Koumousta: The Second Period of Ottoman Conquest 1715-1821

During Ottoman occupation, the region known as Koumousta[1] administratively belonged in the kaza  of Mystras. In each community, male adults elected one or two elders who managed the financial functions of the community, maintained the roads, tried to ease Turkish authority, and assumed other responsibilities. The elders came once a year to the capital of the kaza and elected their representatives (provincial elders) known as kazavatzis. The most well known elder of Mystras was Panagiotis Krevvatas. His will of 1819 bequeaths money to individuals and villages, including Koumousta to which he gave 750 and 200 grosia.

During the period of Ottoman conquest, Koumousta was known as Kato Riza. Generally, this included the villages south of Mystras between the east side of theTaygetos mountains and the Evrotas River. This area included a large section of plains, perfect for farming.

Evrotas River


In the early 1700’s, a series of disasters afflicted the region. The plague of 1719 decimated the population. An uncontrolled rise in food prices, especially wheat and grains, caused massive starvation and death. Crops failed, due to a lack of rain. In 1729, a great earthquake caused the demolition of many houses and the destruction of the roof of St. Konstandinos. Homes in Kato Chora and Plataniou were destroyed by rocks that fell on the roofs. As a result, that part of the area was abandoned and rebuilt, and renamed Panou Chora.

Before the 1821 Revolution, Koumousta’s borders extended south to the area of Vardounia which is located just north of the Mani Peninsula on the eastern slopes of Mt. Taygetos and housed the medieval Vardounia castle. Its citizens were predominantly Albanian Muslim mercenaries, hired by Turks and relocated there by M. Veziri Damad Ali Pasha after the recapture of Morea in 1715. The Ottomans designated Vardounia as a buffer zone to stop Maniots who had been leading raids and looting Ottoman-controlled territory. Thus, Vardounia was like a war zone populated with towers, arms and strategic positions manned by the Albanians.

The Koumoustiates survived by avoiding interactions with the people of Vardounia. They refused to leave the Monastery of Gola unprotected, even though Vardounians visited the monastery and occasionally participated in celebrations. However, tensions would flare. For example, Stratigis Stoumbo faced grave danger when he won a target shooting contest during a post-Easter celebration at the monastery. His life was saved only after he fled the area as a fugitive. Incidentally, the target shooting contest was maintained until the 1950s.

Another example is an incident which occurred after the death of a Muslim in 1795 near the monastery. Retribution followed, and damages to the monastery were huge. Vardounians stole the monastery’s flocks and looted houses. The monks scattered. Some fled to Koumousta and continued their monasteristic life after  building koinovio [shelters].

Zabetina Stathakou of Koumousta remembered people who had lived during Ottoman rule. She related the story of a band of Kelphts who killed Turks at Red Rock (located under the top of Taygetos) and in Kakochioni, and the Turks had buried them in Tourkokivoura. Other Turks had been killed in Spiliakakia and in Avarvaniti.

To avoid potentially dangerous interactions, Greeks preferred to travel to Mystras by taking  switchback roads through mountainous villages. They had an intense sense of insecurity and needed protection whenever they left their village. Going from one area to another required permission from the Vardounians who controlled the passages, or from the authorities of Mystras.

Albanians in Greece, 1833-1875.2

The Russian-Turkish wars of 1767-1774 and 1787-1792 and the relevant Orlov Revolt  (Russian-backed Greek rebellion against Ottoman rule) created great difficulties in the Peloponnese. Serious food shortages ensued, as noted in a document at the National Library of Greece in Code 1378:

“as above written by chief bishop of Holy Lacedaimonos, Mr.  Daniel, 1793 February 10, went wheat to the Morea:  13 grosia plus 18 parades; and corn 12 grosia and 15 parades. This hunger continued approximately until July and the unhappiness that happened in the world is impossible for the hand of man to describe, where people for two months had to eat bread and many ate acorns and small fruit of olive trees. This was written by Kostadopoulo of Lacedaimonos when the abbot was Mr. Dionysios, abbot of Katafigiotissas monastery (near Mystra).”

