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)

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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 (this is password protected please email me for the password)

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

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(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