Research and Remembrances, Part 1

After months of preparation and then returning from a fulfilling and fruitful trip to Greece, it’s time to start documenting and sharing what I’ve seen and learned. Where to start? So many experiences and memories! I’ll devote several posts to this trip and my research. I have many photos which I will eventually tag and upload to the “Photos” tab at the top of this blog.

Part of the joy of traveling is sharing the experience with others. I was delighted that my daughter, Kathryn Lynard Soper, and her daughters, Elli (age 21) and Christine (age 15) were able to join me. Kathy is 100% Greek, as both her father’s family and my family are from neighboring villages in Sparta. Our trip started in Athens with visits to the Acropolis, many stops in the Plaka, and lots of kitten-sightings.

Christine, Kathy, Elli Soper at the Acropolis, July 2014

Christine, Kathy, Elli Soper at the Acropolis, July 2014

Christine, Elli, Kathy at the Plaka, July 2014

Christine, Elli, Kathy at the Plaka, July 2014

Elli, Kathy, Carol at the Acropolis

Elli, Kathy, Carol at the Acropolis

Elli, Kathy at the Acropolis

Elli, Kathy, Christine at the Acropolis

It is a joyful feeling to be able to share new experiences with those you love! For the girls, especially, taking them to the land of their ancestors is especially rewarding for me. As each succeeding generation melts into American society and culture, another layer of tradition and culture peels away. Just the sights and smells of Athens will be with them forever!

After three days in Athens, we headed to Nafplion (also spelled Naplion, Navplion) which was the first capital of Greece after the 1821 Revolution. It is a quaint and lovely port city, and we stayed in a charming hotel reminiscent of the American Victorian era. The problem was that we couldn’t find the hotel, so I stopped to ask a policeman and he escorted us through town to our lodgings!

Christine, Kathy, Elli, Carol at Nafplion, July 2014

Christine, Kathy, Elli, Carol at Nafplion, July 2014

Police escort to our hotel, Nafplion

Police escort to our hotel, Nafplion

Town Square, Nafplion

Town Square, Nafplion

We enjoyed our stay in this lovely city. We spent an afternoon at the beach in nearby Tolo, then headed to Sparta and the villages of our ancestors.

11 thoughts on “Research and Remembrances, Part 1

  1. My great grandfather was born in Sparta. Peter Nicholas Varros
    BIRTH 13 OCT 1880 • Sparta, Attiki, Attiki, Greece
    DEATH 1953 • Boston, Massachusetts, USA

    How can I find out the name of his parents?

    • Juliet, if the birthplace was Sparta in Laconia (not Attica) you can contact the Archives office in Sparta and request a lookup. However, you will need to try to determine the exact village because records are kept by village. Many people who were from villages near Sparta would put Sparta as their residence but that will not be enough information for the staff to find your ancestors.

  2. Pingback: Research and Remembrances, Part 7 | Spartan Roots

  3. Hello, Carol,

    I just came upon your five articles, and now have finished scanning the first. I’ll go back and read more thoroughly, and similarly with the succeeding chapters.

    My paternal grandfather, Alexander K. Pavellas, was born in Nafplion, but I don’t know anything more about him until after his arrival in San Francisco around 1900. He was a lawyer and diplomat, and a supporter of Venizelos. He married a non-Greek woman, my grandmother. He co-founded the Greek-American newspaper Eirenika and its successor, Prometheus.

    More in consonance with your journey is the fact that my mother’s parents (Pagonis/Diakakis) came from the Peloponnesus–Astros, I believe. They also arrived San Francisco around 1900. I know nothing about them. When I asked Uncle Harry about his ancestors, her said “Let sleeping dogs lie”. I’ve been imagining a slow walking trip from Kalamata to Nafplion (I’m retired) but it is far from being a plan. Also, I don’t speak the language, but comfortable in the hearing of it.

    Thanks for sharing this inspirational journey.

    • Dear Ron,
      I am reading your post with so many emotions flowing through me! First of all, thank you so much for writing about your grandparents. I am sad, but not surprised, at the response of your Uncle Harry as I have met with similar responses in my own family. However… that doesn’t mean that you are stuck! There is a growing community of Greek Americans online who are committed to working together and helping each other with family history research. Also, there are some resources available from the Greek government online. A great place to start is the Hellenic Genealogy Geek blog, maintained by Georgia Stryker Keilman: If you are on Facebook, there are other resources as well. Please let me know and I can help you get connected with the online Greek community. Your walking trip would be amazing! And, I was pleasantly surprised to find so many people speaking English, so that should not be a deterrent! Hope to hear from you soon!

  4. As I read your post I am lieing in the Mystras Inn trying to get to sleep so I can start my ancestry quest in the morning. We have shadowed you at the Acropolis and Plaka and stay in Naplion on Monday night. Tomorrow morning we are going to Kalamata to lookup my grandfather, Panagiotios Koumoundouros then back to Mystras for my g-mother, Zaphira Christea and her parents, Demetria (Hresikos) Christea & ??Christos Christeas.–but—where?? I hope there is a part 2 and that I can be as successful as you.

    • Hi Pat, What a coincidence that we are traveling the same path for the same purpose! Please, please, go to the Greek Archives office in Sparta. They have all the civil records that you need to look up your family — Male Registers, Town Registers and others. I spent 2 days there in July, and Maria and Michalis are terrific and will do everything they can to help you. Pepi Gavala is the archivist and she is a delight. I came away with records from Mistras and Agios Ioannis (next village to Sparta). The address is: General Archives of Greece, 174 VRASIDOU STREET, SPARTA 23100. The office is open from 8:00 – 3:00 (or maybe 7:30-3:30??). You can try going to the Mayor’s office or the Town Hall in the villages, but honestly, I don’t believe they have anymore info than the Archive office and you may not get the personal attention, as the staff are taking care of daily business while the Archives staff is there to help you. Please, please let me know how it goes! I’ll be posting more entries within the next couple of days… Thank you for writing!

    • Donna, thank you for writing! I will be sharing the wonderful experience I had at the Archives in Sparta and how I am piercing together family relationships. I appreciate your interest in what I am doing! Have you been to the villages of your parents?

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