Abkarian Family of Sivas

HOME - The Azarians - Sivas

The Abkarian Family From Sivas

Courtesy of Alyssa Alexanian Mohin

Nishan Abkarian of Sivas, his wife, Makruhe and son, Jacob born Sivas June 1898

In December 2008 Alyssa Alexanian Mohin wrote about the Abkarian family of Sivas:

"A Prosperous Armenian Merchant Family, Sivas, c1913-1914

Seated, in the fez, is Nishan Abkarian, who is in his forties. He attended church every morning before going to work at his "general store" in Sivas. Standing, his wife, Makruhe, who is much younger, and possibly a second wife. In the middle, their daughter Anahid. It is unclear if the old woman was Nishan or Makruhe's mother. The studious-looking boy, center, is my maternal grandfather, Agop (Jacob) Abkarian b.1898 d. 1975. He attended the French Jesuit school in Sivas and had plans to attend medical school in France.

Jacob's story is that they received advance warning that they were to be seized by the Turks. He helped his father carry bags of gold to the church for safekeeping. On the return trip home they were met on the road by Turkish soldiers and Nishan was beheaded right in front of him. He was left to bury him. He never mentioned which church they attended or if they lived in town or out of town. There was never any mention of their being Catholics, so it is possible that he just happened to attend the Jesuit school. The female relatives were evacuated and forced to march to Syria. He followed them on a parallel route, entering their camp whenever he was able to do so undetected. His grandmother grew tired and couldn't continue and was left behind on the road. He was told that all those lingering behind were subsequently shot. His mother also perished en route. His sister, Anahid, survived, but he was forced to place her in an orphanage where she contracted cholera and died.

He claimed to have worked as an interpreter for the Germans in Turkey. He spoke fluent French, Armenian, Turkish and Arabic. He credited his knowledge of foreign languages for saving his life. He spoke a little German and then later learned English. We have no surviving documentation of his employment for the German Army. We do have documentation of his service in Company 13 of the Legion Armenienne in Port Said from 1918-1919. We also have documentation of his service as an interpreter in Adana (Armee du Levant) from 1920-1921. It was during his employment as an interpreter that he left his young wife in Adana and traveled for two months, encountering T.E. Lawrence and saw a train purportedly blown up by him.

He met his wife, Eliz (Alice)Vartanian b.1904 from Aintab, when he went to an Armenian refugee camp in Port Said and inquired about arranging a marriage. In a borrowed dress, Eliz served him coffee and sweets in a tent. She was advised to avoid eye contact with Jacob. He was "parading" in front of her tent and she peaked through a hole and saw a handsome man and decided it was okay. He was impressed by her reddish-blonde hair (which later darkened). She was impressed by his uniform and white horse. Thus, they were married by a priest, never having spoken a word to eachother. She was 15 years old. She spoke only Turkish and Arabic and he had to teach her Armenian. There was a witness to their marriage, who ended up in Canada and visited them in the 1940's at their home/farm in Orange County, NY. They lived on a military base of sorts in Adana and Eliz went into labor with her first-born, my mother Makruhe, while strolling in a pomengranate orchard. Makruhe was born 10/24/20.

After honorable discharge from Armee du Levant, Jacob worked as a clerk in a watch repair shop in Port Said, The owner had to leave and left Jacob in charge of the shop, which prospered while he was away. He offered Jacob a partnership in the business, but he and Eliz left for Smyrna. They considered Smyrna the nicest place they had ever been: great figs, big watermelons. Jacob's uncle, named Vartabedian, left Sivas approx. 1911 and owned an antique oriental rug business in Brooklyn. He paid for their passage aboard the Belvedere. They slept on mats on the floor in steerage. My mother was a fat, healthy nine- month old infant and was much admired by the passengers in 2nd Class above them. They would take the baby up on deck for fresh air and to watch the wake. Eliz said everyone was cheering and crying at the first sight of the Statue of Liberty. They were processed at Ellis Island. Jacob had a fever and was afraid he would be rejected if he was noticed shaking, so he placed the baby on his lap and pretended to be bouncing her.

Upon arriving in NYC, Jacob worked for a year to repay his uncle. He then had a hot dog cart. He then started his own oriental rug/upholstery business on Madison Ave. at 103rd St. Every time his income increased they moved to a better apartment: a brownstone on Lexington Ave/corner of 89th St., 87th St. between Lexington Ave. & Park Ave., Lexington Ave. and 88th St., West Farms Road in the Bronx, Washington Heights near GW Bridge, 74th and Third Ave.,then 69th St. near 2nd Avenue. He was forced to lay off all of his workers during the Depression, including the talented German man who taught him furniture repair/refinishing. The family had expanded to include a daughter, Hyganoosh and a son, still living, Nishan. They bought a farm in Howells, Orange County, NY, where they continued their business and eventually retired, spending the winters in Florida with their daughter, Hyganoosh (Agnes)."

