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
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