Title: The Monday After: Greeks helped Stark County grow
Author: Gary Brown
Publisher: Canton Rep
That the book “Greeks of Stark County” needed to be written is evidence of the diversity from which Stark County grew.
“Greeks came to Stark County from Greece, the islands, and Asia Minor, especially the region along the black Sea, Some came to make money, some to establish a new home, and some to find refuge,” note authors William H. Samonides and Regine Johnson Samonides in their new history of the local Greek community.
“For all of them, Stark County was an unlikely destination,” the authors note. “Greeks who had lived in a moderate climate close to the sea found the winters in northeastern Ohio cold and long. Stark County is situated in a rich agricultural region and most Greek immigrants came from rural areas, but the available work was in the cities, where many became factory workers.”
The Greek community in Stark County was modeled around three parishes of the Greek Orthodox Church St. Haralambos and Holy Trinity in Canton and St. George in Massillon.
“The Canton parishes were neighborhood churches, but their neighborhoods were very different,” write the authors. “St. Haralambos was located downtown where the first Greek immigrants settled and were employed as waiters, dishwashers and bootblacks until they could find better-paying jobs or establish businesses of their own. By contrast, Holy Trinity was built in a neighborhood on the edge of the city that had been carved out of a farm and subdivided to accommodate workers in the expanding steel mills and factories.
“St. George was located in downtown Massillon and was a regional parish drawing parishioners from Massillon and surrounding counties.”
The authors are well-acquainted with the fractious nature of the Stark County Greek community. The husband and wife has spent years collecting oral histories of Greeks who lived in the area.
“The stories of the immigrant generation are particularly ephemeral,” notes the publisher, Arcadia Publishing, a company known for its local histories. “Since the authors began their research over a decade ago, many of the people they interviewed have passed away. The children of immigrants are now in their 70s and 80s; some still live in Ohio, but others have scattered throughout the United States and Greece. No matter where they live, they express the wish that they had asked more questions of their parents and could know more. This book provides a richly detailed context for the stories of their lives.”
For the book, the authors considered more than 2,000 pictures, of which 200 are published in “Greeks of Stark County.”
The photographs and their captions tell the stories of some of the Greek immigrants who came to Stark County to settle, the authors note. They illustrate interesting Greek customs. They capture the images of locations familiar not only to early Greeks but to many others in the Stark County area. And the photographs preserve the identities of many of the successful Greek residents who helped foster the growth of Stark County.
“Their great adventure shaped their lives,” the authors conclude in the introduction to their pictorial. “The sacrifices they made created a vastly different future for their children. Their stories deserve to be told and savored.”
Title: Cultural Kaleidoscope: Books
Author: Staff Writer
Publisher: Greece: A News Review from the Embassy of Greece
Date: September - October 2009 Issue
The Greeks of Stark County, a128-page book by William H. and wife Regine Johnson Samonides, containing some 227 vintage black-and-white photographs, traces the history of three Greek Orthodox parishes in the northeastern Ohio cities of Canton and Massillon. It is described by the authors as “a history of people who rarely appear in the historical record and whose story has not been told. It preserves a record of the sacrifices and accomplishments of the immigrants who founded the Greek-American community, based on oral accounts and on photographs and documents in museums, libraries, archives, and private collections across the country.” The book is part of the “Images of America” series of Arcadia Publishing, which has previously issued books on Greek communities in New
York (Staten Island), Chicago, St Louis and Phoenix.
The story the book tells, notes the publisher, is “both specific to the history of the Greek community of Stark County and universal in its applicability to the history of immigrant communities everywhere.” Arcadia further observes that “the stories of the immigrant
generation are particularly ephemeral . . . Since the authors began their research over a decade ago, many of the people they interviewed have passed away. The children of immigrants are now in their 70s and 80s; some still live in Ohio, but others have scattered throughout the United States and Greece.”
