Sat | Nov 17, 2018

Gleaner 180 - 'It's hard to think of Jamaica without The Gleaner'

Published:Saturday | September 13, 2014 | 12:00 AM
David Vann deCordova

David Vann deCordova, the great-great-great-grandson of Jacob deCordova who founded The Gleaner 180 years ago, was noticeably awed as he entered the North Street offices of The Gleaner Company for the first time in his life.

"It's rare for any business to operate uninterrupted for 180 years, and especially in the newspaper business which changes rather rapidly," he said.

"I don't know if Jacob and Joshua could have foreseen it operating 180 years later," he added. "The paper has clearly done a lot for advancing Jamaica's Independence and the economics of the country."

He revealed that other descendants of Jacob and Joshua, who live in the United States and have never been to Jamaica, continue to be guided by the publications and view Jamaica and The Gleaner as being inextricably linked.

"It's hard to think of Jamaica without The Gleaner and The Gleaner without Jamaica," he chuckled.

He disclosed that he continues to rely heavily on the Gleaner's digital archives - the older versions of the newspaper - from the 1800s and early 1900s - to locate information about the deCordova clan.

He admits with a laugh that he was particularly media shy. The irony was not lost on him as his Spanish Town-born forebears had gone out of their way to learn the printing business in order to set up The Gleaner.

It was deCordova's second visit to Jamaica and the first to The Gleaner Company.

"I got the invitation last week and was really excited to receive it," he disclosed. "I have been to Jamaica one time before, for only one day in Montego Bay in 2012 when The Gleaner hosted a luncheon and showed me their facilities in that city."

Two years later, deCordova was back on local soil to actively participate in the company's 180th anniversary celebrations. He quipped that he would make the most of the opportunity as he was unable to predict where he would be at the time of The Gleaner's 200th annivesary celebrations.

"One hundred and eighty years of continuous operations is quite an accomplishment," he asserted.

"I live in Beaumont, Texas, which is about 90 miles east of Houston, close to the coast of Mexico - Galveston," he said. "I am trying to preserve as much of the history of the family as I can, and this is one of the reasons that I am excited to be here."

He admitted that he was fascinated with the warmth of both the people and the landscape of Jamaica. "It's a beautiful island, the people have been extremely open, kind and friendly. I feel like I am from here, even though in a sense I am," he said chuckling.

- G.S.