In last week’s posts I explored the baptism records I recently found online for my maternal grandmother and her siblings. This post will focus on my paternal grandfather and his siblings, the Vallee Cadignans. The table below lists all nine children but shows that I only found baptism records for four of them. In the case of the Colomb Mondesis, the earliest indexed record I accessed was for a 1912 baptism. You would expect all of the Vallee Cadignan records to be indexed since the first child, Simona, was born in 1914. However despite a variety of searches I could not pull up baptism records for the first four children and, most surprisingly, for the youngest. There are a few reasons this could be, but it will take time and a lot more creative searches to figure out why. I figure that either these babies were not baptized (but I doubt it), those particular records have not been indexed yet (which blows out of the water my theory for why I couldn’t find some Colomb Mondesi baptisms), or I need to get even more creative with the versions of their names I use when conducting searches. But for now, this is what we have.
Though I’m disappointed that I have not been able to locate more on the Vallee Cadignans in the church records, there were a few useful and informative observations to be drawn from the ones I did find.
It was common knowledge in the family that my grandfather Hilarion had been born a twin but that his twin did not survive. Nevertheless, I was initially confused when I saw another Vallee baptism recorded above his in the church register. After a moment the epiphany/duh-moment came: “Oh yeah! Hilarion was a TWIN! This must be his TWIN!!!!” The discovery revealed that the other baby had been a girl and gave us her name, Ursula. This is the first time I have ever thought that name was pretty; once I knew it belonged to the being that had that incredible in utero bond with my grandfather, it took on a deeper meaning and a more pleasing sound. I called my mom and told her about Ursula. She said she had thought her father’s twin had died at birth, but since the baptism took place almost three full months after their birth we know she survived longer. Later on my mother said that her older sister, my Tia Mirna, had remembered hearing that my grandfather’s twin lived for about six months. Unfortunately at this time I do not know of anyone in the family that can give insight on the nature of Ursula’s untimely passing.
In the case of Alfonso’s baptism record, I saw something for the first time in these Panamanian records that I had seen many times in the Martinique vital records of the Vallee and Cadignan predecessors. There was additional information written in the margin next to Alfonso’s baptism. It seems at the time of his marriage, or sometime thereafter, the church’s record keeper had gone back to my great-uncle’s baptism entry and used a small bit of empty space to record the details of Alfonso’s marriage, including the date and his new wife’s name. It always feels like a bonus when this happens. You get details on two important life events for the “price” of one!
Surnames and Parentage
Of the four baptism records I’ve found thus far, only Hilarion’s and Ursula’s were listed as last names as Vallee. Alfonso’s was listed as Cadignan and Homero’s did not assign him one at all. There were also differences in whether both parents were listed. Each record acknowledged these were the natural born children of Josephine/Josefina Cadignan. The twins’ father was listed as Simon Vallee, which is the name we would expect. In Alfonso’s baptism entry, however, his father was listed as Simon Bailon. I imagine some sort of breakdown in communication led to this reinterpretation of my great-grandfather’s name. It’s not unfathomable that the V sound at the beginning of his last name was mistaken as a B; the scribe took that along with the L sound at the beginning of the next syllable and came up with a name that was probably more familiar to him/her as someone whose native language was (likely) Spanish. Taken with the fact that it appears in combination with my great-grandmother’s unique last name, Cadignan, I feel safe in concluding this Alfonso Cadignan was ours. Family members believe that he was not recorded with his father’s surname in this instance because his parents were not married (more on that in a future post). They also believe that may be why Simon was left off of Homero’s record altogether; or possibly because he was not present at the time of the baptism. Whatever the reasons were, they were clearly not consistently applied and/or changed over time.