Greek Ancestry Virtual Genealogy Conference, January 29-31

Please join my colleagues and me on January 29-31 for a free, virtual genealogy conference sponsored by Greek Ancestry and Hellenic Genealogy Geek.

The purpose of this conference is to share information that will be relevant to both beginning and advanced researchers which will assist them in their quest to learn more about their family history.  Our sessions are presented by professional historians as well as seasoned genealogy researchers who have volunteered their time to share their expertise and knowledge. 

The conference will be live-streamed and recorded on the Greek Ancestry YouTube channel. No registration is needed; just click on the YouTube link to participate.

The Greek Ancestry website has details on the presenters and sesssions. Please click on this Conference page link to access.

The agenda for the conference is below. All times given are Eastern Standard Time.

Beyond the Basics: City Directories

Do you know if your ancestor owned a business or was considered a “professional” in his village? Now there is a way to find out. The new City Directories series on Greek Ancestry is the very first digitized and name-searchable collection available for over 5,000 towns and cities in Greece.

The City Directory of 1934-1935 is a historical portrayal of Greece’s cities and communities immediately preceeding World War II. It is organized as follows: the first section lists businesses in the cities of Athens, Piraeus, Thessaloniki and Patras.  The second section lists select people in Athens and Piraeus. The third section lists, in alphabetical order, each prefecture with its capital and general information, then its primary towns and communities.  Unlike other Greek records, directories provide a snapshot of an entire town–not just an individual or a family. They also include business ads, which are so very interesting!

Ad for the Grand Bretagne Hotel in Athens, 1934

These City Directories are not the same as telephone books. They do not list every household found in the village; but they do list every business and professional enterprise and include the name of its owner.

The page below gives information for the Prefecture of Lakonia. Its number of residents is 144,336 and its capital is Sparta. The first paragraph is a brief historical background which reads: The present-day prefecture of Laconia occupies the ancient country of Laconia, inhabited by the Doric people of the Lacedaemonians, who were distinguished for their heroism and fighting ability and which they succeeded for many years in Greece. The most important center of this people was the city of Sparta. Following is a geographic description of the prefecture and the names of its four districts (Gytheio, Epidavrou Limiras, Lakedaimonos, Oitylo).

Below Lakonia is the entry for Sparta. It also provides a brief history and synopsis of the city, and lists its officials, municipal offices (post office, tax office, etc.), churches and monasteries, schools, charitable institutions and cultural associations. A list of the professionals and businesses is then presented.

This is page 2, Επαγγελματίαι (Professionals) for Sparta. It documents the professionals and business owners in these industries: midwifery, silk manufacturing, machinery, hotels for sleep, timber warehouse, carpentry, wine tavern, oxygen welding, gun shop, green grocer, ice shop, inn, grocery store, farrier, hat repair, bicycle repair, sewing machines, tailor, blacksmith, typography, bank, shoemaking, hydraulic (water) works, shoe sales, fabrics, pharmacy, drug warehouse, photography, stationery, dance school, sundries. Doesn’t this provide a fascinating insight into city life in 1934?

Business information for the various Communities of Lakonia follows. Highlighted in red is my community of Agios Ioannis.

The entry reads:

  • Capital of the community: Agios Ioannis, number of residents 914
  • Villages in the community: Agia Kyriaki (Tsaousi), Varika (Chaloulou), Kozi, Tseramio and Sinampei
  • Municipal offices:  post office, elementary school, farmers’ association, syllogos (cultural association)
  • Professionals and Businesses:
    • Colonial Products (items imported from European colonies such as coffee, tea, cocoa); proprietors: Kalama, K., Tsirigioti, Ilias.
    • Bakery: Papaioannou, K.
    • Lawyer: Kyriazis, Kon.
    • Doctors: Geroulakos, Dimit., Mitrakos, Dim.
    • Cafes:  Gianopoulou, Ad., Sampatakou, Dim.
    • Hotel: Christakakou, V.
    • Grocery: Vougioukli, El., Papaioannou, Kal.
    • Pharmacy: Theodorou, Dim.

Some villages may not have resident professionals or businesses, but they are still listed in the directory with statistical data and other important information.  For example, this is the only information provided for the community of Sklavochori in 1934-35:

  • Capital of the community: Sklavochori, number of residents 607
  • Villages in the community: Amykles (Machmoutbei), Vafeion (Mpampali), Godena, Kalami, Katarou, Riza.
  • Municipal offices: post office, elementary school.

Although the information is scant, it reveals important historical data: 

  • As part of the Government reform to abolish names of Turkish, Slav or Albanian origin, thousands of Greek villages underwent name changes. In this 1934-35 directory, the community name is “Sklavochori.” Today, Sklavochori no longer exists. In 1940, that name was eliminated and the area was integrated into Amykles. Consequently, Amykles was then elevated from a village to a community (see this page and this issue of the ΦΕΚ / Government Gazette.)
  • Of significant importance, this City Directory reveals the “old” names of the villages which had been part of Sklavochori in 1934-35: Machmoutbei and Mpampali. Although those names no longer exist, they do exist in records created at the time the village bore that name. This explains why researchers are stumped when they cannot find, on today’s map, a village that had been listed in an early Voter List or a Male Register.

