Updated: Dec 15, 2022
As we have said in the past, documentation for females was lacking and finding anything about their lives can be a real challenge.
We are very fortunate to have a few documents for Fotinoula Kasimati and her sisters Stavroula and Stamata.
Fotinoula Kasimatis was born at 2pm, 22 January 1891 in Potamos to Ioannis Kasimatis and Theodosia Panaretou. Her baptism was performed a few weeks later on 2 February 1891 in Iperagias Theotokou Potamos church.
She had an older sister Stavroula, born about 1889. Stamata was younger being born on 14 March 1897.
The sisters had two brothers, Haralambos and Minas, who were already in Australia. Haralambos arrived in 1905 with his father and Minas in 1913. The brothers had a business in Ardelthan, New South Wales, in the early 1920s.
Fotinoula was 5” with brown hair and grey eyes. She could not read or write English, but she could speak it and understand it when spoken to.
Her life in Kythera would have been typical for a female for the time. There may have been some minimal schooling although we have not found any school reports for her, but she would have been taught important skills such as cooking and sewing.
The three girls immigrated to Australia onboard Charon. It is very fortunate that the travel documents for all three sisters still exist in the collection of the National Archives of Australia. This is just a three-page file with a copy of the front and back of the travel documents, but there is some interesting information included.
The stamps on the back of the travel documents show the exact journey to Australia. The ship left Athens on 15 April 1921 and arrived in Port Said a week later on 23 April. Two days later the ship left for Singapore, arriving on 22 May. This stopover was five days and on 27 May the sisters were heading to their destination. They landed in Fremantle, Western Australia on 11 June 1921, probably full of hope and excitement.
It appears the three sisters made one more trip, this time to Ardelthan to join their brothers and father who had a restaurant and fruit business.
Stavroula married Polivoulos Katzoulis in Sydney in 1924. No more is known about her life at this stage. She died in March 1972, aged 83 and is buried in Eastern Suburbs Memorial Park.
Little is known about Stamata at this stage either. She married Haralambos Flaskas in Sydney in 1922 and died 2 September 1979, aged 82. She is also buried in Eastern Suburbs Memorial Park.
Unusually for a female, Fotinoula applied for Australian naturalisation on 11 December 1929 in Sydney, so more is known about her.
After arriving in Sydney, she was now known as Photini Cassimatis. She spent the first two years in Ardelthan, New South Wales, before settling in Sydney. At some point, she had a work accident affecting her left leg. She lost her claim against her employee as the injury did not leave her entirely incapacitated, but she was still lame in that leg for the rest of her life. On one of the reports in the naturalisation papers it was noted that because of her disability she may need to apply for an invalid pension in the future.
In 1925 she was living at 92 Palmer Street, Surry Hills and was not married. She was working as a self-employed dressmaker, using the skills she probably learnt as a child in Kythera.
She took her Oath of Allegiance on 23 April 1930 and her naturalisation was approved on 7 October 1930.
No more is known about her. No death has been found under the name Cassimatis or any variation. It is possible she married, but no marriage has been found either.
Since publishing this blog we have had an update on Photini from Peter Trearchis. She married John Constantine in 1936 in Sydney. She died on 13 August 1975 and was buried in Easter Suburbs Memorial Park two days later in pilot GL8 - General Candilli Lawn 8, Position 0028. This grave will be photographed next time I go to the cemetery.
National Archives of Australia The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, www.familysearch.org, Kythera Council Birth Records
NSW Births, Deaths and Marriages