IN SEARCH OF MY CASSIE HERITAGE

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EARLY KARASAVAS AND MALAXOS FAMILIES

NOTE: Many of the Australian Karasavas and Malaxos descendants have been discussed elsewhere in this article

The Karasavas/Agapitos Boys - Castellorizo 1911

From Left:        Malaxos Agapitos - Remained Castellorizo
                          Evangelos Agapitos - To Athens Greece
                          Mihalis Agapitos - Rhodes then later to Sydney NSW Australia
                          Agapitos Karasavas - To Perth WA Australia

Photograph courtesy Angela Karasavas

My mother talks of the Karasavas family........My grandfather, Spiro Karasavas, died when my father was aged only 10 years. My father was the eldest of four boys and my grandmother was pregnant with their only daughter, Garifalia. His brothers were Malaxos, Mihalis and Evangelos. My father went off as a cabin boy on a boat to earn some extra money for the family. With his mother’s help he later bought a boat, she had shares in the boat, and he used to go from Castellorizo to Russia most of the time.  

He would take and trade items with the Turks, Greeks and the Russians around the Black Sea. He was away for about six months of the year. Later his mother and the family lived in Russia for about six months of the year, they had a place there where they lived. He made quite a good living out of it. His brother, Malaxos, also helped with the business and spent much of his time in Russia.

Evangelos Karasavas Russia c1915

Photograph courtesy Angela Karasavas

Then before I was born there was a big revolution in Russia. My father’s mother had all these sovereigns, her share of the money, she wouldn’t trust banks. They were not allowed to take any money out so she said rather than the Russians have it she would bury it along with her jewellery and perhaps later on she would go back and get it. It was placed in two forty four gallon drums and sealed up. But they never had the opportunity to return. The fortune is probably still buried in Russia.

Then in 1922, when my mother was pregnant with me, the bank where my father had his money went broke. He lost all his money and on top of that one of his boats had previously sunk. Dad was badly injured in the sinking, I think a mast fell on him and it damaged his chest. He couldn’t borrow money to replace his boat. All that the family had left was the sovereigns that my mother had. She didn’t believe in banks either. This was about the end of 1922. When I was 10 months old my father decided to come to Australia.

The three other Karasavas boys all used the surname Agapitos, pronounced Ag-a-pit-os. The family story is that Karasavas was just a nickname and that the real family name was Agapitos. The Turks were supposed to have given the name Kara - meaning black in Turkish to an ancestor named Savvas, thus Kara - Savvas. My father Agapitos was the only one to keep the Karasavas surname.

Wedding Mihalis Spiro Agapitos (Karasavas) to Anastasia Tsakouni 19th February 1922 in Castellorizo

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Photograph courtesy Nicholas Papas

Agapitos (Karasavas) Family c1912 - Eldest Son, Agapitos is missing from family photograph - married

Photograph courtesy Nicholas Papas

I asked my mother once as to the origins of our family and she said that all the grandparents were born in Castellorizo. My father was actually born at sea. Mum was also pregnant with me when they were visiting in Athens but she made sure she came back to Castellorizo in time. She said she did not want to break the tradition as all the family were born there.

Your Uncle Spiro had double pneumonia when the family was in Athens, he would have been ten years old. He was very, very sick as that was a killer in those days, well and truly, eighty odd years ago. Anyhow he pulled through. Grandma Karasavas had a holy picture of Saint Spiro right next to my brother’s bed. Grandma came out and said to mum, “I’m sure Spiro is going to make it, he is going to live.” Mum said, “Why? How do you know?” “Young Spiro just said that Saint Spiro just smiled at him from the picture, that is a sign from the Saint”, replied Maria. That is faith for you, isn’t it? Grandma believed in it and sure enough Spiro pulled through.

When I was two years old there was a large earthquake on Castellorizo. I don’t really remember it but I do remember my mother talking about it and it is sort of vivid in my memory. I know they all went up in the mountain and all the men they made it comfortable for the women and children by erecting these tents. Mum said she saw a thirteen year old girl with the ground opening, she was running, and it took her. She said she never ever forgot that. Mum always said if you are ever in an earthquake never to run, just walk, so you know where you are walking.

