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Oral History

History > Oral History > A chapter of Cassimatis family history

History > Oral History

submitted by Giannis Cassimatis on 14.05.2004

A chapter of Cassimatis family history

The Cassimatis family originated from the village of Keramoto of Kythera island. The first Manolis Cassimatis (that is, the first of who some memory still remains), otherwise known as Gerontomagas married a woman named Aneta, with whom he had six children, one daughter, Katerina, and five sons, Theodoros, Giannis, Nikos, Andreas and Panagiotis. Katerina had three daughters with her husband Dimitrio, Alexandra, Koula and Aneta. It is however the five sons who concern this chapter of the family history, and especially Panagiotis, otherwise known as Kaloulas.
Panagiotis followed his brothers to America in 1900 after taking the trouble to learn very good English. The brothers had set up a tobacco shop, and Panagiotis remained with them in America working for the business, until the Balkan wars broke out and one of the men was required to return home to represent the family… Panagioti volunteered for the job. His near perfect English got him the job of a translator in the war, and when the fighting was over he once again set out for foreign lands, this time Australia. His brothers were devided as some came back to Kythera (Theodoros was one of them and he passed away after falling from his donkey in the fields) while others elected to stay in America. One of these was Andreas, who was the only boy besides Panagiotis to have children, one of whom, Manolis, became a top, much respected judge, and played an active part in the writing of laws for juvenile rights and aid. He returned to Kythera for a few years to learn Greek, but for the most part remained in the USA.
Meanwhile Panagiotis set out for Australia where he took over some new uncultivated territory and started a general store and café-bar. The workers round that territory were for the most part immigrants, and often fights would break out in the bar at night…fights which ended as soon as the tall dominating form of Panagiotis Cassimatis entered the room, for he was a strong, quick tempered man of huge stature, and no one crossed him if they could help it. Having made his fortune Panagiotis returned to Kythera and put all his savings into the Anglo-Americana bank, where a friend of his was manager. He was well to do, until the bank began to go bankrupt… Panagiotis, trusting to the word of his friend, the manager, left his money in the banks keeping even as all the other customers pulled out their savings. The bank was soon bankrupt and Panagiotis found himself out in the fields again, toiling and making things work the hard way. But he loved the land, and he soon married, and both he and his wife led the hard lives of the working class during the depression. They had four children, Manolis, NIkos, Anna and Giorgos, and their children’s children still live and thrive on Kythera, with the memory of their ancestors buried deep in their hearts…

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