HISTORICAL REVIEW OF GOLDEN GROVE VILLAGE
EVENTS, IMPROVEMENTS AND ACHIEVEMENTS, 1848 -1948.
Following is the historical review of the Golden Grove Village, East Coast, Demerara, covering the period of its acquisition as a village from May 5, 1848 to May 5, 1948, compiled and read by Mr. L. D. Sarrabo, a villager and former chairman of the Village Council, on the occasion of the opening of the centenary celebrations on Wednesday last, in the presence of His Excellency the Governor, and a number of prominent citizens.
May it please Your Excellency, Gentlemen: To-day a deep sense of joy and happiness thrills me because of the privilege and honour that are accorded to me to read a review showing the events, improvements and achievements which have taken place in various aspects in the life of the people over the years from 1848 to 1948.
SALE OF VILLAGE
On January 5, 1848, fifty men, good and true, pooled their resources and subscribed one hundred dollars each and bought Plantation Williamsburg for the sum of five thousand dollars. Robert Straker Turton, the owner of the Plantation, was approached by Charles William Cleeve through his attorney, William Heath, and bought the Plantation for and behalf of the fifty proprietors. Soon after this, the name Williamsburg was changed to Golden Grove, as it is this day.
Following are the names of the proprietors:-
Prince Grant; Juptier Quashey; Lina Hercules; John Sumner; Bentick Sancho; Filbert Horatio; Cheesewright Josiah; Ben Conwright; Sophy David; Leah Giles; James Smith; Rowland Chester; Job Timmany; Luke Philip and Gotina Stout; Bristol Newport; Philip Daniel; Tuckness Sancho; Quashey Luke, and Prince Asan; Benjamin Solomon; Robert Europe; Wellington Rogers; Sambo Sumner and Quammy David; Andrew Lexey; Joseph Beard; Sam Sarrabo; Blackwell Simon; Frederick Hope; Billy George; Frank Seaforth; Grenville Green; Billy Billieson; Duke Cato; George Jack; Charles Christmas; Diamond Chester; Stewart Smith; Daniel Virgil and Margaret McArthur; Sam Dick and Jack Newport; Sammy Richard; Sampson Collins; Douglas Hector and James Simon and George Timmany.
This sale, after being carried out, remained in the hands of the proprietors until January 1850, when, at their request a survey was made by Francis Jackson, Sworn Land Surveyor.
This survey was subdivided into building allotments for a Village. Each allotment is eleven and a half rods wide and twelve rods in depth equal to 138 square rods.
At the time of the allotment, it was a very happy gesture on the part of the proprietors, to mark off Lot No#. 5 with a measurement of 25 rods in depth and 16 rods in width equal to 450 square rods, and to give it over to the Wesleyan Missionary Society for Church and school purposes.
To-day, this is Lot No#. 5 on which we stand and celebrate our Centenary.
Nor was this all, the proprietors, so thoughtful and generous were they to the Wesleyan Methodist Society that they made a further contribution of two lots extending from Kendall Street on the West to James’ Avenue by the railway station for the use and benefit of the said Society. A large piece of land, on the northern side by the sea was also reserved as pasturage for grazing their cows, sheep and goats.
This plan No. 2668 referred to by Jackson and executed to William Heath, as attorney of Charles William Cleeve was deposited in the Deeds Registry, on the eighteenth day of April 1850, and signed by J. H. Froster, senior sworn clerk, and notary public. Following on the Jackson survey, a more detailed, and up to date survey was carried out in 1873 by A. J. Alcorn, Sworn Land Surveyor.
In the early days of the proprietors, the village was administered under the Central Board of Health Ordinance, until it was superseded by Sir John Carrington’s Ordinance of 1892. This Ordinance brought about a change in the administration of the Villages.
Sir John so as to give the Villagers a good understanding of the working of the new Ordinance met them at St. Paul’s schoolroom and explained it to them.
An extract from the Official Gazette of March 4, 1893, reads as follows: - “it is hereby notified that the Village Councils of the under mentioned villages have been duly constituted under the Village Ordinance, 1892, and are composed respectively of elected and nominated members as hereinafter appears, and it is further notified that the Central Board of Health have appointed the persons whose names “are hereinafter mentioned to be Chairmen of the respective Village Councils”:-
Golden Grove and Nabaclis
Manoel Garoe Pitta- Chairman; Thomas Adams, Albert Massiah Benn, Lammy Tuckness Sancho, David Collins, Adam Ridley,
Nominated Members; E. London, James David.
