The Summers Family

Two of the few Greek immigrant families present in Alexandria at the time of 1920 U.S. Census were the Constantinople and Samartzopulos (which looked like Somoragas) families. These two families shared a domicile on King Street in Ward 4; what brought them together was the fact that Helene Samartzopulos and Georgia Constantinople were sisters. Interestingly, Georgia was the first person listed in the household, but also was married, not a widow. I then realized her husband was in the census at a different location–possibly where he owned a business–but his surname was not legible. Antone and his wife, Helen, were also born in Greece.  Peter Constantinople, Georgia’s 18-year-old son, was born in Greece and immigrated with his mother in 1905.  His younger sister, Mary, was born in Virginia.

When looking into the 1940 U.S. Census, I once again found the families but a few things had changed. Firstly the Samartzopulos’ were now listed as the Summers, obviously an attempt to Americanize their name. Then Georgia’s husband–James–was present in the home. The most notable difference was that Helen was now the head of household; her husband, Antone, was not present, and she was not listed as widowed or divorced. She also had two sons–Thomas and Gus–living with her.  Everyone was now living on Duke Street together.

After searching for more information on the Summers family on the internet, I stumbled across an obituary for Thomas Anthony Summers, the son of Greek immigrants Anthony and Helen Samartzopulos from Alexandria, Virginia. Summers served in the U.S. Army during World War II and was best known as a country music singer[1]. By researching Thomas’s two groups, the Capitol Hillbillies and Cameron Valley Boys, I was able find mention to the song “It Rained Down Sorrow” by the Capitol Hillbillies and Tommie Summers in The Billboard magazine.[2]

Mr Thomas Anthony Summers

The only references I could find to Helen and Anthony Samartzopulos were later in the century. One article in the Washington Post was the obituary of Anthony Samartzopulos, which mentioned he owned multiple lunch rooms, including one named the the George Washington Lunch on the 400 block of King Street.[3] The article also credited Anthony with being a creator of the Saints Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church in Washington, DC and later Saint Katherine’s in Falls Church, Virginia. Another article noted that Helen, his wife, and her part in helping setting up the church. Apparently, the couple had gone through the phonebook in search of Greek names to call and ask for their help in setting up the church [4].

[1] Obituaries, Everly Funeral Homes, accessed October 2, 2015, http://everlywheatley.tributes.com/obituary/show/Thomas-Anthony-Summers-88462133.

[2] “Advance Record Releases,” The Billboard, May 10, 1947, accessed October 2, 2015, https://books.google.com/books?id=QAwEAAAAMBAJ&pg=PT121&lpg=PT121&dq=The+Capitol+Hillbillies+and+Tommy+Summers&source=bl&ots=u0yjvjMxfT&sig=ttQAcVhBzv7dIdvtsxjcv_NRtnM&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0CCcQ6AEwAmoVChMIq8GKldyiyAIVDHY-Ch1xtAfF#v=onepage&q=The%20Capitol%20Hillbillies%20and%20Tommy%20Summers&f=false.

[3] “Anthony Samartzopulos, Owned Food Stores,” Washington Post, October, 9, 1976.

[4]” Pillows, Plants, and ‘thank you God,'” Washington Post, June, 10, 1976.

PHOTO CREDIT:

“Tommie Summers.” Everly Wheatley. http://everlywheatley.tributes.com/obituary/show/Thomas-Anthony-Summers-88462133. (Accessed 10/14/2015).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*