Karşular mahallesi,Tonya. Photo: Zekeriya Karkaç
This Islamized population is the remnant of the 8,000 Christian families who during the mass exodus and Islamization of the 17th century left Trabzon and Akçaabat. The same Islamization process applied to the region of Ofis (or Ophis). As with Ofis, Tonya kept many of it's Christian Greek village names like Mesohori, Mesoplayi, Katohori, Saint Thomas, Saint Stefanos, and Mesopedin. Even people's names like Ioannis, Themistocles, Alexandros and other names remained. The Tonyalis also have Turkish names but they only use them when they are far away from their hometown villages, for instance Ali, Mustafa, Ahmet and others.
Greek speaking Tonyalis still exist in the following villages: Kesli, Toumasli, Pachartikli, Mpeskeli, Mamali, Tsuluk, Melikse, Antzirkioy.
The history of Tonya is like that of Ofis, one of the puzzles of the Pontus. There is no direct classical or medieval reference to it. A few striking features of the Tonyalis is that they are Greek speaking, Muslim and ferocious. The region is wild and isolated and traditional blood feuds were a common occurrence. The Tonyalis also have a reputation for vendettas and assassinations. Despite these traits, the Tonyali are a close-knit, highly distinctive and isolated community. The language is slowly dying out, but Greek speakers are still present today in Kesli, Tumasli, Pahartirli, Beskeli, Mamali, Tsuluk, Melikse, and Agirkoy. The question often arises as to whether these Greek speakers are Turks who adopted the Greek language (as sometimes seems to have happened), or whether they are Pontic Greek speakers who apostatised. The latter is more probable since there is a church nearby in Fol Maden, and since some Tonya villages reveal Greek names. Melikse, Anabedama, Aspuryanlik, Mesakurfa, Lefkiye and Mankanabo are all villages close to or part of Tonya and which all appear to have names with a Greek influence or origin.
The Encyclopedia of Pontian Hellenism
The Byzantine Monuments and Topgraphy of the Pontos, Dumbarton Oaks, p155-6 Anthony Bryer, David Winfield