(sgd.) Thomas Daly Secretary of Central Board of Health Dated Georgetown 3rd. March 1893. This was the composition of the first Council under the Village Ordinance of 1892. Then came the second and third Council of which Brandford Trotman and George Cockfield were Chairmen, respectively.
On 17th. July, 1923, to 31st. December, 1933, L. D. Sarrabo was Chairman of the District. During that period the following services were carried out for the good and welfare of the proprietors, generally:-
1. March 17 1924 Allotting and giving out Section 1, Golden Grove and Nabaclis, to the proprietors.
2. March 2, 1928 Installing and opening pumping plant at Nabaclis, by Sir Cecil Rodwell, K.C.M.G.
3. July 19, 1930 Empoldering and giving out Sections J and K – 400 acres- Golden Grove and Nabaclis,
to the proprietors.
4. January 1, 1932 Introduction of the Village Administration Scheme.
5. October 19, 1933 Opening of the Cane Industry Golden Grove and Nabaclis, by Sir
Edward Brandis Denham , K.C.M.G. and passing the first 16 acres of canes through
the right of way into the factory of Plantation Enmore to be made into sugar.
Then followed the succeeding Chairmen to the Council; J. R. Simon; Donald A. Trotman; C. P. Melbourne J.P.; Benjamin Kingston; C. F. Adams; J. C. Seeley; and the composition of the present Council.
H. A. Hughes, - Chairman; A. Fernandes, Deputy Chairman; S. L. Jeune; M. Fraser; T. H. Benn; and A. Mc Donald; D. A. Trotman; Nominated Councillors; C. P. Melbourne and T. R. Persaud.
During this period 1892 to 1945, many ordinances were introduced for the proper working of the Villages, among them being Ordinance 13 of 1907, which was superseded by the revised edition of the Laws of 1930, by Chapter 84 and finally that was superseded by the present Ordinance, No #. 14 of 1945.
Golden Grove was always an Agricultural District, and Agriculture formed its background. The proprietors settled down in real earnest to agricultural pursuits. With them, there were no slack days. It was all work, work, work. They laboured faithfully from Monday to Saturday to achieve their aims and purposes, and soon made Golden Grove a hive of farming industry.
They took such keen interest in their farm holdings and produced such abundant crops of plantains, cassava, yams, potatoes and the like, that Golden Grove soon won for itself the appellation of the Granary of the East Coast.
They manifested great pride in farming because it brought them prosperity and independence and was regarded in every respect as a paying concern.
They built goodly two-storeyed houses and lived in them in comfort to themselves and their families.
It was the usual occurrence to see twenty to twenty-five trucks laden with sugar and syrup and ground provisions leave the siding at Golden Grove, every Monday afternoon for the City.
The people of that day were very enterprising and ambitious, and in 1872, Jimmy James erected a windmill on his lot at Golden Grove to make sugar and syrup. How well he succeeded in his business can be gauged by the fact that he received many orders for sugar (common process as it was called) and syrup from firms in Georgetown. In 1890, a steam plant for making sugar was put up by C. W. Wilson, and afterwards passed into the hands of Isaac Evelyn. There was such a progressive spirit among the people of that period that, Colin Hiles, applied to Government for a licence to distil rum at Golden Grove. The application was turned down on the ground that he had not one hundred acres of canes under cultivation.
PIONEERS OF AGRICULTURAL SHOWS
In August of 1894, Golden Grove was the first Village in the Colony to hold an Agricultural show. The next year, 1895, another show was held with equally successful results. In 1896, it took place at Victoria-Belfield under the aegis of the Victoria-Belfield Agricultural Society of which Mr. Barbour-James was President. From 1897 District Agricultural shows under the Department of Agriculture were held all over the Colony. Another outstanding feature of Golden Grove was a racecourse of its own. Some of the proprietors owned race-horses, and it was a glorious time when horses from far and near met the homesters and contested with one another for supremacy of place.
All these things happened because the proprietors enjoyed very good drainage, reaped excellent crops, and lived in a state of prosperity, independence and happiness.
At this closing year of Centenary the drainage question has become a problem to be solved, and I venture the expression that with good drainage, these same sturdy farmers of Golden Grove will stage a wonderful “Get back to the land” with the determination to win again the glorious past, and be reckoned as economic factors of the Country.
