Founding date: 1600s
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The sugar mill on this estate is no longer in existence, but it is known that the estate converted to steam in the mid-1800s under the ownership of F. Garraway. Horseford Almanac.
Progress and time have obliterated any trace of this estate; however, the area continues to retain the name.
Estate Related History/Timeline
Colonel Sebastiaen, whose signature is conspicuous on the capitulation document ending the French and British war as well as letters which passed between the two after the war, was of Dutch extraction. He emigrated to Antigua from Holland early in the island’s colonization; died in London in 1704, and his will — dated 17 June 1701 (proved 26 October 1704 by the executors, recorded at Antigua 17 June 1705) — stated “To my nephew, Bastiaen Otto Baijer, eldest son of my nephew John Otto Baijer, a moiety of my plantation of 588 acres in St. John’s Division at 25, and the other moiety to his father.” “Antigua & the Antiguans.” His will also specified that his remains should be interred in the vaults of the Dutch church in Austin Friars. Many of his descendants died without issue and left his property to the individual who assumed his name. They usually resided on the island for a year or two. The William Crosbie Estate Papers (#2) contain letters from John Otto Baijer, who was the agent/manager for the Crosbie estate (1792-1816).
Otto’s Bluff was situated above Garling’s land, south of St. John’s, on the hill known as Michael’s Mount, where the Mt. St. John Hospital sits today. It overlooked Country Pond. The following quote refers to the area as Otto’s Dam for Dam Gutter, names used prior to the actual building of Country Pond:
“Otto’s Dam, on what is now called Camacho Avenue, or Dam Gutter as it was back then, was another supply of water in St. John’s in times of drought, but Otto’s Estate owners never did like to give the city people water. Sometimes the governor have to dip mouth in there for them to get water.” Sammy Smith, “To Shoot Hard Labour”.
“Otto’s Pasture was where they executed the slaves. Bodies stretched from Gallows Hill, where the archives are now, down past Vivian Richards Street and Temple to Green Hill Bay. Crosses, gibbets and stakes, where slaves were burnt to death. There is a large tree in the yard of the ‘Ah We Soup Shop’ near Temple Street, which young children did not want to pass by. Slaves hung from that tree and it was said to be an evil place. Otto’s Pasture was a place later where black people met to gamble and fight, a lawless den of iniquity.” Selvyn Water, “Not A Drum Was Heard”.
The Scottish Kirk, a place of worship, was built on the estate hill where the Archives of Antigua and Barbuda are now located. It was never considered a particularly outstanding building architecturally. “The half finished Kirk of the Scotchmen . . the foundation stone of this place of worship was laid with the usual ceremonies by Sir William Colebrook, the late governor, on 9th of April, 1839. It is situated upon an ascent on the eastern outskirts of the town, and from it may be seen many a lovely landscape. It progresses but slowly. In its present form I can say but little about it, except that the same fault cannot be found with it as there has been with the Methodist chapel – the small size of the windows – for the Scotch kirk appears to be all windows and doors.” Vere Oliver, Volume 1.
The church was destroyed in the mid-1800s and was never rebuilt, seemingly due to little interest in the Presbyterian religion at that time. The bell was given to the Anglican Cathedral, and is most likely still located in its North tower, which houses a collection of 13 old bells that comprise the carillon, including one from the Golden Grove estate (#23). One large bell enables the clock to strike the hour. It is inscribed: “Presented by W. H. Thompson and A. Coltart to the Presbyterian Church, Antigua, Thomas Mears Founder, London 1842.” That bell is approximately 30 inches high not including the bracket on top, with a diameter of 40 inches at the base. It is cast in bronze. The South tower has two bells: one for weddings and one for funerals. Vere Oliver, Volume I.
Otto’s was paid a legacy award by the British Parliament in 1833 of £2,549. 6s. 1p. (Antigua 108) for freeing 175 enslaved. The only awardee was Langford Lovell, who owned the estate at that time.
Also in 1833, Antigua experienced a very severe earthquake between eight and nine in the evening. “There were twenty-one distinct shocks felt between twelve at night and five in the morning. A fire broke out at Otto’s estate which was supposed by many to have been occasioned by a meteor striking a wooden building. Credence was leant to this when the attorney of Otto’s estate witnessed a meteor descend upon a branch of a coco-nut tree, which grew near his house, and set it on fire’. Vere Oliver, Vol.I.
An 1844 census shows Richard Abbott as manager at Otto’s Plantation; the overseer was Alfred Nanton. Phillip Abbott, Memories of . . . .
Daniel Burr Garling appears to have arrived in Antigua around 1804, if not before. Blue Books show that Daniel was Assistant Superintendent at Skerretts (#114) in 1804; Acting Assistant Superintendent of Agriculture that same year; 2nd Outdoor Officer in the Treasury in 1805; and Acting Harbormaster and 1st Outdoor Officer in the Treasury in 1807 and 1809. At the time of his death he had served for 27 years. The Government recommended an annual allowance of £50 for his wife, which the Colonial Office approved. Between 1818 and 1856, he wrote 59 letters from Antigua for the Bible Society and was very involved with the Wesleyan-Methodist Church and the preaching of Nathaniel Gilbert. He attended the laying of the corner stone in 1837.
