Helen Papanikolas, folklorist and ethnohistorian, was born in Cameron, Utah in 1917 to Greek immigrant parents. A prolific writer and researcher, she worked tirelessly before her death in 2004 to chronicle the life of the early Greek immigrants in the western United States. She has written a number of works of fiction and non-fiction. I highly recommend An Amulet of Greek Earth, Apple Falls from Apple Tree , A Greek Odyssey in the American West and Small Bird Tell Me (All available @ Amazon.com) to those who would like to better understand the Greek American immigrant experience and the tensions created by assimilation and trying to preserve a rich heritage. A wonderful taste of her writing is available on the Internet at the Utah History website and should whet your appetite for more:
"At the beginning of the century, thousands of young Greeks began coming to Utah to live their first years of exile in a new land. Like myriad Greeks since ancient times, forced to leave their rocky land that could not sustain them, they vowed to return within a few years. Any life outside patrida, "the fatherland," was exile. Not knowing what the three Moirci, "the Fates," had decided for them during their first three days of life, many brought a bit of earth in an amulet or small bottle. If their destiny was death in American exile, a priest would have a pinch of Greek earth to sprinkle over them as they lay in their caskets.
The boys and young men had grown up in one of the most devastating periods of Greece's turbulent history. Struggling in the decay left by 400 years of Ottoman rule, their northern provinces still under Turkish control, many of their islands governed by the English and Italians, Greece became bankrupt in 1893. In 1897 the Greeks were defeated by the Turks and further humiliated by the Great Powers' imposing financial control over them. The education of this generation, then, was poor, often completely lacking, their opportunities stultified.
When the main industry of Greece, the currant crop, failed in 1907, families mortgaged their land at usurious rates to send sons to America. It was their only hope to survive penury and to provide daughters with necessary dowries. The few yearly emigrants standing on wharves with their scant belongings multiplied into thousands, among them men wearing white kilts or Cretan breeches. Villages were left with only women, children, and old men to harvest crops and to tend goats."
Read the whole thing, it is well worth your time.