|"Thea Vasilo" (aka Bella)|
I have mentioned that my Papou George Sarris had a candy store in Crockett, CA, that he bought from his brother Louis. Who? He did not -- according to my list from his village Kyparissi, Lakonias -- have a brother (or half-brother, as has recently been suggested) named Louis. I did locate a Louis who lived in Crockett, but still the name was perplexing. Then it hit me!
|Papou Sarris (right)|
A common MYTH is that names were changed at Ellis Island. NOT TRUE, according to "Who do you think you are?" (A companion to the NBC series). Ellis Island was staffed by people who spoke many languages and "were mostly checking names against lists generated at the port of departure" (p. 14). Immigrants changed or shortened their names later to fit in. And according to The Guinness Book of Names (7th Edition), Louis was the 15th most popular name for boys in 1900 (p. 70).
Louis Sarris mystery solved? We'll see..at least we are getting a lot closer!
NOTE: That Name Game somewhat explains why we grew up thinking that our other papou's name was Xenophon Xanttopoulos, when his name on ALL paperwork-- including immigration papers and death certificate -- is Xanthoulis Xanthopoulos. This may have been a Yiayia Pauline effort to substitute/perpetuate a more classic, familiar Greek name beginning with X, even though my Papou himself (whom I never met) seemingly never used it. Even the 1932 San Francisco phone book listed him as Xanthoulis (spelled "Xantholes"), a name I actually found on Facebook recently belonging to someone in England. I had heard that Xanthoulis Xanthopoulos (father Efstathios) was most likely born around 1890 in Saranta Ekklisies. I have now discovered that this town is actually in Eastern Thrace not far from the Black Sea (Asia Minor) and was inhabited by many Greeks from ancient times to the Ottoman Empire, until the exchange of populations in 1923. It is now Kirklareli, Turkey. Stay tuned!