Excerpts from the Memoirs of Greek Immigrants – Part 2 – The American Dream (9-2-2017)

Front Cover In 2011,  John J. Zeazeas wrote a short book about  his “Uncle Jim” who emigrated from Greece to the US in 1903. The book can still be purchased for $1 here.    Excerpts are below, with additional links added based on my ongoing research


By the time Uncle Jim was 14, he had personal knowledge of older boys who’d left the village earlier. Young men left to escape poverty and to chase the dream of a better life. They
wrote home and sent money to their families. Their letters were long on glorification of the life and opportunities and short on talk of hardship. The letters were shared not only with family members, but in the larger context, the community. Letters home served to grab the attention of Uncle Jim, his brothers and cousins. The news and promise coming out of America of a life light-years beyond what a young man might dare dream of in Greece, was not limited to letters home. Agents of shipping
companies and railroads circulated throughout the villages and motivated boys on the verge of manhood to leave home.

[Read another Greek immigrant’s account in “Drivers of Greek Emigration – Early 20th Century – Part 3: Geography and Topology of the Peloponnese” by Spyro (2017)]

Puffed advertisements reached the villages and spoke of riches in the mines, endless amounts of rangeland, rich farmland, new towns, navigable rivers and water for farming, profitable
fisheries, opportunities for merchants and work – all constituting a glorified image of America. The news and advertising blitz worked. By the age of 16, Uncle Jim and his cousins planned to leave Greece, but they had to wait until after their 18th birthday or they’d be denied entry to the U.S. What remained constituted a question: “how can we do this? Our
families don’t have the money to send us overseas.”
Shipping agents possessed the ways and means to make it work; they loaned the inflated costs of transportation to parents and encumbered their land with the debt. It was a profitable
venture for agents. One by one, the boys cautiously and then boldly approached their parents and expressed the desire of wanting to come to America. The parents were not buying the
sales pitch of shipping and labor agents. Initially, they resisted requests of their young sons and refused to borrow money to finance such a foolish thing. Uncle Jim was disappointed but
equally strong and focused. He and his cousins kept up the pressure; asking again and again until the wall of resistance caved in.

Our grandparents thought long and hard about borrowing funds they would not be able to pay back if Uncle Jim was not successful, just as they would have thought of the future their sons had in store for them by not taking risks that might change their lives. The possibility (however remote) they might make enough money to return to Greece flush with cash, provide their sister with a dowry, buy their own farm, marry, and be prosperous in their home village, weighed heavily on their decision…… Uncle Jim agreed – the funds would be paid back as soon as possible, to relieve the debt against the family
property. Even at that age, Uncle Jim understood the gravity of his sacred duty to family.

By the end of 1902, our Grandparents borrowed the funds to finance the trip to America. The boys possessed no specific plan beyond getting to N ew York City, and had no idea where
they’d end up, for the reason they had not been signed to work contracts by labor agents before leaving Greece. They would focus upon finding work after they were admitted, wherever that led.

[Read more background:  “Greek Immigration from European Ports” by Spyro (2017)]

Part 1 – The Village Life

Part 3 – Travel to America

Excerpts from the Memoirs of A Greek Immigrant – Part 1 – The Village Life (9-2-2017)

Below is a collection of excerpts from essays and books discussing the lives of Greek immigrants in the US. They are assembled loosely by topic.

First up, excerpts from “Uncle Jim” by  John J. Zeazeas:

Uncle Jim (James George Zeazeas) was born in the rocky -mountainous village of Kandila, Greece on March 25th, 1884. He was one of four sons and a daughter born to Giorgi Dimitri and Maria Helen Ziazias. Like other families from the village in the middle to late 1800’s, they were subsistence farmers. As did their father, and his father before them, they tended arid rock-strewn fields, and herded goats and sheep in the mountains. Farm plots (even as late as 1969 when I first visited our village) had been divided up over the centuries – hardly large enough land to support farming other than by a man, horse, and plow. These plots were far apart from each other and from home – an unproductive arrangement at best. On nearby hillsides, they also gathered what sticks and firewood they could find for cooking and heating.

In the village, water was drawn from community wells, baking done in community ovens, and women took care of the children and husband, cooked the meals, did the wash and survived as best they could. Animals were housed under the house, their body heat providing at least some warmth from below. In the winter, our family home was cold, heat only provided via a tiny fireplace in one room. Mattresses were of straw, populated by bed bugs as I’d later learn. Family members were often ill from flu-type symptoms. In a social sense, life revolved around the Greek Orthodox church, family, a few holidays, and arranged marriages. Idle time for men, when they could afford it, was spent in a coffee house or taverna. Women, unless unmarried, were not allowed in the taverna’s and I don’t recall seeing a single woman in a village coffee house at least up to the late 1960’s. Even amongst married couples, there existed a well defined class division.

Uncle Jim, attended school up to the 3rd grade. Thereafter, he worked. Boys became part of the labor pool needed to help their parents with the animals, work the fields, carry water, and
attend to other tasks at home. Their wage, if employed outside the home, was the equivalent of $.20-$.30 per day. At an early age, Uncle Jim and his younger brothers knew the eldest brother would inherit the family home and property. Somehow, they would have to find their own way in the world. The view into the future, even at a young age, was terribly bleak – a dead-end street.  To complicate life in the country and the villages, Greece was not independent. While the country emerged from 380 years of occupation by Ottomon Turks in 1832, it became a self-serving plutocracy – first under German, and then Danish rule. The foreigners who ruled Greece were absentee rulers and their priorities were in serving their own best interests; the aristocracy. Peasants were over-taxed and used as cannon fodder during wars and armed conflicts that followed.

