FAMILY HISTORY OVERVIEW 

"From Kasos and the Naval Battles of Gerontas and Samos to Ikaria and the liberation of the Aegean."

"Georgios Zisis and the establishment of our family."

According to four different family stories from previous generations that all confirm each other, the common ancestor of the family and father of its founder, Theodoros Kassotis, was the kasian Georgios Zisis, who served as a sailor under Admiral Georgios Sahtouris in the Naval Battles of Gerontas and Samos and permanently settled in Ikaria in 1824 when Sahtouris' fleet docked on the island for resupply. The same story, without changes, is confirmed by Fotios Kassotis (grandson of Theodoros Kassotis), Philippos Kassotis (son of Dimitrios), and a descendant of another related family founded after Sahtouris' arrival in Ikaria, Theologos Speis. The family tradition is accurately confirmed by several scientific books and articles (see sources), and thus it is recognized as the official history of the family's creation."

In order to grasp the personal motives behind Georgios Zisis's decision to establish himself in Ikaria instead of returning to Kasos, we must acknowledge the Kasos Massacre of 1824 inflicted by the Egyptian fleet. This tragic event claimed the lives of 220 individuals and resulted in 300 captives, rendering the island uninhabitable and forcing thousands of residents into exile. A pertinent scientific article elaborates:

The Kasos Massacre

Kolovos Georgios

Researcher - Author

Graduate of Maritime and Transport Business Administration from the Piraeus University of Applied Sciences

Overview

Kasos is an island in the southern Aegean and one of the Dodecanese. It lies between Crete and Karpathos, covering an area of 66 square kilometers with a coastline length of 59 kilometers, and is located 37 miles from Crete. Generally, Kasos is rugged, with only the part facing Greece, a three-mile stretch, being accessible. Its population was 990 according to the 2001 census. In 1820, just before the Greek War of Independence, Kasos' population had reached around 7,000, and its commercial fleet had grown to around 100 ships. Based on this fleet, Kasos sailors played a significant role in the Greek War of Independence of 1821, obstructing the Turkish troops' supply lines as they attempted to suppress the revolution in the Peloponnese. The role of Kasos ships in operations in Crete was also significant, with famous captains such as Theodoros Kantartzis, Markos Malliarakis, and Hadji Nik. Mavri, among others. Kasos also participated in the Battle of Samos, with a squadron of ships under the command of N. Iouliou or Boureka. In September 1822, only four Kasos ships captured 19 enemy ships in the port of Damietta, which were ready to sail to Crete to supply Hasan Pasha. These ships were handed over to the Greek authorities to be used as fire ships. Thus, the only solution for the Turks was the destruction of Kasos. With the assistance of the Pasha of Egypt, Muhammad Ali, and following betrayal, Kasos was completely destroyed at the end of May 1824, with thousands of Kasians killed or taken captive to the slave markets of Alexandria. For many years after the Massacre, the island remained deserted. Although survivors gradually began to return over time, the economy never recovered. The gradual return of Kasians was also facilitated by the incorporation of Kasos and neighboring islands into Greece, according to the Protocol of March 18, 1829. The Greek governor resided alternately in Thira and Kasos. However, the following year, with the London Protocol, Kasos was returned to Turkish sovereignty in exchange for Euboea. Despite being under Turkish rule, Kasians continued to send their delegations to the National Assemblies until 1863. In 1911, Kasos was occupied by the Italians and was incorporated into Greece after World War II on March 7, 1948.

