Family History

Some Interesting Facts / Stories

Saint Thomas converted four Brahmin families of Kodungalloor to Christianity � Pakalomattom, Shankarapuri, Kalli and Kaliankal. (Some people have argued that there were no Brahmins in Kerala in those days. Whether this is true or not, these were some of the prominent families of Kodungalloor, educated and probably associated with centers of learning and religious worship.) Kaimals (apparently of the Kshatria persuasion) created troubles for these converted families, which was the reason why the Pakalomattom family (and probably the other Christian families as well) fled Kodungalloor.

Actually the Pakalomattom family was not from Kodungalloor, but from a nearby village called Palayoor, presently known as Chavakkadu. Apparently the Kaimals cursed (Shapichu) this family causing them to flee, and this is supposedly how Palayoor became Chavakkadu (Shapa-Kadu).

After fleeing south from Kodungalloor (more correctly, Chavakkadu) the Pakalomattom family stayed briefly (probably a few years) in several places on the Arabian Sea coast, such as Paravoor, Pallipuram, Thekkan Pallippuram, Gokkamangalam, etc., before arriving in Kuravilangadu. They lived near a Kali Kovil ( Kali Temple ), which exists even today.

Saint Thomas founded 7-1/2 Churches, of which the Palayoor church was the first. This was really the Palayoor temple, or Pakalomattom family temple, converted to a church. The other 6-1/2 churches are: Kodungalloor, Paravoor, Gokkamangalam, Niranam, Nilakkal, Kollam and Thiruvancodu. (I am not sure which one of this is half, or why it is half.)

1. Pakalomattom

A Brahmin family of Kodungalloor converted to Christianity by the Apostle Saint Thomas in the first century A.D., fled Kodungalloor in the 4th century A.D., eventually settled down in Kuravilangadu, and at some point received the title of Arkadiyakon (Arch Deacon) meaning Karthavyan which transformed into Kathanar, denoting church and community leadership.

2. Mylokkombil

In the 7th Century AD, one branch of the Pakalomattom family settled down on the Mylokkombil property of Thodupuzha. They got the title of Panikkanar (later transformed to Panicker). In the 9th Century AD, Thomman Panicker (to-date, the first known name in the family) moved to Meenachil as Meenachil Karthavu’s (Raja’s) Senanayakan. He kept the family name Mylokkombil.

3. Parayil

In the 6th Century of the Malayalam Era, Ittyavira Panicker of the Mylokkombil family settled down in the Parayil property of Aymanam. His oldest son founded the Muttathupadam family of Arppukkara (Alphonsamma belonged to this family). The second son (name not known) founded the Vattakkattil family of Aymanam. The third son Ittyavira Panicker continued the Parayil family. Four of the five sons of Ittyavira Panicker founded the following four families.

(i) Erikattu � Thazhathangadi

Erikattu Kunjappan was the famous member of this family. He was a very prominent merchant, and known to have had horses and carriages. He later lost his business, and some people have blamed it on the fact that he hosted the king of Travancore to see the Vallamkali (boat race), as supposedly kings bring bad luck!

(ii) Thondukuzhy � Aymanam

Thondukuzhy Manichan who managed the William Goodacre coir factory and business of Alappuzha was a member of this family. The Matteethara family of Aymanam is thought to be a branch of this family. The most famous members of this family are Bishop M. M. John and Neurosurgeon Velloor Chandy. In addition, a matter of some interest, Nellicheril (the family of Thomasar) is a branch of the Thondukuzhy family.

(iii) Madasserry � Arpukkara

Ittyavira Kurian Panicker (of a later generation of this family) founded the Pokkathil family on the property where the Kaduthodil church is situated now. Later they sold this property and settled down in Kallumada, but maintained the Pokkathil family name. Pokkathil Kurian Vakkil was a member of this family.

The more famous branch of this family is Pathil, Aymanam. One member of the Madasserry family with the name, Varkey married the only daughter (dattu) of a Pulikkaparambil man. Later his mother in law had a male child, and the father-in-law bought the Pathil property for the couple, thus the Pathil family was founded. A priest (or minister) known as George Kurian pathiri was his son. (It appears that the �Punyan Achan� character in Arundhathi Roy’s novel; �God of small things� is based upon his life.) It is known that he wrote and published a family history and efforts are being made to locate a copy of this. The famous (I believe, Civil service) Oommen Philipose of Kalloor, Kalluppara was his son-in-law. Punyan Achan’s oldest son was Rao Bahadoor John Kurian (Engineer), also known as John Kurian Achan. He became an Achan after retiring from service and was very active in Olassa Church . He also built a family chapel. His oldest son Havlly Kurian (Havllykutty) was a senior official of the League Nations

(iv) Ponnattu � Kummanam

It is known that one of the four sons of Parayil Ittiavira Panicker founded the Ponnattu family, and his name was probably Varkey. The earliest known member of this family is Varkey, grandfather of the famous P. K. Kurian Vakkil. (For some unknown reason, almost all the branches of the Parayil family dropped or lost the Panicker title.) The Ponnattu family tree starts with this Varkey, or Mathai Varkey, as Mathai was probably his father’s name.

