Thursday, July 21, 2016

Writer Missing from Greek-American History: Elizabeth Virginia Dimitry Ruth


Published in The National Herald, May 14-20, 2016 Issue
Authored by Steve Frangos, TNH Staff Writer


We are excited to announce that The National Herald has given Hellenic Genealogy Geek the right to reprint articles that may be of interest to our group. 


CHICAGO - Elizabeth Virginia Dimitry Ruth is something of a missing figure in Greek-American historical accounts.  As a member of one of the first prominent Greek families in the United States, the extended Dimitry/Dragon families, Elizabeth Ruth does see passing mention in survey accounts.  But, "ah there's the rub," as they say, this is exactly the problem -- Ruth is only mentioned in passing.  While Ruth is continuously described by contemporary writers as among the first professional women writers who published at least one novel and one book of poetry (each to critical acclaim), one would have thought, by now, she would have already been the subject of a dissertation or an extended journal article dealing with her as a neglected but in truth notable Southern women writer.  This is far from the case.

Exploring the life of Ruth also takes us into an area only now beginning to be revealed the ultimate passing of Greek-American communities as self-identified cohesive entities.  For the most recently arrived Hellenes, business men and academics mostly, this day has long come and gone.  While the denial of one group of Greeks with Hellenic identify by another self-identifying group of Greeks is an old game among us it is now beginning to take on new force.  And in this period of church 100th anniversary church historical volumes, community-based genealogical societies and the growing establishment of archival rooms in churches across the nation and even the construction of museum buildings this thought is not one easily accepted.  Egoism, boosterism, and the dread Greeks feel at revealing themselves to all perceived outsiders prevents this thought from being considered.  Nonetheless it is still the case that there are fewer self-identified Greeks attending specifically Greek events and organizations than at any time since the mass migration of the 1880 to 1920 era.  Ignoring what is happening will not make it go away.

Unexpectedly, "who were the Greeks in North America" is the question slowly entering the common gaze.  Families long considered as Greek in American historical accounts such as those from the New Smyrna Colony, the extended Dimitry/Dragon families, or the Colvocoresses have all slowly faded from the consciousness of Greeks of the massive waves of immigration.  Gone are the days when AHEPA conventions, or say the 1940s, would host descendants of the Dimitry or Colvocoresses families to speak about their ancestors' trials and accomplishments.

And just like some natural law of science as the Greeks descended from the 1880 to 1920 ear (and even more so those of the post-World War II) have forgotten, these earlier Greek arrivals to American shores so have the descendants of those persons come forward - in ever greater numbers - to publically assert their own Greek heritage.  New publications and the social aspects of the Internet have each in their own way come to serve a new dynamic where the average person realizes the historical accounts offered by the dominant culture ignores the.  Unsatisfied they write and document their own family histories.  I have been astonished with how Facebook has come to serve as a unifying forum for the extended Dimitry/Dragon families not only as a source for providing detailed history from one individual or branch may possess but also as a highly successful avenue to raise funds to care for ancestral grave sites.

So how does all this involve Elizabeth Ruth?  As one of those long-ago Hellenes, Ruth's life can serve as a cautionary tale of what we may expect from future historians concerning our own ultimate place within Greek-American history.

Andrea Drussakis Dimitry (1775-1852), a native of Hydra, was a veteran of the War of 1812 and the Battle of New Orleans.  He is buried in the tomb together with his wife Marie-Anne-Celeste Dragon (1777-1856), the daughter of Greek-born Miguel (Michel) Dragon (1739-1821) and Marie-Francoise Chauvin Beaulieu de Montplaisir (1755-1822), Alexander Dimitry (1805-1883), son of Andrea and Marie-Anne is buried in a different location within the same St. Louis No. 1 cemetery.

Professor Alexander Dimitry was one of the most distinguished intellectuals of his day.  Over the course of his life Dimitry was an American diplomat, linguist and scholar.  Dimitry was fluent in classical Greek and Latin.  He spoke English French, Greek, Italian, and Spanish.  He graduated with distinction from the college, Georgetown College. DC in 1842 he established the St. Charles Institute in Louisiana, which he headed as the first state superintendent of public education in 1847.  During his period as superintendent (1847-1851) he organized Louisiana's public school system.  In 1854, Dimitry was a translator in the U.S. Department of State; in 1859 he was sent as Minister to Central America by President James Buchanan.

