|Narrator: Mrs. Teshkouhi Aramian
Tape number: 1A
Date of interview: January 16, 1980
Place of interview: 25840 York
Royal Oak, Michigan
Interviewer Meri Pabuccyan
For: Armenian Assembly Oral History Project
Code: A: Aramian; P: Pabuccy
P: We are happy to hear your story. My first question is when were you born?
A: I am now 80 years old. I was born, when would I have been born?
P: You were born on November 28, 1896.
A: Yes. I was born in the city of Kharpert, in Mezzireh. My mother
had seven children, two of whom were boys and four were girls.
P: Was your mother a native of Kharpert?
A: Yes. We were all native Kharpertsees--my father, too.
P: Your mother's name was?
A: Maryam Oulohodjian. maybe you had heard the news that my Keree
(uncle), Father Oulohodjian had travelled to South America in 1960.
But you were very young then. But he has since passed away, God rest
his soul. He was an Oulohodjian and my mother was an Oulohodjian. She had five brothers and a brother's son whom the Turks killed in 1915.
P: When did she-marry your father, do yeti remember?
A: She was only 14 years old when she married my father. She was very
young. But I don't know the year.
P: What was your father's first name?
A: Boghos Hatchadourian.
P: How many children did they have?
A: Seven four girls and two boys.
P: The oldest? Can you give their names?
A: Mrs. Kristinh Najarian; who is married; I'm thenext; Teshkouhi
Aramian; Yevkineh Tanderjian; and my youngest Sister Sona Sharigian.
My brother is Aharon Hatchadourian, and my other brother was Hovsep
Hatchadourian. And I had a little sister, one and a half years old,
Astghik Hatchadourian, who at the time of the deportation was killed or
kidnapped, I don't know what exactly what happened to her, but I'll tell
you the story later, of how we lost her. Those are the names of my
P: In which quarter of Kharpert were you born? Where did you live
A: I was born in the same quarter where I lived until the deportation.
In the same house until we had to leave after the government order.
They deported me with my mother, father, five sisters and two brothers.
I forgot to mention another sister Takouhi. They deported us in 1915.
P: I am interested to find out that kind of section or village you
lived in. How many people lived there?
A: It wasn't a village; it was a city. I was only 15 when I was deported, so I don't know all the details.
P: I assume you went to school
A: Yes, I did. But you know girls in the old country didn't know so much in those days. But I know that my great uncle, my father's uncle,
was a judge in the government. For 45 years, but even he was deported
and killed. There were many many members in our family. There were
more than 100 members Almost all of us lived find the same quarter of the
city. One of my great uncles had built the Catholic church. In anoth-
er section of the city, Der Sarkisian had become a Der Hyre in the
P: What was the name of the church?
A: One was the Catholic church of Mezzireh and the other was the
Loosavorchagan church. They had no special name.
P: Did your section have a special name?
A: No. Maybe there was a special name in Turkish, but I don't know
P: Were there any Turks in-your section?
P: Did you have any contact with the Turks?
A: We had no contact with the Turks but the Army headquarters was only
five or six blocks away from us. Soldiers lived there. And about
five or six blocks the other way lived one or two Turkish families.
There were only a few of them and if there had been some brave Armen-
ians they could have killed all of the Turks easily.
P: What kind of work did your father do?
A: We had a great many sheep. Our family founded Mezzireh with six
other families that had come from Palou. They had a very beautiful
daughter and the Turkish begs had wanted. to marry her. These families
had run away from Palou and headed towards Kharpert so that they could
stop the begs from marrying this girl. They story is that in their
flight, they had come to a river and had thrown this girl into the
river where she drowned rather than have her marry a Turk. They had
then started the city of Mezzireh seven families altogether. Der
Sarkisian, Nercessian, Terzian--if my sister were here with me now
she would know all their names. So all these families lived in Mezzireh. It wasn 't that large a city but the province was big, with
many villages and many people.
P: What did your mother do?
A: My mother, after caring for a family of seven children, what else
could she have done?
P: What kind of home did you have? Do you remember?
A. Our home was made of wood and brick. The first story was separate.
The second story consisted of the bedrooms and parlors. We had a kit-
chen and there was a bathroom downstairs. We kept animals because we
had land. We had a father managed over them. There was
a time when my mother wanted to come to see America.
P: Why did she wish to go to America?
A: She always said, "The Turk will devour us one day." She had a
feeling about that.
P: She suspected something.
P. Were there any shops in your neighborhood?
A: The shops were a few blocks away from us. But we didn't go. Women
didn't go to the shops. My father always brought us whatever we needed.
P: What about clothing?
A: Re brought cloth by the bolt and a tailor tame to the house and
made our clothes. Later my sister, now Christine Najarian, had learned
-tailoring in Samsoun and she sewed for us.
