There is a Chinese Proverb which states that: “To forget one’s ancestors is to be a brook without a source, a tree without a root.”
As we know, the first Friday in December annually, we celebrate Saba Day, OUR National Day!
It is a day when we focus our attention on our hard working ancestors who have paved the way for us. On this day as well, we showcase our culture; be it our handicraft, our different foods and drinks, our sporting activities or our clothing, so that others may know that though small in size, we may have a bit of a difference in accent which separates us by village, we are very proud of what we have achieved and are still capable of achieving once we unite!
Every village has made its mark on Saba’s development and must be recognized. It is important to alternate the villages where we host Saba Day celebrations so that all citizens take full ownership of Our Saba Day and know that they and their village play an important role in its success.
This Saba Day, the Government of Saba decided to have the celebrations in the village of Windward Side. The history of the Windward Side settlement actually began with the area known as “Booby Hill”. What we know today as the “Windward Side” was also known as “The Pasture”. This land was reserved for the people of Booby Hill to rear their cattle. The Rendez-Vous above the village was the bread basket for the village of Windward Side in former times.
Have you ever wondered where the name “The Fort” came from OR the name “The Brest Place”?
These were actually names of places to defend the inhabitants who actually took up residence on Booby Hill. From there, any warships coming from neighboring islands could have been spotted and preparation of defense would go into immediate effect.
The history of this village should not and must not go unnoticed. Windward Side is where the Roman Catholic Church started on Saba in 1860. The church was built with stones from the sugar cane boiling house at Spring Bay Flat. The one recognized with founding the Roman Catholic Church on Saba was Miss Sarah Catherine Mardenborough of Windward Side who was a teacher.
The Anglican Church, The Holy Trinity across from here, was opened on February 25th, 1878.
This very ground on which we stand has its own bit of history.
This ground formerly belonged to Captain Josiah Peterson, while the Museum was named in honor of the late Harry Luke Johnson, whose dream it was to have a museum on Saba. He was a Police Officer and a painter and collected historic items which he kept in a house next to his home. These items which included paintings of scenes of Saba were sold to visitors who took them back to their different islands and countries.
In later years, there was also a large sugar cane plantation known as the Spring Bay which was owned by Abraham Heyliger of St. Eustatius. It was not a success and was later bought by Henry Hassell (Esquire). It is now owned by some of his offspring and others who bought out shares from his heirs.
The Windward Side can also boast of well-known Captains; one such individual was Captain Ben (William Benjamin Hassell) who had over twenty large schooners. He along with many other Sabians moved to Barbados when Dutch was introduced as the official language of instruction on the island around 1907. He is the ancestor of the prominent Goddard family of Barbados.
Then there was Captain Freddy Johnson who rescued an American submarine; there was also the Holm’s family from St. Eustatius originally from Denmark. Thomas Holm was both Acting Governor and local doctor. Other local doctors were Ann Elizabeth Johnson affectionately called “Miss Shishi” and Peter Eleanor Hassell.
The famous scientist, Dr. Moses Crossley who worked with Fleming on the development of penicillin was also from this village.
The well-known Mrs. Barbara Kassab Every of St. Kitts, who recently passed away and her brothers Henry Every, the judge and Floyd, the teacher were also from this village.
We cannot speak of the history of the Windward Side without acknowledging Mr. Josephus Lambert Hassell, the self-taught engineer who built the road between The Bottom and the rest of the island; NOR can we forget Mr. Errol Hassell who as local councilor was able to get the money on the budget to build the road from the Fort Bay to The Bottom.
There is also Mrs. Gertrude Johnson born Hassell, the teacher who introduced the “Spanish Work” to Saba which became a full industry and kept many families alive with its sales especially to the United States.
People like Ninny Maxwell who ran the Government Guesthouse and her brother Austin ‘Chuck”; People like Virginia Rogers who was for many years the cook at the Hospital; Mr. Evered Jackson who though from Lower Hell’s Gate lived in the English Quarter and devoted his entire life to farming.
A well-known baker and laundry woman was Mrs. Urselita Hassell born Lynch (Miss Osie). She was married to Joseph God Fred Hassell and had six children. After she died, her two children Florence and Edith Wilson Hassell continued with the family business until 2000.
Joseph Godfred Hassell was known as a carpenter and plantation worker and worked for the Island Government. His son, Mr. Godfried Hassell, a skilled carpenter teacher taught many of our skilled carpenters on the island.
Time would not permit me to mention all of the names of those who have made a sterling contribution to Windward Side’s history.
An individual history could be written about each village. Each has developed independently because there was a lack of good roads between them however it is THE ROAD which has unified them and has made Saba the beautiful island it is and will continue to be.
Today Ladies and Gentlemen, though we cannot look into the eyes of our ancestors NOR hear their voices, let us honor their history for it is on their shoulders we stand to celebrate our National Day!!!
Once again, welcome to this historical village of which the setting of this beautiful property was once visited by the great Simon Bolivar.
We are a resilient people who put our trust in God. We have presently many who are busy paving the way for the next generation to come.
I would like to thank all of the Saba Day Committee members, all of the different departments and everyone else who have contributed in one way or another towards making this day possible. Thank you community of Saba.
Thank you all for joining us in our celebrations and do have a HAPPY SABA DAY 2018 and holiday weekend. Let’s enjoy responsibly!!!!!!!
Commissioner Rolando Wilson