Getting my DNA results a couple of weeks ago has inspired a new wave of family history research activity that is paying off already. This week I made my most exciting genealogical discovery to date thanks to FamilySearch.org. I found a form called a “Panama Canal Application for Photo-Metal Check Employees” for my great-grandfather Francois “Simon” Vallee. This single page provides a wealth of information that both confirms some facts we believed to be true and provided some new details that help to round out our timeline of his life and a picture of who Simon was. Let’s go through it line-by-line.
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
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
These last several months I’ve gotten distracted with other activities and obligations, which means my genealogy work got moved into the guilt pile of neglected projects I no longer made time for. Well, thank goodness I was invited to present at the Discover Your Roots conference again this year. Just as it did last year, being forced to immerse myself in the details of my research re-ignited the flame, so I’m back!!!
Up to this point, my most exciting and promising finds have been concerning my maternal grandfather’s Cadignan ancestors from Francois, Martinique. In a previous post I had described the online odyssey that led to the discovery of records listing slaves freed after the emancipation decree of 1848. With just the click of a few buttons 15 Cadignans revealed themselves – and every one of them listed Francois as their birthplace and residence.
It took quite some time, but I deciphered the old French handwriting in the actes to the best of my ability and entered the information into this table. I was also able to draw up two family trees based on the information in the actes.
Every discovery leads to new knowledge – and more questions. These are the main answers I seek in regard to the actes d’individualite.
- Are the Jean Maries of actes 553 and 1487 the same person? (I’m pretty sure they are.)
- Are Gertrude and her children related to the other Cadignans, or did the enumerator arbitrarily give two distinct families the surname of Cadignan?
- It’s very likely that one of these Cadignans is a direct ancestor of mine. My great-grandmother Josephine’s estimated year of birth is 1891, which could mean one of these Cadignans was her grandparent (or parent?)…but who?!
Any other big questions I should add to the every-growing list?
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