Gems from the Archives –15 “Fahie share croppers”

In 1939 Joseph  Ferara and  his sister Emily Dinzey, were willing to sell Fahie estate (approximately  320 acres) to government for land settlement of labourers.  They wanted to keep 16 acres of pasture as this was needed for the stock on Sir Gillies Estate which did not have any pasture of its own. They also wanted to obtain  grass from Fahie  for the stock at Sir Gillies without charge. Some stands of mahogany trees were not to be included in the sale. On the property there was a shingled house belonging to the estate and  houses belonging to the labourers. Part of the estate was planted in provisions on a share cropping arrangement so compensation would have to be made to the planters. They were willing to accept £4500 sterling for 310 acres.   Government accepted all conditions but not the picking of grass to feed animals on Sir Gillies Estate

There were 64 peasants on Fahie cultivating 225 acres. (see first list) The land owners received one third of the crops grown in return for the use of the land.  The peasants were to be given notice if this arrangement was not to continue after the acquisition.   Ferara was to remove whatever machinery he required within six months and anything remaining on Fahie’s was then to become the property of the Government

The estate was formally handed over on the 15th March.  R Kelsick, Agricultural Superintendent recommended that a proper road  to the estate be laid down and that Adolphus Laplace, who had been working at Fahie for many years should be  appointed temporary ranger at 10/- per week.  He also insisted that provision be made for a suitable water supply.  Kelsick also drew up an inventory  of the houses on the estate  showing the condition they were in (see second list).  He noted that the estate house was in poor condition and the upstairs was unoccupied.

Fahie was to be divided into 3 acre lots to be let to selected tenants, chosen by a committee appointed for the purpose.  There were 133 applications.  The majority consisted of  81 applications from the Sandy Point area with another 15 from around St. Paul.  While most were agricultural workers, there were among the applicants seamstresses and tailors, carpenters, bakers, blacksmiths,  shoemakers and even a druggist. Sixty applicants, all men from the vicinity of Sandy Point and St. Paul, were selected as tenants and each given 3 acres of land for which they were to pay one shilling and three pence per month until a decision was made as to ownership.  Cultivation was to be under the direction of the  Agricultural Superintendent and an agricultural officer.  Peasants were to be provided with fertilizer the cost of which was to be repaid and a tractor was going to be available for heavy ploughing.  The project was inaugurated on the 27th October 1939 by the Acting Administrator H Boon.  Attending the simple ceremony were Clement Malone and Thomas Manchester, both members of the Council and W Walwyn who was a member of committee that had selected the new tenants from among the applicants.