Additional reading:

[Read more about the role that the American aphid insect played in collapsing the Greek farming industry in the late 1900s.  “Drivers of Greek Emigration – Early 20th Century – Part 1: How an American Insect Drove Greek Emigration – Greek Currant Crisis” by Spyro (Dec 2016)]

Front Cover

In 2011,  John J. Zeazeas wrote a short book about  his “Uncle Jim” who emigrated from Greece to the US in 1903. The book can still be purchased for $1 here.    Excerpts are below, with additional links added based on my ongoing research.

Part 2 – The American Dream

Part 3 – Travel to America

And they came to America and became Americans…..but not right away (9-1-2017)

JohnKamucheyNatMilwaukeeNewspaper1942cropped2 JohnKamucheyNatMilwaukeeNewspaper1942cropped

Another myth about American immigration is that when people came to the US, they became citizens right away. There are many reasons they did not. Finances, language barrier, a five year waiting period with many forms to complete and a desire to keep open the possibility of returning to their home country are only a few of the reasons that they held onto their non-US citizenship.

The requirement for becoming a US citizen has varied significantly over time, but in general it was a three step process: After residing in the US for 5 years, you filed:

  1. Your Declaration of Intention To Naturalize. This was good for 7 years.
  2. Your Petition to Naturalize.
  3. Your Oath of Citizenship

Our great-grandfather Wilhelm Boldewahn filed his petition twice: the first time was in 1888, a dozen years after he arrived in the US. His father, Johann Boldewahn, who was 81 years old, did so at the same time, but died before he could move on to the next step.

Wilhelm Boldewahn Naturalization Declaration 1888
Wilhelm Boldewahn’s 1888 Naturalization Declaration
John Boldewahn Naturalization Declaration 1888
John Boldewahn’s 1888 Naturalization Declaration

Wilhelm however, never proceeded with finalizing his citizenship. He waited until after the US entered WW1 against Germany before refiling his lapsed Declaration. This may have had practical reasons as there was considerable hatred and bigotry towards ethnic German-Americans during WW1.

When the U.S. declared war on Germany in 1917, anti-German sentiment rose across the nation, and German American institutions came under attack. Some discrimination was hateful, but cosmetic: The names of schools, foods, streets, and towns, were often changed, and music written by Wagner and Mendelssohn was removed from concert programs and even weddings. Physical attacks, though rare, were more violent: German American businesses and homes were vandalized, and German Americans accused of being “pro-German” were tarred and feathered, and, in at least once instance, lynched.

The most pervasive damage was done, however, to German language and education. German-language newspapers were either run out of business or chose to quietly close their doors. German-language books were burned, and Americans who spoke German were threatened with violence or boycotts. German-language classes, until then a common part of the public-school curriculum, were discontinued and, in many areas, outlawed entirely. None of these institutions ever fully recovered, and the centuries-old tradition of German language and literature in the United States was pushed to the margins of national life, and in many places effectively ended.

President Woodrow Wilson spoke disapprovingly of “hyphenated Americans” whose loyalty he claimed was divided. One government official warned that “Every citizen must declare himself American–or traitor.” Many German Americans struggled with their feelings, realizing that sympathy for their homeland appeared to conflict with loyalty to the U.S.

Some German Americans reacted by overtly defending their loyalty to the United States. Others changed the names of their businesses, and sometimes even their own names, in an attempt to conceal German ties and to disappear into mainstream America. Ironically, and contrary to Wilson’s opinion about divided loyalties, thousands of German Americans fought to defend America in World War I, led by German American John J. Pershing, whose family had long before changed their name from Pfoerschin. Source.

One year after war was declared, Wilhelm resubmitted his Declaration of Intention to become a US citizen. He was 67 years old.

Wilhelm’s 1918 refiled Declaration

Wilhelm’s citizenship was finalized in October 1922.

1922 Naturalization Petition

My grandfather, John Kamuchey, came to the US on September  25, 1907. He too waited decades to become a US citizen. He finally completed his paperwork  during World War 2 in 1943  at age 55.  Again, there may have been practical reasons as he would not have been eligible  for retirement benefits without the citizenship papers.

John E. Kamuchey’s 1943 Petition to become a US citizen

His brother, Peter E. Kamuchey and his cousin George  P. Karnas chose a different path to citizenship. In WW1 immigrants who signed up to serve in battle were fast-tracked to becoming citizens.  In fact, 75% of them could not even speak English, but America still found a way to recruit and train them.

Below are photos of my great Uncle Peter E. Kamuchey and his cousin George P. Karnas serving during WW1.

Peter Everett Kamuchey served as a private in the US Army during WW1. He entered service in August 1918 and was discharged in Nov 1918. He was trained at the Field Artillery Central Officers Training School at Camp Zachary Taylor, KY.
George P Karnas served as a private in the US Army during WW1.

Sadly, today, the US deports some immigrant vets in spite of their promises of receiving citizenship in exchange for service. From June 5 2017 and June 26, 2017

What about the women who emigrated? Before 1922, women could gain citizenship through their husbands, and had no need to fill out paperwork. There were pitfalls to this process. For example, US born women lost their citizenship as soon as they married an immigrant. This was finally addressed in 1940.

If my grandmother Erna Boldewahn had married my grand-father John Kamuchey before 1922.  she would have lost her US Citizenship. Even though she married in 1926, her citizenship remained at risk until 1940.

Ancestry.com writes:

In the United States, from 1907 until 1922, a woman’s citizenship was entirely dependent on the citizenship of her husband. She automatically gained American citizenship when her husband became a naturalized U.S. citizen, as did the couple’s minor children. However, this also meant that an American-born woman lost her U.S. citizenship if she married a man who was not a U.S. citizen. Many American-born women unexpectedly found themselves expatriated after marriage to an “alien”. The Married Women’s Act (also known as the Cable Act) was passed in 1922, granting a woman nationality separate from that of her husband. At this time, a woman who had lost her citizenship between 1907 and 1922 could apply for naturalization using the same process as any alien. Beginning in 1936 however, Congress made it possible for these women to regain their citizenship by simply applying to take the oath of allegiance, but only if their marriages had ended due to death or divorce. In 1940 this last requirement was dropped, allowing the women to repatriate by simply taking the oath, regardless of their marital status.

