Archive for November 2008

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.

History of Martínez de Vergara line from Spain to Chile to me

As mentioned in an earlier post, the founder of my maternal line in Chile was a D. Juan Martínez de Vergara, born to Juan Martínez de Vergara and Isabel Alonso Márquez in Gibraleón, Huelva some time in the late 16th century. His father was a hidalgo, originally from Guipúzcoa that had moved to the south of the peninsula for some reason. The lists of children mentioned below are not listed in the order in which they were born. When the genealogy part of this site goes up, the data will be in the proper order. In general, my maternal line is from first born son to first born son, except for the case of Mateo de Vergara Silva, who was the second born son.

The younger Martínez de Vergara left for Chile approximately in 1612 to join the Arauco War against the Mapuche indians. He never returned to Spain and established himself in Colchagua, reaching the rank of Maestre de Campo or Field Marshal.

In 1634, he marries Magdalena de Leiva Sepúlveda, heiress to an old and noble family from the Basque country. Together, they have four children, three girls and one boy, who would continue the family name: Juan Martínez de Vergara Leiva Sepúlveda.

The founder of the Vergara clan, dies in Colchagua in 1672 after a long and successful life.

Juan Martínez de Vergara Leiva Sepúlveda was born in Chillan and reached the rank of Maestre de Campo, like his father. He was married twice. His first wife was Josefa Varas Covarrubias and mother of his only son José de Vergara Varas. After the death of his first wife, he remarries on October 22 1670, this time to Ana Gómez Ceballos. He finally passes in 1723 and is buried on January 18, 1723 in San Agustin de Talca.

José de Vergara Varas was born in Santiago and like his father and grandfather, reached the rank of Maestre de Campo. In the National Archives in Santiago is stored the favorable judgement from the Real Audiencia on the nobility of his lineage, dated from 1796. José married Maria Carbonell on February 29, 1716 in Santiago and in 1718, their only child Miguel de Vergara Carbonell was born.

Miguel de Vergara Carbonell also continues in the footsteps of his forebears and becomes a Maestre de Campo. Born in 1718 he marries Antonia de Silva Gaete on April 5 1746. They have 11 children: Mercedes de Vergara Silva, Antonio de Vergara Silva, Ignacio de Vergara Silva, Maria Jesús de Vergara Silva, Manuela de Vergara Silva, Manuel de Vergara Silva, Casimiro de Vergara Silva, Miguel de Vergara Silva, Roque de Vergara Silva, Pedro de Vergara Silva and José de Vergara Silva. Miguel dies on January 11, 1771 and is posthoumusly recognized as a noble in 1788.

Continuing on the line that reaches me, we learn about Mateo de Vergara Silva.

Mateo de Vergara Silva was born and baptized in 1752 in Talca. He marries Lucía de Sepúlveda Toledo on August 1, 1775 and go on to have six children: José Rafael de Vergara Sepúlveda, Dolores de Vergara Sepúlveda, Tomás de Vergara Sepúlveda, Juan Luis de Vergara Sepúlveda, Agustín de Vergara Sepúlveda and Francisco de Vergara Sepúlveda. He became a Maestre de Campo in 1785 and was ennobled in 1788. He was very much involved in the Independence of Chile and was a member of the Junta Superior in 1811. He died in Talca in 1818.

Francisco de Vergara Sepúlveda was born in Talca in 1776 and was a politician in his lifetime. He was admitted into the Convictorio de Nobles de Santiago in 1802 and after Chile’s independence was a member of first National Congress, like his father. He also had a military career where he reached the grade of Colonel. With his wife Rosario Rencoret Cienfuegos, he had 11 children: José Domingo Vergara Rencoret, José Ignacio Vergara Rencoret, Manuel Vergara Rencoret, Rosario Vergara Rencoret, Javier Vergara Rencoret, Nicolás Vergara Rencoret, Ruperto Vergara Rencoret, Carlota Vergara Rencoret, Fermín Vergara Rencoret, Salustio Vergara Rencoret and Francisco Vergara Rencoret.
Carlota Vergara Rencoret married José Nicolás Tocornal Velasco and are the great-grandparents of Luis Alberto Hurtado Cruchaga, canonized as a Saint of the Catholic Church on October 23, 2005.