Before I pass on, I must make mention of the fact that, Golden Grove is the home of the “Famous Buxton Spice.” Several years ago, the market women of Buxton came here and bought the mango, took it to Georgetown, and sold it under the name and title of “Buxton Spice” which name it has retained up to this day. If it is not “Buxton Spice,” it is no mango – no market.
In 1848, the first elementary school was opened in the Congregational Church at Victoria. The teacher was one, Boss Africa – a slave. He was taught to read and write by the early London Missionaries who came out here during the time of slavery. Boss Africa, being a very ambitious man, his fame as a teacher went far and wide and soon drew to his school a large number of boys from Golden Grove, Nabaclis and Victoria.
There can be no doubt that the boys showed some progress at reading and writing and were advanced into a Grammar class.
It happened on a certain Friday afternoon that Boss Africa wanting to test the boys’ prowess at parsing, called upon one of them and said, “Kenny, paus me the suntans Chan-clow (meaning Carrion Crow) flew Vap Vap” Kenny, not to be out done, and to show himself how smart a boy he was at parsing, sang out in a loud voice and said Carrion Crow flew Vap Vap, that is verb sir. Kenny’s answer was so satisfactory to Boss Africa that he sang out in a loud voice and said, “Good boy Kenny, smat boy fo’tru, you propa know gramma.”
That was the standard of education in those days.
If we compare it with our standard to-day, we would see what great improvements have taken place over the period of which we write and the great achievements accomplished by boys along that line.
As this review deals specifically with Golden Grove, I shall begin with boys of Golden Grove who have been outstanding and made a mark for themselves.
Scholarships: I shall now begin with Arnold McLean and Gobind Persaud; Both these boys received the baptism of their early education at the Wesleyan Methodist School at Golden Grove under the careful tuition of Mr. J. A. Trotman. McLean afterwards went to Cove and John school and there he improved his studies and won a County Scholarship, went to Queen’s and after three years of hard study, carried off the Guiana Scholarship. The next year he went to England and studied medicine.
Persaud remained with Mr. Trotman; won a County Scholarship, went to Queen’s and won the Guiana Scholarship, and took up the study of Law in England.
Next in line of scholarships is Samson N. Collins. He received his early education at Golden Grove Methodist school, and afterwards went to Cove and John at which school he won the first trade Bursary Scholarship in 1912.
He was apprenticed to the late G. N. Lord, and was awarded the Master Tailor Certificate by the Board of Industrial Training in 1918.
He studied with the Tailors and Cutters Academy in the West End and was awarded a Diploma as a Cutter.
In 1932-33, S. N. revisited England and interviewed the Secretary of state for the Colonies, in the colonial Office on matters concerning the establishment of minor industries in British Guiana.
Next in order of scholarships come Charles Jupiter, Stella Benjamin, Neville Barnwell, Waveney and Donald Trotman. All these have won the County scholarship. Waveney and Donald are now at Bishops’ High School and Queen’s respectively and doing well in their studies. We hope to hear of them, carrying off the Guiana Scholarship in due time.
There is another outstanding Golden Grove boy. I refer to Stanley E. Gomes, now His Majesty’s Attorney General in the Leeward Islands. He too had a sprinkling of his early Education at the Golden Grove Methodist school under Mr. J. A. Trotman.
Then come Donald Trotman and George H. Morrison. Both of them won the Student Teacher ship; went off to Mico College in Jamaica, studied 2 years and returned home.
George is an Assistant Inspector of Schools appointed by the Secretary of State for the Colonies and is now acting County Inspector of schools. Donald is the Head teacher of the Golden Grove Methodist school in succession to his father Mr. James A. Trotman, now retired after 36 years of service in that school.
Following on are R. A. Kendall, J. R. Simon, and Milton B. Trotman now chief steward at the Public Hospital, Suddie. Mention must also be made of Wady Simon, Assistant Inspector of Police, Thomas Ward and Oscar Hobbs. Thomas is now Sergeant of Police and Oscar, Lance-Corpl. Has just been awarded the Colonial Police and Fire Brigade Long Service Medal. We hope to see them climbing and reaching the topmost rung of the ladder of their department and making their mark. And what shall we say of Albert Glen? He is now Chief Guard of the Transport and Harbours Department. All these sons, and more, are the product of Golden Grove and passed through its school.
PROGRESS OF SCHOOL
Sir Crawford Douglas-Jones; C.M.G when acting Governor, offered prizes for the best papers on “History of the British Empire” to the primary schools throughout the Colony. The Golden Grove Methodist school on this occasion distinguished itself when Constance Ainsworth and Samuel Shepherd won both of the Governor’s prizes. By this brilliant and outstanding achievement, the school has again added new laurels to its number and covered itself with glory.