Return to Greek Updates

Life On The Farm

The Vinland farmhouse sometime in the 1920s.

My grandmother Erna Boldewahn was the youngest of 3 children.  The Boldewahns lived in Oshkosh Wisconsin, with father William working in the saw mills like many German immigrants.  In 1905 or 1906, the family bought a small farm near Vinland, a few miles outside of Oshkosh.  My grandmother was around 7 years old.   The farm started with 10 acres, then grew to 40 acres by 1920.

from the 1906 Rural Oshkosh directory a "William Bolderwack" is the proud owner of 10 acres.
From the 1906 Rural Oshkosh directory a “William Bolderwack” is the proud owner of 10 acres.

By 1924, the farm was valued at $5600  (or $90,000 in today’s money).   40 acres was still very small by Oshkosh standards.

From the 1920 Viland director, William Boldewahn owns 30 acres, 3 horses and 8 cows. No telephone.
From the 1920 Vinland directory, William Boldewahn owns 39 acres, 3 horses and 8 cows. No telephone. It lists his wife Ernestina, his son Otto and his youngest daughter “Erma” (Erna)
1924 Boldewahn Farm Value Vinland
From the 1924 Rural Oshkosh Directory, the 30 acre farm is valued at $5,600

The house was situated along “Route 7” and was a few miles north of the Winnebago County Asylum .  Today, the street is known as Sherman Road, Oshkosh WI, between County Highway GG and Indian Point Road. The nearest Interstate is  I-41 and the property is  either under or next to the WUSW-FM Oshkosh radio station transmission tower.  Since property lines have changed over the years and homesteads have been torn down and rebuilt, the property is most likely part of, or between, 5939  and  6025 Sherman Road.

Sherman Road, north of Oshkosh Wisconsin.


1928 Farm Map for Vinland Township.

More importantly, the property runs alongside the Northwestern Railroad line where my grandfather, John Kamuchey worked.   The railroad workers would come to the farm house to get water to drink and my grandmother, now 25 years old met my grandfather, 36 years old.

The Northwestern Railroad runs along the West side (left) of the property
It is also possible that the house stood between what is now 5939 Sherman Road and 6025 Sherman Rd. See the outlines of an old structure and driveway.

The farm could not be sustained and in 1926 William listed it for sale in the Oshkosh newspaper, The Northwestern. It eventually sold and in 1930 the family moved back to Oshkosh where they bought a duplex on Ceape Street.

William Boldewahn Oshkosh_Northwestern_Sat_Oct_2_1926_
By October 1926, William started listing the farm for sale.
1920 ad for rent for the upper apartment in the new home at 172 Ceape Street, Oshkosh.
1930 ad for rent for the upper apartment in the new home at 172 Ceape Street, Oshkosh.

In August 2017,  one of Wilhelm’s grand-daughters, Evelyn Kamuchey wrote the following:

I recall this house was well built for rich farmers. My grandfather was well to do til [the] Depression ….. He decided to sell house & moved to Oshkosh on Ceape St.

Only Violet and Elaine lived at [the] farmhouse. I lived [in the] Ceape house. All of us (Violet, Elaine & me) were together with grandfather most of time. Dr P. Stein delivered us ….at St Mary’s hospital in Oshkosh.  Dr Stein’s daughter Hope Stein became our good friend for years. I remember Hope served us tea/cookies at her lovely home. Dr Stein played with us at backyard throwing ball.

Below are some photos of Erna Boldewahn (my grandmother) on the farm.

Erna Boldewahn (sitting in the front) on the Vinland farm in the 1920s. The other two girls are unknown.

Erna is hiding in the back. In the front is her dog Shep.


The Boldewahn family on the family farm in the 1910s-1920s.
From left to right:1. Ernestine Drigolias/Dragorius, wife of Wilhelm Boldewahn, 2. Meta Boldewahn – their oldest daughter, 3. unknown man, 4. unknown girl, 5. Minnie (Wilhelmine) Boldewahn, William Boldewahn’s sister.

What’s In A Name? (8-26-2017)

What’s in a name?  Those odd immigrant names really took a beating in the US. Our German great-grand-father’s name was “Boldewahn” But it was spelled:


My favorites are:
and Baltimore

In the “The Project Gutenberg EBook of Die Deutschen Familiennamen,” published in 1903 by Albert Heintze, the name is listed as

(Baldawan): Bollwahn — Bolduan (Boldewan 17. Jh.).

which shows that in the 17th Century, one variation of the name was Boldewan.

To be fair, the name was often spelled in the German church books as Bolduan. The Nagel family think that these spelling variations are due to how  cursive writing was taught in Germany before the 1940s. The script was stylized and ornate and is hard for many of us today to read. It was called the “Sütterlin Schreibschrift”. After WW2 the modern “Latin” script was taught that most of us are familiar with here in the USA.

William Baltimore 1884

Baltimore, 1884 Oshkosh City Directory)


William Bolderwack 1920
Bolderwhack (1920 Oshkosh Rural Address Book)
Oldewahn Wedding Anniversary 1930
Oldewahn (1930 Oshkosh, WI newspaper)
Boltewsku 1930 Census
Boltewahn or Boltewsku (1930 US Census)
Bolduan (German Church Register 1851, Gruenwald, Kreis Neustettin, Pommern)

Friedrich Dragorius’ name was also many variations:

Drigolias (this is the name that Erna Boldewahn said was the correct spelling)
and even Tragorius or Gragorius

The Greeks fared even worse. The “Kamoutsis” family name was spelled:

At one point family members used “Kames
Camountzis (Ellis Island) – Line 4
Kames, 1935 Northwestern Railroad Employment Card
Kamuchas or Kamuches (1910 US Census)
1907 Star Tribune (Minneapolis) – added July 2018

Family Names From “A History of Amygdalia (200 Years)” by A. Manetas (3-25-2017)

This book was written and self-published by A. Manetas, a resident of Amygdalia (Plessa), Fokidos, Greece. On page 57-59 he lists family names from the village over the past 200 years. What follows is an imperfect Greek translation. Names are spelled phonetically, so there may be variations:

Begin pages 57-59:

“After several years of research we have largely identified the names of those who lived in the village during the last 200 years, along with their families and origins. When we complete the survey, we will include them in a separate publication. Below are listed the surnames of the families who lived in the village during those years.  In alphabetical order  is a list of older families that lived in the village  prior to 1850, many of which still exist.

