Emporea Church, Santorini

The Ionian Legacy of Haralambos Halkiopoulos

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Starting With Family Lore:
We know that Haralambos Halkiopoulos was a successful civil engineer whose home was supposedly on the Ionian Island of Kefalonia, at least for a time during the later half of the 19th century. He was thought to have built bridges in Germany during his career. By Kefalonian standards, Haralambos was considered wealthy.

Ionian Island Tobacco Boxes
Ionian Island Tobacco Boxes

Haralambos' education is an inportant clue to the family's history. Under the Venetian Empire and well before Haralambos' lifetime, many Greek landed gentry were ennobled by the Venetians and sent to Padua or Venice for an education, especially for second sons to become a doctor. (Dana Facaros, Cadogan's Corfu & the Ionians, (Globe Press 1990) p. 148. Often these families spoke Italian and became Catholic. This was not received well by the rest of the local population, who while being subjects of the Venetians, remained devoted to the Byzantine/Orthodox tradition of the East. Furthermore, the Greek term "Fragos" used to denote "the French", was also commonly used by Greeks to refer to all "Western Europeans". In fact, a Greek who went to Europe for an education was considered a "Fragos" in a slightly derogatory sense, as he was considered tainted with western ideas, particularly Catholicism, as opposed to the Byzantine/Orthodox tradition of the East. This was a carry over from the occupying Venetians and later the French, Russian and British who occupied Ionian Islands. Having been ruled by the Venetians for hundreds of years, it would not be surprising if the tradition of sending sons to Western Europe for an education stuck with the islanders. To my knowledge, this Halkiopoulos family remained Greek Orthodox though educated in the West.

The family thought that he might have received his education in France, but this has not been confirmed precisely. One of the older schools for engineering is actually in Liegi, Belgium, where French might have been the spoken language. The use of French in Liegi and throughout Europe as as an official language was a well-known fact. In any case, all we know is that Haralambos received his education in civil engineering in the West and did some work afterwards in Germany building bridges. Lugger on the Ionian Sea
Lugger on the Ionian Sea
Haralambos' wife was named Asimina. The surname of Asimina's father and her origins are unknown. Haralambos might have simply found her on Kefalonia. The family believes that they had at least three sons: One was educated as a doctor (Nicolaos or Dimitrios might have been his name); another was a sailor in the merchant marines (Pagianotis); and Andreas, learned mechanics at a school in Europe, as well. No one knew the birth order of these brothers, but a Venetian tradition would have stuck, the doctor (Nikolaos or Dimitrios) would have been the second son of Haralambos. The names of Andreas' brothers are based on conversations that I have had with all three of Haralambos' grandchildren, Harilambos (known to us as Harry) Halkiopoulos, Virginia Dolce and my mother, Julie Jendrzejewski, all Andreas' children. No one could be sure of any of Andreas' brother's names, however. Haralambos' death touched off a battle over the inheritance, the smallest share of which, if any, went to Andrew who apparently was disenfranchised from the family.

Family legends are inmportant to a family's history. They often have a degree of truth to them. But problems arise when one views the vital records. There are plenty of mysteries associated with this family. Haralambos and/or Asimina might have come from Kefalonia, from one of the nearby Ionian Islands, from Crete or even from the Aegean Island, Thira! All of these possibilities arise from rather compelling clues to support each of these theories. So next, we can look at existing records that I have found so far.

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Andrew Jendrzejewski