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History Map Hadjin Family Names October 20, 1920 Keshishian Family Hadjin Photos


www.Hadjin.com A Town No More

Zaven’s Story by Zaven Kish

Zaven and Mary Kish with two grandchildren

Marie with her second husband Avedis Keshishian in 1910

My mother, Marie, was born 1890-92, I don’t know exactly, to Everek, Turkey, maiden name Tufrenkjian, at age 14 she married her first husband and moved to Jehan also called Hamidia about 50 km from Adana.

They had two children – a girl Gulenia and a son Vaham (I brought them to Memphis); they live here – she is in bad health, about 85-86; he is 83-84. My mother’s husband was killed in 1908 (young turks revolution), Abdul Hamid was dethroned, lots of Armenians were killed.

My mother moved to Hadjin, she married my father who had just lost his wife. They had two boys. I was the oldest born in Hadjin (1911); the second boy was born 1913. In 1914-15 my father was arrested by the Turks (I heard he had a nervous breakdown – lost his mind – died). My mother moved to Jehan. She had some property. While she was there World War had started. We were exiled to Syria (my first recollection of anything) in some warehouse with lots of people – Aleppo, Syria.

My older brother (from my father’s first wife) was with my grandfather and family. The boy, about 7-8 years old, was taken by grandfather. My mother was told 2 boys is enough to take care of. Grandfather and family were sent to Der-i-zor (desert). That was the end of them.

My mother’s brother, who was a carpenter, was also in Aleppo, Syria. It seems the Syrians were accepting families whose breadwinner had a trade. Thanks to him, we were sent to a Damascus Village. We lived there almost 2-1/2 to 3 years.

I don’t know how your father, my uncle (Mark Keshishian), had heard about us. I remember him coming to the village on a donkey. He moved us eventually to Damascus, then to Zahle, then to Beirut.

General Lord Allenby chased the German and Turkish armies, freed Damascus (we were in Beirut). Lived in luxury with Uncle Mark for about a year, until the war was over. Until Uncle Mark found us, I had never tasted an egg or any kind of meat. After the armistice, we left on a French destroyer from Beirut to Tarsus (where St. Paul was born). From there to Adana then to Jehan. In 1922, Uncle Mark asked my mother if she would send me to him. He would raise and give me a good education. At this time my mother was married for the third time. She was about 34-35 years old. She was married to a young man, her age. She knew him as a youngster from Everek. He had come to America about 1912. At that time lots of young Armenians living in U.S.A. had joined the French Army to fight the Turks, to revenge for all the atrocities and genocide of the families. Six months after I left mother died giving birth. Her husband was killed by the Arabs. He was a chauffeur. 

In 1923, or late 1922, I arrived to Constantinople (Istanbul). My uncle and aunt had not been married too long. We moved to Corfu, Greece. Then my uncle took me to Germany to get my education. After 18 months, I left Germany and joined uncle and auntie in Athens. Inflation in Germany was reason I went to a French school in Syria, also called “Syros” in Greece. They moved to London. The school in Syria was a boarding school. At the end of the year, I joined them in London. I went to school in London (Polytechnic Institute).

Mark Keshishian in Trieste in 1922 on a mission for the Save the Children orphanage on the isle of Corfu.

I came to New York August 6, 1929 and stayed with another uncle (Garabed). We lived in Brooklyn. I did not like New York. Depression was starting. I was offered a job in Memphis, Tennessee at the ripe age of 19. I came to Memphis in 1930. Best thing I ever did.

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Copyright H.M. Keshishian 2006.
Last revised: December 16, 2010.

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Copyright Keshishian 2006-2011
Last revised: September 15, 2011.