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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We are the Josephs, I think

As you know, I was super excited to find baptism records for my grandparents and some of their siblings. But I was (am) also super frustrated that I have not been able to locate records for others.  In the case of my maternal grandmother’s family, I could not find baptism entries for the three oldest Colomb Mondesi siblings: Jose Julio (nickname: Jill), Maria Estebana (Clemina), and Maria Sebastiana (Fide).

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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

Gooooolazo! Panamanian Records for Adele and Francois

Early on the morning of June 12th I stepped into a long line to check in for my flight with the Panamanian airline COPA. I was surprised the flight was so full. The only business COPA does out of LAX is a daily back-and-forth between Los Angeles and Panama City, so I was fairly puzzled as to why there were so many people and so few of them were Latin Americans. I mean, it’s not the holidays, it’s not tourist season, in fact, it’s rainy season! What I failed to realize was that June 12, 2014 was the first day of something that’s kind of a BFD in every other country in the world, the FIFA World Cup.  I quickly learned the three guys in front of me and the two guys in back of me, and many of the other passengers, were headed to Brazil via Panama. Continue reading

In My Nana’s House

I don’t have tons of memories of my first couple of trips to Panama at the young ages of 4 and 5, but there are certain things that stick out. Eggs being served at some event related to Tia Ilka’s wedding. Swiping a fingerful of frosting from the wedding cake as soon as Tia Mirna had turned away to attend to something else. The matching dresses Tia Mirna had made for me and my primas. Lying in a beach hammock at Gorgona with my mother and my brother.

I also remember being cranky one night, wanting all of the people (a.k.a. relatives) partying late into the night at my nana’s house in the neighborhood of Rio Abajo to go home so I could go to sleep. For whatever complicated reason, based on stubborn kindergartener logic, I had decided that even though I was exhausted I was simply too inconvenienced by their presence to allow myself to give in to the sleep. My mom says I even asked her in desperation, “Why don’t all these people go home?!”

Anyhow, back in the days of the house in Rio Abajo, my mom, my brother and I would sleep in my mother’s old room – the one she had occupied before she married my father and migrated to the U.S.  I think all three of us may have even slept in one single twin bed (I was only 4 or 5 and Igmar was a toddler…but still!). From what I remember the room was quite bare and plain, but something about the memories of it evokes feelings of home, comfort, coziness. When I came across this picture of my mother, taken long before she knew she’d end up with children with crazy names like Anulkah and Igmar, I knew instantly it was that room – not so much from sight but from that feeling.  The feeling of nana’s house.