The Ponnattu Family Tree

1. Mathai Varkey � Founder’s son or grandson. Apparently there was only one male member in two or three generations in this line (except see note below). He was probably an agriculturist or merchant like most of his peers. It is known that he was a Syrian Orthodox Christian and a member of the Kottayam Cheria Pally parish. He converted to the C.M.S (Church Missionary Society) denomination to oblige the bishop whose help he sought and received to evict the Muslims who had squatted and claimed the Ponnattu Mali. It would appear that he was a respected member of a respected family, for the British Bishop (who was a powerful man in Kottayam at that time) to provide such assistance. His wife was from Ennasseril Family of Vazhoor (Near Changanacherry). Mathai Varkey was known to have had one sister, who was married to the Chembalathara family of Veloor. Mathai Varkey had four daughters and two sons. One daughter (probably second) was married to the Thazhathu family of Puthuppally. (A daughter of this second daughter was married to the Vazhayil Family of Puthanangadi.) Two other daughters were married to families (Names not known) in Areeparambu and Kumarakom. (Note: It appears that a Ponnattu man from Mathai Varkey’s or his father’s generation married the oldest of three sisters of Valanjattil and died after the birth of one male child. This child founded the Chantha Ponnattu family. The name Chantha because they lived in Pazhaya Chantha, which was the Kottayam Chantha before the town expanded further north and east.)

2. Varkey Mathai: Oldest of the two sons of Mathai Varkey. He inherited about half of the Ponnattu property, and he built his house on his part of the Ponnattu Mali. It seems that he was mainly an agriculturist, but unfortunately he was not generally known for his straightforward business dealings. It has been said that in order to scare people away from bidding for some back-water paddy fields he had his servants fill gunny sacs with sea shells and drop it from a parapet to make it took like loads of money. Apparently he won the bid! He was the Trustee of the Olessa Church continuously for many years. I have been told that Matteethara Mathaichan (Bishop M. M. John’s father) used some underhanded ways of his own to finally dislodge Varkey Mathai from the trusteeship and secure it for him!

(i) Mathai Varkey: Oldest son of Varkey Mathai. Not much is known about this man, except that he once followed an elephant as far as Ettumanoor! Clearly he did not do any work outside of tending family properties. His wife Oonichi was from the Valanjattil family.

(a) Varkey Mathai � Oldest son, bachelor, died at age 24.

(b) Varkey Cherian � Second son, known as Kunjariachayan, worked for the Forward Bank and later the State Bank of Tranvancore. His wife Annamma (Amminy) was from the Chowkkaparampil family of Kottayam.

(a’) Cherian Susamma (Baby) � Married Mathan Zachariah of the Padiyara family of Kuzhimattom. They were both schoolteachers in Assam . One daughter – Esther.

(b’) Cherian Stephen (Joymon) � Works for the State Bank of Travancore. Married Ivy Mary of the Earath family of Kottayam. One girl and one boy � Neethu, Emil.

(c’) Cherian Kunjujamma (Kunjujamma) – Married A. I. Ninan of the Alothu family of Koottickal. One son � Alex.

(d’) Cherian Cherian (Aniyan Kunju) � Not working. Married Jessey of the Edakattu of Kuzhimattom. One daughter and one son, Neena and Chinnan.

(e’) Cherian Vinod (Kochumon) – Works for the State bank of India , married to Sheela of the Thondukandathil family of Mannarkadu. One son � Rahul.

(c) Varkey Kurian � Youngest son, known as Kuriappychayan, did not work, died at age 78. This writer spent a lot of time with him growing up, especially during the summer holidays. The writer and his cousin Kutty played a lot of three-person �Cards 28′ with him during the summer holidays. He was a good shot with catapults, and also made some good catapults for the writer

(ii) Mathai Thomas � Second son of Varkey Mathai, the infamous Ottakutty, the name given by his detractors because he was squint-eyed. He was the local �chattambi,� given to picking fights easily, which eventually led to his murdering two policemen. He hid from the authorities for a long time, was eventually caught, and died in prison; probably beat up by the police. He had only two daughters.

(a) Kocheliamma – Married Thomas of the Mullassery family of Kolladu

(b) Chachikunju – Married Pappachan (Itty) of the Pulloottu family of Thiruvarppu.

(iii) Mathai Anna � Only daughter, married into the Pallathuserry family of Kumarakom.

