nothing special I had seen many higher mountains in my lifetime.

The Saban at the wheel could not accept this. Proudly he rose up to defend his father mountain. The priest should have patience for about six hours or so until we in our nutshell would be lying under the mountain; only then would the majesty of its height become apparent. At the moment the rock is sunk too much behind the horizon; its steep incline cannot even be seen at the moment. The young man was right of course! Slowly but surely the giant awakened and rose higher and higher out of the water. The rock became wider and extended out on the front forming a figure like a sleeping sphynx, and resting on a basalt rock.

Saba became beautiful. Life appeared on it and it became picturesque. The rock began to turn green and opened its creases and grooves, where when it rained hard the water streamed through down to the sea. The top of the crater stuck out above the gossamer misty cloud, in light blue veils, being blown in the distance. How did the peaks of rocks around the mountain prick up at various heights between the luxuriant green. Ha! There the houses are becoming visible, the houses of Saba, so small and so clean. How beautiful was the roof tile red on such an enchanting rock in the sea. The white walls appear so clearly and seem to give you the dimensions clearly. Lovely, small, friendly houses! And how nicely Hell’s Gate was situated. We counted more than thirty doll-houses on the upper edge of the softly glowing slope, the only place on Saba free of any boulders and which descends uninterrupted as a magnificent green meadow.

We could not see anything of The Bottom, and only a small section of the Quarter. We had passed Saba and went in the direction of St. Eustatius. We would first land there and remain for a few hours and in the evening depart for St. Martin. The end of our long journey was at hand. We felt a great relief while we sailed between the three Windward Islands.

Saint Eustatius Island was once an active volcano.

Saint Eustatius Island was once an active volcano and the ‘Golden Rock’ in commerce. Here she lies unspoiled and unwanted by all save those who lived there when this photo was taken.

St. Eustatius was in line with Saba somewhat to the West and St. Martin was once again askew opposite Saba, but was much farther than St. Eustatius. This last island gave us a reverse perception. We did not have great expectations, but when we passed the height of Tumble-Down-Dick we nearly reached a stage of rapture over Statia’s enchanting appearance. The crater there is still wholly intact and one is amazed at its colossal dimensions. We formerly though of a volcano as a funnel with a narrow opening turned to the top. But it is quite the reverse. Fire spouting mountains don’t spit, but vomit waves of glowing lava, mud and rocks; the mouth of the crater remains through all of this broad and wide open. The edges of the rims of the mouth of the Statia crater are beautifully covered with foliage on the interior as well as on the exterior. The oval opening has a higher rim, so that you can see the mouth completely open before you. From the mouth of the crater all the way to Oranjestad the mountain slopes gradually descends and forms a delightful fruitful terrain fertilized with lava. The elevation of Tumble-Down-Dick is as the congelation of a stream of lava. The entire island is like a saddle seat between these two heights; the town is situated on the lower edge along the sea.  Divided into different squares of different tints gives St. Eustatius immediately the impression of being a cultivated piece of land, a well cultivated island, with staple crops for its inhabitants. What a difference with our barren Leeward Islands!

The white house of Mr. Wilde reminds you of the large business on this island. Of the town self-there was very little to be seen. The fort, a ruin of a Synagogue and some houses on the one side, and opposite that the Roman Catholic Church, the school and the small house of the nuns, with a ruin of a large house next to it, that was all.

But what did we see there? One of the wonders of the world, famous in our colony as no other, the pier of St. Eustatius. To its honour we must mention that this time it was properly with its feet in the water and we had the good fortune to land there in a proper manner. But we used all our power of persuasion with oarsman Mr. Richardson, who would have preferred throwing us on shore with his derelict leaky boat. But that we did not experience. We wanted to land on the pier, and we did that. On St. Eustatius it is Orange on top and below the ‘City of Ruins.’

A narrow street of more than a kilometer walk stretches out along the sea. On the one side of the street the ruins are partly in the water, on the other side nearly perpendicular against the cliff. The gray ash colour of the tuff, in thin layers heaped on top of other forms, the perfect background for this dead city. The luxuriant nature of Statia’s rock close off the more protruding pen valley the basin of the former village, on both sides, with lovely cool trees; further on tall manchineel trees hide the cliff from view and allow you to walk in a beautiful avenue full of cool shadows; the old Bay Path. That is on your left hand when you are standing on the pier, which forms the central point of the beach between the ruins on the seaside and the cultivated openings, filled with sugar cane, alongside the mountain.

The first sight of St. Eustatius is lovely, and highly interesting because of the centuries old history, hidden between the whimsically lumps of rocks and detached walls. Trees are being felled with the intention of tearing down the ruins and creating a coconut plantation there. For some this seems like a great idea. Pull out of the ground all that is possible, but spare the ruins. There are walls high and long, which make it easy, in your imagination to rebuild the giant warehouses which it was in former times. We would find it regrettable, if such historical monuments were pulled down. The meaning of St. Eustatius would be lost by that. At the present time no money can be spent to save with respect those old fragments from the former glory period, but that at least care will be taken not to destroy them unnecessarily. What would require recommending? Once again repairing those uninhabited dwellings on the beach. The rock walls are still standing in good condition, but the wooden balcony lost its floors and the roof is full of holes. That gives a very wrong impression of neglect. Luckily the Government of St. Eustatius has repaired some of those houses and even put them in use as depositories for cotton and machinery. Because of this slowly St. Eustatius has lost the somber appearance of lost glory

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The owner of the “Estelle” and many other lovely schooners Captain Thomas Charles Vanterpool here with his niece Estelle Simmons-Vanterpool  after whom the schooner was named and whose brother Donald was the Captain on this trip. The young boy in the background was Estelle’s son Eric who later became a famous scientist and worked on The Manhattan Project.

