Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Greeks of Berrien County, Michigan



"The Greeks of Berrien County, Michigan" is a booklet that has been published by the Berrien County Historical Society and is available FREE online.  Nice photographs and history.


"Many Greek immigrants who settled in Berrien County (an agricultural area in the extreme southwest corner of Michigan) in the early 1900s had previously lived and worked in big cities like Chicago.  They had saved enough money in those jobs to open restaurants, candy stores, groceries, and other small businesses in Berrien County.  Some felt that it was better to raise a family in a small town, rather than a big city.  Also, the countryside, with its grapes, fruit trees, and lake reminded them of Greece.

"Only a few Greeks lived in Berrien County, Michigan in the first two decades of the 20th century.  According to the 1900 United States census, no one was recorded as having been "born in Greece".  The 1910 census records, only six people whom were "born in Greece".  The census data does not give any information about whether there were others of "Greek descent" (i.e. immigrants' children) but that number would probably not have been very large, since the early Greek immigrants were single young men and had not had much time to establish their families.

"Early Berrien County Greeks came to this area from the Peloponnesus in Southern Greece, with some from Roumeli and a few from Greek islands.  The early immigrants to the county settled primarily in the Benton Harbor area, according to a 1933-1935 roster of the local chapter of the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA), a national fraternal organization.  Unlike big cities like Chicago, they did not congregate together in neighborhoods but were scattered.  Just a few lived in the southern part of the county around the village of New Buffalo." ...... read more





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