Events Before the Destruction of Kasos

During the first half of 1824, the political crisis that had been brewing since the first year of the Revolution and had intensified during the last months of 1823 evolved into a civil war. On one side were the most important military figures of the Peloponnese led by Kolokotronis, and on the other side was the circle of Mavrokordatos, comprising islanders and prominent politicians of the Peloponnese. The outcome of this internal conflict was the weakening of the Revolution and the destruction of the islands of Crete, Kasos, and Psara by the Turkish-Egyptian fleet. The Porte, having learned from three years of experience that it was unable to suppress the Greek Revolution on its own, decided to appeal to the powerful Pasha of Egypt, Muhammad Ali (formally subordinate to the Porte but in reality independent), and to seek his assistance not only for the subjugation of Crete but for the entirety of Greece. This satrap, who through his abilities had risen from nothing to become immensely powerful, reshaped Egypt, organized a formidable army and navy (trained by French officers), and found resources to maintain and expand them, promised to mobilize his forces and send his son, Ibrahim Pasha, who was declared the ruler of the Peloponnese. The agreement he made with the Porte stipulated that he would keep under his authority any territories he managed to subdue, transfer Christian captives to Egypt or elsewhere, and populate Greek territories with Egyptians and other Muslims. It was decided, therefore, to invade the Peloponnese with Egyptian troops aided by the Egyptian fleet, the forces and naval power of the Porte in the Aegean, and the troops stationed in mainland Greece to all other insurgent regions, so that the entirety of Greece would be engaged in war, both on land and at sea, simultaneously. As he prepared to confront Greece, Muhammad Ali deemed it necessary to maintain his power in Crete, considering the island as a bridge for the transfer of his forces to the Peloponnese. However, he feared the neighboring Kasos, which he decided to subjugate because the island, with its small navy, had previously frightened and harmed the Turks who were stationed at the forts of Crete, thus having the potential to cause disturbances once again. So, after the completion of the destruction of Crete around mid-April, it was Kasos's turn to face the wrath of the Turkish-Egyptian fleet. Kasos had given many reasons for the enemy to recognize its importance in the conduct of the war. Its fleet had played a leading role in the struggle of Crete and, after its end, had transported many Cretan refugees to Kasos (with leaders such as Kourmoulis and Astrinos), while also having a strategic position twenty miles from the port of Sitia. Even before the destruction of Crete, on January 18, 1824, Kasos had experienced the first hostile action. A part of the Egyptian fleet consisting of 14 warships attacked it, but the island's cannons immediately responded. On April 15-16, reports from Smyrna and Alexandria presented information about the Egyptians' plans against the Greek Revolution. Specifically, they mentioned that Ibrahim, son of Muhammad Ali, had been appointed commander of the Turkish-Egyptian troops in the Peloponnese and that the Egyptian fleet (well-organized and equipped) was ready to set sail and join the rest of the fleet already in Crete. The report from Alexandria even proposed a specific way to address the threat, suggesting that the Greek fleet should meet the Egyptian fleet between Kastellorizo, Rhodes, and Karpathos and try to destroy it before it could unite all its forces. It would have been expected that after these warnings, the government would take appropriate measures and ensure the reinforcement of the island. However, not only were no measures taken to strengthen the fleet and the defense of the island, but two small ships from Sfakia, which were in the harbor to be converted into fire ships and added to the Hydra fleet, were withdrawn from their strength. At the same time, the lack of money of the inhabitants of Kasos made it impossible to mobilize their own ships. Thus, on May 12, the nobles of the island sent a letter to the "Supreme Administration" exposing the great danger threatening them and requesting financial assistance to be able to mobilize their ships. They also requested ammunition, gunpowder, and bullets. However, their letter remained unanswered. Three frigates and ten gunboats sailed from Alexandria on April 28, 1824 under the command of Isma'il Gibraltar, an experienced and daring naval officer who had been raised among the pirates of Barbary. The naval force of Kasos was limited to 15 gunboats and 40 smaller vessels. The Egyptian fleet passed through Souda, where it picked up another 12 ships, and appeared off Kasos on May 14, 1824. It's worth noting that sources disagree on the number of ships and the strength of the enemy. However, the entire Turkish-Egyptian fleet was under the command of Hussein, who organized the operation against Kasos. The latter, experienced, ruthless, and active in warfare, was determined to subjugate the Greeks using all means of violence. At that time, the island had four villages: Agia Marina (the most important), Arvanitochori, Panagia, and Poli. These villages were located in the eastern part of the island and were very close to each other. The whole island had about 5,000 inhabitants, of whom 500 were sailors. The island had no harbor, and for this reason, its ships usually anchored in the neighboring Karpathos, but during those days, they had all gathered in the area of Avlaki because of the summer. The islanders had organized the defense of the island with their own forces as much as they could. They had placed thirty cannons on the eastern side of the island, which was the most vulnerable (in front of the villages). The other coasts, which were completely rugged, left no room for enemy landing. So only small guards were placed to alert in case of danger. The military force of the island consisted of about 600 armed Kasians. Most of them were very familiar with handling cannons from the experience they had gained on their ships, which, from raids they carried out in the Mediterranean, brought a lot of Turkish loot to the island. To this force, another 600 armed Cretan refugees had been added. When the nobles and captains of the island saw the ships of the enemy fleet, they convened to decide what to do. Some proposed to surrender, fearing that the superiority of the Turkish-Egyptian fleet left no room for successful resistance, while others proposed to defend themselves. However, while they were still discussing, the ships of the enemy fleet began shelling, so those who wanted to resist prevailed. Thus, the island's cannons responded to the enemy's cannons. The newspaper "Smyrneos" from Smyrna reports that the flagship of the Turkish-Egyptian fleet, the "Africa," in its attempt to approach the island, ran aground and, having suffered serious damage, was forced to retreat. The remaining Egyptian ships, seeing the danger, did not attempt to approach. They stayed for two more days, patrolled the coasts, and returned to Souda without taking any further action. It is highly likely that Hussein believed that with an impressive display of his fleet, he would achieve the submission of the island, and for this reason, he had not brought with him landing forces that would allow him to dare the occupation.