(iv) Mathai Ittiavira � Third son, the only cousin of the writer’s father that all of us knew well. He used to call him Ittrachayan, and we called him Manappurathu Valyappan, as he made his home on the Manappurathu Property (probably inherited from his father) on the other side of the creek from Ponnattu Mali a little further inland. He married Sosa of the Thekkekuttu family of Thiruvarpu.He was in the copra business for some time, but apparently not very successful at it. Somewhere along the line he had a religious awakening and became a born again Christian, and took to preaching the gospel. It was during this period that most of us knew him. He was a little bit into family history, and claimed that we descended from a Brahmin family of Kumaranelloor. However, not much reasoning was provided to back up this claim, except the following: Kalappurakkal Tharakan was the holder of one of the 72 Ooraymas (rights) of the Kumaranelloor temple, and all the 72 Ooraymas had to be present or represented to begin the annual feast. (I do not believe this practice is in existence today). This Oorayma was apparently sold to Kalappurakkal Tharakan by the Ponnattu family three or four generations ago. Manappurathu Valyappan’s son (Kunjachanachayan) told me several years ago that a member of the Kalappurackal family had mentioned this fact. The rest I leave to the reader’s imagination.

(a) Ittiavira Mathew � the only child of Mathai Ittiavira, known to us as Manappurathu Kunjachanachayan. He married Aliyamma (Amminy) of the Cherakkal family of Kottayam. He worked for the Swaraj Plywood Company, which was owned by his brother-in-law. Kunjachanachayan died a few years ago.

(a’) Mathew Abraham (Kunjumon) � Oldest son. Worked for FACT. Married to Molly of the Pulimoottil family of Aymanam Kunjumon died prematurely a few years ago. Children – two girls – Anjana & Renuka.

(b’) P.M. Joseph (Kutty) � Second son. Retired from the Indian Navy as a non-commissioned officer. Started an engineering and marine repair business, Delco Engineering Works and Delco Marine Enterprises in Cochin . Both these businesses are doing well, which makes Kutty the most successful of this branch of the family. Married Alice (Alicekutty) of the Aryattuparambil Thachettu family of Pallom. Children – a boy and a girl – Prakash Joseph and Hema Joseph.

Kutty is just a year older than I. We were close friends but had occasional fights, which he usually won as he was very quick on the draw. He and I spent a lot of our summer holidays playing various games, such at Vattu, Pamparam, Punnakka, Manjadikkuru and cards. He also taught me how to ride the bicycle.

(c’) P. M. Joy (Joy) � Third son. Retired as Tahsildar in Kottayam. He was known for his integrity, which is rare these days for government servants. Married to Mary of the Mattathil family of Pallom. Children – one boy and two girls �Jessil J. Mathew, Jayanthy, Jooly.

(d’) P.M. John (Babu) � Fourth son. Was in the Military and then worked in the Middle East for a few years, and is pretty much retired now. Married to Susan of Mekkatu Family of Illikkal. Children – two boys – Joshi and Joby.

(e’) P.M. Varghese (Acha) � Fifth son. Died of complications from a botched brain surgery. Married to Elsy from the Chirayil family of Kanjikuzhy, Kottayam. One daughter � Anu.

(f’) Annamma (Santa) � Oldest daughter. Married to Kuruvilla of the Vattomchirayil family of Kurichy.

(g’) Mary (Metty) � Youngest daughter. Married to Thomas of the Kollamkery Manappurthu family of Aymanam, Kottayam.

(g’) Mary (Metty) � Youngest daughter. Married to Thomas of the Kollamkery Manappurthu family of Aymanam, Kottayam.

(v) Mathai Kora (Korechayan) � Fourth and youngest son of Varkey Mathai. First marriage to Elykutty, Mundakkayam. Second marriage to Kunjamma of the Chalukunnu family of Kottayam. He worked some time in Ceylon . The last few years of his life he lived in an outbuilding of my father’s house, doing fishing, vegetable gardening, etc.

(a) Pillachan (Pillachan) � Son from the first marriage. Worked for the State bank of Travancore. Married a lady from a family in Pampady. They moved to the United States , worked there and became U.S. citizens. They have a son (Sam Mathew), who is an engineer living in Australia and has become an Australian citizen, and a daughter who is a lawyer married to a German and living in Germany . Pillachayan and wife are retired and living with their son in Australia now.

(b) Chechamma (Thankamma) � daughter from the second marriage. Married to K. K. Varghese of the Kumbalasseril family of Mundakkayam.

