Posts tagged ‘Genealogy’

Giakoumelos

On my paternal grandmother’s side I descend from one of the older families in the Hellenic region, that of the Giakoumelos (Γιακουμέλος) of the island of Zakynthos also known as Zante (Ζάκυνθος). According to the definitive book on the families of the island, Λεξικόν Iστορικόν και Λαογραφικόν Zακύνθου (Historical & Folkloric Dictionary of Zakynthos) volume 1 by Λ.Χ. Ζώης, the family has been on the island since before 1478. However, the family was not listed in the Golden Book (Libro d’Oro) of the island, maintained during the Venetian rule.

The family were the founders of the village of Gyri (Γύρι), located at the highest point on the island. For centuries, the family has led the village in a form similar to a señorío in Spain. Over the centuries, the family broke out into branches each with its own nickname but maintaining the surname:

  • Camberi (Καμπέρη)
  • Colovieni (Κωλοβιένη)
  • Cousoula (Κουσουλα)
  • Dairis (Νταΐρης)
  • Darios (Νταρίος)
  • Gialia (Γιαλιά)
  • Malouchos (Μαλούχος)
  • Roros (Ρωρός)
  • Roupa (Ρούπα)
  • Vardakastani (Βαρδακαστάνη)

The above are those I know about and there may very well be several more. In any case, of the ones listed above the Dairis and the Roros branches seem to have risen to the headship of the seignure and to have maintained that over the centuries. For example, the Roros were treated as the aristocracy of the village of Gyri. What is fascinating is that to this day, the family leads the small village and has a leadership role in the regional administration.

It should be noted that Gyri has always been a tiny village, out of the limelight and there back in the day it was very much isolated from the hustle and bustle of the islands capital, let alone the rest of the world. Marriages were usually with families in the neighboring, also tiny, villages such as the case of my paternal maternal great-grandmother who was a Moraitis.

Now, there is ample documentation about the Giakoumelos going to the mid 15th century but, what about before that? The family didn’t spring from out of nowhere so we need to see what was going on at that time on the island.

After the 4th Crusade of 1204 what was once the Eastern Roman Empire, better known as the Byzantine Empire, got split into a number of small kingdoms under the rule of the Western European Crusaders. As the Crusaders were all Roman Catholic and the general name for them in the Eastern Orthodox lands they conquered was “Latins” or “Franks”, the period during which these kingdoms existed is known as Francocracy or Frankokratia (Φραγκοκρατία). The rule ended truly in the 20th Century when Italy returned the Dodecanese to Greece after World War 2 though most would put the end in the early 19th Century when the Napoleonic controlled Republic of Venice ceded its Greek territories to the British Crown. To complete the story, the British gave those same lands to the new Kingdom of Greece with the coronation of King George I of Greece.

So, where does Zakynthos fit in this whole mix? Zakynthos was always treated as a package deal with Cephalonia (Κεφαλονιά), the latter usually having more noble families. This pair of islands has a particular history that starts diverging from their Greek Orthodox brothers in 1185 when the King of Sicily created the County Palatine of Cephalonia and Zakynthos for the services rendered to the Crown by Margaritus of Brindisi. After the first Count Palatine, the title went to the Orsini family in 1195. In 1325 it goes to the House of Anjou-Sicily and in 1357 to the Tocco family who kept it until 1479. This year was the first time that the two islands split rulers: Cephalonia was occupied by the Ottomans while Zakynthos went to the Republic of Venice. I should point out that 21 years later, Cephalonia joined Zakynthos and also came under the Venetians.

Notice the year that the Republic of Venice took over the island of Zakynthos and the year the Dictionary above uses as a mark for the family. This means that the Giakoumelos were on the island, with the name “Giakoumelos” before the Venetians took possession of the island. Unfortunately, there isn’t much about Zakynthos on the pre-Venice years, especially regarding its minor nobility or other genealogical records.

So, where does this leave us regarding the origins of the family? This is what we know:

  1. The family were the leaders of their village and treated like aristocracy however, they were not listed in the Golden Book (Libro d’Oro) of the island maintained by the Venetians
  2. They have been on the island for over 5 centuries and we don’t know much from before the mid 15th century
  3. Greeks of “Frankish” descent hellenized their names. For example, Capo d’Istria became Kapodistrias (Καποδίστριας).

Now that we have some background let’s try to take each item, one at a time.

