Tag Archives: Bermuda

Lucky to be here

You know, it is actually mind boggling when one stops to consider how did I get to be here … exist, that is. I mean, when you really think about all the dots that had to connect to make it possible for each one of us to be here … and then for our descendants to be here, it is actually amazing to ponder.

We all come from ancestors, who thankfully, lived long enough to begat our grandparents, our great-grandparents, our great-great-grandparents… well, you get the picture. And in those early days, that was no small feat.

CelindahCourtBrown_Death

Burial record for 4th great-grandmother, Celindah Court Brown, 9 March 1843 at St. Thomas Cathedral, Bombay, India

I’ve been hunting for evidence of my 4th great-grandmother, Celindah Court’s parents for years. She was born about 1805 in Calcutta, Bengal, India  and although I have found her marriage record, death records and records for all of her children, I have yet to determine who her parents were or even an exact birthday for her.

I have been fortunate enough to find an 1813 baptism record for her that took place in Portsmouth, Hampshire, England which lists her parents as Malay. Her father was English, of that I am certain, otherwise she would not have been able to marry as well and own property as she did, nor would she have been taken to England to be baptized. But, a Malay mother is certainly a possibility and my DNA does seem to back that up, showing that my genetic makeup consists of two percent of Asia East.

A couple of months ago, I came across a will for an Elizabeth Court, who recognizes my 4x great-grandmother in her will as her goddaughter. Obviously, my grandmother was very much loved, as she was left money, jewels and all of Elizabeth’s property and goods that weren’t specifically given to someone else . At first I thought that perhaps Elizabeth was Celindah’s aunt, possibly a sister to her father and was quite excited that Elizabeth could be my missing link to breaking down my break wall. Turns out, I believe my hypothesis is half right… more extensive review of the will shows that Elizabeth was a widow, which means Court was her married name. I now believe Elizabeth is Celindah’s aunt but her father’s sister-in-law. The next step was to figure out who Elizabeth’s husband was and I found that out tonight. Thomas Court married Elizabeth Fisher in 1799 in Calcutta, Bengal, India. How do I know I have the right man? Thomas and Elizabeth Court had a son named Thomas Rowland Court… who happens to be mentioned in Elizabeth’s will, confirming I am on the right track.

But, that still hasn’t helped me yet identify Celindah’s father, but I feel I am getting closer and the closer I get, the more I am aware that it is by happenstance that I am here… thinking… breathing… able to write these words in the first place. Elizabeth died at 50. Her husband, Thomas died at 40. Their son died at 25 and his daughter at two and his wife at 26. My 4x great grandmother’s parents were missing from her life at her baptism and she was only about eight years old then. Celindah, in fact died at 38 after having nine children with only six of them living when she passed. Four of them died before they were 30 years of age. One daughter lived to be 73 and yet, another daughter, my 3rd great-grandmother Celindah Elizabeth Jane Brown, her first born, actually lived to be be 94 years old. How lucky is that?

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Birth/Baptism record of 3rd great-grandmother, Celindah Elizabeth Jane Brown, 25 April 1828 in Bombay, India

That grandmother, Celindah Elizabeth Jane, who was born in Bombay, India, married Francis Clough and had 10 children by the time she was 33, with my 2nd great-grandmother, Mary Audin Clough being their firstborn. Celindah Elizabeth Jane lost three of those children by age 29 and her husband, my 3rd great-grandfather at 39.

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2nd great-grandmother, Mary Audin Clough Panchaud (1846-1909)

My great-great-grandmother, Mary Audin, had been widowed twice and buried three children by age 30 when she met and married my 2nd great-grandfather, Louis Panchaud in England. He was 23 years older than she was and also a widower. Their marriage would only last 12 months before he committed suicide. Mary had given birth six months after their marriage and was pregnant with my great-grandfather, Louis Benoni Panchaud, when he killed himself. My great-grandfather was born eight months later and it’s quite possible his father had no idea he was leaving his wife with child. After a life full of heartache and death, Mary Audin died alone at age 63 in Dimboola, Victoria, Australia. Mary’s two sons did live to reach adulthood. My Uncle Albert became a man of the cloth, thus having no children, and also died at age 63 in Cornwall, England, a beloved parish priest.

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Great-Grandfather, Louis Benoni Panchaud (1878-1950) and family, including grandfather, Louis William Panchaud (1922-2006) in sailor suit

My great-grandfather immigrated to Bermuda, where he met my great-grandmother and begat four children of his own, including my grandfather, Louis.

