Karyes Pafsanias

Independence until the beggining of the 20th Century

After the Revolution until the end of the 19th century (1830-1890)

As all the Greeks did during that period, the Arachovites / Karyatians tried to rebuild their village from the wreckage. The country was poor and that’s why there had never been several reactions to the new state's attempts to receive taxes from the suffering population. A characteristic episode of those reactions called "Mitsokontogianneikon" took place at the village of Arachova/Karyes. At one summer of the 1830s, as the new government had no money to pay for the army, it designated regions where each General would go on to receive taxes. Thus, General Vangelis Mitsos-Kontogiannis from Central Greece (called Roumeli) passing the villages of Kastri and Aghios Petros arrived in Arachova where he settled. He waited for four days but the residents had no intention of paying taxes. For this reason the General imprisoned the priest and the mayor of the village. But the Big family of the village, the Matalas, consulted with the neighboring villages and by concentraining many soldiers from there, went to a battle within the village and finally defeated the General’s army. Eventually, General Gennaios Kolokotronis arrived from Tripoli and he reached a compromise for the Roumeliotes soldiers to leave. This incident had been recorded with the folk song "A bird came out" (“ena poulaki eksevyene”).

The village was named during the Middle Ages and the Ottoman period as "Arachova", but immediately after the liberation from the Ottomans was renamed again to its ancient name of "Karyes" with the Royal decree on 27.12.1833 and established as the "Municipality of Karyes". However, the extended royal decree on 11.21.1840 concerning the creation of municipalities establishes the "Municipality of Oinountos" and the village named as Arachova is rejoined administratively with the settlements of Vresthena, Vanvakou, Megali Vrisi and Varvitsa. In 1914 with the dissolution of these expanded municipalities, the village acquires its autonomy as the "Community of Arachova".

The residents were gradually able to rebuild their place. From 570 inhabitants in 1830 the population tripled and exceeded 1,600 in 1890. With the donation of the great benefactor Athanasios Matalas, a small school (Matelio) was being built and the main church of Aghia Paraskevi among with the other three smaller ones (Aghios Andreas, the Assumption of Virgin Mary and Aghios Ioannis) were been repaired. Also in 1860, a new building was being built on Vigla Square (St. Andrew's), in order to serve as a community hall, telegraph and court.

During that period, the Karyates participated in all the struggles of the Greek Nation. It is characteristic that in the revolution of Crete (1866 - 1968) one (1) volunteer soldier Nickolaos Christofilis had an “heroic death” in the Monastery of Arkadi.

The Arachova’s situation at the beginning of the 20th century (1890-1922)

Greece at the arrival of the 20th century was at a crucial point. Although during the 19th century many modern institutions had been established at the new state, these changes could only be found at the cities. At the same moment in the countryside, where the vast majority of the population still lived, almost nothing had been done in order to improve the everyday living.

Thus, in Karyes-Arachova, even though the settlement may be considered as one of the biggest villages in Peloponnese, there was only a small School (Matalio), grace at the will of Athanasios Matalas, which cannot deal with the great number of pupils, a square (Rachi) and a smaller one (Vigla). At this small square, a rather small building had been constructed by the Greek State to serve as a Community Hall, Telegraph Office and Justice Hall. Meanwhile, there were no roads inside the village and the villagers had access to water only via the two fountains: in Panaghia and in Sakali. Although, there were two parishes with three priests, the only big enough church is that of Aghia Paraskevi. There were three more small ones Aghios Andreas, Panaghia and Aghios Ioannis and a new one (Aghios Nikolaos), which has been built at 1898 in order to move the cemetery from the square of Vigla, where there were no more space, in a new site outside the village. At the beginning of the 20th century two new small chapels were been built: Aghios Georgios (1902) at the agricultural site of Kampos and Aghioi Anargyri (1904) 2 km away from the village’s entrance.

According to the Marianthi Anastasea’ calendar (teacher in Karyes, 1903-04), as it has been saved by Evangelos P. Kerhoulas

“Arachovitans are mainly farmers and viticulturists. The Enoyntas Municipality (where Karyes belong at that period of time) may be considered as one of the poorest of Lakonia. So Arachova may be considered even poorer because of the luck of water supply. The residents cultivate potatoes, wine and wheat. The family’s meal is poor. The main meal consists of cabbage, greens and potatoes. Only few families may have meat once a week.”

The medical treatment was almost absent as there was only one Pharmacist (Leventis) who lived at the village and prepared the medicines by himself. There were only three (3) wine-taverns and four (4) minimarkets with few products and high prices. They bought their products from the village of Aghios Petros which served as a regional market. The village was almost forgotten by the Greek State. The only public servants were five teachers and the manager of the Telegraph-Post office. This situation may be considered as unfair for the residents, considering that the Karyes’ population was almost that of a small town.

This situation initially resulted in large internal migration as early as 1890 to major cities and mainly in Athens, but then external migration to North America (USA and Canada). Brothers Vassilios and Panagiotis Leventakis were among the first to go to America, and in 1896 another 36 young people left en masse, followed by others. Most Arachovites are concentrated in the area of ​​the two Carolins, but many have spread to other major cities (Chicago, New York, Toronto, Boston, San Francisco, Akron, Bigham Center).

At the same time, as the rest of the Greeks the Karyates were engaged in the unsuccessful for Greece Greek-Turkish war of 1897, where two (2) officials and more than twenty (20) soldiers took part.

However, according to that calendar the quality of the people was perfect:

“Karyates are peaceful, religious, law-abiding and they all adore their village. We don’t have any example of Karyates that immigrated abroad who had forgotten their homeland. Despite the life difficulties they never surrender. It is almost impossible to find a man or a woman ugly! All the residents are beautiful and handful.”

As a reaction to the absence of the State, the residents are trying to create associations. The first movement was the “KARYATIKOS SYNDESMOS” (Association) which was established at 1896. Although, the village’ residents in a general assembly at 1898 assigned to the Association their representation, its actions weren’t important. In 1908 the “KARYATIKI ADELPHOTITA” (Brotherhood) was established but its actions were focused mainly at the reforestation.

As a result of the above, from the end of the Revolution to the end of the 19th century (1832-1896) the population increased (from 567 to 1,688 inhabitants), over the next 25 years it slowly decreased (1,321 inhabitants in 1920).

All these years the amount of money that the immigrants sent back to the village is breathtaking. According to the chronicle,

"Of the 1,800 residents, 450 men have immigrated to America and with the money they send home from simple huts they have been transformed into spacious and two-storey homes."

For example, in September 1904, 40,000 drachmas, or about $ 8,000 U.S., arrived at Karyes’ Post Office, a colossal amount for that period of time ($8,000 in 1900 is equivalent in purchasing power to about $245,000 in 2019).

Furthermore the 1910s were a difficult time period for Greece as the Balkan Wars (1912-13) occurred and the free Greeks fought for the liberation of the rest of the compatriots who lived under the Turkish rule. Thus eighty-five (85) Karyates/Arachovites fought, from whom six (6) were killed and four (4) were injured. Then there was the outbreak of World War I (1914-18) where although Greece did not participate until 1916 the  communication with U.S.A. was interrupted. Eighty-nine (89) Karyates/Arachovites fought in the Great War and at the Asia Minor Campaign (1919-1922), of whom thirteen were killed (13). Also from the Karyates/Arachovites of America in World War I seventeen (17) fought and one (1) was killed.

This period ends with a hope, since the end of World War I (1918) finds all compatriots in America restored, prosperous with abundant wealth. From the following year 1919, communication with Europe is restored and most immediately decide to visit the Homeland, inaugurating as we will see a new era of progress.


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