From Samos, Greece to Detroit By Way of The Themistocles: Constantinos "Gust" Halvangis (1886-1928)

Sometimes researching your family tree is a bit like fly fishing. You make an educated guess about what sort of fly to tie on the end of your line, throw it out there, and see what happens.

The "fish" I am trying to catch today is my 2nd great uncle, Constantinos "Gust" Halvangis (1886-1928). I am throwing out some known information about his life into the internet cosmos with the hope that someone, somewhere, will google their way to it and find it appetizing enough to take a nibble. 

Constantinos "Gust" Halvangis (1886-1928)

I had heard through family lore that my great grandfather, Vasilios Halvangis (1891-1937) had a brother, Gust, who died several years before him. The story was that, as recent immigrants from Samos, Greece there was enough money to have proper burial but not enough to purchase a grave marker.

Having successfully found Gust's death certificate (see below) I was on a mission to confirm his final resting place.

 Gust Halvangis (1886-1928)

Gust Halvangis (1886-1928)

Here is what else I know about Gust:

  • He came to the United States on April 22, 1915 from Kokkari, Greece, on the island of Samos.
  • He travelled alone on the The Themistocles (see the ship manifest here) and landed in New York. 
  • His wife, listed as "Malamo", stayed behind in Greece.
  • He was going to see his brother, my grandfather, Vasilios Halvangis in Waterloo, Iowa.
  • According to his WWI Draft Registration card:
    • Gust was a carpenter.
    • He was short with a medium build, brown eyes, and brown hair (this card also noted his wife has Malamo). 
    • His permanent address was listed as 267 Monroe St. in Detroit, MI.
    • He worked at Michigan Steel Casting Company.
  • There have been a variety of spellings of the family name. Variations include: Halvatzis, Halvatyis, Halvas, Halvis, Halvanges, and probably a few others.
  • I contacted Evergreen Cemetery in Detroit and was able to confirm that Gust is buried there, though he has no marker, confirming the family story. He is buried in Section E, Range 4, Grave 73. 

Here is a rendering of the Themistocles provided by The Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island Foundation, a must-have (and mostly free) genealogy resource when researching your ancestors' immigration and travel records. 

 Themistocles

Themistocles

According to the Rutgers University Libraries this ship was originally part of the Hellenic Transportation Line under the Greek flag. Built in 1907, it was originally named the Moraitis. IT was renamed shortly after to the Themistocles. It was eventually scrapped in 1933.

This ship is not to be confused (as I initially did) with the TSS Themistocles that was a British ship around the same time with a main route to Australia. 

So, there you go. I've tied a genealogical fly onto the end of my rod. I've already been surprised  by the connections I have made from these #52Ancestors posts. People have contacted me with information and questions and I hope the same is true in this case.

Speaking of fly fishing, everything I learned about it I learned from my uncle Bill Halvangis. Gust was Uncle Bill's grandfather's brother (his great uncle). 

You can read more about Uncle Bill and the importance of being a good uncle here: Say Uncle - What Every Niece and Nephew Needs

 Leaning Tree Lodge on the Au Sable River, Grayling, MI, left to right: brother Brian, Steven (me), Uncle Bill, c. 1993

Leaning Tree Lodge on the Au Sable River, Grayling, MI, left to right: brother Brian, Steven (me), Uncle Bill, c. 1993


As I think about Gust and my family tree I am reminded of the mission of The Psychologenealogist: Exploring the spaces where psychology, genealogy, and history converge - one story at a time. Here are some of the questions I have about.

GENEALOGY QUESTIONS:

  • Did Gust have any children?
  • Did his wife, Malamo, ever come to the U.S.?
  • Where else did Gust live?
  • Her registered for the draft, but did he ever serve in The War?

PSYCHOLOGY QUESTIONS:

  • What is the psychological and emotional impact of leaving family in "the old country" when emigrating to new lands?
  • What was the relationship like between my great grandfather and his brother.
  • What would it be like for my family to honor this man whom none of us knew with a proper grave marker?

This is the 17th of 52 weekly posts planned for 2018. It was inspired by the #52Ancestors writing challenge issued by professional genealogist, Amy Crow Johnson. The challenge: once a week, for all 52 weeks of the year, write about a relative in your family tree.