The Issa family marked the 100th anniversary of their arrival in Jamaica on August 11, 1993, according to Mrs. Bertha Issa-Ghisays, a direct descendant of the first Issas to come to Jamaica.
Originally from Bethlehem, Palestine, the first two Issa’s to come to Jamaica were Elias Issa and his son Abraham Issa in 1893. The father and son team first visited the Columbia World Fair in Chicago before coming to Jamaica on a ship named the Arabian Prince.
Speaking of Elias Issa, (her grandfather), Mrs. Issa Ghisays said that “when he came he didn’t come poor”, as she noted that “five thousand pounds in those days was worth $5million today.”
The family grew from strength to strength establishing the House of Issa in 1894 and later owing the famous Myrtle Bank Hotel. In 1938, the Issa family established the Issa scholarship, a beneficiary of which was former bank of Jamaica Governor, G. Arthur Brown. The scholarship is still offered today.
Descendants of Elias Issa include: John Issa, O.D., Co-Chairman of SuperClubs Resorts; Richard Issa, Co-Chairman House of Issa and Lee Issa, Chairman of Swept Away Resorts in Negril. Another descendant was the late Bobby Ghisays, famous actor and journalist.
Source: The Gleaner