Oregon and New Hampshire Cemeteries Offer Searchable Databases for Researchers, Include Greek Surnames

by Mary Papoutsy

HHGA regularly subscribes to a number of blogs and genealogical newsletters. Many offer interesting stories and anecdotal information for people researching family history, but few of them offer strategies designed specifically for Greek subjects. To be sure, some sites--no names mentioned here!--claim to offer assistance, but the practical value of the offerings is negligible.

Over the years, HHGA has periodically tested and reviewed some of the claims put forth by organizations and sites. For viewers interested in learning more, we suggest browsing through our extensive archives section under the subcategory of genealogy.

The New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) circulates a free weekly e-zine, "The Weekly Genealogist," which carries news of book publications, small online surveys, brief stories of researchers, and general tips for researching and preserving memorabilia. The last section of the text-only circular includes advertisements for upcoming events regionally and nationally, as well as courses available to the general public. In the latest edition of "The Weekly Genealogist," there was a link to two cemeteries in Oregon State, one of them an Odd Fellows endeavor.  Both of these cemeteries were featured because the sponsoring organizations or trusts had created searchable databases for the interments. HHGA examined both of these for their utility in researching Hellenic subjects.

Forest Hills Cemetery, Jamaica Plains, Boston.
Photo by Jen Snoots, findagrave.com

The Mulkey Cemetery (http://www.mulkeycemetery.org/interments/) of Eugene, Oregon began in the 1800's by pioneering members of the Mulkey family. The cemetery has grown over the decades through donations of land. A trust was created to oversee it. Visitors to the website of the cemetery can browse through more than 1100 names listed. What makes sites like this one more useful to persons searching for any Greek names is that one can browse through the entire list rather quickly without having to input a specific name.  We found 4 surnames that were likely of Greek origin: Douris, Douras, Malos, and Mangas. Trustees and staff of this cemetery receive high marks for digitizing the burial data and making navigation easy. Because of this style of database presentation and search engine, names of Greeks would be easier to research. For example, if there were a "Chiotis" among the deceased at Mulkey, searchers would also find unexpected spelling variations in the database, even if they hadn't specifically queried the alternative forms, perhaps finding a "Cheotes" or even a "Chiotes." The search engine processes partial strings of letters, so that typing "Dour" quickly brings up "Douris" and "Douras." Likewise, requesting "Man" returned not just "Mangas," but a small set of names with "-man" at the end for surnames like "Ackerman" and "Bowman." It is this partial-string search which makes a search engine most useful when researching Hellenic surnames. Greek immigrants quite often preserved gender inflections of surname endings, complicating searches in Latin-script databases.

In contrast to the Mulkey Cemetery, the Eugene Pioneer Cemetery of Eugene (http://eugenepioneercemetery.org/index.html), formerly known as the I.O.O.F. Cemetery because of its establishment by this organization in the late 1800's, is much larger and doesn't permit browsing of interment data through its online database. That's unfortunate, since alternative spellings may not be uncovered if researchers are unaware of all the linguistic transliteration possibilities. Even so, if one is searching for subjects who immigrated to Oregon, this cemetery may yield some information. Navigation is simple: at the home page, click on the "Find a Record" tab in the top right-hand corner of the webpage, then type in the target surname in the provided box. The search engine doesn't appear to permit partial search strings or wild-card symbols, so each spelling variation will have to be entered separately. Frequently today search engines recognize these symbols--the "asterisk" is the most common one--to help investigators increase the number of returns by broadening the search among the database. In our case, we typed "Pap*" but the search engine didn't process the asterisk in the search string. Otherwise, it would have returned "Papas," "Pappas," "Papathanasiou," and any other surname beginning with "Pap-" among its database. A second attempt with just "Pap" also yielded nothing. Subsequent efforts with "Man" and "Kara" and "Mavro" also proved fruitless.