Immigration of Jacob Abkarian June 10, 1921: On the Belvedere under A"p"karian, Agop age 23, Eliss, age 17, Macrouhie, baby, relative in Europe, brother-in-law, Kirkor Tomassian, to Joseph Vartabedian, 246 Pacific, Brooklyn, all listed as born in Sivas.

1930 Census: Manhattan, Lexington Ave near 89th St., immigrated 1920, upholsterer furniture, Jack, head, age 30, Armenia, Alice wife age 25, Armenia, Margaret, daughter age 10, Armenia, Agnes age 8, New York, Nichian son age 1 year and 6 months, New York

Naturalization: Southern District New York, Abkarian, Jacob #156916

Jacob Abkarian, 114 E 88th Street, rug repairer, born 5, June 1898, in Sivas, Turkey, emigrated from Patras Greece, on or about 28 May 1921, arrived in US 13 June 1921, on the vessel Belvedere, wife, Alica, children Margaret October 24, 1920, Agnes Aug 27, 1922, Nishan September 28, 1928, witnesses, Garabed Der Sarkisian, grocer, and Sam Solick insurance agent.
Death: SSDI Jacob Abkarian BIRTH: 5 Apr 1898 DEATH: Jan 1977 - Middletown, Orange, New York, United States of America CIVIL: New York

Florida Death Index, 1877-1998 Birth, Marriage & Death NAME: Jacob Abkarian BIRTH: 5 Apr 1898 DEATH: 20 Jan 1977 - Volusia, Florida, United States

Obit: Middletown News, January 21, 1977


Middletown - Jacob Abkarian, 78, of Carboy Road, died Thursday in Ormond Beach, Fla.

The son of Nishan and Makruhy Abkarian he was born April 5, 1898 in Sivas, Turkey.

He was a lieutenant in the Armenian Corps of the French Foreign Legion and served as an interpreter during World War I.

Mr. Abkarian is survived by his widow, the former Alice Vartanian; two daughters, Margaret Alexanian of Middletown, and Agnes Abkarian of Ormond Beach, Fla.; a son, Nishan Abkarian of New Hampton; seven grandchildren and three great grandchildren."

Photo courtesy Alyssa Alexanian Mohin

Photo courtesy Alyssa Alexanian Mohin

Abkarians From Sivas in New York

Sarkis, Nishan, and Vahan Abkarian were born in Sivas and immigrated to the US between 1883 and 1912

Sarkis, Nishan, and Vahan Abkarian were related to one another in some way. Sarkis was a witness to the naturalization of Nishan. Nishan and Vahan immigrated together.

In May 2011 Gene Abkarian wrote that Sarkis and Varhan were brothers.

__ Abkarian and _______




  1. Sarkis H Abkarian, born Sivas 1863, immigrated to USA, 1883

    Immigration: September 25, 1883 City of Rome, per passport application. Did not find the City of Rome Sept 25, 1883.

    Entry into US: 1891 October 22 City of New York, from Liverpool, Sarkis Abkarian age 28, physician, to New York

    Marriage: Johanna

    Not listed New York City Grooms


    1. Dagmar

    2. Violet

    3. Albert L., Cornell, class of 1930

    4. ??

    Passport Application: Sarkis H Abkarian born Sivas Asia Miner 28th February 1863, immigrated City of Rome from Liverpool on or about 25th day September 1883, to New York City, naturalized in the U S District Court of NYC 2nd August 1890, reside at 1309 Broadway requests to go abroad and return within two years. Age 27, 5 ft 8 inches, high forehead, dark brown eyes, nose medium, mouth full, chin square, hair black, completion dark, face medium. 2 Aug 1890

    Naturalization: According to his Naturalization index card he was a physician.

    Graduation from Medical School: NYU Medical School class of 1889.

    1900: 31st Street, Manhattan, information pretty much the same as the 1920 and 1930 censuses except: no Victor (where was he?) and a daughter named Rita born in 1892.

    1910: 38th Street, information pretty much the same as the 1900, 1920 and 1930 censuses

    1920 Census: West 119 Street Manhattan, listed by Ancestry under Larkis, information pretty much the same as the 1930 census except: A son Victor age 26, born in Illinois, civil engineer, a daughter Matilda age 22, clerk bank, Dagmar (the sister in law) last name given as Neilsen.

