Faces of Roatan


In 2015 we set out to capture a few of the faces that make up the tiny island of Roatan, Bay Islands, Honduras. These portraits of older generation islanders became a show that captured the hearts of both locals and visitors alike. In a much anticipated sequel in 2018, we returned to the different areas of the island to photograph and interview new folks. This collection is a tribute to all of the faces we have met thus far on this photographic journey, some of whom have since passed on. Their stories are their own, their faces are raw and real, recognizing the everyday histories that make up our collective past.


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Copyright ©2020 by Shawn Jackson 

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Angus "Pisco" Watler

Angus "Pisco" Watler

Coxen Hole, Roatan

Age: 76 (2018)

"Pisco" was born in Lima, near San Pedro Sula on the mainland of Honduras. His mother was from Roatan and his father was from Belize. Pisco has lived on Roatan since 1951 though he has spent some time back and forth on the mainland. He lives in the Swamp. He is married and has 12 children. Through the years he has worked as a cook, a dancer, a waiter, among other jobs. He is most known to generations of islanders for his small newspaper and peanut stand downtown Coxen Hole near the park.

Marlin Castela Brooks Johnson

Marlin Castela Brooks Johnson

Coxen Hole, Roatan

Age: 72 (2018)

Marlin was born in Flowers Bay. Her mother, who was from Roatan, was a midwife. Her father was from Oak Ridge. There were 9 children in the family. She has lived all over the island as well as over in Cortes where she worked helping a woman with her new baby. She worked in West End doing laundry. She now lives in Coxen Hole with her husband, Pisco ( featured above ). They have eight children and many grandchildren.

Catherine Dilbert Wood

Catherine Dilbert Wood

Coxen Hole, Roatan

Age: 92 (2018)

Catherine was born in Diamond Rock. Her father took her to West End to live with family after her mother passed away when she was seven. In 1941 she moved to Coxen Hole and has lived there most of her life. There, she had a small store and continues to run a parking lot. She has, at times, lived in the United States with one of her two children. Catherine is married, her husband is deceased. Catherine's mother was from Roatan and her father was from Grand Cayman.

Nelson Jackson McNab

Nelson Jackson McNab

French Key, Roatan

Age: 90 (2018)

Nelson was born July 22, 1928 in French Key. His mother was from Roatan. His maternal grandfather, a McNab, having come from Scotland to Roatan, married someone local and had Nelson's mother. Nelson's paternal grandfather was from South Carolina and his paternal grandmother's family was from Bonacca and the Caymans. Nelson grew up in French Key. At age 23 he married his wife, Nelly Dixon who was also from French Key. His wife passed 18 years ago. Nelson never really left French Key until 1959 when he went out to sea. He worked on ships from 1959-1967 and again from 1971 to 1973. Nelson traded land for two shrimp boats that family still operate. He is still an active farmer, growing plantains, bananas and raising cows nearby and in First Bight. He walks miles nearly every day to his farm. Nelson has 11 children, though two have passed. He has 26 grandchildren and 27 great grandchildren. He loves his motorcycle though has "had to take it easy" as he's gotten older.

Ludia Hunt

Ludia Hunt

Punta Gorda, Roatan

Age: 77 (2018)

Ludia was born in Punta Gorda and has lived there her whole life. Her father was from Flowers Bay and her mother was from Punta Gorda with Garifuna heritage. Ludia worked farming "in the bush" and fishing. She also made cassava bread and coconut oil to sell. She has eight children and now has two grandchildren. Recently she survived a house fire that burned her house along with the homes of her family members living next door.

Daniel "Morris" Samuel Pinnace

Daniel "Morris" Samuel Pinnace

Sandy Bay, Roatan

Age: 76 (2018)

Daniel or "Mr. Morris" as he's commonly known, was born in Johnson Bight near Crawfish Rock. He was raised on the mainland, in La Ceiba. Mr. Morris has many children and grandchildren. He has had many different jobs throughout his life though he's always been a fisherman. He can be seen hand line fishing in his dory just out from Sandy Bay.

Ruth Woods Hyde

Ruth Woods Hyde

French Harbor, Roatan

Age: 87 (2018)

Ruth was born in French Harbor. When she was three she went with her grandparents to live on Bonacca, Guanaja until the age of eight. From there she went with her mother to Belize where she attended school. She also lived in the United States before returning to Bonacca. There, she met Meade Hyde and the two were married and returned to French Harbor. The couple had five children and Ruth stayed home to raise them, later beginning a teaching career. She went on to teach many generations of community children.

