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Ellis Island, circa 1920

Samaras Lineage

From the present to the past, across 3 generations 

Annapolis, Maryland, to Greece

Evangeline Samaras approached me with the question - my siblings and I know many stories about our father, could you provide the facts? She gave me a narrative that she and her siblings, Stephen and Daphne, compiled for an Annapolis Greek Heritage project. Some were stories they had lived, others were family lore. She wanted to give this to Stephen for a milestone birthday.

And so my investigation into this great story began…

This is the story of one family's immigration from Greece to the United States of America, with Annapolis, Maryland a focal point through the years. 

The great story that is a branch of this lineage is in the following narrative timeline.

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Samaras

Stephen Chris Samaras (1952 - )

Generation 3: 

Stephen Chris Samaras was born on 8 December 1951 in Annapolis, Maryland.

His parents were Mary Nick Kambouris (1927-2011) born in Beckley, West Virginia and Chris George Samaras (1922-2005) born in Cambridge, Maryland. 

Both of his parents were the children of immigrants from Greece.

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The Great Migration 

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The 'Great Migration from Europe' began in the 1880's when manual labor was needed in America and immigration legislation encouraged such migration.

 

Greeks were among the last of the Europeans to immigrate to America during this period. Between 1890 - 1921, approximately 421,000 Greeks immigrated to the United States.

 

Within the same timeframe, 257 Greeks with the surname Samaras arrived to New York Harbor and immigrated through Ellis Island. 

 

Stephen's grandparents, Dafni Platis and George Samaras, were among them.

Georgios N Samaras (1871-1929)

Generation 1: Stephen's Grandparents

Georgios N Samaras was born on 12 March 1871 in Greece. 

He was a widower when he married Dafni Platis. She was born on 20 May 1892 in Greece. 

Together they immigrated to America with their children; Georgios' two young children from his first marriage,  and their infant son.

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George Samaras pictured with 2 of his children, Constantine "Charlie" and Agoura

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The 1920's 

1920

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Themistocles, circa 1911

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Georgios Samaras and his young family arrived to NY Harbor on the vessel Themistocles.

 

The family left Greece on 29 May 1920 and arrived to New York Harbor on 18 Jun 1920. They immigrated through Ellis Island.

The ships manifest indicates that the families final destination was the home of Georgios' brother, Spyron, who lived at 168 Main Street, Annapolis, Maryland.

Of note: In 1920, 18 Greeks with the surname Samaras arrived at Ellis Island, including George and his family of five.

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Main Street Annapolis, circa 1920

Georgios and his family arrived  at the start of the roaring twenties! This was a decade that saw America's total wealth more than double.

 

Flappers, jazz music and Hollywood movies were symbols of the decade. 60% of American households had electricity, women were allowed to vote, and prohibition started.  

 

This was life in America as the family began their American dream in Annapolis, Maryland.

1922

Chris George Samaras (1922-2005)

Generation 2: Stephen's Parents

Chris George Samaras was born on 8 November 1922 in Cambridge, Maryland, making him a member of The Greatest Generation.

He married Mary Nick Kambouris on 2 September 1951. Mary was born on 28 October 1927 in Beckley, West Virginia. Her parents were Evangelia N Koungoulos (1907-1968) and Nick Kambouris (1893-1972). 

 

Evangelia and Nick immigrated to America from Karditsa, Thessaly, Greece, a region only 26 kilometers from away from the region from which Chris’ parents immigrated.

Chris passed away on 15 November 2005; Mary passed away on 7 November 2011. Both died in Annapolis, Maryland.

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Childhood pictures of Chris and Mary 

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Upon arrival to America, the Samaras family went to Annapolis but they didn't stay there long; quickly moving to  Cambridge, Maryland, where Chris was born in 1922.

 

Within a few years of Chris' birth the family left Cambridge due to their business being ransacked by the KKK. They moved to Staunton, Virginia where they had extended family.

 

Chris, though, never let his children forget that Cambridge was his birthplace!

 

On summer drives to Ocean City, Maryland, as the family passed by Cambridge, he would ask his children if they saw the statue of him on Race Street. The children never saw it. But Chris insisted it was there and that it had the inscription, “Chris Samaras, the first Greek born in Cambridge, MD…may he be the last”

Charles Naturalization record

1925

On 30 June 1925, Chris' oldest brother, Constantine George Samaras, a.k.a Charlie George Samaras, declared his intention to become a US citizen.

 

He was 18 years old.

Their sister Agora petitioned for citizenship in 1942; Nick in 1944.

Agora 1925
Nick 1944

1929

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2 March 1929, George Samaras died suddenly of a  heart attack. Chris was 6 years old. Throughout his life, Chris would  tell the story that he was walking with his father when he died.

Dafni became a widow with a young family for which to care. Her oldest step-child, Charlie, becomes the head of her household.

8 months later, on 29 October 1929 the US Stock Market crashed, plunging America and the world into the Great Depression.