The government's indifference despite the desperate pleas of the people of Kasos.

On May 17, the people of Kasos made desperate appeals to the authorities of Hydra and the Government for immediate assistance. They requested naval forces while simultaneously exposing their tragic situation. "The Egyptian fleet... has four frigates and one that passed by Rhodes, with ten brigantines, and ten smaller ships," they wrote. Members of Parliament from the Aegean, in their address to the Parliament, emphasized the danger threatening the islands and Kasos in particular, reminding that the funds collected from the islands for the staffing and equipping of the fleet were sufficient to immediately mobilize it, preventing landings on the islands in danger and confronting the enemy. However, Parliament did not act with the urgency it should have. The proposal sent to the Executive did not indicate any concern among its members, while it responded to Nikolaos Chrysogelos, the representative (MP) of the Aegean, that "resources are lacking." Some further actions towards Spetses and Hydra remained fruitless. And this was justified by claiming that there were not enough funds to immediately send out twenty ships with a corresponding number of fire ships. The response of the new Executive, on May 27, reveals a lack of appreciation for the seriousness of the danger and the unforgivable inertia of those responsible. In reality, the new Executive was preoccupied with trying to suppress its internal opponents rather than prevent the external danger. It was Kasos' turn to be left to its fate, just as Crete had been left a little while before. 


Landing of the enemies in Kasos and destruction of the island.

