The Greek family name, "Vafakos (shortened sometimes in English-speaking countries to either Vay or Fay)" literally translates as "painter" or "dyer". There is a Greek verb, "Vafo" meaning , "I paint". A person who paints is called a "Vafaios (pronounced, Vah-feh-os)". Note the ending of the family name "-akos". This ending on Greek family names indicates the family is Laconian in origin or has lived in the "nomos (state)" of Lakonia for a considerable period of time.
Lakonia is the ancient state of Sparta in Greek history. It lies in the far south of the Peloponnese about 100 miles from Athens. The English word, "laconic", meaning terse in
speech comes from Lakonia. Apparently, the Spartans were known as men of few words (hence great deeds).
There is a family legend in our branch of the Vafakos family which claims our name was Vafaios (changed later to the
-akos ending when we fled the Venetian invasion of the Peloponnese @1680 under Captain Morosini and went to the high mountain village of Arna in Lakonia).
Also, there was a large Byzantine town in Bithynia (now modern Turkey) called Bapheum (Vafeum) which was reknown for the dyeing of the Byzantine emperors' clothes in royal purple, Bapheum was conquered by Osman Bey in 1301 CE.
The Greek inhabitants fled to Constantinople where it is said the Emperor resettled them in the Peloponnese in Pirghos tis Ilias. Bapheum was re-named Koyunhisar by the Turks (meaning "sheep castle"). It was from Pirhos tis Ilias our branch then named Vafaios fled to the Lakonian village of Arna arounbd 1680 CE. There the name took on the Lakonian ending "-akos", becoming Vafakos.
The earliest member of my branch of this family left Greece in 1900 and travelled to LeHavre in France where he embarked on the ss Rotterdam to NYC. His names was Dimitrios Panaghiotis Vafakos (changed in America to James Peter Vafakos). He eventually settled in Chicago on Blue Island Avenue, worked as a lithographer and after 12 years sent for his wife, Meryanthy nee Bakopoulos, and two daughters, Glykeria (born 1897) and Dionysia (born 1900 just after he had left Greece)..
United in Chicago, James and Meryanthy had a third child, Peter James Vafakos born November 1913.
Glykeria married Peter Konstantinos Thanasoulas and had four children. (Changed name to Athens).
Dionysia married Alexander John Geocaris and had eight children.
Peter James married Kathryn Massias and had two daughters. (Changed name to Vay).
Contact me for further information.