We were under an Italian flag when I was a child back in Castellorizo. In those days the Italians did not like the Greeks. Our flag was blue and white and all the houses were painted white. If anyone put or painted anything blue around the house, windows, or anywhere, the Italians would come over and splatter their flag colours all over your house. Talk about graffiti, I am of course only going on what my mother told me.

Malaxos and Mihalis Agapitos (Karasavas)

Photograph Courtesy Allan Cresswell

I didn’t go to school as I was only just 5 years old, but everybody over there, my brothers and sister, they all had to go to an Italian school, because we were under the Italians. It was up to the parents and the children themselves if they wanted to go to Greek school after normal school, which they did do. I spoke Italian fluently as it was just like here where all the kids speak English.

Our home was a typical house for Castellorizo, it was three storey and about a street back, or maybe a bit further back, from the waterfront. In front of us was Aunty Ethel’s parents home, they were facing the water, more or less, and we were behind them. It was only a stones throw away from the harbour. All the homes were mainly the same, with the typical shutters and balconies. I can remember bits and pieces about Castellorizo. I said to your father when we went to the opening of the Raffles Hotel at Canning Bridge, “That looks like Castellorizo.” I was looking at the small wall around the water near the hotel. Your father said, “You wouldn’t remember that. I replied, “It just came to me.” Sure enough when we went to Castellorizo in 1984 I said, “There’s that wall I was telling you about.”

Malaxos Agapitos, who had spent much of his early life in Russia, married Evangelia Paspalis. They could not have any children so they adopted a Russian boy and called him Spiro. Spiro and his family live in Rhodes, I visited him when I went over in 1984. Spiro was only about 11 years old when my uncle died, then Evangelia remarried. Spiro took his step father’s surname, Sekos, or something similar to that.

The Karasavas/Agapitos Brothers working in Mihalis's Shoe Factory

Photograph Courtesy Nicholas Papas

Mihalis Agapitos was a shoemaker, not a bootmaker, a shoe manufacturer, in Rhodes. He married Anastasia Tsakounas. They came to Australia in 1946 and lived in Sydney.

Spiros and Vassilis Agapitos c1940

Photograph courtesy Angela Karasavas

Evangelos Agapitos only died about 15 years ago (in about 1979). He married Afroditie Efrossini and had two sons, Spiros and Vassilis. Spiros was a guerilla during the Second World War and nothing further was ever heard from him. Right up to the day that he died my uncle always thought that Spiros was alive. The other son, Vassilis, lives in Piraeus and owns shops and restaurants over there. His wife, Irene, died a few years ago. They had two children, Evangelos, who I think was also called Spiro, and Pavlos, or Paul.

Agapitos/Malaxos Family Gathering at Piraeus

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Photograph courtesy Angela Karasavas

Marriage Tsicos Galettis to Garifalia Karasavas in Castellorizo

Photograph courtesy Panyiota (Betty) Manifis

My Aunty Garifalia (Rose), came to Australia in 1946. Her husband, Tsicos Galettis, had already died in Rhodes. Tsicos Galettis was the son of Basil Dimitris Galettis and Helen Condoulas.

Garifalia (Rose) Galettis (nee Karasavas)

Photograph courtesy Allan Cresswell

A few comments by me........Spiro Karasavas, my mother's grandfather, was the second son of four boys and one girl, namely, Savvas, Spiro, Lucas, Mihalis and Marigo. Their parents were Agapitos Karasavas and Garifilia, whose maiden name is unknown. The daughter, Marigo, married an Iacomou but nothing further is known about her or the brothers Lucas and Mihalis. The other brother, Savvas, was the grandfather of Marigo and Michael who migrated to South Australia. Agapitos, my mother's great grandfather named his first born son Savvas, which is usually named after the father's father. On that basis my mother's great great grandfather would have been named Savvas. Perhaps this is the ancestor where the Kara-Savvas originated from.

My mother talks of the Malaxos family........My grandmother, Maria Karasavas (nee Malaxos) died when I was two years old, in 1925. She moved to Athens from Russia in 1917 and my parents visited her there in 1922 when mum was pregnant with me. I am unsure if she died in Athens or was in Castellorizo at the time.

