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#5289: Dauphin Plantation: THE CLARK BROTHERS YEARS, 1955-1970 , (Part II) (fwd)
From: Perdue and Persinos <email@example.com>
Dauphin Plantation: THE CLARK BROTHERS YEARS, 1955-1970 (Part II)
During Rollo Millar's tour at Derac, Rene Leon, a Colonel in the Haitian
Army, lost favor with Duvalier and needed to disappear into a remote
corner of Haiti, preferably near the Dominican border where he could
quickly escape in event of necessity. Peden hired him in Port-au-Prince
to come to Derac and work in the twine-factory stockroom under Millar.
According to Millar, Leon never revealed why he had to leave
Port-au-Prince. "Anyone who left the army or the Tonton Macoutes never
talked because they couldn't trust anyone." Leon worked at this
position for six months and then just disappeared. Millar later learned
he had heard the Tonton Macoutes were after him and he vanished across
the border into Dominican Republic and then made his way to Miami.
Early, one Saturday morning in August 1963, Millar's cook awakened him
and "there was Rene in full-dress uniform." Leon announced that Haiti
was being invaded; he apologized for the disruption and announced that
he would be confiscating vehicles.
Rene Leon was one of a force of 100 men (the largest group to invade
Haiti during the Duvalier regime)under the command of General Leon
Cantave. The General had opposed Magliore and had tried to maintain
order during the upheavals between the time Magliore was deposed and
Duvalier elected. He had played a role in the military junta which ruled
intermittently before Duvalier's election (Ferguson, 1987, p. 47) With
support of the Dominican military, Cantave had organized and trained a
force for the invasion of the North. He "took or tried to take Fort
Liberte, Ouanaminthe, Mont Organise, Croix Rouge, and Terrier.
Unfortunately, in no case did the invaders have munitions or staying
power (or frequently the stomach) to get an insurgency going." (Heinl
and Heinl, 1978, p. 637-38) On September 22, 1963, "Cantave's last
hurrah was a disastrous frontal attack on the barracks at Ouanaminthe
(typically betrayed in advance)....." (Heinl and Heinl, 1978, p: 638).
Troops, airlifted from the capital repelled the insurgents and drove
Cantave and his followers back over the frontier into the Dominican
Republic. (Rotberg, 1971, p. 245; Diederich and Burt, 1991, p.
[Rene Leon would later be a participant in an ineffective air raid on
Port-au-Prince on June 4, 1969. When the aircraft, a Constellation,
returned to the Bahamas, the crew was captured and deported to the
United States. (Heinl and Heinl, 1978, p. 658)]
The invasion caused more than a little excitement on the Plantation.
According to Vivaneen Rippey, they heard gunfire at night over beyond
Derac "and suspected there was probably a little army on the other side
of the border." The next morning employees went to the factory and
found the railroad line had been torn up. They drove around by road and
found there had been an invasion.
Even after the rebels were driven back into Dominican Republic there
were rumors there would be more attacks and troops were sent from
Port-au-Prince to the North to fortify Cap Haitien.
The Government ordered the evacuation of Plantation employees.
According to Rollo Millar, workers and families at Derac were evacuated
to Phaeton in a tugboat because of a fear the roads would not be safe.
Vivaneen Rippey remembers that "we were all set up for evacuation in
case something happened. We would go out by U.S. Navy ship to
Guantanamo and each of us knew who we would live with. The Rippey
family would move in with a doctor and his wife. We were ham radio
operators and used to talk with them on the radio every morning. Then
it happened and the U. S. was asleep; so we went to Cap Haitien."
(According to Mrs. Rippey, Don Lungwitz and Dirk Smith were also ham
operators. "They (government people) came periodically to take away our
radios but it didn't make any difference because we always had a spare
in the attic. I talked with my mother in Orlando every day. I would
contact a ham operator who would patch me through to mother.")
Employees left the Plantation in 13 vehicles. Mrs. Rippey recalls that
it took a while to get everyone organized and they did not get away
until about noon. "The trip to Cap Haitien was really something; we
were harassed all along the way. There were nails in planks across the
road and Haitians would laugh as tires were repaired. We had to stop at
every town to be inspected. At every check point they would take
everything out of one car. Sometimes they even removed the tires. We
were carrying radios in back of one pickup but they didn't find those.
