Greeks of Stark County, a new book on the large Greek community in northeastern Ohio, published in June, focuses on the early history of three Greek Orthodox parishes and their organizations in the cities of Canton and Massillon.
It is part of the “Images of America” series of Arcadia Publishing of Charleston, S.C., which has previously issued books on Greek communities in New York (Staten Island), Chicago, St. Louis, and Phoenix.
Greeks of Stark County centers on the community’s Greek Orthodox parishes during the first half of the 20th century.
The story is told through 227 vintage black-and-white photographs gathered from across the country and selected from thousands of submissions. Stark County is the focus of the book, but there is much of relevance to other communities throughout the Archdiocese. Photographs from the Archdiocese Archives, obtained with the help of Fr. Alex Karloutsos, assistant to the Archbishop for Public Affairs, are featured in the book. The majority of the photographs, however, are of families. The book portrays the tragedies and triumphs of over 150 families of the immigrant generation. These stories of sacrifice and faith will resonate in Greek communities across the country.
The Stark County Greek community developed in the early 20th century in the bustling steel mill cities. Around 1920, there were so many Greeks living in the county that Canton was considered as the site for a Greek consulate.
The book is divided into four chapters, focusing on St. Haralambos and Holy Trinity in Canton, St. George in Massillon, and on organizations in the Greek community. St. Haralambos, the mother church, was established in 1913.
As in most large Greek communities in the early 20th century, political divisions caused a schism.
The supporters of Prime Minister Eleftherios Venizelos, including the large Stark County population from the Pontos region of Asia Minor, split off to form Holy
Trinity in 1917.
In Canton, unlike most other communities, the split was permanent, and each parish has continued to develop and prosper. The Massillon community surmounted other difficulties as it came together to form St. George during the Depression.
The book provides valuable and previously-unpublished information about the activities of the first two archbishops of the Archdiocese and other early hierarchs and priests of the church.
The 128-page book is written by William H. Samonides and Regine Johnson Samonides of Canton, who both hold doctorates from Harvard University. William H. Samonides is Holy Trinity’s historian and president of the Asia Minor Hellenic American Society, and Regine Johnson Samonides is parish council secretary. Based on many years of research locally and at museums and archives around the country, the book is an expansion of the authors’ exhibition, “In Search of the Golden Fleece” held in 2004 at the William McKinley Presidential Library and Museum in Canton. Greeks of Stark County is sponsored by the parishes of Holy Trinity, St. Haralambos, and St. George, the Greek Orthodox Alliance of Stark County, AHEPA Canton Chapter 59, and Daughters of Penelope Chapter 40. Stark County priests Fr. Nicholas Gamvas, Fr. Daniel Rogich, and Fr. Constantine Valantasis supported the authors’ work.
Their churches are selling the book as a fundraiser for $21.99 plus shipping and handling. To purchase a copy contact Holy Trinity Church at 330-494-8770, St. George at 330-832-3659, or St. Haralambos at 330-454-7278.