Adela Menita Beckford Woods

Adela Menita Beckford Woods

Coxen Hole, Roatan

Age: 92 (2018)

Adela was born in Coxen Hole. Her father's family were the Beckfords from Jamaica, with English ancestors. They immigrated to Roatan during the "Banana Republic" era. Her mother was from Roatan and her mother's mother came from Balfate as a child. Adela was a baker of wedding cakes for many years but is best remembered in her community for her work as a natural pediatric Midwife. Families would bring their babies to her for medical care. In 1987 she went to live in the United States with family. In the US she worked in hospital pediatrics and worked as a caregiver for the elderly. Three years ago she moved back to the island. She has two children and many grandchildren and great grandchildren.

A. Alexander Dale

A. Alexander Dale

Coxen Hole, Roatan

Age: 61 (2018)

Alexander was born in La Ceiba in 1957. His parents were both from La Ceiba. His mother's parents were from the Caymans. When he was nine, his father passed away. His mother moved to New York and then sent for Alexander's stepfather and the children. On June 6, 1973 he arrived in the US. Alexander lived in New York on and off for 20 years. He lived in Europe for ten years, spending time in Germany, Spain, Italy and then England. He speaks German, Spanish, Italian, and English. Back in NYC, he worked in after hours clubs and got involved translating for a businessman from South America who was running an illegal business. Later, Alexander's name was given to police due to his involvement with this man and he was arrested and asked to provide information. He returned to mainland Honduras and later to Roatan in 2000. He worked as a baggage handler at the Ferry terminal and now works washing cars.

Kenneth James

Kenneth James

Flowers Bay, Roatan

Age: 59 (2018)

Kenneth James is Victoria's (below) son. He was born in the very house in which his mother still resides. He has one child. He works painting houses and has also worked on cruise ships. Kenneth was able to travel to many places on board ships including the United States and enjoys traveling.

Ester Victoria James

Ester Victoria James

Flowers Bay, Roatan

Age: 94 (2018)

Victoria was born in Flowers Bay and has lived there her whole life. Her parents were born in Flowers Bay and her grandparents, just down the road in Pensacola. Victoria has 13 children, nine living. She stayed home to raise them and made coconut oil to sell. She has 32 grandchildren. "God is good," she says.

Ivy Reborn Warren

Ivy Reborn Warren

Coxen Hole, Roatan

Age: 79 (2018)

Ivy was born in West End and lived there until her family moved to La Ceiba for a couple of years before returning to the island and settling in Coxen Hole. In January of 1955 her family opened the family store, H.B. Warren's (Casa Warren) where Ivy worked from the age of 16. She married at age 18 and had two children, followed by eight grandchildren and two great grandchildren. Many years later she would open her fabric store at its new location in the Credomatic building. Ivy's mother's family was from West End. Her father's mother passed when he was young. Her father's father was a Warren from Utila with European ancestry.

Lorleen McLaughlin Bodden

Lorleen McLaughlin Bodden

Helen, Roatan

Age: 71 (2018)

Lorleen was born in Helen and still lives there today. Both of her parents were from Helen. Her paternal grandmother was from Sandy Bay and her great grandfather was a descendant from England. Lorleen had two sisters and two brothers and all of them attended school locally in Helen. Lorleen used to work baking cakes to sell and her husband worked at sea. The couple had eight children, five still living. Her husband passed a few years ago. She now has many grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Thomas Edgar Brooks

Thomas Edgar Brooks

Consolation Bight, Roatan

Age: 58 (2018)

Thomas was born in Brooks Bight, what is now Consolation Bight in the Coxen Hole area. Thomas' mother was from Roatan and her family was from Trujillo. His father was from Roatan with family from the Caymans. His father had 12 children, five of them are still living today. Around the age of ten, Thomas went to New York to live with his mother who had moved to New York several years earlier. His maternal grandmother was also living there. Thomas lived in the US for 20 years, moving from New York to Florida. He worked as a Chef, mainly in Italian restaurants. In the early 1990s he moved back to the island and ran a couple of restaurants, living in Consolation Bight. He has three children, two of them living in the US, one living on the island. He has two grandchildren. He now lives in the Ticket area of Coxen Hole.