Tracking a Greek family’s change of residence be challenging. Greece does not have accessible census records which place people in a specific location for a specific time at specific intervals. Just as we relocate, so did our ancestors–especially upon marriage and for business opportunities.

By exploring City Directories, a researcher can see which villages have families with a surname of interest. I look at this map of Sparta and then search for ancestral names in surrounding villages.  However, I am super careful not to make assumptions. Patronymic naming conventions absolutely guarantee that all Apstolakos (son of Apostolos) families are not related. And, directories list only businesses and not households.

Despite these precautions, I have found many interesting patterns of family movement and new residences. I also learned which ancestor(s) were business owners or were employed in professional occupations.  

To learn more about the Greek Ancestry City Directory collection, click here:

To search the City Directories, click here:

Type a village name, then sort the list by “Prefecture” to group results in the region of interest, such as Messinia or Thessaloniki.

The City Directory Collection spans the years 1901-1947 with 200,000 names in 5,000 cities and towns. Some of these may be your villages! What relevant and historical information will you learn about your family?

Greek Ancestry International Conference

I am honored and delighted to be one of the organizers of the Greek Ancestry Conference being held January 29-31. It is virtual, free, and will be live-streamed on the Greek Ancestry YouTube channel. The link will be provided the week of the conference. Please join us — we have outstanding presenters and topics which will be of significant help for your research 😀

1946 Engagement Photo: George Paul Morfogen and Georgia Pappas

This photo has been hiding in a drawer in my grandparents’ home for over 70 years. When my cousin found it, he snapped a picture with his cell phone and sent it to me in a text:  I don’t think we digitized this one [during our cousin scanfest in 2015] and he was correct. What a treasure!

1946 Engagement Party, George Paul Morfogen and Georgia Pappas, held at Michel’s Restaurant, Brooklyn, New York

This photo has captured my heart and kindled my fascination. It evokes memories of the stories my mother shared about the galas, dances, and special events that were the hallmark of that time. People dressed in their finest with hats and gloves as de rigueur. Extended families gathered and new “matches” of young couples were forged by enterprising relatives. The magical combination of live music, fine dining and spirited conversations produced many an “enchanged evening.” Truly, I feel like I am missing something very special.

But I especially love looking at all these beautiful faces (and truly they are lovely!). The joy they express reveals a familial happiess that lies in connections which stretch back generations. Starting in Agios Ioannis (Pappas) and Anavryti (Morfogen) and now rekindled in Brooklyn, these immigrants settled themselves and their families in close-knit neighborhoods. They started successful businesses and helped each other become established in a new land.

This union of Pappas (Papagiannakos) and Morfogen (Morfogenis) shows how the intermarriages of immigrant Greek families expanded and drew the family circles tighter together. In this example, the families of both my father (Kostakos) and my mother (Papagiannakos) and thus, all of their cousins, now became linked with the Morfogen family and the circle ever widens. Both of my parents are in this photo, as are their siblings and their parents!

This family continuity is my foundation and fortitude.These are the generations on whose shoulders I stand and whose strength I carry.

My deepest gratitide and sincerest thanks to members of the Morfogen family who have identified almost all of the people. Below is the same picture with people numbered, and a chart with the people identified. [click on either of the photos to expand them]

If any additional people can be identified, or any corrections should be made, please let me know by sending an email to spartanroots1 at Thank you!

1Mrs. Zaharia Chahalis
2Pauline Morfogen Kokines
3First name?  Pavlounis
4William Kokines 
5Vivian Kokines Parlamis 
6Ethel Pavlounis Chahalis
7George Chahalis
8John Andrew Kostakos
9Georgia Kostakos Doukas
10Angelo John (Al) Doukas
11Andrew John Kostakos
12Catherine Pappas
13Angelina Eftaxia Pappas
14Nicholas Louis Pappas
16Calliope P. Coutros
17Peter Spyridon Coutros
18Stavroula (Stella) Kostakos Coutros
19Aphrodite (Frieda) Kostakos
20Panagiota (Bertha) Pappas
22Mary Coutros,(later married George Karagis)
23Peter Coutros 
30business associate: Mrs. Vassilaros 
31business associate: Irene Vassilaros 
32business associate wife 
33business associate: Mr. Chios
34business associate: Mr. Vassilaros Sr.
35Andrew Spyros Marinos
36Mary Marinos Neckles
37Petros Neckles
38George Spyros Marinos
39Helen Marinos (later married George Diakomis)
44Nicholas Spyros Pappas
46Father Eugene Pappas and next to him, his father, Leon
48Nicholas Christopher Pappas
53Christina Morfogen Marinos
54Anthony Spyros Marinos
56John Lambrinos 
57Areti Kostakos Lambrinos
60Lucretia Leakakos Pappas
61Pauline Drivas Pappas
63Effie Landis Pappas
64Stella Geaneas 
65George Geaneas 
66Mary Landis 
67Wife of James Landis
68James Landis 
77Catherine DeSimone Pappas
78Peter James Pappas
79John Salatas
80Catherine Pappas Salatas
81Christina Christakos Morfogen 
82James George Morfogen 
83Wilhemina Pappas
84Athanasia Morfogen Pappas
85Diamond Stavracos Morfogen 
86Sam George Morfogen 
87Vivian Morfogen Brauman 
88George Sam Morfogen 
91Paul George Morfogen 
92Anna Landis Morfogen  
93George Paul Morfogen   
94Georgia Pappas Morfogen 
95Calliope Kostakos Pappas 
96James Nicholas Pappas 
97Father Michalopoulos, Priest from Three Hierarchs
98Lily Landis Nikas  
99James  Nikas 
100Marie Nikas Combias 
102Vivian Morfogen Geaneas

