Kosta’s Map

I love speaking with the villagers in Sparta. They know their land with a level of intimacy that astonishes me:  every hiding place in the Taygetos mountains, every olive tree on their land, every goat trail that leads to an abandoned kalivia (shepherd’s hut), and the origins of every family in the village. Last summer, simply by hearing the surname, Christos told me that my great-grandfather, Andreas Kostakos, was from the now-abandoned village of Perganteika (read that post here).

The Kostakos family origins have mystified me for years and have morphed into my never-ending quest. The -akos suffix designates the Mani region, but I can’t find the family in any records outside of the Sparta area before 1844. The reason? Greece became an independent country on February 3,1830, after 400 years of Ottoman rule. It took time for the new government to begin record keeping; not much exists prior to 1840. Thus, all Greeks have the proverbial brick-wall during this timeframe.

Christos’ insistence that the Kostakos family was first in Perganteika, then in Anavryti, then in Agios Ioannis after the War of Independence (about 1835-40) has not satisfied my desire for proof. (An elusive commodity in Greek research). So, I pester anyone whom I meet with many questions. In return, I get bits and pieces, and sometimes a treasure like the one below (click on image to enlarge it).

Last July at the home of Peter Adamis in Pellana, I received an exensive history-geography lesson from Peter’s friend, Kosta. A native of the area and a renowned stone and marble mason, Kosta’s artisan work is found in government buildings, churches and homes throughout Lakonia. He has a comprehensive knowledge of the region and its people. And he shared much with me.

Kosta explained what I heard many times:  people fled to the towering Taygetos mountains to escape Ottoman dominion; after 1830 they started their descent into the valleys to begin a life of freedom. Kosta patiently and carefully sketched the map above to depict “layers of villages,” beginning at the top of the Taygetos range and descending into the plains of Sparta. I could now plainly see how the villages were staggered and, at times, stacked upon each other. As his pen moved down the page, I could almost visualize people moving down, incrementally, from the peaks. It was a logical movement of humanity and a powerful moment of clarity.

Kosta’s stories mesmerized me. These people–my people–were resilient, tough, inventive, smart, and scrappy survivors. The more I hear about village life in the 1800’s, the more I want to learn. I love Kosta’s map. It has not solved the Kostakos origin mystery, but it has enhanced my understanding. My respect for my ancestors grows with each fact I learn, and I am proud to be their descendant.

On the Air

My cousin, Father Eugene Pappas, is the priest at Three Hierarchs Church in Brooklyn, New York. He is also the host of a weekly radio show, “Matters of Conscience” which airs on Saturdays at 1:00 p.m. eastern time at CosmosFM – Hellenic Radio in New York City. He invited me to speak about my experiences this past summer in digitizing the church books in 140 villages in Lakonia, and that interview was held yesterday.

The URL to listen to the broadcast is here.

I had written about Father Eugene in 2016 when he was honored for serving 50 years as a Greek Orthodox priest, and 35 years at Three Hierarchs Church (see this post).  He is a man of boundless energy, and is committed to serving his community as an activist and a teacher, along with his countless hours of priesthood duty. I have great admiration and respect for him.

We are related through the Papagiannakos (Pappas) line — my mother was a Papagiannakos. Many years ago when I was first inquiring about my family roots, my relatives encouraged me to contact Father Eugene because “he is the only one in the family who knows our history.” Now there are two of us! His enthusiasm for this topic has encouraged me to keep digging.

Our discussion yesterday covered many topics such as:

  • How did this project get started, and why are you doing this work?
  • What is the condition of the books and records in the villages and at the Metropolis?
  • How far back do the church books go? What type of information do they contain?
  • What type of support do you have from Bishop Efstathios and the local priests?
  • Why is MyHeritage sponsoring this work?
  • Is anything like this being done in the U.S.? If not, why?

Our conversation was lively and punctuated with Father’s insights and memories. He thanked me for digitizing the books at Three Hierarchs Church, and expressed gratitude and admiration for our team which is advancing the preservation work in Greece.

When I was at the Metropolis, sitting alone at a desk for hours on end, “flipping and clicking” (flipping pages and clicking the camera), I maintained my enthusiasm by thinking of the many people who would benefit from having access to these images. I so appreciate yesterday’s opportunity to inform people of the work we are doing and the opportunities they will soon have to review records that were previously inaccessible.

Again, the URL to the radio broadcast is here, and “Matters of Conscience” begins at the 1:16:53 mark.


Papou’s “Pistopoitiko”

A pistopoitiko (πιστοποιητικό) is a document issued by an authorized agent attesting to the proof of a fact. In Greece, these are predominantly used to certify birth (πιστοποιητικό γεννήσεως), marriage ( πιστοποιητικό γάμου) or death (πιστοποιητικό θανάτου). Thus, it is likely that a genealogist will encounter this document at some point in the research process.

For anyone seeking Greek citizenship, the pistopoitiko of birth for a parent or grandparent is mandatory. It certifies that the ancestor is registered as a citizen in Greece and proves the applicant’s Greek heritage. Knowing that it is an important genealogical record and could be of future value to my family, I went to the KEP (Citizen’s Service Center) in Sparta to obtain a pistopoitiko for my paternal grandfather, John Andrew Kostakos (Ioannis Andreas Kostakos – Ιωάννης Ανδρέας Κωστάκος).

