It all started with a simple Google search- a shot in the dark, as my cousin called it. Iva P. Henry was looking for traces of her long lost family, the side of her family lost in Panama with the arrival of Joshua Austin Reid, my grandfather and, as it turned out, hers as well.
Back in 1906 he left Jamaica to find better opportunities in Panama in the construction of the Panama Canal and was never heard from again. Well, when Iva Googled Joshua’s name she was directed to our blog, The Silver People Chronicle.
That was about a year ago and we established a link and a beautiful friendship and kinship that might have been lost forever were it not for the Internet and our blog activities. Cousin Iva described her initial reaction to finding our grandfather’s story as “Having hit the lottery!” Cousin Maudie, Modesta Bert, accompanied her on this trip. I also discovered my Uncle Namaan, their father who was Joshua’s infant son in Jamaica before he took ship for Panama to start a new life and a new family.
Here in Panama we just bid a joyful and tearful farewell to both my cousins Iva P. Henry from Winnipeg, Canada, and Modesta (Maudie) Bert from London, England. They had an unforgettable two week holiday here in our beautiful country thanks to the Silver People Heritage Foundation which has reached out to the far corners of the globe to the community of our Silver People who are looking for each other.
We will not forget this joyous meeting and they are eager to carry back to their home countries the news and the stories about their ancestors who were really not lost in Panama but had sacrificed so much to give them a proud heritage to return to. They also arrived right after the news of the passage of our Silver People Law that has declared the cemeteries of Mount Hope (Monte Esperanza), Silver Corozal (Panama City) and Gatun (Colon) National Historic and Cultural Patrimony.
We will leave you for now with some stirring words from my beloved Cousin Iva:
“We never knew the impact of your search for Justice… We realize that there are many more milestones to cross, more mountains to climb and more hurdles to get over. But, be assured you both are not alone.”
In our next post we will tell you more about our remarkable experience at Corozal Cemetery when we took my cousins there to visit the graves of our ancestors.
This story continues.