Albanian mercenaries remained in the Peloponnese for a decade (1770-1780) after the end of the revolt. Charged with restoring order, their governance was one of terror and repression. Slaughtering and persecution of Christians began and many villages were abandoned, such as Kourtsouna, Arna, Gorani, Bolovitsa, Palaiochori, Potamia. Tradition says that Koumousta was burned as a payback for the participation of its citizens in the Orlov Revolt.

At the end of this movement, the Ottoman administration settled Turks in Koumousta, and their presence is verified by documentation that was written after the destruction of the monastery of Gola. The Koumoustiotes expressed anguish at the fate of the monastery and by consensus, entrusted persons to manage its affairs, as noted in this document:

1796 April 25, Trinitza [a very small village in the borders of Mani]

With this document, we express for the Koumoustiotis all the village the acceptance of our bey, Belou bey and Tervisi bey and we beg the Masters Captain Dimitraki and Mr. Andoni and Mr. Theodoro and Mr. Andonako Ligorianos to take responsibility and become home makers of the monastery of Gola. In the monastery and in the fortune of the monasteries in Karydiotika and Vromolygia and the nobility made them to accept it for the mother of Christ and from today they are responsible and we give them this document in their hands in order to remember their honest and decent names in the monastery and help them wherever they like.
We guarantee with our own hands.
Papa-Vasilis, guarantee [elder of Koumousta]
Papa-Dimitrios, guarantee
Belos  bey and Tervis bey, we agree
Giorgakis Komanis, guarantee
Giorgis Konidis, guarantee
Dimitris Xathos, agree
Kiriakos Christakis, guarantee

To address this matter, Chrisantho, the bishop of Lacedaimonos, visited Koumousta in 1805. He appointed the abbot, Dionysios, to take responsibility to resolve this issue and Dimitris Mathaio and George Konidis to take charge of income and expenses. The monks returned to the monastery and began to rebuild it.

Ottoman authorities erected financial barriers to keep the Greek population in financial slavery. One such practice was to establish a minimal repayment time for term loans, which caused Greeks to lose their property. Such a loan was signed by the monks of the Monastery of Gola in Koumousta as found in the following document:

Koumousta of Lacedaimon, page 35.

Translation: 1777 October 26. I, Stratigis Kyrkilas with other monks of Gola, borrowed from Giannaki Vlachaki, Albanian, 44 grosia, to be repaid in 6 months on the 23 of April, with no reason and excuse / and without differentiation. And with truth, we make this document and we give it in the hands of Mr. Giannaki and we sign, Stratigis Kirkilas with all the monks of Gola. I ensure with my hand, Papa Vasili wrote and agreed. [Papa Vasili was a well known priest of Koumousta.]

Many people of Koumousta were in similar circumstances. In 1775, Zenelagas, a captain of Albanian mercenaries, demanded that the citizens of Paleochori give him 300 grosia as payment for the protection that he offered to them. People signed this document but they could not repay the money. Zenelagas forced many citizens to abandon the village; some went to Mani; some to the islands of the Aegean and others scattered throughout the world. Dimitrakis Skiadas and his mother, Konstandina, left Koumousta and went to Kythera. In 1780, the year that the monk of Zerbitsa, Gerasmimos Markakis of Paleochori, wrote his will, the situation had not changed.

Through the years, the Koumoustiotes kept alive a vivid recollection of the Vardounians. Even today, they give their dogs Vardounian names to indicate a ferocious wildness and, hopefully, to cause terror to thieves.

NOTE: This post is part of a series of translations and extractions of the book, Koumousta of Lacedaimon, authors: Theodore Katsoulakos, Pan. X. Stoumbos, with translation by Giannis Mihalakakos. Previous posts are Economics and Occupations of the Citizens; Christakos Family, Part 1 & Part 2; and The Rizos Clan of Koumousta, Laconia:  Christakos, Koumoustiotis, Kyriakakos.  I am grateful to Dimitris Katsoulakos for permission to cite passages from this book.