Reviewing the book in The National Herald (“A Photo Tribute to the Greeks of Stark County Ohio,” September12, 2009) Steve Frangos describes it as “markedly different” among the “fine photographic histories of Greeks around the nation.” Describing the history of transport throughout the region, with the replacement of canals by the railroads, the reviewer observes that “whatever the method of transport, the Greeks soon arrived and spread throughout the region.” The immigrant laborers in northeastern Ohio worked on railroads, in mills, in 20 factories, and in the established businesses of relatives or other Greek immigrants. Describing the role of the two Greek Orthodox Churches in the regioneach with its partisan congregantsthe authors observe that “for the immigrant earning less that $3 a day, building a church meantmaking a commitment to a new life.”
Amongthe singular features of the book noted by the National Herald reviewer are the “individual photograph captions (which) show an incredible attention to personal, collective and general historical detail.” Frangos also refers to the “incredible amount of sheer information fitted into each caption,” while also praising the innovative grouping of photographs “by joining individuals and events and demonstrating, via the caption text, their interlocking experiences.”
Title: Greeks of Stark County
Author: Staff Writer
Publisher: Greek Circle Magazine
Date: Summer 2009
The authors have been recording oral histories and documenting the development of the Greek community at private collections, museums and archives across the country. Greeks of Stark County is their latest endeavor documenting the history of Stark County, Ohio. By the early 20th century, it was one of the fastest-growing regions in the nations. The home of martyred president William McKinley has become a major industrial center, with alloy steel as the engine of growth for the booming local economy. To fill the ever-increasing demand for labor, waves of immigrants from Greece and Asia Minor settled in Canton and Massillon. Some sough economic opportunity; others fled the Pontian Black Sea coast, where ethnic cleansing of Greeks accompanied the creation of the Turkish state. Churches and mutual aid organizations provided cohesiveness to the dynamic, often fractious, Greek community, which survived world wars, economic depression and social discrimination, and continues to flourish today.
Title: Book, festival celebrate county’s Greek heritage
Author: Amy Knapp
Publisher: The Independent
Upon returning to Canton about 10 years ago to care for his ailing grandmother, William H. Samonides began researching his family’s heritage.
“One of the first calls I made was to the McKinley Museum,” he said. “I asked if I could take a look at their file on Greek Americans and they said ‘What?’”
Samonides was surprised by the lack of information. “One of the things that makes this (area) really special is its ethnic diversity that is usually unique to larger cities,” he said.
What started as a family history has grown to something much larger.
In June, Samonides and his wife, Regine Johnson Samonides, released their book “Images of America: Greeks of Stark County,” a 126-page book that features photos of the early Greek settlers in the county.
“It’s kind of a family-history that got out of hand,” Samonides said.
This week, the couple will share photographs from the book as well as others in a photo exhibition at St. George Greek Orthodox Church’s Greek Oktoberfest celebration Thursday-Saturday.
More than 100 photos will be on display and the authors will do a book signing. Copies of the book will be for sale. Proceeds from the sale of the book will be donated to the church, he said.
Samonides discovered to accurately tell the story of Stark County’s Greeks, he had to focus on the families that encompassed the neighborhoods, business and churches that shaped Canton, Massillon and the county.
“To tell the story, you had to talk about a much larger group,” he said. “It just kept growing. It’s all connected with one another.”
Samonides said these stories can’t be found in a typical history book.
“I felt that I needed to tell the stories of these people especially because these are the folks whose stories would disappear,” he said. “What has been shocking is how other people have agreed.”
According to the book, by the early 20th century, Stark County was one of the fastest-growing regions in the nation and it has become a major industrial center.
Many immigrants from Greece and Asia Minor settled in Canton and Massillon to fill the jobs created by the industrial boom.
While Stark County promised prosperity to the foreigners, Greek immigrants faced a tough road including long, cold winters they were not used to, factory work and even cultural diversity faced by Greeks from different regions.