Our main problems were with the Tonton Macoutes, but also with the
Haitian Guard. They (the guard) were our friends but they knew the
Macouts had the ear of the President so their hands were kind of tied."
They had been ordered to arrive in Cap Haitien by 5PM and just reached
Limonade, the last stop before the Cape, at that hour. According to
Mrs. Rippey, Lungwitz approached one of the Haitian officers and told
him he would be responsible for their not reaching Cap Haitien by their
deadline. ‘You are going to be held responsible. I am going to say you
held us up. The President has ordered us to be in Cap Haitien by 5
o'clock. So get these guys off our neck and let us get going or I will
report you.' "We kept going." The Rippeys stayed at the Beck Hotel;
others at the Montjoli and Roi Christophe. Judi Price, Mrs. Rippey's
daughter, says of their all-to-brief stay at the Beck: "We partied."
According to Mrs. Rippey, the next morning, just after daylight, they
"heard sirens of military vehicles coming up the hill and then the
clump, clump, clump along the beautiful veranda of the Beck. The
soldiers wanted to see the bosses and Sandy (Peden) and Don (Lungwitz)
went out to meet the entourage." "Papa Doc said you closed the
factory. We are going to have 5000 mutineers on our hands. You have to
get back there. Papa Doc says get back there fast." Don replied that
they would go but "we demand a military escort." "So we came back in a
blaze of glory with a military escort. The auditors (from Price
Waterhouse) were in from New York and we had them with us. And the
When the convoy returned "Everybody (Haitian employees and their
families) was lined up along the railroad track going into the
Plantation. There was the priest with his children. The priest, a
Belgian, was the only foreigner left on the Plantation. He was one of
five in the area. They had been interned in Red China. "Wonderful men,
wonderful men," commented Mrs. Rippey.
Both invasion and evacuation were short lived. Mrs. Rippey noted that
"invasions were not successful because there were too many chiefs and
not enough indians. There was a big group of Haitian military men
across the border but they could not organize."
Judi Price commented, "We had some tough scary times during the Duvalier
Marc Ashton, now a businessman in Port-au-Prince, worked on the
Plantation for about 12 months in 1964-65. He ran one shift at the
Phaeton decortication plant. There were two decorticators operated by
300 employees, two 8-hour shifts per day.
In 1966, Sandy Peden closed down the baler twine factory and left the
The Wankums left Haiti during the following year. Lou Wankum was an
agronomist "in charge of all the fields", according to Edward DeCoppet.
His wife, Simone, had worked at the American Embassy in Port-au-Prince
and was brought to the Plantation by Don Lungwitz who wanted a bilingual
secretary. The Wankums met at the Plantation.
On May 20, 1968 there was an invasion of Cap Haitien by Haitians
desiring to overthrow Duvalier. Don Lungwitz was in Cap Haitien at the
time and a week later wrote the following (edited) account provided to
me by Mark Pedersen, Lungwitz' son-in-law. The road between the
Plantation and Cap Haitien was in very bad shape and Lungwitz "commuted"
"On Monday morning, May 20, following repairs to our plane, I check flew
it with our mechanic and radio man into Cap Haitien. I had some banking
to do and we had to replace our radio and send out our mail on the local
plane (to Port-au-Prince). The plane did not fly that day however.
After my business was completed I drove to the Cap Haitien airport with
Otto Schutt. We put our equipment in the plane and then went to Otto's
"Just after we arrived at Otto's home at 1 PM, a Cessna 180 flew around
the airport, landed, and parked on the south side of the runway, about
half-way between the terminal building and the west side of the runway.
We had been advised of the trouble in Port-au-Prince and I was looking
for a way to send our mail to Port along with other items. However,
when the plane came to the terminal I felt something was wrong.
Shortly, a B25 arrived, flew around the airport and made a remarkably
poor down-wind landing and almost cracked up. He also parked
mid-runway. The B25 had American number N2882. Then a DC3 arrived and
parked near the Cessna. We could see a large number of men getting out
of the planes and running in all directions and there was some gunfire.