[1] Today, Koumousta is known as the village of Pentavli. The region formerly encompassed a wider area which includes  today’s villages of Xirokambi, Faris, Paleochori, Kaminia (Dafni), Kidonitsa, Anthochori, Paleopanagia, Trapezanti, Dipotama, and others.

[2] Attribution:  original uploader was Stupidus Maximus at English Wikipedia – Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons by Sreejithk2000 using CommonsHelper., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10525371




Economics and Occupations of the Citizens of Koumousta


As I wandered through villages in Laconia last summer, I tried to imagine the everyday lives of my ancestors. I knew their hours were labor intensive from dawn to dusk, with hardly a break except for holidays and feast days — but even these special occasions demanded additional work from the women. Thanks to the writings of Theodore Katsoulakos and Panagiotis Stoumbos in their book, Koumousta of Lacedaimonos, I now understand much more. My special gratitude to Giannis Michalakakos for translating the text and patiently explaining cultural and lifestyle patterns of the past.

Without a shred of doubt, the head of the household was the father whom everyone obeyed without question. If he was not there, perhaps due to sickness or death, the mother presided. During the evenings, they discussed the next day’s work, and at dawn, each child knew exactly what his or her tasks would be. There was work for everyone, big or small, boy or girl. “Small help, great savior,” the children were reminded.

Although I do not know the occupation of my great-great grandfather, Nikolaos Christakos of Xirokambi, his fellow villagers were shepherds, farmers, woodworkers, silk producers. During 400 years of Ottoman and/or Venetian occupation, wool, cheese, silk and leather products were produced by the villagers and sold abroad. However, financial circumstances prior to 1900 were difficult. People herded their animals over towering mountains and difficult terrain to be sold in the city of Kalamata; but if demand was low, the animals accompanied their shepherds on the return trek home.

From Xirokambi to Kalamata


Because Koumousta is situated in a higher elevation, the climate and soil are not suitable for growing olive or citrus trees. However, hardwood and nut trees are plentiful. People planted various seeds to grow corn, beans, wheat, malt, tomatoes. Potato cultivation was introduced by Ioannis Kapodistrias, the first governor of Greece, during the transitional period after the Revolution. The first crops In Koumousta were cultivated around 1850. With plentiful water and rich soil, the potato plants thrived and production reached as high as 15 tons. Villagers became proficient growers and were known as “πατατάδες” (potato men). Pear trees were planted “from Koumousta to Penteli.” Mulberries were plentiful and aided in silk making, an important occupation of the people. Oral tradition relates that this business began with a man named Chatzi, who used the humid climate within a small cave to grow silkworms. There were only two or three beekeepers, and “old Giannos Orfanakos had around 150 honeycombs. During good years, he could produce 1,000 okades [1].” His supply was augmented when shepherds and wood collectors would find nests of wild bees and collect the honey. 

Stone grain mill

Half of the citizens were farmers with flocks of sheep and goats. These animals numbered over 7,000. Lias Mandrapilias related that two pens of his family were filled with 1,000 goats. Those who did not keep goats had sheep and oxen. Until 1940, there were 150 oxen in Koumousta.

Koumousta is surrounded by forests; therefore, wood was plentiful and woodworking was an important occupation. Oral tradition states that people created small crafts and their goods were sold in Mani and in Mystras. “Old George Mandrapilias” won first prize for one of his pots that was on display at an exhibition. Woodworkers made boxes to store cheese, butter, and seeds; they made a variety of tools, baskets, barrels for water and wine, washtubs, and kettles to hold goats’ milk. Among the most important tools were looms, used by women to weave wool into fabric. People would say, “we have oxen and so let the tools break” (meaning, their animals were more important because they could easily make new tools). Even small boys learned the art of using an ax. From a young age when they grazed their animals in the mountains, the boys passed woodcutters who told them stories such as: “Once there were two brothers who were shepherds, and they managed to make a pine tree fall down. But when they tried to chop the tree, the ax would not cut. One of them said that the ax wanted wine and food. The boys slaughtered a goat, brought the wine and again tried using the ax, but nothing happened. The ax needed not only to be strong, but also to have someone who knew how to cut.”

