User Story: Resolving a 100-Year Vendetta and Celebrating the Cretan Way

User Story: Resolving a 100-Year Vendetta and Celebrating the Cretan Way

Nikos Pentheroudakis has used MyHeritage to build 3 family trees about his family and village in Crete. Join him as he discovers the origins of his family and tries to resolve a blood feud that has lasted 114 years!

Traditional Cretan DressUp until 1717, the surname Pentheroudakis didn’t exist anywhere in the world, not even in Greece. The name first appeared in Crete, and all the people with that name and their families ultimately come from Crete. I set off to find all the Pentheroudakis’ in the world, and my findings have been very remarkable!

Before 1717, my family ancestors had a different last name, as Crete was under Turkish occupation and Cretan names were not recognized by the government. Back then, the family name was either Sifis or Sifakas, which first appeared around 1460. These families came from the village Imbros, in a very hostile area of the province Sfakia. Around 1600, due to Turkish oppression, they moved their families about 10 miles east to Rodakino, a village in Rethymno province. Crete

In 1717, Sifis, a boy from one of those families, changed his surname in order to avoid having a Turkish name. He chose Pentheroudakis, which comes from the Greek word “pentheros,” which means “father-in-law.”

And so Perthos Pentheroudakis (ex Sifis) was the first man to ever have that last name.

From 1820-1890, the Pentheroudakis family peacefully spread to several villages in Rethymno, Crete.

George PentheroudakisVendetta: a 114-year blood feud
While researching my family history, I unknowingly became involved in a 114-year vendetta between my family and another family. First, let me say that vendettas used to be very widespread in Crete. Reasons for starting a vendetta were many, but often they started as arguments over sheep stealing, dishonoring a woman or fighting over land rights. Many times, the result was a series of murders which can go on for decades.

This is how it started: a male cousin of Giannis and George Pentheroudakis fell in love with a daughter of another family. Her parents never approved of that relationship, and they prohibited him to meet, speak or mention her name any more. One night, he decided to violently steal her away from the family house. The other family considered this a great dishonor, and after a couple of days, they found and murdered him. This murder was just the beginning: as usually happens in Crete, a series of murders took place in Koufi for several years. All in all, over 30 people were murdered, 12 of them belonging to the Pentheroudakis family. In 1895, in order to end the blood feud, the remaining members of that Pentheroudakis family moved to Athens and lived there peacefully. This was the first time any member of the family had left Crete. Fortunately, though, my family members from other villages were not directly involved in the feud.

Recently, while I was trying to identify my family members, I located one person with the surname Pentheroudakis in Athens. Although I tried calling him many times, he always avoided giving me more details about his family or showing any interest to meet me. After asking many times, I decided to make a friendly visit to his house, where I met his wife, a very hospitable lady. After talking to me, she told me that her husband was a very good and family-oriented man, but he had heard from his father a story about an old family blood feud in Crete, so he was afraid to appear and see me.

The Pentheroudakis who was unwilling to meet me is one of the descendants of the feuding family. Having heard many horrible stories from his father and grandfather about murders, he thought that the family vendetta was still in progress! That was why he was reluctant to meet me!

Unfortunately, I was never able to talk to the man, but I wish I could have.

The Pentheroudakis FamilyReunions
Our first family reunion took place on the 22nd of March 2009. It was a great success: 75 members of the Pentheroudakis family, gathered in a hotel in the center of Athens. It was a really emotional event, with a lot of people meeting relatives that they did not even know they had. In the presentation, which I put together using MyHeritage, we showed everyone the size of the family tree, family pictures and information of how the family started and how it spread around the world.

Our next reunion will be in Crete, where the first ancestor appeared in 1717. We expect more than 400 people to attend, celebrating in the traditional Cretan way – drinking, eating, singing, dancing, shooting in the air, etc.

Why MyHeritage?
I decided to use MyHeritage a couple of months ago, when I evaluated all similar software packages. I needed a site which would allow me to maintain family trees and at the same time give remote access to my family members over the Internet. After a long period of investigations and testing, I decided that MyHeritage FTB covers not only my current needs, but it also provided a lot of options, well structured trees, and most importantly, it was user friendly even for inexperienced users.

So now, for the first time in hundreds of years, all the Pentheroudakis’ know each other and are exchanging wishes and frequent greetings through MyHeritage.


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  • Bobby J. McGraw

    June 13, 2009

    I was unaware of this one, but my family history includes the Hatfield and the McCoy fued of more than l00 years ago. They are strange, aren’t they?

  • Georgia Keilman

    August 28, 2009

    I loved this story. My mother’s great-grandfather and great=-grandmother were from Crete. Hope you don’t mind, but I am putting a link to your story on my Greek genealogy website at


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  • Carol Kostakos Petranek

    March 7, 2012

    Wonderful story! My family is from Agios Ioannis (Sparta), Lakonia, and I understand we have roots in Mani, which means that my ancestors could have also been involved with similar vendettas. Thanks for posting this!

  • Scotty Mitchell

    July 10, 2014

    Hello. The name Pentheroudakis flashed across my screen and I was curious (a relative of yours I guess in Seattle who commented on an artist artist friend’s site).So I saw a wonderful family photo in Crete which led me to your history. I lived on Crete for 20 years and am curious as to what village your relatives live in. I’ve been having a lot of Cretan connections lately.