Bahamas

Bahamas     Our branch of the Allens hail from the Tarpum Bay (also formerly known as Glenelg) settlement on the Bahamian island of Eleuthera.

     Eleuthera is one of the largest of the over 700 islands, keys and rocks which make up the Bahama Islands. It was settled by the Eleutheran Adventurers and became famous for the privateers who founded a colony there. Today, it is famous instead for its pineapple export, four-day pineapple festival, annual regatta, and Great Eleuthera Homecoming, among other festivities.

 

     William Wilkerson Allen, Sr. and Adeliza (nee Knowles)** Allen married on April 19, 1871.  Their marriage is documented in the archived 1871 Bahamian Marriage Records.  The record indicates both were 21 years of age at the time of their marriage (which may not have been correct).  They traveled from their home in Tarpum Bay to be married at Christ Church in Nassau by a Wesleyan minister named Henry Bleby.  Witnessing their union were Emily Rose Bleby and Emily Irving.

     I am speculating that the couple eloped to Nassau as they were not accompanied by family members and may have been under-aged.       

     William made a living as a farmer and Adeliza was a mother and homemaker.  The birth records of their children indicate that they were mixed-race, though it is unclear which side the European heritage occurred on, or whether it occurred on both sides. 

     They became the parents of the following nine offspring: Mary Elizabeth, William Wilkerson, James Alfred, George Whitfield, Gertrude, Alexander, Samuel Joseph, Charles Wesley, and Susan.  They may also have had a child in late 1871 who did not survive.  When both parents died of consumption (or tuberculosis) at a young age, the older siblings were called upon to help rear the younger ones.

     Most of the siblings left the Bahamas, with only William (Willie Butcher) and Susan remaining. The others immigrated to the United States. Mary, George and James settled in Key West.  Alexander, Charles, Gertrude and Samuel made their homes in Miami.

 

     William Wilkerson Allen (1875 - 1968), also referred to as Willie Butcher or W.W., was born October 25, 1875, in Tarpum Bay (then known as Glenelg) on Eleuthera.  There is a record of the birth of a male child of mixed race born to William and Ad Eliza* Allen (formerly Knowles)** of the settlement of Glenelg on Eleuthera in the 1875 Bahamian Birth Records. 

     He married three times. His first wife died only months after their marriage. He fathered eight children with his second wife Bay Anna, including: Bill, Fred, Eris, Alice, Addie, Bertha, Naomi, and Ruth. Many years after the death of Bay Anna, he married his third wife Bertha and they became the parents of two daughters: Jane and Mary. He also fathered a daughter named Margaret, presumably after his first wife died.

     Willie Butcher was a farmer, and in the 1950s he owned Glenelg Brand Tomatoes, one of the largest tomato export businesses in the Bahamas. He also traded sisal, which is a strong fiber used to make straw products. In addition, he owned a store on Cat Island, which sold groceries and other materials, as well as similar shops at various times in both Tarpum Bay and Nassau.  Joining him in his business ventures was his second son Fred Allen, who became his right hand in the tomato business.

     Willie Butcher Allen was a member of the Methodist Church until the mid-1930s when they refused to admit his son Eris into Queen’s College because he was of mixed African descent. As a result of the church’s refusal to admit him into their school, Eris was sent to Tuskegee University in Alabama where he studied electrical engineering. He is reported to be one of the first persons to attend college from Tarpum Bay, and one of the first Bahamians, if not the first, to attend Tuskegee. Willie Butcher then joined the Brethren Church at East Street Gospel Chapel where he remained a member until his death.

     Willie Butcher, who had become the patriarch of the Allen family in the Bahamas, passed away November 5, 1968, at the age of 93 years.

 

     Susan Allen (? - 1937) also remained in the islands. She lived her life in the settlement of Tarpum Bay, where she owned her own property on Culmer Street. She remained on Eleuthera until her death in 1937.  Known as "Ma Sue," she may have been one of the youngest of the nine children born to William & Addie.  She never married, but bore two sons with her life partner Sam Otis Carey:  William Albert “Boy" Carey and Newton Carey .

Susan's two sons spawned a dynasty of entrepreneurs who have become business leaders in their communities. They have excelled in the automotive, mercantile, agricultural and real estate development arenas.

Many of her descendants continue to live in Tarpum Bay, Eleuthera, though others have settled in Nassau and some have moved to the States. Many of her descendants attended the Allen Family Reunion for the first time in 2006, and we are happy to finally begin to complete her portion of the family tree and history.

 

     The Bahamas Allen descendants include among their number many prominent professionals, including doctors, nurses, bankers, hoteliers, educators, business executives, mechanics, attorneys, ministers and accountants, just to name a few. 

     Included among these is also a high-ranking politician. The Honorable Perry G. Christie, a grandson of Willie Butcher Allen, was elected Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas in May of 2002 and continues to hold office.  He represents the Progressive Liberal Party in Parliament, and is a recipient of the Trumpet Award for his efforts to improve the lives of Bahamian people.

     Also included are several other notables, including Bahamas Minister of Public Health Dr. Baldwin Carey, and Dr. David Allen, a prominent psychologist and author.

     Bahamian Allen descendants are outstanding citizens, with most contributing time, effort and their skills and abilities to advance the future of this beautiful island nation.  A few have settled in the States and other countries abroad, but family ties are strong and frequent visits keep them that way. 

 

     *  Author's note:  Addie's name is spelled differently on each of the 1873, 1875, and 1877 hand-written records of the birth of her children.  However, the following items are consistent, making me confident that she is the woman referred to in all three:  the first initial is the same and the first name is similar, all have Eliza as part of the name, Knowles is the former surname for each, and all three reference her husband William Allen.

     ** Author's note 2: Addie's maiden surname had incorrectly been reported as Culmer in the past.  A search of 19th Century Bahamian birth records has shown that she was instead formerly a Knowles, or perhaps a Mingo as reported in the LDS International Genealogical database for Caribbean Island records.  More research will clarify.  

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