Alexander Dimitry met and married Mary Powell Mills Dimitry (1816-1894) in Washington DC.  Mills came from a family with lineage to the oldest colonial settlers in the nation.  Her father Robert Mills (1781-1855), among many other accomplishments was the designer of the Washington Monument.  

Born, according to her tombstone, on September 21, 1839, Elizabeth was known among her many brothers, sisters and close family friends as Eliza.  By virtue of her birth and family's social standing Eliza Dimitry associated with the most respected citizens of what was then called Washington City.  On December 31, 1856, when no more than seventeen, Eliza married Enoch Fenwick Ruth.  Ruth, who had commanded an Arkansas company in the Mexican War, obtained the rank of Captain and later became Commissioner of Indian Affairs.  During their eleven year marriage the Ruth's had four children:  Elizabeth Dimitry Ruth, Genevieve Dimitry Ruth, Margaret "Madge" Ruth, and Fenwick Dimitry Ruth.  In 1867, Captain Ruth died in Washington, DC.

After the death of her husband, Eliza Ruth settled in New Orleans.  While the prospects for a widow in this era were grave Ruth established and for many years kept a flourishing private school for boys and girls.  Supplemental to her school duties Ruth became one of the pioneer professional women writers in North America, writing under the name of Virginia Dimitry Ruth.  By all available accounts Ruth proved to be an energetic contributor to Southern literature in prose and verse writing regularly for the national press as well as seeing her works of fiction and poetry published to wide acceptance.  In this regard various accounts frequently couple Ruth along with her brothers, fellow writers (and unlike herself editors of magazines) John Bull Smith Dimitry (1835-1901), Thomas Dabney Dimitry(1850-1936) and Charles Patton Dimitry (1837-1910) whose novel The House on Balfour Street (New York 1868) saw numerous editions.

Elizabeth Virginia Dimitry Ruth died on September 22, 1891, on her son-in-law's plantation in Carencro, Lafayette Parish, Louisiana.  Elizabeth Ruth was buried at the Saint Peter Catholic Cemetery in Carencro.

Elizabeth Ruth's life has many lessons to teach.  Of how the prejudices of a particular time period can hide notable individuals.  It goes well beyond women of one era being largely ignored by the male writing class.  How did she perceive herself?  What did she in fact write?  The lives of these earlier Greek arrivals to American shores now seem to bear portents to our own fate as real Greeks from Greece down-grade us to use-to-have-been persons of some Hellenic descent.  How will the future understand us?  Who will tell our tales?

Monday, July 18, 2016

A History of the Greek Colony of Corsica by Nick Nicholas - migration of clans from Mani, Greece

The article "A HISTORY OF THE GREEK COLONY OF CORSICA" by Nick Nicholas was published by the Journal of the Hellenic Diaspora, Year 2005, Issue 1.

"1. MIGRATIONS FROM MANI The peninsula of Mani in the Southern Peloponnesus enjoys renown within Greek culture disproportionate to its size. Mani to this day has the reputation of being a wild, lawless place, ridden with vendettas between the region's conflicting clans and bristling with guns. Since the clan rather than the village has been the central component of Maniot social identity, especially in the more conservative Inner (South-western) Mani (Alexakis 1980), conflict between clans has long been a characteristic of the region. Mani remained fiercely autonomous during the periods of nominal Venetian and Ottoman overlordship. In fact, even the newly established Greek state found it difficult to establish centralised control over the area: King Otto's regency was obliged to use bribery where regiments failed, and the Greek state was obliged to intervene militarily in local feuds as late as 1870 (Fermor 1956:97; Greenhalgh & Eliopoulos 1985:36). Feuds between clans were often resolved through the migration of the vanquished; Fermor (1956:93) estimates over fifty Maniot villages were founded this way. Both migration and clan conflict were tied up with the lack of arable land in Mani (Alexakis 1980:103)—although this was more the case in Inner Mani than elsewhere, and the villages of Outer (North-western) Mani  have remained prosperous into modern times (Alexakis 1980:26). Another significant factor promoting migration away from Mani was warfare. When Maniots were unsuccessful in military ventures, particularly when their Venetian allies abandoned them, migration became a preferable option.

