When St. Rose Phillip began clearing the wild, forested area in Manzanilla Ward in 1894 to establish a cocoa estate. The village of Caigual came into being
The geographical location of this place was about six miles from the village of Cunapo (now Sangre Grande). St. Rose had to walk about two miles along the road to Manzanilla, then just at the point where the Caigual River crosses the Manzanilla Road, he and the other pioneers had to make an access track to their newly-acquired crown lands. The track ran about three miles eastwardly before arriving at the site.Bordering his own and his mother's land on the eastern side was the grant of James McQueen, who happened to be his step-father. He cleared his step-father's land too, and here was to be the village of Caigual.
St. Rose, after felling the high woods, planted corn and hill rice, as well as other vegetables, while the young cocoa trees grew. But his mainstay was felling forest trees, what with so many new families moving into the area he made a comfortable living.
The central savannah, which in later years became a great recreation centre, was in that period thick woods which was a haven for wild game.
St. Rose settled with his wife in his part of the land, while Elizabeth built her house in the part she had reserved for herself, westerly of her son's. James McQueen, who could not have been living in perfect harmony with Elizabeth, established himself on the eastern side. In time, other children and close relatives of Elizabeth Roberts, settled in the area, and their homes, together with Elizabeth's, McQueen's, and St. Rose's, comprised the first homes in the district. There were four hills in that section and each hill was occupied by a son or daughter.
As was seen, other families had bought up the crown lands which were being offered for sale in the area at that time, and their estates, together with the estates of and of , gave life and substance to the formation of the settlement later called Caigual Village. There was with a 13-acre grant to the north of McQueen; also had a 13-acre grant and he bordered McQueen on the south. To the east of McQueen was with 12 acres of land, and had a 21-acre piece to the west of "Zabeth".
St. Rose Phillip, Elizabeth Roberts, known as "Zabeth," James McQueen, Juan Gomez, Sabino Alcala,Isreal Thomas and Louis St. Rosewere the first settlers in the area. Before the end of the century they and their children and the several houses had already made the area look like a village.
By 1900 there were scores of other people in the area, mainly friends and relatives of "Zabeth" and her children, and the village of Caigual was already well-defined and taken account of. The essential village, which is the Caigual of today, rose up almost entirely on the 18-acre block that was the grant of James McQueen. The cocoa field in which "Zabeth" and her children had their houses, including the part she had given to St. Rose, still remains a cocoa field.
Zabeth, came from Africa, many years after the abolition of slavery, and first went to Grenada and then to British Guiana. She came to Trinidad and settled at Arouca. Never dependent upon anyone. She worked, saved her money, and bought the crown grant in Manzanilla. It was obviously her enthusiasm that encouraged McQueen to do the same.
Zabeth's home, deep in her Caigual cocoa plantation, became the focal point for villagers both within and outside of Caigual. She was friend, counselor, adviser, bush-medicine woman and sometimes even provider, for a great number of people. Also, she brought with her many aspects of African customs and culture, rituals like shango and bele and this set the stage for many a lively evening at Caigual.
The 21 miles long journey to Arima in order to get to a shop or store became unnecessary when around 1910 a Chinese peddlar called Achoon, appeared frequently in Caigual village. McQueen persuaded him to stay by giving him the facilities to do this. The Achoons, later known as Tang Choons, acquired not only the shop premises but the entire Caigual estate, and in just a few years.
Wuth the opening of the shop, a man called Rowe thought it a good idea to open a private school at 12 cents a month. Even though this was expensive he managed to get more pupils than he could cope with. The village soon outgrew Mr. Rowe's school and the villagers pressed the authorities in vain to build a school. In 1916 they decided to build the school themselves. Proprietors of the village contributed material towards the building, while, Israel Thomas one of the founding settlers, appears to have given the land. Being practically all Roman Catholics, the villagers called the school Caigual R.C. The Catholic board need only to sen them a teacher. With 40 children on the roll when the school opened later in 1916 the first school master they had was Mr L.N Daly.
Feeding of the prosperity of its cocoa during the 1920s and 30s Caigual had become a popular village, and became a sort of focal point for people all over Manzanilla and beyond.
As with most of the Agricultural villages in 1940s the Influx of American soldiers reduced Caigual agricultural production significantly. The lure of the quick and easy cash pulled most of the farmers away to the American bases. Not only did the 'quick American cash' lure the farmers away it also took the professionals from their jobs also.
The population of Caigual faced further decline in 1947 due to the extension of electricity to Sangre Grande. Most of the younger villagers having grown familiar to the quick American money found the prospects of the "bright lights" in Sangre Grande more appealing than the life they had known all their lives. The population of Caigual fell steadily and today it is little more than a ghost of the village it use to be.
Towns and Villages of Trinidad & Tobago by Michael Anthony
Atilla's Kaiso: A short history of Trinidad calypso by Raymond Quevedo
West Indian & their Language by Peter A Roberts
Calypso & Society in Pre-Independance Trinidad by Gordon Rohlehr
British Historians and the West Indies by Eric Williams