The family was the equivalent to medieval seignures or señores (in the Spanish sense) or, to anglicize it, like a feudal Lord of the Manor. Not only that, they were of a village in the middle of the island and effectively, the middle of nowhere. So far removed they were from the center of power in city of Zakynthos (capital of the island) that many had never even been there! If one examines the Golden Book of the island one finds all the major players in the capital but none of these families were from the hinterland representing the less cosmopolitan parts. Therefore, it is not surprising that the Giakoumelos are not listed there as I’m sure dozens of other families of similar stature aren’t.

 So, where did they come from? The bibliography doesn’t say that they are native to the island nor does it say where they are from. This is where we can come up with hypotheses based on some circumstantial evidence.

As the island was under “Frankish” rule for 300 years prior to Venice taking over and the bibliography is silent about any families from Constantinople with a similar name migrating there, we can assume then that the family has a Western European origin. It’s the only alternative. Where, though, did these people come from? Considering that the Orsini and the Tocco were of Italian descent and that their County was under the protection of the Sicilian or Neapolitan Crowns, the most likely case is that the Giakoumelos come from what is today Italy. This prompted me to do a simple Google search restricted to Italy with the search word of “giakoumelos”. What I found was amazing!

I discovered that there is an ancient Italian family with the name of Giacomello that has had a long history in their region of origin. What is their region? Venice! It’s all now coming together. A family with a notably Italian sounding name, without any mention of them in the Greek lands other than on Zakynthos, an island under Venice’s control for 450 years, is probably related to a quintessentially Venetian family with almost the exact same name. It is self evident that Giakoumelos is an hellenization of Giacomello, following the pattern of so many other hellenized surnames.

The hypothesis is a good one but, can it be proven? This is the hard part. This is a research project that must be attacked from both ends: the Giakoumelos end and the Giacomello end. Is there documentation proving descent of the Giakoumelos from the Giacomello? Did the Giacomello go to Zakynthos and if so, when? If they were notable in Venice why do they not appear in the Golden Book of the island? Why did they decide to live in the most remote part of the island?

So many questions but, not many answers.

Searching backwards, from the Giakoumelos to Venice may prove to be the most difficult since there are sparse records today about the island. Unfortunately, as per the curator of the archives of the island told me, almost all the records were destroyed in a fire caused by the major earthquake of 1953 that ruined most of the island. I hope one day to find a definitive answer.

Advice on genealogical research

I am frequently asked by people how to go about their genealogical research. Many have not started at all while others have some bits and pieces of data but, not at all organized and mostly in their head.

With this blog post, I’m going to try to share the same advice I’ve given friends and others that have contacted me with this same question. It may be of value to you or not but, I have found it works for me.

Write down everything you know or think you know
This is very important. Be as detailed as possible. It will give you a good idea of what it is that you know about your family tree, relations, legends, stories, etc. This will allow you to identify gaps in your knowledge and will help create a road map of what you need to tackle. You may discover that you don’t know the birthdays of any of your cousins or that you don’t have the names of your mother’s cousins.

Attempt to put it in the form of a tree, what do you get?

After you’ve analyzed what you already know, you will be able to start asking the right questions

Don’t discount family stories/legends

We all have that family story of the great-great-grandad who was the King or Prince or was the richest person in town or owned all the land in a region or something like that. More often than not, this is complete hogwash. However, within these stories are grains of truth. It may be that great-great-grandad was not a prince but he was an officer that worked for him or worked at the prince’s favorite bar. Examine the story and see what can be discovered. You will ultimately prove or disprove the story, which is an achievement in itself, but you will also find the truth and some fascinating stories about your family.

Talk to senior family members

The only certainties in life are death and taxes. This is why it is important to make the most of the time we have with the eldest members of our family. They can be parents, uncles, grandparents, cousins, whatever they all have a story to tell. Spend some time with them and just have a conversation about the family. Don’t make it an interview or an interrogation, just let them talk. You’ll find that all they need is a reason to tell their stories and off they go!

I would recommend having a recorder handy to record the conversation, this way you won’t be worried about committing it memory or keeping notes and can focus on the actual story, asking questions when needed and steering them away from tangents.

Don’t worry about inconsistencies or contradictions. Have them go back to the same event from a different path and see if they say the same thing. You will also, hopefully, have the chance to compare with other elder family members.

Document, document, document

Did I say document already? Everything you do or find should be documented. Try to find proofs of whatever it is you are examining. These proofs can be birth/baptismal certificates, death certificates, marriage certs, wills, court decisions, video, pictures, anything. Pretend that your genealogical research will have to be presented in court, that should give you a good feel of how well to prepare.

If you ever plan on petitioning to join any sort of hereditary society, you will need at least a birth/baptismal, marriage, and death certificate for every person in every generation in the line in question, going back as far as possible.