Migration from Mani has been attested throughout modern times, and there is an extensive history of colonies or proposed colonies well into the eighteenth century. It cannot be ruled out that the Greek population around Himara in Southern Albania is an early Maniot colony (Vayacacos 1983a); and we even have records of a Polish Maniot, Anthony Stephanopoli, who had gone to Rome in 1759 and was pleasantly surprised to meet his Corsican kin there (Vayacacos 1970a:98ff). Migration from Mani reached its peak in the late seventeenth century (Vayacacos 1983a:25; Blanken 1951:4), at the time of the Veneto-Ottoman wars culminating in the fall of Crete in 1669. Fearing that Mani would also fall to the Ottomans (Comnene 1999 [17841:128- 129), 2 and mistrustful of the Ottomans' guarantees (La Guilletiere 1675:46),3 Maniots negotiated with several Italian states through much of the 17th century to allow refugees to settle in their dominions. There was also much migration to Greek-speaking dominions (Mexis 1977:298), including Zante, Cephallonia, Corfu, and Epirus. The participation in 1768 of around 500 Maniots in the New Smyrna plantation in Florida was triggered by similar concerns about hostilities with the Ottomans, which were to culminate in the Orloff uprising of 1770 (Panagopoulos 1965:31, 36). 

Known migrations from Mani in the 1670s included: 

• Tuscany (Moustoxydes 1965 [1843-531; Lambros 1905; Fermor 1956:100-101): several hundred of the Iatrani/Medici clan from Vitylo (Oitylon), 1671. 

• Leghorn (Livorno)/Malta (Kalonaros 1944:133; Vayacacos 1949:152): 120 in 1673, 250 in early 1674, and 200 in late 1674. 

• Naples (Hasiotis 1969): an unknown number in 1679, apparently associated with the Iatrani/Medici of Vitylo. 

• Brindisi (Tozer 1882:355; Vayacacos 1949; Hasiotis 1969:135; Coco 1921:12-13; Tsirpanlis 1979): 340 from 34 JOURNAL OF THE HELLENIC DIASPORA Adrouvista/Prastios in late 1674 and February 1675. (The travellers Spon and Wheler, who visited Mani in the summer of 1675, report that Maniots had recently fled to Puglia.) 

• Corsica: around 700 of the Stephanopoli clan from Vitylo, late 1675; in 1764 400 more colonists bound for Genoa were captured and enslaved by the Ottomans near Zante (Kalonaros 1944:135), and in late 1675 another ship headed for Corsica, with 440 colonists, was captured off Corsica, with the colonists enslaved and sold in Algiers (SdC 1:9). 


Friday, July 15, 2016

1865 - Village of LORON, Municipality of Monemvasia, Province of Epidavros Limira (currently Laconia), Greece - FREE Translation of 1865 General Election List

The digital collections of the Greek State Archives offer a wealth of information to those of us interested in Greek genealogy.  As part of their online collection is the "Election Material From the Collection of Vlachoyiannis" .  This includes "General Election Lists" for each Municipality; recorded by community (city, village, settlement, etc.).

You can view a scanned copy of each list, printed in the Greek language.  This is a GREAT resource, but very difficult to navigate for those who do not read Greek.  Each row includes:  Line # -  Given Name, Surname - Father's Name -  Age - Occupation.

I have translated these pages and made them available in both Greek and English, doing my best to transcribe the information accurately.  I would always recommend viewing the original scanned copies (link below).  

- To the best of my knowledge, these lists include all Males who were eligible to vote in the elections.  

- Names are in alphabetical order by Given name (First name), many times recorded as an abbreviation.  Example:  Panag = Panagiotis.

- Since the names are in order by Given name you will have to look at the entire community to find multiple members of the family in the same village.  Many times a father is still alive and you will be able to find him in these electoral lists.  This can help advance you family history research back to the early 1800's.  Example:  Year of Election List is 1872.  Father's age is 65.  Birth year would be calculated as 1807.