KEP Office, Sparta, Greece

Before a pistopoitiko of birth can be issued, a copy of the Male Register (Μιτρώοv Αρρένον ) listing the ancestor must be procured. These can usually be found at a regional office of the General State Archives of Greece. If the Archive office does not have the Male Register for your ancestor’s village, it will be at the Mayor’s office (Dimarheion), the Civil Registry Office (Lixarheion) or the KEP.

One of the first documents I obtained in Greece years ago was the Mitroo Arrenon for my papou Kostakos. He was born in 1879 in Agios Ioannis, and his name is on line 6 below.

Mitroon Arrenon, village of Agios Ioannis, year 1879

I brought a copy of this to Greece with me, and I’m glad I did. It made the process very easy because I did not have to locate it at the Archives or the KEP office.

At the KEP, the first question asked was:  “for what purpose do you need a pistopoitiko?” I replied “for Greek citizenship,” because I knew that was an acceptable response whereas “genealogical research” may not be. I was then asked the name, birth year and village of my grandfather so that a search for his Male Register could commence. This is when I took out the copy and handed it to the clerk. She asked if I obtained the copy from the KEP, and I said no, that it was from the Archive office. She examined it carefully and looked at me several times; I wondered if it was an acceptable copy. Without a word, she turned to her computer and began typing. This is what she handed me:

Pistopoitiko of Birth, John Andrew Kostakos. Obtained at the Sparta KEP office, July 2019.

Certification that:  Kostakos, Ioannis of Andreas is written in the Mitroo Arrenon of the village of Agios Ioannnis of the Municipality of Mystra of the Dimos Sparta, Nomos Lakonias, with the birth year of 1879 and serial number 6. He was born in Agios Ioannis and is of Greek nationality by birth. His name was deleted from the Mitroo Arrenon with A.N. 10393/9-11-1982. This pistopoitiko is issued for legal use. The document is signed by an official, and also by the mayor, Kyriakos D. Diamantakos.

Being in Sparta, having the Mitroon Arrenon, and going in person to the KEP made the acquisition of this document an easy process. From a remote location, one could obtain the Mitroo through the regional archive, then contact the KEP office in the area of one’s ancestral village, send the Mitroo, and request a pistopoitiko. Alternatively, the entire process of obtaining both the Mitroo and the pistopoitiko can be done solely through the KEP. The issue is always, will the KEP office respond in a timely manner.

My recommendation is:  if you will be in Greece and you want a pistopoitiko of birth, marriage, or death, plan time in your visit to obtain this in person. Having such a document in your possession may someday be important to you or a member of your family. I am thrilled to have this certification of birth for my papou.

John Andrew Kostakos; my grandfather’s photo from his naturalization papers, 1931



Greece 2019 – Church Books in Villages of Laconia Digitized

Mission accomplished! The existing birth, marriage and death books of all villages in Laconia, which are under the purview of the Metropolis of Sparta and Monemvasia, have been digitized and preserved. At the direction of Bishop Efstathios and under the supervision of Dimitris Skiadas, priests in 139 villages brought their books to the Metropolis office in Sparta.

Father Seraphim examines books to be digitized

The project was organized by Gregory Kontos, Greek Records Specialist for MyHeritage, which provided the camera equipment. I digitized the records, working eight hours per day from June 3-July 9.

Gregory Kontos and Carol Kostakos Petranek set up camera equipment at the Metropolis of Sparta

Church records are of inestimable importance in family history research, as they provide primary source data of life’s major events. In Greece, these books can only be examined on-site; there are few, if any, Greek church records online. This project is the first of its kind in Greece, and Bishop Efstathios is to be recognized and commended for his foresight in preserving the records of the Metropolis and its villages. To my knowledge, he is the first Bishop in Greece to approve such a project. Next summer, we will honor him at a special ceremony in Sparta.

Every priest who brought us his books now has a USB drive with the images, and the Metropolis has a backup of every village book.

Book with USB drive

When the priests arrived to pick up their books, they were delighted to see the USB drive and they told me they will put on the images on their computers. Hopefully, this will “save” the books as they no longer will need to be opened or handled. Many were in poor condition.

Digitized books, with USB drives, are ready for pickup

Papa Panagiotis of the village of Theologos arrives to pick up his books

I was sad to see how much of our history has already been lost. Some of these villages are hundreds of years old, but their records are recent. I asked what happened to their missing books and was disheartened to hear that countless ones which had deteriorated due to age, moisture, mold, insect or water damage were thrown away. Some were used to start fires, others were destroyed during wars. I saw books that were carefully restored, and others that were pathetically neglected.

A future post will describe the books in detail. This one is to provide information on every village and its extant books which have been digitized. Just a handful of churches have records which date prior to 1900, and they are marked with an asterisk. Most books begin around 1912, when the Greek Orthodox Church issued standardized books.

Should you wish to contact a village priest, a list of all the churches under the jurisdiction of the Metropolis of Sparta can be found here.