The Kasians, seeing no response to their calls for help, decided to defend themselves. They organized their defense in positions they believed to be more vulnerable, ignoring the advice of the more experienced individuals who suggested deploying forces to other parts of the island, which they believed to be rugged and inaccessible. On May 27, 1824, a powerful Egyptian fleet arrived in Kasos with Admiral Ismail and General Hussein. Sources vary on the number of ships and men, but it appears there were 25-45 ships carrying 3,000-4,000 Albanian soldiers. The enemy fleet positioned itself near the nearby islet of Makria and began bombarding Kasos. The main targets were Katarti, Ammouda, Punta of St. George, and the village of Agia Marina, where the main defensive force of the Kasians was concentrated. However, the response from Kasos cannons managed to keep the enemy fleet at bay. During the two days of bombardment, about four thousand bombs fell on the island. During the second night (May 28-29, 1824), 18 landing boats detached from the main force of the Egyptian fleet and headed north of Agia Marina. Simultaneously, the bombardment focused on this point to distract the defenders. The defenders did not realize that 30 more boats filled with soldiers under Captain Mousa were heading towards the location of Antiperatos, south of Agia Marina. There they landed without encountering resistance. It's possible that the guide of the army was Zacharias, a Kasian who, exiled from the island, wanted to avenge his fellow citizens. The path of the enemy troops was through a difficult trail guarded by 5 or 6 fighters, most of whom were killed immediately. If there had been a greater force at this point, it might have been easy to thwart the landing, given that the natural formation of the position offered strong defense. Immediately after the first landing, having gained a strong foothold, Hussein followed with a second. In the early morning, two thousand Albanians suddenly reached the defenders' rear in the area of Agia Marina, where they were deployed awaiting the enemy's landing from there. The defenders repelled them courageously, but being caught between two fires, they could not prevent the landing on the beach, in front of Agia Marina. Hussein urged them to surrender, promising their lives and freedom in return. However, the Kasians and Cretans, despite being taken by surprise, resisted and inflicted serious damage on the enemy. The battle continued fiercely, but enemy reinforcements kept arriving, and it became evident that resistance was futile. Then, with heroic determination, the defenders broke through the enemy lines, managed to open a path, some reached the Kasian ships on the coast, and others fled to the mountains of the island. It's worth noting that when the remaining defenders of the island had scattered, the Kasian captain Markos Ioannou or Malliarakis, also known as Diakomarkos, who had achieved many feats in Crete, continued to resist with 30 to 40 men at the Lagka position. Eventually, he himself was captured, and most of his men were killed. When he was brought to Hussein, recognizing his heroism, Hussein promised him a rich reward if he declared submission and followed him. However, when the guards, following Hussein's order, began to untie the captain's bonds, he seized the sword of one of his guards and killed three more before falling heroically himself a little later. After the dispersal of the defenders, the island fell into the hands of the enemy. The scenes that followed were scenes of horror. The Albanians stormed the villages, killing, raping, and burning. Many inhabitants, faced with the destruction, declared submission, but Hussein, disregarding his promise of freedom and respect for the lives of the inhabitants, ordered his soldiers to continue the destruction for a day. The men of the island were slaughtered, while the women and children were captured to be sold as slaves. All the houses on the island were plundered and burned. The efforts of some of the Albanians who were Christians to stop the destruction and looting were futile. The next day, Hussein ordered the slaughter to stop. Shahtouris, in his diary, reports that Hussein killed those who did not obey. Of the defenders of the island, 2,000 fell dead, and over two thousand were sold as slaves. The depopulation of the island was total. Hussein, seizing the remaining ships of the Kasians that had not managed to escape, sent them filled with loot to Alexandria as a sign of his triumph. He then called on the remaining captains and sailors to join his fleet in exchange for payment. Some accepted, hoping to ransom their families who had been captured. Others came down from the mountains, declared submission, and in exchange redeemed their own. However, the Cretan chieftains did not yield, which made Hussein fear that they would return to Crete and resume the fight. So he tried to blackmail the Kasians to surrender them, but they ensured to warn them and escort them away before they were captured. Hussein appointed a Turkish governor to the island, and after ensuring the submission of Karpathos, whose inhabitants, fearful, immediately submitted, he returned to Souda in Crete.

 
The delayed mobilization of the Greek fleet.

The news of the island's destruction first reached Hydra, which alerted the government. The sad news truly caused anxiety and upset everyone, as they began to realize the danger they faced from the sea. The notables of Hydra saw this disaster as a warning from divine providence, believing that the attack there saved Hydra and Spetses, which could have been similarly caught off guard. In a document, they notified the Spetses notables not to remain idle but to take action and immediately respond to the enemy. They also informed them that they had already prepared 5 fire ships and 25 warships, urging them to prepare their own ships so that the fleet of the two islands could set sail immediately. On June 16, warships from Spetses set sail to join a Hydra squadron. On the 20th of the month, the Hydra squadron, consisting of 10 ships and 2 fire ships under Georgios Sachtouris, met off Santorini with the Spetses squadron, consisting of 15 ships and two fire ships led by K. Boukouvalas. The ships had set sail for Kasos to intercept enemy ships and scatter them, as well as to rescue any remaining families. This mobilization, 11 days after the complete destruction and submission of Kasos, was one of the largest in terms of the number of ships to have been carried out up to that point. The speed of the entire preparation proved that the funds were available, even if the loan taken out by the Greek government had not yet arrived. Therefore, the refusals to send aid to Kasos, under the pretext of lacking resources, were nothing but excuses, especially when the island was sending reports urgently requesting assistance. When Sachtouris arrived on the island in the afternoon of June 21 and disembarked at Agia Marina, all he saw were demolished and burnt houses and very few people, as he himself reports in his diary. The remaining inhabitants, upon seeing the sailors who disembarked, began recounting their sufferings with cries, tears, and mourning. However, when Sachtouris proposed to transport them to the Peloponnese, they refused. Moving away from their island not only offered them no hope of improving their lives but also increased their anxiety about the fate of their captured relatives. When the fleet departed from Kasos on June 23, having wasted precious time in vain, searching for the enemy fleet, the Psara islanders who needed their help were nowhere to be found. On June 24, as they approached Santorini, they were informed by a ship from Santorini flying the Russian flag of yet another disaster: that of Psara. This raises yet another question as to why this fleet campaign did not take place in Psara, whose representatives were urgently seeking reinforcements, but in Kasos after its destruction.