In the grand scheme of things, I consider myself quite lucky that I even exist. I mean, each one of my grandparents was a child that outlived their siblings. For all but a couple, they had to grow up without their parents. While familial lines were ceasing to exist on collateral lines, mine continued. When you think about it that way… it’s pretty amazing that I, let alone my children, are even here. But here we are and here we continue… and now my children are bringing the next generation to life.

Although, I haven’t been able to find who begat the first Celindah, I’d like to think that she is smiling down at what she started and perhaps she plays a small part in my trouble at finding her parents … maybe this is her way of ensuring that her memory continues and a reminder that without her, there would be no me.

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A good woman

This story for my Auntie was written as I was on the road, headed back home to West Tennessee from her funeral in Ohio. Thinking of her all day, I quickly put pen to paper or rather fingers to keyboard, to flesh out my thoughts. After being home and rested for a bit, I looked back at what I had written and felt I could do better. So, for those who have read my story earlier, please forgive me for a few changes. Auntie Audie brought out the best in all she came in contact with and respectfully so, deserves the best in return. 

Six days ago a door to my family’s history was closed. Its doorkeeper, a wondrous storyteller, bridged the past to the future – connecting present generations to generations long past and reminded us of our family’s rich heritage and devotion to God.

Yesterday, our family matriarch was laid to rest and with her, our connection to a glimpse of a Bermuda long gone. Although we lost our beloved sister, mother, grandmother and auntie, her leaving was not just a time of mourning and sadness, but also of a celebration of her life and the love that she gave to us all. The lessons that she taught us in life – love of family, of life and for the almighty – carried over in her remembrance. A gathering of family – siblings, children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews – came together to celebrate and to remember the woman, who without, many would not be here today.

She was my grandfather’s younger sister and although she was two generations from me, she was one of my favorite family members. Auntie Audie meant a great deal to me. Growing up, I would see her quite often when she visited my grandparents, who lived in the same small town in Ohio. Or we would go to her home for visits, which I loved to do because she had a swimming pool and was always ready to offer a swim, even if I came without a suit, she would tell me she had one for me to use! She was always one who loved to spoil too with snacks and soda, as well as lots of hugs and kisses.

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Father, Louis Benoni holding baby Dorothy Audine, mom Dorothy “Dorrie” May Tatem, and brothers Louis “Billy” William and Albert “Ray” Raymond Panchaud

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Dorothy Audine Panchaud

Dorothy Audine Panchaud Richards was born at home on Thursday, January 20, 1927 in Spanish Point, Bermuda. The third child and only daughter of Louis Benoni Panchaud and Dorothy May Tatem, she was welcomed by her older brothers, four-year old Billy (Louis William) and two-year old Ray (Albert Raymond).

A third brother (and probably her favorite because she could spoil him since he was so much younger than her) joined the family about 10 years later. Named for her mother and grandmother Mary Audin Clough, who in turn was named for her grandmother Mary Audin, Dorothy was called Audie during her life and grew to be a beautiful and stately woman.

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Grandmother Mary Audin Clough

Born into a prominent and old Bermuda family, whose ties to the island began in the 1600s, she grew up healthy, strong, very independent and very much loved, surrounded by a large and extended family on the island.
MARR_PANCHAUDAudine_RICHARDSRobertShe met the love of her life, Robert “Bob” Sanford Richards, a young American sailor while he was on duty in Bermuda. Marriage at 20 and five children soon followed, as well as a move that would take her from her island home to a new home and country in 1952.

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Audie and younger brother Michael Panchaud

A gifted pianist, she taught hundreds of students for more than five decades to embrace their talents and to develop a love of music. A steadfast fixture at the organ of her home church, you could find her every Sunday, filling the sanctuary with beautiful and heartfelt music in tribute and honor of her beloved savior.

Audie led a life many dream of – her family and friends were always close by, and she found fulfillment in her life taking care of her family – her children and her many grandchildren, great grandchildren and nieces and nephews and through her selfless service to the church and to others in need. She was a true woman of God and a genuine friend.

Always a teacher, she was the one who helped instill in me my love of genealogy and my thirst to know where my family came from. From her many albums of old family photographs handed down to her from her mother to her stories and anecdotes of family members which seemed to make the past come alive, her love of family showed through and has been my guiding force as I strive to learn exactly who we are, where we come from and to honor our ancestors who made it possible for us to be here today. For that, I will be eternally indebted to her. I am happy that I was able to introduce her to my contribution to our family’s history and lineage – my sons and her great-great grand nephews and her great-great-great grand nephew, my grandson Liam soon after he was born.

