The Joseph Family Website
History of the Adangapurathu Family - Part II

Documented Past History

The last six generations are well documented and can be tracked with perfect clarity.

What AG Joseph Panicker has done in his book on the family is to mention the 15th generation as the starting point of recorded history. The validity of the fifteen generations prior to this is based on a combination of anecdotal information as well as conjecture in terms of the lapsed time in the context of life expectancies, etc. However, it is the starting point of recorded history.

Itty Avirah Tharakan ( ~1670 to ~1750) Generation 15.

The exact date of birth and death is not certain but his life span is estimated to be between the late 17th century and the middle of the 18th century. This is based on his dealings with the Second Marthoma (which literally means the Bishop ordained by St.Thomas and his successors) and the Third Marthoma. Itty Avira wielded quite a lot of influence with the Raja because it was during his generation that vast tracts of land were given to the family as tax free properties. He was also the first of the forefathers who actually recorded any of the timber trade he conducted with initially the Dutch East India company and later on with the British East India company.

A man of considerable means, he was generous with his money. He was the one who bailed out the Kalloopara Palli (church) from financial straits as large sums of money had been borrowed to improve the church as a result of a growing congregation. It was during his time that the title of "Mel Kaisthanam" literally means the "Head Parishioner" was given to the family. This honor was maintained for 200+ years until the time of AG Joseph Panicker who was the last one in the family to put in the first contribution (an honor bestowed to the "first among parishioners") during the festivals of the church.

Itty Avirah married from a wealthy family in Vaipoor, called Edavoor not far away from Kallopara. They had at least one son, Valia Avira "Valia" which literally means big but also can mean older would imply that there is a possibility that he had a younger brother who if oral tradition is taken as incontrovertible fact, must have gone into seclusion in a monastery or just disappeared seeking spiritual goals. There is definite record of one daughter, Anna. Her marriage to a wealthy family in Moovattapuzha - the Vallikattu Panicker family - is recorded in that family's history.

Valia Avira Tharakan.(~1710 to ~1770) Generation 16

The title "Tharakan" is that of a trader and this son of Itty Avira definitely fit that description. Valia Avira was a businessman and a very successful one at that. He expanded on his father's business and probably traveled to the high ranges and hilltops on the banks of the river Manimala to get his lumber and then floated it down the Manimala and Pamba rivers to the ports at Quilon (Kollam) and Alleppey (Allapuzha). Again, his main customer was the British East India company. He married from a family of prominence named Kadmapuzha, who, by inference from the locale, must have had vast resources of lumber since the town of Kanjirapally is on the foothills of the Western Ghats - one of the major mountain ranges in South India.

His wife known to following generations as Kanjirappallykarathi ValiaAmma (the grandmother from Kanjirapally) was supposed to have been a woman with a strong personality accompanied with a scathing tongue. Stories of her range, from her insistence to having a urinal within the house for women - quite unusual at that time, to having snakes as pets to safeguard the "Arra" which is the safe room of the house where supposedly there was a banana bunch made of pure gold and other such valuables. Every evening she would sit on the verandah and call out to the snakes(cobras? adders?): "Come my sons, its time to eat" and feed them bananas and milk. Other stories such as her clashing with one of the biggest merchants of the time when, in her opinion he gazed at her daughter bathing in the river with a lecherous eye. Valia Avira and his wife, Annamma (this is a typical Syrian Christian mode of calling their women folk, its Anna plus amma) had three sons and a daughter. The daughter was named Achiamma, a typical Syrian Christian name for women of the time. The two sons who have been known to succeeding generations as Valia Panicker (elder Panicker) and Kochu Panicker (younger Panicker). Their real names going by tradition must have been Avirah and Eapen. The name Eapen, which has since has gone down the family tree for many generations originated with Kanjirapallykarathi ValiaAmma's father whose name was Eapen.

The two brothers got the title of "Panicker" because of their prowess in the martial arts, since they were schooled in it at Moovattapuzha not far from Kochi. The third son of Valia Avira became a priest and for a period of time was the vicar at the Kalloopara church. He later moved to Angamali, which was at the time the seat of the Eastern Orthodox church - where he was the assistant to the Metropolitan of the time. He was called Thoma Malppan ("Malppan" is another mode of addressing a priest). He was the one who in later years schooled his nephew, when he donned the priestly robes.

The only daughter of Valia Avira and Checha, Achiamma, was married to a family in Mavelikara called Vadakkethalakal, who are well known for their financial success and as being leaders of the church. Achiamma lost her husband when she was relatively young, and since her father had died, her brothers (probably at the instigation of their headstrong mother) brought their sister and her two sons back to Adangapurathu. There are lots of stories of how her beauty and charm attracted some of the most eligible men of the day. After the passing of her mother, who from all accounts thought that no one was worthy to marry her daughter, she was remarried to a very rich man but there were no children born out of that wedlock. The sons from her first marriage moved to another house, Marrettu not far from their mother's house, and it marked the beginning of one of the most successful families in the Kalloopara/Puramattom area.

Valia Panicker - Avirah Avirah - (it was customary to have the name of one's father to precede your baptized name) lived in Adangapurathu until his end, but two sons moved to Kanjiravelil and Olacheril which is the first known move from the family house that has been documented. Kanjiravelil and Olacheril have since branched out into several families some of whom still live in and around that area.