Then all was quiet and a car drove down and soon there was more firing.
Later, we learned that the car was driven by the Army Commander of the
North, Jean Th ard, accompanied by an employee of the National Bank of
Port-au-Prince. They were held and the car was used by the invaders.
"About 2:15 PM the B25 took off and circled Cap Haitien. Then the DC3
and the Cesna took off and both took a west course north of Haiti. The
second time around, the B25 dropped a bomb. We were on the wharf at the
time and could see the object fall. We took cover but there was no
explosion. As the plane flew over the wharf, one of it's engines
misfired. The Haitian Coast Guard anti-aircraft unit fired on the plane
but did not hit it. The B25 then landed at the airport.
"Otto and I went to the home of one of his employees and as we arrived
we saw the so-called "bomb" in the street. It was an 8-inch welded
cylinder with fins at one end. It split open on impact - there was
"We returned to the wharf where the M/S Soligen was being loaded.
Everyone was advised to keep off the streets so we decided to spend the
night on the ship. About 2:45 PM, the Coast Guard was ordered to close
in on the airport and shell it. Naturally, I was a bit upset as our
plane was sitting there. I told the Coast Guard Captain the white plane
on this end of the runway was ours- more-or-less wishful thinking. The
tide was low and the Coast Guard vessel could not get close enough to
the shore. It fired three shells; all landed short of the terminal
"After dark all was quiet.
"Two carloads of officers from the German ship had visited the Citadel
and were stuck on the other side of the airport. Government and Army
officials arranged to get them into Cap Haitien via a back road by 7 PM
in spite of a curfew that had been set for 6 PM to 6 AM.
"The SOLIGEN sailed the next morning at 5 AM and Otto and I went to his
home on the hill above Cap Haitien. The Coast Guard vessel was now
close to shore and we could see soldiers slowly advancing a mile north
of the airport. At about 9 AM, the Coast Guard vessel began shelling
the invaders, now located on the hill north of the airport. After an
hour and 50 to 60 shells, they left the hill for the terminal building.
Shelling continued with direct firing from two heavy and four light
anti-aircraft guns. The army was advancing slowly and at 11 AM we could
see the invaders leaving westward along the north side of the airport.
The Coast Guard left for deeper water and stopped firing. The Army
advanced and soon held the airport.
"Traffic was halted on all roads in and out of Cap Haitien but I
obtained permission to go to the airport and inspect the plane. One tire
was flat; there were five holes from small-arms fire through the
fusilage and tail and a large hole through the mid-fusilage. But none
of the controls were damaged. We began to jack up the wheel so we could
remove the tire and take it into town for repair but firing was too
heavy and we left. The next morning we returned and by 11 AM had just
about completed the job when they let go again and we departed - sudden
like. That afternoon we returned, completed the job, and made a
complete inspection of the airplane, including checking for sand or
sugar in the oil and gas tanks. Nothing had been touched. We started
the engine and taxied around the airport for a general check and all
"On Thursday, May 23, we were informed the invaders were heading east
for the Dominican border and that the road and airport at Phaeton were
closed. The officials were exceedingly helpful. They arranged a car
for me so I could leave the following day for the Plantation. They sent
three guards with me and provided an extra rifle in the event I needed
it. The road to Fort Liberte is in very bad shape. We left Cap Haitien
at 10 AM and arrived at the Plantation, 32 miles distant, at 4PM.
"Our airport at Phaeton was completely blocked with tree trunks and all
sorts of junk. It would have been impossible to land.
"I believe it was their intention to cause as much trouble as possible
and then fly off but with a bad engine a group was left behind. The
Haitian Airforce now has one good B25 which they have repaired and flown
to Port-au-Prince. I hear they took eleven invaders by Thursday
night. Over the weekend, May 25/26, they found six just southeast of
the Plantation heading east toward the Dominican border. Three were
killed and the other three taken alive. One of our drivers drove the
three and three heads into Cap Haitien last night, May 26.
"We are hoping that things get back to normal soon."
