Land loss inquiry hears from Tucker’s Town descendant of pilot
Land and property was taken from a top ships’ pilot and left his descendants with “nothing”, the Commission of Inquiry into historic land losses heard yesterday.
Winfield “Chuck” Simpson said he was speaking on behalf of his late mother Cecily Simpson about ancestor Josiah Smith’s estate in Tucker’s Town, St George’s.
Mr Simpson told the commission his mother’s grandmother, Ainslie Manders, was ordered by the commissioners appointed under the 1920 Bermuda Development Company Act to hand over deeds and documents related to Mr Smith’s land holding, which was acquired by the Bermuda Development Company for tourist development.
He claimed she was also ordered to reveal anyone who may have deeds and documents related to the land.
Mr Simpson submitted a copy of the letter, dated December 18, 1922.
He said he believed that the area of land was 500 acres or more.
Mr Simpson told the inquiry at Warwick Camp yesterday: “I seek justification in some form of retribution to the estate, or estates, of Josiah Smith as well as the homestead located at 57 Breakers Road, I believe to be in control of the Marsden Church of Devil’s Hole.
“I believe it to be a shame that my mother’s grandmother, Mrs Ainslie LD Manders was deprived of her heritage, and us her descendants, including myself, being deprived of the homestead controlled by Marsden Church.
“My mother always told me that her mother, Thalia Durham, and grandmother Ainslie Manders, were the family from Tucker’s Town that never received anything – no monies, no land, no nothing.”
Mr Simpson said that research he conducted indicated that “the powers that be” relocated the families living there, buying their properties, and giving or building them new houses elsewhere.
He added: “Josiah Smith also had twin daughters Dorothy and Dina and one of them died, the other was removed from her property as she resisted to move.”
He added: “The truth concerning the expropriation regarding Tucker’s Town should be more focused to Josiah Smith, my great, great, great grandfather … and I Winfield Chuck Simpson, heir to his heritage.”
Mr Simpson also highlighted the cemetery on the Tucker’s Point Club golf course, where family members were buried.
He said they included Mr Smith, Mr Smith’s brother Daniel and Daniel Smith’s wife and children, who were killed in a tornado.
Mr Simpson claimed he discovered as part of his research that the area was excavated in the 1970s and the rubble, including bones of people buried there, was dumped at the airport.
He said when developer Ed Trippe created the Tucker’s Point Club about 30 years ago, the development included a redesign of the golf course and accommodation.
He added he told the developers his family members were buried on the golf course, which led to its protection and restoration.
Mr Simpson said the Marsden Methodist Church was responsible for the upkeep of the graveyard, but that they were “very negligent” and had allowed it to become overgrown.
He added: “This made me and my mother very unhappy.”
Mr Simpson said his grandmother Thalia had wanted to be buried with her mother Ainslie in the old graveyard and his mother had to fight the church committee members as they were reluctant to give permission.
He added that was “more than likely because they did not like my grandmother Thalia Durham keeping the memory of Josiah Smith alive”.