So what’s in a name?


If I had a nickel for every time I was asked to spell or pronounce my family name I would be a wealthy man.

But wealthy I’m not. I am, however, a curious man with a love of history and reading, an over-active imagination, and a fascination with creation myths.

Which brings me to this blog, which is really more of a serialized research project. My goal is to try and uncover the birth and history of my family name. And through this to learn something about the history and culture of our native village and island, and of Greece, and our process of immigration and settlement in the the new world.

I’m particularly interested in my patrilineal family name because it links us directly to a tradition that was shared by Orthodox Christians and Muslims alike during Ottoman times: the hadziliki in Greek, hacılık in Turkish, or the more commonly known hajj in Arabic, the annual pilgrimage to the holy sites: Mecca for Muslims, Jerusalem during Easter for Orthodox Christians.

Our family story begins in the small farming and herding village of Apeiranthos, on the slopes of Mt Fanari, the second tallest mountain on Naxos, the largest and most fertile of the Cyclades, a group of islands scattered across the Aegean Sea southeast of Athens, the proverbial stepping stones between Europe and Asia.

The story extends across centuries and continents, from Naxos to Jerusalem, Smyrna, Constantinople, Athens, and through the portal of Ellis Island into Canada and the United States.

This effort is part memoir, part history, part mythology, part genealogy, part cultural archeology. It includes story telling and speculation, even some fiction.

But I’m not writing hagiography. I won’t put any person, family or nation on a pedestal. Nor will I make moral judgements or sugar coat prejudices. There are no heroes or villains, no good guys or bad guys in these stories, only people trying to make the best of their lives in the world as they find it.

While the main thread of this project follows the patrilineal branch of our Hadzipetros family tree, I’ll also explore stories from the maternal side, and from more distantly related—and unrelated—families and individuals, particularly where they can throw light on the culture, the times and the way people lived.

If I manage to express any original thoughts in any of this, they’ll be firmly anchored in the research of others or in the analysis of records pulled from archival sources. I’ll provide attribution and links to external references where necessary, but will avoid bogging down the text. The bibliography lists most of my current sources. But it is incomplete and will be updated as the project progresses. Check it out periodically if any of this interests you.

This is very much a work in progress. Everything I cover will almost certainly be revisited as I acquire more information. So join me and feel free to comment. Καλώς ορίσατε! Welcome!


9 thoughts on “So what’s in a name?

  1. Marion Gratsias

    I am anxiously waiting to read on what you find. It sounds so interesting and I am sure you put a lot of work into this project. Congratulations Manoli, I am on standby for your story on the Hagiepetros clan.

  2. Panagiotis "Pete" Korsos

    Keep it up Emmanel, its very interesting since my Aunt married a Hadzipetros. My father is from Aperanthos.Pana

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