Abaco The history of Moore's Island based on the recollection of native Moore's Islanders
By Armani Ellis
Aug 31, 2011 - 8:53:36 PM
Moors Island Abaco Bahamas - The Moore's Island archipelago consists of about 10-12 cays
at the edge of the Northwest Providence Channel in the Abaco chain of islands.
Only the largest island is inhabited. The inhabited island of Moors Island has
a total land area of 6.8 sq. miles with an estimated population of 950. On
island settlements comprise of Hard Bargain (the capital) and The Bight. Moors
Island lies some 28 miles (45km) to the northwest of Abaco Island, about 35
miles to the southeast of Grand Bahama Island. The islands are surrounded by
shallow waters. There are two rocks (small cays) called State Rock and Big Rock
situated a couple miles offshore.
State Rock has a lighthouse, to guide ships away from the shallow waters
that surround the island and onto the channel.
Moores Island All-Age School courtesy of Moors Island Abaco Bahamas Facebook Page (student pop. 150, teachers 9)
The island's name is thought to be derived from the word
moors, based on the historical maritime history of the island known by a
historical map of the island. According to local residents its possible that
the island was named after a local British Landowner called Moore (or More -
depending on whom you speak with).
Moors Island was first settled by Free Blacks, African
Slaves, Black Slaves, Plantation Owners, beginning in 1817, crops that were
produced at that time were cabbage, cassava, corn, grapefruit melon, orange,
papayas, peas, potatoes, pumpkin and sugarcane. During the plantation economy -
a system of minority rule - Free Blacks and Black Slaves had their rights
restricted for a period of 21 years, until slavery was officially abolished in
1838. The first settlers' legacy is preserved in common family names on the
island, such as Davis, Hield, Knowles, McBride, Simms, Stuart and Swain. As an
oddity in the Abaco chain of islands Moors Island remains predominately
Afro-Bahamian as a result of Plantation Owners resettling to other locations at
the abolition of slavery. Joseph Curry's Plantation commonly known as “Teh
Sinket” to the locals was a former orange plantation. In Hard Bargain a few
yards from a shrubbery area where residents live there is a former plantation
site now known as “Minangi Hill”. Another former plantation site commonly known
as “Sun Ground” by local residents is located north of The Bight, north of the
old well field.
Offshore view of Moores Island courtesy of Moors Island Abaco Bahamas Facebook Page
The 1932 Bahamas Hurricane (Category 5) devastated Bluff
Point, Abaco which caused persons to move to Moors Island. Some of settlers of
Bluff Point, Abaco moved to Murphy Town in 1940. The 1932 Bahamas Hurricane
legacy is preserved in common family names on the island, such as Davis, Swain,
Curry, Dawkins, Knowles. The inhabitants of Bluff Point survived of fishing and
sponging. The settlement of Bluff Point is located south of Sands Banks.
Moores Island Water Plant courtesy of Moors Island Abaco Bahamas Facebook Page
traditional survived by living of the land and fishing. To this date there is a
strong love for the sea and a respect for its bounty. Locals often traded what
they caught or what they could farm with neighbouring islanders or visitors for
water or other goods, which could not otherwise be obtained. Negotiators were
often led into a “hard bargain” with gave the island’s capital it’s name.
Before the advent of modern stoves residents used rock ovens made from local
stones. Potable water, naturally scarce on island was made readily available
through the arrival of the water plant (condenser) before this residents
traveled to Cay Gorda (Castaway’s Cay) and collected water using 55 gallon
drums (plastic and metal) originally used to store gasoline. These drums were
imported from Nassau, BHS.
Moores Island coastal settlement (The Bight)
St. Peters Church located was located nearby Rolle's Dock
and was the first church on the island built before c. 1939. Regular sea
transport services between mainland Abaco Island and Moors Island began in
1951, initiated by Capt. Ernest
Dean. The inauguration of the supply of electricity in Moors Island was made
possible by the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) in 1991.