If you wish to share any of the translated information, please give appropriate credit and reference Hellenic Genealogy Geek at along with my name (Georgia Stryker Keilman).  Thanks so much.

in the
Municipality of Monemvasia

For your further reference, 
below is the Greek link to the online copies of the 
1865 Greek Electoral Rolls for this community

Line # - Given Name - Surname - Father's Name - Age - Occupation

384 – Ανδρεας Ανδρεσακης – Δημητριου Ανδρεσακος – 24 – γεωργος

384 – Andreas Andresakis – Dimitriou Andresakos – 24 - farmer


385 – Αναγνωστης Ανδρεσακος – Δημητριου Ανδρεσακος – 22 – γεωργος

385 – Anagnostis Andresakos – Dimitriou Andresakos – 22 - farmer


386 – Ανδρεας Στελλακης – Θεοδ. Στελλακη – 22 – γεωργος

386 – Andreas Stellakis – Theod Stellaki – 22 - farmer


387 – Ανδρεας Στελλακης – Παναγ. Στελλακη – 22 – γεωργος

387 – Andreas Stellakis – Panag. Stellaki – 22 - farmer


388 – Αναγνωστης Ανδρεσακης – Πετρου Ανδρετακου – 22 – γεωργος

388 – Anagnostis Andresakis – Petrou Andretakou – 22 - farmer


389 – Αντωνιος Ανδρεσακης – Ανδρεα Ανδρεσακη – 35 – γεωργος

38 – Andonios Andresakis – Andrea Andresaki – 35 - farmer


390 – Αντωνιος Τσιγκουνης – Δαμιανου Τσιγκουνη – 32 – γεωργος

390 – Andonios Tsigounis – Damianou  Tsigouni – 32 – farmer


391 – Αντωνιος Τσιγκουνης – Γεωργιου Τσιγκουνη – 42 – γεωργος

391 – Andonios Tsigounis – Georgiou Tsigouni – 42 - farmer


392 – Αντωνιος Δεμελης – Δημητριος Δεμελης – 45 – γεωργος

392 – Andonios Demelis – Dimitrios Demelis – 45 - farmer


393 – Αθανασιος Νεοφωτιστος – Οθωμανος – 36 – γεωργος

393 – Athanasios Neofotistos – Othomanos – 36 - farmer


394 – Αποστολος Καραστατηρης – Ελευθ. Καραστητηρης – 38 – γεωργος

394 – Apostolos Karastatiris – Elefth. Karastitiris – 38 - farmer


395 – Γεωργιος Σουμπασακης - _____ - 50 – γεωργος

395 – Georgios Soumbasakis – 50 - farmer


396 – Γεωργιος Στελλακης – Παναγ. Στελλακη – 33 – γεωργος

396 – Georgios Stellakis – Panag. Stellaki – 33 - farmer


397 – Γεωργιος Παπαδακης – Δημ. Παππαδακη – 27 – γεωργος

397 – Georgios Papadakis – Dim. Pappadaki – 27 - farmer


398 – Γεωργιος Γαλανος – Παναγ. Γαλανου – 35 – γεωργος

398 – Georgios Galanos – Panag. Galanou – 35 - farmer


399 – Γεωργιος Καραστατηρης – Ελευθ. Καραστατηρης – 38 – γεωργος

399 – Georgios Karastatiris – Elefth. Karastatiris – 38 - farmer


400 – Γρηγοριος Στελλακης – Παναγ. Στελλακης – 24 – γεωργος

400 – Grigorios Stellakis – Panag. Stellakis – 24 - farmer


401 – Δημητριος Παντελακος – Παντελη Βρανας – 29 – γεωργος

401 – Dimitrios Pandelakos – Pandeli Vranas – 29 - farmer


402 – Δημητριος Σμυρλης – Γεωργιου Σμυρλη – 45 – γεωργος

402 – Dimitrios Smyrlis – Georgiou Smyrli – 45 - farmer


403 – Δημ. Αθανασακος – Αθανασιου Αθανασακου – 58 – γεωργος

403 – Dim. Athanasakos – Athanasiou Athanasakou - 58 - farmer


404 – Δημητριος Καρασταστηρης – Γεωργιου Καραστατηρης – 37 – γεωργος

404 – Dimitrios Karastastiris – Georgiou Karastatiris – 37 - farmer


405 – Δημητριος Λιαρακης – Θεοδ. Λιαρακης – 58 – γεωργος

405 – Dimitrios Liarakis – Theod. Liarakis – 58 - farmer


406 – Δημητριος Παπαδακης – Θεοδ. Παπαδακης – 50 – γεωργος

406 – Dimitrios Papadakis – Theod. Papadakis – 50 - farmer


407 – Δημητριος Τσιγκουνης – Δαμιανου Τσιγκουνης – 25 – γεωργος