Despite the differences, the Greek Orthodox religion pulled them together. The book looks at their earliest Greek church, St. Haralambos Greek Orthodox Church, as well as Holy Trinity and Massillon’s St. George Greek Orthodox Church.
The first printing of the book – 1,200 copies – sold out in three months.
“We have been pleased that people have taken to the book so well,” he said. “It’s the story, it’s the people.”
With each photo, they tried to tell the background story of the people in the photo.
“In other books (like this) if it was a wedding photo they would say that it was wedding. We already knew that. We tried to look at the photograph and talk about the people in the photograph. We tried to give background information that would interest the reader.”
Photos in the book were collected from a number of sources, including the Massillon Museum, people in the photos and descendants of those in the photos.
“We got pictures from all across the country – from California to Florida,” he said.
Samonides said those who have purchased the book have come back to purchase more for family members.
Title: New Book Published on N.E. Ohio
Author: Staff Writer
Publisher: Orthodox Observer
Date: July/August 2009 Edition
Greeks of Stark County, a new book on the large Greek community in northeastern Ohio, published in June, focuses on the early history of three Greek Orthodox parishes and their organizations in the cities of Canton and Massillon.
It is part of the “Images of America” series of Arcadia Publishing of Charleston, S.C., which has previously issued books on Greek communities in New York (Staten Island), Chicago, St. Louis, and Phoenix.
Greeks of Stark County centers on the community’s Greek Orthodox parishes during the first half of the 20th century.
The story is told through 227 vintage black-and-white photographs gathered from across the country and selected from thousands of submissions. Stark County is the focus of the book, but there is much of relevance to other communities throughout the Archdiocese. Photographs from the Archdiocese Archives, obtained with the help of Fr. Alex Karloutsos, assistant to the Archbishop for Public Affairs, are featured in the book. The majority of the photographs, however, are of families. The book portrays the tragedies and triumphs of over 150 families of the immigrant generation. These stories of sacrifice and faith will resonate in Greek communities across the country.
The Stark County Greek community developed in the early 20th century in the bustling steel mill cities. Around 1920, there were so many Greeks living in the county that Canton was considered as the site for a Greek consulate.
The book is divided into four chapters, focusing on St. Haralambos and Holy Trinity in Canton, St. George in Massillon, and on organizations in the Greek community. St. Haralambos, the mother church, was established in 1913.
As in most large Greek communities in the early 20th century, political divisions caused a schism.
The supporters of Prime Minister Eleftherios Venizelos, including the large Stark County population from the Pontos region of Asia Minor, split off to form Holy
Trinity in 1917.
In Canton, unlike most other communities, the split was permanent, and each parish has continued to develop and prosper. The Massillon community surmounted other difficulties as it came together to form St. George during the Depression.
The book provides valuable and previously-unpublished information about the activities of the first two archbishops of the Archdiocese and other early hierarchs and priests of the church.
The 128-page book is written by William H. Samonides and Regine Johnson Samonides of Canton, who both hold doctorates from Harvard University. William H. Samonides is Holy Trinity’s historian and president of the Asia Minor Hellenic American Society, and Regine Johnson Samonides is parish council secretary. Based on many years of research locally and at museums and archives around the country, the book is an expansion of the authors’ exhibition, &lquo;In Search of the Golden Fleece” held in 2004 at the William McKinley Presidential Library and Museum in Canton. Greeks of Stark County is sponsored by the parishes of Holy Trinity, St. Haralambos, and St. George, the Greek Orthodox Alliance of Stark County, AHEPA Canton Chapter 59, and Daughters of Penelope Chapter 40. Stark County priests Fr. Nicholas Gamvas, Fr. Daniel Rogich, and Fr. Constantine Valantasis supported the authors’ work.
Their churches are selling the book as a fundraiser for $21.99 plus shipping and handling. To purchase a copy contact Holy Trinity Church at 330-494-8770, St. George at 330-832-3659, or St. Haralambos at 330-454-7278.