Tsintzinians in America

The valley of Sparta is surrounded by towering mountains which cradle countless villages. Winding through a myriad of summits, about one hour slightly northeast, one reaches the remote village of Tsintzina, known today as Polidroso.Nestled in a forest of fir trees in the heart of Mt. Parnon, Tsintzinia’s history dates back to at least the 12th century. There is an oral tradition that German soldiers participating in the Crusades visited the village and some intermarried with Tsintzinian women.

The villagers lived peacefully even during centuries of Ottoman rule. The earliest relocations to the Evrotas valley near Sparta began around 1777 after the Orlov Insurrection. Others followed after the 1821 Revolution. As people established permanent homes in the valley, they kept their mountain homes for summer residences.[1]

Polydroso, photo by Giannis Marougas, April 2019

Theodore Saloutos called the first wave of immigrants from Greece “Greek Pilgrims,” those who migrated from villages surrounding Sparta in the 1880s. Tsintzinians were given this name, as they were among the earliest Greeks to establish communities in America. Christos Chaconas (Tsakonas) came to the U.S. about 1873 and commenced the pattern of bringing a succession of young men  to America and providing them with jobs, as described in this National Herald article.

By 1887, enough Tsintzinian men had emigrated to Chicago to form “the first organization in America exclusively for Greeks and named it the Therapnean Society after the name of the township or demos in the old country.”[2] This photo, sent to me by JoAnn Pavlostathis, was taken in Chicago during the very early 1900’s. [click on photo to enlarge and see annotated numbers]

Tsintzinian Society, Chicago, Illinois, very early 1900s

Names Transcribed:
1. James J. Polites (Gioras)
2. Athanasios Farmakis (Colovos)
3. Constantinos Vouloumanos (Bogris)
4. Fraklis Trieris
5. Demetrios J. Vouloumanos (Moutsonas)
6. Panagiotes N. Georgetsos
7. Panagiotis J. Vouloumanos (Moutounas)
8. Elias Polites (Makris)
9. Elias Polites
10. James A. Vouloumanos (Snibas)
11. Panagiotis Grigoris Patrosis
12. Elias Economou (Fantaros)
13. James N. Chelekis
14. –
15. Michael G. Laskaris
16. Nicholas A. Gregoris
17. Haralambos Coumoutzis
18. James K. Poolos
19. Laskaris
20. Economakis (Magoula)
21. Panagiotes Polites
22. Demetrios P. Polites
23. Nick Caroumbas
24. –
25. John Polites (Kleftakis)
26. Nicholas G. Caravasios
27. –
28. Panagiotis Limberakis
29. Nick Vambalis (Karahalios)
30. Antonios Stathopoulos (Magoula)
31. Harry N. Constas
32. Demetrios J. Comuntzis
33. George J. Gregory
34. Nicholas P. Farmakis
35. Nick Gianios
36. Panagiotis Laskaris
37. Leonidas Serfelis
38. Anastasios Economakis (Klemizis)
39. John G. Papageorge
40. John Trieris
41. John Geracimos (Kotsaris)
42. John Chacona
43. James J. Nickles
44. George Duskas
45. Vasileios J. Lourpas
46. Baby John Nickles
47. Marcus Jmes Nickles
48. Baby of John Chacona

Nick G. Carvasios
813 Main Street
Wheeling, W.Va. 26003

Every July for the past 130 years, members of the Tsintzinian Heritage Society hold a reunion in Jamestown, New York to strengthen their bonds and maintain their traditions. The society has gathered a history of the families of the village, found here. Members continue to submit surname information (found here) which makes it easy to locate and connect with originating families from the village.

In addition, the Tsintzina website is filled with a myriad of information about the village:  its history, culture, photos, books, links, and even a phone directory of villagers!

For those with families from Tsintzina, there are many resources to learn the proud history of your roots.
[1] Peter Dickson to Carol Kostakos Petranek, 2016

[2] Dickson, Peter. General History, “Tzintzinian Heritage Society of America.”