Kochu Panicker (Avirah Eapen Panicker) (~1750 to ~1800) Generation 17

He was the first Panicker since the time of Krishnan Bhattathiri to hold the title, and as previously stated, it was given to him and his elder brother because of their knowledge of the martial arts. This title has stayed with the family for succeeding generations, probably more in recognition of the fact of the family's close ties to the Hindus around who wanted to distinguish Adangapurathu from other Christian families. Adangapurathu has more Hindu traditions than almost any other Christian family - which is not surprising given the origin of the family.

Kochu Panicker married from a family called Vaidyan Veetil. They were the eye doctors (what today would be ophthalmologists) to the Raja of Tranvancore hence the title of Vaidyan (physician). His wife was always referred to by AG Joseph Panicker as Thevalakara Valiamma ("Thevalakara" being the name of the village she hailed from) when recounting stories to me about her. They had four sons and one daughter.

The oldest son Eapen Avirah was a judge and he and his wife initially lived in Kalamannil close to Puramattom. The story goes that the judge's wife felt that it was too dangerous living there since in those days the surroundings of Puramattom were forests where wild animals roamed. At that time areas close to the river were the more desirable properties because of proximity to water transport and the fact that it was fertile. They moved to a village called Thalavady and thus the judge became the founder of the branch of the family called Thalavady Adangapurathu. They have since branched out into several families some of whom live in Madras, Kozhikode and Hyderabad.

The second son, Eapen Oommen was then given Kalamannil and surrounding properties. That house and the descendants of Eapen Oommen are called the Kalamannil family. The Kalamannil family has made its name in various arenas of life, but most markedly so as outstanding leaders in the church. A descendant of the Kalamannil branch is His Grace The Most Rt. Rev. Dr. Philipose Mar Chrysostom who was the head of the Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Christian Church until his recent retirement.

The third son of Kochu Panicker was a priest, Joseph Malppan, who was mentioned earlier as a student of his uncle Thoma Malppan, and from whom AG Joseph Panicker derived his name. He played a role in some of the legal and ecumenical battles against the Patriarch of Antioch. The Orthodox church as it came to be known by then, was in a constant tussle for autonomy. A lot of Joseph Malppan's life has been documented in AG Joseph Panicker's book.

The fourth son of Kochu Panicker was Eapen Varghese Panicker.

Eapen Varghese Panicker(~1769 to ~1863) Generation 18

The youngest son of Kochu Panicker was Eapen Varghese who inherited the family house. There is hardly anything written about him, perhaps because his brothers totally overshadowed him. In fact even the day to day administration of the house and properties was overseen by his brother the priest, Joseph Malppan. Eapen Varghese married twice. He lost his first wife, Annamma during childbirth of their son Eapen Panicker, who later on inherited the house. In his second marriage he had two children, a son Chacko and a a daughter Aleyamma (Elizabeth). Chacko would have been the heir to the house but for the fact that he died an untimely death at the age of 28. He was survived by his wife who shortly after remarried. Aleyamma's great-granddaughter is AG Joseph Panicker's second wife, Thresiamma Joseph. Eapen Varghese died at the ripe old age of 94 - such longevity for that time was very unusual. After Eapen Varghese's death, his wife moved back to her son's house. She had two sons by a previous marriage both of whom lived near Kottayam at Ollessa.

Eapen Panicker (1828-1906)Generation 19

Eapen Panicker, the surviving son of Eapen Varghese inherited Adangapurathu. He was a born leader who made his mark in the community. AG Joseph Panicker has recounted stories of how the house was always full of people and a hub of activity. Adangapurathu was like a "panchayathu", a town council with Eapen Panicker as the head arbitrating disputes. His first wife hardly lived long enough to cross the threshold of Adangapurathu or so the story goes, and whether her death was due to illness or accident is not clear. He remained unmarried for a few years, however when his stepmother who had by then moved out and who had apparently mistreated him during her time in Adangapurathu arranged for a wedding with one of her relatives, which he desisted. Shortly thereafter he married AG Joseph Panicker's grandmother Annamma who was from a family close to Kalloppara in Thiruvalla. They had two daughters, the older one named Annamma (like her mother), the younger daughter was Aleyamma and a son Ghevarghese Panicker - AG Joseph Panicker's father.

The birth of his son Ghevarghese was well after Eapen Panicker had his daughters, and was hailed as a near miracle especially since the horoscope of the child had been written and sealed to be opened only after the his birth. "Adangapurathu Kudumbhom" mentions this in great detail and also touches upon how Eapen took care of his stepmother, despite her living away with one of the sons of a previous marriage. It was during Eapen Panicker's time that a few key properties close to Adangapurathu were acquired, most of them because the Nair owners due to excesses in lifestyle found themselves in financial straits and had to sell the properties. His stature in the Orthodox church was immense, partly due to his strong personality and also due to his willingness to use his resources to further the cause of the community. Again, like his uncle, Joseph Malppan, he helped the church in the various legal battles of the day.

He lived till the turn of the 20th century and saw some of his grandchildren though AG Joseph Panicker was born after Eapen Panicker's death. His gravestone and that of his wife's - Annamma - are in front of Kalloopara church an honor bestowed to him as a community and church leader.

Family History Part III: Recent History




Birthdays & Anniversaries

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