1) Voútsinos, 2) Vákrinos, 3) Giannarás, 4) Georgíou, 5) Giannakópoulos, 6) Theocháris (Theocharópoulos), 7) Theodórou, 8) Kallimánis, 9) Kamoutsís, 10) Kaniós, 11) Karagiánnis, 12) Karanásos, 13) Karamántzalos, 14) Karampéllos (Tsíknis), 15) Karasatíris, 16) Katsagsýnis, 17) Kokmotós, 18) Kolokýthas (from Baroíchos), (9) Katsímpras, 20) Konisiótis, 21) Karfákis, 22) Koutsomíchos, 23) Kotrótsos, 24) Koutoniás, 25) Kalantzís, 26) Lálos, 27) Loukópoulos, 28) Manétas, 29) Mantzavis (from Karagiórgos), 30) Machás, 31) Moungoliás, 32) Baroýchos, 33) Makrís, 34) Baskoútas, 35) Bózas, 36) Boúos, 37) Býrpos (Foýskas), 38) Napadópoulos, 39) Papaíoánnou (from Karathanasópoulos), 40) Pappélis , 41) Papageorgíou, 42) Papathanasíou (from Papageorgíou), 43) Polítis, 44) Pordalás (Vourdalás), 45) Portoílas, 46) Roupakiás, 47) Siátas, 48) Skerpaniás, 49) Tsoíinis (from Pordalás),  50) Tempélis, 51) Tourkogiánnis, 52) Tsatsarónis (from Pordalás), 53) Tséllos, 54) Fallídas, 55) Chaídeménos, 56) Chantzís (apó Polítis), 57) Chardaloúpas   (from  Tempélis) and 58) Chrysanthákis.

After 1850, other families settled in the village: the Daskalopoulos family from  the village of Granitsa (Diakopi), the Karaboknis family (which came from the Kontomichos family) from the village Vraila, and Papandreou (which came from the Sideris family) from upper Klima, Doridos.

In the present century (1900s), the following families settled in the village: the families of Chaido or Chaidogiannos,  the Vassilopoulos family, the Champestis family, the Markos family, the Nkíkas  family from the village of Milia, the Karympalis family, the Kontoyiannis family from the village of Sotaina, the Dimopoulos  family from the village of Vraila, the Serentellos family from the village of Makryní, the Pontíkas family from the village of  Vounichora, the Asimakopoulos and Arvanitifamilies from the village of Ileía, and the Rellos  family from the village of Maraginnis.

Most of the older families existed in the village before the revolution  of 1821 and their ancestors were native to the region and lived in the village, others  came to the village from different parts of the region after the establishment of the village.  The area surrounding the  village is large, and is ideal  for raising  livestock, it has  resources and arable land  and  the land is suitable and can support the permanent installation of many families, and consequently it is possible that the village of Plessa did not always have permanent residents.

Such was the family Pordalás, from which the families Tsoúnis and Tsatsaronis came. Also, from other large  families  came the family Tsellos,  the family Karagiannis (or Panagiotopoilou), the family Karanasou and the family Theocharopsilou.  Yet another was the family  Karagiorgou, which renamed  itself Mantzava and from which the family Kamoutsis came.

The Karampélou and Manetas families,were old and their members were village notables during the Ottoman occupation. The Papadopoulos family is old and their ancestor served as village priest before 1800. The
Karathanasopoolou family (which was renamed Papaoannou) is old and was indigenous to Plessa;  Father Papaioannou   was the first priest in Plessa (The priest himself writes that he was paternally descended from Plessas).

During the first years after the liberation from the Turks, the following were married in the village and created their respective families: Katsagounis family from Pente OriaKatsibris family from Agía Efthymía  (they originally came from Segditsa) and the Papageorgiou (and Papathanasiou) families from Granitsa (Diakopi).  The  Koutonia family came to the village shortly before 1800 from VounichoraJohn George (Abbot loannikios) was born in Vitrinitsa and came from the village  Karya, Doridos, which now does not exist.

The Konisioti family had relatives in Granítsa (Diakópi) and probably originated from Koniska. The Macha family had relatives in Teichio and Krokyleio.   These families are suggested only and we will try to confirm them via a  family tree. Before 1821 there were no official names. From various writings, the available  data shows that most of the  old families named above were formed and existed or were formed during the revolution or shortly thereafter, although we do find written mentions of some of them  before the revolution. Some families came from amending other original families or branched from larger families  which were separated.

Original Greek
(Επώνυμα οικογενειών, Καταγωγ))
Ύστερα από έρευνα αρκετών ετών έχουμε εντοπίσει κατά μέγα μέρος τα
ονοματεπώνυμα όσων έζησαν στο χωριό κατά τα τελευταία 200 τουλάχιστον χρόνια,
κατά οικογένειες και γενεαλογικά δένδρα. Οταν ολοκληρωθεί η έρευνα, Θα
περιληφθούν σε χωριστή έκδοση. Πιο κάτω αναφέρονται τα επώνυμα οικογενειακον
που έζησαν στο χωριό κατά τα χρόνια αυτά. Παλαιότερες οικογένειες, που υπήρχαν
πριν από το 1850 στο χωριό, οι περισσότερες από τις οποίες υπάρχουν ακόμα, ήταν
εκείνες που είχαν τα εξής κατ’ αλφαβητική σειρά επωνυμα:
1) Βούτσινος, 2) Βάκρινος, 3) Γιανναράς, 4) Γεωργίου, 5) Γιαννακόπουλος,
6) Θεοχάρης (Θεοχαρόπουλος), 7) Θεοδώρου, 8) Καλλιμάνης, 9) Καμουτσής,
10) Κανιός, 1 Ι) Καραγιάννης, 12) Καρανάσος, 13) Καραμάντζαλος,
14) Καραμπέλλος (Τσίκνης), 15) Καρασατήρης, 16) Κατσαγσύνης, 17) Κοκμοτός,
18) ΚολοκύΘας (από Μπαροίχος), (9) Κατσίμπρας, 20) Κονισιώτης, 21) Καρφάκης,
22) Κουτσομίχος, 23) Κοτρώτσος, 24) Κουτονιάς, 25) Καλαντζής, 26) Λάλος,
27) Λουκόπουλος, 28) Μανέτας, 29) Μαντζαβις (από Καραγιώργος), 30) Μαχάς,
31) Μουγγολιάς, 32) Μπαρoύχoς, 33) Μακρής, 34) Μπασκούτας, 35) Μπόζας,
36) Μπούος, 37) Μπύρπος (φoύσκας), 38) nαπαδόπουλος, 39) Παπαίωάννου (από
Καραθανασόπουλος), 40) Παππέλης , 41) Παπαγεωργίου, 42) Παπαθανασίου (από
Παπαγεωργίου), 43) Πολίτης, 44) Πορδαλάς (Βουρδαλάς), 45) Πορτοίλας,
46) Ρουπακιάς, 47) Σιάτας, 48) Σκερπανιάς, 49) Τσοίινης (από Πορδαλάς),
50) Τεμπέλης, 51) Τουρκογιάννης, 52) Τσατσαρώνης (από Πορδαλάς), 53) Τσέλλος,
54) Φαλλίδας, 55) Χαίδεμένος, 56) Χαντζής (από Πολίτης), 57) Χαρδαλούπας (από
Τεμπέλης) και 58) ΧρυσανΘάκης.
Αργότερα κατά τον προηγούμενο αιώνα μετά το 1850 εγκαταστάθηκαν στο χωριό οι Δασκαλόπουλος, από Γρανίτσα (Διακόπι), Καραβοκνης (από Κοντομίχος) από τη Βραίλα, και Παπανδρέου (από Σίδερης) από το ανώ Κλήμα Δώρίδος.
Κατά τον παρόντα αιώνα παντρεύθηκαν και
εγκαταστάθηκαν στο χωριό μας οι Χάίδος ή Χαίδόγιαννος, Βασιλόπουλος,
Χαμπεστής, Μάρκος, Γκίκας από τη Μηλιά, Καρύμπαλης, Κοντογιάννης από τη
Σώταινα, Δημόπουλος από τη Βραίλα, Σερεντέλλος από τη Μακρυνή, Ποντίκας από
τη Βουνιχώρα, Ασημακόπουλος και ΑρΒανίτης από την Ηλεία, Ρέλλος και
Μαραγιννης. Οι περισσότερες από τις παλαιές οικογένειες υπήρχαν στο χωριό πριν
από την επανάσταση του 1821 και οι πρόγονοι τους ήταν εντόπιοι και κατοικούσαν
στο χωριό, άλλοι από τότε που συγκροτήΘηκε το Χωριό ή και προηγουμένως σε
διάφορα μέρη της περιοχής του και άλλοι αργότερα. Η περιφέρεια του χωριού είναι
μεγάλη, προσφέρεται για κτηνοτροφία, έχει πηγές και καλλιεργήσιμες εκτάσεις και
ήταν και είναι αρκετή και κατάλληλη για μόνιμη εγκατάσταση πολλών οικογενειών,
και ως εκ τούτου δεν εί ναι δυνατόν να μην είχε πάντοτε μόνιμους κατοίκους. Κατά
τα πριν από την επανάσταση του 1821 χρόνια βρίσκονται εγκατεστημένα στο χώριό
και στην περιοχή του ώρισμένα οικογενειακά (σόϊα) με περισσότερες οικογένειες το
καθένα, γεγονός που μαρτυρεί ότι η εγκατάσταση τών οικογενειακών αυτών στην
περιοχή ήταν παλαιότερη. Τέτοιο ήταν το οικογενειακό Πορδαλά, από το οποίο
προήλθαν και οι οικογένειες Τσούνη και Τσατσαρωνη.
Επίσης από άλλο μεγάλο
οικογενειακό προήλΘαν τα οικογενειακά Τσέλλου, Καραγιάννη (ή Παναγιωτοποίλου)
Καρανάσου και Θεοχαροπσίλου. Επίσης από άλλο μεγάλο
οικογενειακό προήλΘαν τα οικογενειακά Τσέλλου, Καραγιάννη (ή Παναγιωτοποίλου)
Καρανάσου και Θεοχαροπσίλου. Ακόμα το οικογενειακό Καραγιοργου, το οποίο
μετονομάσΘηκε σε Μαντζαβά και από το οποίο προέρχεται το οικογενειακό
Καμουτσή. Οι οικογένειες Καραμπέλου και Μανέτα, ήταν παλαιές και μέλη τους επί
Τουρκοκρατίας ήταν προύχοντες του χωριού. Η οικογένεια Παπαδοπούλου είναι
παλαιά και πρόγονός τους διετέλεσε ιερέας του χωριοί, και πριν απ το 1800. Η
οικογένεια Καραθανασοποωλου (που μετονομάσΘηκε σε Παπαωάννου) είναι παλαιά
και ο πατέρας του πρώτο ιερέα Παπαίωάννου ήταν αυτόχΘων Πλεσσιοτης (Ο ίδιος ο ιερέας γράφει ότι κατάγεται πατρικως από Πλέσσα). Κατά τα πρώτα χρόνια μετά την
απελευθέρωση από τους Τούρκους παντρεύτηκαν στο χωριό και δημιούργησαν
οικογένειες και τα αντίστοιχα οικογενειακά οι Κατσαγούνης από τα Πέντε Ορια,
Κατσίμπρας από την Αγία Ευθυμία (απωτερη καταγωγή από Σεγδίτσα) και
Παπαγεωργίου (και Παπαθανασίου) από τη Γρανίτσα (Διακόπι). Η  οικογένεια
Κουτονιά ήρΘε στο χωριό λίγο πριν από το 1800 από τη Βουνιχώρα. Ο Ιωάννης
Γεωργίου (ηγούμενος lωαννίκιος) γεννήθηκε στη Βιτρινίτσα και καταγόταν από το
χωριό Καρυά Δωρίδος, το οποίο τώρα δεν υπάρχε.
Η οικογένεια Κονισιωτη είχε συγγενείς στην Γρανίτσα (Διακόπι) και πιθανώς να καταγόταν από την Κόνισκα. Η  οικογένεια Μαχά είχε συγγενείς στο Τείχιο και στο Κροκύλειο. Αυτά αναφέρονται
ενδεικτικά και θα γίνει προσπάθεια να αναπτυχθούν στην έκδοση των γενεαλοιικών
δένδρων . Πριν από το 1821 δεν υπήρχαν επίσημα επωνυμα. Από διάφορα γραπτά
στοιχεία, που υπάρχουν, προκύπτει ότι τα περισσότερα επώνυμα των πιο πάνω
παλαιών οικογενειών ήταν διαμορφωμένα και υπήρχαν ή διαμορφώθηκαν κατά τη
διάρκεια της επαναστάσεως και κατά τα αμέσως επόμενα χρόνια, μερικά δε τα
βρίσκομε γραμμένα πριν από την επανάσταση. Μερικά προέρχονται από
τροποποίηση ωρισμένων άλλων αρχικών ή τα πήραν ωρισμένοι κλάδοι μεγαλυτέρων οικογενειών, από τις οποίες διαχωρίσθηκαν.