Conclusions

In the catastrophe of Kasos, undoubtedly betrayal to the enemy and the numerical superiority of the latter played their part. However, in reality, the true cause of the disaster was nothing but the civil conflict raging at that time, between the two dominant factions of the era. Between, that is, the most significant military figures of the Peloponnese with leaders like Kolokotronis and Mavromichalis, and the most important politicians of the Peloponnese and the islanders with leaders like Kountouriotis, Mavrokordatos, and Kolettis. The goals of both factions were nothing but the possession and maintenance of power. Of the two governments formed (one with Mavromichalis as president and Tripoli as its base, and the other with Kountouriotis as president and Kranidi as its base), although the stronger was the government of Kranidi (supported by islander shipowners, most mainland Greek military leaders, the majority of Peloponnesian landowners, and Greeks abroad), neither was capable on its own of facing the enemy. And this was because, firstly, the general acceptance and the money were lacking, and secondly, the capable military personnel who could effectively oppose the enemy were absent. And indeed, while Mavromichalis' government was legally elected by the assembly of Astros and that of Kountouriotis formed by coup d'état, the former had committed many illegalities during its operation and had lost its moral standing, so the latter replaced it. Behind this moral impediment, which was unfolding in Kranidi, was the determined insistence of Georgios Kountouriotis, the bearer not only of his excessive megalomania but also of those with oligarchic views on the management and control of power. And he achieved this with the financial ease initially secured by his family deposits and later with the management or, better said, the squandering to his cronies of the money from the first loan. However, this civil conflict between these factions, which already functioned as forerunners of the English and Russian parties, was catastrophic for the continuation of the Struggle. People were killed and abducted, properties were lost, and some of the most important strongholds of the Revolution were lost. Thus, the seemingly incomprehensible delay in the mission of the fleet to Kasos is due to the conflict and the hatred between the Greeks and the lack of a strong government. All this had a inhibitory effect on making effective and correct decisions commensurate with the criticality of the events, ultimately endangering the Struggle itself.

Sources:

History of the Greek Nation, Volume VI, Ekdotiki Athinon AE, 1977

History of the Greek Nation, Konstantinos Paparigopoulos, Volume 19, Book 15, Lambrakis Press Organization, 2006

History of the Greek Revolution, Spyridon Trikoupis, Nea Synora - A.A. Livani, 1993

Encyclopedia of Homeland Knowledge, Ethnos tis Kyriakis Editions, Issues 1 and 2, Kasos, "Thermopylae of the Aegean", Athens 2002

Kasos, Seven Days, Volume Dodecanese, Kathimerini Editions, 1996

www.insitu.gr/kassos

The date of the destruction of Kasos in the sources is conflicting. Specifically, Spyridon Trikoupis mentions July 28th as the date of destruction, the History of the Greek Nation by Ekdotiki Athinon mentions May 29th, while internet sources mention June 7th.

Georgios Shahtouris Archive, edited by Christina Varda, Hellenic Literary and Historical Archive, ELIA, Athens 2000

Anderson, R. C. (1952). Naval Wars in the Levant 1559–1853. Princeton: Princeton University Press. p. 496.

