Seaford Town is probably the best known of the German settlements in Jamaica. Nestled in the Montpelier Mountains on western end of the island, Seaford Town is a small community that, in 1835, welcomed approximately 300 German nationals.
There are at least two versions of the story of how they came. By one account, the planters, who were outnumbered by the slaves, feared for their own safety following the 1831 Christmas Rebellion. The presence of armed men, they felt, would deter future revolts so they looked for men who would have been trained and would have had weapons. Since German men were required to serve in the military and were equipped with rifles, they became the logical choice.
Another account is that the Jamaican Assembly appointed a Prussian, William Lemonius, to recruit “bountied” European immigrants to establish settlements in the island’s interior. Their presence, it was felt, would encourage the ex-slaves (slavery was abolished in 1834) to work harder. They were promised housing and a salary, which would be paid weekly until their crops began to grow. They would also be given title to their lots.
Upon arrival from Bremen in December, 1835, they had to build their own homes, were expected to work long hours and exist on very meager rations cornmeal, flour, lard, beef and saltfish. Within a few years after they arrived, several died. In time, they learned how to grow bananas, ginger, cocoa, cassava and coffee.
Descendants of those Germans who came to Jamaica in the 19th century and earlier can be found in St. Ann, St. Mary and Trelawny but of all the communities, Seaford Town has the strongest retentions. Other evidence of the German connection can be found in place names such as Manhertz Gap, Bremen Valley, Hessen Castle, Mount Holstein and Charlottenburg, among others.
Seaford Town is located about 25 miles from Montego Bay. A small museum containing artifacts, photographs and other documents can be found there as well as the Roman Catholic church, the first church built in Seaford Town. Entrance Fee: J$500, roughly US$6.00.
This is my submission to this week’s Budget Travelers Sandbox Travel Photo Thursday series. Be sure to check out other photo and story entries on their website.