Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Maduro-Delvalle Genealogy

Examining Sita Likuski's charts
at the 2002 family reunion.
The stories of our family stretch around the world, sometimes tracing more than 15 generations.   Genealogy can be loosely defined as the pursuit of family kinship and history (thank you, Wikipedia).  I remember when Alex Haley’s book, “Roots,” burst onto the scene in 1976, making researching family histories very popular. But in our families - the Maduros, the Delvalles, the Fidanques, and such (there are too many family names to list here) - family lore has always been a popular subject, and we have several homegrown genealogists to prove it!  I’ll only mention the four cousins whom I know personally – but I know there are more of you out there.  If you’re into family genealogy, too, do leave a comment at the end of this article with a link to your website, and I’ll add it to our list!

Rene Van Wijngaarden, from the Delvalle roster, is an avid family genealogist from Holland, and has even written a book of our family history.  Lynn Lewis, originally from England and now living on Kibbutz Zora in Israel, follows our extended family with a website and huge database. He started studying family genealogy in 1986 and his records run back to the 15th century.   Sita Likuski’s family moved from Panama to the United States when she was a toddler.  Her family charts include about 11,000 individuals.  If you think that number is impressive, let me introduce you to David Blank, born in Zurich, raised in Canada, and settled for many years in Jerusalem:  as of December 21st, his database included 17,600 family members, and his genealogy website gets more than 1,000 unique visitors every day.   

While I love our family, I’ve never been tempted to pour over history books and old municipal records to increase my (feeble) knowledge.  I decided to ask Sita and David what, exactly, draws them into spending a good portion of their time studying our roots.

Sita generously explained that the challenge of playing detective and solving puzzles drew her to genealogy.  She grew up surrounded by her mother’s large extended family, and was intrigued by the mysteries of how they were all related.  She doesn’t play favorites; “whoever I’m researching at a given moment” is her man or woman of the day.  She strives for what she describes as an “aha! moment,” when she discovers something new or uncovers a family secret.  Perhaps it runs in her genes – in the photo to the right, Sita’s mother, Emita Fidanque Levy is presenting family history at the 1999 Maduro-Delvalle Family Reunion in Curacao.

David was more pragmatic, and presented me with numbers.  His 16th generation grandfather, Eliezer Jaffe, was born in 1360, and his most distant relative is an 11th cousin, three times removed.  His website notes family members, holocaust victims (600), tombstone notations (450), and has almost 3,000 photographs.  Individuals can’t be seen in his records until they’re dead, so no one should fear that their personal details can be lifted from his database.  He and his charming wife invited us to dinner, and since we couldn’t find the exact family connection, we decided to call ourselves simply “cousins.” Discover your cousins by reaching out to family members and visiting the suggested links below!

Some suggested links: