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Arslanian Family History
History of
Arslanian Family of
Keghi, Erzeroum, Armenia

Historical Narrative
Descendant Listings
Documentary Sources
Discussion Groups
Other Links


This page is a collection of information I have compiled on my Arslanian family. Our family patriarch was a man whose given name was Arslan, who was born in Armenia in the early 1800s. He was probably from the sanjak (district) of Dersim in the vilayet (province) of Kharput. The word "arslan" means lion in Turkish. (Many Armenian surnames are based on Turkish words.) Our ancestor Arslan's surname may have been Malekian, Marikian, or Anooyian, but his descendants have used the surname Arslanian. (The word "aslan" also means lion, so sometimes the surname was spelled Aslanian.)

Historical Narrative

Not much is known about Arslan, including the name of his wife. He had at least three children: sons Garabed and Sarkis (born about 1839), and a daughter named Quinn (who married a Septian). Garabed and Sarkis left Dersim and moved to the vilayet of Erzeroum, settling in the village of Sergevil (meaning quince, the fruit), near the town of Keghi (also spelled Kghi or Kigi), about 70 miles southwest of the city of Erzeroum. (Sergevil is also known as Sivgilik; the Turks call it Acikguney.) Click here (GIF file; 270 KB; 5 Aug 1997) for a map of western Armenia showing the relative locations of Keghi (Kigi) and Erzeroum. [Note: During most of the 1800s and 1900s, this area was a part of the Ottoman Empire (now Turkey). For consistency, I will refer to this area as Armenia, when dealing with place names prior to 1915.]

Sergevil, as it looks today (courtesy of Mehmet Emin Oktan)

For more recent photos of the village, see Photos of Sergevil (also called Sivgilik), 2007

Garabed and Sarkis were merchants. In Keghi, they were known as a very prosperous, educated, and wealthy family. (Some of their sons were educated in Europe.) Coming back from a business trip in 1896, Garabed and Sarkis were attacked, robbed, and killed by the Turks.

Several of their sons and grandsons immigrated to the USA, France, and England between 1900 and 1915. Many of them travelled from Armenia across Europe to France (typically the port of Le Havre) and embarked on a ship (travelling in steerage class) to New York, entering through Ellis Island. Like most Eastern European and Middle Eastern immigrants of that time, they probably went to the USA in search of employment to earn enough money to go back to the "homeland" and improve their lives there, or to bring their families to the USA.

The rest of the family remained in Armenia. Most are presumed to have died during the 1915 genocide, but several did escape to other places and entered the USA after 1920.

Garabed's Family:

Garabed Arslanian was Arslan's oldest son. He was born before 1839 (the approximate year of younger brother Sarkis's birth). Garabed was married twice, first to Anna and then to Vartuhi. He had three sons (Kaspar, Arakel, and Harabet). Garabed was killed by the Turks in 1896.

Kaspar Arslanian was married three times, first to Nazoo Girvigian (who died in 1902), then to Hazo Apoian (who died in 1914), and then to Arake -----. He had four sons (Yerim "Harry", Ohannes "John", Sahag "Sam", and Nishon) and three daughters (Hayganoush, Agovnie, and Anakos).

Harry and John came to the USA prior to the 1915 genocide and settled in Detroit, Michigan. Sam arrived in the USA on 26 July 1913 in New York aboard the ship La Provence (sailing from Le Havre, France) to join his brother Harry in Detroit. (Sam was living in Keghi with his father Kaspar prior to leaving Armenia.) Sam went back to the Middle East at some point and lived in Aleppo [now in Syria] and then in Constantinople, Turkey. He re-entered the USA on 23 October 1920 in New York aboard the ship SS Mauretania (sailing from Southampton, England) to join his brother John in Highland Park, Michigan, near Detroit.

John married to Lucig Bozoian and had children Anthony (born in 1927), Ralph, Ara, and Star. John died around 1946 (probably in Detroit). Harry died in 1953, probably in Detroit. Sam never married. He died in Warren, Macomb County, Michigan in 1992.

Kaspar and the rest of his family perished in Armenia.

Arakel Arslanian was married to Salvi Hudsian. He had five sons (Armen, Misag, Levon (who died young), Levon "Leon", and Mesrop) and two daughters (Satanique and Narig). Arakel appears (as "Arachil Aslanian") on the List or Manifest of Alien Passengers Applying for Admission to the United States from Foreign Contiguous Territory in July 1904 at Port Huron, Michigan seeking entry to the USA from Canada to join his brother "Harabed Aslanian" at 60 Solvay Street in the Delray section of Detroit. He is said to be in poor health and was denied admission on 22 July 1904 due to the skin disease psoriasis. (Arakel is described on the manifest as age 50, married, laborer, from Azaran (Erzeroum), Turkey. He had arrived in America at New York six months earlier and had worked in Brantford, Ontario in the meantime, having traveled by railroad to Port Huron. His traveling companion (at Port Huron) was 23-year-old Boghos Mamigonian. also said to be from Azaran (Erzeroum). Boghos was denied admission due to the eye disease trachoma, but did gain entry to the USA in 1913, through New York, where he stated his birthplace as Keghi.) Nothing more is known about Arakel after 1904.

Arakel's son Armen was in British Columbia, Canada by 1918, where (on 24 September of that year), he entered the Canadian Over-Seas Expeditionary Force. He had changed his name to Arman Arslin. His "Attestation Paper" states that he was born 23 November 1894 in (Erzeroum), Armenia, was a resident of the Balmoral Hotel in Vancouver, with an occupation of miner. His next-of-kin is shown as father "Hary Arslanian" of 93 Grayling Avenue in Detroit, Michigan. Apparently his father Arakel had died by then, as Harabet "Harry" Arslanian is actually his uncle. Nothing further is known about Arman's service in the Canadian military. He remained in British Columbia, and appears twice on a List or Manifest of Alien Passengers Applying for Admission through the port of Sumas, Whatcom Co., Washington (in October 1920 and August 1923). On both manifests, he is shown as single, with an occupation of logger. In 1920, he lived in Topaze Harbour (just north of Vancouver Island, across the Johnstone Strait, between Knight Inlet and Loughborough Inlet). In 1923, he lived in Masset (on the north side of Graham Island, across Hecate Strait from the town of Prince Rupert). Arman died 4 August 1924 (shot to death) in Duncan, on Vancouver Island, British Columbia.

Arakel's son Levon ("Leon") survived the genocide and was brought to Liverpool, England after the war by his father's cousin Marouke Arslanian. Leon remained in Liverpool for the rest of his life; he died there in 1988. None of the rest of Arakel's family is known to have escaped the genocide of 1915. Leon provided a sketch (GIF file; 330 KB; 6 Aug 1997) of his family home in Armenia.

Harabet "Harry" Arslanian was born in Keghi in 1881. He first married to Hazou Maloian and had a son Zorab. His wife and son died in Armenia in 1915. Harry made several trips back and forth between Armenia and the United States. Harry married Araxi Tetezian, possibly in Beirut (now Lebanon) sometime around 1920 or earlier. Araxi immigrated to the USA in 1920, on the same ship as Harry's nephew Sahag "Sam". Harry and Araxi had a son Vaskin "Vincent" was born in Detroit in 1921. Harry worked at Dodge Brothers Company in Detroit until his retirement, and died in Detroit in 1958. Vincent is now living in Missouri.

     Harabet "Harry" Arslanian [#13]

Sarkis's Family:

Arslan's son Sarkis Arslanian was born about 1839. He married Marriam Gopoian around 1870, probably in Keghi. They had four sons (Marouke "Mike", Mamigon "Harry", Dikran "Richard", and Reuben) and five daughters (Katoun, Yaprig, Margaret, Seravart "Sadie", and Lousig "Lucille"). Sarkis was killed by the Turks in 1896. Marriam died near Diyarbekir, Armenia in 1915, while being deported by the Turks from Keghi to Der el Zor, Syria. All four sons and several of the sons-in-law left Armenia for the USA and England, but the daughters and their children are believed to have perished during the genocide of 1915.

Marouke (pronounced MA'-roo-kay) "Mike/Michel" was born in the (early?) 1870s in Armenia. He was married there about 1890 to Katoun Ayvasian. The had a son (Kevork "George") and two daughters (Anoush and Aznugh). By 1906, Mike was in Madison County, Illinois (in an area just east of St. Louis where thousands of eastern European immigrants were employed in the steel and iron manufacturing industry). His brother Richard arrived there in November of 1906. Reuben joined them in 1907. Mamigon followed in 1909. They lived in Madison and Granite City. Mike's son George arrived in New York on 7 November 1912 aboard the ship SS New York (sailing from Cherbourg, France). According to the ship passenger list, George was a "cultivator" (farmer), was 5'-4.5" tall, born in Keghi, Armenia, and was going to Worcester, Massachusetts to join his father-in-law Artin (Haratoun) Kesdegian. (Artin arrived in the USA on 12 April 1908, settling in Worcester.) George had married in 1911 in Armenia to Artin's daughter Anoush Kesdegian and had twin sons. (Mike's wife and daughters and George's wife and sons remained in Armenia, where they died around 1915.)

     Marouke "Mike" Arslanian [#21]

Mike and his brothers Richard and Reuben soon moved to Detroit, where several of their Arslanian cousins had settled. Mamigon remained in Detroit, while Richard, Reuben, and George moved west to Oregon and Washington, where they found work as laborers. Richard was in Polk County, Oregon as early as 1912, George, Richard, and Reuben registered for the military draft in June 1917 (before the USA's entry into World War I) in Idaho County, Idaho (about 200 miles east of Yakima, Washington). (They all stated their birthplaces as Erzeroum, Armenia.) Only George served in the military, from 27 September 1919 to 27 October 1922, in the Far East. Richard and Reuben did not.

Mike left the USA for Liverpool, England, possibly as early as 1908. Mike remarried in Liverpool to Serpoui "Madeleine" Dogramadjian and had two daughters (Sadie and Stella) and a son (Paul). Madeleine died in Liverpool around 1923. Mike sent his children to Marseille, France to be raised by his mother-in-law Berik (-----) Dogramadjian. Mike's whereabouts during the rest of his life are not well known, although is believed to have lived near Arles, France. He died around 1943 in German-occupied France at a Red Cross Hospital in Marseille. His daughters Sadie and Stella remained in France. Stella married Flory Baron and now lives in Marseille, France. Sadie came to Detroit in 1947 and then moved to San Francisco, California and married Robert Pashalian. She died in San Francisco in 1992. Paul returned to England and now lives in Wales.

In the early 1920s, George, Richard, and Reuben moved from Washington to Oregon, living near Salem. George married there in 1926 to Helen Derhousoff (a daughter of Alexander Derhousoff, a Russian immigrant to Canada). George and his family were in San Francisco by 1930 and settled in Santa Rosa, Sonoma County, California by 1945, where he lived the remainder of his life. (In 1971, when I first became interested in the Arslanian family history at age 14, "Uncle George" and I corresponded frequently about our family. I am indebted to him for getting me started on this project, sharing his memories, and putting me in touch with his other living relatives.)

Sarkis's son Mamigon was born about 1878 in Keghi, Armenia. He married about 1900 to Serma Hairabedian and had two sons (Hamazasb "Harry" and Diran) and a daughter Araxi. Mamigon arrived at New York on 10 November 1909 aboard the ship SS Louisiane (sailing from Le Havre, France). According to the ship passenger list, Mamigon was 5'5" tall. His stated destination was Granite City, Illinois to join his brother-in-law Artin Atamian (husband of Mamigon's sister Seravart "Sadie"). In 1910, he was the keeper of a boarding house at 1635 Maple Street in Granite City where 40 other Armenians were living (including Artin Atamian). Mamigon's wife Serma and children Hamazasb, Diran, and Araxi were still in Armenia at the time. During the forced deportation of the Armenians from Keghi to Der el Zor, Syria in 1915, only Hamazasb survived. He was sheltered by an Arab Muslim family during WWI and was brought to Liverpool, England to live with his uncle Marouke in May 1920. Harry left England and entered the USA on 25 December 1920 to join his father, and lived in the Detroit area the remainder of his life. (Read Survival Story of Hamazasb Arslanian, as told by him around 1983.)

