Historic Timeline

 ~50,000 years ago
Eleuthera's landmass begins gradually forming out of limestone from fossilized coral, and sand blowing across was is now the Caribbean sea floor (but which was then a vast plain of forested sand dunes).
 UnknownThe Bahamas are settled by the Ciboney Indians.  "Ciboney" is an Arawak term meaning "cave-dwellers."
 ~8th century AD
The Bahamas are re-settled by Arawak Indians who migrated across the Caribbean from South America via the Windward Islands, Leeward Islands, and then finally Hispaniola, where the local Arawaks were known as the Taino (a word meaning "noble," in contrast to the Caribs, their treacherous and cannibalistic rivals).  These Bahamian Taino displaced or assimilated the existing Siboney tribes, and in the subsequent years became themselves known as the Lucayans.  The Lucayans continued to trade with their Taino cousins, but eventually developed their own language, religion, and crafts.
 Oct. 12, 1492Christopher Columbus discovers the island of Guanahani in the Bahamas, his first point of landfall in the Western Hemisphere.  Various theories exist on which modern-day island was Guanahani.  See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guanahani.
The Spanish begin using Lucayans for forced labor in the silver mines of Cuba and Hispaniola, relocating 20,000 natives out of the Bahamas.  Within just a few decades of Columbus' first landfall, most of the Lucayan population in the Bahamas has been forcibly relocated, or killed by European diseases (this from an original population of 30,000 - 50,000 in 1492).  Another attempt to find more slaves in 1520 failed, and the slavers returned empty-handed.  Small groups of survivors reputedly lived on in remote areas of Eleuthera and the other Out Islands, and it has been suggested that many Arawak facial features survive in parts of the population today.
 October 30, 1629The Bahamas and part of mainland America are granted to Sir Robert Heath, the Attorney General to King Charles I.  He never colonized the land.
 1633Cardinal Richelieu grants five of the Bahamas islands to William de Caen, General of the Fleet of New France, but the islands again remain unsettled.
 1645George Gardyner of Peckham in Surrey, England petitions for the islands, but is on a lengthy expedition to the New World and is unable to press his claim until his return.  By then, however, it is too late.  Gardyner wrote that, unbeknownst to English sailors, the uninhabited islands are frequented by the Spanish to gather sarsaparilla, sassafras, ambergris, and other products.
 1647The Company of Eleutherian Adventurers is formed in England as a result of the efforts of William Sayle of Bermuda.  Comprised primarily of wealthy London investors, most of the Adventurers never actually set foot on Eleuthera.  Investors were promised good return on "wrecks which shall be recovered upon or near the islands... and also all mines of gold, silver, copper, brass or lead, ambergris, salt; and all rich woods, either tincture or medicaments which shall be found on the island."

The Eleutheria plan stressed the values justice, economic opportunity, and religious tolerance.
 October 1648
An expedition sponsored by the Eleutherian Adventurers leaves Bermuda with 70 colonists aboard the William, a 50-ton vessel with a 6-ton shallop in tow.

Nathaniel Butler, a passenger who boarded in London, splits off (either alone or with others) after an argument, and no record  exists of his subsequent fate.

The ship containing the remaining passengers then runs aground on a treacherous coral reef which eventually becomes known as "the Devil's Backbone."  The castaways take refuge in, and eventually build a settlement near, Preacher's Cave on North Eleuthera.
 Early 1649
William Sayle and eight men sailed the surviving shallop to Nansemond County, Virginia, a nine day journey.  Sayle returned with a relief ship: a 25-ton pinnace, filled with what supplies the Virginia colony could spare and towing the shallop, arranged with the assistance of Governor Winthrop of Massachusetts.

