Find out what’s happening behind the scenes
Catherine Chitwood of Tennessee and Vicki Durst of California first met in 1987 on a Costeau Project Ocean Search expedition in the British Virgin Islands. One of the sites that they dove on was the wreck of the Royal mail ship Rhone that wrecked in the 1867 hurricane. They became fast friends and have been diving partners since then.
To celebrate 30 years diving together, they decided to meet in the Turks and Caicos, do a dive expedition and spend a few days vacationing. While touring the historical timeline at the museum’s office in Providenciales on May 26th, they were delighted to hear the story of about Jeremiah Murphy, pioneer, hard hat diver who salvaged the wreck of the Rhone mail ship a couple years after it had wrecked and also to learn that the bell from that ship is in the bell tower in Anglican Church in South Caicos.
What a lovely connection for these avid divers to find between the place that they first met and where they chose to celebrate thirty years as diving partners. We wish you many more great dives!
The Turks and National Museum celebrated International Museum Day on May 20, 2017 with the event ‘Back in the Day’, a celebration of the heritage and culture of the Turks and Caicos Islands at its location in the Village in Grace Bay Providenciales. The museum’s management, staff, and volunteers, who guided visitors through a tour of the historical timeline of the Turks and Caicos Islands from 200m BC to the 1900s in the museum’s development office, greeted attendees.
Many commented that the traditional past time activities took them back in time and enjoyed reminiscing. Bennett Williams assisted parents, children and the young-at-heart as they played games like hopscotch, skipping rope, and rolling wheels in the yard.
During the construction of a traditional Caicos Sloop, Pastor Gold Williams and JJ Parker shared the traditional knowledge and historically important marine heritage of the islands.
David Bowen entertained with stories of Anansi the spider, and with the help of the children he brought the stories to life. He also entertained the engaged audience as he played with the Ripsaw Band. Angela Freites made a special appearance delighted all with her Ripsaw renditions and the stories of this traditional past time.
Semone Been and Oneika Wilson were two of the persons who brought us back in time as they read stories that they penned in their early childhood. These stories have been well preserved with many other short stories and poems in the 1980’s book ‘Something to Crow About’.
Euillit Pinnock, Mario Smith and the team from the Agriculture Department did a great job of advising and getting persons started in their backyard farming with seedlings. They were supported Bryan Naqqi Manco of the Department Environment and Coastal Resources.
Museum representative for the museum’s development center in Providenciales, Candianne Williams welcomed the attendees, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Environment Mrs. Cheryl Ann Forbes brought greetings on behalf of the Ministry and Minister Hon Ralph Higgs. Mrs. Jones expressed the ministry’s support for the museum’s work in promoting the history and culture of the islands and said that she hoped to see the museum hold an event like this one on the other islands as well. Mrs. Patricia Saxton, Museum Director thanked all of the persons who came together to make the event possible and everyone who came out to support it.
Special thanks to:
Special thanks to all to everyone who came out and supported this event and brought the young people to share the cultural heritage with them and also to the organized groups who came out like the Turks and Caicos Islands Sailing Association and the uniformed youth groups from the Wesley Methodist Church.
We say a big thank you to:
Sponsors: Board of Tourism, Department of Culture, Department of Agriculture, Department of Environment and Coastal Resources, Turks Head Brewery, Turtle Cove Marina, Hartling Group, Blue Loos, Mark Pankhurst, Claire Malcolm and friends
Organizing Committee: Candianne Williams, Emily Malcolm, Daphne Forbes, David Bowen, Chef Nik, Algernon Dean, Pastor Gold Williams, James Parker, Blight Clare
Volunteers: Bennett Williams, Siri White, Cecelia Rothwell, Hilary Day, Seamus Day, Brenda Ludington, Ivy Basden, Fred Glinton, Bryan Naqqi Manco, Patricia Saxton, Neil Saxton, Rotary Club of Providenciales, Scotiabank and RBC Royal Bank of Canada staff volunteers.
For a group sailing from the Bahamas to Puerto Rico who came to Providenciales on March 17th 2017, the Museum’s Grace Bay Campus was their ‘first stop’. More accurately their first stop after coffee and donuts, but that is okay. We are happy to be right up there near the top.
Hayden and Rudeen Cochran, Don and Meloney Roy, Lauren and Bill Phinney, Michelle Denton, and Charlie Oliver began their journeys from different points. They sailed from Nova Scotia, Maryland, California, Colorado and New Mexico and sailed together from the Bahamas onward. It was a pleasure to meet and conduct the tour these wonderful couples. Happy sailing!
The winner of this year’s Turks and Caicos National Museum History and Cultural Heritage Quiz is the team from Raymond Gardiner High School from North Caicos.
Second place winner is H J Robinson High School from the nation’s capital, Grand Turk. The six schools that participated all performed very well. It was evident that they prepared well. Congratulations to the students, teachers and parents and thank you for nurturing the interest in the history and culture of these islands.