Thornrose Cemetery,

Staunton, Virginia

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The 1930's 

1930

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The 1930 US Federal Census was administered in April of that year. Daphne and two of her children are listed. Their address is 8 Augusta Street, Staunton, Virginia. 

Constantine is listed as the head of household, with his occupation as assistant manager of a restaurant. Daphne is listed as a widow. Nicholas is a student. Her two other children Agora and Chris do not appear in the census.

 

Of note: The census taker went door to door for the census count and would have been instructed to only count those who were home at the time. 

The census indicates that Daphne's next door neighbors were her deceased husbands brother Chris Samaras and his wife Despina. They were the owners of Chris' Restaurant, located at 6 South New Street, Staunton. That address is about 1 block away from the home address.

For one year of his schooling during the 1930's, Chris attended The Staunton Military Academy. He never mentioned which year he attended to his children, but an interesting fact is that Chris' Restaurant paid for advertisements in the SMA yearbook 'The Shrapnel' throughout the 1930's.

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2022 view of South New Street, Staunton, Virginia

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2022 view of Augusta Street, Staunton, Virginia

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The Shrapnel, 1933

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The 1940's 

1942

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Chris, pictured, far left, circa 1942

The Greatest Generation was so named because being a part of it came at a great price. This generation lived through the Depression and fought in World War II.

 

On 16 September 1940, President Roosevelt signed into law the first peacetime Selective Service Act, in anticipation of the US entering the wars being fought in Europe and East Asia. The Act required that all men between the ages of 18-25 register for the draft. This was the first peacetime draft in US history.

 

On October 16, 1940, the first of six WWII drafts started. Charlie and Nick were part of that draft. Chris registered in the fifth draft on June 30, 1942. Nick served in the South Pacific.

Chris didn't speak much about his time serving in  the US Army in WWII. Of the few stories that he told, he said that he was stationed in India, survived malaria and was part of the vital pipeline for the war effort. 

In WWII the US fought on many fronts or 'theaters'. The CBI - China, Burma, India theater, was significant in the ground and air support of the Chinese Army in defense of Japanese invasion. The fighting forces of the Flying Tigers, transport and bombing units flying The Hump and the engineers and who built the Ledo Road are among the significant war efforts of the CBI.

 

The pipeline for those efforts was, indeed, vital.

And, thankfully, all the Samaras boys returned home.

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The 1950's 

1950

1950 census
1949 property transfers
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Present day picture of 8 Union Street, Annapolis, Maryland

Chris is head of household in the 1950 census, living at 8 Union Street, Annapolis, Maryland. Chris and Daphne bought the house in August, 1949. His mother, brother Nick and Nick's wife Christine are in the household, as well as Nick and Christine's children, George and Nicholas, Jr. Nick Samaras married Christine Bakalis in 1943 in West Virginia.

Chris' occupation is proprietor of a restaurant. Daphne is a cook. Nick is a truck driver/salesman for a bottling/beverage company. 

1951

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WeddingGuest Newspaper

Mary Nick Kambouris, was born and raised in Beckley, West Virginia. She attended  Woodrow Wilson High School. After graduation, she enrolled in Beckley College and graduated in 1946. 

She met Chris Samaras because his bother Nick was married to her cousin Christine.

Mary wasn't certain that Chris was the man for her. Chris lived in Annapolis, Maryland and at one time had owned a pool hall with his brother Charlie.  Years later she would recount to her children that she thought Chris was a bit of a playboy with a reputation. Chris' charm eventually won her over. Though Mary would say that it wasn't just  the charm; a large box of chocolates, and many love letters during their long distance relationship helped.

 

Mary married Chris Samaras on 2 September 1951. 

They were married 54 years, until Chris' death in 2005.

List of out of town guests who attended Mary and Chris' wedding

A family treasure, a film of Mary and Chris' wedding, 2 September 1951

1952

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Stephen Chris Samaras (1952 - )

Generation 3: 

Stephen Chris Samaras was born on 8 December 1951 in Annapolis, Maryland.

His parents were Mary Nick Kambouris (1927-2011) born in Beckley, West Virginia and Chris George Samaras (1922-2005) born in Cambridge, Maryland. 

He married Challie O'Neal on 21 September 2002. Challie was born on 14 December 1958 on Mountain Home AFB, Idaho.

Mary would tell her children the story of how Stephen was named. As the eldest born son, in Greek tradition, Stephen should have been named George. However, Chris' two brothers named their eldest son's after their Papou, so there was a 'Big George' and a 'Little George'. The moniker Mary feared was 'Baby George'. She put her foot down, hence the name Stephen.

1955

C&C circa 1955

C&C, circa 1955

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C&C, circa 1990

In 1955, Charlie & Chris joined forces to buy the C&C Grocery at 925 Bay Ridge Road. They lived in homes on either side of the store.

From 1955 to 1969, C&C Grocery thrived, partly due to the close proximity of two popular African American beaches, Carr’s & Sparrow’s Beach, which attracted artists such as Chuck Berry, James Brown, Otis Redding & The Supremes to name a few. C&C Grocery was the last stop before the beach and folks would come in for sandwiches, picnic lunches and alcoholic refreshments.