The school increased in number until 1936 an additional building had to be erected to accommodate the pupils.
At the opening of this building Major Bain Gray, then Director of Education, paid a glowing tribute to the Head teacher, “Mr. Trotman,” he said, “ not only helps by providing teachers for his own school but for many other schools in the Colony.” To-day, the school has on its roll a total approximating to 700 scholars.
The results of this school are very gratifying and year after year Mr. D. A. Trotman, the Head Teacher, is proving himself a very capable and efficient teacher of high standing. This school needs a library and press to teach boys the art of printing and running a monthly or quarterly magazine of its own. But these are not all. There should also, be an industrial side attached to such a school where boys and girls would be given an opportunity of obtaining proper training in the art of Tropical Agriculture so as to fit them for an agricultural life, that is farming, poultry rearing, butter making, canning and the carrying on of allied manufacturing industries to fit them for becoming worthy citizens.
The Golden Grove and Nabaclis Village Council has under consideration (funds permitting) to found a Scholarship having an Agricultural background, to be called the Golden Grove Centenary Scholarship.
This Scholarship will afford boys the opportunity of entering the Imperial College of Tropical Agriculture in Trinidad and pursuing a course of studies.
I shall have failed in my duty if I close this review without mentioning the names of the heroes who did service in Egypt, France and Belgium in World War 1 of 1914-18. When the call of duty went out, “Your Country needs you,” 25 boys of Golden Grove enlisted for service to fight for King and Country. Their names are Matthias Harding; Arthur Pompey who rose to be Corporal; Arthur Rodney; John De Souza; Arnold Thomas; John Graham; Jimmy Hercules; Lionel Waterman; Tommy Kendall; Samuel Charles; Augustus Toney; Iris Lopes; Joseph Lopes; George Wilson; Thomas Lewis; Sway Sydney; B. Sydney; Willie Franklin; Reggie Rodney; Jephtah Glasgow; Thomas Eversley and 4 others whose names I cannot now recall.
Of this number, five of them, Corporal Arthur Pompey took ill in France, was sent home and died shortly after. His remains were interred in the Golden Grove Cemetery and a monument raised to his memory. Also Privates Matthias Harding, Lionel Waterman, Jimmy Hercules, and Arnold Thomas. These five boys made the supreme sacrifice and given their lives that others might live.
I must first of all thank Your Excellency for coming and presiding over, and taking part in our Centenary Celebrations to-day. The Chairman in his address of welcome to Your Excellency very befittingly remarked that he knows how busy Your Excellency is at this time with all the upset and unrest of labour troubles which call for solution at Your Excellency’s hands. Yet in spite of all this, Your Excellency has found time to come to us. We highly appreciate and thank Your Excellency for honouring us with Your presence to-day. Next – comes Mr. Laing who is not a stranger to Golden Grove. He has been aptly described as the “Father of Village Administration.” But to-day with Mr. Laing’s permission, I wish to christen and give him a new name and call him the “Apostle of Village Administration.” Mr. Laing has given me every assistance and very readily placed all the records at my disposal. Mr. Laing has also advised and given me directions in making the Centenary Programme. For these services we offer and ask Mr. Laing’s acceptance of our sincerest thanks. Mr. Christiani, the veteran Secretary of the Local Government Board, when I approached him and asked for his help, he very readily and willingly prepared extracts of village administration which I have used to good effect in preparing this review. Mr. Christiani, has our sincerest thanks for all the services he has rendered us.
I shall not forget Mr. J. R. Muss. He also, was very helpful to me by placing at my disposal whatever records he knew would be of assistance to me. We heartily appreciate and thank Mr. Muss for his services. Last but not least comes Mr. Chase of the Deeds Registry. He gave up a portion of his breakfast hour and assisted me in getting out all the necessary information which I needed for this review. We offer to Mr. Chase our heartfelt thanks.
Finally, like Pope, we say “ Hope springs eternal in the human breast,” and so today, departing and leaving our footprints in the sand of time for others to follow, we hope that some Golden Grove boy worthier than I, will rise to the occasion and read the next Centenary historical review of 2048.
Thrice again, I thank Your Excellency and Gentlemen, for the patient hearing you have given to the reading of this historical review the historical review of the Centenary of Golden Grove, 1848 to 1948.
The Daily Argosy, Friday, May 7th. 1948: page 3.