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The trip to the Upper Town was not easy. It was four o’clock in the afternoon and rather hot. The new Bay Path is passable but if it was a few degrees steeper one would fall off it. When one walks in a zig zag fashion one can climb it, but with very much effort. How high is the cliff? I do not know but it must be around 80 meters. There we stood suddenly in front of the new church built by Father Delgeur and now served by Father Hagemans. The church is nicely situated there and is a real ornament for the town. Jan Paul has honour for his foundations. His thirteen year tenure on the ‘Golden Rock’ was immortalized through this. The solid building will survive for a long time.

We went through the garden to the presbytery. That garden is real, no places with cisterns and pots, but a lovely plot of land with a grass field, shrubs, bushes, trees, flowerbeds and rose beds. Everything in the cold ground, with a view of the sea is enchanting.

When you look below, you get somewhat frightened, that a path of hardly one meter wide remains between the convent and the edge of the abyss. The steep chasm opens up so close to your feet as if under under your eyes, you start to get dizzy. Exceptionally, exceptionally lovely is the sea-scape with the rock of Saba in the background. Coming from the Leeward Islands you don’t find anything more impressive as the great difference in vegetation there and on St. Eustatius. The presbytery has a large field of grass before the door and a lovely avenue of coconut trees.

When one looks into the gradation the palms are waving at you from everywhere. Around every house it is as green as if Oranjestad was one large garden with many pavilions for the residents. Behind the house there is again a nice piece of land and cornfield and as far as one can see against the mountain, sugar cane or sweet potatoes planted. Now that the land is considerably cultivated there should be no poverty on St.Eustatius. The people have abundant food to eat, something which cannot always be said of other islands in the colony.

In the evening at 8  pm we stumbled down the Bay Path behind a boy armed with a lantern. On the beach the men were ready to push the boat into the sea. With one voice they declared that it would be too dangerous to lay against the pier with the boat. The sea was too high and the boat would be destroyed. There was little to be brought in against this argument, so that we climbed in the boat on the beach and allowed ourselves to be carried out in an outgoing wave.

The ‘Estelle’ already had her sails up and pulled up anchor as soon as we were on board. With courage we started our last night on board.

To be continued:

Translation by Will Johnson

This article is only part of a long translation I am working on. It will be interesting to read the continuation especially his views on St. Martin as it was in 1916.

Tribute to Velma Bontenbal-Johnson

EULOGY FOR VELMA JULIANA BONTENBAL BORN JOHNSON

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Henk Bontenbal and Velma Johnson on their wedding day.

 

We are gathered here today to take Velma to her last resting place. She was born as Velma Juliana Johnson in the village of Zions Hill here on Saba on April 15th, 1936 as one of fifty six (56) children born of Saba parents in that year. That alone shows how different the island was back then to nowadays. She passed away on Tuesday March 8th, 2016. It is no secret to hold back that she suffered much and her family along with her when she was struck with Alzheimer.

Velma’s parents were Richard Austin Johnson and Peter Ann Emeline Zagers.

Life was difficult back when she was a young girl growing up here. Her father Austin had to go to Bermuda before he married to find work there as did so many of our men from Saba. He was an only child and to survive back then there was sharing among families. When he got married he tried to survive however he could and then he joined the old police force which consisted of constables.

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From left to right Patsy, Aileen and Velma Johnson all three good on the guitar.

Velma was only three years old when the Great War, the Second World War broke out. After 1941 it only got worse when many other countries got involved and it made life much more difficult here on our little island. There was a great scarcity of everything here and the most felt was the lack of flour for long periods at a time. One had to go back to the baking of cassava bread and take to the soil and the sea for our survival. Velma’s family was no different. The times were hard for everyone. I am reminded of a description of that period from an article by Roland Richardson about St. Maarten which equally counts for life on Saba and the changes in recent years.

‘There were years of suspicion and guilt. Years of ferment. Years when hardship and scarcity, the common denominator, attempted to reweave the fabric of human decency through equality.

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Velma pictured here in The Bottom where the family lived for awhile. She was also a Kindergarten teacher.

On a small island this process is different from a large territory. New bonds were established through the mingling of blood. Deep wounds of the past were soothed. Years when the ‘force’ was withdrawn, suspended, waiting with everyone simply struggling to survive.

These were years when Saba was un-exploitable, unwanted and forgotten by all, save those who stayed, or had left families behind while they sought work in other cane fields, or oil fields and construction sites.