407 – Dimitrios Tsigounis – Damianou Tsigounis – 25 - farmer


408 – Ηλιας Τσιγκουνης – Κωνσταντινος Τσιγκουνης – 60 – γεωργος

408 – Ilias Tsigounis – Konstandinos Tsigounis – 60 - farmer


409 – Θεοδωρος Κατζουλωτος – Δημητριος Κατζουλωτος – 40 – γεωργος

409 – Theodoros Katzoulotos – Dimitrios Katzoulotos – 40 - farmer


410 – Θεοδωρος Λιαρακης – Παναγ. Λιαρακης – 28 – γεωργος

410 – Theodoros Liarakis – Panag. Liarakis – 28 - farmer


411 – Θεοδωρος Λιαρακης – Δημητριος Λιαρακης – 35 – γεωργος

411 – Theodoros Liarakis – Dimitrios Liarakis – 35 - farmer


412 – Θεοδωρος Παππαδακης – Δημητριος Παππαδακης – 30 – γεωργος

412 – Theodoros Pappadakis – Dimitrios Pappadakis – 30 - farmer


413 – Θεοδωρος Βρανας – Παντελης Βρανα – 35 – γεωργος

413 – Theodoros Vranas – Pandelis Vrana – 35 - farmer


414 – Θεοδωρος Βρανας – Κωνστ. Βρανα – 30 – γεωργος

414 – Theodoros Vranas – Konst. Vrana – 30 - farmer


415 – Θεοδωρος Στελλακης – Παναγ. Στελλακη – 28 – γεωργος

415 – Theodoros Stellakis – Panag. Stellaki – 28 - farmer


416 – Ιωαννης Ανδρεσακης – Πετρου Ανδρεσακη – 27 – γεωργος

416 – Ioannis Andresakis – Petrou Andresaki – 27 - farmer


417 – Ιωαννης Παππαδακης – Δημ. Παππαδακη – 26 – γεωργος

417 – Ioannis Pappadakis – Dim. Papadaki – 26 - farmer


418 – Ιωαννης Τσιγκουνης – Δημ. Τσιγκουνη – 35 – γεωργος

418 – Ioannis Tsigounis – Dim. Tsigouni – 35 - farmer


419 – Ιωαννης Σουμπασακης – Γεωργιου Σουμπασακης – 27 – γεωργος

419 – Ioannis Soumbasakis – Georgiou Soumbasakis – 27 - farmer


420 – Ιωαννης Στελλακης – Παναγ. Στελλακης – 30 - γεωργος

420 – Ioannis Stellakis – Panag. Stellakis – 30 – farmer


421 - Ιωαννης Βρανας – Δημητριου Βρανα – 72 – γεωργος

421 – Ioannis Vranas – Dimitriou Vrana – 72 - farmer


422 – Ιωαννης Τσιριγωτης – Εμμ. Τσιριγωτης – 32 – γεωργος

422 – Ioannis Tsirigotis – Emm. Tsirigotis – 32 - farmer


423 – Κωνσταντινος Βρανας – Δημητριου Βρανα – 70 – γεωργος

423 – Konstandinos Vranas – Dimitriou Vrana – 70 - farmer


424 – Κωνσταντινος Τσιγκουνης – Ηλιας Τσιγκουνης – 25 – γεωργος

424 – Konstandinos Tsigounis – Ilias Tsigounis – 25 - farmer


425 – Λουκας Στελλακης – Θεοδ. Στελλακης – 29 – γεωργος

425 – Loukas Stellakis – Theod. Stellakis – 29 - farmer


426 – Μηχ. Τσιγκουνης – Γεωργιου Τσιγκουνη – 37 – γεωργος

426 – Mich. TsigounisGeorgiou Tsigouni – 37 - farmer


427 – Νικολαος Παππαδακης – Αναγ. Παππαδακης – 30 – γεωργος

427 – Nikolaos Pappadakis – Anag. Pappadakis – 30 - farmer


428 – Παναγ. Δεμελης – Ελευθ. Δεμελης – 34 – γεωργος

428 – Panag. DemelisElefth. Demelis – 34 - farmer


429 – Πετρος Ανδρεσακος – Α. Ανδρεσακος – 52 – γεωργος

429 – Petros Andresakos – A. Andresakos – 52 - farmer


430 – Παναγιωτης Πανοπαλης – Γεωρ. Πανοπαλας – 38 – γεωργος

430 – Panagiotis Panopalis – Geor. Panopalas – 38 - farmer


431 – Χαραλ. Μαρκου – Δημητριου Μαρκου – 40 – γεωργος

431 – Charal. Markou – Dimitriou Markou – 40 - farmer


432 – Χρηστος Βρανας – Παντελη Βρανας – 26 – γεωργος

432 – Christos Vranas – Pandeli Vranas – 26 - farmer


Tuesday, June 14, 2016

11 born in Greece - Arizona County Coroner and Death Records 1881-1971
 has a new database titled  ARIZONA, COUNTY CORONER AND DEATH RECORDS, 1881-1971 - it includes 11 records for people born in Greece.

