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Moustakis Family Papers
Scope and Contents
- Majority of material found within 1909 -- 1929
- 1880 -- 2006
- Moustakis, Constantine Christou (Person)
Language of Materials
Greek, Modern (1453-)
Conditions Governing Access
Conditions Governing Use
Biographical / Historical
Constantine Christou Moustakis (1883-1925) was born at Longaniko, (Sparta), Greece, on February 15, 1883, the son of Christos Moustakis (d. 1930) and Nikoletta Demarkes (d. 1940). He emigrated in 1897 to the United States with his older brothers George (1877-1958) and Nicholas (1880-1969), settling first at Lowell, MA, where they worked in mills.
In 1905 the three brothers purchased a confectionery store at 220 Essex St., Salem, with a candy counter and a tea room, and the three moved to Salem. Originally the store was called "The Palace of the Sweets," but later became known as just "Moustakis Brothers." Around 1910 two other brothers, John (1894-1979) and Louis, newly arrived from Greece, joined the firm, which lasted from 1905 to 1968, known primarily for the manufacture of quality confections and candy.
In November, 1909, Constantine married Gertrude Russell Putnam, born in 1891, the daughter of Charles Henry Putnam (b. 1847) and Martha E. Wescott (1855-1942). They had three children all born in Salem: Christy Constantine Moustakis (February 11, 1911 to October 20, 1989); George Constantine Moustakis (August 15, 1913 to February 5, 1993); and Priscilla Constantine Moustakis (Babas) (born August 2, 1915). Gertrude Putnam Moustakis died young on October 1, 1918.
It is said that in 1911 Constantine Moustakis organized at Salem what was perhaps the first 'Holy Legion of Greek-American Youth' for service to their native land in view of the troubles that were developing in the Balkans. Brothers George and John remaining behind to manage the business, while Constantine and his brothers Nicholas and Louis departed for Greece in December 1912, arriving in January, 1913. While in Greece he assiduously wrote to his wife Gertrude in English.
As a soldier Constantine's excellent command of English soon got him attached to the Greek Government's "Bureau de la Presse" in Salonika, where he wrote newspaper dispatches for the The New York Times and The Manchester Guardian. Upon completing his military service at the end of war, he returned in September 1913 to his young family, his second son having been born during his absence. His brothers also returned to resume their residence and work at Salem, though Louis returned later because of an injury sustained in battle.
Upon his return home, Constantine edited his remembrances and dispatches of the war into an unpublished manuscript, giving lectures to various social and men's groups in and around Salem. He illustrated his talks using glass negatives slides, including a collection of 82 lantern slides showing images of battles and devastation.
During the time of the Paris Peace Conference of 1919, Constantine organized a convention in Washington, DC of the friends of Greece to support Greek claims to territories in Thrace and Asia Minor. When Greece entered a war with Turkey in the early 1920s, Constantine spent much of his time in the U.S. pleading Greece's cause while the country went through not only the war but also political instability related to the struggle of monarchism versus republicanism. Constantine became a fervent supporter of the Greek Liberal Party's leader, Eleutherios Venizelos (1864-1936). Venizelos clashed with King Constantine during the First World War over the king's neutralist policies; the king had been deposed in 1917, restored to the throne in 1920, and deposed again in 1922, this time permanently. The clash between the two men had caused a fissure in Greek politics, pitting Venizelists against those loyal to the king; and this acrimonious situation continued as Greece's foreign policies seemed to be disintegrating after the king's restoration in 1920.
In the U.S., Constantine Moustakis helped organize a group called Greek Liberals in America with the purpose of assisting Eleutherios Venizelos, whose political life went through many crises and vicissitudes as he rose and fell in the position of prime minister. To support Greece as well as Venizelos, Constantine was instrumental in the publication of a newspaper entitled Bulletin of the Greek Liberals in America. When Venizelos, out of power, visited the United States in 1922, Constantine served as a kind of advisor and often accompanied him. Constantine's alliance with the Venizelist cause was clear during these years when Venizelos' former secretary, Kyriakos Tsolianos, and his sister, Asemina, would visit the Moustakis family during the summer at their beach home at Old Orchard Beach, ME.
Constantine was also active in the state and later in the national Republican Party. He soon became acquainted with Senator Warren Harding, whom he visited at Marion, OH, to take part in what became the famous "Front Porch" campaign which ended with Harding's election as president. Constantine first knew Calvin Coolidge when he was governor of Massachusetts. Later as president, he and Mrs. Coolidge received Constantine at the White House. Constantine was particularly pleased when the president mentioned that the two men were connected by marriage because Coolidge was also descended from the Putnam family of Salem as had been Constantine's late wife.
On April 30, 1924, Constantine was knighted by the Greek government, receiving the Grand Cross of the Chevalier of the Royal Order of King George I for services rendered to Greece in seeking better terms for Greece after the country went through a terrible defeat in the Greco-Turkish War of the early 1920s.
Constantine is said to have had an extraordinarily imposing presence which was noted by many people. His brother Nicholas once told their nephew George Marcopoulos a story that attested to this presence. During the Balkan Wars when both men were just ordinary soldiers they once were walking down building steps where many Greeks officers were standing. Much to Nicholas' amazement, as Constantine walked through, the officers incredibly kept stepping aside to make way for him to pass. A similar presence was evident also to many of his American friends who called him by his nick-name of "The Count," though he never claimed any noble descent. Constantine Moustakis died at his home at 11 Winter Street, Salem, MA, on April 15, 1925.
(A more complete biography can be found in the collection documentation folder.)
4.85 Linear Feet (6 boxes)
- Language of description
- Script of description