After conditions worsen, the Governor sends another relief ship.  The grateful Bahamians responded by sending 10 tons of Eleutheran braziletto wood for the benefit of the fledgling Harvard college.  Adjusted for inflation, this shipment remains Harvard University's largest endowment ever.
 September 1649
Rev.s Nathaniel White and Stephen Painter, a lay leader named Robert Ridley, and 60 others arrive at the Preacher's Cave settlement.
 1656The William Force slave rebellion in Bermuda fails.  Ten blacks are tried and convicted for "cutting off and distroeing of the English at night."  Two are hanged, and the others are tortured and released including William Force, a freed black and leader in the revolt.  On November 15, 1856, Prisoners from the slave rebellion (probably dozens of people, but fewer than a hundred) along with exiled white Bermudians (e.g., unwed mothers and Quakers, who were later routinely forced to emigrate) are sent to Eleuthera on the Blessing.  The slaves are believed to have settled near Bogue, forming the first black settlement of the Bahamas (and perhaps founding the present-day settlement).  Eleuthera thus becomes an early version of Australia -- a Caribbean destination for prisoners and exiles from other British colonies.
 1684The Spanish burn and plunder the Preacher's Cave settlement, which hastened diffusion of the original settlers to new settlements on the rest of Eleuthera, including the settlements at Governor's Harbour/Cupid's Cay, Current, Spanish Wells, and Harbour Island.
 1783Following the onset of the Revolutionary War in America, British Loyalists begin coming to Eleuthera to open plantations, and later, logging and sponging operations.  These operations overtax the available natural resources, and eventually fail.  Many of these Loyalists subsequently departed from the islands.
 1857The first factory for canning pineapple opened in Governor’s Harbour on the site of what is now the Medical Clinic.  Exports rose to 7,233,000 dozen in 1900, but began to drop when the United States imposed tariffs on pineapples and the Cuban and Hawaiian pineapple industries cut into the market. Subsequently, pineapple rum and canned turtle meat were also produced and shipped to the USA.  The remains of pilings from a substantial dock can still be seen just across the Queen's Highway from the Clinic.
 1861 - 1865
During the American Civil_War, the Bahamas becomes a haven for those smuggling arms and other supplies to the Confederate States of America, which unsuccessfully tried to secede from the United States.  The end of the war results in a deep recession in the Bahamas.
 1920 - 1933
The United States bans alcoholic beverages, and large sums of money are quickly made by Bahamians selling rum and other liquor to their oppressed American neighbors.  Some smuggle liquor directly, while others set up off-shore floating marketplaces in international waters just off the coast of the United States.
 Aug. 25, 1927
Paul R. Redfern, an American pilot attempting a solo non-stop flight to Rio de Janeiro in his Stinson Detroiter "Port of Brunswick", flies over Eleuthera as reported by the British Freighter Tyne Bridge.  Redfern was attempting to beat Charles "Lucky" Lindbergh's distance record set by his famous flight across the Atlantic.  His plane later crashes.  Eleuthera is one of the last places his plane is sighted, and the crash site is never located.  Some believe his plane crashed somewhere in the Venezuelan jungle.  For more information, click here.
 Sept. 3, 1933
Major hurricane hits Eleuthera, passing directly over Harbour Island.  140 mph winds result in major property damage.
 Sept. 1, 1957
NAVFAC Eleuthera, a United States Naval Base, opens on central Eleuthera with a complement of 150 officers and enlisted men.
 Sept. 7, 1965
Hurricane Betsy hits Eleuthera.  120 mph winds cause heavy damage.
 July 10, 1973
The Bahamas declares independence from the United Kingdom.
 Mar. 1, 1980
NAVFAC Eleuthera closes after 23 years of operation.
 Aug. 23, 1992
Hurricane Andrew strikes Eleuthera.  170 mph winds and a 23 foot storm surge cause major damage to North Eleuthera, and several people are killed.
 Sept. 14, 1999Hurricane Floyd hits Eleuthera, bringing with it 155 mph winds and a 20 foot high storm surge.  Significant damage occurs to 25% of the buildings on the island.  Club Med buildings take major damage and the resort closes its doors (unfortunately, the remaining parts of the resort were torn down in 2004, including even the historic and once-elegant swimming pool, so there remains nothing to explore).
 Apr. 30, 2012
Shortly after midnight, the Captain Anthony Smith of the raft AnTiki makes landfall at N 25°17'29.0", W 76°19'40.4" (on the Atlantic side parallel to the Governor's Harbour Airport) after a trans-Atlantic journey.