Some of these books will eventually be online at MyHeritage, with restrictions due to privacy and information on living people.

Villages Books Years *pre-1900
Afissou, Sparta Birth, Baptism 1913-65
Birth, Baptism 1972-2018
Death 1913-2018
Marriage 1913-2017
Ag. Apostolos Voion, Neapolis Birth, Baptism 1959-2015
Birth, Baptism 2017-19
Death 1958-2016
Death 2017-19
Marriage 1958-2014
Marriage 2017-17
Ag. Dimitrios, Monemvasia Birth, Baptism 1971-2019
Death 1916-2019
Marriage 1916-2017
Ag. Georgios Voion, Neapolis Birth, Baptism 1970-2018
Death 1982-2019
Marriage 1970-2017
Ag. Nikolaos Voion, Neapolis Birth, Baptism 1944-72
Birth, Baptism 1972-2017
Death 1948-2019
Marriage 1953-2019
Aggelona, Molaoi Birth, Baptism 1912-69
Birth, Baptism 1971-2018
Death 1912-91
Death 2010-2019
Marriage 1995-2016
Agios Dimitrios Zarakas, Molaoi Birth, Baptism 1955-91
Birth, Baptism 1977-2018
Death 1923-55
Death 1946-2000
Marriage 1920-87
Marriage 2002-19
Agios Ioannis, Monemvasia Birth, Baptism 1912-71
Birth, Baptism 1971-2013
Birth, Baptism 2014-19
Death 1912-2013
Death 2013-19
Marriage 1914-2013
Marriage 2013-19
Agios Ioannis, Sparta Birth & Baptism 1878-1978 *
Birth & Baptism 1913-1955
Birth & Baptism 1951-1961
Birth, Baptism 1981-2019
Death 1913-1980
Death 1982-2019
Marriage 1914-1981
Marriage 1982-2019
Agios Konstandinos – Regkozena, Kastoreio Baptism 1983-87
Baptism 1998-2018
Birth, Baptism 1972-2002
Marriage 2014-15
Agios Nikolaos, Charisio Sparta Birth, Baptism 1939-72
Birth, Baptism 1972-2018
Death 1949-2012
Marriage 1949-74
Marriage 1975-2019
Agios Nikolaos, Monemvasias Birth, Baptism 1924-79
Birth, Baptism 1972-2017
Death 1917-2018
Marriage 1924-2016
Agios Nikonas   Sparta Birth, Baptism 1938-48
Birth, Baptism 1948-87
Birth, Baptism 1968-73
Birth, Baptism 1972-86
Death 1947-58
Death 1984-2011
Marriage 1948-1986
Marriage 1948-49
Birth, Baptism 1986-2019
B-M-D 1907-20
Death 2012-19
Marriage 1987-2019
Agios Spyridon, Sparta Birth, Baptism 1970-2017
Death 1967-2017
Marriage 1967-2017
Agios Vasileios, Sparta Birth, Baptism 2003-2019
Death 2005-15
Marriage 2006-18
Agoriani, Kastoreio Baptism 2009-2018
Birth, Baptism 1972-2016
Death 1952-2019
Death 2003-2019
Marriage 1951-2018
Alaibei, Panygyritsa, Skala Birth, Baptism 1923-24
Birth, Baptism 1951-2018
Marriage 1957-2018
Alepochori, Geraki Birth, Baptism 1970-2000
Death 1913-2006
Death 2010-
Marriage 1987-2010
Alevrou, Kastoreio Birth, Baptism 1913-2014 (1969-2014 missing)
Birth, Baptism 1971-2019
Death 1914-2019
Marriage 1913-2015
Amykles, Sparta Baptism 2017-2019
Death 2005-2019
Marriage 1994-2019
Marriage 2014-2019
Anavryti, Sparta Birth, Baptism 1913-1946
Birth, Baptism 1955-
Birth, Baptism 1955-1970
Birth, Baptism 1913-1946
Death 1913-1950
Death 1913-1968
Death 1987-2019
Marriage 1913-1949
Marriage 1913-1983
Marriage 1984-2017
Anogeia, Xirokambi Birth, baptism 1869-1921 *
Birth, baptism 1913-1954
Death 1913-1955
Marriage 1913-1980
Apidea, Vlahioti Baptism varied
Birth, Baptism 1913-96
Birth, Baptism 1972-2019
Death 1913-2019
Marriage 1914-2019
Apideas Agios Ioannis, Vlahioti Birth, Baptism 1968-2017
Death 1969-2018
Marriage 1970-2006
Arachova (Karyes or Karyon), Vresthenon Birth, Baptism 1913-2017
Marriage 1907-12
Marriage 1912-2018
Arkasadas, Xirokambi Birth, Baptism 1913-1971
Birth, Baptism 1971-2015
Death 1913-2018
Marriage 1913-2014
Asopos, Asopo Birth, Baptism 1952-75
Birth, Baptism 1970-2017
Death 1952-79
Death 1979-2019
Marriage 1955-2010
Marriage 2011-2019
Asteri (Bryniko), Vlachioti Birth, Baptism 1918-2017