Francisco Vergara Rencoret was also a politician, representing Talca in the National Congress of Chile. He was also a very wealthy individual in whose name the street Vergara was named in the capital, Santiago. According to Mujica, his mansion was very large, having over seventy rooms and had a very pompous opening event where the President of the new republic, Anibal Pinto was invited. With his wife Albina Vergara Donoso, he had 17 children: Luisa Vergara Vergara, Carolina Vergara Vergara, Rebeca Vergara Vergara, Inés Vergara Vergara, Joaquín Vergara Vergara, Albina Vergara Vergara, Enrique Vergara Vergara, Ruperto Vergara Vergara, Luis Vergara Vergara, Elvira Vergara Vergara, Arturo Vergara Vergara, José Martín Vergara Vergara, Urbano Vergara Vergara, Francisco Antonio Vergara Vergara, Rosario Vergara Vergara, Alberto Vergara Vergara and Emilio Vergara Vergara.

Emilio Vergara Vergara was an attorney, receiving his title on April 28, 1877 in Santiago. He marries Gumercinda Antúnez Cruz and has 7 children: Ana Vergara Antúnez, Albina Vergara Antúnez, Maria Vergara Antúnez, Raúl Vergara Antúnez, Victor Vergara Antúnez, Manuel Vergara Antúnez and Emilio Vergara Antúnez.

Emilio Vergara Antúnez marries Valentina Ortúzar Fornés and have 4 children: Valentina Vergara Ortúzar, Maria Teresa Vergara Ortúzar, Adolfo Martin Vergara Ortúzar, Fernando Antonio Vergara Ortúzar, Enrique Vergara Ortúzar, and Emilio Vergara Ortúzar.

Fernando Antonio Vergara Ortúzar, my grandfather, was born on June 13, 1913 in Santiago. He was a medical doctor who had a very broad practice. Through his familial connections he was able to help the Minister of Health create the rural medical center program of the country. He was known throughout the region in which he lived as a very caring doctor who never refused his services to anyone and especially catered to those in need. On October 27, 1939 he marries Eliana Edwards Hurtado, heiress to another old and noble line, and have 13 children: Juan Emilio Vergara Edwards, Paz Carolina Vergara Edwards, Sebastian Vergara Edwards, Enrique Vergara Edwards, Felipe Vergara Edwards, Daniel Vergara Edwards, Mauricio Vergara Edwards, Patricia Antonia Vergara Edwards, Fernando Vergara Edwards, Francisco Vergara Edwards, Cecilia Vergara Edwards, Marcela Vergara Edwards and Maria Eliana Vergara Edwards.

Maria Eliana Vergara Edwards is my mother and she married Evangelos Andreou in 1975 in New York City.

Constantine Andreou

Today we’ll cover a great artist, my uncle Constantine Andreou recipient of the Légion d’Honneur and the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.

My uncle was born in São Paulo, Brazil on March 24, 1917 died on October 8, 2008 in Athens, Greece. He had a very successful career that lasted over six decades gaining fame around the world and especially in France and Greece.

His career started in Greece just a couple of years before World War 2 reached Greece and by 1939 he was participating in national competitions of art.

He first tried participating at the Panellinio (Πανελλήνιο) in 1939 but was disqualified. In 1942, he tried again with the same artwork and the judges accused him of cheating as the art was so lifelike. Fortunately, to his defense came three of the major artists of the time in Greece: Memos Makris, John Miliades, and Nikos Nikolaou. The latter becoming his lifelong friend.

What’s also impressive is that he was drafted into the Hellenic Army in 1940, with Italy’s invasion of Greece, and later participated actively in the Greek Resistance while at the same pursuing his art career.

Right after the war, in 1945, he won an art scholarship to go to France. This was to be his country for residence for the next 57 years.

During his long career, he worked with some of the major intellectuals of his time such as Le Corbusier and Picasso. He was also part of Jean-Paul Sartre inner circle in Saint-Germain-des-Prés. Sartre wrote about my uncle several times in his periodical Les Temps Modernes, liking him as equal to Picasso, Mondrian and Gastaud. In 1999, he was honored by La Ville-du-Bois, the village where he lived, by having their library named after him.

