Saaman Park, Chaguaramas
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By Boswell John - 1998
Chapter 1, The Past
On the 17th, September 1791, Don Jose Maria Chacon granted the islands of Patos, Huevos and Monos to the Cabildo in perpetuity to increase the towns' funds. The island of Chacachacare had previously been granted to Don Gerado Carry, who hired out various portions of it at annual rents.
On the 19th June, 1791, Surveyor Maingot certified that he had surveyed the lands of Don Guaspar de la Guardia in Chaguaramas in the quarter of the Carenage. These lands were bordered by those of Juan Pillet, J. Baptiste Boudin, and the brown woman Elie.
On the 5th, November, 1791, Surveyor Maingot certified that he had surveyed 38 fanegas and 2 quartés of land granted to Don Francisco Pelethier in the Boca de Mono in the quarter of Carenage.
The records show that Donna Isabel Johanson was granted 70 fanegas, one querta and one soler of land in Chaguaramas to cultivate; and that in 1916, the habitation known as Montjaloux was owned by a negress called Mademoiselle Felecitz Bois Ferme who had inherited it from her aunt Marie Rober, the Widow Elie.
Frederick Mallet recorded in 1797 that there were 18 cotton mills in Chaguaramas together with 10 sugar mills, 5 coffee mills and 5 rum distilleries. The surnames of the principal landowners in the area were Cripriani, Noel, Teteron, Deft, Rochard, Duvivier, Dumas, Gaspar, Mercie, Elie, Bodin, Percin, Joveu, Nicol, Simon, Gerdin, Belleraud, Ozelet, and Geline. The population of Chaguaramas comprised 64 whites, 131 free people of colour, and 607 slaves on the islands in the Bocas where the main crops were cotton. Eight whites lived with 28 free people of colour and a couple hundred slaves.
By 1812, there were 99 white settlers in Chaguaramas, and on the islands, 264 free people of colour, 1,323 slaves and 7 Amerindians. At that time 639 acres were under sugar cane, with 500 acres under cotton and 515 acres devoted to ground provisions and other food crops. Some cocoa was grown, and there were more than 100,000 plantain trees. Fishing was important and so was whaling.
In 1818, the list of estates in Chaguaramas held under Royal Grant showed F. Pelletier was granted 82 quaree with 46 slaves; S. Teteron, 92 quaree with 141 slaves; and E. C. Johnston, 151 quaree with 156 slaves.
With Emancipation in 1834, the names of 29 landowners in Chaguaramas claiming compensation for freed slaves from the British Government were published in the Trinidad Royal Gazette. There were Marcelle Andrews and Joseph Bruno of the Chaguaramas estates; Louis and Marcelle Dert of Belle Aisle and Belle Vue Estates; and Rubin Ceolin of Mon Chagrin Estate. Other estates where slaves were freed were called L'Industrie, Point Gourde and Trumpet. In the islands of the Bocas, claims were made for compensation for 151 slaves. Among the estates on the island of Monos were Anse Mahaut, Anse Caraibe, and Mon Plaisance. Seven members of the Dehere familywere claimants along with Charles Tafdieu of Mon Pleisanee.
With Emancipation, life changed considerably and the old estates went into a slump. Former slaves abandoned the estate and squatted on land in Chaguaramas, growing the food they needed. Small agricultural and fishing villages grew up. Few of the former slaves had gone far and after a while rejoined the estate as paid workers. By 1849, a measure of prosperity had returned.
The census of 1881 shows that there were 5 white people in the ward of Chaguaramas. Of 775 people living in the ward, 60 were listed as planters, managerss, and overseers. There was one teacher, numerous seamstresses, 73 boatmen, mariners and fishermen. Cocoa had become the principal crop.
Tucker Valley in Chaguaramas, which runs for 3 miles in a north/south direction from Macqueripe Bay in the North to Daystone Bay in the South, was originally known as La Cuesa. In 1854, the British Government sent William Tucker to Trinidad to help expand trade relations with Venezuela. Tucker aquired the 5,500 acre La Cuesa estate and renamed it the Tucker Valley Estate.
In 1904 the proprietors of Carenage and Chaguaramas petitioned the governor for the completion of the Carenage/Maquripe main road. They pleaded that pending the completion of the road, the Gulf steamer should be allowed to call at Macqueripe 3 days a week.
On the 12th April 1910, the Trinidad Land and Finance Company Ltd. claimed compensation for 169,200 square feet of land acquired by the government at Tucker Valley for improvement of the Chaguaramas road.
In 1912, convicts from Carrera were used to cut mangrove wood on the Tucker Valley Estate and on the 2nd April, 1912, the governor authorized the use of convict labour to cut mangrove wood in Mon Jalous Estate.
On the 17th May,1920, Mac Kenzie and company applied for a lease of Cronstadt island or a part of, for the purpose of operating a quarry. On the 7th March 1922, the governor granted a deed (#1282) leasing 8 acres and 3 roads for a period of 10 years. Also in 1922, lepers were transferred from Port-of-Spain to Chacachacare.
Patos or Goose island was claimed by the Venezuelan government. They said it was theirs when Venezuela was a province of Colombia. It was eventually ceded to Venezuela in 1942. Cronstadt was once used as a haven for rest and recreation by the police. Nelson Island was used as a depot for indentured immigrants in 1945.
In 1941 there were 1,198 acres of tonca bean trees under cultivation in the Chaguaramas area. Also, 508 acres were under crop fruit, 635 under cocoa, 446 under coconuts, 404 under limes, 126 under oranges, 80 acres under coffee, 30 acres under nutmeg. There are also two acres of saboncaia nuts, and 1,626 acres of timber on the hill surrounding the valley.
SUMMARY OF CHAPTER 1
It can be seen that Chaguaramas was originally used solely for agriculture. From 1971to 1834, slave labour was used to cultivate the estates. After 1834 paid labour was used. We also see that convict labour was used on Cronstadt island to cut mangrove wood used in the prisons. Chaguarmas was always prime agriculture land and we will see in the following chapter that the Americans had a very bountiful grapefruit crop and also a pilot project was started in 1972 to grow corn and soya.
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