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This is the oldest house in the Village of Kingelly, West Coast Berbice (WCB), according to the Council’s record.
The cottage is also the first building constructed on the pasture land owned by Cudjoe McPherson, the former slave whose name is associated with the purchases of Kingelly and Litchfield, WCB.
Mathilda McPherson, the oldest granddaughter of Cudjoe McPherson, and her husband Haley Young built this house in 1888. That was 134 years ago. The union borne five children: – Charlie, Mary, Harry, Dorothy and Julia. Julia, who was trade unionist Lincoln Lewis’ grandmother, was the granddaughter of Beaton McPherson, who was the son of Cudjoe McPherson.
Haley worked at sea as a trawler captain. Mathilda was a homemaker. She also assisted on the farms at Litchfield and Kingelly, growing rice, ground provisions and greens, and rearing cows, sheep, pigs and fowls. In those days cow’s milk was not sold but given away.
The cottage is situated on the left side of the public road heading in the direction of Rosignol. Within the walls of this cottage and in its yard resides a rich history.
Harry, the last child of Mathilda and Haley, inherited the house. He married Mary Fordyce of Seafield (No. 42) West Coast Berbice. Their union produced two sons, Lambert and Herbert; the latter now deceased. Harry sired two other children, namely, Nevin Wallerson and Clyde Young. Mary was born on 3rd May 1908 and Harry 1900, said Lambert.
Harry was the Village Chairman for Kingelly and Litchfield. Mary was a seamstress who also trained young girls to enter the profession. Lewis shared that his great aunt was also a good cook and her home was a place anyone could have stopped in for a meal.
This house was a hub of activities and meeting place, reminisced Lambert. Before the village office was constructed all meetings were held there. According to him, the District Commissioner and politicians visited the home, and the yard was the hub for political discussions and entertainment.
Lambert was proud to inform Village Voice, as village chairman his father was instrumental in a well being dug in Kingelly and gave up a piece of their land to make it possible. Before the well the villagers walked to Litchfield, which is five villages away, to fetch water and fill the tanks in the yards. The construction of the well eliminated the journey and also made water accessible to neighbouring villages. Harry was also instrumental in the village having a cemetery, and in this case a sizable portion of Cudjoe’s land was donated.
The house was also the landmark for family members that lived outside the village. “This was the home where families, passing through the village, would stop, have a meal, meet others or do business relating to family matters,” said Lambert.
It was also under Harry’s leadership that the village constructed the first Village Office, informed his son. In addition to being village chairman, Harry also doubled as community leader. Lewis recalled that people would visit his great uncle to discuss their problems, resolve conflicts, and anything they felt was deserving of his attention, advice and intervention. “Daddy was literate, assisted villagers in composing their letters and pursuing issues at Government Departments,” added his son.
Lambert followed in his father’s footsteps. He worked in local government, rising to the position of Town Clerk in Linden, before migrating to the United States in 2001.
The Youngs had owned a coconut factory which produced 45 gallons of coconut oil every fortnight. The factory employed persons from Kingelly and surrounding villages.
The cottage was recently vacated, and the family is preparing to do repairs and preserve it in its present form. The outside of the house remains in its original form except for the removal of the shingles boards.