The Saba Islander

by Will Johnson

Archive for the month “February, 2021”

The story behind the Johan Cruyf Sports field

Night view of the Johan Cruyf Sports field

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

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

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

A Croquet Club from the early nineteen hundreds in The Bottom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Chronological History of Saba

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Settlements as told by the Ancestors

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The government started an elementary school.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts Founded.

1937. Public School at Windward Side converted into hospital.

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

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

1943. Hospital in Windward Side named after Princess Margarite.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1954. Second movie house opens in Windward Side.

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

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

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

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

Hospital in Windward Side was destroyed by a large fire.

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

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

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

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

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

Antillean Girls Guild founded February 21st.

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

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

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

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

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

First supermarket owned by Clinton Cranston opens in The Bottom.

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

Second visit of Crown Princess Beatrix on February 27th.

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

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

Radio communications with the USA established.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Christina Youth Crusade founded on October 10th.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

…. Secondary education system was established.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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