Getting Started

This is the home village of three of my grandparents.

This is my first post on my new blog! My name is Carol Harriet Kostakos Petranek, and I am of Greek-American ancestry. I was baptized Hariklia Kostakou (Χαρικλια Κοστακου) after the traditional Greek naming patterns: as the first child, I named after my father’s mother, Hariklia (Aridas) Kostakos. Although Hariklia is a beautiful Greek name, my mother was not enamoured of its English translation, Harriet. I had the good fortune of being born on Christmas Eve which gave my mother the opportunity to name me Carol. However, my dear grandparents called me Hariklia until the day they died.

I was born in Brooklyn, New York, and lived in a predominantly Greek neighborhood. My grandparents and other family members were within walking distance, and my earliest years were spent surrounded by family. When I was five, we moved to a small town in New Jersey and when I was 13, we moved to a Maryland suburb of Washington, D.C. I have always felt a strong love for family and this has manifested in a passion for genealogical research.

My purpose in writing this blog is to preserve a path of my Greek genealogical research, and to share what I have learned with others. This is not an easy road to follow. Records are not readily available and the Greek language can be a barrier to many people. However, we can keep learning and progressing, one step at a time, in reaching a worthy goal — to discover, preserve and share our family history with others.

Please join me on this exciting journey! And don’t hesitate to contact me at anytime. I’m looking forward to making many new friends, and — hopefully — finding many new family members!


17 thoughts on “Getting Started

  1. Hi,
    My name ls Arthur Patsouris and my family is also from Sparta. My father and my maternal grandfather(Gianacopolos) came from Sellasias. My maternal grandmother was from Kastania. I followed your link to the Greek Archives website and I am having trouble navigating the site. Would it be possible to forward the instructions that you offered Robert?

  2. Good Afternoon to you my name is Robert Phillips I have had such a hard time trying to trace my Greek side of my family tree. It all started off with Emanuel Capsos Arriving in England, He was born in 1823 and was from a small village called Famelítika, Western Greece, Greece just below the Sparta Village. I have tried researching the surname with no luck and have tried contacting the Greek embassy there to get info but with no luck, I was really hoping you could help or even some advice would be great. Or maybe you have heard the surname before ?

    Kind Regards

    • Hello Robert,
      Thank you very much for reading my blog, and for writing. I understand completely how difficult it is to find our Greek ancestors. You are fortunate to have his birth date and place of birth, both of which can be very difficult to ascertain for an immigrant ancestor.

      I have a couple of suggestions:

      1. Use the following website: for resources and help. It was established by Lica Catsakis who is an expert researcher in Greece. She does not do research for others, but there are several resources on her website that can help you. On her homepage you will see the contact information for the Family History Center in Athens – I would suggest contacting them to see what repositories they may know of that are in the vicinity of Famelitika.

      2. Click on the Microfilm records link on the homepage – there may not be any films from that area, but you need to check.

      3. Lica’s publication, Family History Research in Greece, is a most valuable tool and I strongly suggest you consider purchasing it. It is filled with very helpful tips, and it also has form letters in both Greek and English where you can “fill in the blanks” and send the letter off to the Mayor’s office of Famelitika. There are form letters requesting birth, death, marriage and family information.

      4. Try to find the diocese for the Greek Church for the area of Famelitika – using one of the form letters, you can request a baptismal record. This is where knowing the birth year is extremely helpful.

      5. Write to the Mayor’s office of the village of Famelitika, requesting any information on the family. (If you don’t want to purchase Lica’s book for the form letters, you can use Google translate to write the letter). You must write it in Greek.

      6. The Greek Archives has begun to put some information online. Warning – it is a horrendous site to navigate, and you have to know Greek to read the records. From the homepage, the various archive offices are listed on the left.
      If you want to try looking there, write me back. I have instruction on how to navigate that website, but I am away from home for two weeks and don’t have those with me.

      7. Do you have a Facebook account? If not, consider signing up for one just to do genealogy. Many Greeks are into social networking and I have made connections through Facebook – search for your family surnames and the village and district in Greece.

      8. Regularly check the blog, Hellenic Genealogy Geek: and also post a request for info on the surname help there, and on the Hellenic Genealogy Geek Facebook page.

      One last thing – I am assuming that you have looked at every document available in the U.K. for Mr. Capsos and any person related to him? Clues can be with other family members. Did you find him on a passenger arrival list? Part of your problem in researching could be a variant spelling of the surname.

      I hope this has been of some help. Please keep in touch and let me know what you decide to do.

      Best wishes and best of luck,

  3. Hi! I was amazed to find your blog. Interestingly i am also of spartan decent and was named hariklia after my great grandmother. I have been trying to learn more about our name (meaning) and wondering what you know. I know of greek mythology but is there an exact meaning? If you know anything i’d be so thankful for a response.

    • Hi Hariklia!
      I am delighted to receive your note, and so happy that you found my new blog! I am away from home for a few days visiting my daughter and so do not have access to my files at home where I have information on our beautiful Greek name. So please give me a couple of days to reply with your answer. I am looking forward to helping you in any way that I can. What part of Greece is your family from? Best wishes, Carol

      • Hi. Thank you. That would be great to know something. My grandfathers family is from sparta, my grandmothers…amalias (hmm which province did she say). I really need to write these things down as i cant ever remember. My sister has actually visited and is in contact w a cousin. I should ask her. You are inspiring me to research my ancestory and write down what my yiayia tells me. I will check back for a reply soon.
        Thank you!

        • Hi Hariklia,
          I have returned home and I found some information about our name, Hariklia. Here’s what I have:

          HARIKLEIA is an ancient Greek name and cannot be directly translated to English. it is a composite name from HARIS=GRACE and KLEOS (or CLEOS)=GLORY. The second half i.e. KLEOS is a common part of many ancient Greek names, sometimes ppearing as KLOS (CLOS), KLES (CLES) or KLIS (CLIS), as in PATROCLUS (PATRO, PATER =FATHER), PERICLES, HERACLES etc. In females it becomes KLEA (CLEA), KLEIA (CLEIA), as in HARIKLEIA, EVRYKLEIA, ANTIKLEIA etc. Glory, often in battle, eing more of a male-dominated pursuit in ancient Greece, meant that it was more common in male names. However, female names had an often a male equivalent and in this case it is HARIKLIS or HARICLES. Sometimes these names are also written as Charikleia and Charikles in English, as there are no strict rules about translating the Greek X=H or Ch (in English).

          So, we can apply this a bit and say that our name means we have “grace and glory.” That sounds good to me!

          I am a bit behind in posting on my blog, since I’ve been away and am now trying to catch up. But I will write a couple of entries this week, so please stay with me. Do you know which village in Sparta your grandmother is from? The reason I ask is because I am working with records from villages in Sparta, and I may be able to find your grandmother’s surname. Please let me know.

          Thanks so much again for “finding” me. I would very much like to keep in touch with you.
          Best wishes,

          • Wow! Thank you so much. Grace and glory sounds way better than what my dad used to tell me because there’s no direct english translation – “woman for hercules.” !!!aha lol. Its always been a mystery my whole life so thank you!
            I will ask around about villages and get back to you.

  4. I just put this on my blog roll. How exciting – can’t wait to read this whenever you post something new. Welcome to the blog world friend.

  5. Hello Carol, and welcome! I’ve found your blog through pressing the “genealogy” topic because I like to keep an eye on fellow genealogists who join wordpress and share their findings on their blogs. I have also recently started my own (a couple of older posts are about my recent discovery of my grandfather’s sister in New York). Looking forward to getting visits and paying visits here too! Best of luck with your research!

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