James A. Thomas & Horace Kimball, “Six Months Tour of Antigua & Jamaica”. Daniel’s name appears on the 1822 Committee for the English Harbour Sunday School Society for Boys and Girls. The Vice Chairman was John Gilbert, Esq., and the Superintendent of the Girl’s School and Book Steward was Mrs. Gilbert. In 1849, he was listed as the attorney for thirty-nine estates. His letters from 1830 show his support for emancipation and state “in the year 1833 the Gang of Slaves which were at Crawford’s are to be free — about 150 people old and young, & I believe a patch of ground will be purchased for them to live & maintain themselves upon. So Antigua is likely to be first honoured with a free peasantry. Hitherto no free persons will work in the field & this makes a great difficulty in the planters way — but of these people will occasionally hire themselves out as a Gang to hole by the acre or do other work to which they have been accustomed, surely some facilities will be given to a new and better order of things. I hope you pray for Slaves & for the inhabitants of Antigua generally at times — you ought, as most of your ease & comfort spring from thence.” Daniel Burr Garling, prior to his ownership of Otto’s estate in 1858, was an attorney for several of Antigua’s sugar plantation owners. He left the estate to his son, Samuel Henry Garling, whose wife was Harriet Maria (nee Caddy) and his daughter was Caroline Sophia Garling. He was the author’s great-great-great-grandfather, and several letters have been found which he wrote to a Mr. Charles Curtis (see sample). It is a quaint mixture of business and idle chatter, while the use of words such as “cuten” and “quire” are no longer in today’s vocabulary.
“April 19th 1808
“Dear Sir: You wrote for paper. I have sent you some of two sorts cuten. Use the receipt of the best quire (foolscap) in the Plantation Journal the other is good enough for a sick house book. You have omitted to charge Geo Buttery’s Board which to 31st December last at £40 the annum amounts to £28-11-111/2 – being 8 months & 18 days. Mr. Hill paid you £18 on 22nd December in this respect. I believe your account is right. The Fleet is gone or going — They endeavour to get away at twelve O’clock. Twas well you found Capt Head as old Drysdale is so grumpsious he may fret himself to death in the passage. – Neighbour Altus writes me that his disappointment with Miss Fanny has laid so heavy on his heart that he had the fever all night and is very unwell today — I have half a mind to send her a billet with the distressing information — poor fellow. The mail just arrived. I have not yet heard the News. Yours sincerely Daniel B. Garling” An excerpt from Daniel’s December 1857 will reads: “I give and bequeath to me dear wife for and during the term of her natural life and in lieu of and bar of Dover all that my Estate of Plantation called The Otto Estate situated lying and being in the Parish of St. John on this island containing 6 hundred and Seventy seven acres of land or thereabouts together with the Mills sugar works Mansions and other buildings and premises thereon belong with all their uses mules cattle sheep and other live and dead Stock though subject nevertheless to the lease of certain lands to Robert John Barton and afterwards to my son Samuel Henry Garling and subject also to annual sums of payment to be made to our dear children namely the sum on One Hundred and Eighty Pounds to our dear son Samuel Henry and the sum of Eighty Pounds to our dear daughter Caroline Sophia payable to each one half every six months the first of such half yearly payments to bone made and become due one month after the day of my decease.”
Samuel Henry Garling, Daniel’s son, became a merchant in St. John’s, and gambled away the family’s fortune and the estate until there was just a narrow strip of land between Mt. Saint John Medical Center and the harbor known as “Garling’s Land”. Title to that land was eventually transferred to his wife, Harriet Maria Garling. Samuel left Antigua on a ship in 1868 and was never heard from again. A death notice of Samuel Henry Garling was listed in the Post Office Directory at Grevilles, 258 miles north of Sydney, Macquarie (Index 10851/1892), District of Parramatta, a suburb of Sydney. It lists “parents unknown.” He was found shot dead in a ditch after renting a horse, which returned to the livery stables without him. The author’s grandmother, Margaret Furlong Conacher (nee McSevney) remembers as a young girl having to accompany her grandmother, Harriet Garling, every Saturday in a buggy c.1914 as she collected rent from the poor residing in Garling’s land. The rent was only one or two shillings at the time, but people were hard pressed to pay it. “My grandmother did not look forward to collecting it, but the income was necessary for the family’s survival after the disappearance of her grandfather, Samuel Garling.”
The last of the land, sold to individuals in 1948, settled the Garling’s estate: £3,870 was divided between heirs Mrs. Goodall, Mr. N. Garling, Mrs. A. Goodwin, Mrs. Duncan and Mrs. M. Conacher. On the sale of the property, there was mention of Lot 10 which sold for $890; Lot 11A sold for $1,200; and Lot 11B sold for $1,440. At the time, the dollar in Antigua was equivalent to 100 English halfpennies, or 4s. 1p. in English currency.
