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Californian woman unites with Greek relatives she didn’t know she had

Growing up in a predominantly Greek family, Carol Pappapetru-Hallas, from California, assumed she knew all there was to know about her family’s heritage. Her mother was of English, Irish and Scottish decent, while her father, Nick Pappapetru, was a second generation Greek American.

However, after taking the AncestryDNA test, she uncovered that she was in fact just 39 per cent Greek – a discovery which left her confused and searching for answers.

 Armed with the knowledge that her grandmother, Jeann Kachevas was born in Chromtero, and her grandfather, Vassillos Pappapetru was born in Melisschori, Pappapetru-Hallas knew she wanted to explore her roots further and so decided to take a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Greece.

“Growing up Greek I always thought I was half Greek but the DNA test said otherwise so I wondered why and it made me want to go and explore my Greek roots,” she told The Independent.

“My grandfather died in 1947 so I wasn’t able to ask him about our Pappapetru roots which are still a mystery.”

Having gained a greater understanding of her heritage from her AncestryDNA results, Pappapetru-Hallas went on to discover so much about her identity during her visit to Greece that she never knew, including that she is in fact a direct descendant of General Theodoreos Kolokotronis – the pre-eminent leader of the Greek War of Independence against the Ottoman Empire.

But, perhaps her biggest and most life-changing discovery was the result of a happy coincidence of circumstances.

Travelling with her friend Margarita, Pappapetru-Hallas visited her great grandparents village and decided to ask a group of local men seated outside a taverna if they knew whether anyone with her grandmother’s family name, Kachevas, still lived there.

To her surprise, every single one of the men raised their hands – they were all her cousins…

Upon meeting her long-lost cousins in Greece, Pappapetru-Hallas learnt that when the Kachevas family left the country all those years ago, instead of travelling to America with the rest, some of them parted ways and headed for Australia.

Now, this means that her AncestryDNA journey continues to other parts of the world she had never considered before.

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