Death 1916-2018
Marriage 1921-2018
Chrysafa, Sparta Birth, baptism 1912-1923
Birth, baptism 1913-1957
Birth, baptism 1955-1970
Death 1915-1966
Marriage 1914-1993
Dafni, Sparta Birth, Baptism 1915-47
Birth, Baptism 1947-71
Birth, Baptism 1971-2018
Death 1947-2019
Marriage 1947-2018
Daimonia, Elikas Birth, Baptism 1914-96
Birth, Baptism 1955-2017
Death 1913-97
Death 1997-2018
Marriage 1913-95
Marriage 1997-2018
Elafonisos, Neapolis Birth, Baptism 1971-2019
Death 1966-2019
Marriage 1915-33 & 1947-72
Marriage 1972-2019
Elaias, Molaoi Birth, Baptism 1977-2018
Death 1958-2019
Marriage 1995-2019
Elika, Elikas Birth, Baptism 1913-71
Birth, Baptism 1971-2019
Death 1922-2011
Death 2012-2019
Marriage 1922-2018
Elos (Douraly), Vlachioti Birth, Baptism 1913-54
Birth, Baptism 1955-2007
Birth, Baptism 2008-18
Death 1913-2008
Death 2009-19
Marriage 1914-2008
Marriage 2009-18
Faraklo, Neapolis Birth, Baptism 1913-53
Birth, Baptism 1952-2014
Birth, Baptism 1970-2017
Death 1913-2018
Marriage 1913-97
Foinikio, Asopo Birth, Baptism 1966-2018
Death 1966-2009
Marriage 1966-2018
Georgitsi, Kastoreio Birth, Baptism 1913-54
Birth, Baptism 1916-58
Birth, Baptism 2010-2017
B-M-D 1954-2019
Death 1907-2019
Death 1913-55
Marriage 1912-1950
Geraki, Geraki Birth 1948-2019
B-M-D B 1860-86; M 1860-78; D 1860-77 *
Death 1913-1977
Death 2003-2019
Marriage 1913-1979
Gkoritsa, Geraki Birth, Baptism 1913-50
Birth, Baptism 1952-72
Birth, Baptism 1971-2018
Death 1977-2019
Marriage 1953-2002
Marriage 2002-2019
Glykogrisi (Bezani), Vlahioti Birth, Baptism 1913-59
Birth, Baptism 1971-2018
Death 1913-81
Death 1991-2008
Death 2009-19
Marriage 1913-61
Marriage 1980-2017
Gorani, Xirokambi Baptism 1991-97
Baptism 1998-2018
Birth, Baptism 1933-70
Death 1912-45
Death 1999-2019
Marriage 2014-18
Gounari, Sparta Birth, Baptism 1947-1978
Birth, Baptism 1979-2010
Death 1947-2019
Marriage 1948-2005
Gouves, Vlachioti Birth, Baptism 1915-67
Death 1915-58
Marriage 1937-60
Grammousa, Skala Birth, Baptism 1985-2015
Death 1985-2019
Marriage 1987-2018
Harakas, Molaoi Birth, Baptism 2006-18
Death 2006-18
Marriage 1988-94
Ierakas, Molaoi Birth, Baptism 1997-2017
Death 1912-54
Death 1954-86
Death 1986-2000
Death 2000-2019
Marriage 1953-67
Marriage 1986-2018
Kalivia Soha, Sparta Birth, Baptism 1914-1971
Birth, Baptism 1972-2019
Death 1920-2019
Death 2019-
Marriage 1916-2012
Marriage 2010-2019
Kallonis, Geraki Birth, Baptism 1972-2018
Death 1988-2018
Marriage 1952-2013
Kalogonia, Sparta Birth, Baptism 1915-69
Birth, Baptism 1967-2018
Death 1969-2019
Marriage 1913-69
Marriage 1969-2018
Kaminia, Xirokambi Birth, Baptism 1912-71
Birth, Baptism 1971-2015
Death 1913-80
Marriage 1913-2011
Kampos Voion, Neapolis B-M-D 1913-52
Birth, Baptism 1954-74
Birth, Baptism 1971-2016
Birth, Baptism 2017-18
Death 1954-2017
Death 2017-18
Marriage 1955-2016
Marriage 2017-18
Karavas, Vresthenon Birth, Baptism 1973-91
Birth, Baptism 1976-78
Birth, Baptism various
Death 1976-2019
Marriage 1979-2017
Marriage various
Karitsa, Geraki Baptism 2005-07
Death 1996-2019
Marriage 2008-17
Kastanias Voion, Neapolis Birth, Baptism 1970-2015
Death 1949-2019
Marriage 1948-2015
Kastorion / Κastania   ΚΑΣ Birth, Baptism 1972-2019
Death 1913-59
Death 1959-2019
Marriage 1913-2017
Kastorion-Kastania, Kastoreio Birth, Baptism 1913-38
Birth, Baptism 1940-54
Birth, Baptism 1955-71
Kastri, Kastoreio Birth, Baptism 1912-71
Birth, Baptism 1972-2014
Death 1913-2019
Marriage 1914-2011
Kefala, Geraki Birth, Baptism 1916-71