I have included a list of the names below, along with a description of the database.

If you do not have a subscription to, remember that you can access the program at most of your local libraries for FREE.


James Coules, born abt 1886, died 1935

Geo. K.Dillos, born abt 1863, died 1922

Charlie Hackett, born abt 1857, died 1948

Tom Kopulus, born abt 1885, died 1942

John Kotigas, born abt 1886, died 1946

Steve D. Laluntes, born abt 1896, died 1924

Peter Paffas, born abt 1885, died 1928

Chris Papagean, born abt 1889, died 1926

Peter Sokelarris, born abt 1866, died 1923

C. C. Tocumtas, born abt 1889, died 1935

Fotine Xalis, born abt 1890, died 1926


Description of Database from

Source Information:
County Coroner Records. Arizona History and Archives Division, Phoenix, Arizona.
County Death Records. Arizona History and Archives Division, Phoenix, Arizona.

This collection includes a variety of death and coroner's records from counties in Arizona. Details will vary depending on the type of record, but can include the following:
  • date of death
  • place of death
  • age at the time of death
  • cause of death
  • occupation
  • dates and locations of obituaries
  • date and place of birth
  • location of interment
  • marital status
  • parents’ names and birthplaces

Monday, June 13, 2016

The Cassimus House in Alabama: Monument of Greek-American Immigration

The Cassimus House in Montgomery, AL is a testament to the history of Hellenes in that Southern U.S. City, and to Greek-American immigration overall.


Published in The National Herald, June 4-10, 2016 Issue
Authored by Steve Frangos, TNH Staff Writer


We are excited to announce that The National Herald has given Hellenic Genealogy Geek the right to reprint articles that may be of interest to our group. 


CHICAGO- All across the United States one can find historical monuments, statues, public buildings, pools, athletic fields, gardens, fountains, rooms, homes, plaques, public artwork, public parks, historical markers, and other commemorative sites specifically dedicated to the memories of local Greek-Americans.

The Cassimus House of Montgomery AL is yet another of these preserved historical sites. Situated on less than one acre of land this two-story frame house is a historic Queen Anne style structure which was completed in 1893. The Cassimus House is distinctive for its classical Greek revival style.

It was erected by Speridon Cassimus, the younger of two Greek brothers who, with their father, moved to Montgomery sometime around 1878, the first documented Greek immigrants to settle in that city. Curiously, historical information about the Cassimus family is sketchy at best. Initially, the family ran a wholesale fruit business on Bibb Street.

Sometime in 1935, the house was altered converting it into two individual apartments with the addition of a modern rear entrance. It is the last residential structure remaining on Jackson Street. On August 13, 1976, the House was added to the National Register of Historic Places. The House underwent extensive restoration in 1976, and ever since has been occupied by the Alabama State Employees Association. The obelisk on its right is a war memorial erected by the American Legion to honor “Alabama Veterans of all wars.”

