Greece 2019 – Putting Together the Zaharakis Family Tree

Stathoula Zaharaki Eftaxias

This is my maternal great-grandmother, Stathoula Zaharakis Eftaxias. Her photo sits on my desk and every day, she inspires me to keep going with my research.

Stathoula was born in the village of Theologos, Laconia which is 10 kilometers from Sparta and 6 kilometers up a mountain. Her parents were Dimitrios Zaharakis of Theologos, and Giannoula Zarafonitis of Amykles.

For the past two summers, we have had Zaharakis cousins’ reunions in the platea of Theologos. Last year, they asked me to bring their family tree. This year, I did.

Pavlos, John and Joanna discuss their family tree

Preparing this information sent me hunting for the Zaharakis name in:  Male Registers (Mitroon Arrenon), Town Registers (Dimotologion), Election Lists of 1872, and school, church and marriage records at the village, town hall and metropolis levels. I think I have all the bases covered for vital records from Theologos. What I am missing, though, is a history book of the village. Librarians at the Central Library of Sparta said that one does not exist but I will keep looking.

I maintain all my data in a RootsMagic genealogy database and Excel spreadsheets, and I enter every name that I find, whether or not I can connect him/her to a specific line. For example, the 1872 Election Lists give a man’s name, birth year, father’s name and occupation. But if his father is Theodoros and there are several Theodoros’ in the village, I sometimes can’t determine which one he belongs to.

1872 Election List for  Theologos. Zaharakis family:  line 460: Anastasios, age 34, son of Theodoros; line 472: Georgios, age 33, son of Nikolaos; line 480: Dimitrios, age 45, son of Georgios.

I especially ran into problems with the earliest generations. In this Election List, were Theodoros, Nikolaos and Dimitrios brothers or cousins? I spent hours staring at computer screens, flipping between spreadsheets and multiple family group sheets to determine what made sense. When I became utterly confused, I tried a different tactic:  paper.

Sorting out the Zaharakis generations–on paper!

I began by writing on paper the men’s first names, fathers’ initials and birth years. Then using birth years, I sorted them into generations moving from youngest to oldest. The tactile experience of holding a pen, writing a name, and moving pieces of paper around until the families made sense helped everything “click” in my brain. After just a few minutes, the descendants were in place.

Example of one chart using Dimitrios born c. 1760

Using RootsMagic and lots of tape, I printed and put together the following trees:

  • Dimitrios, born abt. 1760
  • Ioannis, born abt. 1798 (no known descendants, but he received an Aristeia award for fighting in the 1821 Revolution; blogpost here)
  • Georgios, born abt. 1802
  • Panagiotis, born abt. 1805
  • Nikolaos, born abt. 1814
  • Konstandinos, born abt. 1842
  • Dimitrios, born 1844 (my maternal great-great grandfather)
  • Dimitrios, born c.1848

Certainly the three youngest are sons of the oldest, but who belongs to who? We won’t know in this life; the paper trail has stopped.

As the cousins looked for their names on the trees, I asked them to correct and add information.

Pavlos and his son, Thanassis, examine their tree

It was interesting to see that everyone there, except three people including me, were descended from Panagiotis born 1805. That tree was on the longest table and had the most activity.

The largest tree was for the descendants of Panagiotis Zaharakis, born abt. 1805

I am very grateful for the support of the village priest, Papa Panagiotis Kotsos, who was the host of the evening. He contacted family, shared information on the church Facebook page, and got people dancing. He is young and fun!

Papa Panagiotis Kotsos, host of the evening

Papa Panagiotis leads the Greek dancing

And of course there is food!

Waiting for dinner

And a group photo 🙂

Zaharakis Reunion in Theologos, July 2019

The large tree behind us has a plaque which reads:  “The generation that lived in Theologos during the years 1879-1880 have planted this sycamore tree and watered it but God made it grow.”

Plaque on the sycamore tree in the platea of Theologos

My great-grandmother, Stathoula, was born in 1870. She was a child when her parents, Dimitrios and Giannoula, helped plant the tree. Now we, the descendants of the earliest Zaharakis’, can gather under it and share the joy of family.


12 thoughts on “Greece 2019 – Putting Together the Zaharakis Family Tree

  1. Pingback: Beyond the Basics: 1831 Shepherds’ Tax Registration | Spartan Roots (Σπαρτιατικές Ρίζες)

  2. Carol, All this is so interesting to me. Exactly what I need to start trying to put together a tree (maybe) but at least gather some information for myself and my children. I accidentally came upon your work, two days ago, when I recalled my late husband, Sotirios Sarantakos (born in 1939 in Spilia, near Kyparissia,) mentioning occasionally “Sparta”, “Mani” and being “Laconian”. I know his ancestors moved north to the Kastri/Oriá area sometime and then onto Spilia around 1900. I’m actually an American from Brooklyn, Ohio! (German and English ancestry). I came to Greece two weeks ago to immerse myself in everything Greek..the language, culture and history. (I’d spent a month in Germany). I’m going home (to Australia) on October 17th and am hoping by then to become more fluent in the language, to learn more about modern Greek society and to start acquiring skills to do some genealogy research. When I have gathered some information I will share it with you.
    I loved your broadcast with your cousin, the priest, the other day. What a coincidence it was that just when I had decided I’d see what luck googling “Sparta”would bring me, rather than Kastri, Oriá and Arcadia I was able to hear your broadcast.
    The quality of the program was excellent. I will be listening regularly to CosmosFM when I am back home.
    Barbara Tucker Sarantakos

  3. My father in law’s father and mother cane from a village near Sparta called Lakonikos. He was George Elias Zacharakis. I wonder if he is a relative on your chart.

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