IN SEARCH OF MY CASSIE HERITAGE

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COMING TO AUSTRALIA

Karasavas Family Passport Photograph Port Said 1928

Back Row: Zafiris Karasavas, Maria Karasavas (Later Anastasakis) and Spiros Agapitos Karasavas FRONT ROW: Cynthia Pamela Karasavas (Later Cresswell), Anastasia Karasavas (Nee Xanthis) and Agapitos Spiro Karasavas.

Photograph courtesy Allan Cresswell

From my mother........Dad arrived back in Castellorizo just before I turned five and had this beautiful doll for me and it said “Mama”. We couldn’t make out where the noise was coming from. My second brother, Geoff (Zafiris), kindly took the doll when I wasn’t looking. He took it upstairs and pulled it all to pieces to see what made it say “Mama”. After mum had finished with him he wasn’t very happy. Dad stayed with us for about four months before we all moved from Castellorizo.

Dad talked Mum into coming to Australia. He thought Sydney had more promise. He came to Castellorizo then we went by small boat to Rhodes, then another boat to Port Said and waited there for the ship to Australia to arrive. We had a couple of weeks up our sleeve and we decided to stay with my grandmother’s brother (and my father’s uncle), Nicolis Malaxos and his wife, Despina (nee Barbouttis).

Nicolis Malaxos and Family 1922 Port Said Egypt

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Photograph courtesy Nicholas Papas

Mum continues........Then there was an instance in Port Said and my great uncle had this boarding house, it was huge, like a hotel. Everyone else was black over there. I remember the money had little holes in it. My uncle’s housekeeper was black, but spoke fluent Greek. We heard this noise and my uncle said to the housekeeper, “Give the children a coin each.” It was an ice-cream cart. My brother, Geoff and I didn’t know what ice-cream was. He said “just follow the man and give him your money.” So we did that and had to walk a fair way. We were a bit dubious about eating it. We tasted it and liked it, then looked around and all the houses looked the same. It was our first day there, we didn’t know where the house was. I started to cry and Geoff put his arm around me, and he’s crying too. Here is a five year old and an eleven year old with different ones coming over to us and we didn’t know what they were talking about . The next thing the housekeeper comes running down to us. It was quite a few houses from where we were staying, but she must have realised what had happened and came after us. That was a real trauma for us.

The Karasavas Children: Zafiris, Spiros, Cynthia and Maria Port Said 1928

Photograph courtesy Angela Karasavas

Agapitos collected his family from Castellorizo early in 1928 and from Port Said they migrated to Australia on-board the Italian ship, Citta’ di Genova. The ship anchored at Fremantle harbour on June 16 1928 where the family was met by the Xanthis family and taken to Lake Street.

Gneisenau / Citta di Genova 1903

The GNEISENAU was built in 1903 by AG Vulcan, Stettin for North German Lloyd of Bremen. She was a 8,081 gross ton ship, length 453.9ft x beam 55.7ft, one funnel, two masts, twin screw and a speed of 14 knots. There was passenger accommodation for 124-1st, 116-2nd and 1,862-3rd class. Launched on 1st April 1903, she started her maiden voyage on 2nd September 1903 when she left Bremen for Australia via Suez.  On 6th July 1904, she started her first Bremen - Suez - Far East voyage and made seven round voyages on this service. Her first Bremen - New York sailing commenced 18th March 1905 and her tenth and last on this route started 3rd April 1909.  She sailed on her 17th and last Bremen - Australia voyage on 29th July 1914 and in October 1914 was scuttled to obstruct the fairway of the River Scheldt. In May 1917 she was raised by the Germans and docked at Antwerp, seized by Belgium in November 1918 and sold to Italy on 20th June 1919. Rebuilt at Antwerp as the CITTA DI GENOVA for Italian owners, she sailed between Genoa, Fremantle, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane until broken up in 1930 at Naples.

The shipping documents displayed below state that the family embarked from Port Said and travelled “Third Class” along with a further 246 “Third Class” passengers and 25 “First Class” passengers. The ship had a gross tonnage of 7728. The incoming passenger list includes:

Agapito Carasava Labourer Male Age 53

Anastasia Carasava Home Duties Female Age 42

Spini Carasava Student Male Age 11

Maria Carasava Student Female Age 10

Zaffirio Carasava Student Male Age 9

Panajota Carasava Student Female Age 4

Cover Sheet and Report of Passengers On Board the SS Citta Di Genova Arriving Fremantle 16 June 1928

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It is interesting that the passenger list also nominated all members of the family as “Resident of Egypt” and “Race Italian”. It is also interesting to note that their surname was “Italianised”, possibly because the ship was Italian, but more likely because Australia was far more inclined to accept Italian migrants at the time as opposed to Greek. It could also be said that the island was indeed under Italian rule so that their race was Italian, but it is more likely that they would have offered their race as Greek, especially embarking from Egypt, unless it was of advantage to say otherwise for acceptance into Australia. The United States of America had already suspended Greek migration but was still accepting Italians.

It is suspected that the children had their ages lowered on the shipping passenger list to reduce fares. Spiros Agapitos Karasavas true age was aged 15 years, Maria Karasavas 13 years, Zafiris Karasavas 12 years and Xanthi Panayota (Later Cynthia Pamela) Karasavas 5 years.

Passenger List for SS Citta Di Genova showing Agapitos Carasava and Family

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A Personal Statement and Declaration was made by Agapitos to Customs and the following additional information is supplied by him:

Agapito Carasava born Castelrosso Italy 17 September 1876. Nationality Italy, Race Italy. Passport issued 9th May 1928. Wife and children are listed as born Castelrosso. Occupation Labourer, height 5’5”, Dark and Grey hair, Brown eyes. He listed Mr K Xantikis 435 Fitzgerald Street, Perth as a friend. Amount of money carried, eighty pounds.

Dislayed below is the Declaration by Agapitos on the family arriving at Fremantle Western Australia. Included on that shipping list for the Citta’ di Genova were many other names that were also Greek and had been “Italianised”. Names such as Nicola Lazzarachi, meaning cousin Nicholas Lazarakas, were located.

Declaration by Agapitos Karasavas

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NEXT CHAPTER - EARLY DAYS IN AUSTRALIA