RICHARDS_Robert_AudinePANCHAUD_Nov 2006Uncle Bob, her beloved husband of 70 years was called home first on December 1, 2015 and Auntie Audie, I’m sure feeling she could not continue without him, soon followed less than two months later. I believe they are both laughing and happy to be together once more and I’m willing to bet they have joined her oldest brother and my grandpa, Louis “Billy” William Panchaud and my nana, Angelena Dorothy Mello Panchaud, in a friendly game of bowling once more.

Rest in peace loved ones, for we will soon see one another once more.


A Child of the World

American has long been considered a melting pot, a place for people of all religions, cultures and races to live in freedom. And because America was founded by immigrants, when researching their genealogy, many Americans will find ancestors from around the world.

I am no different… well, maybe a little.

On my mother’s side, a few of my ancestors have been in this country since the mid-1700s. A good many of them came to America in the mid-1800s looking for a new way of life for their families. And some have been here since the beginning. My maternal ancestors give my life a blend of Native American, English and German roots and I feel blessed to have their blood running through my veins.

On my father’s side I am truly a child of the world. I am half Bermudian and half American. My father was born in Bermuda, as was his father. My grandfather’s brother, my great-uncle, and his family lives in Canada. My great-grandfather was born in England and his father, my great-great grandfather from Lausanne, Switzerland and his grandfather from France. My GGGrandfather’s  seven children were born in England, Italy and South Africa. His wife, my GGGrandmother was born in Bombay, India in 1846 during the height of the East India Company and died in Dimboola, Australia in 1906. My father’s mother was also born in Bermuda, but her both her parents immigrated to Bermuda from the Azores. Their parents, my great-great grandparents stayed on Pico and Sao Miguel, Azores.

On my mother’s side, I am the 7th generation to be born in the U.S. But on my father’s side I am the first generation born in America. I love exploring my heritage and finding the connections that bridge my families and navigates my path down the winding road I call my life.


Words from the Past

The Bermuda Gazette, issue 1 published on Saturday, 17 January 1784 on the island of Bermuda.

I love researching the past and when I start, I usually lose all track of time. Last night  I found myself  researching the Bermuda National Library online records. They have copies of the Bermuda Royal Gazette online that date from the very first issue of January 17, 1784… complete with the “s” that looks like a funky “f”! How cool is it to read a 227 year old newspaper that is still being printed today?! Do you think they had any clue that when they started their publication, just 8 short years after American won its independence from the British, that they would still be in business in 2011?? Now that’s a healthy business plan!

Well, when I’m researching, I tend to forget about all else and that’s usually how I end up staying up until the wee hours of the morning… last night, or rather this morning, I didn’t turn off my computer until after 3 am.  But in my defense,  I was finding some really interesting tidbits.

Bermuda Gazette, Mar. 17, 1787

I came across this story in the 166 issue, published on Saturday, March 17, 1787. I only wish there was more information given so I could research that family and to see what happened to them.

“A letter from Tortola, dated October 25 contains the following extraordinary account: The wife of one Agramune, a mendicant (one who begs or lives a vow of poverty), having heard that one of her children had been taken up with a gang of vagabonds (and we thought the youth of today were different!) and carried to prison was so shocked at the report, that she was, before her time, taken in labour, and delivered of five children at one birth, viz. four girls and one boy. It is remarkable, that the above woman, who is of a vigorous constitution, has had fourteen children at four different lyings-inn, namely, two at the first, three as the second, at the third four, and at this last five before her time.”

17 Mar 1787, page 3

I think you have to agree, what a remarkable story! I would really love to learn if the children survived to adulthood, but I am unable to located the name given.

If you ever have the opportunity to read words from the past, don’t pass it up. You will find that the trials, tribulations and heartwarming stories from the past aren’t really any different from today.

You can read today’s issue of the Bermuda Royal Gazette online at http://www.royalgazette.com/


Another Seizure of American Slaves in Bermuda

This is an article I came across while researching my family. In Bermuda, the slave trade was outlawed in 1807, and all slaves were freed in 1834. The following article is about a shipment of slaves, destined for North Carolina, which was diverted to Bermuda due to weather.