Heinl and Heinl (1978. p 657-658) give the following account of the
".....two Bahama based aircraft landed at the Cap and disgorged a
landing force of some thirty-five invaders garbed in jungle-camouflage
suits labeled ‘Big Game: Styled by Broadway.' One of the aircraft took
off to shuttle in reinforcements while the invaders began a spirited
attack accross the salt flats toward the Cap."
"The aircraft that flew away for reinforcements never returned: the
pilot got cold feet. And the seaborn follow-up echelon, nearly a
hundred men with heavy weapons and supplies, never left the Bahamas
because, incredibly, their small ship was accidentally allowed to sink.
The rebels held the airfield and outskirts of the Cap for forty-eight
hours, until units of the Garde-Cotes steamed up from Bizoton and
shelled them into submission. Several insurgents were killed, ten were
taken, and a few vanished toward Santo Domingo. The remaining aircraft,
a World War II B-25, was claimed as a war prize....."
Mark Pedersen, Lungwitz' son-in-law, recalls that sometime after this
incident, when the Pedersen's were resident in Greenwich, CT, a black
man came to his door selling vacuum cleaners. "He had an accent that
suggested he came from Haiti and this proved to be correct. He was well
educated and a nice gentleman." The two families became friends.
Later, the Lungwitz came for a visit and the Haitian and his family were
invited to the Pedersen home. During a conversation, the invasion came
up and the Haitian "almost turned white" and responded that he had been
one of the leaders of the attack. "It was my group that shot up your
plane." Lungwitz commented that "You ought to pay me for the tire."
Albert Hill told me the last time he visited Plantation Dauphin was two
to three years before it was sold to Dunn which would be in the late
1960s. "It was shut down at the time." "The Clarks concluded that the
Plantation was good only for production of sisal and got out."
About 1970 HASCO sold the Plantation to Lonnie M. Dunn who formed a new
company, Port Dauphin, S. A.
According to Eric Moum who left Haiti in 1970, there was an exodus of
Plantation Dauphin employees. "The game was over. Many pulled out about
the same time."
Diederich, Bernard, and Al Burt. 1991. Papa Doc: Haiti and its
Dictator. Waterfront Press.
Ferguson, James. Papa Doc, Baby Doc: Haiti and the Duvaliers. Basil
Blackwell, Inc., Oxford, 1987. (Montgomery Co. MD Public Library,
Heinl, R. D. Jr. and N. G. Heinl. Written in Blood - The Story of the
Haitian People 1492-1971. Houghton Mifflin, 1978. (Montgomery County
MD Public Library, 972.94H468W)
Lerche, K. 1962. Haitian Diary: 1961. Kenya Sisal Board Bulletin,
Apirl 1962, p. 32-33, 35 (National Agricultural Library, Special Fiber
Pettigrew, Robert L. 1958. The Story of Fort Liberty and the Dauphin
Plantation. Privately published. Printed by Cavalier Press, Richmond,
VA. (Copy in Special Collections, Georgetown University Library,
Rotberg, Robert I. Haiti, the Politics of Squalor. Houghton Miflin
Co., Boston, 1971
Wood, Harold A. 1963. Northern Haiti: Land, Land Use, and Settlement.
University of Toronto Press. (NAL)
NATIONAL ARCHIVES DOCUMENTS:
Diplomatic Correspondence, Record Group 59. Most documents cited are
in this Record Group in which documents dealing with sisal in Haiti are
numbered 838.2326 (838 = country number; 2326 = commodity number)
followed by a slash and a specific document number, thus
838.2326/9-2055. In the text I have used only the specific document
number (thus: /9-2055) followed by the document date.
Marc (Butch) Ashton, Petionville, Haiti
Edward DeCoppet, Georgia
Albert Hill, Florida
Emil Girard, Montreal, Canada
Jean Claude Leger, Petionville, Haiti
Rollo Millar, California
Sandy Peden, Guadalajara, Mexico
Mark Pedersen, Massachusetts
Judi Rippey Price, Texas
Vivaneen Rippey, Texas
Jack Webster, Tennessee
Michael Dobell, "Manufacturer of the well-known Crane Machines (sisal
decorticators)" as quoted in an email from Harry Polman