The First Greeks of Harrisburg

The Digital Harrisburg Working Group has made major strides in the last six weeks in entering, publicizing, and standardizing data related to the City Social Project. We have had major success especially in our ability to visualize data in GIS. At some point soon, we’ll give a general update of all the recent activities related to the Digital Harrisburg Initiative. Today, however, I want to show a few of the things we can do with this data by considering the history of the earliest Greek inhabitants of Harrisburg at the turn of the 20th century. March 25th is, after all, both the Feast of the Annunciation and Greek Independence Day.

One can find some information about the early Greek community of Harrisburg at the webpage of the Holy Trinity Orthodox Cathedral in Camp Hill, but relatively little else online. The federal census data offers a window into these communities.

Greeks1900_mIn 1900, there was only a single household of Greeks living in the city, the Jabeles brothers. John, Peter, and Joseph had arrived in the U.S. one after another every other year since 1889. It was the middle boy, Peter, who came first, according to the immigration year listed on the census; he was only 12 years old when he arrived in the U.S. The oldest brother, John, the “head” of the household, arrived in the U.S. as as a young 16 year old and was 25 years old in the 1900 census. The youngest brother, Joseph, had immigrated most recently as a 19 year old. What we don’t know is where these brothers were living before they came to Harrisburg: with one of their parents, perhaps, or a more distant relative on the east coast. By the time they were in their early 20s, however, they had found a property to rent together at 433 State Street in the Old Eighth Ward, and were engaged in the candy making business (on which, see Stephanie Patterson Gilbert’s article).

Greeks1910_mThe following decade witnessed an explosive growth of the Greek population in Harrisburg. The three young brothers who rented a place in the eighth ward had disappeared, but in their place was a little community of 47 Greeks dwelling in 21 different properties at the intersection of the third, eighth, and ninth wards within a quarter mile radius of one another (even the outlying properties were no more than a mile from one other). These Greek immigrants were almost entirely male (44 of 47), and they were generally young – ranging from 14 to 50, and on average, 28 years old. They had arrived in the US as early as 1882, but most had come since the 1890s. A third were married, but most of them were not living with their spouses at the time. Half of them were “lodgers”.

It will be interesting to extend this data into successive decades and round out the picture with the full set of census data, including occupations, proficiencies in English, and property values. Other kinds of historical records like newspapers and photos will add some an entirely different dimension to the picture we find in the census.

Greeks living in Harrisburg, 1910

Ward Street Address Relation LastName FirstName Sex Age Immigration
3 12 Nthird Street Head Annastos Peter J Male 23 1903
3 12 Nthird Street Lodger Anestus George Male 45 1907
3 12 Nthird Street Lodger Calos Nicholas Male 15 1907
3 12 Nthird Street Lodger Dollas Nicholas Male 14 1907
3 311 Market Street Lodger Tongaris Peter Male 23 1904
3 317 Market Street Head Mackalaris Willian Male 29 1904
3 317 Market Street Lodger Elispoulos George Male 17 1909
3 317 Market Street Lodger Gekas William Male 18 1908
3 317 Market Street Lodger Jianis Stephen Male 19 1910
3 317 Market Street Lodger Mpoutselis John Male 19 1906
3 321 Market Street Lodger Lingerin Nicholas Male 30 1901
4 205 Barbara Avenue Head Javaler George Male 34 1900
4 205 Barbara Avenue Lodger Colivirs John Male 45 1908
4 205 Barbara Avenue Lodger Maskalevis William Male 20 1903
4 205 Barbara Avenue Servant Colivirs Marie Female 49 1908
4 205 Barbara Avenue Wife Javaler Dena Female 24 1900
4 227 Pine Street Lodger Roler Michael Male 22 1908
5 923 Capitol Street Head Limgersese Peter Male 28 1901
5 923 Capitol Street Hired Man Brown James Male 30 1906
5 923 Capitol Street Hired Man Nichols Gustavis Male 32 1903
5 1109.5 Montgomery Street Wife Bach Hilda A Female 33 1882
6 1334 Second Street Head Coloviras George J Male 27 1898
7 945 Seventh Street Head Julius John Male 38 1899
7 945 Seventh Street Lodger Gistrias Stephen Male 28 1903
7 945 Seventh Street Lodger Julius Peter Male 45 1903
7 945 Seventh Street Lodger Korntres William Male 50 1906
7 945 Seventh Street Lodger Paronnio Andre Male 45 1899
8 433 State Street Head Samples John Male 20 1907
8 433 State Street Partner Rehes James Male 22 1907
8 520 State Street Head Robles Joseph Male 33 1893
9 9 Grace Street Head Stratagos Edward Male 24 1903
9 9 Grace Street Lodger Annenias George Male 19 1904
9 9 Grace Street Lodger Dematra Christian Male 27 1909
9 9 Grace Street Lodger Proferres George Male 24 1909
9 9 Grace Street Lodger Rollus Ross Male 16 1904
9 11 Nfourth Street Lodger Karagiouis James Male 40  
9 410 Market Street Brother Bowrket Arthur G Male 50 1900
9 410 Market Street Head George Athens Male 25 1902
9 422 Market Street Lodger Diamond George S Male 26 1898
9 422 Market Street Lodger Giovanius George Male 24 1900
9 422 Market Street Lodger Kelley Nicholas Male 23 1902
9 504 Market Street Head Kreiss Asalen Male 22 1909
9 520 Market Street Lodger Bolins Abraham Male 25 1905
9 520 Market Street Lodger Brown Frank Male 34 1890
9 1024 Market Street Head Leventis Peter Male 25 1904
9 1209 Derry Street Lodger Giovenco William Male 23 1903
13 1838 Derry Street Head Anust Stephen Male    

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