My grandmother had two sisters, Marou and Caterina. She also had brothers, Vasilis, George, Nicolis and Hadjiyannis. Marou married Anastassios Tsolakis and both Thea Marou Georgis and her brother, our cousin Michael Tsolakis, can tell you more about the Tsolakis family. Caterina Malaxos married a Constantinos Mammiou, or a similar surname, but I know nother further about this family. Vasilis married a Calliope and some of the descendants ended up in Sydney. I have now been told by you that some of Vasilis' family went to America and that you are in contact with a Bill Malaxos from America. I have been told that the next son, George Malaxos, died as a child. Nicolis Malaxos is the great uncle of mine who we stayed with in Port Said before coming to Australia. Later this Malaxos family came out to live in Sydney, I think most of the children came. You have been in contact with the family over there. The youngest son was Hadjiyannis who married Caterinia but I know nothing further about this family.

Maria Karasavas (nee Malaxos) Athens 1922

Photograph courtesy Angela Karasavas

I was told as a child that grandmother Maria Karasavas (nee Malaxos) had a first cousin who went to America a long time beforehand but never married. When he died he left a fortune and she was the next of kin. She had to prove who she was and have all the expense of going to America, so she just let it drop.

From Aunty Marou Georgis on the Malaxos family.........My grandmother was Marou Malaxos and she married Anastassios Tsolakis. They had four sons, Evangelos, Malaxos, Paul and Illias. Malaxos is my father and nearly all his descendants ended up in Perth. My father died in 1943 and my mother, Maria, nee Papalazaros then came to Perth. The other Tsolakis children namely, Evangelos, Paul and Illais moved to Athens and a few of Illais’ descendants later moved to Sydney. My brother, Michael Tsolakis, can tell you more about these families. He is in contact with most of his cousins, both in Greece and Sydney.

With regards my grandmother's brothers and sisters, Caterinia Malaxos married Costa Mamiou, Maria married your great grandfather, Spiro Karasavas, Hadjiyannis Malaxos married Caterinia, Vassilis Malaxos married Caliopi and Nicolis Malaxos married Despina. Nicolis, Despina and their family lived at Port Said in Egypt. Many descendants of this Malaxos family also migrated to Perth or Sydney. I know that Nicolis Malaxos had four sons and two daughters, Michalis, Malaxos, John, Illias, Panayota and Evangelia. There may have been other children. The three eldest boys moved to Sydney and Illias to Athens. I don’t know what happened to the girls.

Cousin Michael Tsolakis has since provided comprehensive information to me on the known decendants of Anastassios Tsolakis and his wife, Marou (nee Malaxos). All that information is included within my genealogy website.

Bill Malaxos of Clearwater Florida contacted me by email in January 2000 and family information was exchanged including a detailed family tree compiled by Bill which is included in this website. In part of the first email received from Bill he advises........Dear Allan, My name is Bill (Vasili) Malaxos. I was born in Pittsburgh PA and currently live in Clearwater Florida. My paternal grandfather was Vasili Malaxos born Kastellorizo and my father was George Malaxos who was born in Kastellorizo around 1892 and died in Pittsburgh PA USA in 1970. My paternal grandmother was Calliope Mirakles also of Kastellorizo. My father's siblings were Panaiota (who married a Kalafatas), Michael, Malaxos and Paraskos. Malaxos Malaxos settled in Australia and I have first cousins there. I am not sure but I believe my grandfather's father's name was Malaxos Malaxos. His children were Joh, Zarbuta, Maru, Maria, Nicholas and my grandfather Vasili. I would appreciate hearing from you. Bill (Vasili) Malaxos

And comments from me regarding the parents of Maria Malaxos, my great grandmother.......Initially information came to hand that my Malaxos family was structured as follows.........My mother’s grandmother, Maria Malaxos, was the daughter of Vassilis Malaxos and Panayota Zoumroutas. Vassilis Malaxos was the son of Captain Diamantaras Malaxos and Christina (nee Liveris). Diamantaras is believed to have come originally from Crete. Vassilis and Panayota had seven children, Maria, Marou, Caterinia, Hadjiyannis, Vassilis, George and Nicolis. However Bill from USA suggested the father's name was actually Malaxos Malaxos and not Vassilis. This seemed now to be correct as my grandfather's brother was named Malaxos - and he was the second son born and to be named after his maternal grandfather. Then when in contact with Nicholas Papas of Sydney he had additional information to supply. He advised that the Malaxos family had lived in Kalamaki Asia Minor in the 1800's. Also that Nicolis Malaxos had died in 1940 and he had told the family that his father's name was Kiriakos.