Plessa and the Surrounding Areas During World War 2 (2-28-2017)

During World War 2, all of Greece was occupied by the Germans and their allies, the Italians. In Dec 1942, Plessa was burned by Italian forces in retaliation for the ambush deaths of several Italian soldiers. The event has been documented by one of the eyewitnesses Athan. Manetas in  his book “The Burning of Plessa”. In the book one there is one mention of the Kamoutsis family. What follows is a rough translation from the book.

“The day of the ambush, farmers in the area saw the fighting and by the same evening began to evacuate their flocks. Throughout this region, fear reigned. The 38 year old, Efthimios Dimitrios Kamoutsis having a sheep corral in Ntovrovítsas area, didn’t want to move nor did 75 year old Kostas Efstathios Tsellos and his 40 year old son Eustace. The latter, at the prompting of his father-in-law of George Theoch. Theocharopoulou and his brother-in-law law Theochari, finally agreed to move. He promised that he would move the herd west of  Ntovrovítsas  to Mesovoúni. By the next day, Saturday December 19, the entire village had learned what happened to them.

After the ambush, the  Italian army, battalion strength, gathered nearby the ambush area. They came from Lidoriki and Amfissa.  They also disembarked in Eratini and other Italian military forces were sent from Nafpaktos.   At the battle site, they found nothing other than the dead and the destroyed car. Some investigated the area and surroundings and then they arrested Efthimios  Kamoutsis outside his corral along with Kostas  Efstathios  Tsellos. Tending his flock was  his 22 year old  Efthimios John Baroúcho was located on the eastern slope of Mesovounou.

Some of the Italians approached them unawares.  Efthimios  Baroúcho  who was nimble, and who had  bitter experience with the Italians because they had captured  him  in  Vounichora  and  had beaten him in Amfissa a few days earlier,  escaped  running.   Efstathios Tsellos, not wanting to leave his flock,  remained  and was arrested by the Italians.  Efthimios Kamoutsis and  Efstathios Tsellos, both fathers of 3 small children were tortured and killed. The Italians left their bodies beside the highway that leads to Amfissa, a few  meters  after  the  intersection (Union Eratini).

In retaliation for the death of their ten soldiers, the Italians executed a total of ten innocent Greek citizens.  They were Efthimios D. Kamoutsi and Efstathios K.. Tsellos (who were killed where they were captured), along with eight others* who were executed as a group outside Lidoriki at “Tragoudáki” next to the road leading to the field of  Skaloula Andritsou….


The bodies of the two men executed in ltovrovitsa,  Efthimios  Kamoutsis and Efstathios Tsellos remained unburied and after the departure of the Italians their relatives were afraid to collect them. The brother of  Efthimios Kamoutsis,  Panagiotis  Kamoutsis,  went Monday to Lidoriki to ask the Italians for permission to receive  their bodies, but fearing arrest he  did not approach them.

On Monday evening residents of our village went to the village cemetery, but soon learned that P. Kamoutsis had not  been authorized to transport the bodies back to the village. The next day, more adventurous villagers brought the bodies to the cemetery where they were buried.”

Several Kamoutsis families also lived in Vralia a few miles away. In 2013, the village erected a plaque in their community center that memorializes the complete burning of their village by Germans on July 24, 1943.