Eventually, C&C was converted to a full service liquor store. It was open until 2007. Chris' and Charlie's children often revel at how a little family owned business was able to support two families and send five children to college.

1956

1956 City Directory
1956 City Directory

1956, Annapolis, City Directory

1957

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Daphne Chris Samaras (1957 - )

Generation 3: 

Daphne Chris Samaras was born on 18 October 1957 in Annapolis, Maryland.

Her parents were Mary Nick Kambouris (1927-2011) born in Beckley, West Virginia and Chris George Samaras (1922-2005) born in Cambridge, Maryland. 

She married Daniel Scott Foreman 4 October 1992. Dan was born on 28 November 1954 in Washington, DC.

Daphne is the namesake of her Yiayia Samarou. The tale of Daphne's birth is that her Yiayia was disappointed that a girl had been born. Boys carry the family name, girls are too much trouble she would say. She moved out of the house. Six months went by. It took a visit from Nick to bring her to her senses and move back to help care for Daphne.

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The 1960's 

1963

925 Bay Ridge Road

925 Bay Ridge Road.

 

This is the house Mary and Chris had built on the property behind their store. Charlie and his wife Bessie built a home on the property too. Construction began in 1963 and the home was completed in time for the birth of their third child in 1964.

1964

Evangelina Chris Samaras (1964 - )

Vange&Papou

Evangeline with Papou (Mary's father)

Generation 3: 

Evangeline Chris Samaras was born on 7 October 1964 in Annapolis, Maryland.

Her parents were Mary Nick Kambouris (1927-2011) born in Beckley, West Virginia and Chris George Samaras (1922-2005) born in Cambridge, Maryland. 

She married Michael Timothy Ross on 1 June 2002. Mike was born on 24 November 1958 in Baltimore, Maryland.

Within Mary & Chris' family, there was a unique trait. All had an '8' in their birthday. Chris and Stephen, 8. Mary, 28. Daphne, 18. Then along came Evangeline. Named for her Yiayia Kambouris. The family story is that she arrived a day early, on the 7th, because she didn't want to miss out on anything.

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Later Years

Santorini 1972
25th wedding anniversary
25th anniversary party

1976 - The Samaras Family with extended family and friends celebrating Mary and Chris for their 25th wedding anniversary. Bay Ridge Club, Annapolis, Maryland.

Evangeline kneeling in the front; first row, Daphne, Mary, Chris, Yiayia, Charlie. Stephen is in the last row, second from the right.

1972 - Chris on a family trip to Santorini

1976 - Mary and Chris celebrating their 25th  anniversary

ChrisSamaras

15 November 2005, Chris George Samaras, 83 passed away peacefully in his sleep.

 

The family story of the days proceeding his death, in their words;

 

"As adults we still recognize the importance of celebrations together. Because every member of our family including our spouses all had birthdays in the last few months of the year, getting together for every birthday was challenging. So we would pick one long weekend to travel somewhere together to celebrate.

 

In November of 2005 we spent our weekend in Kingsmill in Williamsburg, VA. One morning, the girls, except Challie, were going to the outlets with Dad. Challie, Dan, Mike & Stephen were heading out to the golf course. Dad looked really sad because he had to go shopping with the women. Challie suggested that Dad come and ride along in the golf cart. Stephen and Dad smoked cigars, drank beers and had a wonderful day on the golf course.

 

After the ride back to Annapolis from Kingsmill, Challie and Stephen dropped Mom & Dad off at home. When saying good night, Dad said to Stephen, “Son, I want to thank you because I had the best time of my life. I have only one regret and that is that I didn’t learn how to play golf. Stephen remarked, “Dad, I’ve asked you many times to play golf but you always responded that you weren’t OLD enough, so why now?”

 

Dad said to Stephen, “Because I could have spent more time with you.” With that, he said, “I love you and good night, son.”

 

Chris Samaras passed away the following morning.

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Mary with Marissa
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7 November 2011, Mary Samaras passed away peacefully listening to Greek music. Her children and grandchildren believe that she died on the day before what would have been Chris' 89th birthday, because she needed to get to heaven to bake him his favorite cake. Mary was 84.

At her funeral, a beautiful bouquet of roses arrived with a card that read,

 

“It is time for us to dance together again. Our children and grandchildren are good and strong. For all the time we were together, I saw only the beautiful girl on our honeymoon. I have missed your smile and embrace. We will never be far from those we love and they will hear our whispers of pride and love when each warm breeze caresses their faces.”

Chris

Mary with her first grandchild, Marisa Foreman. Marisa's name is a combination of her grandparents names - Mary and Chris

Mary with her second grandchild, Katherine, named for Mary's sister Katherine  Kambouris. 

Samaras 2018

Bermuda, 2018; pictured from left, Stephen, Challie, Mike, Evangeline, Katherine, Marisa, Daphne, Dan

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