The Salem Gazette
Salem, Mass
Friday, 20 Mar 1835

“From the N. York Jour. of Commerce.

Considerable excitement was created in the Southern states a year or two ago, by the seizure and emancipation of a cargo of American slaves which had been driven into Bermuda by stress of weather.

At the last session of the North Carolina Legislature, strong resolutions were passed in reprobation of the act, which was considered nothing less than legalized robbery. However, the same act has since been repeated, and will doubtless be repeated as often as American slaves shall be by accident or otherwise, be found in British ports. If any of our readers need be informed how it comes to pass that cargoes of American slaves are every now and then driven into Bermuda, we can only tell them that a brisk trade in human flesh is carried on by sea, between the Northernmost slave-holding states and the Southernmost, slave-labor being in much greater demand, and the price of slaves much higher in the latter than in the former. The principal mart for the collection and shipment of these slaves is the District of Columbia; the government of which is vested exclusively in Congress.

One of the last cargoes shipped from that District, consisting of 78 individuals, was taken on board the brig Enterprise, of this part, Elliot Smith master, bound for Charleston. But either on account of the Jonah on board or for some other reason, the brig would not go to Charleston, and after being tossed about by winds and waves a sufficient length of time, put into Bermuda about the 20th nit. in distress.

It immediately became known to the inhabitants that there were slaves on board, and accordingly on the following day, at the instance of the “Friendly Society” of colored people of Bermuda, a writ of Habeus Corpus was served upon all the slaves, commanding them to be bro’t before the Chief Justice and answer for themselves whether they would proceed with the vessel to her destined port and continue slaves, or remain at Bermuda and be free. The rest of the proceedings in the case we give in the language of the Bermuda Royal Gazette, received at this office.

The Constable with the Writ went off to the vessel, (then lying about 300 yards from the shore) and requested to see the master, into whose hands the Writ was delivered. He passed to a gentleman on the deck to read it, who when he had done so, observed that the document was not served in the proper form, and on the Constable declining to take it back, it was dropped into the bottom of the boat. The Constable immediately returned to shore to report proceedings.

In the interim the master, having landed, a merchant in the town of Hamilton, who had witnessed the transaction, very kindly intimated to Smith the necessity of his regaining possession of the Writ, which he fortunately succeeded in doing. The master then came to Court, and pleaded very hard, that the compliance which the writ might be deferred till the following morning, but under existing and somewhat suspicious circumstances, the Court was peremptory; accordingly at 9 o’clock PM the whole of the Slaves were marshalled into Court; there were children without a single connexion with them, who had no doubt been torn from the very arms of their parents to gratify man, who is ever inventing means to gain filthy lucre, there were women too, with infants at the breast; and altogether, they presented a scene most degrading and revolting to Christianity.

It has been asserted and we place implicit confidence in our informant, that an attempt was made to tamper with these unfortunate creatures before they left the brigantine, by promising them money if they would but say when questioned that they would rather proceed with the vessel. But how little did the tempter reckon with human feeling (though his anticipations were very great) where such strong interest was concerned; he little thought that the heart of the poor and oppressed colored mortal could, with freedom in prospect, beat with an anxious joy, as that of a white person for any other cause; the result proved how groundless were his expectations. The first man called upon was desired to stand up and turn himself towards his Honor and Chief Justice, who plainly, kindly, and very appropriately addressed him to the Effect;–“…


Support and Defend

I come from a long line of veterans, both American and British, who have fought on both sides of the pond.

My seventh great-grandfather, Jeremiah Gard and his sons, including my sixth great-grandfather, Alexander Guard and his cousins fought for a young America during the Revolutionary War. My great-great Uncle Henry George Louis Panchaud or Harry as he was called, was a well-known and decorated colonel in the Boer War in South Africa. My Great-great-great-great Uncle, William L. Guard was a Captain in the Mexican-American War.

During WWI, my great-great-uncle, Philip Archibald Tatem, was 24 years old when he left his home in Bermuda with the Bermuda Volunteer Rifle Corps and joined the Lincolnshire Regiment in France. He was killed on Sept. 25, 1916, during the Battle of the Somme after heavy fighting. His body was never identified, but he is honored on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing in Somme, France. His younger brother, Graham Tatem, also served in WWI but fortunately did make it back to Bermuda. My paternal great-grandfather also served during WWI as a part of the Canadian Expeditionary Forces, as well as his older brother, Albert Louis Panchaud, who served as a chaplain in the British Army.

