Columbus lands at San Salvador to the South, and meets Lucayan Indians. Their name was derived from two words of their tongue, Lukku-Cairi or “Island People”. In 1990 proof that Lucayans resided in Hope Town came when a resident was digging the ground to build a water cistern and unearthed a skull and other bone fragments, these were carbon dated to 600 years ago, 1390, the bones were identified to be a male 21-25 years old.
According to Woodes Rogers the Governor of Nassau in 1718, Captain John King of the brigantine, Neptune was detained at Green Turtle Cay, Abaco by Pirate Captain Charles Vane, his quarter master Calico Jack Rackham and his crew which may have included Anne Bonny and Mary Read disguised as men. The pirates robbed and “rifled as they saw fit”.
Some of the first settlers that came to Hope Town were Wyannie Malone and three of her children Ephraim, David and Young Wyannie who was married to Jacob Adams. Both Ephraim and Jacob had been Loyalist soliders in South Carolina. In 1807 both of these men received large land grants on Elbow cay. The deed below shows that Jacob Adams received 260 acres, for his services to King George the Third.
The Hope Town wreckers who were motivated to salvage the ship’s cargo also saved countless lives by speeding to the sinking ships. In 1853 Capt Robert Sands of the schooner “Oracle” saved the passengers of the ship “William and Mary”, bound from Liverpool to New Orleans and received the Silver Medal from the Royal National Institution for the preservation of Lives from Shipwreck, see photo below:
The wreckers of Hope Town were not at all happy to see the lighthouse being built. This would mean an end to their very successful livelihood. Many residents refused to give the workers fresh water. It also said, that a few men sculled over one night, to the dock and sank the boats that were filled with building materials. Interestingly, in 2014, the residents of Hope Town celebrated the 150th Birthday of the Lighthouse and are engaged in a Massive Restoration project to ensure that this light stays on!
Hope Town was the “Boat Building Capital of Abaco”. Harbour Mouth Cay,the area north of the lighthouse, was the center of the shipwright’s activity, there, they built schooners ranging in size from 50 to 484 tons. They also built “Smack Boats” and the handsome Bahama dinghys, you still see today, made by Winer Malone. Around 1900 Hope Town was the homeport for at least 200 one, two, and three masted vessels. In 1921 steam shipping became popular and the demand for wooden ships declined, leaving many men without work, they found work at the Wilson City Lumber Camp.
Wilson City shut down in 1916 and many people moved to Nassau, Miami and Key West, were there were jobs available.
This was of great importance, two-way communication with Nassau which in 1920 required at least two weeks if the wind and seas were favourable, could now be accomplished in a matter of minutes.
Providing a new source of employment and increased flow of tourists. The first C.B radios, a few T.V’s and outboard motors arrived.
Replacing the few noisy diesel generators.
With the expansion of Hotels and Rental Homes exploding in the 1990’s. Around 1898 there were 1200 people living in Hope Town Settlement, in 1968 there were 100. Today, the island hosts about 500 year-round residents, 500 second homeowners that come and go, and when at full capacity, all beds full the island can hold almost 2,000 people.