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The History of the Tsintzinian
Clubhouse and Annual Conventions
By Peter Dickson

          The origins of the annual Tsintzinian conventions in the clubhouse on Lake Chatauqua is of great significance because there is no other example in American history of people with roots outside this country renewing their social bond each year more than 130 years after first coming to this country. The Tsintzinians did gather together prior to the Jamestown conventions. In 1887, they formed in Chicago the first organization in America exclusively for Greeks and named it the Therapnean Society after the name of the township or demos in the old country. Also, thirty-five Tsintzinians and other Spartans from Ohio and Pennsylvania towns held a picnic arranged by the Chelekis brothers three miles outside Youngstown on April 9, 1893. The first Tsintzinian reunion in Jamestown took place in 1895 when George J. Politis and John D. Chechery held a banquet to honor Christos Chacona who came to America in 1873 and encouraged others to follow. There were two other large reunions when Constas and John D. Chechery invited all the Tsintzinians they could reach for an old fashioned country spread. More than one hundred came in 1900 for a picnic at Fluvanna on Lake Chautaqua opposite Celoron, They gathered again in 1902 at Sheldon Hall opposite Lakewood. The convention moved to Lake Chatauqua in 1916 and the Tsintzinians began to set their sites on the Moose Clubhouse as an ideal place for their reunions. After holding two conventions in 1916 and 1917 at Dutch Camp near Lakewood, the Tsinizinians rented the Moose Club for their 1919 convention. There was no convention in 1918 due to the war in Europe.

       The Tsintzinians seized the first opportunity to purchase the clubhouse in 1921 for $10,000 but there was one major obstacle. The American Legion had put down a $500 deposit for first rights to buy. The Tsintzinians, however, won out because the member of the American Legion entrusted with the money to buy the clubhouse mysteriously lost the money. To sooth hurt feelings and win the confidence of the local Jamestown community, the Tsintzinians gave the American Legion $500 to reimburse it for its original deposit There was a formal dedication of the clubhouse at the 1924 convention because the Tsintzinian Society had succeeded in paying off the morgage within three years. Dignitaries spoke in glowing terms of the Tsintzinians, praising their achievements as a prime example of the American Dream. In retrospect, the most revealing statements about the Tsintzinians and how they perceived themselves and their new clubhouse were made by prominent leaders of the Society at this convention. George Gerasimos, the originator of the idea of an annual national convention, gave his own speech during the dedication. He closed with words significant for all succeeding generations of Tsintzinians. In his words;

Dear young Tsintzinian children: It is your duty to respect this patriotic monument. Follow the path which your love has opened for you. Work, that this achievement may become greater and better. We are sure that you will do better, yet if not, at least try to keep it as good and beautiful as today. That will be our sweetest relief after we depart from this world, the relief that our work was done to not perish.

 

 

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