Although the poverty level was high, the people of Koumousta compensated by being economical. Old ladies did not leave one kernel of grain on the threshing floor. Animal dung was collected and used as fertilizer. Sheep’s wool was made into clothing. Old men patched their shoes with nails to avoid the expenses of the tsagaris (shoemaker). Interest levels on loans were very high — 30%, and it was said that people worked for the usurers. Those who owned land in the mountains had to work especially hard to repay their loan, as their land was not as fertile or yielding as that in the plains. And when money was low, families with single young women faced a difficult situation:  how would they provide a dowry? To cope with these difficulties, some people emigrated to America and sent money back to assist their families.

When a parcel of land was to be sold, the villagers purchased it to keep it from being owned by “foreigners” (people from other villages). Another loan meant further hardship, but to the villagers, this was necessary to avoid problems. Once, a man from Goranus bought land in Koumousta. He did not properly restrain his animals, and they trampled his neighbor’s fields, damaging corn and potato crops. The villagers were so angry that they killed the “foreigner’s” oxen and goats; but unfortunately, they paid heavily for their retaliation with fines and prison time.

Despite their poverty, people of Koumousta took pride in being self-sufficient. They could provide for their families and even guests with their own goods. Although many households were poor, the main reason was death or sickness, not laziness. The industry, resilience, and creativity of my ancestors from Koumousta and Xirokambi continue to inspire me. I am so very proud of them.

[1] a unit of weight used in Turkey, equal to about 2.75 pounds or 1.24 kilograms; a unit of liquid measure used in Turkey, equal to about 1.3 pints or 0.75 litres.

Christakos Family of Koumousta/Xirokambi, Laconia. Part Two

Greeks embrace an expanded definition of the term “family” to include those who marry into one’s direct ancestral line, including koumbara (godparents). I take it one step further to include anyone whose origins are from the same clan. This second post (part one here) relates stories about the relatives of my great-great grandfather, Nikolaos Christakos, as written by Mr. Katsoulakos and Mr. Stoumbos in their book, Koumousta of Lacedaimonos.

One recurring theme is the importance of the local monastery of Gola.

Monastery of Gola

Monasteries were “rich” and were sources of life for the villagers. They provided steady employment for some and assistance to others. On March 1, 1828 the abbot of the monastery of Gola enumerated its holdings: vineyards and cultivated fields of berries, figs, and olive trees; cows, sheep and goats; and precious objects. People named in the Code of Gola were involved with the monastery. They may have worked as gardeners, keepers, or in the olive oil refineries, and they were paid for their labor. Monasteries often rented their land and sheep to villagers who did not have property or means to provide for themselves. The monastery also supported the local school in Koumousta; in fact, for a time during 1830, the school was located within the monastery. In the Code are these donations:  October 1829-33: 81, 150 and 114  grosia (Greek for qirsh, Ottoman currency). Vyssarion Tekosis (1827-1844), an abbot in the monastery, studied in this school.

Christakos Residents of Koumousta

Panagis is the oldest Christakos named in the book. He is not mentioned further, but we can estimate that, as the father of Kyriakos who was born about 1776, he was born in the early to mid-1700’s[1].

