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Tracing family roots on Hydra December 16, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Books Life Greek.

The Terpsichore, a schooner built on Hydra in 1818, was owned by Manolis and Iakovos Tombazis. It was captained, permanently and in rotation, by Eleftherios, Antonios and Alexandros Raphael.

The sight of Hydra, with the stone houses of ships’ captains clinging to the historic rock, inspires a sense of wonderment as the ferry takes the last turn into the warm embrace of the island’s port. Visitors become friends. Many Greek and foreign artists have built homes there and have become one big family with the friendly, hospitable Hydriots.

Whoever really loves Hydra respects the islanders and their rights, such as the unique ban on motorized traffic. “Our Hydra: Exploring Pages from Its History,” is a handsome illustrated volume that recounts the story of the Raphael family of Hydra since 1596, in both Greek and English editions.

The product of meticulous research by Professor Emeritus Marios Raphael, the book was launched yesterday at the Aigli venue, next to Zappeion Hall in the Greek capital. Helping to present the book were Professor Dimitris Dimitrakos, columnist Telemachos Maratos from the Greek History Studies Association, and Helbi, who has a special interest in Hydra. The writer is a member of the Raphael family whose deep roots on the island he has explored.

Of its origins, he writes: “It can be concluded that in 1596, a family of seven bearing the name Raphael or Barou Raphael or Raphalias Barou left Kythnos and settled on Hydra, and that since then there have always been families by the name of Raphael or Raphalias or Raphelias or other families with the surname Barou on the island. The family obviously settled on Hydra to escape Turkish rule on Kythnos when the Turks drove out the Venetians and occupied the Cyclades… The name Barou is probably from the nobility title, Baron. Indeed Kythnos belonged to the Duchy of the Aegean, which had its seat in Naxos and was founded by the Venetians in 1207.”

The family was active in the Greek struggle for independence: “During the 1821 War of Independence, there were four brothers, Antonios, Eleftherios, Ioannis and Alexandros Raphael who were captains of various ships during the war, chiefly the Terpsichore.” And so the author traces his family’s history down to the present day.

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