A Nomination Form for the National Register of Historic Places that must be submitted to the Department of the Interior for every location. The Nomination Form for the House can be readily found on the Internet. There is a page provided in all such application forms for a short account of the significance of the structure being considered for inclusion. One would think such accounts are objective historic vignettes. Here is the first paragraph of the “Statement of Significance:”

“The Cassimus House is one of the few remaining examples of eccentric late Victorian architecture in Montgomery. Constructed in what was one of the finer residential areas in late 19th century Montgomery, the house not only reflects the newly–acquired prosperity of its Greek immigrant builder, but is one of the earliest landmarks associated with the Greek community in Alabama. When Speridon Cassimus built his home at 110 Jackson Street in 1893, he was a newly successful businessman and he wanted his neighbors to know it. Yet there is a curious reticence about the overall design of his house since, except for the front porch he rejected ornate, Gothic-inspired detailing for the dentil molding and egg-and-dart associated with the more classical styles of architecture.”

First, how does the unidentified writer know Cassimus built his house expressly because he “wanted his neighbors to know it?” Also, and I am making this observation as an person who has worked as a professional carpenter, I never learned to nail or add any trim to a building knowing that by doing so would make that structure either “curious” or “reticent.” It could just be that Cassimus didn’t like the kind of Gothic-inspired molding this writer seems so enamored with.

This nomination statement does have important historic information:

“Speridon Cassimus came to the United States on December 28, 1888. Funds for his trip were provided by money saved by his father and brother both named Alexander M. Cassimus. Alexander and his oldest son had arrived in Mobile, Alabama on October 23, 1873, where they opened a fruit store. After about a year, for unknown reasons, they moved to Memphis, Tennessee, where they lived until 1878 when they moved to Montgomery.

“Speridon Cassimus, a married man with two children, left his native home of Othonior, Corfu, and his family with the promise that once enough money was earned, he would return to bring them to America. From the profits of the successful wholesale fruit business which he operated on Bibb Street he accomplished this goal in 1892 and was successful enough to have purchased the lot and begun construction of the home. When he returned from Greece with his family, he brought with him fig trees, flowering Sparta bushes and many other garden variety plumb to use around the home.”

The last paragraph of this statement notes that Alex Cassimus was “one of the first Greek immigrants in the state.” And given that “the Greek communities in the state have little or no physical heritage dating much earlier than the early 20th century, when their churches were built; and the Cassimus House, currently under restoration…is possibly the oldest remaining; landmark associated with the early history of Greeks in Alabama.”

Now let us step back a minute here and review what we have been told. First it took Speridon Cassimus four to five years to earn the money to fulfill his promise. Maybe, but I find that hard to believe. Let’s do some rough calculations. Speridon Cassimus buys an acre lot in the most expensive neighborhood in town. Added to the expensive of the land Cassimus hires local workmen to build a large new finely appointed house from the ground up. Next he travels to Greece and brings back his wife and two children. All those expenses not counting the monies needed to ship and plant an unspecified number of fig trees and assorted plumbs. I don’t care how good a fruit stand merchant Speridon Cassimus might have been something must be missing from the historical account we have been provided with. While I am not sure what that might be the case since his father Alex lived with him and his family I think it is safe to assume some money was contributed by Alex Cassimus in this whole process.

But what about the Cassimus family? What happened to them? And why do we not hear more about them in the description of the house that Speridon Cassimus commissioned to be built? Newspaper articles, cemetery records and other accounts can provide us with some answers to these questions. Rather than worry that we do not have the whole story let us see what is readily known. Cemetery records report that Speridon and Mary Cassimus buried four infant children between 1895 and 1913, two boys and two girls.

While members of the extended Cassimus family arrived in Montgomery around 1878 I only managed to find newspaper accounts, for various members of the Cassimus family, starting in 1904 – a full 46 years after the family’s arrival. On October 12, 1904, Christopher J. Cassimus (b 1847) was killed by a trolley car in a horrific accident. Identified in one newspaper account as “Colonel C. J. Cassimus” we must assume that this member of the extended Cassimus kindred had received this honorary title –at least in this one news account – as an indication of the broader community’s respect for this man (Augusta Chronicle October 13, 1904). In the Montgomery Advertiser we learn that: “Mr. Cassimus was extremely popular in Montgomery. Mr. Cassimus being constantly at the stand, he was known to a large number of people. The fact that he was preparing to return to the home of his boyhood, solicited no little sympathy for the deceased and his family. On account of his large family connection around Montgomery, many fruit stands throughout the city closed yesterday evening (October 13, 1904).”

The wider history of Greeks in the United States can only be enriched by learning more about the Cassimus family, the Greek immigrants of Montgomery and the state of Alabama in general.