1913 Family Photo

1913 Rare Family Photo Prior to Genocide
1913 Rare Family Photo Prior to Genocide

After her husband was killed by the Turks during the 1915 Armenian Genocide, my great grandmother, Cheristan, her young children, Yeghsa, Sarah, Mesrop, Satenig, and brother Garabed, were forcibly deported and arrived in Smyrna guarded by the Turks.  Before being forced to leave her village, she had concealed a small pouch with her valuables under her long skirt. These were to buy her family’s freedom if the need arose.  While praying and walking to board a rescue ship to Greece, Cheristan felt guided by the Holy Spirit to dispose of the money and jewels she was carrying so she removed the pouch and tossed it into a nearby building.  Knowing she no longer had the means to purchase their freedom, she prayed for a miracle. Upon arriving at the Port, she, her children, Garabed, and a large group of Armenians, also in exodus, were detained, and told by the Turkish Gendarmes that those with money would be spared while those without would be killed. After separating the haves and the have nots, the Gendarmes did the opposite, they released Cheristan, her children, Garabed, and the Armenians lacking valuables, and marched those who possessed them to be summarily executed.  Alas, after that miracle, just as they approached the Greek ship, she lost her brother when he was snatched away by the Turks. She never saw him again... Cheristan was an amazing woman. She valued her family above all else and always greeted us with a crushing “bear hug” - her way of never wanting to let us go.  

Place(s): Smyrna, Hoghe (Kharpet province in Turkey)

– Leslie Koltookian Bagdasarian

Relationship:  Great-grandchild of im/migrant or more Great-grandchild of im/migrant or more