Use good software

If you are doing it all in pen and paper, more power to you. For the rest of us that live in the current century, we like computers. I won’t go into the benefit of using a computer for this as it should be self evident but I will go into the importance of using the right software.

Some may prefer to use Word or Excel and some may have even gotten creative and are tracking things in an Access database you’ve built yourselves. Great! But, it’s not good enough. You need specialized software that can handle all the aspects of genealogical research, handles backups efficiently, is easy to use, can generate reports, perform searches, organize sources, and can support the standard data interchange formats that have been developed specifically for genealogical research.

There are a lot of options out there ranging from desktop only solutions to iPad apps to web based ones. Some are completely free while others are paid for and still others are in between. The choice is yours. I do strongly suggest that you try before you buy, to make sure it does what you need.
Supporting the standard data interchange, called GEDCOM, is crucial. Especially if you’re going to transfer your data from one application to another or what to share with another researcher/family member. Re-entering 10-20 people is a pain but doable. Re-entering 10,000 is reason enough to crawl into a corner and start crying.

Use online sources cautiously

Sites such as FamilySearch.org and Ancestry.com are amazing resources. However, one must exercise caution when using them and really examine the source information. If there are scanned images associated with the text, examine them. Never take anything at face value because mistakes can and do happen. This is more prevalent on sites such as Ancestry.com and Rodovid.org since individuals may basically enter whatever they want. For example, according to Rodovid.org I am a direct descendant of Poseidon, the Greek God of the sea!

Also, Google is a great tool. You never know what you may find simply searching on a name. Give it a try!

Patience

All the other stuff is important but, perhaps the most important thing to have when embarking on the journey of genealogical discovery is patience. This is a lifelong project and probably even longer. Disappointment abounds as do brick walls. However, patience and perseverance will help you push forward and make the discoveries that will make you feel it is all worth it. It IS worth it!

I hope this helps and I am open to discussing your own experiences. Feel free to post below in the comments section or shoot me an email.

 

Genealogical and heraldic formal education

Heraldic and genealogical studies have the distinction of requiring high academic standards in its research, to be taken seriously, but there is very little formal training and education available from traditional educational institutions. The vast majority of us in these fields are amateurs, in the original sense of the word (look it up).

Therefore, it is exciting to see that some universities take these fields seriously enough to establish some educational programs around them.

The list below is not intended to be comprehensive or all inclusive but, it will be an ever growing list (kind of like the list of heraldic artists I have):

  • University of Strathclyde: Offers a Genealogical Studies Postgraduate Programme offering postgraduate certificates and diplomas via distance education. Graduates of the Diploma program have the option to continue their education and receive a MSc.
  • University of Dundee: Offers a Heralrdy Course (only) that is part of its Postgraduate Certificate in Family and Local History, or as part of the University of Dundee’s Masters degree in Archives and Records Management.
  • Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (UNED): A top Spanish university, offers three levels of education via distance education at a postgraduate level also that covers not only heraldry and genealogy but also nobiliary law. The levels are “Expert”, “Specialist” and “Master” in the mentioned areas. Naturally, the language of the program is Spanish.

At this point, I’d like to quote Martin Goldstraw from his excellent Cheshire Heraldry blog where he said:

Courses of this nature can’t be a bad thing however I can’t help but think that once universities get involved we are only one step away from the view often nowadays held by academics that unless one has a recognised qualification in a particular subject one can’t possibly know anything about it.

I agree with this sentiment and would hate for this happen.

 

Memoria Chilena

COA Chile


While looking for some genealogy books I need for my research, I came upon an amazingly valuable resource for anyone doing research in Chile that’s absolutely free!

It appears that the government of Chile has created a website that contains hundreds, if not thousands, of scanned images, articles, books, etc. from sources from the early 1900’s and older.  It is a veritable treasure trove for anyone doing research.

In my case, I had been unable to find many books that I had leads that may contain information on my family and had resigned to the fact that I had to plan a trip to Washington, DC to visit the Library of Congress as that was the only place I could find them. On the rare occassion that I did find a book for sale, its price would range from the mid $100’s (USD) all the way to close to $1,000!

The name of the site is called Memoria Chilena and is located at this address: http://www.memoriachilena.cl/

It has a very powerful search engine that can search by either title, author, publisher or any other keyword. The results returned will include, perhaps, an information page a list of books, articles and photographs.

All books or articles are available in Adobe Acrobat PDF format to be read electronically on your computer, PDA, etc.

