Family Ties


Recently, my Niece and I have been diligently working on our Family Tree. My family originated from St. Mary, Jamaica West Indies and I was born & raised there. Just in case you do not know about my Jamaican heritage – We the people, are a mixture of many Ethnicities with strong bloodlines of African, European, Indian and Middle Eastern with some Chinese tossed in.

In the registry of baptisms back in the 1800 to 1900 people in Jamaica W.I. were Free multi-national people, and their race was documented by the officiant at christenings and marriages. From the list of baptisms in my parish, I found out that my paternal Great Grandfather was a 3 year old Quadroon (Mulatto + white = 1/4 black) when he was christened. It appears that one of his parents was a mulatto (also called half & half) and the other was white. I remember my Grandfather as a well dressed Indian mix, with green eyes and heard the word “Syrian” as his nationality thru older people gossip.

But to read that his father was a Quadroon. . where did that come from? There were also many Mulattos and Octoroons in my family too. Octoroons were considered to be 1/8 black. Whose measurement stick were they using to determine the percentage of blood lines in a newborn?  Back then they did not know the “one drop rule” and we all know that a newborn features change monthly, therefore a Quadroon could look like a Mulatto by age 3.  I’m just saying. . .

Also, back dem days, not all parents had transportation and many depended on family & friends to register the newborns – “Hi, Mr Charlie can you register my baby when you get to town? “- By the time Mr Charlie got to the registering office, he lost the paper with the baby’s name and Una May became May Evelyn. There was so much confusion when these children became adults, needed copies of their birth certificates, only to find out that the name they have been using all their life is not what the parish council has on file. Talk about a fuckaroo when you want to get an Immigrant Visa.  Our island is small (4,240 sq miles) & if some of us Jamaicans did not “come to merica” or migrate to other countries, Jamaica could not hold us all.  My family is true to the Jamaican Motto “Out of Many One People”.

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