He returned permanently to Athens in 2002 and in 2004 he founded the “Costas Andreou Foundation”, that is currently being chaired by my brother Arys Andreou.

In his career he won many awards for his work:

  • Gran Prix d’Antoine Pevsner, 1998
  • Croix de Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur, 2000
  • Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, 2005

There is an extensive write up on my uncle on Wikipedia under Constantine Andreou

Andreou family

In the last entry I spoke of the founder of my mother’s paternal lineage in Chile, Juan Martínez de Vergara. I’ll get back to that lineage in future posts but today will move to my father’s side, the Andreou line.

Though I don’t have much information on this line what I do have tells a very interesting story.

My father was born in 1929 in the neighborhood of Colonos in Athens, Greece. He was the seventh of eight children of whom the four eldest and the most youngest were born in São Paolo, Brazil. The first child was born in 1916 and the youngest in 1935.

Just this, is an interesting story. Take a look at the map to see where the two countries are in relation to each other and think about the time period.

Among these children, a great artist arose that was honored with the French Legion of Honor and the Order of Arts and Letters, Constantine Andreou.

My grandfather was named Kimon Andreou, just like me, and was born in Cairo, Egypt in 1889 to a Greek couple who had recently emigrated there from central Greece.

The story, as it has been related to me, is that my grandfather first traveled to Brazil sometime in around 1910. He returned briefly to Greece where, through an arranged marriage, he wed my grandmother and sailed back to Brazil settling with his young bride in São Paolo.

After about a decade in Brazil, the family of now six returns to Greece. The last four children were now born in Greece.

If anybody’s keeping track, that’s 6 transatlantic trips and 6 moves with an ever growing family in the period of 1910 to 1937, a time when most never left their village.

Why all this back and forth half way across the world in such a short period of time? I don’t know but, I intend to find out….

The family that was fortunate enough to watch the Great War (or WW1) from Brazil and out of the theatre of war was not so lucky with the second world war. The family at this time was in the Kypriadou neighborhood of Athens and survived through the Nazi occupation of Greece.

The stories told of German atrocities, the famine and illnesses, the people dying in the streets and what they had to do to survive are enthralling and hair raising.

In 1944, my grandfather dies leaving my grandmother a widow with a seven year old daughter and a couple of teenage sons. Luckily, the oldest children were adults and were able to contribute to the survivival of the family.

During the Nazi occupation, all the boys in the family joined the Greek resistance and contributed in any way they could. My father was in his early teens and was already a talented sapper rigging railroads and bridges with explosives to sever the Nazi supply routes.

After the war, the family split with different children migrating to different countries to escape war torn Greece and try to start a new life. The eldest male, Constantine, went to France on an art scholarship to begin a long and illustrious career attaining worldwide fame. Others returned to Brazil once again while others stayed in Greece for a few more years until those too went to Brazil.

The Andreou family managed to avoid the Greek civil war and by 1950 were all, minus Constantine, in Brazil.

The 1950’s were great for the Andreou family in Brazil, though one of the men returned to Greece to start his career in jewelry. The others had their own businesses in Brazil and my father had started his own career in jewlery.

One of the highlights of my father’s career was his selection in 1963 by the government of Rio de Janeiro to create the bejeweled Key to City that was to be presented to US President John F. Kennedy, scheduled to visit the city after a brief visit to Dallas, TX. Unfortunately, that was not to be…..

By the mid to late 1960s my father moves to New York City at the urging of his best friend and my godfather, George Papadopoulos (no relation to the Greek Colonel of the same name). By 1980, he was a US citizen, married and with two children. In 1984, my family of Andreou Vergara moves back to Athens, Greece and now my parents are happily retired and enjoying their life.

Juan Martínez de Vergara

As a segue from the previous entry on my maternal arms of the Martínez de Vergara line and a departure from heraldry, I decided to spend some time discussing my genealogical research.

In the hispanic world, people are known by two surnames, that of the father and that of the mother. In the rest of the western world, only the father’s surname is used. Therefore, my surname would be “Andreou Vergara”.