Initially this information seemed in conflict with previous information obtained. However new information has come forward that in many Malaxos family lines the first born son is always called Malaxos, no matter what he was baptised. Also that in many instances Kyriakos and Malaxos are names given to the same child. It was also suggested that my Vassilis was actually the father of Malaxos (Kiriakos) discussed above and that one generation had been omitted. This now is how my Malaxos family tree is structured until established information to the contrary is provided.

Back in 1998 Leo Malaxos who is yet to be linked to our Malaxos family provided this initial information on his family in part of an email to me........Dear Allan, Many thanks for your greetings and for the wonderful email. My whole name is Leonidas Malaxos, of course I'm Greek, but born in Beirut Lebanon, moving to Sweden in 1977. I'm Greek and a Swedish citizen. I am amazed that there are so many Malaxos in Australia and USA, I thought for many years that I was alone, but thanks to internet I know much better now.

Anyway, back to my family, what I know is that we originate from Castellorizo and Crete. Many years ago my sister, who lives in Athens, and I were in Malaxa on Crete, but no one there was named Malaxos. My great grandfather, Georges Malaxos, was a consol at the Greek Consulate in Tripoly (Lebanon), sent by the Sultan Abdull-Hamid with a Faraman (decree). Georges had seven children and when he died his wife (Katbe) moved to Port Said with the children: 1. Malaxos - lived in New York and married to an American woman - has children 2. Kosti 3. Michel (my grandfather with three children, Georges - lives in Paris and has a daughter who lives in Beirut (four grand children), Andre - lives in Montreal Canada with five children (four grandchildren), Roger - my father lives in Beirut with four children (one dead) (three grandchildren) 4. Yanni 5. Gabriel married to a Belgian woman with one daughter who lives in Athens 6. Frosso was married to an Italian man, Del Ponte 7. Aglaya was married and had two children.

In 2005 Leo Malaxos contacted me again per email with additional informations obtained from Bill Malaxos........You wrote that Diamantaras (or Kioriakos) had only one child Vasilis b.1785, but according to Bill he had 5 children: Vasilis 1784, Kiriakos (or Malaxos) 1786, George 1786 (twins?), Malaxoudia 1789 and Panagiota 1791. You wrote also that Vasilis and Marou had only one child, but according to Bill they had 5 child (Marou´s family name was Efstathiou): Kiriakos (or Malaxos) 1815, Sotiris 1817, Haralambos 1819, Michael 1821, George 1823.

Final comments from me........Thus siblings now have been provided for both my ancestors, Vasilis born 1784, and Kiriakos (Malaxos) born 1815, by other members of the Malaxos family. In time we may be even be able to link Leo's family to ours as well as that of other known Malaxos families worldwide. Other Malaxos families that we are aware of, in addition to those families who already do connect to, or that of Leo's are:

1. George Malaxos born Western Australia who married my mother's cousin, Despo Xanthis, here in Perth. George had siblings Katina, Chrissie, Haralambos and Jack Maxwell. George's father was Michael George Malaxos born Castellorizo in 1884. His grandfather, George, would have been born c1850.

2. Mea Hewitt (nee Malaxos) whose provided information on her father, Constantine Michael Malaxos (also known as Kosta Malaxos-Alexander). He was born in Piraeus 1902 and siblings were John Michael, Nicholas Michael, George Michael, Eugenia and Evangelos. Their father was Michael John Malaxos born c1870 and was the son of John born c1840.

3. Mel (Menelaos) Malaxos of New York who provided information to Bill Malaxos. His father was Nicholas born 1877 in Castellorizo and died in New York c1967. Nicholas had a brother Estathou and two sisters. Nicholas's wife was named Elini Haralambakis? from Lemnos.

4. Nick (Nicholas) Malaxos of New York who also provided information on his family to Bill Malaxos. His father was Kosta and mother, Maria Lambros. Kosta left Castellorizo in 1915 at 12 years of age for Egypt and went later to USA and died c1995. Nick has siblings, Harry - who went to USA, Zoe (now Samaras) and Emily (now Rouso) - who went to Greece.

NEXT CHAPTER - EARLY XANTHIS AND KOMNINOS FAMILIES