Allan Baxter Hyde Elwin

Allan Baxter Hyde Elwin

French Harbor, Roatan

Age: 80 (2018)

Allan was born in French Harbor. His mother was from French Harbor and his father was from Bonacca. His mother's family came from England, one relative serving as a British Governor on the island. In the 1890s, his paternal grandfather, David Hyde came from the Caymans with earlier ancestors from England. He had six siblings including his brother "Kern" (also featured). Allan attended high school in Florida, returning after school when he began working with his family. His family was developing the fishing industry. Allan worked on ships from 1960 to 1970. He also worked on bringing the first official cruise ship to Roatan, the Ocean Spirit which made 52 trips around the 1980s and proved it "could be done." Allan continued to work in the seafood industry for 50 years while also partnering in Hyde Shipping. Allan married Evett Hyde from Bonacca, they had four children and nine grandchildren.

Cecil "Kern" Hyde Elwin

Cecil "Kern" Hyde Elwin

French Harbor, Roatan

Age: 76 (2018)

Kern was born in French Harbor. His father had a passenger boat. On Monday nights the boat would leave for La Ceiba, load up on Tuesday, travel to Guanaja on Wednesday, and be in Roatan for the weekend. In the 1940s and 1950s they transported bananas. Kern worked with his dad and in 1959 they built a bigger boat. From 1959-1970 they worked exporting coconuts. Small boats would bring coconuts and store them in "coconut houses." From there, they were gathered and loaded onto the ship, approximately 150,000 coconuts in each shipment, headed for Mobile, Alabama and Tampa, Florida. Though the ship was not a passenger vessel, during that time, seamen on US Merchant Marine boats would catch a ride with them from time to time. A few years later they got shrimp boats and he and his family, including his brother Allan (also featured) focused on seafood. Truman Jones (also featured) began working on Kern's family's boat at that time. In 1963 Kern married his wife who is from Bonacca. They lived in French Harbor and had four children. They now have 11 grandchildren.

Viola McLaughlin

Viola McLaughlin

Sandy Bay, Roatan

Age: 86 (2018)

Viola was born in Trujillo. After moving to Diamond Rock with her mother as a baby, she was mainly raised in Sandy Bay. Her mother's family are Hydes from Sandy Bay, her father's parents were from Diamond Rock. After moving to the mainland for a while, she returned to the island and got her piece of property in Sandy Bay with her children. She now has many grandchildren. Viola worked her whole life as a Midwife and Bush Doctor. She is a self-taught herbal medicine expert, and would gather herbs to make medicines. Her most popular remedies were for infertility and for kidney problems. She delivered countless babies, sometimes for those she had treated previously for infertility.

Emerson Urie Woods

Emerson Urie Woods

Age: 63

West End, Roatan

Emerson was born in Mangrove Bight and has lived in West End all his life. His parents were also from West End. His grandparents were born on the island and his great grandparents came from England and the Cayman Islands.

Emerson sailed on freight boats for years, taking watermelon and pineapple to places like Belize and the Caymans. He has also enjoyed fishing most of his life. Now he can be found under the palm trees of West End "just relaxing and choppin' coconut," as he says.

Hope Gordon

Hope Gordon

Pandy Town, Roatan

Age: 90 (2018)

Hope was born in Pandy Town and has lived there since birth. She married and had seven children. She stayed home and cared for them. She now has a few grandchildren as well. Hope's parents were born on Roatan. Her grandparents were also from Roatan.

Truman Victor Jones Scott

Truman Victor Jones Scott

French Harbor, Roatan

Age: 72 (2018)

Truman was born in French Harbor. His mother was from Roatan with Scottish, Welsh, and English heritage. Her relatives, the McNabs, came from Edinborough and were the first family to settle in French Harbor in 1835. Truman's father's great grandfather's family was the first to settle in Jonesville, having come originally from Wales. In June of 1963 Allan Hyde (also featured) brought the first shrimp boat to French Harbor and Truman was hired to work on the ship at age 17. Working his way up, he learned the job and became a rig man and, years later, became Captain. Truman would go on to get his own boat, followed by others, fishing for shrimp and lobster. Truman worked from 1963 to 2013 on ships and during those 50 years, met 10 Honduran Presidents. Truman married Lynn Jones from Jonesville and they had four children. They now have six grandchildren.

