#diasporalovestory

One of my most aching family history research questions comes from a desire to know if my great-grandparents knew each other in their home islands or if they did not meet until after migrating to Panama.  So many questions: Did they grow up in the same town? Did they marry in the Caribbean or in Panama?  Heck, did they marry at all? Did they travel to the isthmus together or separately? Were they truly in love or were their relationships more a result of circumstance or convenience…or maybe even coercion? Two sets of great-grands from Barbados, one set from St. Lucia, and another from Martinique; I’m sure at least one of their stories has an element of at least one of those.  But I don’t know yet. Continue reading

Family Pictures = Family Treasures

A couple of months ago my mom gave me an old album of hers. It was filled with pictures that had been taken before she ever moved to the United States. I’m thankful for this priceless and timeless gift.

Out of all the pictures, the one I was most excited to come across was this one. It’s all of the Vallee-Colombs in one picture, looking quite groovy if I don’t say so myself.

Hilarion y El Cristo Negro de Portobelo

Today my mother’s father Hilarion “Julio” Vallee

would’ve turned 90 years old so I just wanted to take a quick moment to say, “Happy birthday abuelo!”

His birthday happens to fall on a day that is very important to Catholics in Panama and is also ardently observed by many followers outside the country as well.  October 21st is El Dia del Cristo Negro de Portobelo. People form all over the country journey to the small town of Portobelo to pay homage to the statue of a Black Jesus (one of many found in Latin America) that has resided there since 1658.  When he was alive, my grandfather was among the many that would make this trip each year.

Unfortunately, Hilarion did not live past the age of 37.   I wonder, would a 90 year old Hilarion still have been making that pilgramage? Judging by how sharp and feisty some of my oldest Medicare clients are, I can definitely say it’s a possibility we can not rule out!

A few fun facts about El Cristo Negro de Portobelo:

  • El Cristo Negro de Portobelo is the saint for singers.
  • None other than the queen of salsa, Celia Cruz, was known to join this pilgramage on occasion.
  • Another great salsero, Ismael Rivera, recorded “El Nazareno” in honor of El Cristo Negro de Portobelo.

You can go here for a short news peice on this year’s gathering at the church of San Felipe in Portobelo.

No Jumping, Please

Addendum to report #4 on my 2011 genealogy research trip to Panama

I have to say, things have really been moving on the Cadignan end of things. I also have to admit that I may have gotten so excited about the progress I was making I jumped ahead of myself and went running full steam ahead towards a conclusion based on shaky evidence.  I’ll explain. Continue reading

Happy Father’s Day, Indeed

Report #4 on my 2011 genealogy research trip to Panama

In genealogy circles there is much talk about breaking through the “brick walls” in one’s research.

I think I just crushed through my first brick wall!  As I described in my last post, Tio Lucho and I went through a box of old documents towards the end of my trip in Panama.  Among these documents was one legal sized, yellowing sheet of paper that represents my most important genealogical research discovery to date.  My grandfather’s brother’s birth certificate was a goldmine of new information.  The most precious peices of information in Louis Vallee’s birth certificate are reviewed here. Continue reading

Francois and Adele

Report #3 on my 2011 genealogy research trip to Panama

Nearly two years ago Alfonso Vallee Cadignan, one of my grandfather Hilarion’s brothers, passed away. This led relatives to go through his old documents and make an interesting discovery.  Though we had always known his parents’ names to be Simon and Josephine, they were listed as Francois Vallee and Adele Cadignan on Alfonso’s birth certificate. This lead to an automatic reaction of “Who the heck are they?” from the members of my mother’s generation who had never heard their grandparents referred to as such.  In a fairly offhand manner their last living child, Tia Claire, confirmed that these were her parents’ real names.  It was quite a shocking paradigm shift for those of us who marveled over this discovery at the time. Continue reading

Vallee Graves in Panama

Report #1 on my 2011 genealogy research trip to Panama

Last month, in just a matter of days, I went from having no idea when my next trip to Panama would take place to having a ticket booked for a ten day trip in June. The main purpose of this trip was to do genealogical research. This and my next several postings will report on what I accomplished. Continue reading