Kyriakos, the son of Panagis, was named in the first census taken in 1830. He was referenced in the Code of Gola in the year 1806, and additional documents indicate that his involvement with the monastery of Gola was ongoing:

  • On January 1, 1785, he signed a document as a witness that Christina Komni and her children sold a vineyard to the monastery for 38 grosia.
  • On April 25, 1796, he signed a letter requesting assistance from the Grigorakis family of Mani after Turks destroyed the monastery of Gola.
  • In 1806, he donated a field to the monastery in memory of his son, Panagis [this indicates that his son had died prior to 1806]

Thanasis is named in the Code of Gola as a laborer in the monastery, 1827-29.

Dimitris and other men from Koumousta fought in the Balkan Wars (1912-13). In the village of Koritsa (Albania) during a battle between Greeks and Turks, Dimitris was injured along with Vasilis Stoumbos, Mitsakis Mandrapilias and Christos Stoumbos. Dimitris, an artillery gun operator, totally lost his hearing and returned home, deaf. The state did not grant him a pension. His wife died, leaving him with six sons. He raised his sons and assumed the household chores of baking, cleaning, mending clothing. As the sons married and left the home, Dimitris remained alone until the end of his life.

St. B. (nickname: Kapodakis; St.B. most likely are initials for Stylianos Vasilios) died in an accident on July 21, 1943. At the end of the river Rasina is a small lake, Sgournitsa, where young men swam during hot summer days. The small cave of Komini, with green stalactites and impressive fossils, lured the bravest of them. It was there that St. B. lost his life.

Georgios is not mentioned by name but his three sons are listed in the Male Register (Mitroon Arrenon) of the Dimos (prefecture) Faridos. As such, we can estimate the birth year of Georgios as about 1845:

  • Aristomenis Georgios, born 1870
  • Dimitrios Georgios, born 1872
  • Grigorios Georgios, born 1876

The family of Dimitrios Georgios born 1872 is enumerated in the Town Register (Dimotologion):
Christakos, Dimitris G., born 1872
Christakos, Konstantinos Dimitriou, born 1915
Christakos, Antonios Dimitriou, born 1918
Christakos, Pantelis Dimitriou, born 1920
Christakos, Panagiotis Dimitriou, born 1923

These four sons of Dimitrios were among 28 young men from Koumousta who fought during World War II. The authors wrote:  The village at once became joyless [because the youth were gone.] The weather this morning was as if it was going to snow. The teacher left in the night. In the fields, no one went to work. A 10-year-old child, shocked by the events around him, listened to his mother’s voice, “Your sister is going to your uncle’s goats and you to ours” (children must now do the work since the men are off to war). From this time, the child was doomed to become a shepherd. He took bread and ran quickly to the point between the mountains. He wanted to see the men who had left to fight. He saw them when they reached Γλυστρωπές Πέτρες (slippery rocks). He shouted to tell them something he had heard early in his life, “come back victorious.” But they were far away and could not hear him.

The family of Konstandinos Dimitrios born 1915 (named above) is also in the Town Register:
Christakou, Antonia wife of Konstantinou 1922
Christakou, Pitsa (Panagiota) Konstantinou 1943
Christakos, Dimitrios Konstantinou 1946
Christakou, Stratigoula Konstantinou 1948
Christakou, Dimitra Konstantinou 1951
(Note: –ou ending denotes the feminine)

Konstandinos Dimitrios and Perikles D. are named in the School Register of 1921-22. The school archive was destroyed during the German occupation of WWII and the ensuing Civil War. Only two student lists were saved. The older list is from the school year 1921/22, indicating that there were 31 students in four classes, with the teacher Peter Dimitrakeas.

