kythera family kythera family

Oral History

History > Oral History > The story of Michael Panaretos

History > Oral History

submitted by Alexandra Ermolaeff on 05.01.2004

The story of Michael Panaretos

The story of Michael Panaretos - tzannes8
This is a copy of a photograph of Michael Panaretos. The original is in the Cultural Centre in Potamos. The photo was taken after he returned to Greece from the Belgian Congo.

Michael Panaretos left Kythera when his parents refused him permission to marry a girl they thought unsuitable. He vanished without a trace. He was about 22 at the time. His father in his will left him a one third share of his estate. This third share was to be kept intact for thirty years should he re-emerge. But he did not.

However as an old man he returned to Athens with two nurses, to live. He was apparently unmarried and childless, and had changed his name to Panagiotou. He was discovered by his family when he applied for a copy of his birth certificate from Kythera which he needed to obtain to prove his Greek nationality. Because he applied in the name Panagiotou no record was found but then he remembered his original name was Panaretos and reapplied. Stavros Megaloconomos noticed the application and wondered who this man was. He told the Panaretos family of the application.

Maria Freeleagus (nee Panaretos) went to visit the old man and gained his confidence. She learnt that all those years of his absence had been spent in the Belgian Congo where he had prospered. He was forced to leave the country and return to Greece in his old age following the Belgian withdrawal from the colony and the associated fighting that had broken out. Michael had nowhere else to go but Greece. Now relatively rich he bought office premises near Syntagma Square. In his will he left the income from that investment to the Kytherian Community. The money from that investment now funds the Cultural Centre in Potamos.

Story told by Ross Tzannes of Sydney, Australia

Leave a comment

1 Comment

submitted by
Gaye Hegeman
on 21.03.2011

I read with interest the story of Michael Panaretos and think he may be a member of our family but there are no dates or information that indicate when he left the Island or returned. The photograph appears to have been taken early 1900s? I would appreciate hearing from anyone with further information.