     Mamigon "Harry" Arslanian [#24]

     Mamigon's family in Armenia: Serma (Hairabedian) Arslanian [#24/1] & children

Mamigon went with his brothers to Detroit, where he married Zabelle Surabian around 1919. They had daughters Virginia and Edna. Virginia married Vance Colvig and is now living in Los Angeles, California. Edna married Earl Spears and died 1999 (probably near Livonia, Wayne County, Michigan). Mamigon worked in the auto industry and died in Detroit in 1955. Mamigon's son Harry married Alice Baronian in 1930. (Harry and Alice contributed significantly to my knowledge of this family in the 1970s.) Harry died in 1984.

Sarkis's son Dikran ("Richard") was born about 1883 in Armenia. He married Takouhi Apoyan in Armenia around 1903. He then immigrated to the USA, arriving in New York aboard the ship SS La Provence (sailing from Le Havre, France) on 24 November 1906, destined for Madison, Illinois to join his brother Marouke. On the ship passenger list, he was described as 5'6" tall. (Richard is remembered as being a very physically strong man.)

     Dikran "Richard" Arslanian [#26]

Richard stayed in Granite City or Madison for awhile before going to Detroit with his brothers. At the time of the 1910 census, he was living in Marion County, Oregon, near Salem, employed as a laborer on the railroad. In 1912, he married Leona E. Brown in nearby Polk County. (His first wife Takouhi was still living in 1910 in Armenia, and it is not clear whether or not he was still married to her when he remarried in 1912.) Richard and Leona were divorced by 1917. At that time (when he registered for the WWI draft), he was a hops contractor in Independence, Polk County, Oregon. By 1918, he was in Yakima, Yakima County, Washington. He married in September of that year in Yakima to Celestine "Sally" St. Martin. He was about about 35 years old and Sally was 17. In 1920, Richard and Sally were living in Union Gap, Yakima County, Washington with their infant son Richard (born October 1918). Richard's occupation was laborer in a sugar factory.

His next two children, a daughter Lucille and a son Jerry were born in Yakima County in 1920 and 1921. By 1924, he had moved his family to Salem, Oregon along with his brother Reuben and nephew George (Marouke's son). A son Robert was born there in 1924. The 1926-1927 Salem city directory lists "Richd. B. Arslanian" as a hop grower living at 522 N. Church Street. A daughter Isabelle was born in Salem in 1926. A son Ronald (my father) was born in Yakima in 1928 (although Richard was still in living in Oregon at that time). Sometime after this, Richard and his family moved to the Central Valley of California, working in farming in Lodi, Manteca, and other towns before finally settling in Fresno. His youngest child, a son Leroy, was born in Fresno County in 1934.

Dikran "Richard" Arslanian [#26], Lucille Arslanian [#262] (on her father's back), & Reuben Arslanian [#28] (behind)

Richard and Sally were divorced in 1939, and he lived the remainder of his life in farming towns in the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys of central California. He died of cancer in Modesto in 1965. Richard's son Jerry (who boxed for a time under the name Jerry Lyons) died in San Leandro, California in 1970. Isabelle died in Sacramento in 1993. Bob died in Fremont in 1998. Lucille died in 2003 in Fresno. Richard died in Fresno in 2004. Ron died in Bakersfield, California in 2009. Leroy's whereabouts are not known.

Not much is known about Sarkis's son Reuben, who was born about March 1892. Reuben arrived in the USA on 24 December 1907 in New York aboard the ship SS La Bretagne (sailing from Le Havre, France) to join his brothers Mike and Richard in Madison County, Illinois. Reuben accompanied his brother Richard and nephew George to Washington and Oregon. He died in Salem, Marion County, Oregon in 1931 and was buried in the Salem Pioneer Cemetery. At the time of his death, his worked as a hop grower.

