[ Crooked Island ] • A Better-Kept Secret
Home to rolling hills. But, no, we’re not in Eleuthera or Long Island.
Amazing beaches, but we’re a ways from Cat Island, Exuma or Harbour Island.
The island, like most other islands in The Bahamas, before the arrival of Christopher Columbus, was first inhabited by the Lucayans. When Columbus became the first documented European to encounter the island on the 19th of October, 1492, after having met the Lucayans already living here, he said it was the most fragrant island he’d ever visited. It is believed that the Lucayans called this island, “Samote” and Christopher Columbus subsequently christened it, “Isabella,” in honour of the Spanish Queen during his first voyage to the New World.
Today, the island is known as Crooked Island. It is an island of unimaginable beauty and though Inagua may have a song touting it as the best-kept secret of The Bahamas, I believe that Acklins and Crooked Island & Long Cay are better-kept secrets. Together, they enclose a shallow lagoon called the “Bight of Acklins.” To me, a body of water could rival any Exuma cay.
The island, 19x6 in size, has a total area of just about 60 square miles and is home to a population of about 300 people. It’s closest in size to New Providence, which is, as almost all of us know, 21x7 with a total area about 80 square miles. It’s just a tad bit smaller than the island home to our capital city but it has 0.1% of New Providence’s population. The island was electrified in the early ’90s just before the new Millenia and upgrades are currently being done to island’s waterworks to give more residents access to potable water.
Its history, while rich, is not known by many outside of the island. Because of the arrival of the American Loyalists in 1781, the island was not able to escape the misfortunes of slavery. Home to more than 1,000 slaves across various plantations such as the Great Hope Plantation in Landrail Point, the island was important to the British Colony. It is believed that an incident of slave abuse was a contributing factor to the abolition of slavery in the British Empire; the story of “Poor Black Kate.”
Kate Moss was a slave girl on the island in 1827 at the plantation belonging to Henry & Helen Moss. After refusing to do the work required, she was bound in stocks, eventually flogged, even by her own father and had peppers rubbed in her eyes to inflict more pain and torture.
After all of this, she was put back into the fields in the morning and by that afternoon, she collapsed and died. The Moss’ were subsequently tried and imprisoned for their cruelty for up to 3 months. It is believed that her story inspired the slave revolt led by Pompey on the island of Exuma.
Moreover, Poor Black Kate’s story made its way back to island of Great Britain, where, in England, it got the attention of abolitionists in there. They then used this instance of cruelty & publicized her case which in turn gained support for the abolition of slavery throughout the empire.
It is on this island in the settlement Pitt’s Town Point where The Bahamas’ first Post Office was constructed. Today, in its place is a plaque within a resort memorializing this honour. The island was also a hideout for enemies of the British. They used the protection of the Bight of Acklins and nearby cays to hide. The English then installed fortifications at what is now Gun Point and the canons remain to this day.
Crooked Island, along with neighbouring Long Cay together, was home to more than 4,000 residents. Today, that population has dwindled down to less than 10% of that. Its decrease in population has lead to its environment being able to stand still in time.
Meandering through this island are its many creeks. There are also numerous ponds like Regennaugh Pond in Church Grove. The island is dotted with many caves like those in McKay’s Bluff Caves and can be explored with a guide. Very sleepy now, the island is quaint and idyllic. Presently, the airline that services the island is Bahamasair and they offer twice-weekly flights (combined with Acklins) on Wednesdays & Saturdays.