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Published: January 7th 2010
Quick - name the only country, other than what is now that United States, that was visited by George Washington. Time’s up! The answer is Barbados. (Two point penalty if you said England.)
It was 1751 and young George’s older half-brother had consumption. It was thought that the soft air of a Caribbean island might cure the disease; so off he went, with George as his companion. (Hmm…wonder if I could get my doctor to sign off on this prescription…)
Once there, the brothers found the accommodations that they had been promised were no longer available. But, hey, we have this really nice building over here, don’t worry about the fact that we used it to house French prisoners, we’ll just sweep it out a bit and it will be fine. Really.
The brothers ended up renting the former prison for about double the going rate. But it did have a great view of the sea, and there was a nice breeze.
George and his brother stayed in Barbados only a few months. In the spring George went back to Virginia for the spring planting season and his brother - still sick - went to Bermuda where
Water filtration system
Water was poured in the topmost of two bowls that were carved from limestone or coral. As the water dripped through the porous stone, it was filtered and cooled.
he subsequently died.
Barbados has done a nice job of honoring its history. The George Washington House has been carefully restored to look as it did when occupied by the brothers. It is located on the edge of the Garrison Savannah, which in addition to housing The Barbados Turf Club, is also home to the Main Guard Building, The Barbados Museum (another former prison), an open air cannon museum, and the present day barracks of the Barbados Defense Force.
If you are interested in military history, another site of interest is the Military Cemetery, located next to the Hilton Hotel on the outskirts of Bridgetown. English, Bajan, and a few American servicemen are buried here. There is even a plaque honoring the US military who were involved in the operation in Grenada in 1983.
By the way; George Washington contracted a mild case of smallpox while in Barbados. Bajans say quite proudly that this was their contribution to the American Revolutionary War. The theory goes that since had contracted smallpox in Barbados as a young man, he had immunity to the disease when it swept through his troops at Valley Forge. Since he didn’t fall ill, he
was able to lead his troops to victory, and his country to independence. And it all started on this little island.
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