Tag Archives: The-Panama-Canal-Zone

Gatun Cemetery

This is the stairway to the entrance of Gatun Cemetery.

This is the stairway to the entrance of Gatun Cemetery.

Home to about 90 tombs, the Gatun Cemetery is the resting place of primarily Westindian workers and family members.

Home to about 90 tombs, the Gatun Cemetery is the resting place of primarily Westindian workers and family members.

By Lydia M. Reid

The small town of Gatun in Colon has seen the evolution of the Panama Canal for more than a century, and its cemetery, the sacred burial ground of scores of Westindian (Antillean) workers of the French and American construction periods, has been witness to many significant historical phenomena. It saw the arrival and departure of the frenzied crowds of California Gold Rush hopefuls, the French period settlers, the American period workers and the American military come and go. Once it had outlived its usefulness, however, it was abandoned by the (American) Panama Canal Commission and left to its own destiny and the tropical elements, as was the fate of many Canal Zone towns. Continue reading

A Continuing Saga

"M" Section Corozal Cemetery

"M" Section Corozal Cemetery

An old, abandoned Silver grave in older section of Corozal Cemetery

An old, abandoned Silver grave in older section of Corozal Cemetery

Solely to ponder that our forefathers “The Silver Men” have, since the nineteenth century, been one of the key sources of economic and social advancement for the whole of humanity simply boggles the mind. That we continue to face historic segregation and discrimination, however, is still an awesome issue to be faced now as in the time of our ancestors. Though we were the hands, shoulders and brains of the world’s push for modernity, our sense of community has faltered greatly to the brink of disappearance. Today, nearly ten years after reversion, we still suffer the same feelings of isolation that our forefathers felt even after the inauguration of the Panama Canal. Continue reading

Who are the “Silver People?”

The Silver People were the first immigrants from the West Indies who were originally hired to work on the Panama Railroad and later the Panama Canal in the Republic of Panama. The original group of “Silver Men,” as most of the workers who appeared on Panama’s shores from 1850 on were men, were from the island of Jamaica. Later, however, after the disastrous bankruptcy of the French Canal Company that initiated the construction of the Canal, the majority of the contracted workers would be from the island of Barbados and the surrounding “Small islands.” Continue reading