#25: The Armenians "depart" (1915)

As Prof. Hagopian and myself drew aside and kissed each other goodbye, he said to me: "Dr. White, I want you to understand and remember that I am going on my own choice. I have friends among the officials and influential Turks. They promised me a traveling permit for Constantinople. I could have gone there and have been safe. But I did not want to separate from my own people. I wanted to share in whatever experiences were in store for them. So I go now, because I would not try to escape". I have no doubt that was fully true. Twenty-five years we had worked shoulder to shoulder. He was a true and able man. "Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die" .....

Prof. Sivaslian, whose study of Mathematics and Surveying fitted him splendidly for city engineering, had been invited by the commander of gendarmes to accept his special protection, at the cost of a nominal adherence to Mohammedanism, and serve as city engineer in the extensive plans for new streets, grading, and building, on which the Turks were seriously at work. He refused to consider the invitation.


Of the Armenian members of the Faculty in 1914-'15, seven were dead, together with the much respected head of the Self Help Department, and the young superintendent of grounds and buildings. Not one of the 72 persons deported from our loved College campus ever came back.

The deportation of sixty-two persons from the Girls' School and King School for the Deaf Children, August 12th, with the return of forty-eight from Sivas, rescued by Miss Willard and Miss Gage, forms a story second to none in the history of the Western Turkey Mission in significance. But that is another story, and has been told elsewhere. Perhaps it is only right to add that every school boy was a potential soldier, possibly hostile to Islam, as the girls were not.

Every school girl was a potential member of a Moslem home or harem, as had been the experience with unnumbered Christian girls. During these days, girls were bought and sold in our town for three or four dollars a piece. I heard the conversation of men engaged in the traffic. Indeed, I procured the release of three myself for a ransom of one gold lira, $4.40.

I was permitted to ride my horse with the mounted guards of the Girls' School convoy for their first day's journey. One of them was a friend of my dear daughter, who had been taken to America by her mother not long before, and before the public situation had grown so acute. This nice Armenian girl, with a sheet over her person for protection, took a ring from her hand and asked me to give it to her friend, my daughter, who was comfortable, happy and *safe* in blessed America.


At the season for fall plowing and planting, we saw with sad hearts the Armenian burying ground plowed by the officials and sowed to grain and saw the green grain growing, as their way of giving public notice that they did not intend to allow enough Armenians to live in the city to need a place for one of them to be buried. There had been about 14,000 of that race resident in the homes of our city the preceding spring.

NEXT: A difficult year (1915-16)