Greek-American Families

Petros: Family Story

Ζαχαρίας Πέτρου Μοσκόβου (Zacharias Petrou Moscovou) was born on August 15, 1902 in a small village, Agia Triada, boarding the town of Yialousa, in the northern part of Cyprus. His actual date of birth is unknown since it was customary at the time of his birth for the date to be carved into a cabinet or wood item, that was a religious or national holiday near the actual date of birth. He left his native country in 1928, traveling with several of his cousins to London England, on their journey to America.

After working for a year in London, saving all of their wages, not spent on rent and food and other necessities, they paid their way, got their visas and came to America, to start their new life. Zacharias Petrou Moskovou, traveled on the SS Leviathan arriving at Ellis Island on November 18, 1929. His new life in America began with the change of his name, at the suggestion of the United States Immigration officers, dropping the last name Moskovou, as it would be “too Greek for American”, and becoming known as Zacharias Petrou.

Separating from his cousins, he remained in New York, residing with a relative, John Orphanos, in New York, in his first year in the United States. From there he moved to Wilmington North Carolina, where he opened his first restaurant. His first years in the United States were difficult and he yearned to return to his native Cyprus. However, after returning to Cyprus and having experience life in the United States the call of America became irresistible and he returned, traveling on the SS Bremen, passage number 9011973065815, under the name given to him at the time of his first arrival, Zacharias Petrou, arriving again at Ellis Island on May 15, 1937.

From New York he traveled to Baltimore, Maryland, where he eventually was introduced to Lucille Sakellos, at a picnic gathering of Greeks in Baltimore. They ultimately married at the Annunciation Church on October 13, 1946. Zacharias Petrou worked as a chef in a Baltimore restaurant and the new couple began living at 301 West Hoffman Street in Baltimore, until the home they contracted to purchased was ready for occupancy. They took possession of 5221 Ready Avenue, Baltimore, Maryland 1946. Zacharias and Lucille had their first child, PETER, born on May 26, 1948. It was just short of one year after Peter’s birth, when the family moved to Annapolis, Maryland on April 21, 1949. Moving to 129 Cathedral St. Annapolis, Maryland. The move to Annapolis was the result of Zacharias joining his cousin John Kallis in a Restaurant known as the Presto located at the corner of Cathedral and West Street. Working as the head chief and occasionally bar tending. It was in April of 1949 the family last name began to be sometime spelled as “Petro”, other times as Petrou. As Zacharias and Lucille welcomed their second child, George into the world the family last name appeared a”reunion s “Petros”.

The “Petros” family fostered in Annapolis, and the family lived a good and prosthetist life, moving from Cathedral Street to 8 Taney Avenue in Annapolis on December 28, 1951. On June 14th 1954, Zacharias became a United States Citizen, his name being spelled as “Petrou”. In time the family last name became solidly ingrained as “Petros”.

The family was active in the Annapolis Greek Community, members of the Greek Orthodox Church, from its very beginning, when services were held, for a time, at St. Anne’s Episcopal Church, Church Circle, Annapolis, Maryland. Until the building of St. Constantine and Helen church on Constitution Avenue, in Annapolis and continuing to the new facility on Riva Road, just outside of Annapolis.

As the years passed Zacharias and Lucille instilled in their children the value of hard work, education and helping others. Zacharias Petros untimely left the Presto and opened his own restaurant on West Street in Annapolis, “the Coffee Pot”. IN 1964 Zacharias suffered a heart attack, from which he recovered, but it inspired him to return to Cyprus for a visit to his native land for the first time since he departed in 1937. Spending more than a month with his sister Milia, and relatives who had never immigrated. His return to Cyprus became the subject of an article in the Annapolis Capital. In 1968 Zacharias and Lucille sold the Coffee Pot, which remains in operation under new ownership, to this day.

Like most Greeks in Annapolis, social life revolved around the church and the Greek community. Often gathering at Oak Grove. A recreation and picnic area, located just outside Annapolis on the South River and once every year the Greek Cypriots had a reunion at Mago Vista, located about fifteen miles outside of Annapolis in Arnold, Maryland. In time Oak Grove was sold but Greek gatherings continued at the old Bay Ridge beach on the Chesapeake. Annual dances and events, to include the Greek Festival, continue to draw most of the decedents of that first wave of Greeks keeping traditions alive.