Thursday, December 4, 2008

Kerala family history

This information was provided by Susan, daughter of Georgekutty. She emailed in 2001, in response to a question about the family. She said her dad received the paper cutting from Kerala and based on this has furnished the information given below:

Perumadon Oommen's son - P Oommen Ghee Verghese was living in Peedikaplamootil, Kozencheri and shifted to his new home at Kottakkattuparampil, Thekkemala, suburb of Kozencheri. P Oommen Ghee Verghese was known as "Ashan" (Teacher). He was a learned man (Pandit in Sanskrit). Students were regularly attending classes in his home. He was working as a judge and police inspector for settling disputes among other families at that time. His decision in any matter was final. He married Rachel from Cherukara Kurudamanil. He had four sons and three daughters:

Sons: P G Thomas, P G Mathew, P G Abraham, P G Samuel

Daughters: P G Mariamma, P G Annamma, P G Saramma

The first son, P G Thomas, (Dad's grandfather), worked as an administrator of Dindigal and Shinkanpet Dewan in Madras Province (Tamilnadu) near Madurai. He married Dr. Anna Thomas at Trivandrum and his wife worked as a doctor in Madurai. They had three sons and one daughter. Daughter Rachel (Thangam) died at the age of eleven.

Dad's father was the oldest son, George P Thomas. Ghee Verghese in English became George. P G, Anna and their three sons moved to Karachi in the 1920's.

Apparently the P that we thought was for Peedikal or Plamootil was really for Perumadon, which it looks like was the family name. The other was the place name, which another of my notes says means jackfruit tree root.

Georgekutty was the son of P G Abraham, and was your grandfather's first cousin. (My understanding is that kutty means little boy, same as the nicknames of your grandfather and his brothers, Baby, Kunju and Babu; and your Dad's family nickname, Sunoo.) You may remember we had a meal with Georgekutty in the Mumbai suburb of Muland (sp). He was retired from the Indian Railways. His wife and daughters didn't eat with us, but they served us and stayed in the kitchen, so we didn't get to chat with them very much. One thing I remember Georgekutty talked about was his youngest daughter married a Hindu, so Georgekutty gave up eating meat (in solidarity with his daughter's family). He died only a few years ago, in his 90's. Another daughter married M.C. Thomas, who chatted with us while the female cousins were in the kitchen. He eventually went to the Gulf to work, but when we were there he had a little convenience store. His and his wife's daughters are in touch by email occasionally, and one visited us (stayed with Penny for a few days) when she had a 6-month assignment in New Jersey.

Another person from Kerala that Dad knows, Sam Chacko, had some information about the family that included this: Rachel from Cherukara Kurudamanil, Dad's great-grandmother, was the daughter of the archbishop. P G Thomas was editor of Malayela Manorama. He left Kerala in 1924, and lived in Madurai for a while before leaving for Karachi. He returned to Kerala in 1938 and died there. (I think Chacko said he went back after the person he had offended died, and took a job with the newspaper again.) The family of George Thomas went to Kerala in 1942 to visit his father's tomb. Dad got malaria on the trip, and came back to find his best friend had died of it back in Karachi. (Unfortunately, Sam Chacko lost his clippings and information a few years ago when he was removed from his job in Chicago.)

Check if this is right: in Kerala tradition, family name is first, usually as an initial; father's given name is second (also an initial) and each person's given name is 3rd. P G Thomas changed his family's use of the Kerala way of naming and kept his given name Thomas as his family name, so that all his sons used Thomas as their family name. If you were to go back to the Kerala way, you would be P V Saul (for Perumadon Vincent Saul).

Dad's mom used to send me letters using the Kerala custom of calling the wife by her husband's first name as her last name: the letters were addressed to Mrs. Margaret Vincent.

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