3. Varkey Kurian � Second son of Mathai Varkey. He inherited the Ponnattu Tharavadu. It was a traditional wood house (Arayum Nirayum) and the roof was covered with panayola (choonda palm leaves). This house had a Chavady (a separate building often at right angle to the main house with living room and an adjacent room) also. Varkey Kurian (my grandfather) was a businessman and agriculturist. He was well known for his honesty and good nature. He was in the copra business, i.e., purchasing raw coconuts from local agriculturists, converting it to copra in an Atty (where coconut meat was separated from the shell and dried, in the sun and by smoking � interestingly the coconut shells were a good source of fuel for smoking), and taking the copra to Alappuzha in a Kettuvallam for wholesale. It seems to me that in those days only people who could manage this treacherous Kettuvallom trip across the Vembanad Kayal (or those who can get reliable help) could do this business successfully. Perinchira Shankaran was his main help for this trip as well as work in the Atty. (Interestingly, the Kedttuvalloms are nowadays motorized and air conditioned, and used as houseboats for tourists in the Vembanad Kayal.)

Varkey Kurian’s first wife was from the Kandapallil family of Kottayam. It turns out that later one of his brothers-in-law bought the house once owned by his brother on his side of the Ponnattu Mali. This brother-in law held my grandfather in great esteem. I have heard that he would not sit (i.e., stand only) in the presence of his brother-in-law. My grandfather built the chira where Kandapallil Kunjachan lived, with money sent to him by his brother-in-law when he was working in a rubber or tea estate.

Varkey Kurian had three children from his first marriage, four older girls and two boys. The boy (must have been Kurian Varkey) was known to be a smart fellow, but died at a young age when he was studying for Intermediate in the C.M.S. College . Apparently he was a casualty of a cholera epidemic, probably his mother as well.

The oldest daughter Eliamma (Kochupennu) was married to the prominent Pulikkamattathil family of Veloor. Her husband, well known as Pulikkamattathil Mani Master, retired as a mathematics teacher and headmaster of the M.D. high school. He was very active in church politics, and was a close associate of Pulikkottu Methran, a well-known bishop of the Syrian Orthodox Church. The second daughter (Annamma) was married to the Vattakkattil Kandamundattil family, also a branch of the Pakalomattom family. Her husband (John) worked in the Forest Service. By the time Varkey Kurian’s son died both the above daughters had been married, and he very reluctantly decided to marry again, as related to this writer by the second daughter. (Life was very difficult in those days without a homemaker). His second wife (Chechamma) was from the Thuruthel Elanjjikkal family of Manganam, and she had been married twice before, with a child in each of those marriages. Her first husband was in the Travancore Government Service. She was supposedly very pretty, and apparently was prohibited from watching the royal procession for fear of the lecherous king Sree Moolam!Varkey Kurian and Chechamma had three children, a daughter, a son, and a daughter in that order. The son Kurian Kurian was my father, the famous advocate, Ponnattu Kurian Vakkil. Varkey Kurian died when my father was just 14.

The first daughter Aleyamma was married to (Pappachan) of the Cherukara family of Karapuzha. He was an employee of the Punchiri Boat Company; their boats plied the Kottayam-Alappuzha line.

The other daughter, the youngest of the three, Chechamma was married to (Punnachan) of the Venkadathu family of Manarkad-Thiruvanchoor. He worked in one of the rubber or tea estates of the eastern hills, but died quite young.

This brings us to Kurian Kurian, the only heir to the Varkey Kurian line. Kurian Kurian or P.K. Kurian, affectionately called Kochu by his older relatives, Kuriachan by his close friends, and generally known or referred to as Ponnattu Vakkil, Kurian Vakkil or Vakkil Sar (Vakkil is a Malayalmized Persian/Hindi word meaning Lawyer, Advocate or Solicitor or all of those). He was born on 12th July 1905 .

He was brought up with great affection, but his father Varkey Kurian died when he was only 14. A boy with a lot of native intelligence, he was brought up pretty much the same way as his cousins, but the fatherless boy quit paying much attention to school and spent most of his time playing Vattu, Pamparam, etc. In fact the he was very good at these local games. Unfortunately this led to his flunking the 5th grade. As he related it to me, this was a wake-up call. He began to mind his books from that point on, and in fact, became a passionate and voracious reader. I am sure his mother, who was a stern disciplinarian, played a big part in it. He learned to write and speak simple but powerful English, which was a good reason for his success as a lawyer, apart from having a sharp wit or being very quick on his feet.

He graduated from the C.M.S. High School (matriculation) and C.M.S. College (Intermediate � 2 years only) and went on to Madras Christian College , and graduated with a degree in mathematics. Then he joined the Bombay Law College and received his L.L.B. degree. He took three years to finish his law degree (instead of the regular two years of those days) as he pretty much put himself through law school by working. He worked as the Bombay correspondent of a local newspaper. A lot was going on in India , especially Bombay , in those days. It was the late1920’s and early 1930’s, and the freedom struggle under Gandhi’s leadership was in full swing. He was an ardent admirer of Gandhi and attended a lot of political meetings. He had a collection of �Young India� edited and published by Gandhi.

