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A historical perspective of May Pen Village at the opening of New May Pen Bridge Print E-mail
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Written by By Carl McCulloch – May Pen Villager   
Thursday, 03 August 2017 00:00

I received a call from Ruth Staine-Dawson asking if I could give a historical account of May Pen leading up to the opening of our new bridge.  She actually wanted my mom, Rosenda McCulloch to do the presentation since she lived in May Pen since before my birth.

In 1786, a group of over 2,100 people displaced from their homes on the Mosquito Shores decided to come to the settlement of British Honduras.

A free colored woman by the name of Ann Pattnett and her children, John and Lucy, came with them.

In the year 1792, Ann was given a Spanish Grant approved in Yucatan Mexico, for all the parcel of land on the South of the Belize River from Muscle Creek to Flowers Boundary and on the Northern Banks of Belize River from Black Creek to Lime Walk Creek extending North to Crooked Tree Lagoon.

Ms. Ann Pattnett established a logwood works on this property which was given the name May Pen.

•In 1823, Ann Pattnett willed to Lucy Pattnett, her holdings which included all these lands and her 10 slaves. To this day, all the lands mentioned are referred to at the Lands Department as Lucy Pattnett’s Boundary.

•The Belize River was the highway back in the day with the Cayo Boats, as they were called, making weekly trips to and from Belize City.

•The Community along the river grew rapidly as the Logwood and Mahogany trade boomed in the 1800’s and May Pen was no exception.

A Baptist school and church was built and the children from places like Washing Tree, Babiley and Lime Walk all attended school here.

•By the 1930’s, things had changed. The Logwood trade was dying and most of the mahogany in the area was already cut. Now the men had to seek seasonal employment at Hill Bank and up North in the sugar cane fields and many did not return.

•By the 1970’s, when I was born, the Cayo Boats ran no more. Villagers had to paddle, use horse or walk all the way to Sand Hill to catch a truck that made trips from the Northern Districts to Belize City. This was very difficult especially during the rainy season when the river was high and the roads were muddy and

•A devastating flood in the year 1979 saw many more families moving to neighboring villages where there were higher grounds.

•The new Northern Highway was now the new transportation hub and more families made the move from the river banks to Biscayne and Gardenia.

•In 1983, (a ray of) hope came to May Pen. A (wooden) bridge and a road with the promise that the road would soon be extended to Bermudian Landing and made into an all-weather road.

•I was 10 years old when I stood at the opening of that bridge. May Pen soon became a popular place for people from all around who came to enjoy the river as well as the friendly and welcoming people. And of course the famous cassava wine. The village prospered for many years.

However the promise of an all-weather road to Bermudian Landing never materialized and eventually, the wooden bridge deteriorated and could not support trucks any more. The road conditions also quickly deteriorated.  For many of us this meant giving up the dream of living at home.

However, today, some 34 years later, we have hope again. The promise of a new metal bridge has been fulfilled and the connecting road to Bermudian Landing has once again been opened.

It is our hope that it will soon be made into an all-weather road as was promised some 34 years ago. We have every confidence in our Area Representative, Hon. ‘Clear the Land’ Castro, that shortly this promise will also be fulfilled.

This bridge and road will once again bring prosperity back to the people of May Pen.  Thank you Minister.