P: What other people were there in your section?
A: There were almost all Armenians and some Turks. Oh, there were also
some Kurds. But not many. There were a few Kurdish women who were
working as servants or laborers or other things like that.
P: Were there different classes among the Armenians there or did they
all have a comfortable life?
A: They were all comfortable. They had a good life. They were all
-doctors, druggists; lawyers and merchants. They had many stores. They
had many "khans"--what do you call those places where people from other
cities come to spend the night or live there? Those who came to the
city on business spent some time there and then returned home. They
spend one or two nights there. They called these places khans.
(Note: probably means hotels).
P: Did you have many visitors?
A: Yes Our relatives and friends. We had no problems or difficuIties visiting or going back and forth until 1915. But in 1915 we
were deported and exiled and cut off from everything.
P:Did you go to church every Sunday?
A: Yes. Every Sunday. My father used to say, "You can't give milk o the baby until we go to Mass." He was such a good man and they
took him off and killed him.
P: How did you keep warm in winter?
A: We had a furnace where we burned wood. Then after we had burned the wood, we would take the stove and put it in the middle of the par-
lor for heat. We would also put coal on top to make the fire burn
better. We had no problem with heat. Our homes were very warm.
P: Did you do any special work in the house?
A: I helped my mother but that was all I could do.
P: Did they close all the schools in 191-?
A: Yes, at orders from the goverment.
P:Do you remember the names of your relatives?
A: My father's grandfather was Der Sarkis Baba, Baba, Mughdes-
see Mardo. They were three or tour brothers. My father's father was
Garabed. I never saw him. He was not living when I was born. One of
his brothers was the judge I mentioned earlier. One was Mugerditch and
the other Toros. These were my father's uncles. My father had three
brothers. One was Manoug and the other Sahag. The other two had died.
Only my father was living. They had died before the deportations. My
father took very good care of their children. These children, when
they reached the age when they would have to go into the Turkish army,
left Kharpert and went to America. The girls had all married.
P: On your mother's side?
A: They were Oulohodjian. My mother was from a nearby village called
Dandem. When my grandfather (my father's father) went to that village
and saw her, he liked her very much and wanted her for his son (my
father). he arranged the engagement and the marriage. My father was
five or six years older than she. My mother was only 14. They had
seven children as I said before--five girls and two boys. Only my
oldest sister was "marries. He husband had gone to America. My moth-
er was going to send her to America too because she thought that if
she sent her daughter to America, then her husband in his love for
their daughter would send for the parent to come to America also.
But my father always said, "I will not go to America. I am lord over
my family here. At this age I can no longer go over there and go to work in a factory." My mother said, "Go buy a farm and we will work it. They are going to kill us, they are going to kill us." But her
wish to go to America never came true.
P: Who lived in your house? Only your family or other relatives too?
A: Only we lived there; The homes over there were not that large.
There were only two bedrooms, a parlor and a kitchen. A large pantry
for storing food supplies for the winter. Over there they stored enough to last the whole winter. Here we go shopping all the time.
P: Is there one very memorable day you can tell us about?
A: Yes. When the Khabayan Catholicos visited Kharpert. We had a very
big celebration because he was a Kharpertsee. I remember that. And
every year we celebrated many religious holidays. On Hampartsoum, Easter, our church always had a, special program on those
days. We always went with the school students, the bishops, the
priests. We had a Bishop, the son of my father's brother, who was the and two priests, one being Sarkis vartabed Hatcha-
dourian and Hovsep Vartabed Hatchadourian whom they killed in 1915;
(Monsignor) Kerabaidzar Hatchadourian who was the Prelate of Malatia. They took him and pulled him by his own chain down from the upper
floor and killed him in the garden. When they killed him a light de-
scended upon him. The Turks became frightened and ran away. They
said he was a Saint. And after they took him and buried him that
light remained over his grave. In 1923 I left Kharpert and went to
Malatia on my way to Aleppo and then to America. In Malatia I went to
the Catholic church. Do you get upset when you hear these stories?
P: Of course I am affected by them because I see my grandmother and
my-grandfather in each one. Do you remember any special songs or
stories from your childhood?
A: I,remember the circle dances in school. We were nappy, we sang
and danced. We didn't go into the streets.
P: What demands or responsibilities did your parents place on you?
A: We hadn't finished school as yet, so they couldn't expect any-
thing from us as yet. We were still too young to tuitill their expec-
tations of us. I was 15 years old and I was the oldest of the seven.
P: Were you ever punished?
A: By my father? No. I wash bad, but my sister was. They would
P: Do you remember any of your teachers?
A: Yes. Sister Iskuhi Kharibian, Sister Vartouhi, Sister Makrouhi,
Sister Anna, who was lost and never found. Sister Zepyour.