During his high school and college years he was much influenced by his oldest brother-in-law, Pulikkamattathil Mani Master. In fact, Mani Master was very influential in his schooling and education. Although Mani Master was a prominent member and lay leader of the Syrian Orthodox Christian Church, his real interest was only in its political and social dealings, for he was a confirmed atheist. Probably in large part due to his influence, P.K. Kurian was a full-fledged atheist by the time of his marriage. In fact, he told me that it was his thinking in those days that one only needed to go to church three times in life, for one’s own christening, marriage and burial! This is interesting because in his early forties he became a very active member of the church (but not of the born-again variety).

Surprisingly, in spite of being an outstanding public speaker both in English and Malayalam, he was never directly in politics or attempted to make a career in Politics. This was probably because he did not want to take this huge risk as he had a mother without a husband at home in Kummanam. Besides, he married my mother after the first year of LLB, and his oldest son was born while he was still in Bombay , and saw him only after he returned from Bombay for good.

He married Saramma the daughter of Itty Ninan of the well-known family of Pulikkaparambil, Aymanam. The Ponnattu family as well as my mother’s family attended the same C.M.S. Church in Olessa. The Pulikkaparambil family, especially the C.M.S. branch, distinguished itself in many professional fields. Itty Ninan’s father ran the government salt factory in Kollam. Itty Ninan only completed Intermediate (2 year college) and he worked and retired as the Writer (Administrative Head) of the C.M.S. Bishop’s Office. In this capacity he served the famous and powerful British Bishops, Bishop Gill and Bishop Moore.

Apparently Itty Ninan had proposed my mother for marriage to my father soon after he graduated from Madras Christian College . But Amma (my father’s mother) did not pursue it. The other prominent family of Kummanam, Karikkal, lived on the next large property from Ponnattu. It seems that Amma and the lady of that house had an informal understanding that Appachayan (my father) would marry their oldest daughter. But her father had other ideas, and when a proposal came from the Ooppoottil family of Kottayam for her it was accepted. Amma immediately sent word to Appachan (Itty Ninan) for Ammachy’s (Saramma, my mother) hand, and the marriage took place soon thereafter.

After returning from Bombay P. K. Kurian started his apprenticeship with Parampil P.C. Kurian Vakkil. His father-in-law (my maternal grandfather) was largely instrumental in arranging this. A year or so later P.C. Kurian Vakkil suddenly died, and P.K. Kurian inherited a good part of his practice. Of course, he was able to inherit the practice because he had established a name for himself in such a short time. This can be seen from the fact that, one of the other junior advocates, Pokkathil Kurian Vakkil (a member of the Madasserry branch of the Pakalomattom Parayil family �mentioned earlier) did not inherit any of this practice.

In those days most of the legal work involved property disputes, inheritance, etc., and some torts and, of course, criminal cases. To be a good lawyer and advocate one had to be good in both civil and criminal law. He built up a roaring civil practice with occasional forays into criminal cases, some of which were well known. In a short period of about ten years he acquired many coconut and rice paddy properties. Also, the old wood family house was razed and a modern house was built.

It seemed to me that in those days he worked about 14 hours a day including most Sundays. With the law practice firmly established he directed some of his energies to business ventures. The first of these was the founding of the Orient Central Bank with his friend K.P. Mathew (Kaduthodil). The two of them practically traveled most of Central and North Travancore and enlisted several wealthy families as initial investors and depositors. Prominent among these were Koottipparambil, Kochkudiyil, Murikkan, etc. The bank grew very rapidly and became the third biggest bank in Kottayam in a short time, after the Forward Bank and Kottayam Bank. P.K. Kurian was the Chairman and K.P. Mathew the Managing Director. Later the Kottayam Bank and the Orient Central Bank were amalgamated, and P.K. Kurian became a highly paid Director. Unfortunately all the large banks of Kottayam crashed after the Reserve Bank shut down the Palai Central Bank, and the Kottayam Orient bank was no exception.

He has the leading investor/partner in a dairy farm (Gosri Diary) Purchased from the Cochin Royal family in Ernakulam. This, and a bus business he was a partner of, were not successful. However, the closure of the dairy farm resulted in the back of our family property becoming a small dairy farm with several beautiful high yield milk cows. I still remember the names of some of these cows (some of which referred to their breed), Komby, Punjaby, Gir, etc.

I was about seven or eight when my father bought his first car. It was a second hand Humber Super Snipe. This was a big event since there were not many cars in Kottayam in those days.

P.K. Kurian was a very generous man. He was always there to help people in need, relatives and just about anybody that needed help with money, recommendations for jobs, and spending his own valuable time to solve their problems. The local people of all faiths and economic strata treated him with great respect. He was also the charter president of the Lions Club of Kottayam, and was very active in the club’s service to the poor.