Birth, Baptism 1972-2017
Death 1916-2019
Marriage 1916-2019
Kladas, Vresthenon Birth, Baptism 1913-1971
Birth, Baptism 1971-2019
Death 1915-2019
Marriage 1914-2019
Koniditsa, Vresthenon Birth, Baptism 1912-72
Birth, Baptism 1972-2013
Death 1913-2019
Marriage 1913-2017
Koulentia (Ellinikou), Elikas Birth, Baptism 1888-1913 *
Birth, Baptism 1915-54
Birth, Baptism 1955-71
Birth, Baptism 1972-2017
Death 1916-2018
Marriage 1915-2005
Koupia, Molaoi Birth, Baptism 1957-2016
Death 1958-2017
Marriage 1956-2009
Kremasti, Molaoi Birth, Baptism 1916-38
Birth, Baptism 1939-53
Birth, Baptism 1954-57
Birth, Baptism 1957-71
Birth, Baptism 1982-2018
Death 1916-18
Death 1971-2019
Marriage 1916-91
Marriage 1994-2018
Krokees/Levetsova, Skala Birth, Baptism 1929-55
Birth, Baptism 1954-2017
Birth, Baptism 1885-1929 *
Death 1946-2017
Death 2018-2019
Death 1914-44
Marriage 2012-2017
Marriage 1914-2011
Kyparissi Zarakos, Molaoi Birth, Baptism 1913-71
Birth, Baptism 1972-2017
Death 1913-2019
Marriage 1914-2018
Lachion Voion, Neapolis Birth, Baptism 1913-2018
Death 1914-2019
Marriage 1901-1915
Marriage 1913-2017
Lagio, Skala Birth, Baptism 1985-2016
Death 1986-2019
Marriage 2003-14
Lampokambros, Molaoi Birth, Baptism 1951-81
Birth, Baptism 1999-2017
Death 1996-2014
Marriage 1923-93
Marriage 2006-11
Lefkohoma, Sparta Birth, Baptism 1972-
Lefkoma (Kydonia & Karaspai), Sparta Birth, Baptism 1914-70
Death 1926-2019
Leimonas, Skala Birth, Baptism 1972-2018
Death 1920-2019
Marriage 2006-17
Liantina, Xirokambi Birth, Baptism 1913-69
Birth, Baptism 1972-89
Death 1916-60
Marriage 1916-85
Lira, Elikas Birth, Baptism 1913-71
Birth, Baptism 1972-2014
Death 1913-2019
Marriage 1913-2018
Logganikos, Kastoreio Birth, Baptism 1973-2018
Death 2015-
Marriage 1993-2019
Loggastra, Sparta Birth, Baptism 1913-59
Birth, Baptism 1959-42
Birth, Baptism 1959-68
Birth, Baptism 1968-2003
Death 1913-2010
Death 1956-2015
Marriage 1913-2003
Marriage 1957-83
Machmoutbei-Amykles, Sparta Birth, Baptism 1913-71
Birth, Baptism 1972-2002
Birth, Baptism 2004-2018
Death 2005-2019
Marriage 1940-2002
Marriage 2005-2019
Magoula (Agia Irini), Sparta Birth, Baptism 1946-2009
Birth, Baptism 2009-2015
Death 1946-2018
Marriage 1946-2018
Magoula (Koimisi tis Theotokou) Sparta Birth, Baptism 1908-34
Birth, Baptism 1934-48
Birth, Baptism 1970-2009
Birth, Baptism 2009-2019
Death 1913-65
Death 1966-2019
Makrinada, Vlahioti Birth, Baptism 1984-2016
Death 1973-2018
Marriage 1991-98
Megali Vrysi, Vresthenon Birth, Baptism 1944-95
Birth, Baptism 1974-2017
Death 1944-2018
Marriage 1944-2004
Mesochori, Neapolis Birth, Baptism 1910-2018
Death 1935-2019
Marriage 1910-2018
Metamorfosi (Katavothra), Molaoi Birth, Baptism 1912-52
Birth, Baptism 1955-2018
Death 1913-55
Death 1955-2019
Marriage 1912-55
Marriage 1955-2018
Mitropolitikou I. Naou, Sparta Birth, Baptism 1913-55
Birth, Baptism 1952-69
Molaoi, Molaoi Birth, Baptism 1913-54
Birth, Baptism 1913-55
Death 1927-83
Marriage 1913-55
Monemvasia, Monemvasia Birth, Baptism 1912-70
Birth, Baptism 1971-2019
Death 1912-86
Death 2000-19
Marriage 1913-97
Marriage 2001-2018
Mystras, Sparta Baptism 1938-72
Birth 1882-87 *
Birth, Baptism 1860-85 *
Birth, Baptism 1913-1972
Birth, Baptism 1917-1977
Birth, Baptism 1972-2019
Birth, Baptism (Kato Hora) 1913-1940
Death 1885-98 *
Death 1916-1991
Death 2017-
Death 1913-2016
Death (Kato Hora) 1913-1939
Marriage 1883-89 *
Marriage 1917-1970
Marriage 1913-2019
Marriage (Kato Hora) 1913-1939
Β-Μ-D 1906-1914
Mytrea, Vlachioti Birth, Baptism 1914-71