  • Konstandinos Dimitrios is referenced in an incident which occurred in Koumousta during the Greek Civil War (1946-49). A skirmish arose between rebels and paramilitary forces (Xites). The Xites accused Kosta of being a communist and threatened to execute him, but the situation dissipated and he was spared.
  • Konstandinos’ wife, Antonia Stavrogiannis Christakos, found the decapitated body of her brother, Dinakis, in the town square of Xirokambi (late 1940’s). There authors tell the story as follows: Dinakis Stavrogiannis lived in Paleochori. He was small in body but strong and quick. After some military operations of the army, a small stronghold of military police with help of local army men settled in the area. One night in Paliochori, Dinakis killed a military policeman who was guarding Sotiri Kakiousi and he fled. From this point, the future of Dinakis Stavrogiannis was written in black. The guards increased, and the control was extremely oppressive. In the middle of September below the Koumousta River , Dinakis fell into an ambush. Heavily injured, he tried to release a grenade but blew himself up. The next day the police cut off his head and took it into  Xirokambi where they put it on public view. Among the people of Koumousta who went there to collect nuts was his sister, Antonia Christakos who in front of this disgusting view screamed, “My brother.” However, she found the courage to go to and weep at the headless body of her brother. 
  • Konstandinos Dimitrios and his family left Koumousta after World War II, but there is no additional information regarding their final destination. The authors explained: The war and misery that followed, along with many other social reasons, forced people from Koumousta to abandon their village and take the road abroad. 

Xirokambi, river bed, July 2016

The men of Koumousta were tough. As they left their village to defend their country, their eyes were as brutal as slayers. They gathered in Megali Vrysi and departed, singing an old klepht song:  How many mountains I passed, I will tell them. Mountains, don’t get snow–fields, don’t get dusty. The meaning is deep and poignant: as mean leave their village, they send a message to the mountains and the fields–may the winter not be harsh, may the fields be well watered and produce a good harvest. My family will be alone and I will not be there to take care of them.



[1]  Kyriakos was an adult, probably in his 30’s, when he is mentioned in the Code in 1806. Doing the math, his approximate birth year would be around 1776; if we use the estimation of 25 years to separate generations, then an approximate birth year for Panagis would be 1751 at the earliest.


Christakos Family of Koumousta/Xirokambi, Laconia. Part One

Is it possible that I have discovered the family of my great-great grandfather, Nikolaos Christakos, born about 1810 in Xirokambi? I think so!

My hunt into learning more about my Christakos family took a giant leap forward last summer when a “coincidental” series of events led me to the book, Koumousta of Lacedaimonos,  written by Theodore S. Katsoulakos and Panagiotis X. Stoumbos (“Koumousta book”).

I am grateful to my friend, Giannis Michalakakos, who has been translating sections of this book with me. Without his help, I would not have the information that is so vital in piecing together this family.

The Christakos family profile is slowly coming together. Politimi Christakos married my great-grandfather, Andreas Kostakos in 1860. Years of research into various records are pointing to this:












My previous post described how the Christakos family of Koumousta originated from one of the region’s earliest settlers, Christos Rizos, who is mentioned in 1761 in the Code of Gola (Gola is a monastery). When a son of Christos took his father’s name as a patronymic, he became Christakos (-akos = son of).

This first post about the Christakos family of Koumousta will explore what I have learned about the possible father of Nikolaos — Dimitrios Christakos — and some of the stories that illustrate the environment of Koumousta in the 1800’s. The next post will explore other members of the Christakos family.

Immediately after the conclusion of the Greek War of Independence of 1821, the first “census” was held in Greece in 1830. After 400 years of Turkish rule, the new central government was becoming established and formal local government organizations were not yet functional. Thus, this census was not complete. In the Koumousta book we read, “From the document written in 1830, which is ‘the families living in huts and bungalows in Nauplion and other villages in 1830’… we find the names of Dimitrios Christakos (1826) and Dimitrios Christakos (1830). [The number in parenthesis indicates a date that is written in the sources; the specifics of the dates are not given]

As indicated in this census, there are two men named Dimitrios. To ease the confusion, I will name one “Dimitrios” and the other “Dimitris.”