I do not know when he decided to leave his atheist inclinations and become active in the church. This happened in his early forties. It may be because he was invited by the first native bishop of the C.M.S. (later C.S.I. � Church of South India ) Diocese, Rt. Rev. Dr. C.K. Jacob, to become a lay officer of the diocese. He also started attending the Sunday services at the Olessa Church about two Sundays per month.

He was very active in the election of the next bishop. He and the then Lay Secretary (Trustee) A.V. George supported Rev. M.V. George. Rev. George was elected with the highest number of votes, and the names of the three top vote getters were submitted to the C.S.I. Moderator (Rt. Rev. Dr. Sumithra) somewhere in Andhra Pradesh. Unfortunately for reasons of politics unknown to the locals early on, the Moderator selected the lowest vote getter of the three, Rev. M.M. John.

Rev. M. M. John was from the Matteethara branch of the Thondukuzhy family, i.e., we were distant cousins. Further, Rev. M.M. John and P.K. Kurian were classmates. A year or so after the investiture of Bishop John, A.V. George died and P.K. Kurian became the Lay Secretary (Trustee) of the Diocese.

Many of the decisions and policies of Bishop John, especially those involving schools, the relatively recently converted low caste segment of the diocese (which later formed a separate church), etc., were very controversial, which also got the diocese entangled in several law cases. This resulted in P.K. Kurian being both the Trustee and free Legal Advisor/Advocate of the Central Kerala diocese. He spent untold number of hours on these cases and traveled much at his own expense, and succeeded in disentangling the diocese from many of the problems it got into. P.K. Kurian also played a major role in establishing the Moore College of Mavelikkara. Bishop John was truly grateful to my father and really the whole Ponnattu family for all his services, and always referred to him as Kochu, his nickname.

One other aspect of his character, especially from the standpoint of his children, must be mentioned. He was always able to see things in perspective, especially the long-term perspective with respect to education. When he decided to send my oldest brother to England for his legal education, many close relative and friends doubted the wisdom of this, especially in view of the fact he had eight children then (later ten). He really didn’t have to think twice about this, as he truly believed that education is the best inheritance a father can provide his children. The same thing applied to Rajan’s (my immediate younger brother) medical education, as well as my education in the United States . In all these cases the litany of �Aren’t you forgetting your younger children?� was played over and over again (by people with good intentions, but no foresight) to no avail.

He had a massive heart attack when he was only fifty. After this he slowed down only a little. He succumbed to his second heart attack at the age of sixty-one. This was on October 10, 1966 � exactly 24 days after I reached the United States for my postgraduate education, which he was financing. (My first letter had not reached him, but I had already received two or three from him! I do not know how he found time to write so many letters to all of us!!) This was a massive blow to me both emotionally and financially. I managed to get a scholarship and a part time job, in large part solving the financial problem, but I never truly overcame the emotional shock. Bishop John and the Central Kerala Diocese gave him a funeral that Kottayam had not seen before. First his body was taken in a procession to the CSI Cathedral for a memorial service, then the funeral procession continued to Olessa Church where he was laid to rest. I will now close this family history with the family tree of P.K. Kurian.

1. Kurian Kurian � Oldest son. Received his legal education in England (Bar-at-Law), Corporation and Labor Lawyer and Leading Partner of the firm �Menon & Pai Advocates,� Ernakulam. He is of one of the leading labor lawyers in all of South India . Married Molly Jacob of the Puthuserril family of Cherayi.

(i) Kurian Mohan � Oldest son, engineer. Worked in the United States for a few years. Returned to India and now working as a senior executive for a company in Kerala. He is divorced from his first wife who lives in the United States with their two daughters. His second wife Renu is from a family in Kollam.

(ii) Kurian Jacob � Second son, accountant. He is CA from London . Working for a British Company in Saudi Arabia , Married to Jyothi, Puthiyottaparambil, Mavelikkara. One son, Jude

(iii) Kurian Sindhu � Daughter. Married to Prakash Kuruvilla of the Elanjikkal family of Niranam (father settled down in Trichur). Prakash is an executive with the Hong Kong based HSBC bank.

2. Kurian Chechamma � Oldest Daughter. She has a B.Sc. in Physics from Maharaja’s College, Ernakulam. Married to K.A Isaac of the Kadapuram family of Kanjiramattom. Isaac (Babychayan) retired as the University Librarian and Professor of Library Science of the University of Kerala , Trivandrum . He won the Fellowship of Raja Ram Mohan Roy Library Foundation, Calcutta , 2003 . He passed away in early 2006 at age 82. He was a leading authority on the Colon Classification System, almost exclusively used in Indian libraries (similar to the Decimal classification System in the United States ). Chechamma later completed a master’s degree in Linguistics at the University of Kerala . She has written and published a book on Linguistics – An Introduction to the Theory of Transformational Generation Grammar.

