I have heard stories about my great grandfather's father who was a merchant and traded between India and the Islands nearby Indonesia. Once during some incident probably the World War all the travel was temporary suspended and he was stranded there for a few years where he remarried with the permission of his wife through a letter and when the conditions became normal again he came back with his wife who was a native Indonesian. This story is true because my father has had interactions with my great grandfather father's wife as she was quite young when she came to India. My father only briefly recalls the names of the Islands she used to mention that too the names were in the local dialect but they were near Java and Sumatra. Is there some way to trace back har homeland because I would be very interested in knowing about it.

Information regarding events and people involved

  • My Great-grandfather's father- Sulaiman

  • My Great-grandfather's father's wife from the Indonesian region- Mariam

  • My great grandfather's name - Dr Mahmud

  • She was from some tribal area.

  • My grandfather's father used to trade from Kolkata Port

  • He originally came from the district of Ghazipur in Eastern Uttar Pradesh India He was educated uptill 12th grade which was quite rare in those days.

  • There was some communication via letters between my great grandfather's father's wife and her family however it was eventually cut short due to unknown reasons probably due to devastations caused by the war.

  • When they arrived back she had a daughter as well however her passed passed at a very infant age due to some sickness supposedly

Note: I know it's a policy to show your research however in this case I just didn't where to start at all. I tried to find the Islands but couldn't figure out what to do with the few names I found.

  • 1
    Welcome to G&FH SE! As a new user be sure to take the Tour to learn about our focussed Q&A format which is quite different from bulletin boards, discussion forums and other Q&A sites you may be used to. Please try to ask a single focussed question. Here you seem to be asking about two stories so I think your first step should be to separate them into two questions. That way we can start to try and help but you can help us to help you if you can include full names and any event dates and locations that you know for persons within these stories that were born more than 100 years ago.
    – PolyGeo
    Commented Jul 11, 2019 at 3:14
  • @PolyGeo I mentioned this story because it might be helpful to trace back the islands in this context. I'll edit the question with the details shortly
    – user10504
    Commented Jul 11, 2019 at 10:05
  • @PolyGeo I've updated with as many details I could find
    – user10504
    Commented Jul 13, 2019 at 19:54

1 Answer 1


Having so little information about the "where", focus on the "what" and "why".

I think you should put the emphasis on the trading activity of your Grandfather.

What did he trade with? What was the main source for the item? What was the usual route between Kolkata and that place? Probably it just involved biggest towns, especially if those were big ships.

Is there any office at Kolkata that could have records of this commercial activity? That would be a huge step forward.

If you get the ship's name, or you can confirm what items did he trade with you will be able to get close to tracking their route. Then research the most common sources for those items in order to estimate a probable route.

Another way around:

  • Look for any Hindi community of refugees during the WW period. It seems that Sumatra has a growing Hindi community, there's a chance your Grandfather was located there if his rearrangement was ordered by government/military authorities.

  • If this was not the case, maybe you can find there someone with local references that could be of assistance for your research.

Additionally, you could use Google to find: "Rising India and Indian Communities in East Asia edited by K Kesavapany"

This document might give you some hints about the way Indian communities got integrated with the native people.

It's an amazing story! And it will take you a lot of patience to investigate this. I wish you good fortune with the research!

  • 1
    Thanks a lot I would've definitely upvoted but giving the Bounty hit my reputation too hard :/
    – user10504
    Commented Aug 13, 2019 at 19:12
  • No problem! I hope you get a helping hand here! Let us know the results! :)
    – onpre
    Commented Aug 13, 2019 at 19:29
  • sure I'll update the results
    – user10504
    Commented Aug 13, 2019 at 19:35

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