But with the explosion of data now available on the Internet, it's really no longer necessary to wait for cemetery associations to post searchable databases on their websites. Most municipal cemeteries have been offering a similar service for a number of years. We recommend that researchers locate the websites of cemeteries within their target geographic area, and use the search engines for their interment databases. To illustrate this simple concept, we typed into a Google search box "New Hampshire cemeteries" and quickly spotted a website for all of the municipal cemeteries of Keene, New Hampshire among the many returns. I ignored the third-party listings (websites not produced directly by the cemetery itself, but by a genealogical group or a national for-profit entity) and after scanning through a couple pages of listings, discovered the Keene website (http://www.ci.keene.nh.us/cemetery-lookup). This database contains nearly 20,000 names in a database that can both be queried by typing a name in the box provided and browsed by clicking on the underscored word "Lastname" at the top of the first column. We browsed through all names. More than 50 were definitely of Greek origin: Anastasian, Athanasopoulos, Bacopulos, Bithipoulios, Blastos, Booras, Chakalos, Chiklas, Christo, Costes, Dimitri, Doukas, Evangelo, Evangjello [sic], Flamouropoulos, Galanes, Glimenakis, Hallas, Ioannou, Kanatas, Karapanagiotides, Kazanas, Kolivas, Kostas, Koukouliambas, Kyriazis, Lampros, Loulakis, Matsikas, Mauroyenis, Megalogenis, Megaloyemis, Megaloyenis, Nano, Nikiforakis, Noukas, Pallas, Pananides, Pappas, Petrakos, Pitsas, Poulos, Spanos, Stavrou, Tasoulas, Theodorou, Yanakis, and Zahos. Another 60 were probably of Greek origin, but some of them may also have belonged to other ethnic groups: Androlanjos, Andrus, Aythoulkes, Bakas, Bakerlis, Ballas, Bardis, Barrus, Bocemedes, Bogdanis, Bougarmis, Bougas, Bourdo, Cadmus, Chirojiane, Compos, Constine, Contas, Cousbales, Cristiano, Dakomas, Dimon, Dion, Dragon, Evardon, Farina, Farkas, Frigon, Gaida, George, Gero, Houpis, Jimaki, Karpati, Karsis, Kendrotus, Kilberis, Kiskionis, Kondrat, Koziara, Kozyra, Kregas, Krivisto, Leonardo, Lepisto, Libbares, Ligus, Lovas, Mahalati, Markou, Medonti, Meleones, Morphis, Naniko, Nicholas, Olivo, Pano, Patria, Racheotes, Souris, Tarnanas, and Vrakatitsis.

The Keene website also offers the cemetery location and section and plot number of the deceased, as well as the date of burial. (The massive database of interments covers 9 cemeteries.) Once the target surname is retrieved, visitors to the website can then find the location of the section in maps of the municipal cemeteries--also posted on the same website. In all, the research experience is efficient and pleasant, made possible by far-sighted staff of the City of Keene, New Hampshire. And what's more, the design of the site helps optimize Greek family sleuthing. Bravo!

We took the opportunity to conduct a search through the national Find-a-Grave website for Greek surnames in the Forest Hills Cemetery of Jamaica Plains, Boston. This lovely cemetery was created in the middle 1800's as a park-cemetery and has beautiful vistas. Of the more than 7,000 names in the database for this cemetery--hosted by Find-a-Grave--we were able to find a little more than 100 Greek surnames and maiden names, among them Anagnos, Antipas, Atsales, Avdoulos, Bakas, Blathras, Botzos, Cambourelis, Chigos, Condakes, Coronis, Coulacos, Coulianos, Damaskos, Demas, Dimitrakoulakos, Doukalis, Doulas, Droutsos, Eliopoulos, Galdikas, Gavrilles, Gegerios, Georgones, Georgopoulos, Govostses, Haravinos, Iliadis, Kallas, Kalliavas, Kanavos, Karalexis, Karassas, Karidis, Kariotis, Kirkilis, Kondouli, Koskores, Kosmidis, Koufos, Kougeas, Kyrias, Macheras, Makridis, Makrokanis, Milathianakis, Nearhos, Nikitopoulos, Panagiotareas, Panagos, Pangakis, Papadopoulos, Papalambros, Pappas, Petrakos, Petros, Psiakis, Psomas, Racheotes, Scarlatos, Spero, Statires, Stavro, Stavropoulos, Tamis, Tiglianidis, Toufanidis, Trakas, Tsolias, Tsoutouras, Tzavaras, Valkanas, Zaharopoulos, and Zevgetis.

Our goal with this last database for Forest Hills Cemetery was to test a "third-party" database against a known group of Greek subjects by locating the entries of distant personal relatives. According to family sources, all members of this distant branch have been buried at Forest Hills. But the database didn't yield all of the expected results. There were a number of key relatives whose names didn't appear in the search, even though we browsed through all 7,056 entries contained in the national database. The conclusion which certainly must be drawn is that the "third-party" database is incomplete, prompting us to issue a cautionary note to researchers. With databases like this one, there is a much greater chance of omissions, in contrast to data posted by official sources, as in the above case of the City of Keene, New Hampshire.

(Posted 03 June 2015)

HCS readers can view other genealogical articles and releases in our extensive, permanent archives at the URL http://www.hellenicomserve.com/archivegenealogy.html. For more information about genealogical methodology, especially in researching Hellenic ancestry, see especially the main genealogy page or the section about Hellenic Historical and Genealogical Association at the URL http://www.helleniccomserve.com/hhga.html.

2000 © Hellenic Communication Service, L.L.C. All Rights Reserved.