For those who remained this period here was peaceful, even though two World Wars were fought across the ocean. The land produced according to scripture, by the sweat of our brows. This was the slow period when an island traps you, when its particularity subtly affects and molds you; when the fugue of rippling sunlight and sea-surge transforms monotony into dreams of paradise.’

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Police Officer Richard Austin Johnson and his four children while serving duty on St. Eustatius around 1947.

Velma had more than one troubling experience in her young life when her father Austin was transferred to work on Statia. The family went there in 1946 and remained until 1948. In 1955 Austin was again transferred to Statia for two years. Back then a policeman was not supposed to be involved in politics, even to let on with a simple gesture that he favored a certain party. Austin who had been a Member of the Local council of policy liked his politics of course and at the polling station when he learned that his party had won he seemed glad. Not euphoric. Just glad. But that was enough. Someone complained that he had smiled and that was enough reason to tear him away from his family and send him again to Statia for several years, this time without his family.

Time heals many wounds and in later years they could recall fondly some of the people whom they had known there.

I became personally involved when relief finally came and the family could go to Barbados for a long six month vacation. Their family home had been transferred from Zions Hill to Windward Side and along with the house came Velma’s Grandmother Annie. Velma’s grandfather Frederick Zagers had been lost at sea on the ‘Saba Bank’ on December 22nd, 1943 when she was 7 years old. Among others lost in that storm was also Fernandus Jones, father of Miss Cornelia Jones. Emeline being Annie’s only child was a big worry for Emeline and she asked me to promise her that I would sleep in the home until they got back. I was 8 years old at the time but I stayed there until the family came back from Barbados.

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Austin, Emmeline and family headed up to Holland for vacation in 1967 or so.

Velma went through school here on Saba and was a Kindergarten teacher for some time before going to Holland on vacation with her family in 1960. Before her brother Ronny passed away I asked him as to why his family were such dedicated church members. He said they got it from his grandmother Annie who in turn was brought up in the church by her devoted father George Rodney Johnson. They lived on Zions Hill where at the time there was no church. George Rodney would parade his seven children every Sunday morning to attend church here in Windward side. A church which became the church of the entire family and the same church in which today we are remembering Velma.

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Henk Bontenbal now in retirement on Saba.

In 1960 the family went to Holland on vacation. That was a life changing experience for Velma as there she met her husband to be Mr. Henk Bontenbal who is here today to lead us to carry Velma to her last resting place. Henk was a devoted husband and the entire community can bear witness to that especially when Velma was taken with Alzheimer and he kept her at home for as long as possible. Only when it became necessary for her to get professional hourly supervision did he relent for her to go to the Home for the Aged. He was by her side every opportunity he got and his soothing voice would immediately calm her down in times of distress.

In Holland Velma had two children, Linda and Robbie, who are here today as well. I used to visit the family both in Hoogvliet and in Kirkdriel and they would take me to see the ‘Koemarkten’ and other farming activity of the family of their friends Marie and Annie.

I use my computer on various sites as my personal newspaper. After I posted Velma’s passing a friend of mine for nearly fifty years teacher Reint Laan who came to see me in The Hague in September sent me a message to pass on his sympathy and he said: Rob and Linda were pupils of the Blinker School in Hoogvliet when I was Head Master. Velma volunteered in the school library. Her sister Janice told me that Velma volunteered on a radio station as well while living in Holland.

We all should remember how many years she volunteered as Chairperson of the Home for the Aged here on Saba.

The writer Paulo Coelho describes two types of work. The first is the work we do because we have to in order to earn our daily bread. In that case people are merely selling their time, not realizing that they can never buy it back.

They spend their entire existence dreaming of the day when they can finally rest. When that day comes, they will be too old to enjoy everything life has to offer. Such people never take responsibility for their actions. They say:’ I have no choice.’

However, there is another type of work, which people also do in order to earn their daily bread but in which they try to fill each minute with dedication and love for others.

This second type of work we call the Offering.

For example, two people might be cooking the same meal and using exactly the same ingredients, but one is pouring Love into what he does and the other is merely trying to fill his belly. The result will be completely different, even though Love is not something that can be seen or weighed.

The person making the offering is always rewarded. The more he shares out his affection, the more his affection grows.

The poet would die of hunger if there were no shepherds. The shepherd would die of sadness if he could not sing the words of the poet.

Through the Offering you are allowing others to love you. And you are teaching others to love through what you offer them.

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Velma, Patsy, Janice and Ronnie Johnson.

Velma was surrounded by the love of her family and friends in her last years. They may not have always understood why a dedicated woman in the service of others could be imprisoned in her brain by this new disease known as Alzheimer. However she was not alone. Her loving husband Henk and her siblings Patsy, Janice, Ronnie and the extended family would be at her side as often as they could. And her children and grandchildren living all the way in Holland tried to visit her as often as they could. How happy Velma would have been to be able to see and to know her great grandchild recently arrived in this world of ours. But it was not meant to be.

And so through her Offering, through her volunteer work she allowed others to love her. The family can look back with satisfaction to the life and contributions which Velma made to society wherever she lived.

To her family and friends we extend our deepest sympathy. May she rest in peace.

 

Written and researched by Will Johnson.

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