*Sighs* I had basically promised my long-lost Cadignan cousin in Martinique, Christian, that I would come visit this July. And when I said it, I totally meant it. But now that next summer is around the corner, my financial situation has not miraculously resolved itself in the way the naive Anulkah v2009 had hoped. It’s hard to justify another big trip just months after going to Panama for the holidays, so I just sent Christian an e-mail letting him know I would not be able to make it to Martinique anytime soon. But I want to make progress in my research, so where do I go now? Continue reading
This summer has provided me with a mix of genealogical highs and lows. I’ve made enormous strides in some very important ways, starting with my trip out east for my grad school graduation. After parading around Cambridge in my black robe and crimson hood, I headed up to New York for Ayanna’s Jack & Jill’s graduation. In addition to the usual family fun, I also got to spend some time with my mother’s first cousin, Ann Marie, who has done a lot of family history research over the years. It was great to connect with another family member who was as obsessed with learning about our family’s roots as I am. Though my trip to New York was short, it became even more fruitful when Ann Marie took me to meet Tia Dilca, a cute old lady who had been good friends with Hilarion’s sisters. Continue reading
I stole the picture below from Christian’s facebook album (Hope you don’t mind Christian!!). He has posted many gorgeous pictures of his adventures throughout the island of Martinique, and this is my favorite. It looks too perfect to be real – but it is! Continue reading
As I mentioned in my last post, I have been in communication with two Cadignans, Christian, who lives in Martinique, and Jean-Pierre, who lives in France. Christian was the one to point out to me that there are many people with the last name Cadignan in a part of Martinique called Francois. When I contacted Jean-Pierre I asked him if he was from that region of the island, and he answered that yes, he was born there but now lived in France. (This is the opposite of Christian, who grew up in France and moved to Martinique a few years ago.) A couple of other Cadignans I’ve had fleeting contact with also confirmed familial ties to Francois.
I have had the most contact with Christian and Jean-Pierre – who did not know each other beforehand- because (a) they can communicate in English and (b) they were very interested in figuring out how and if we are all related. (I figure (a) was a barrier to (b) for the other Cadignans I reached out to.) With a flurry of emails between San Diego, Martinique, and France, we were able to sort out how Jean-Pierre and Christian are related to each other (yes, they are!) and how Josephine could also fit into the family tree. Continue reading
About two months ago it occured to me, out of nowhere, that I should google some of my surnames and see what popped up. I didn’t want to bother with my Bajan last names since they are all very “English” and thus too widespread for such an open-ended search to yield anything specific about my Thomas, Lewis, and Beckles family lines. I had googled Vallee a couple times in the past and not found anything very useful.
Then it occurred to me, what about Cadignan, my other Martinican surname? I don’t know anything about French names but it seems a bit more unique than Vallee. Google eventually led me to Facebook, which led to the following update e-mail I sent out to my extended family on 6-29-09. Continue reading
As stated in the first post, the purpose of this blog is to serve as a log or journal of my family history research. Before I describe the first few encouraging steps I have taken on my genealogical quest for knowledge, I feel the need to detail the background information I have gathered informally over time. I guess that should be expected from someone who is interested in researching her family history – how can I tell you about where I am without describing the events that brought me here?
In the 8th grade one of my teachers arranged a potluck in which each student was to bring in a dish from their culture and explain where it came from. When I asked my mom why our Panamanian family eats fried plantains (pronounced plantin’ NOT plantanes, thank you), she talked about how everyone in Panama eats plantain. As some sort of afterthought she mentioned that that her grandparents, who were from St. Lucia and Martinique, and my father’s grandparents, who were from Barbados and Jamaica, came from countries where plantain was also widely consumed.
This was the first time I had ever heard of most of these places in any context, let alone in my own family tree! Continue reading
(I figure that the web address “iamthediaspora” might need some explaining…)
One of the reasons I looked forward to starting my postsecondary education at Pomona College was the opportunity to take a class I had seen in the course catalog: Professor Sidney Lemelle’s “Slavery and Freedom in the New World”. I remember shyly approaching Dr. Lemelle when I came to visit the campus as a hopeful and clueless high school senior. He explained that the course had something to do with this thing called the African diaspora. I wasn’t quite sure what this “diaspora” business was, but I walked away with the understanding that this class covered the experiences of blacks both in and outside of the United States. And for me, this was HUGE. Continue reading