Additionally, in the hispanic world, people are also known by their four surnames. The father’s surname, the mother’s, the paternal grandmother’s and the maternal grandmother’s. This is a boon to genealogists as they can get more information on a given individual and open up new avenues.

My four surnames are: Andreou, Vergara, Giakoumelos and Edwards.
My mother’s four surnames are: Vergara, Edwards, Ortúzar and Hurtado.
Unfortunately, I don’t have the same information, yet, for my father as the multiple surname custom is not part of Greek culture.
I’ll start with my mother’s side of the family. My mother’s surname is Vergara Edwards and follows the hispanic tradition of using the father’s paternal name and the mother’s paternal name. My maternal grandmother’s name was Edwards Hurtado and my maternal grandfather’s name was Vergara Ortúzar.

I’ll focus on the “Vergara” side. My mother’s paternal line is specifically, Martínez de Vergara” descending from the founder of the line in Chile named Juan Martínez de Vergara who travelled to Chile from Spain to participate in the Arauco War against the Mapuche indians.

He was born in Gibraleón, Huelva to Juan Martínez de Vergara and Isabel Alonso Márquez. The senior Juan Martínez de Vergara was a hidalgo originally from Guipúzcoa.

He married Magdalena de Leiva Sepúlveda in 1634 and had 4 children: Mariana Vergara Leiva Sepúlveda, Francisca Vergara Leiva Sepúlveda, Isabel Vergara Leiva Sepúlveda and Juan Martínez de Vergara Leiva Sepúlveda.

This is the quote from the book “Nobleza Colonial de Chile” by Juan Mujica, pages 444-445:

Partió a las Indias destinado a la guerra de Chile en los campos de Arauco en 1601. Vino enrolado en la tropa que acompaño al gobernador Alonso de Ribera, considerado el organizador del ejército reino de Chile. Formo en la compañía que mandaba el capitán Gines de Lillo y asistió con sus armas en los fuertes de Santa Fe y Talcahuano. En 1628 ya figuraba en grado de capitán.

Establecido en Chillan, donde fue maestre de campo y alcalde en 1640, fundo su hogar y perteneció a la cofradía de Nuestra Señora de los Remedios. Realizada la destrucción de esa urbe por los rebeldes araucanos, tuvo que abandonarla junto con su familia. Su esposa aporto al matrimonio una caudalosa dote con casa solar en la ciudad citada y una estancia de feraces tierras. Vergara con su mujer e hijos busco refugio en zona más segura y obtuvo rica merced de tierras en Colchagua. Se le cuenta entre los benefactores del convento que los mercedarios tenían en Chimbarongo. Consta que en 1658 realizo un viaje al Perú, otorgando antes su testamento en Valparaíso. Cuatro anos mas tarde volvió a disponer otro testamento en su estancia de Chimbarongo y fundo una capellania de misas. Por sus servicios militares obtuvo encomienda de indios en Colchagua y murió en 1672. El sabio Medina anota que la Real Audiencia le recomendó al rey como persona ilustre y benemérita en 1626.


He left for the Indies with a destination of the war in Chile on the fields of Arauco in 1601. He arrived enrolled in the troop that accomanied the governor Alonso de Ribera, considered the organizer of the royal army in Chile. He was part of the company under the leadership of Captain Gines de Lillo and assisted in the battles of Santa Fe and Tlcahuano. By 1628, he had already attained the rank of Captain.

Settling in Chillan, where he was Field Marshal and Mayor in 1640, he created his home and was part of the cofraternity of Nuestra Señora de los Remedios. He had to abandon the town with his family after its destruction of the town by the rebel Araucos. His wife contributed to the marriage with a significant dowry including an estate and land. Vergara, with his wife and children, sought refuge in a safer area and obtained a rich portion of land in Colchagua. He was one of the benefactors of the convent of the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy in Chimbarongo. In 1658 he traveled to Peru after completing his will in Valparaiso. Four years later, he authored another will at his estate in Chimbarongo and founded a chapel there. For his military service he received an encomienda of indians in Colchagua and died in 1672. Media notes that the Real Audiencia recommended he be recognized by the king in 1626.

Source: from data entered by me

Source: from data entered by me