The History of San Ignacio
A STORY BEGINS WITH - " In the beginning '- and " PICTURES SPEAK A THOUSAND WORDS "
THIS IS THE GENESIS OF SAN IGNACIO.
It all began sometimes, in the 1940's by the present day Town Market as a BACADEER, where hundreds of mahogany logs were dumped, awaiting for the floods to float them away to Burrel Boom.
Sometime in 1868, a visiting Roman Catholic Priest by the name of name Andrew Bavastro S.J. visited the Camp, where workers lived with their families.
After a couple years, in 1870, Father Andrew Bavastro returned and established a small Chapel to say Mass.
The population then was about 150 persons, so he brought a small statue from nearby Peten of the Jesuits' patron " SAN IGNACIO " ( St Ignatius of Loyola )
He held discussions with the inhabitants, and it was agreed to name the settlement SAN IGNACIO.
But controversy arose, with a few persons of another Faith who rejected Catholicism and they dumped the Statue by where the wooden bridge is.
Mr Agapito Requena, Mr Godwin Buckley J.P.'s grandfather picked up the Statue and took it to his little Chapel in Santa Elena, where it still RESIDES for almost 150 years.
SO IN 1958, when I and my colleagues were elected to serve as Mayor and Councillors of these Twin Towns, we re-affirmed the name of this town as SAN IGNACIO and we got the FULL approval of Cabinet AND at the same time we named this Municipality as - " THE TWIN TOWNS OF SAN IGNACIO AND SANTA ELENA " - Officially. - NO CAYO - Cayo is the Island made by the Mopan and Macal Rivers, at Branch Mouth and at the Chiquibull Forest )
HOW DID THE VILLAGE OF SAN IGNACIO LOOK?
At the beginning, the workers at this Logging Camp now named SAN IGNACIO, built their houses on higher grounds because the high floods covered the El Cayo Savannah.
The houses were built with bush materials like Tatch Leaf, Primento sticks ( called TAKEDA, PALO DE ESCOBA and Ti-tie Vine to tie the sticks and leafs. The sides were plastered with white Marl mixed with straw or grass.
After some 34 years on October 19th 1904, San Ignacio was declared a TOWN by the Colonial Office.
AND THE RAINS CAME - AND FLOODS BEGAN - AND THE LOGS WERE DUMPED INTO THE RIVER TO BE FLOATED TO BURREL BOOM.
( What I am giving you is just a tip of the iceberg )
Yes this was the procedure - Then the strong men braved the flooded river, guiding the logs to their destination.
The final destination was the Belize harbor, where the ships awaited to carry them to England or the U.S.A.
THIS PROCESS was repeated every year for almost one hundred years. Imagine the hundreds of thousands of logs we exported, YET, we did not have electricity or running water.
BEAR IN MIND, that there were many Contractors. What you see here in the third photo is, a portion of ONE CONTRACTOR'S HAUL..
SAN IGNACIO VILLAGE was declared a town on the 19th October 1904, the day this picture was taken. This picture is that portion of the town of San Ignacio when it was declared a town in 1904.
This picture shows the Center of Town and the Administration Buildings.
Two of those buildings still stand after 113 years - The District Commissioner's Home on the hill and the Galvez building downtown on Burns Avenue ( where ladies sell lottery ).
ON THE FORE FRONT notice the trailers and Set of Steers, pulling the iron wheel wagons, going to the jungle to bring down logs from the jungle not too far, to the Baccadier by the river.
This Logging plaza was in front of Courts. ( I wish that those two buildings above would be preserved ) .
Below is another version of San Ignacio history by Hector Silva
"IN THE BEGINNING" IS HOW MANY PASSAGES IN THE BIBLE ARE INTRODUCED. IT IS LIKEWISE USED IN STARTING A STORY.
WELL, The TOWN OF SAN IGNACIO also had a beginning, HAD A STORY NOT YET TOLD.
IN THE EARLY 1840'S a humble logging camp, Baccadier, inhabited by some 150 persons, (men women and children) was established on the Banks of the MACAL RIVER.
BY 1870, it was baptized as the Village of SAN IGNACIO, by visiting ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST, Andrew Bavastro S.J.
Later visited by The Bishop of Jamaica, Most Reverend Woodlett, when it was agreed to establish a school for some 30 children.
A CHAPEL OF ADORATION WAS ESTABLISHED and a Statue of St Ignatius of Loyola, was installed, as the PATRON SAINT OF THE VILLAGE of San Ignacio.
CONTROVERSY BEGAN BETWEEN ANGLICANS and CATHOLICS over the naming of the Village. (In those days Religious Institutions were too divided)
ONE DAY a few men (no names will be mentioned) went to the little Chapel, took the Statue of St Ignatius and threw it by the Macal River Bank, near todays WOODEN bridge.
A lady from across Santa Elena, saw this, and ran to tell Mr Agapito Requena, (the owner of Santa Elena Farm) WHAT OCCURRED.
MR REQUENA, A ROMAN CATHOLIC HIMSELF, went down to the river, got into his dorey and crossed the river. He picked up the Statue and took it to his home.
Later a Priest, by name Manuel LLoydi S.J. (who by the way died in San Ignacio and was buried here, somewhere) met Mr. Agapito Requena and arranged to the establishing of a Chapel in Santa Elena.
THE PATRON OF Santa Elena is St. Elena. St Ignatius is just residing in Santa Elena for now over 100 years..
In 1958, when I was elected and later became the first MAYOR of San Ignacio, myself and the Members of this Municipality, decided to rectify TWO WRONGS, remove the mistaken identity of our TOWN, which was called CAYO. (or by old antagonists as EL CAYO) to its ORIGINAL name "SAN IGNACIO".
AND to include SANTA ELENA as a TWIN TOWN, so that the official name (approved by the Executive Council) was officialy established as "THE TWIN TOWNS OF SAN IGNACIO AND SANTA ELENA."
NOTE. Santa Elena was being TAXED as part of this MUNICIPALITY, while it was not recognized as such, (Colonial Injustices).
(THERE IS A LOT MORE ON THIS MATTER, EVEN TO THIS VERY DAY.) I have been invited by Parishoners of both Towns to disentangle this little confusion)
SAN IGNACIO has as its Patron - Sacred Heart of Jesus, while SANTA ELENA has as its Patron - Saint Ignatius of Loyola.
Photographs courtesy Hector Silva
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