Two sons: (a) Isaac Abraham (Madhu) � practicing lawyer in Trivandrum, and (b) Isaac Kurian (Balu) � Professor of Mechanical Engineering at I.I.T., Bombay.

Babychayan (K. A. Isaac) published four books:

(i) Libraries & Librarianship: A Basic Introduction

(ii) Literature Search

(iii) Glimpses of Library And Information Science

(iv) Distance Education And Public Libraries.

3. Kurian Marykutty � Second Daughter. She has a B.Sc. in Physics from Maharaja’s College, Ernakulam. Married to Varughese Mathew (or Mathew Varughese) of the Kurudamannil family of Ayroor. Mathew (Monachayan) retired as Director, Professor and Head of the Department of Surgery at the Kottayam Medical College , and is now in private practice. He has an MS (Master of Surgery) from Madras and F.R.C.S. from Edinburgh . He was the first Syrian Christian to receive an MS degree from Madras , considered the toughest Master’s program in surgery in those days. He is a distinguished general surgeon and has made important contributions to the knowledge and technique of pancreatic surgery.

Four sons: (a) Mathew Varughese � Engineer and Computer Specialist, working for a company in New Jersey, (b) Mathew Kurian- ENT Surgeon, working in England, (c) Mathew George � General Surgeon, practicing in North Carolina, and (d) Mathew John � General Surgeon, working in Wales, United Kingdom.

4. Kurian Ninan � Second son. B.Sc. ( Eng. ) � Civil, from Trivandrum , M.Tech from I.I.T., Kharagpur and Ph.D. from I.I.T., Madras , both in Soil Mechanics &Foundation Engineering. (Changed the spelling of his name to Nainan!) He is now retired as Professor of Soil Mechanics & Foundation Engineering at I.I.T., Madras , and lives in Coimbatore . Married Elizabeth (Prema) of the family of Cherukara from Devalokam, Kottayam. Two children. Oldest daughter Vimala married to Anand, well-known invasive Radiologist in Coimbatore . Son Ranjit completed his Master’s Degree in Computer Engineering in the U.S. and working with Microsoft, Redmond , Washington . Nainan has published several books in Soil Mechanics and Foundation Engineering.

5. Kurian George � This writer. Third son (fifth overall). B.Sc. (Eng.) � Mechanical, from Trivandrum and MS (Industrial Engineering) and MBA (Finance) from the U.S. Resigned as Manufacturing Engineering Manager with Cummins Engine Company in Columbus, Indiana (1980) and joined Texaco (third largest Oil Company in the U.S. at that time). Retired as Director of Business Planning, and is now living in Houston , Texas . Married to Abraham Shobna of Palathinkal, Kottayam. Two sons. Oldest son Ajjit (George Kurian), Graduated from Rice University in Computer Science, and has a Master’s in Computer Science from University of Texas , Austin . Working in England as a computer consultant. Youngest son Vijay (George Abraham) graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy ( Annapolis , Maryland ) and commissioned as 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps. He is the first commissioned military officer in the Ponnattu family. As in infantry commander he saw action in Kandahar , Afghanistan following the infamous 9/11, and had a brief tour of duty in Southern Iraq as well. He may have been the first U.S. Marine Corps Officer of Indian origin. He left the Marine Corps as Captain after his required five years of service, and is now a medical student at he Southwestern Medical School of Dallas, Texas.

6. Kurian Cherian � Fourth son. M.B.B.S. from Mangalore, and M.D. (Cardiology) from Louisville , Kentucky . He is a well-known cardiologist in Louisville , Kentucky . He is the first cardiologist in Louisville trained and certified to do Cardiac CT Scan, which could eventually eliminate a significant percent of the invasive Cardiac Angiogram procedure. He was a member of the first artificial heart program team lead by Dr. De Vries. Has inherited P.K. Kurian’s qualities of philanthropy and helping people in need. Married to Idiculla Sara (Ammu) of the Ooriyepadikkal family of Thiruvalla. (Her grandfather O.C. Ninan was the Trustee of the Mar Thoma Church for many years). Two children. Oldest daughter Priya (Cherian Sara) is a Harvard graduate and law graduate from the University of Chicago . She is an executive with a specialized insurance firm in San Francisco , married to Michael Huskins of Los Angeles , a senior executive with another company in San Francisco . Second son Prasad (Cherian Kurian) Pre-Med graduate from Tuft University , Boston , and graduated from the University of Louisville Medical School. He is now doing his fellowship in Internal Medicine.