1918: “The Contract Act and wages were being renegotiated which caused much unrest within the labour force of the sugar industry when Colonel Bell was Chire of Police. Cane fires were set at Otto’s estate and in the early morning hours at Gamble’s (#14), just outside St. John’s. The next morning the cane cutters at Otto’s refused to cut the damaged canes and the owner sent in cutters from another of the estates, under police protection. “At this time (Chief) Bell thought he had everything under control and that night another field was set alight very close to Government House. Four men were identified in the crowd as the ring leaders and Bell was determined to arrest them: Joseph Collins, George Weston, John Furlong and ‘Sonny’ Price. They not only lived in the city but lived in the Point area considered a lew until itself. Upon arrest Furlong escaped but was later killed that afternoon. “At this point a large crowd gathered from Popeshead and Newgate down to Point with the rallying cry ‘no payment by the ton’ and the militia was called in to disperse them. Several bayonet charges were attempted and then an order to fire. Fifteen people were injured, two or three subsequently died. Thirty eight were arrested and at least half of them were women who had all been throwing stones. A curfew was set but the unrest continued and Col. Bell called in reinforcements which included a British patrol boat. However, all was quiet by the time they arrived. A large rock in the sidewalk on the corner of Popeshead and Newgate streets commemorate the riots.” Susan Lowes, “Antigua History”.
“The family loved Ottos Estate. The manager and my grandfather were ‘tinkin kin’ friends and not even the wind could blow between them. At that time most people wanted to live in the capital, St. John’s, or close to it. Ottos Estate was only a few yards away. The midwifes were close by, so too were the Women Healers, the market, milk for the baby and tobacco for my grandfather.” Keithlyn Smith, “Aunty Dood – Symbol of Courage”.
Antonia Joseph Camacho (d. 1894), owned Otto’s as of 1891, plus several other plantations, as noted in previous plantation descriptions.
In 1941, the Antigua Sugar Factory Ltd. cane returns from Otto’s were estimated at 1,585 tons from 68 acres. Tons of can actually delivered: 822 at 9.72 tons per acre.
Additional information on Otto’s estate can be found at the National Archives, Kew Gardens, England, as referenced below. These records are not digitized but are available to researchers visiting on site. **
“1855-1876 Papers, Correspondence, Plans and Deeds: Garroway: Otto’s: Antigua; No.102. Held at The National Archives (UK) – ColoniaL OFFICE REF. #CO441/11/1.
** 1855 – 1876 Papers, Correspondence, Plans, Deeds: Garroway: Otto’s Antigua No. 102. Held at the National Archives (UK) – Colonial Office Ref. #CO 441/11/4.
Enslaved People’s History
Based on contemporary research, we have little information to share about the enslaved peoples from this plantation at this time. They probably had at maximum 165 people working at that plantation. When the British abolished slavery in 1833 Otto’s was paid a legacy award by the British Parliament of £2,549. 6s. 1p. (Antigua 108) for freeing 175 enslaved. The only awardee was Langford Lovell, who owned the estate at that time. There is a morbid excerpt about a specific part of the mill, “Otto’s Pasture was where they executed the slaves. Bodies stretched from Gallows Hill, where the archives are now, down past Vivian Richards Street and Temple to Green Hill Bay. Crosses, gibbets and stakes, where slaves were burnt to death. There is a large tree in the yard of the ‘Ah We Soup Shop’ near Temple Street, which young children did not want to pass by. Slaves hung from that tree and it was said to be an evil place. Otto’s Pasture was a place later where black people met to gamble and fight, a lawless den of iniquity.” Selvyn Water, Not A Drum Was Heard. Another fact of interest is that before Daniel Burr Garling gained ownership of the mill in 1858, he supported the emancipation of slaves. His letters from 1830 show his support for emancipation and state “in the year 1833 the Gang of Slaves which were at Crawford’s are to be free — about 150 people old and young, & I believe a patch of ground will be purchased for them to live & maintain themselves upon. So Antigua is likely to be first honoured with a free peasantry. Hitherto no free persons will work in the field & this makes a great difficulty in the planters way — but of these people will occasionally hire themselves out as a Gang to hole by the acre or do other work to which they have been accustomed, surely some facilities will be given to a new and better order of things. I hope you pray for Slaves & for the inhabitants of Antigua generally at times — you ought, as most of your ease & comfort spring from thence.” We will continue our quest for more information about these vital individuals.
- 1600’s: Colonel Sebastiaen Baijer d. 1704
- 1701: Colonel John Otto Baijer d. 1725
- 1790: John Oliver Baijer d. 1790 (1777/78 map by cartographer John Luffman.)
- 1800: John Otto Baijer d. 1816
- 1829: John Otto Baijer 678 acres, 165 slaves
- 1852: Langford Lovell Hodge Baptized 1771; d. 1817. 578 acres
- 1858: Daniel Burr Garling (1785-1857)
- 1860: Samuel Henry Garling (1836-1892)
- 1872: F. Garraway
- 1878: S. Dobee & Sons
- 1891: Antonio Joseph Camacho d. 1894
- 1921: John J. Camacho
- 1933: W. T. Malone