Uncle Bob Road named after sea captain

Uncle Bob Road in West Bay recognizes a famous West Bayer.

Located just pass “Sticky Toffee Lane,” heading into Morgan’s Harbour, Uncle Bob Road was known years ago by the people that lived there as “Pappy Bobby” land.

Uncle Bob’s son, the late Elbert Jackson, named the road in memory of his deceased father Robert Clark Jackson, a fisherman and turtle catcher.

Born on Nov. 24, 1875 to parents Joseph William and Jane Mary Jackson, Bob went on to marry Rachel Ann Jackson. The couple had 11 children.

He died on April 10, 1954.

Uncle Bob played a vital part in the local turtling industry, a Caymanian mainstay.

“Grandfather was a man of determination and great willpower,” said Uncle Bob’s 80-year-old grandson William “Kem” Jackson.

“He was named one of Cayman’s best turtling fishermen, who sailed mate on the Goldfield on Latin America voyages between Honduras and Nicaragua in search of green sea turtles,” he said.

The Goldfield was built in 1930 by the Arch Brothers as a turtle schooner for Conwell Watler. As well as being used to carry turtles, the Goldfield also hauled cargo and passengers from Cayman to Florida.

“Wooden ships and iron men” is what Cayman fishermen were called, said Kem Jackson. “Fishing was not just a means of livelihood but woven into the very fabric of the people.”

Kem Jackson, who is known as a builder of catboats, learned the skills of building and repairing catboats at the hands of his grandfather.

Another of Robert Jackson’s sons, the late William Leslie Jackson, once lived at the entrance to Uncle Bob Road.

There are several family homes down the road nowadays. Kem Jackson’s home is a sprawling, ranch-like home with wide, manicured lawns.

Uncle Bob’s wife Rachel Ann also has a road named in her honor down the lane.

Gazing out his front porch at the vast expanse of a well-maintained lawn that was once part of his grandfather’s estate, Kem Jackson recalls making trips with his grandfather to the little, white sand beach at the end of Uncle Bob Road to swim or watch the turtle crawl.

“All the dredging destroyed it,” he said.

“There was a time when everyone in West Bay was familiar with the name Uncle Bob,” he said. “After all, he was a bona fide sea captain of great strength, who made sure things got done around the home and provided for the home by bringing home the day’s catch of conch, lobsters, fish, turtle and other grub for the family.”

He remembers well what it was like growing up in the area: “There were lots of sweetsop trees and cows around grandfather’s house. I recall people coming from all over the island to collect sweetsops from the trees.

“Papa Bob made the biggest impact in my life. He was stern and full of discipline, but he made me into the man I am today by instilling his good work ethic in me.”