Marriage: Andreas Kostakos & Politimi Christakos

Trying to read 1800’s Greek script is both exhilarating and frustrating. Recognizing a name gives me an adrenalin surge; struggling over a name sends me to chocolate.

Two nights ago, I got the surge of a lifetime. I found an entry in the 1860 Marriage Book of the Mitropolis of Sparta for my great-grandparents, Andreas Kostakos and Politimi Christakos. My friend, Giannis Michalakakos, confirmed that I read the record correctly.

Mitropolis of Sparta, Marriage Book, 1860 Page 1: Date: August 20, 1860; Number: 125; 1st column: Andreas ( Andrikos) Kostakos of Agios Ioannis. 2nd column: Poletimi, daughter of Nikolaos Christakos of Xirokambi, Faridos.

Mitropolis of Sparta, Marriage Book, 1860
Page 1: Date: August 20, 1860; Number: 125; 1st column: Andreas ( Andrikos) Kostakos of Agios Ioannis.  2nd column: Politimi, daughter of Nikolaos Christakos of Xirokambi, Faridos.

Page 2, Marriage of Andreas Kostakos and Poletimi Christakos

2nd page, 7th entry: 1st column: Church: Holy Trinity; second column: Priest’s name, Mitros Hlia Papadopoulos Witnesses: Ioannis Giannopoulos, Dimitris Skouriotis

After hours of struggling to read every name, I decided to try the tactic that my friend, Gregory Kontos, used when we were at the Mitropolis of Sparta in 2014. He looked in the column of the male’s name for the first name of someone I was seeking. If his eye caught that name, he then read the entire entry.

Interestingly, the name “Andreas” does not appear often in the villages of Sparta where I am researching:  the most common names are Panagiotis, Nikolaos, Georgios, Konstandinos. So…skimming down the left column of page one, looking for Andreas, made the search much easier and saved my eyes and my sanity.

As soon as I saw the capital “A,” I stopped. When the next name began with a “K,” my hopes soared. When I made out “Kostakos,” I rejoiced!

Enlarged image of Entry 125.

Enlarged image of Entry 125.

I knew that Andreas had two wives:  first, Anastasia; then Poletimi Christakos (my great-grandmother). Honestly, if I did not know Politimi’s name, I would have been stumped as I strained to read the female information in column 2. But, I could make out the letters, and then — a great bonus — I saw Poletimi’s father’s name, Nikolaos! This was a new and very exciting find, as I am now back one more generation!

This exhilarating discovery fostered a new mystery:  Andreas and Poletimi were married in 1860, but their first child, Antonia, was born in 1870. That’s 10 years — a very long time, especially in the pre-birth control era. Some hypothesis that Giannis and I mulled over:

  1. Politimi must have been raising Andreas’ children with Anastasia (my father had been told that they had 6 sons, but we only know of one, and his descendants are my cousins in Agios Ioannis today). Could the stress of raising a large family have affected Poletimi?
  2. There could have been stillborn children
  3. Children could have been born and died as infants
  4. There could have been female children born, who were not registered in any records

I am entering the area of lost information and the “great unknown;” and, speculation will not bring resolution. However, I am grateful beyond expression to have found this record.

I have been collecting information on the surnames in my villages, and from various sources, I now am able to structure the family of my great-great grandfather, Nikolaos and”wife” Christakos. Oh, happy day!

Christakos, Nikolaos FamGrpSheet

 

 

Easter in Heaven

My family often celebrated Greek Easter at the home of my parents or my mother’s sister (Bertha Pappas Pouletsos and her husband, Nick). It was always Dad’s job to carve the lamb.

Andrew Kostakos carving Easter lamb, 1992.

Andrew Kostakos carving Easter lamb, 1992, Kensington, Maryland

When Aunt Bertha and Uncle Nick traveled from Long Island to our house in Maryland, the celebration was even more special.

Catherine Kostakos, Carol Kostakos Petraek, Bertha Pappas Pouletsos, Mabel Mercer Wirth, 1981, Kensington, Maryland

Catherine Kostakos, Carol Kostakos Petraek, Bertha Pappas Pouletsos, Mabel Mercer Petranek Wirth, 1981, Kensington, Maryland

Andrew Kostakos, Bertha Pappas Pouletsos, Gary Petranek, 1978, Kensington, Maryland

Andrew Kostakos, Bertha Pappas Pouletsos, Gary Petranek, 1978, Kensington, Maryland

I grew up living close to Aunt Bertha and Uncle Nick in the small community of Hillsdale, New Jersey. My brother and I shared many special times with our cousins, John and Louis; and to this day, we refer to our mothers as “two peas in a pod.” Mom and Bertha were the best of sisters and the best of friends.

Bertha and Catherine Pappas, Hoboken, New Jersey, about 1945

Bertha and Catherine Pappas, about 1944-45, Hoboken, New Jersey

Old photos unleash a plethora of memories for me — a lifetime of family gatherings and activities. After the deaths of Mom, Dad, Aunt Bertha and Uncle Nick, my Easter table was bereft of these beloved people. However, I found consolation in knowing that my grandparents’ table was now complete — mother and father with their sons and daughters — a loving family on earth, now reunited in heaven.

My parents and their siblings traveled to be together on holidays, and now it is my turn. Yesterday, Gary and I drove to Lewes, Delaware, to have Greek Easter with cousin Louie Pouletsos, his wife, Debbie, and their children, Nikki and Maddison. We shared memories of our parents and even poked a little fun at our mothers. We missed them.

l-r: Louis, Maddison, Nicki, Debbie Pouletsos; Gary Petranek, Lewes, Delaware, 2016

l-r: Louis, Maddison, Nicki, Debbie Pouletsos; Gary Petranek, 2016, Lewes, Delaware

2016 Easter, Carol-Gary Petranek, Debbie-Lou Pouletsos

Carol and Gary Petranek, Debbie and Louie Pouletsos, 2016, Lewes, Delaware

As our parents celebrate in Easter heaven, we now carry on their traditions on earth. We cling to familial and cultural patterns as our anchor of tradition, and to the Savior as our anchor of faith.

  • Our traditional Easter dinner of roast lamb symbolizes the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ.
  • Our recitation of “Christos Anesti,” (Christ has Risen) attests to the reality of the resurrection.
  • Bright red eggs “kokkina avga” on the table symbolize the blood of Christ that was shed for each of us.
  • The breaking of eggs symbolizes Christ breaking the bands of death and coming forth from the tomb. Each person takes a red egg and cracks the ends with another person. This proceeds around the table until one individual is left with an unbroken egg, and he/she can expect to have good luck throughout the year.
  • Partaking of the “tsoureki,” or Easter bread, reminds us that Jesus Christ is the Bread of Life. (John 6:48: “I am that bread of life.”)

It is tempting to speculate how our departed families will celebrate Easter in heaven. One thing I know is that they will:  “Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him.” (Romans 6:8)

Christos anesti to you and your family!