Clodfelter, Micheal (May 9, 2017). Warfare and Armed Conflicts: A Statistical Encyclopedia of Casualty and Other Figures, 1492–2015, 4th ed. McFarland. p. 191. ISBN 9781476625850.

Thomas Gordon, History of the Greek Revolution, vol. 2, p.154-155

Zanakos, Avgoustinos (July 6, 2003). "H ναυμαχία του Γέροντα (The Battle of Gerontas)". To Vima (in Greek). Retrieved 2008-03-27.

Mikaberidze, Alexander. Conflict and Conquest in the Islamic World: A Historical Encyclopedia. Santa Barbara, Calif. p. 335. ISBN 1598843362. OCLC 763161287.

Sweetman, Jack. "The Great Admirals: Command at Sea, 1587-1945", p. 231

Paternal Genealogical Tree 1824-2020

Lineage of Georgios Zisis from Kasos and his spouse with the surname Kochilas (a prominent Ikarian family with Cretan roots), approximately from 1824 after the destruction of Kasos.

• Theodoros Zisis "Hajji" (change of surname to Kasotis from "son of Kassotis," meaning “one who originates from Kasos”). (Founder of the family). Mayor of Ikaria as a presiding member in the council of elders under the reign of the 32nd Sultan Abdul Aziz, representing the Rum Millet of the island and Archon of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople (an honorary title held by all Christian elders of the Phanar during the Ottoman rule). After his death, the title passed to his son Georgios, along with the estate of Perdiki (the other two were in Armenisti and Agios Kirykos, where he also maintained a commercial store), until the liberation of the island in 1912 by the revolution of Ioannis Malachias. The nickname "Hajji" indicated his pilgrimage to the Holy Land and his baptism in the Jordan River, as Jesus Christ was baptized.

Source of office: Melas, Ioannis. History of the island of Ikaria, page 277. Source of properties: Ministry of Environment & Energy, Hellenic Republic, Ministry of Interior. (Urban Planning)

House of Theodoros "Hajji" Kassotis documented through the civil registry from 1864 onwards:

• Georgios Kassotis (Perdiki family)

• Father Michail Kassotis (later changed surname to "Oikonomou") (Oikonomou family of Agios Kirykos)

• "Unknown until now" Kassotis (Armenisti family)

House of Georgios Kassotis, son of Hajji Theodoros (Perdiki based family)

• Dimitrios Kassotis

• Theodoros Kassotis (2nd generation)

• Ioannis Kassotis

• Fotios Kassotis

House of Theodoros Kassotis II (2nd generation):

Georgios Kassiotis (surname change)


House of Georgios Kassiotis (new branch):

      Theodoros "Roris" Kassiotis III (3rd generation) (son of Georgios Kassiotis)

House of  Theodoros "Roris" Kassiotis III (3rd generation):

 Georgios Kassiotis

 Athanasia Kassiotis-Marinakis

House of Dimitrios Kassotis, brother of Theodoros II (2nd generation)

Philippos Kassotis

Despoina Kassotis

Ourania Kassotis

House of Philippos Kassotis, son of Dimitrios:

• Dimitrios Kassiotis (2nd generation) (surname change) (family branch of Australia)

• Sophia Kassotis-Kalampogias (family of Australia)

• Maria Kassotis-Karavis

• Antonis Kassotis

• Georgios Kassotis (2nd generation)

• Andreas Kassotis (family of America)

• Nikolaos Kassotis

House of Dimitrios "Jim" Kassiotis I (2nd generation) (family branch in Australia):

• Michalis Kassiotis

• Vasilis Kassiotis

• Nektaria Grammatiki Kassiotis-Loizos

• Antonis Kassiotis

House of Vasilis Kassiotis (family branch in Australia):

House of Dimitrios "Jimmy" Kassiotis II (3rd generation) (family branch in Australia):

• Harvey Kassiotis

• Orlando Kassiotis

House of Antonis Kassiotis (family branch of Australia):

House of Antonis Kassotis, son of Philippos (main branch)

House of Georgios Kassotis (2nd generation):

House of Andreas Kassotis (family branch in the U.S.)

House of Nikolaos Kassotis I:

House of Philippos Kassotis, son of Nikolaos I: