I started researching my families genealogy about 12 years ago. It's been a long road. I've run into many road blocks and discovered many wonderful things about my Greek heritage. This has been an amazing journey of discovery for me and it's become my passion. The purpose for my research is preserve my families stories, remember our family members that have passed on and to pass this history on to future generations.
While trying to fix some computer problems the other day I came across some research notes on my families genealogy that I totally forgot I had hidden away for another day. I had started jotting down information in a note book about five years ago. My grandmother was very sick at the time. She had several mini strokes. The strokes had caused some severe brain damage. She had problems with her short term memory. Though her long term memory was still intact at the time. I just remember thinking to myself I need to get her to tell me the story of our family before she starts having problems with her long term memory. I still recall sitting along side my grandma in wonder as I listened to her tell me the marvelous story of our family and their journey to America. I'm so glad that I took the time to listen to her stories. I would not be where I am today if it wasn't for my great grandparents. It was their courage,strength and will to live that got them to the land of the free. America.
This is the story of the Pantazides family and their journey to the United States. Let me begin by telling you a little about the Pantazides family and their name. The Pantazides family originated in northern Greece, which is now Turkey. They lived in a village of lumber jacks. The name Pantazides means Panta (Lake) zides (people). The people of the lake. In my research I have found two different spellings of the last name. According to Ellis Island records the spelling is Pantazidis. Today my family spelling is Pantazides. Many last names were miss spelled when people entered America through Ellis Island. When my great grandfather entered the United States through Ellis Island the United States Government forced him to change his last name. The story I was told was that he picked the last name Bills because he had a friend that was named Bill. I had heard this story from my grandmother as well as a great uncle. I'm not sure how true this story is. Many of my family members have taken the Pantazides name back and dropped the Bills name. Bills sure doesn't sound Greek. Does it?
In 1864 my great great grandmother was born to the name Creso (Chrissi). Her maiden name is unknown at this time. She was born in Greece. She married three times. Her first husband is unknown at this time. She then married a man by last name of Pantazides. With this man she had two sons by the names of Georgios (George) Pantazides (1885-1938) and Gregorion (Gregory) Pantazides (dob 1892). George Pantazides was my great grandfather. Creso's husband (Pantazides) passed away at an early age. Creso eventually remarried for the third time to a man with the last name Andricopoulos. She had two more sons from this marriage. Nikola (Nick) Andricopoulos (dob 1896) and Antonio (Tony) Andricopoulos (dob 1897). Chrissi's last husband (Andricopoulos) was a very abusive man. One day she took her children and left this terrible man due to his abusive nature. I have to say my great grandmother was really ahead of her time with three marriages and then leaving her husband. I'm sure this type of behavior wasn't heard of in the late 1800's early 1900's.
In the 1900's during the Balkan Wars the Turkish army had started invading Greece. They invaded a little town called Strantza where my family lived. This once was a part of Greece. Today it is a part of Turkey. They attacked many of the Greek villages killing the women and Children. The soldiers would take the men and young boys and force them to become Turkish soldiers. If they resisted they would be killed. This forced many of the Greek Villages to flee to Macedonia for safety. From there these Greek village people would live in refuge camps. My great grandparents and their families were among these refuges. As a child and an adult I had heard my granmother speak of her dislike for Turkish people. I never could understand why she disliked them so much. Now I know.
My mother had once told me the story of her uncle Nick Andricopoulos. Nick had discovered the Turkish army troop that had captured him and forced him to become a Turkish solder was ordered to attack the village that his family lived in. I'm assuming this is Strantza. He didn't know what to do. A Turkish general also heard the same news and knew that Nick's family lived there. The general felt for Nick and decided to help him. He gave Nick his general uniform and with that Nick escaped to save his family. I thought this was such an amazing story. What courage my ancestors had to have to survive this terrible war.
This is my first post on my families history. There will several more posts to follow. This is a work in progress. So stay tuned.