Some passages in the book make it difficult to distinguish which Dimitrios is being referenced. On February 26, 1826, a Dimitrios Christakos signs an interesting document which reads in part:
“With this document we report that our ex-captain of the village, Antonis (Koumoustiotis) was disbanded because he did damages daily in our village and this is already known to everyone and we cannot write down how many bad things he did to us. It was not enough that he kept 20,000 grosia, the spoils from the seige of Tripoli, but gave us only the outside of an egg” [this is the exact translation]. Among other scandalous behavior, Antonis is accused of making an alliance with a Maniot family that was causing much fear among the villagers.

Born 1805, the name Dimitrios Christakos is found in a catalog of 450 fighters of Laconia (men who fought in the 1821 Revolution) that was signed by P. Giatrakos on September 26, 1845 and the minister of defense, K. Rodio, on October 16, 1845. Among those named who are “the people who have the right to take certification”  is Dimitrios Christakos, age 40 years. Dimitrios was honored for his participation in the Revolution by receiving an Aristeia award, bronze level. There are three levels of Aristeia:  highest: silver medal — αργυρό μετάλιο; 2nd: bronze medal — χάλκινο μετάλιο; 3rd: iron medal — σιδήρου μετάλλιο.

We can estimate that Dimitris was born about 1794, as he is referenced in the election list of 1844 (known as the first official elections in Greece) as Dimitrios Christakos, age 50 years. At this time, the election process was still unorganized. Voting occurred in the capital of every province, but some areas did not receive enough voting boxes for its population. The election dates varied in different areas, which was further complicated because the duration of voting was over two months. The voting procedure in the municipality of Faridos took place in the church of Agia Triada in Xirokambi on April 12, 1844. This election list, signed by the Mayor N. T. Liakakos, survived. The Koumousta book lists the men who voted in Koumousta; some may have lived in Xirokambi and Arkasa but they are included in the Koumousta record. Among those listed are Dimitrios Christakos, age 50.

The 1830 census list (discussed above) reveals a pattern which may help us determine the children of Dimitris (the older of the two Dimitrios’). As census takers in the U.S. went door-to-door, that procedure may have been followed in 1830 as the census taker walked the geographical area of Koumousta, going from one household to the next. If so, then the list becomes even more interesting as it references:
1: Dimitrios Christakos (for our purposes, Dimitris)
2:  Thanasis and Nikolaos Christakia
1: Michalakis Christakos (listed as the fourth name below Thanasis and Nikolaos)

Note the suffix, -akia after the names of Thanasis and Nikolaos. –akia is a diminutive term, indicating children or minors. We may assume then, that Thanasis and Nikolaos, listed immediately after Dimitris, are his sons. They may be living with their father. Michalakis may also be the son of Dimitris, but he is living in his own household.

So…the big question:  is my great-great grandfather, Nikolaos Christakos, the son of Dimitris? The answer: most possibly, but not conclusively. Additional information is needed. I realize that the following analysis is based on many assumptions; but, we can only work with what we have:

  1.  Looking at the Family Group chart at the beginning of this post, I had estimated the birth of Nikolaos as 1815 as follows: Ilias was born about 1835 (source: 1872 Election List). If we estimate that a father was about 25 years old at the time of the birth of his eldest child (a standard estimating measurement for Greek records) that gives us an approximate birthdate for Nikolaos of 1810.
  2. Looking at the 1830 census, Nikolaos and his-likely brother, Thanasis, are living either in the household of Dimitris or immediately adjacent. The boys are named, thus they may be older, possibly late teens. With this assumption, their birthdates could range from 1812 (if age 18) to 1809 (if age 21). If this supposition holds, then Nikolaos would be in the correct age range to be the father of Politimi.
  3. There is no other man named Nikolaos Christakos that is mentioned in the Koumousta book.

To prove or disprove this theory, I will ask Mr. Katsoulakos for suggestions as to where I should look for additional documentation about the Christakos family in the 1800’s. When I return to Greece this summer, I will follow up on his recommendations. If the “genealogy gods” are with me, I may have success and be able to determine conclusively that I have (or have not) found my family!