Birth, Baptism 1972-2018
Death 1913-2019
Marriage 1914-2018
Neapoli, Neapolis Baptism 1962-68
Birth, Baptism 1912-42
Birth, Baptism 1941-55
Birth, Baptism 1955-60
Birth, Baptism 1970-2018
Death 1912-42
Death 1941-1984
Death 1985-2019
Marriage 1912-42
Marriage 1941-1994
Marriage 1994-2018
Niata, Molaoi Birth, Baptism 1914-35, 80-88
Birth, Baptism 1914-48
Birth, Baptism 1948-56
Birth, Baptism 1949-2018
Death 1913-79
Death 1981-2019
Marriage 1960
Marriage 1913-78
Marriage 1948, 57-65
Marriage 1979-2018
Nomia, Monemvasia Baptism 1995-2009
Birth, Baptism 1924-53
Birth, Baptism 1952-2004
Birth, Baptism 1972-2018
Death 1925-2019
Marriage 1924-2019
Pakia, Molaoi Birth, Baptism 1915-55
Birth, Baptism 1971-2017
Death 1913-55
Death 1955-2019
Marriage 1913-54
Marriage 1955-2017
Palaiochori, Xirokambi Birth, Baptism 1916-1971
Palaiopanagia, Xirokambi Birth, Baptism 1918-1945
Birth, Baptism 1954-2016
Death 1913-1952
Death 2003-2018
Marriage 1913-1945
Pantanassa, Neapolis Birth, Baptism 1912-71
Birth, Baptism 1972-2005
Birth, Baptism 2005-18
Death 1913-2005
Death 2006-18
Marriage 1913-2004
Marriage 2006-18
Papadianikon, Asopo Birth, Baptism 1955-97
Birth, Baptism 1996-99
Birth, Baptism 1997-2019
Death 1955-57
Death 1960-2000
Death 1997-2019
Marriage 1955
Marriage 1960-2001
Marriage 1997-2019
Pardaliou, Kastoreio Birth, Baptism 1938-2010
Death 1928-2019
Marriage  1930-2017
Parori, Sparta Birth, baptism 1911-1979
Birth, baptism 1972-2011
Birth, baptism 2011-2018
Death 1913-2011
Death 2011-2018
Marriage 1914-2010
Marriage 2012-2017
Pellana, Kastoreio Birth, Baptism 1912-54
Birth, Baptism 1955-85
Death 1912-92
Death 1920-2016
Death 1993-2019
Marriage 1913-95
Perivolion, Kastoreio Baptism 2018-2018
Birth, Baptism 1894-1999 *
Death 1894-2018 *
Marriage 1894-2015 *
Pikoulianika, Sparta Birth, Baptism 1913-1972
Birth, Baptism 1975-2019
Death 1916-2019
Marriage 1916-2019
Platana, Sparta Baptism 1984-97
Baptism 1999-2015
Birth, Baptism 1972-2014
Death 1984-2019
Marriage 1985-2006
Marriage 1987-2006
Polovitsa, Xirokambi Birth, Baptism 1913-66; 2002, 03, 05, 15
Death 1912-2018
Marriage 1914-2010
Potamia, Xirokambi Birth, Baptism 1950-2018
Marriage 1950-2017
Reicheas, Molaoi Baptism 1980
Birth, Baptism 1946-54
Birth, Baptism 1946-62
Birth, Baptism 1963-70
Birth, Baptism 2011-18
Death 1951-70
Death 2011-19
Marriage 1991
Marriage 1948-65
Marriage 1968-74
Marriage 2011-16
Riviotissi, Sparta Birth, Baptism 1972-2018
Death 1957-2019
Marriage 1985-2018
Riza-Vafeio, Sparta Birth, Baptism 2004-
Death 2005-
Marriage 2005-
Sellasia, Vresthenon Birth, Baptism 1940-71
Birth, Baptism 1971-2018
Death 1965-2017
Marriage 1986-2017
Sikaraki, Sparta Birth, Baptism 1947-78
Birth, Baptism 1969-75
Birth, Baptism 1979-2016
B-M-D 1920-47
Death 1982-2019
Marriage 1982-2017
Skala, Skala Birth, Baptism 1954-72
Birth, Baptism 1969-2019
Death 1957-1968
Death 1990-2019
Death 1994-2002
Death 2002-2019
Marriage 1939-68
Marriage 1968-2000
Marriage 1995-2002
Marriage 2000-2019
Marriage 2002-2018
Sklavohori (Amykles), Sparta Birth, Baptism 1955-2018
Birth, Baptism 1916-48
Death 1919-2003
Death 2017-2019
Marriage 1914-1989
Skoura, Sparta Birth, Baptism 1911-1971
Birth, Baptism 1970-2017
Death 1913-2019
Marriage 1913-2017
Stefania, Skala Birth, Baptism 1986-2018
Death 1988-2019
Marriage 1988-2019
Sykea, Molaoi Birth, Baptism 1860-1906 *
Birth, Baptism 1912-39
Birth, Baptism 1939-2009
Birth, Baptism 1963-2019
Birth, Baptism 1978-2019
Death 1859-1913 *
Death 1912-81
Death 1981-2019
