At the opening of September Celebrations on the island of St. George’s Caye on Sunday, August 28, 2011, Dr. Jaime J. Awe, Director of the Institute of Archaeology at the Archaeology Museum & Research Centre in Belmopan, noted the historical significance of the island and its connection to extant Belizean families.
Of particular interest to Awe is Eve Broaster, a Mandingo woman who, he said, was a slave in Jamaica and freed after her transfer to Honduras’ Miskito Coast.
Awe said that it had been noted on her epitaph that she was endeared to those who knew her.
In Belize, Eve Broaster gave birth to a daughter Ariadne, who married a very influential person on the island.
Ariadne Broaster married a Scottish man, James Bartlett Hyde. This was the ancestor of a subsequently named James Bartlett Hyde (born on 17 May 1897), the grandfather of Amandala publisher, Evan X Hyde, said Awe.
The former J. B. Hyde, said Awe, was buried on St. George’s Caye; the latter was probably buried at Yarborough in Belize City.
“Our evidence overwhelmingly suggests that the first was buried at St. George’s Caye and not at Yarborough or Lord’s Ridge,” said Awe. “Here is why I say this: In a plan of the cemetery at St. George’s Caye, published by Rob Humes on 29 August 1872, James Bartlett’s grave is clearly identified as the second furthest north.”
Awe said that Hyde’s epitaph appeared with 18 others from St. George’s Caye in a 1907 book by John Purcell Usher, whose title (Inscriptions copied from the Tombstones in the No. 2 Cemetery at Yarborough 1877; and at the Lord Ridge Cemetery 1877-1905) may have confused the issue.
Hyde, who died at age 47, predeceased Ariadne’s mother, Eve, said Awe. Eve died onJuly 28, 1821 at the age of 65. (J.B. Hyde was about three years older than Eve.)
The Eve Broaster story was first shared by Amandala following the official ceremonies which saw St. George’s Caye declared a National Historical Landmark in 2009.
At that event, Dr. James Garber, professor in anthropology at the Texas State University, had claimed that the majority of Belizeans are related either by blood or by marriage to those buried beneath the surface of the old cemetery at St. George’s Caye. He noted that Eve Broaster retained her traditional spiritual rites and never converted to Christianity.
When Eve was buried, Ariadne commissioned her tombstone, said Dr. Awe.
Awe told our newspaper today that the information came to light following conversations with Diana Locke, which led to a family tree research. (Diana Locke is a likely descendant of Eunice Locke, said Awe.)
Dr. Awe said that there are 27 people on the official list of people buried at St. George’s Caye, and the old map indicates that there was a James Bartlett Hyde.
According to Awe, the Eve Broaster epitaph read as follows:
“Sacred to the memory of Eve Broaster a native of Mandigo, in Africa who departed this life 28th July, 1821. Aged 65 years. Whose inoffensive primeval conduct endeared her to all whom she was acquainted and as a tribute to departed worth this stone is erected to her memory by her disconsolate daughter Ariadne Broaster. This rude stone, what few superb marbles can, may truly boast [that] here lies an honest woman.”
The epitaph of her son-in-law, James Bartlett Hyde, read: ”To the memory of James Bartlet, Esquire native of Aberdeen. Many years inhabitant of this settlement who, after having faithfully discharged the duties of the several offices to which he was chosen, and employed with unremitting assiduity his superior talents to promote the welfare of the community. Departed this life on the 24th day January, 1800, in the 47th year of his age.”
Dr. Awe said that after 1888, very, very few burials occurred on St. George’s Caye.
Awe, one of the panelists for the upcoming 1st Annual Writers, Artists, Musicians and Intellectuals (WAMI) Conference, said that he plans to share the family tree at milestone event, slated for Friday, September 9, 2011, at the Holy Redeemer Parish Hall in Belize City.