Part Two of this post will describe Mr. Katsoulakos’ and Mr. Stoumbos’ research about additional members of the Christakos family.














In this post, we will explore some of the earliest members of the Christakos family of Koumousta. I have not yet been able to link my Nikolaos to the people mentioned in this book, but I trust that further information will come forth.



The Rizos Clan of Koumousta, Laconia: Christakos, Koumoustiotis, Kyriakakos

Part One: History


July 11, 2016, was a hot but fateful day in Athens. My friend, Giannis Michalakakos, had rearranged his work schedule to take me to the National Library to research my Iliopoulos ancestors who had received Aristeia awards for their valiant service in the 1821 Revolution. To our dismay, the Library was closed for a staff meeting. We deliberated briefly, devised a Plan B, and headed to a university library to find what would become a research bonanza, the book, Koumousta of Lakedaimonos, written by Theodore S. Katsoulakos and Panagiotis X. Stoumbos:

Koumasta of Lakedaimonos, Theodore E. Katsoulakos and Panagiotis X. Stoumbos, published 2012

Koumousta of Lakedaimonos, Theodore S. Katsoulakos and Panagiotis X. Stoumbos, published 2012

The geographical area of Koumousta, 24 km south of Sparta, is comprised of many villages, both large and small. In modern Greece, the biggest village is Xirokambi with a population of about 1,000 people. The region has four monasteries: Gola and Zerbitsa; and slightly north of Koumousta,  Koubari and Katafigiotissa.  Xirokambi is the birthplace of my paternal great-grandmother, Poletimi Christakos, (father, Nikolaos) who married Andreas Kostakos. In this book is found the history of her family!

It all began with Christos Rizos. On page 202, we read:

Koumousta of Lakedaimonos, page 203. Used with permission from Dimitris Katsoulakos.

Koumousta of Lakedaimonos, page 203. Used with permission from Dimitris Katsoulakos.

“The family Christakou is old. The first name was Rizos. Christos Rizos is referenced in the Code of Gola in 1761.  From this emerged the Christakos surname, while the real name as a nickname survived as Rizeas, which name is old.1

On the following page, 203, we read:  “The families Koumoustiotis and Kyriakakos are branches of the family Christakos2.”

Following the references, we are led to articles in the journal, Faris, Issue 9 (1994), page 9, and the following excerpt from Issue 39 (2005), page 10.

Faris, Issue 39, July 2005, page 10.

Faris, Issue 39, July 2005, page 10.

Origin of the families (I),  by D. V. Christakos

“My family originally comes from Koumousta. My oldest ancestor was Christos Rizos who is referenced in the Code of Gola in 1761. ‘He donated two fields, one in Kofinidou and the other in Itia in order that Giorgakis, Panagiotis, Christos and Margarita will be remembered.’ From the first name Christos comes the surname Christakos and the name Rizos remains as a nickname. It is sure that chieftain Antonios Koumoustiotis comes from the same family [Rizos] like the family Kyriakakos.”

It took Mr. Katsoulakos and Mr. Stoumbos twenty years of research to write this book. They accessed documents in the monasteries, archives and local sources. The Stoumbos family was among the first in Koumousta, and because of oral tradition, Mr. Stoumbos knew the long histories of the earliest settlers. Because of their dedicated efforts, I now know this part of my history:  from Christos & Margarita Rizos and their children, Giorgios and Panagiotis evolved three branches: Christakos, Koumoustiotis and Kyriakakos. My great-great grandfather, Nikolaos Christakos, is among those descendants — so am I.

Giannis has been translating sections of this book that pertain to my family, and I am assisting as his scribe. With our work as a basis, I will be writing posts about the stories of this area and its indefatigable people. They faced Turkish occupation, wars, and unimaginable hardships of life. They endured and triumphed over it all. With their blood coursing through my veins, so can I.

I am most grateful to Dimitris Katsoulakos for permission to cite passages from this book, and to Giannis Michalakakos for his tireless work of translation.