*The names of the other villagers who were executed by the Italians:

  1. Konstantinos E. Tsellos.They had arrested him as mentioned before in Ntovrovitsa, led him to Eratini and there the Italian police released him. Upon returning, he learned of the execution of his son and returned to Ntovrovitsa to receive his son’s body. But there he was arrested again by the Italians and taken to Lidoriki.
  2. Athanassios Panagiotopoulos from Malandrino, who was a prisoner of the Italians.
  3. Nikolaos Daskalopoulos community president, and 4.  Anastasios Vlachos, rural constable from Tolofóna. These two were  arrested on the grounds that they had not warned the Italians that rebels were staying at Tolofóna.
  4. Efthymios Leonidas
  5. Efthimios Kríkos
  6. Aristotle Pázasfrom Panormos and
  7. Efthymios Lalos,a native of the village Panormos, ranchers  in the region who were, arrested for, supposedly feeding the rebels.

The Boldewahns (Prussia, Germany)

(Take me straight to the photos)

Recent Updates

The Short Version. In the early 1800s, my grand-mother’s families were ethnic Germans living in Prussia, in what is now Poland but what was, at the time, then part of the German Empire. Both of my great-grandparents emigrated to the US in the  mid-1800s where they met in Wisconsin and were married.

Posen and Pommern

Albert Rheinhold William Boldewahn

Map Neustettin Pommern1939

My great-grandfather was Wilhelm Boldewahn. His full name was Albert Rheinhold William Boldewahn but he preferred William. His family came from the village of Gruenwald in the northern part of Kreis Neustettin (County Neustettin). Kreis Neustettin was located in the northern part of Pommern, Prussia.

Wilhelm was born on May 30, 1851 to Johann Boldewahn and Charlotte Freiberg. He had two siblings: Wilhelmine “Minnie” Fredericke Auguste (born 1845) and Henriette Louise (born 1847). Minnie married Martin Adam Pommerening on July 31, 1863 in a church in Gramenz, Kreis Neustettin and stayed in Prussia. Sister Henriette emigrated to Oshkosh, Wisconsin in 1870 and married Johann Schabloski on August 27, 1870.

Gruenewald84Postcard “Greetings from Gruenwald in Pommern”

Wilhelm emigrated to Wisconsin via the port of Bremen, arriving in  Baltimore on April 1876 on the ship SS Braunschweig. After living in Oshkosh and working in a saw mill, he married my great-grandmother on July 17, 1880.  In 1905 they established a farm in Vinland. The farm was sold in 1929 and the family returned to Oshkosh. They had three children: Otto, Meta and Erna.  William died on May 30, 1937 and a picture of his grave in Riverside Cemetery can be found here

Uta Härtling has written a detailed and comprehensive “History of Gruenwald”. 

You can download a copy of the PDF file here.

Family names that appear in the Boldewahn family tree: Freiberg, Abraham. By marriage: Luebke,  Kohls, Nimmer, Kalbus, Jeske, Stueck

Ernestine Wilhelmine Dragorius

My great-grandmother was Ernestine Wilhelmine Dragorius. The name has many different spellings over the years: Dragerius, Dragurius, Dregonis, Dragorus, Drigolias, Tragorius and even Gregorius.

Ernestine’s family settled in the western part called Posen inside the “county” or Kreis Czarnikau

Kreis Posen circle

Ernestine was born on September 16, 1859 in Romanshof, a small town situated near the cliffs overlooking the Netze river. To see a map of the area from the early 1900s go here.

It is unclear when my great-grandmother emigrated to the US, but it was at a relatively young age. In the 1900 US Census, Ernestine gives her emigration date as 1865.  On her marriage certificate, she lists her father as Frederick Dragorius and her mother as Caroline Koenig.  An Ernestine Dragorius, age 6 arrived in 1865 on the ship Othello from Hamburg  to Quebec City with her parents Frederick and Louise Dragorius.  On the shipping form, their residence was listed as Putzig Hauland, Preußen (Germany). Putzig Hauland is located along the river Netze in Posen, a few miles south of Romanshof.  This would make her birth date 1859 which approximates Ernestine Boldewahn’s birth dates as reported in the 1920 US Census.

In a newspaper article about her 50th wedding anniversary, Ernestine said her family emigrated to the US when she was 1 year old – this would place their emigration date in 1860, not 1865.  In her obituary, she was said to have emigrated when she was 3 years old, which would place their emigration date in 1862.

After emigrating to Wisconsin, Ernestine‘s father worked in a saw mill.  He died  in 1882 when she was 23 years old.  Her mother passed away in 1881. Both were buried in Riverside Cemetery in Oshkosh, Wisconsin in unmarked graves.

Ernestine died on Jan 28, 1935  at the age of 75. She too was buried in Riverside Cemetery in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.  A picture of her grave can be found here.

Erna Boldewahn

My grand-mother, Erna Boldewahn married my grandfather, John Kamuchey on March 8, 1926 in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Erna and John eventually moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin and had 9 children. Info about Erna’s family is found in the Kamuchey section.

Life in Prussia in the 1800s.

In the late 1700s and early 1800s many ethnic Germans emigrated to East Prussia. While Germans had always settled in the areas now owned by Poland, after the Protestant Reformation  of the 1500s, many Protestant Germans were forced to leave Poland’s primarily Catholic holdings. This left the Polish nobility with fewer skilled workers to develop their lands so they they slowly started to invite Germans back to work for them. Leaflets were sent out to Germany, promising free travel, financial assistance in setting up their farms, and religious freedom. These new settlers settled into “colonies” with German names.   The colonies would negotiate the rights to the land from the Polish nobles and were able to set up their own schools, churches and laws.

