Thomases in the U.S. Census Before Ever Stepping Foot in the U.S. (Mainland)

Over the past couple of years I have come across warnings about the disappointments that come with researching one’s family history.  Having conducted research in undergrad and graduate school, I understand that this process will not be linear and every clue I find will not always be immediately or easily understood or verifiable.  In particular, one thing I have come to understand about the task of answering a research question is that almost every discovery you make will lead to several more questions that need answering.  The following is a perfect example.

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Spotlight Shift

By now, you may have noticed I’ve paid quite a bit more attention to my maternal ancestry than my paternal heritage on this blog.  I would hate to give the impression to anyone, especially to my father’s side of the family, that I am not interested in exploring my paternal lines as well.  As I mentioned in one of my first posts, I started out researching the surnames of my Martinican and St. Lucian predecessors because theirs were much more unique than those of their Bajan counterparts.  It makes sense to reach into the smaller haystack first, right?

Discovering the names of the places my great-grands most likely called home before leaving Martinique and St. Lucia was an exciting breakthrough.  I have not quite gotten there with the Thomas, Beckles, Lewis and Lewis surnames.  I’ll share more about what I have found in future posts, but here I will just focus on what may have appeared to look like a typo in the preceding sentence.  Continue reading

Happy Mother’s Day!

Though this post focuses on one special mother it is dedicated to all moms, especially my other grandmother, Daisy, and my own mother.

In honor of Mother’s Day I dug up a beautiful piece my Tio Lucho wrote a few years ago about my maternal grandmother.  I hope he doesn’t mind me sharing it with the world and that my attempt to translate it into English does it some justice. If I remember correctly, the family portraits I chose to showcase just how cute my Nana was were taken at the urging of my Tia Ilka, the youngest and most photo-obsessed of my mom’s siblings.  Given that we lost Ilka in 1997 and Nana in 2000, we are truly blessed to have these professional  photos of my grandmother with all of her children as adults. 

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Where It All Began

This is somewhat old news…but at least it’s new to you!  Since this blog is a research log and I’ve caught a new wind in updating it, I’m catching up on some entries.  Here, I visit the Panama Canal, where my family story in that part of the world began.

Puente del mundo, corazon del universo

When shopping for souvenirs in Panama, you’ll find keychains, decorative plates, coffee mugs, and all the other usual suspects emblazoned with the phrase “puente del mundo, corazon del universo” (bridge of the world, heart of the universe).  Continue reading

Where Do I Go Now?

*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