FamilySearch and Greek Records

I have been helping organize the Hellenic Genealogy Conference which will be held in Salt Lake City, Utah, on September 26 — just a couple of weeks away. I am looking forward to seeing old friends, meeting new ones, and helping people understand the resources available for research.

Among these resources are the Family History Library (also known as the FamilySearch Library). I will be at the Library to work with people, showing them the books, maps, and microfilms at the Library. Besides the website of the General State Archives of GreeceFamilySearch is the only other resource for microfilms of official Greek documents (to my knowledge). Most of these records were filmed in the 1980’s. FamilySearch is in the process of digitizing their microfilm collection, and I hope it not be too much longer before the Greek films are uploaded. When they are online, they will be viewable free of charge.

Recently, I was invited to participate in a genealogy television show and to discuss FamilySearch, its free website and its many resources including the Wiki (here is a link to the page for Greece). Here is a link to that broadcast found on YouTube.



Panagiotis Eliopoulos in Machmoutbei (now Amykles)

My friend and historian/genealogist, Gregory Kontos, recently translated an interesting document for me. Written in 1864, it is a contract for Panagiotis Eliopoulos to purchase land in Machmoutbei, which is now the town of Amykles, Laconia. I am researching the Eliopoulos name in the Sparta area, as my great-grandmother was Aikaterini Eliopoulou.

Aikaterini and her father, Efstathios, were from the village of Sikaraki located on the outskirts of Agios Ioannis, Sparta. Although the distance between Amykles and Sikaraki is 5 kilometers or a 10-minute car ride today, that was a long donkey ride in the mid 1800’s. However, in my relentless hunt for family, I leave no stones unturned so I am researching the Eliopoulos family in Machmoutbei.

Eliopoulos, Panagiotis Contract April 5th 1864 p.1

Panagiotis Eliopoulos, Contract April 5th 1864 p.1

Eliopoulos, Panagiotis Contract April 5th 1864, p.2

Panagiotis Eliopoulos, Contract April 5th 1864, p.2

Panagiotis Eliopoulos, Sale Contract, April 5th 1864

Contract Translation by Gregory Kontos

There can be hidden clues in these documents. For example, the trees are specifically listed which indicates their value. The contract was read aloud to ensure all understood its terms, and the Voutianitis brothers claimed they were illiterate.

In the Electoral Rolls of Lakedaimonos (Laconia) 1843-1873 (File #22), there is a P. Eliopoulos who signed the rolls as the assistant mayor (παρέδος) of Machmoutbei. When I compared his signature on the election record and this contract signed in Machmoutbei, this indicates that they are the same person and that Panagiotis was literate:

Panagiotis Eliopoulos signature 1864 contract

P. Eliopoulos signature 1864 contract

Panagiotis Eliopoulos signature on electoral rolls

P. Eliopoulos signature on electoral rolls

These documents are a fascinating glimpse into the everyday lives of our ancestors. It is painstaking work to piece together fragments of information from any source, but especially so when researching in Greek records where the handwriting stumps all but the experts. When I get frustrated, I remind myself to be grateful, instead, that these records have survived through the wars and occupations, and that I have friends to help me navigate through them.

Although I do not yet know if Panagiotis Eliopoulos is related to me, I am thrilled to have this document and to bring his life into the 21st century.

Addendum to this post: After looking at another contract for Panagiotis Eliopoulos of Lele, Agios Ioannis (village of my ancestors), Gregory informed me that Panagiotis Eliopoulos of Machmoutbei and Panagiotis Eliopoulos of Lele are two different people. Panagiotis from Machmoutbei  signs the contracts but Panagiotis from Lele is illiterate.