The Saba Islander

by Will Johnson

The “Goat Cliff”

All-too-Far Ridge and the “Goat Cliff” extending all the way to the Wells Bay, all privately owned since Palmetto Point and Middle Island was first settled in 1629.

The Government of Saba brings in high paid consultants who deny our history and our very existence as a people to steal people’s land under the guise of a National Park. Three Members of our Island Council goes along with those who are “advisors” to the Saba Government and approves legislation for a National Park. This legslation severely restricts the use of the land by the owners. They were told that they could continue to use their land still. The land was being used in the higher parts by farmers from Palmetto Point and Hell’s Gate mainly. The lower parts leading down to the sea was used to keep goats. The name “Goat Cliff” says it all.

Ever since Saba was settled on this side of the island in 1629 by Irish indentured Catholic slaves and Scottish prisoners of war all of the property was privately owned and traded between families up until this day. The Government NEVER had land on this side of the island and in this short article I will show from my records taken from the Government archives how the “Goat Cliff” transactions went since we have a goat issue.

#119. “Received of Mr. Thomas Beale the sum of P.S. 88.1 in full for the sixth part of the “Goat Cliff” to the Red Cliff at “All-too- Far Ridge.Saba, 28th, April 1805.

Exhibitied and recorded this 6th Day of August A.A. 1869. The Notary Public, Hercules Hassell

signed: John M. Dinzey, Vendu Master.

  • Thomas Beale was a resident of Palmetto Point. Another document # 110 dated 11the June, 1869 states the following: “We further declare that the Ridge known as “All-too-Far Ridge” is situated to the West of the “Red Cliff” between which there is a gully belonging to “Red Cliff” and that “Red Cliff” is opposite to “Green Island” and that there is but one ridge known as “All-too-Far Ridge” .
  • witnesses Peter Hasell, and James Horton Jr. both residents of “Palmetto Point”. For over one hundred years the ridge in question has been owned by Daniel Johnson of “Behind-th-Ridge” and his wife Marie Elizabeth Johnson of the village of Windward Side and the standard transfer papers for those years are in the hands of one of their heirs.

#115 of 13/7/1869. Mr. James Horton Jr. residing at Palmetto Point sold to Peter Johnson also a resident of the village of Palmetto Point 1/12th of the land from Mastic Gut to the “red Cliff” and “All-too-Far-Ridge”; Witnesses Henry Hassell and Peter J. Hasssell.

Farming the land was not easy, life was hard and we will never surrender our land held for centuries without a fight.

#116, of 13/7/1869 Mr. James Horton (Jr.) sold to Mr. John Johnson (also a resident of Palmetto Point” one sixth (1/6th of the “Goat Cliff” from the “Well” to “Smokey Gut”. Witnesses Henry Hassell and Peter J. Hassell.


Vendue records. Peter Johnson (deceased). Three properties are sold, One in Hells Gate to Henry Hassell. One in All-too-Far Ridge also to Henry Hassell as well as land Under The Pirate Cliff (also known as the Parrot Cliff). Yeasr later Daniel Johnson and Marie Elizabeth Johnson bought All-too-Far Ridge.

A last will and testament dated January 15th, 1827

Mrs. Jane Zagors* (spelled this way). She was born Hassell and her sister Mary Hassell was married to Peter “Coonks” Simmons.

She frees the negro woman named Leah and her mulatto daughter named Betsy, And Besty shall posses and enjoy the spot of land under the Parrot Cliff with Bannaners trees, and also a spot of land with “Bannaners trees” to the head of the Great Bush, She also leaves to her nephew and godson William Simmons son to Peter Simmons (alias Peter Coonks) her part of the spot of land called “Smokey Gut”.

In the report on the Nature Park advisors to the Saba Government (not from here) suggest useing article 3.27 of the Civil Code to claim lands on that side of the island which “most probably” belongs to government anyway.

According to Article 24 of Book 5 of the Civil Code real estate (land) of which no other owner can be identified, belongs to the Public Entity (Government) in which it is located.

Government Policy however should be to apply this rule with utmost reservation, because of the risk of infringement of property rights. Lands that have no owners are assumed to be owned by Government (cicil law article 24), however this must be interperted with care, since there may be private bills of sale that are not in the land registry.

What is this leading up to? Proof that since ancient times all of this land had owners of which descendants are still living here on the island and elsewhere. When I talk about my great-great-grandfather, grandfather and so on that does not mean that I am the only descendant. These ancestors have many descendants, some in need who would be happy to sell. Among the heirs to these lands you have former Ministers on St. Maarten, Commissioners, Senators etc. who are also heirs. No names will be mentioned at the moment. Research is ongoing and hopefully I can find a lawyer who is not compromised by being involved with government.

For now I will end this small note with a quote: ” We know our lands have become more valuable. The strangers think we do not know their value; but we know that the land is everlasting, and the few goods we receive for it are soon worn out and gone.” Chief Canassatego.

And: From “A world of Islands” by Paul Theroux, reflect on this.

” It is rare that land in Polynesia may be sold. The land is us, the people say, WE are the land.”

Island land is sacred. This may be true the world over. Every acre of it is owned and accounted for. It may look wild, but it is not wilderness. There is not much of it, and so it is your wealth, your history, your identity.”

And the same goes for the “Goat Cliff” which has owners who will fight for their rights and their history.

Will Johnson

THe village of Palmetto Point around 1910.

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