Both the preliminary round and the finals were held on the same day, March 7th at Brayton Hall. Hon. Josephine Connolly Minister of Education, Youth and Sports brought remarks and made trophy presentations. Director of Education Mr. Edgar Howell and Director of Culture Ms. Ludwina Fulford along with the museum’s Director Mrs. Patricia Saxton’s brought remarks and also presented certificates, trophies and gifts to the participants.
The wining team and their coach, Ms. Stacie Ann Green Taylor will also receive a prize trip and tour of historic Cap Haitien. The second place winners will receive a prize trip and historic tour of one of the Turks and Caicos Islands. All participants received certificates of participation and backpacks, the first and second place winners received trophies. Raymond Gardiner High School will keep the challenge trophy for the year. Needless to say they were all happy winners.
Special thanks our Sponsors, Fortis TCI, TC Reef Fund, Caicu Naniki , Marco Travel and the Department of Education; our distinguished judges led by Mr. Don Stark, Moderator Ms. Rachel Taylor, Mr. Bradford Handfield for technical support and our wonderful facilitators and support teams for the Department of Education and Turks and Caicos National Museum.
Catherine and Molly Weis, daughters of Dr. Tom and ‘Mudder’ Weis, dropped by to visit the Caicos Heritage Exhibit on February 28 2017. As they reminisced about their days on North Caicos, Catherine shared some of her fond memories. She paused at the field basket to go back to the times she accompanied Bertha Belle to sow seeds in the garden.
They are very passionate about preserving the rich heritage of the Turks and Caicos Islands. After hearing so much about the Weis family, I was delighted to meet them. We at the museum are very grateful to the Weis family for the major role that they played in the establishment of the Caicos Heritage Exhibit. We look forward to welcoming you again.
On February 8, 2017 Chairman of the Turks and Caicos National Museum, Dr. Donald Keith shared his knowledge and experience with high school students. Dr. Keith directed the excavation, analysis, and conservation of the Molasses Reef Wreck, the oldest shipwreck found in the Americas.
He also shared his experiences of leading a research team to find and identify the slave ship Trouvadore off East Caicos as well as shipwreck investigations in other countries. He answered many questions and explained the link between the several subjects they now study and marine archaeology. There were students from Maranatha Academy, British Collegiate, Precious Treasures, Champions for Christ International School of Excellence, and Clement Howell High School.
The signs for the Turks and Caicos National Museum Development Office in the Village at Grace Bay are up! Thank you to Mr. Bradley Coalbrooke for the design and all of the other steps including the applications for the necessary permissions.
Special thanks to Mr. Kirkley Williams of AND Construction for facilitating the erecting of the signs. To Luckner and the rest of the AND team thank you! We really appreciate your support, could not have done it without you!
By Donald H Keith, Chairman
Board of Directors
The first time I met Sherlin it was in the Museum’s Science Building’s workshop. He was just putting the finishing touches on the 150 year-old clockwork mechanism that made the light turn. I was amazed because it was an intricate piece of equipment for which no plans or instructions were available. He had been working on it for months and through observation and persistence alone, figured it out by himself. It made more sense later when I learned that in a previous life he had a business in the Bahamas repairing high-end cameras! And he didn’t just repair them, he was a pretty good photographer too! In 2010 he showed me computer-manipulated artwork he was producing called “photocraphs”, each composed of scores or even hundreds of different images combined to tell a story.
Each time I made a visit to the Museum on Grand Turk Sherlin was there, always ready to explore newly discovered archaeological sites, conduct research in the Museum’s library, investigate a mystery, or get his hands dirty cleaning and conserving artifacts.
Over the years he authored several articles for the Astrolabe including, “Grand Turk’s Postcard Man,” and “The Time-Travelling Beach Comber”. Mr. Sherlin McDonald Williams died on January 2, 2017. He was an avid supporter of the Museum, a good friend, a native son of the TCI and one of its most ardent and active local historians—but he is not lost to us. He is still here in the Museum. You can hear him in the words he wrote, see photos of him working to preserve other people’s history, and admire the art he created, all preserved in perpetuity here in the Museum. You can read more about Sherlin Williams and his many contributions in the Spring 2017 issue of the Times of the Islands magazine.
The Museum is again proud to host Dr. Kelley Scudder-Temple, Mike Temple and Alex Temple working to finish digitizing 19th century church records from the Anglican and the Methodist Churches. Both churches will receive copies of these records on a USB memory stick so that they are viewable using a laptop. This will help to preserve the original records by having the information easily accessible. The records will also be available on the British Library web site in about one year.
The Museum is working with the Salem Baptist Church to do a sampling of their records to show just how important it is to have the records available without touching the originals. The team will be here through mid-February. We hope we can continue this important work by seeking donations and future grants. There is much more work to be done!