Several years ago, a Greek research friend put me in touch with George Nicholas Revelos whose mother, Effrosyni, was a Michalakakos/Aridas from Agios Ioannis (St. Johns, Sparta). Although we never met in person, we became great friends as we wove together the various threads of our extended families. George and I are third cousins. Our common ancestor is Michail Aridas and his wife, Stamatina, who were born in the early 1800’s in Agios Ioannis. We descend from two of Michail’s sons — George is from Christos, and I am from Georgios.
During my first trip to Sparta some years back, an archivist told me that Aridas was a very unusual name and not native to Laconia. That got me thinking (dangerous!) how the name came to be. When I received a Town Register for the Aridas family from the Archives in Sparta, I saw the name “Konstandinos Michalakakos” listed with the family. (see first family listed)
Thanks to George, I learned the origins of the Aridas name, which was Michalakakos. In an email dated 2009, George related, ” My uncle wrote my mother back in the late 1940’s that he had uncovered the real name for Aridas as Mihalakakos. He said that one of the ancestors had long legs which is what Aridas translates to from arida (leg). It was a nickname (παρατσουκλι) that stuck. So, there for a while we were saying that mom was a Mihalakakos. It didn’t take long for that to disappear.”
George related many interesting stories about his family. His grandfather, Nicholas George Revelos, immigrated from Kosma in 1906 and with his brothers, opened a confectionery store in Middletown.
The store, Elite Ice Cream and Candy Company, was a huge success and one of the cornerstone businesses of Middletown. Businesses like this played an important role during the Depression of the 1930’s, as they were not only sources of tax revenue for ailing governments but also places of refuge for families seeking relief from the sadness and difficulties of life.
George’s brother, Mike Revelos, wrote a fascinating and extensive history of his family and the Elite Ice Cream Store, which can be accessed here: http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~ohgaim/EliteCandyCo.htm
More info about the business is here: http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~ohgaim/BusinessHistory.htm
A newspaper article in the Middletown Journal, October 9, 2010, gives a brief history of the business and relates how George rescued an eight foot sign with the store name: history: http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~ohgaim/images/EliteStory.pdf
Stories and photos about the Revelos family, and the many other Greek families in Middletown, can be found by scrolling through homepage of the website, Greek Ancestry in Middletown, Ohio: http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~ohgaim/index.htm. This website is a treasure-trove of genealogical and historical information for anyone with Greek ancestry from Middletown and its surrounding area. Photos, histories, business information and even a link to Ohio death certificates for the city are included.
I was thrilled to come across this site which gave me new insights into my third cousins and their families. I miss George, but I can feel him cheering me on as I prepare for another trip to Sparta this summer to learn more about our Aridas family roots.