At one time the Abacos and many other Bahamian islands were inhabited by the Lucayan Indians, however, following the arrival of Christopher Columbus in The Bahamas 1492, the entire Lucayan race of was wiped out by disease and slavery within 50 years.
Following the American War of Independence, the Abacos were settled by loyalists, many of whom were from New York and the Carolinas. In fact, present day Bahamians can trace their heritage back to these intrepid folks! At the time of their migration, the Abacos were uninhabited and a great struggle for the newcomers. 600 souls, loyal to the crown established Carleton, a settlement on Great Abaco. Though they originally intended to make their fortunes in the cotton empire, following a short-lived boom where the population grew to a staggering 2,000, they quickly found that pests and soil depletion made that dream a fantasy. Many departed for better opportunities leaving about 400 inhabitants. They then turned to fishing, boat building and “wrecking”.
Abaconians are a proud and stubborn breed and went so far as to attempt to secede from The Bahamas in June of 1973. Queen Elizabeth II, however denied their request and they remain a valued member of the island chain.