Ellington Robert Bodden

Ellington Robert Bodden

Coxen Hole, Roatan

Age: 65 (2018)

Ellington was born in Crawfish Rock. When he was six or seven years old he traveled with his family by boat to the Coxen Hole area. His parents were both born on Roatan. His grandparents were from the Cayman Islands. Ellington is married with one child and two grandchildren. He left Roatan in 1970 and lived in the United States until 1997 when he returned to the island.

Gloria Emory Johnson Eden

Gloria Emory Johnson Eden

Coxen Hole, Roatan

Age: 85 (2018)

Gloria was born in Castilla on the mainland. Her mother's family was from Flowers Bay and the Caymans. Her father was from Spring Garden, Roatan. Her father's grandfather was from the US. Her mother brought her to the island as a baby and registered her here. Later, Gloria went to the mainland and worked in a bakery. She spent 17 years on the mainland before returning to Roatan where she worked as a cook. Gloria's husband is deceased. She has ten children, many grandchidlren and great grandchildren.

Lucy Marie Smith Connor de Wood

Lucy Marie Smith Connor de Wood

West End, Roatan

Age: 82 (2018)

Marie was born in West End and lived there until the age of seven when she moved to Sandy Bay. She had eight siblings. She married Jorge Wood (below) on her 18th birthday and moved back to West End. Marie helped neighbors with medical issues, giving injections, and practicing herbal medicine. She raised eight children. She now has 22 grandchildren and 13 great grandchildren. She has been involved with the Adventist Church for 48 years. Marie's parents were from Roatan, her mother was born in Oak Ridge and her father was from West End. Her grandparents were from the island as well and their parents came from Scotland and likely England by way of the Cayman Islands.

Jorge Gustavo Wood Ebanks

Jorge Gustavo Wood Ebanks

West End, Roatan

Age: 85 (2018)

Jorge was born in West End and has lived there his whole life. His mother (born in 1899) was from Sandy Bay and his father was from West End. His grandparents were also islanders. Jorge had eight siblings, five are deceased. Jorge married Marie (above) who he had known since childhood. Jorge had a store he purchased from his Aunt. He ran the store in West End and it had several locations before landing in its current spot, the well-known "Woody's Grocery" sits right on Half Moon Bay. He also farmed and raised animals for most of his life.

Sherman Arch

Sherman Arch

Age: 64

French Key, Roatan

Sherman Arch was born on French Key and has lived there all his life. Sherman worked on houses and boats with his father and continued to do so after his father passed away. His parents were born on the island and had US and English family backgrounds. He continues to build and repair boats.

Sherman is married with four children. His family started the Iguana Farm in 1980. He says the best thing he ever did was to get involved with taking care of the marine life several years ago. He enjoys living on Roatan, calling it "a pleasure" and says "there's been lots of change but I think all of us should be happy to live here."

Stasmore Clifford Allen

Stasmore Clifford Allen

West End, Roatan

Age: 82 (2018)

"Stas" was born in Crawfish Rock. His parents were both from Coxen Hole. Stas' father was an alligator hunter. When an uncle came home blind while working on a ship, Stas' family encouraged him to take the position at age 16 or 17. He moved later with his mother and siblings to New York where he attended music school and played the bass. He moved to Los Angeles and saw Miles Davis at a house party, later landing a gig with him, traveling to perform for Timex Watch Company. From there he traveled to Egypt. Stas moved to Texas and married. The couple returned to the island where he began farming. His wife, an American Indian, had to return to the US with the children due to Indian Bureau support rules. He stayed and began traveling the island with his father. At this point, there were no cars, people traveled by boat or by horse. He remembers when the fruit company came in and things really started to change, he was upset when the road was built and cars appeared. He says "What we had here was the moonlight, the starlight, and the sunlight. I think that was enough, wasn't it?" Stas built a house in West End. When a family member sold the land nearby, the new owners wanted a place built and Stas built what is now part of Canibal Cafe. He can still be seen sitting out front most days.

Erica Veronica Echeverria Haylock

Erica Veronica Echeverria Haylock

West End, Roatan

Age: 84 (2018)

Erica was born in Gracias a Dios in the Mosquitia and lived there until her late teens when she came to Roatan and got married at age 17 to Morris Jackson. She has nine children and many grandchildren and great grandchildren. She lived in Calabash Bight, Crawfish Rock, and finally in West End where she has lived for about 48 years. For about 30 years she split her time between the island and the US where, years ago, she worked as a caregiver for the elderly. Erica's mother's family was from Gracias a Dios and Guanaja and her father's family was from La Paz.

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