P: What did your parents want you to become when you grew up?
A: They wanted my eleven year old brother to go to Venice to school
there and then the university. There was no custom of educating girls
over there. But my parents' wishes were never realized. They were
P: Were there any hospitals?
A: There was one.
P: Any doctors?
A: The doctors were Americans, but there were also some Armenian doctors in Mezzireh and they had been kept there to work in the Hospital.
P: What was done during childbirths?
A; They had christenings and celebrated birthdays. They cared for the
health of the child, nothing else.
P: Do you remember any sick people?
A: No, I don't remember seeing any.
P: What did you do in the summers when school was closed?
A: There were ponds where we went bathing all of the girls in our
family. We swam and we danced and then we returned home. This was a
short distance away from our home.
P: Which books or papers were read in your home?
A: We bad no newspapers. And books were forbidden by the government.
A: Books about our nation were never read. We had only prayer books
P: Did any Turks visit your home?
A: No. We never had any contact with the Turks.
P: Do you remember the religious holidays?
A: Yes. Christmas.
P: How did you celebrate Christmas?
A: We would go to church, then come home and either our relatives
would come to spend the day with us or we would go to their homes.
We celebrated Easter together in the same way, also with our relatives.
We were very happy.
P: Did you ever go to Jerusalem on a pilgrimage?
A: Some people did but no one of our age.
P: At what age did a young man marry?
A: At 18 or 19 years of age, or when they finished school.
P:What kind of girl could he ask to wed? From which social class?
A: Those that went to school. Boys and girls were separated in our
schools, but the young man did not request the hand of a girl. It was
the parents who went to ask for the hand of a girl for their son.
P: Could a girl refuse to marry someone that had asked for her?
P: Did you learn Turkish after the deportation since you were with
Yes. Before that we never had any contact with the Turks and
didn't know their language.
P: But wring the war?
A: I was not with any Turk when I was deported. Later I was with a
luau whu was part Arab and part Kurd.
P: Were there any organizations or political parties in Kharpert?
A: Yes. There was a Dashnaktzagan group, and Red Cross. Their
affairs took place in the schools.
P: Any other political organizations?
A: The Hunchakian party, but i knew nothing about that.
P: Who were the leaders in your area?
A: The church clergy and the national clergy.
F: How were their decisions enforced in the community?
A: The clergy would meet and come to an agreement.
P: Were there any Armenian officials in the government?
A; Yes. I told you already that my great uncle was a judge. There
were Armenian lawyers who worked in the government. I must say that
most of the officials were Armenian. Doctors, druggists, they were
all Armenians. There were no Turks, here were only a few begs in
P: How was news carried from city to city? how did you receive news?
For instance, if someone died in another city, how did the news reach
you? Did the Turks bring the news?
A: The Turks never brought news of deaths. We received that kind of
news from our relatives. The Turks never gave us any news. If some-
-one in another city or village died, the news would be brought by
someone by horse. If it were in the winter (We had terrible winters),
no one could travel, so the news would have to wait until Spring.
P: How did it become evident that war was going to start?
A: They took young men into the army as soldiers. They said you must
serve your country. Your country needs you and you would be taken
P: From your family?
A: There was no one of military age in our family. My brother was
only eleven years old. eleven years old.
P: Did your father have to go?
A: My father was 45 years old.
P: How did it start?
A: They took our relatives. That news reached us that they had been
-taken And when they took them into the army, they gave them no guns.
In fact, they took their guns away from them. Then they shot them and
left them there. Later, they brought 500 Armenian soldiers and placed
-them in a building in the city.
P: In your city?
A: Yes. In our city.
P: In which year?
A: In 1915. The mothers and fathers went there and cried, but they
would not let them bring food or water to their boys. They would not
let them see their sons. They beat them off and said, "Go away, Infi-
dels." They kept them there imprisoned for one or two months. Then
one night, they chained their hands and feet, tied them together by
twos and drove all 500 of them out of the city. Then they killed them.
I had relatives among them—my cousins from my mother's family and
Many many relatives. They all died. The
mothers and fathers wept but to no avail. After they killed the young
men, then they began to go after the intellectuals of the city. They
put them all in jail—lawyers, druggists, priests. They took all of
them to jail in chains.
P: Do you remember the names of any of these intellectuals?
A: Yes. Bussag Bishop was one--a handsome man. He was the Bishop of
the Apostolic Church our monsignor Stepan, Father Hovsep, Father
Sarkis and all the nuns. This happened on May 18, 1915. On Monday morn-
ing my father took me and my sister to the Monsignor. He asked if we
could stay with him. He thought we would be safer with the Monsignor, because they would not dare to kill him. But the Monsignor said, "My son, you are wrong. They are going to kill us too."