Friday, May 15, 2015

Papou Xanthoulis Xanthopoulos' Naturalization Papers -- and some more questions...

‎Preparing to go to Greece, I have been organizing my family tree info so that I can fill in the proverbial blanks -- and there a quite a few as regard my Papou Xanthoulis Xanthopulos' pre-Naousa life. Recently my search to confirm his birthplace had me looking towards E. Thrace on the Turkish side. Now I have confirmed that he was from Skopos (now known as Uskup), a town in Turkey a few miles from Sarranda Ekklisies (now known as Kirklareli). 
Hints came from my Aunt Soula in Athens -- whom I love dearly, and will see soon -- and the very last column on a ship's passenger list which had been a mere online squiggle at first.  A 1930 census form revealed that my Papou and his 2 kids Efstatheos and Theopiste were naturalized by then!
Naturalization Petitions and the ancillary documents -- which I got from the National Archives regional branch in San Bruno, CA* --  are some of the best sources of immigrant info, as they are filled out and sworn to by the subject. And signed. I was thrilled to see my grandfather's signature on documents.

Xanthoulis & Theopeste
(Stockton, 1937)
Xanthoulis Xanthopoulos died of cancer in 1941 before I was born. He was born in "Skopo, Turkey (Greek Parents)" he declared in 1925. Along with renouncing foreign governments, he also swore that he was not an anarchist or polygamist. And 3 years later -- it took 2 years for the issuance of a "Certificate of Arrival" from the Dept. of Labor -- he was made a citizen along with 2 minor children  who were not even here until1929.‎ (Unfortunately the official papers from their journey from Naousa to San Francisco along with any birth certificates have disappeared.)
Were both my father Steve and Aunt Faith actually born in Naousa, where they lived 1920-29? And Aunt Soula says she remembers Theopeste going to Thessaloniki or thereabouts to visit an aunt. Who are those people?
*There are various online sources for genealogy info online, some free like and others by subscription like On the latter I searched the naturalization records, finding the Index Card for Xanttoles Xanttopoulos (later signed "Xanthules") with Declaration and Petition numbers.The approval was given by the US District Court of SF in1928. I emailed the  San Bruno archive with that info/request and within a week they replied. Paid $10 fee by phone, and 2 hours later the 5 scanned pages were in my email box. Place of birth confirmed, no real surprises except 2 unknown to me witnesses from Stockton for a man ("hat cleaner") living in SF...

Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone on the Verizon Wireless 4G LTE network.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

A blessed letter from a friend in Australia, who happens to be an archbishop & poet, too...

At the Hellenic Genealogy Conference last weekend at NYC's Holy Trinity Cathedral, I was reminded by a lovely woman sitting behind me that there would be a memorial service for Archbishop Iakovos the next day. That set a raft of personal memories down memory lane. 

I told her that about 50 years ago, I had naively sent a letter to Iakovos complaining bitterly about parishes stealing priests from one another...And some may remember that Archbishop Iakovos' retirement was not all that smooth. Some turmoil went into choosing his successor Metropolitan Demetrios of Vresthenis (Athens), who had spent 11 years at Holy Cross seminary and was seen to have first-hand understanding of Greek-Americans. That did not turn out very well...

Archbishop Stylianos
Archbishop Stylianos of Australia (originally from Rethymnon, Crete), a personal friend from my Thessaloniki days, had been another possibility -- a brilliant, straight-forward cleric who was apparently seen as too tied to the Patriarchate. I was very disappointed that he didn't get the job, but I don't think he ever really wanted to leave his beloved Australia. 

Vouli & Paula (Circa 1969)
When I first met him through my dear friend Vouli (another Cretan) in 1969, he was the Abbot of Moni Vlatadon in Thessaloniki. We visited there occasionally, dining at least once on snails from Crete. He seemed to relish my greeting him with "Yia'sou," not exactly the usual way he was approached by lay people. But Stylianos was not your usual churchman, either...Preparing to visit Thessaloniki after many years, I was thinking of Vouli, who has passed away, and my friend Stylianos, with whom I had not communicated for many years. So I sent him an Easter greeting, and a few days ago I received a blessed letter back. 

I want you to know more about this extraordinary human being. Stylianos Harkianakis -- who first studied at the Theological School of Halkis and subsequently established St. Andrew's Theological College in Sydney -- has been Archbishop of Australia for 40 years and a dedicated servant of the far-flung Greek Diaspora. Many people do not realize that he is a also an important Greek poet, who has published 40+ collections and was the recipient of the 1980 Award for Poetry from the Academy of Athens.  I have 5 volumes, thanks to Vouli -- including Australian Passport, published in Greek and English:

THE WORD (Sydney, Redfern, 18 April 1989)*
Sweet is the motherland
the home
the face
sweet is love --
sweeter than all these
the word is
which illuminates
and magnifies
which perpetuates them.

The Archbishop is approaching his 80th birthday, a fact he mentioned since I told him I was about to be 70. He doubts that he will be visiting Greece again -- except, of course, in spirit. And what an amazing spirit, who closed his letter with "Your friend always." Christos Anesti indeed. 

* S.S. Charkianakis, Australian Passport, English Translation by Vrasidas Karalis (Sydney: Brandl & Schlesinger Pty Ltd, 2002), 121.