Difficulties of researching the Andreou family

As opposed to the bounty of information that is available for my maternal lines of the Martínez de Vergara, Edwards, Hurtado de Mendoza, Ortúzar, etc. I have very little information on any of my paternal lines. All I know about the family’s history prior to my father’s generation is from second and third hand accounts from my family’s oral history.

My paternal grandfather was born in 1889 in Cairo, Egypt. I have contacted the Bishop of the Greek Orthodox Church in Cairo requesting information but have not heard back from him. Originally, the information I had was that my grandfather was from Alexandria and I had received considerable assistance from the office of the Patriarch there. However, it was proven that my grandfather was actually born in Cairo.

Milies on map of Greece

Milies on map of Greece

The Egyptian difficulties notwithstanding, I do have some information. I have his birth year of 1889 but, not the full date. I have his parents’ first names: Evangelos and Orthodoxia. I also know that my great-grandfather was from the village of Milies in North-Central Greece. But, that’s about it.

Unfortunately, Greece has had a very tumultuous history and the records keeping has been sparse and those have been destroyed. Adding to the difficulty, my Greek lineage is not one of nobility or major historical importance; at least as far as I know….

During the recent history of Greece, from the Middle Ages to today, whatever records were kept by a central authority were destroyed by either the Ottomans or the Nazis or one of the opposing parties during the Civil War. Any records that may be surviving are those kept in personal collections or hidden in monasteries or churches.

The family’s oral tradition has it that in the 1930’s my grandfather had a filed suit to evict his cousins from property in his name located in his paternal village of Milies. According to the story, my grandfather won the case and had agreed to give his cousins some additional time to vacate the premises before taking possession. However, WW2 started and he never pursued the matter further. My grandfather died in 1942 and the rest of the family didn’t know or have the records to follow through with the matter.

My hope is that records of this court case survived the Nazi purge, who manipulated the official records to their own benefit as it concerned land ownership. If the records have indeed survived, I hope to find more about my grandfather, the location of the property and names from my grandfather’s family. Though I don’t have any plans of asserting my grandfather’s claims to the properties, I would like to contact those family members for more information.

Another difficulty is with the surname. Surname forms change depending on the region of Greece. For example, those from the Peloponnese have their surnames ending in -poulos, except for the region of Mani where they share the same ending as those from Crete of -akis. My surname form of -ou, which is the possessive of the name Andrew (in Greek, names are conjugated as well), is found in various areas of Greece but is most common in Cyprus. However, there is no indication of a Cypriot connection in any of the family traditions. Another interesting fact is the apparent repetition of the first name “Kimon” (also known as “Cimon” in classical western literature) in the family; Kimon has historically been a very popular name on the island. So, I may find some connection, at some point in time, with Cyprus… who knows?

In any case, I hope my research into the Andreou family pans out and allow me to extend my family tree in that direction.

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