Marriage 1912-2007
Marriage 1964-2018
Marriage 1979-2017
Talanta, Elikas Birth, Baptism 1960-83
Birth, Baptism 1972-85
Birth, Baptism 1986-2015
Death 1933-60
Death 1960-88
Death 1985-2019
Marriage 1961-2018
Theologos, Kalyvia Vresthenon Birth, Baptism 1917-1978
Birth, Baptism 1972-2016
Death 1917-2017
Marriage 1917-2003
Theologos, Vresthenon Birth, baptism 1972-2013
Birth, Baptism 1973-2019
Death 1913-2017
Marriage 1913-2016
Marriage 1913-2016
Marriage 1907-1912
Trapezontis, Sparta Birth, Baptism 1934-95
Birth, Baptism 2005-19
Death 1936-97
Death 2005-16
Marriage 1992-2011
Tripi, Sparta Birth, Baptism 1917-2018
Death 1913-78; 1985 (1); 1905 (1)
Death 1981-2019
Marriage 1913-2018
Tsasi, Filisi, Peristeri, Skala Baptism, Marriage 1948-52
Birth, Baptism 1952-80
Birth, Baptism 1980-2016
Death 1910-23
Death 1980-2019
Marriage 1910-30
Marriage 1930-64
Marriage 1979-2013
Tseramio, Sparta Birth, Baptism 1970-2017
Death 1972-2018
Marriage 1972-2018
Tsouni – Kokkinorahi, Vresthenon Birth, Baptism 1912-2019
Death 1912-2019
Marriage 1914-2019
Vamvakou, Vresthenon Birth, Baptism 1914-55
Birth, Baptism 1955-70
Birth, Baptism 1971-99
Death 1914-2004
Marriage 1914-2004
Marriage 1914-78
Varsova, Sparta Birth, Baptism 1912-2017
Death 1913-2019
Marriage 1913-2018
Varvitsa, Vresthenon Birth, Baptism 1924-1978
Birth, Baptism 1972-2000
Vasilaki (Tarapsa), Xirokambi Birth, Baptism 1911-91
Birth, Baptism 1997-2018
Marriage 1953-75
Marriage, Death 1912-2016
Vasiliki, Xirokambi Baptism 1983-2010
Birth, Baptism 1971-73
Death 1973-76
Marriage various
Vassara, Vresthenon Birth, Baptism 1901-1957
Birth, Baptism 1957-2019
Death 1913-1956
Death 1957-2019
Marriage 1913-1956
Marriage 1957-2015
Velanidia, Neapolis Birth, Baptism 1915-38
Birth, Baptism 1939-69
Birth, Baptism 1969-71
Birth, Baptism 1971-2003
Birth, Baptism 2004-18
Death 1915-74
Death 2004-19
Marriage 1915-2003
Marriage 2004-13
Velies, Monemvasia Birth, Baptism 1970-2018
Death 1947-2019
Marriage 1943-2015
Verdaeiika, Kastoreio Death 2013-2013
Vlachioti, Vlachioti Birth, Baptism 1912-52
Birth, Baptism 1949-81
Birth, Baptism 1981-2019
Death 1912-78
Death 1978-2003
Death 2003-19
Marriage 1912-78
Marriage 1978-2002
Marriage 2003-18
Vordonia, Kastoreio Baptism 1976-1979
Baptism 1982-90
Baptism 1991-2017
Birth, Baptism 1934-1954
Birth, Baptism 1954-75
Birth, Baptism 1972-2013
Death 2011-2019
Marriages 1978-2011
Marriages 1978-90
Marriages 2005-2017
Marriages 1992-2012
Voutiani, Vresthenon Baptism 1899-1921 *
Birth 1899-1920 *
Birth, Baptism 1913-72
Birth, Baptism 1972-2017
Death 1899-1921 *
Death 1913-2019
Marriage 1900-1920
Marriage 1914-2018
Vresthena, Vresthenon Birth, Baptism 1972-2018
Birth, Baptism 1982-2019
Death 1913-81
Marriage 1913-2019
Vrondamas, Geraki Birth, Baptism 1972-2018
Death 1978-2019
Marriage 1972-2018
Vroulia (Sellasia), Vresthenon Baptism 1892-1910 *
Baptism 1893-1907  *
B-M-D 1872-1907 *
Xirokambi, Xirokambi Birth & Baptism 1879-1889; 1892-1901; 1903-1906; 1907-1912   *
Birth & Baptism 1913-2014
Birth & Baptism 1963-1958; 1961-1971
Death 1913-2018
Marriage 1893-2015  *
Zarafona (Kallithea), Geraki Birth, Baptism 2004-15
Death 2010-19
Marriage 2002-19
Zerbitsa Monastery, Xirokambi Baptism 1975-87
Baptism 1988-91
Baptism 1991-92
Baptism 1994-96
Baptism 1996-98
Baptism 1999-2009
Baptism 2009-2019
Zoupena, Geraki Baptism 1984-98
Baptism 1999-2017
Birth, Baptism 1914-47; 1964
Birth, Baptism 1966-84
Birth, Baptism 1971-2017
Death 1966-2004
Death 2005-19
Marriage 2001-12
Marriage 2014-2018


