WESTMINSTER, MD – Say the name Westminster and images of the Thames River’s Northern Bank, near London, might come to mind.
And here in the United States, where numerous cities take the names of their British forebears, Westminster is no exception. There is a handful of American cities named Westminster, evenly scattered throughout the country. But one, in particular, in Maryland, has a rich Greek heritage.
Located in Carroll County near Baltimore, the town recently experienced an influx of Greeks to attend the funeral of Zoe Amprazis Sirinakis, whose parents established a luncheonette there in the 1940s, a staple of the Westminster Greek community, the Baltimore Sun reported.
As the Sun mentioned, one of the funeral’s attendees was local historian Antigone Lefteris Ladd, who is currently writing a book about the Greek families in Carroll County.
As she wrote in August for the Carroll Historical Society, “how did immigrants from Greece and Turkey find their way to Westminster to start businesses and raise their families? That’s the question the current generation of Greek-Americans has been researching this past year.
“Our ancestral homes are spread across the Mediterranean: from northern Turkey (Sharkey family); from the islands of Rhodes (Nickolas) and Kythira (Samios) and Skyros (Sirinakis); from the Peloponnese peninsula (Papandreu, Bourexis, and Haramplus), to the mountains of north central Greece (Amprazis, Letras, Lefteris, and Pappas).
“Most of our ancestors, we have found, arrived by ship at Ellis Island in New York, then moved wherever jobs were plentiful—Manchester, New Hampshire, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Chicago. Some had family or friends already in the U.S., while others simply took a leap of faith.”
Westminster is also the birthplace of Sargent Shriver, 1972 Democratic Vice Presidential Nominee and brother-in-law of John F. Kennedy.