Spent yesterday -- thanks to my friend Soula Moraitou and her husband Takis -- looking for relatives of my father's father Xanthoulis Xanthopoulos in Neos Skopos (near Serres). The town was built by refugees from the original Skopo in Turkey (Eastern Thrace), where Xanthoulis was born and from which Greeks were expelled in 1915 leading up to the exchange of populations in 1923. Residents and the two presidents of the village and of Orfeos (an amazing organization dedicated to preserving the Skopo legacy) could not have been nicer, even opening the Town Hall on a Sunday morning to search records.
The village is patterned after the original, topped by a building complex -- funded by Skopians all over the world -- housing Orfeos and it's multiple activities: library/office, large practice room with wooden floor for the dance troupe, an auditorium with theater seating, and photo gallery. Excursions to the original Skopos are now the norm -- and a beautiful book dedicated to the Skopo Diaspora was published to well-deserved fanfare on May 25th in Thessaloniki on the 100th anniversary of the 1915 pogroms.
Unfortunately my short-on-details quest yielded zero results, so far. I had only my Papou's name and his father's (Efstathios) plus documentation of birth in Skopo -- and no idea when exactly he left Skopo, except that it was probably before 1915. But Orfeos will publish a blurb about me and my search in their upcoming quarterly newspaper, officially taking me in to the Family of Skopians (as I see it). Their interest and generosity were overwhelming.
Neos Skopos is a modern village where history is a respected way of life -- and I am hereby adopting it as my own, until further notice!
Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone on the Verizon Wireless 4G LTE network.