Unfortunately, the area suffered from significant political unrest with numerous military actions. At one point in time the area was held by Germany, Poland, France, Russian and even Sweden.  During this time many of the legal rights negotiated by the German settlers fell by the wayside and in some areas Protestant churches were destroyed.  However, all that changed in the late 1700s when the area was partitioned and  divided between Germany, Russia and Austria.  But whether Polish or German,  the  constant warfare had its impact.  Rising tax rates meant that land became prohibitively expensive to buy.  Waves of disease and crop failures swept across the area. In 1842, a cholera epidemic killed almost half of the population of the city of Czarnikau. Potato blight in 1845 caused widespread famine. This was followed by disastrous weather conditions in the mid 1850’s.  Steep declines in grain prices in the years 1880-1886, caused by imports of  cheap cereals from America and Russia, and an accompanying drop in wool prices severely reduced farm revenue.

It is no wonder then that mass numbers of Germans left Prussia to move to the United States where land was cheap and plentiful.

Why Wisconsin?  

Of the more than 100,000 foreign-born Wisconsinites in 1850, only 48,000 could claim English as their native language. Nearly one-half of these English speakers were Irish. Of the non-English speaking immigrants, the Germans were by far the most numerous. Norwegians constituted the second largest group, followed closely by Canadians of primarily French descent.

Between 1852 and 1855, the Wisconsin Commission of Emigration actively encouraged the settlement of European immigrants in Wisconsin. Pamphlets extolling the state’s virtues were published in German, Norwegian, Dutch, and English and were distributed throughout Europe as well as in eastern port cities. Advertisements were placed in more than nine hundred newspapers. By 1855, however, the rise of antiforeign sentiment, or nativism, led to the dissolution of the commission.

Wisconsin’s foreign-born population continued to increase, though, owing to the efforts of the Commission of Emigration, the propaganda produced by land speculators, and the letters sent back to Europe by immigrants encouraging friends and family to join them. Although not as statistically significant in the overall population as the Irish, Germans, and Norwegians, many other ethnic groups left their mark on particular areas of Wisconsin, including the Finns in Douglas County, the Danes in Racine County, and the Italians in Kenosha.” Source: Wisconsin History Turning Points

“When [linguists]  set out to study the area’s census, church and court records, [they]  had no idea the language had thrived for so long. The year 1910 was already a full generation after the mass migration had dropped off, yet Salmons discovered not only that many in Hustisford and other farm towns were still bilingual, but that a sizeable portion was monolingual.

“It turns out a lot of these people were born in Wisconsin,” Salmons says. “And a fair number were born of parents born in Wisconsin. That is, these guys were not exactly killing themselves to learn English….In other words, there were taxpayer-funded bilingual public schools in the U.S. a century ago.”  Source: In Rural Wisconsin, German Reigned For Decades

Additional reading:





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The Kamucheys – Greece

(Take me straight to the photo album)

(Recent updates about the Greek family tree)

The Family Version: In the early 1800s, my grand-father’s ancestors lived in a coastal town called Messolongi, situated on the Gulf of Patra in Greece. In 1820s, during the war of Greek Independence against the Turkish Empire,  my great-great-grandfather fled during the Battle of Messolongi into the Mount Parnassus region looking for a safer a place to settle.  He came to a village situated on  the slopes of Mount Parnassus called Plessas (Πλέσσα) in the Doridos region of Central Greece.  He opened a business and eventually was able to buy several homes and shops in the village. index

What Might Have Really Happened. In the late 1700s, two men named “Kamoutsis” lived in or around Plessas. Where they came from, how long they lived there, and how they were related is unknown.  Andreas Kamoutsis was born in 1777 and Stavros Kamoutsis was born 1795. Our family line descends from Andreas Kamoutsis.


What We Know Actually Happened.  In the early 1900s, two of Andreas Kamoutis great-grandsons – my grand-father (John) and his brother (Peter) emigrated to the USA. We have  photos of the Kamuchey family here, including a wedding photo of my Grandfather and Grandmother (John and Erna) and a photo of my Great-uncle Peter. The Kamuchey name is an American construct. In Greece the name is spelled KAMOYTEHE (ΚΑΜΟΥΤΣΗΣ) and it is pronounced Kamoutsis.


Village:  The village was recognized as a town in 1912. In the 1920s,  the village Plessas was renamed Amygdalia (ΑΜΥΓΔΑΛΙΑ or “Almond Tree”).   The name “Plessas” may be based on a Slavic word “Plesso” which means “bald spot” or “area without a forest.”   The village is characterized by its beautiful stone houses, the nice doorways, stone walls, narrow roads, the view to the lowlands, which is why the community is considered to still be very “traditional”. The village is now part of the Fokida or “Phocis” Prefecture (State) and is contained within the Lidoriki Municipality (County). History of the region can be found here, and an overview (translated from Greek) is here Sample traditional costumes from Central Greece can be found here; ones from the Phocis region are here. An overview of the village can be found at the Greek version of Wikipedia (link takes you to an automatically translated version of the website).

Current demographical information about Amygdalia is here.  The population is about 500, but tourism brings in more people during the summer.

And if you still want more history on the town, here is an archived copy of the town’s website (now offline) (in Greek; you may need to run the page through Google’s automatic translator).

A video slide show of the village can be viewed on Youtube here.

A Kamoutsis Kingdom?  4USEKamoutsisLand Google Maps 2016-06-30 22-57-06

One family story is that the Kamoutsis clan once lived in a specific area north of Plessas, between Plessas and the village of Vralia (see the arrow above). The land sits on a flat area beside a river with two nearby valleys. and is known as Vathirema (Βαθύρεμα) which means “Deep River” or “Deep Creek’ (the river dries up in the summer from May to November).  The tale says that the Kamoutsis families lived on the land until the time came to select a clan leader.  One man was strong but dumb. The other was weak but clever. Because the families could not agree, they scattered and some went to Vralia and others to Plessas and others to the surrounding villages.   There are two other towns in the area: Sotena and Malandrino. It is unclear if any Kamoutsis family members moved to those towns.

 View of Vathirema looking west from the road to Vralia imagesmall
View of Vathirema looking east from the road  to Amygdalia

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Updated 8/25/2017