One of my favorite features is the e-Libros section whereby there is a list of recommended resources for researchers and enthusiasts alike. What’s great about the list is that it changes monthly which means that you may find a gem there that you never knew existed.

Any researcher of genealogy or history will be well served to use this most excellent resource.

Just be aware that you will not be able to find any of the books or articles published after around the 1930’s. This means that one of the books I’m looking for “El linaje de Vial” by Raúl Díaz Vial, published in 1960 is still to be found by me outside of the Library of Congress… If anyone knows where to find it, please let me know!

Center for Research of Orthodox Monarchism – Board for Heraldic and Genealogical Studies

COA CROM

 

On June 3, 2001, a new branch of the Center for Research of Orthodox Monarchism (CROM) was established: the Board for Heraldic and Genealogical Studies (BHGS).

As the name implies, the CROM dedicates itself to the research of any topics that pertain to the monarchies of those countries that espouse the Orthodox Christian faith. By extension, topics related to the families of the former or current nobility, royalty of the Orthodox faith are also covered by its charter. The Center also has a close relationship with ecclesiasts of of the various Orthodox churches of the world.

 

COA Jovanovich (full)Arms of the Rev. Fr. Deacon Nenad Jovanovich

Furthermore, the CROM (and naturally the BHGS) has operated since November of 2005 under the High Patronage of HRH Prince Aleksandar Pavlov Karageorgevich of Yugoslavia. The BHGS currently being led by the Reverend Father Deacon Nenand M. Jovanovich, an Orthodox clergyman with extensive heraldic knowledge and a passion for his work.

COA KarađorđevićArms of HRH Prince Aleksander Pavlov Karađorđević

The CROM over the years has had the opportunity to design and/or emblazon the arms of many distinguished personages such as the Royal House of Karađorđević of Serbia, the Royal House of Bagration-Muchraneli of Georgia, the Royal House of Braganza of Portugal, etc.

 

COA marital Bagration

Marital arms of Bagration-Mukhrani and Bagration-Gruzinsky

The Board was most recently asked to create the marital arms for the wedding of Prince David Bagration-Mukhrani with Princess Anna Bagration-Gruzinsky, that will result in uniting the two principle claimant lines to the throne of Georgia. These marital arms are displayed above.

Specifically though, the charter of the BHGS states the following:

  • The popularization of heraldry in the Orthodox countries.
  • To create new or enhance existing relationships with other similar organizations worldwide. An emphasis, of course, given to those extant organizations in the countries of interest. Also, to assist those few individuals in those countries who have a passion or knowledge in the subject matter to promote the topic.
  • To organize and participate in related congresses, conventions, lectures, panels, etc. where heraldic and genealogical topics are presented. Presentations of subjects that are well researched and contribute to furthering the body of knowledge.
  • To publish research findings and to appear in the media (printed, audio, visual or electronic). The objective, of course, to make the subjects of genealogy and heraldry more approachable to general population. Most people either aren’t aware of the art and science behind these areas or have an incorrect notion of what is involved. Through media exposure, it is hoped that more people will come to know what is genealogy and heraldry, and perhaps take a personal interest.
  • Publication of a periodical in print and electronically where various topics researched are presented. Additionally, emblazonments of the armorial achievements of various armigerous persons or familes, such as royal dynasties or historical nobility.
  • In addition to the periodical, the creation and maintenance of a website to have an online presence is sought to enhance the communication with the general public.
  • An emphasis is also put on keeping up to date in the technological arena so as to make sure that the message is always delivered without hindrance.
  • The Board is to also give its attention to the education of those who are interested in the disciplines of genealogy and heraldy. Through the education efforts it is expected to set the foundations for the next generations of experts in the field.
  • Finally, the study, rendition, design and certification of existing or new ecclesiastical, civic, corporate and personal arms and symbols are to be central.

Naturally, all of the above can only be achieved by making sure that experts and talented artists are brought together to make sure that the outcome is of the highest quality.

COA Ecclesiastical CROM

The Right Reverend Protopresbyter Father Srboljub M. Miletich

The associates of the CROM-BHGS are highly talented and very much devoted to the cause of genealogy and heraldry. The artists, especially, are at a level that very few world-wide can even come close to in talent and attention to detail.

COA HRH Duke Dom Duarte Pio of BraganzaArms of HRH Duke Dom Duarte Pio of Braganza

The art shown in this post are from the heraldic gallery of the CROM-BHGS located (in English) at www.czipm.org/heraldika-08.html

The website is predominantly in Serbian with certain areas in English and Russian. It is located at www.czipm.org while the direct link to the BHGS section is at http://www.czipm.org/heraldika.html

sitemap