The Bernard Girls

I was just getting comfortable with the relevation that we had a new surname, Joseph, on our hands, for my great-grandmother. I mentioned in my last post that this new information even led me to a record for one of my great-aunts. But then that record added yet another name to the St. Lucia parade. A Social Security Index record for Tia Clemina (a.k.a. Maria Estebana) listed her mother as “Edelanepe Mondese”, which we can accept as an interpretation of Edelanise Mondesi. But then the father was listed as “Bernard Joseph.” Ahem and pardonez mois, you crazy St. Lucian Panamanians, but WHO? Until now, I had never heard of anyone named Bernard in the family. Not for a first name, for a middle name, or for a last name.

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Who are the Josephs?

Very recently a whole new surname emerged from the St. Lucian branch of my family tree.  Per family oral history, my maternal grandmother who came to Panama from St. Lucia was named Catherine Mondesi but she went by the nickname Edelanise (I’ve also seen it spelled as Edelanive). All of the mentions of her name that I have found in her children’s records had her as Edelanise Mondesi (with very inconsistent spellings for both names).  However, discovering the Colomb Mondesi baptism records this summer and some resulting conversations with family members added another name to the mix. I’m still trying to understand it myself, but will make an attempt here to explain.

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Colomb Mondesi Baptism Records

Finding my great-grandfather Simon Vallee’s Panama Canal employment record is not the only exciting discovery I’ve made recently – it just was the one that was so mind-blowing I had to blog about it immediately! The week prior I discovered that FamilySearch added Panamanian Catholic Church records to its ever-growing database of records from all over the world. Since these records are already indexed, I was able to find baptism records for my maternal grandparents and several of their siblings pretty easily. (I think I did not find any records for my paternal grandparents because, having roots in Barbados, they were likely not Catholic.)

There’s a lot to reflect on in the records I’ve found for my French Caribbean ancestors, the Colombs and the Vallees, so I will have to break my findings into at least a couple of posts.  Here we’ll start with my maternal grandmother’s family, the Colomb Mondesis.  Out of the seven children listed below, I found baptism records for the four youngest. Continue reading

A Mamá By Any Other Name

In previous posts (like here and here) I discussed the tricky tradition of using nicknames in my mother’s family. Well, here’s more on that thorn in the side of this genealogist.

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When my mom and her siblings would talk to or about their mother they would often refer to her as Tere (short for her nickname, Teresa).  Their cousins also called their mothers by their (nick)names.   Weird that they didn’t just call their moms some version of “Mom,” right?  

Nonetheless, there was someone else that my mother, her siblings, and their cousins called Mamá: their grandmother, Catherine “Edelanive” Mondesi.  Though Catherine’s actual children were Julio (a.k.a. Papa Gil), Clemintina (a.k.a. Clemina), Fide (real name: Maria Sebastiana), Tere (real name: Maria Anastasia), and Isa (real name: Elizabeth Juana) it was Catherine’s grandchildren that knew her so affectionately as Mamá.  Continue reading