The Times of Our Ancestors’ Lives: Part One

Who we are is a product of multiple factors:  genetics, environment, and opportunities (or lack thereof). So it was with our ancestors. Where they lived and how they lived framed their mortal existence; but it was their personalities which molded their lives.From the villages of Sparta and the southern Peloponnese came a great exodus of young men in the 1880’s to mid-1900’s. Seeking relief from poverty and focusing on a new world, the majority were from Laconia, perhaps as many as 3/4 of its adult males (ages 18-35) eventually left. They embarked as pioneers and emerged as prototypes, paving the way for the thousands who followed.

Knowing their environment is critical to understanding the choices our ancestors made. I am finding that Thomas W. Gallant’s Modern Greece is an excellent resource, and its chapter, “Society and Economy” describes the everyday world of a rural Greek village and home. In this post, I have extracted information from Gallant’s book to help us understand the times of our ancestors’ lives.

Although over 50% of the Greek population today resides in the Athens metropolitan area, this was not the case 100 years ago and before. The 1861 census revealed that 74% of adult men were farmers or sharecroppers; by 1920, this barely dropped to 70%. [i] Thus, the majority of families’ financial securities were tied to crops, a variable commodity. The demise of the current crop caused a revenue crisis in the 1890’s which, in turn, was a major factor in the earliest wave of emigration.

The typical village had a population of 200-300, or 600-700 people. In 1920, almost 52% of the population of Greece lived in villages of less than 1,000 people, and about 35% of people lived in villages of less than 500 people.[ii]

Theologos, Oinountos, Laconia, 2017. This village is 6 km straight up a mountain, and is the home of my great-grandmother, Stathoula Zaharakis

Villages around Sparta are nestled in majestic mountains, and until the mid-1900’s many were accessible only by foot or donkey. Building in the foothills and even atop mountains was a necessity, as flat, arable land was scarce and designated for farming. Space in the center of the village was reserved for the church and the town square or platea, the hub of social life.

The arid climate and hot, dry summers required a source of water, and villages were settled near rivers or streams. Even today after hundreds of years, pure mountain water gushes freely from rocks and every village has fountains which are in constant use.

left: water gushes from the mountain in Pikoulianika; right: a fountain in the platea of Xirokambi.

In the summer, shepherds took their flocks of goats and lambs to graze high in the verdant hillsides, several kilometers from their home. There, they lived in small huts known as kalyva. A settlement of several huts occupied by shepherds of the same village could get its own name. For example, a group of huts occupied by shepherds from the village of Soha would be given the name Kalyvia Soha. During winter, the shepherds would leave the mountains to reside in their primary home in the village.

Most farms were single-family peasant households. The father was the primary laborer, with his sons assisting as they grew old enough to work in the fields. Women also helped by weeding (considered to be “woman’s work”) and on a seasonal basis during harvests. The primary focus was to provide enough food for the family; therefore, a variety of small crops would be planted:  wheat, barley, maize, legumes with some olive and fruit trees, and vines. Tools were wooden and rudimentary. Livestock would include a donkey; sheep and goats for milk, cheese, hides and wool; and chickens for eggs and meat.[iv]

Despite its self-sufficiency, every Spartan family needed cash. Goods such as salt, tea, coffee, gunpowder, and metal had to be purchased. Dowries had to be provided. Funerals and weddings necessitated money, as did medical and other family expenses. Thus, a means of generating cash income was required. Many families grew a “cash crop” which could be sold locally, such as tobacco, grapes, or cotton. Some produced extra olive oil or wheat. In other cases, groups of male kinsmen (brothers, fathers and cousins) or entire families would work as seasonal wage laborers harvesting grain or picking grapes. Or, men might acquire skills such as smiths, knife sharpeners, carpenters and masons. They would travel the countryside, offering their skills in small villages that could not support a full-time artisan on their own.[v]

Our Spartan ancestors would have encountered a “myriad of movement across the countryside” of ξένοι (foreigners) whose livelihoods necessitated being on the move:  transhumant  shepherds of certain ethnic groups who specialized in large-scale animal husbandry, or itinerant merchants who transported goods over land on donkeys.[vi] “The image of the nineteenth-century Greek villagers as ensconsed in their little villages, isolated from and ignorant of the wider world, is grossly inaccurate. No village was an island unto itself. The Greek countryside was a fairly dynamic place characterized by a relatively constant movement of people across it and periodically punctuated by the larger-scale arrival and departure of work gangs, itinerant merchants and artisans, donkey caravans, shepherds with their families and flocks, and of course, the dreaded bandit gangs which continued to be a menace to society until late in the century.”[vii]

Thus, despite the relative isolation of many villages, people were exposed to news, ideas, and customs which expanded the microcosm of their world.

[Part Two will cover the social world of men and women, and the home.]

[i] Gallant, Thomas. Modern Greece, New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2016. p.127.
[ii] ibid., pg. 128.
[iii] ibid., pg. 129.
[iv] ibid., pg. 135.
[v] ibid., pg. 140.
[vi] ibid., pg. 140.
[vii] ibid., pg. 141.