Most of Sarkis's sons-in-law left Armenia and came to the USA for employment. For example, Seravart's husband Artin "Harry" Atamian arrived in the USA on 6 December 1908 in New York aboard the ship SS La Touraine (sailing from Le Havre, France) to join his brother Dickran Atamian in Madison, Illinois. At the time of the 1910 census, Artin Atamian lived in a boarding house of Armenians in Granite City, Madison County, Illinois run by his brother-in-law Mamigon Arslanian. Nothing is known of Artin after 1910. Ohannes Gopoian (husband of Yaprig) arrived in the USA on 5 July 1910 in New York aboard the SS Saint Louis (sailing from Cherbourg, France) to join his brother Ningonos Gopoian in Detroit, Michigan. On 12 December 1913, Ghajar (or Kazar) Kaklikian (husband of Lousig) arrived in the USA in New York aboard the SS Olympic (sailing from Cherbourg, France) to join his "cousin" Mamigon Arslanian in Detroit. Nigoghos Depigian (husband of Margaret) was listed in the 1910 US census of Madison, Madison County, Illinois, having come to the USA from Armenia in about 1906. It is not known whether Artin, Ohannes, Ghajar, or Nigoghos remained in the USA.

Descendant Listings

About 179 of Arslan's descendants have been identified. More research needs to be done with the ship passenger lists, US censuses of 1910, 1920, and 1930, World War I Draft Registrations, and other records to determine who came to this country and when. I hope that those of you who are descended from Arslan will provide me more information on your branch of the family so that our historical record will be more complete. (I can also scan in old photographs, if you have any that you'd like to have included on this page.)

Here are listings of known Arslanian descendants (through three generations):

Children of Arslan Malekian?|Mirakian?|Anooyian?

Descendants of Garabed Arslanian (#1) & Anna ----- & Vartuhi -----
Descendants of Sarkis Arslanian (#2) & Marriam Gopoian

Explanation of Format of Descendant Listings
Index of Names

Other Arslanian Families:

There are a number of other Arslanian families in the USA and elsewhere. I am interested in helping the other Arslanians research their family histories, and I hope that this web site can provide a forum for doing so. In my research, I have started to record data relating to Arslanian families other than my own. The censuses, localities notes, and ship passenger lists above contain references to many different Arslanian families. Since the name is often spelled Aslanian in these records, I have gathered notes relating to those families, too. As I gather notes on other Arslanian families, I will attempt to try to group those families as I have done for my own.

The numbering system I use for descendants will remain the same, but I will prefix the descendant IDs with a family ID. For example, family 001 is the family of Sarkis Arslanian and Serpouhe Boghossian (another Arslanian family from Keghi); family 006 is an Arslanian family that settled in Fresno and Tulare Counties, California; etc.

Descendants of other Arslanian families

Likewise, I am starting to compile information on the Gopoian families of the Keghi area, who may be related to my great-grandmother Marriam Gopoian (wife of Sarkis Arslanian):

Descendants of Gopoian families

Documentary Sources

1910 US Census
1920 US Census
1930 US Census

1911 Saskatchewan, Canada Census (Adobe Acrobat document; 16KB; 25 Apr 2007)

California Notes
Florida Notes
Massachusetts Notes
Michigan Notes
Missouri Notes
Nevada Notes
Oregon Notes
Washington Notes

Canada Notes
England Notes

World War I Draft Registrations

See my library of digital images (photos, newspaper clippings, etc.) related to this family.

Other Arslanians - 1910 US Census
Other Arslanians - 1920 US Census
Other Arslanians - 1930 US Census

Other Arslanians - California Notes
Other Arslanians - Michigan Notes

Ship Passenger Lists

Discussion Groups

GenForum - Arslanian
RootsWeb - Arslanian

Other Links

I am currently researching immigration to the USA and Canada from Keghi, Armenia, in order to find out more about my Arslanian family and others from that area. See my Keghi Immigrants web page.

Armenian History, Culture, Art, Religion & Genocide
Ellis Island Records

If you would like to comment on any information contained within, or wish to correspond with me about this family, please send me an e-mail message at: Additions and corrections are greatly appreciated. I am especially interested in receiving information obtained from primary sources (census listings, Bibles, cemeteries, vital records, probate and land records, etc.) and photographs and digital images relating to this branch of the Arslanian family so that I can incorporate them into this page. Also, I would like to provide links to other pages on the Internet that deal with Arslanian genealogy.

Mark B. Arslan (#2662)

Last updated on 29 December 2013