7. Kurian Mathai � Fifth son. B.Sc. ( Eng. ) � Civil, from Calicut , MS (Environmental Engineering) from the University of Dayton , Ohio . Senior Consultant and an Associate Fellow with Jacobs Engineering Inc, a multi national Engineering firm, currently working in St. Louis , Missouri . He has co-authored a book on his technical expertise, called �Wastewater Sludge Processing’ published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Married to Asha of the Nellimoottil family of Adoor. (She is a direct descendent of the historical figure Nellimoottil Ammachi, who helped young King Marthanda Varma of Travancore during the Travancore Civil War by helping him hide inside an Ammachy Plavu. She was later given the title Nellimoottil Ammachi and ‘Oda Val’ by Marthanda Varma). Two children. Older son Zubin Kurian Mathai is a Mechanical Engineering graduate from Northwestern University , Evanston . Illinois , and is employed by General Electric Company. He is an Eagle Scout. Daughter Tina Sarah Mathai is a graduate of St. Louis University Medical School and has the honor of being the first �lady doctor’ in the Ponnattu Family! (Grandpa and Grandma would have been so proud). Currently, she is doing her internship in Rush University Medical Center in Chicago , Illinois .

8. Kurian Jacob � Sixth son. B.Sc. in Botany from C.M.S. College , Kottayam. He inherited the Ponnattu Tharavadu and most of the family properties. He is an award-winning agriculturalist. Married to Susan (Mol) of the Kaniyamkulam family of Kottayam. Illikkal Branch. Two sons. Oldest son Pramod (Kurien Jacob) is working in Kuwait after finishing his MCA. Married to Anu of Nattasseryedathil, Kottayam. She is a teacher working in the Ministry of Education, Kuwait . They have a son, Jacob Kurien Ponnattu. Youngest son Dilip Jacob is working in Abu Dhabi . He married to Rinu from the Pandicheryil family, Mallapally and is an accountant in a share brokerage firm in Abu Dhabi . Dilip is a very good cricket player. He represented Kerala State Under-22 Cricket team for P. Ramachandra Rao Trophy during the year 1997-1998. Represented Kerala State Schools in the VIth Vinoo Mankad Cricket Tournament in 1993 in New Delhi . Represented Mahatma Gandhi University in South Zone Inter University Cricket Tournament during the years 1995, 1996, 1997 and 1998. Placed 3rd in Mr. Kottayam contest in the year 2000 for the 90-95 kilo category.

9. Kurian Joseph � Seventh son. B.Sc ( Eng. ) � Electrical from Kollam, and MBA from the United States . (He showed some genius tendencies early on, like completing his third grade at the age of six.) He worked for Stokely Van Camp ( Indianapolis ) and ITT Continental Foods ( Charlottesville ) before joining the Frito Lay Division of Pepsico in 1980, where he is a senior executive in the Research & Technology Department. He is married to Nina of the Puthenveettil Kulangara family of North Paravoor . Two children. Oldest son Joseph Kurian ( Karun ) graduated with a psychology major from the Southern Methodist University of Dallas, and daughter Joseph Sara (Sara) is in the final year at the Texas Christian University of Dallas .

10. Kurian John � Eighth son (youngest and tenth overall) MBBS from Dhavangiri, and MS (ENT) from Christian Medical College , Ludhiana . (Changed the spelling of Ponnattu in his name to Ponnat!). Worked several years in Saudi Arabia and returned in 1997 to set up his practice in Trivandrum . Married Dolly Philip of the Cherukara Palkkamannil family of Pathanamthitta. Two children. Oldest daughter, Sara Ponnat (Divya) is a Computer Science graduate from Nagercoil, working for an IT company in Trivandrum , and son Kurian Ponnat (Arvin) just finished plus two.

I want to conclude this family history with a few words about my sainted mother Ponnattu Saramma Kurian (whom we all called Ammachy), which I purposely reserved for the end. She is in large part responsible for whatever success the children of P.K. Kurian and Saramma Kurian have achieved.

A quality of hers that I recognized only until her later years was her ability to absolutely and truly forgive people without holding any ill will. I have come to realize (although too late in life for me to even attempt to practice it and benefit from it, in any case difficult to do) that this is a prime character feature that a lot of successful people have. I think this is one quality that makes almost everybody to like you, which is a prime ingredient for leadership and success. Saramma practiced this flawlessly, and it came naturally to her. She died in 1989, twenty-three years after the death of my father. She spent much time and money in the service of the poor and needy. She eventually became the Ammachy of just about all of Kummanam and a lot of others. The crowd and the sentiments expressed at her funeral are lasting testimonies to her greatness.

AUTHORSThis document was compiled by Ponnattu Kurian George, and the Website was created by Dilip Jacob.


Most of the material above, except matters relating to the writer’s generation or adjacent generations personally known to the writer, is simply word-of-mouth information. No research or documentation is available to support it, and no claim is made about its accuracy.


A good portion of the first part of this history starting with Pakalomattom till the branching of the Ponnattu family from the Parayil family was provided by Mr. Rajan Cherian of the Vattakkattil Kandamundattil family branch.

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