My maternal grandfather was a prisoner of war during World War II in Germany for more than a year, while my paternal grandfather guarded German prisoners of war sent to Bermuda. My uncle Larry fought in Vietnam and my brother, Brian, served in Iraq during Desert Storm and he once again finds himself in Iraq today. I served almost 23 years in the United States Navy retiring as a Chief Petty Officer and my husband was a career Marine, giving more than 21 years to the Corps, retiring as a Master Gunnery Sergeant. Today, my oldest son carries on the family tradition and currently serves as a member of the Tennessee National Guard.

Earlier last year, I received a sobering comment from my brother on Facebook. He said, “I believe hell is empty, as pure evil walks the earth here in Iraq.” But even with that knowledge, he truly believes in what he and his unit are doing to help the Iraqi people.

I am proud of my family’s contributions to our great nation and to the countries they have called home. They have all I am also proud of those whom I call friend and those I don’t know personally. Without their sacrifice, I would not be living the life I have today.

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The Secret of Their Success

The Royal Gazette
25 Jul 2009
By Jessie Moniz

Communication and laughter are the secrets to a happy marriage.

This came from Bermudians Sophie and Michael Panchaud who celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary this week.

The Panchauds have lived in Ontario, Canada for many years, but celebrated this special milestone with a cruise on the Norwegian Spirit to Bermuda with 34 of their family members.

“We have been planning this for three years,” Mrs. Panchaud said. “I told my family this is what I wanted to do for my 50th, I wanted to go back to the church where I was married. Doing the cruise was the best solution, because of the size of the family.”

The Panchauds were childhood sweethearts.

“We met in Dellwood School when I first came to Bermuda,” said Mrs. Panchaud. Mrs. Panchaud’s maiden name was Cordeiro and her family were originally from the Azores. “But I didn’t notice him until I was 12. We were in the same class. He use to pull my blouse, or flick me on the back. I pretended not to like it.”

The two parted ways when she went on to Mount St. Agnes Academy.

“I had a job after school, on Saturdays,” she said. “I would be sent to the Bank of Butterfield on errands. He was working as a teller there. ”

Sparks flew again.

“We used to sneak out and meet each other in the Bermuda library. I wasn’t allowed to date.”

Her father wouldn’t give his approval for them to date until after she finished high school. They were married two years after her graduation.

“We have been very happy,” she said. “He just has to remember I am the boss! What has made us successful is the fact that we keep communicating with each other. “Anything that is going on we discuss it. We don’t leave it up to chance that he knows what I am thinking. Communication is extremely important.”

And she said their lives were full of laughter.

“With six children you need a big sense of humour,” she said.

They have six sons Mark, Daniel, Kevin, James, Thomas and Phillip.

“After the sixth one we stopped holding hands,” said Mrs. Panchaud, with a laugh.

The Panchauds have their own business dealing in battery backup electronic support systems in Kitchener, Ontario.

“I am 69, and my husband is 70 years old,” she said. “We were 19 when we were married. My husband had to get his mother’s permission for us to marry because 21 was the age of majority at the time.”

The couple have have fourteen grandchildren.

While in Bermuda, their marriage was blessed at St. Theresa’s Roman Catholic Cathedral where they were married. The blessing was particularly special because their son, James is a permanent deacon at the church.

“Being an ordained deacon, he was able to give us the blessing,” she said. “It was very nice. “I still can’t believe that I didn’t cry the whole way through. I am a bawly baby with everything. Somehow it didn’t happen.”

And she said she didn’t cry at her wedding either.

“I was so happy to get married and be out of my parents’ control,” she said. “I was lucky to get a wonderful husband. He is a kind, considerate man and I couldn’t have better.”

Her advice to other young women was make sure you love him for him.

“Don’t try to change him later,” she said. “Make sure the person you are dating is the person you love, not someone you are imagining. After 50 years and they lose all their hair and they have a big belly, you are sure glad you didn’t marry them for their looks.”

She said coming from different cultural backgrounds was never a hindrance to their marriage.

“He is Bermudian, he was born here,” she said. “His family and ours were very different in their ways of doing things, but I was loud enough to take over. Ha.”

And she said the challenges of marriage change as you go through different life stages.

“When you first start it is all about how you are going to be able to buy the house and support your children,” she said. “You are so busy with that for many years. Then suddenly the children are all gone and you have to watch your health. We have been very blessed with a healthy family.”


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