    1930 US Census: Village of North Pelham Westchester, Abkarian, Sarkis, H, head, own $18,000, age 67, married at 29, born Turkey, native language, Armenian, immigrated 1883, Physician, general practice, Johanna M wife, age 65, married at 28, born Denmark, immigrated 1898, Dagmar daughter age 26, Violet, daughter age 21, Albert son age 21 born New york, Aielsan (?), Dagmar, C sister in lw age 71, single born Denmark, Serydarian, Nagalie, gr-neice, age 22 born Turkey,

    Death: June 1948


    Dr. Sarkis H. Abkarian of 142 Second Avenue, Pelham, N. Y. died yesterday in New Rochelle (N.Y.) Hospital after and illness of two weeks. His age was 85.
    Dr. Abkarian was a former president of the Greather New York Armenian-American Democratic Association and the Armenia Press Bureau. He had been chairman of the executive committee of the Armenian Church here and of the Armenian Immigration Society.
    Born in Armenian, he came to they United States when a young man and received a degree from the New York University Medical School in 1889. He practiced here and in Pelham, before his retirement about ten years ago. For many years Dr. Abkarian had been with the Board of Health here. Surviving are a son, Albert, L of Mexico City; three daughters, Miss Dagmar Abkarian, Mrs. Albion C Ockenden of Southampton, Mass., and Mrs. Henry Young Smith of Columbia, Pa.; a brother, V. H. Abkarian of Lockport, N. Y.; seven grandchildren and a great grandchild.

    New York Times June 25, 1948.

  2. Vahan H Abkarian, born Sivas 1872/74, immigrated 1891

    Birth: c. 1872, Sivas, Turkey

    Immigration: Nischam Abkarian age 2- , smith, born Sivas and Vahan Abkarian age 20, smith, born Sivas, immigrated together on the from Marseilles on the Hindoustan on 14 November 1891

    Passport 1899: Vahan H Abkarian born Sivas, Turkey, Asia Minor, 15 September 1872, immigrated on the "forgotten" from Marseilles, France, on or about 29 October 1892, residing in Rochester New York for 8 years, Naturalized in the District Court of the City of New York on 23 October 1899, occupation, nurse, intends to return to the US in three months. age 27, 5 ft 5 inches, forehead broad, eyes brown, nose, aquiline, mouth medium lips, chin cleft, hair dark brown, complexion dark, face round, Issued Jul 2, 1900

    Naturalization: Vahan Abkarian naturalization index US District New York

    Marriage: Ruth Marsh

    Vahan E. Abkarian, Marriage Date: 15 Sep 1905, Marriage Place: Richmond, New York, USA, Certificate Number: 19536, Vahan E. Abkarian, Ruth E. Marsh


    1. Vahan 1908

      1925 Year book

      Death: Find a Grave - Vahan Marsh Abkarian, Birth Date: 1908, Birth Place: Rochester, Monroe County, New York, United States of America, Death Date: 5 Jul 1952, Death Place: Lockport, Niagara County, New York, United States of America, Cemetery: Mount Hope Cemetery, Burial or Cremation Place: Rochester, Monroe County, New York, United States of America Father: Vahan Harutune Abkarian Mother: Ruth Abkarian

    2. Esther

      Marriage: Esther K Abkarian, Lockport N. Y. age 22, born December 21, 1911, stenographer, born Rochester, N. Y. father, Vahan H Abkarian, born Armenia, mother, Ruth March bron Rochester, N. Y. to J. Donald Craine, born July 21, 1910, son of John O Craine and Ruth Smith.

    3. Stephen died at about 7 years of age

    4. Ruth

    In May 2011 Gene Abkarian wrote:

    "My grandfather, Vahan, lived in Rochester, New York until about the late 20s, having been decimated by the stock market crash. The family then moved to Lockport, NY where the whole family remained. He had married Ruth Marsh in 1905 and they had four children; Vahan Marsh (my father), Esther, Stephen (who died at about 7 years of age), and Ruth."

    1900: N. Goodman Street, Halbert Greenleaf 73, lock manufacturer, Jean B Greenleaf 63, Vahan H Abkarian 27, born Armenia, imm 1891, masseur O, May Dennis 27, servant,

    1908: Charter granted to Vending Machine Company, Rochester, to manufacture machines and mechanical devices, capital $10,000 Incorporation included Vahan H Abkarian, 419 central Building and two others. (Steel and Iron)

    1905: Rochester Ward 06, Monroe, New York, USA, 196 N, Goodman Street, Halbert S Greenleaf 78, Jean B Greenleaf 72 Van H Abkarian 32, born Armenia, boarder, broker

    1910 Census: Rochester, New York, Vahan H Abakarian, age 35, 1st marriage, 4 children, born Armenia, immigrated 1892, broker, stock (word I cannot read), Ruth M wife, age 31, Vahan M age 2, "not named", age 4 months, all born New York

    1915: N. Goodman street, Vahan H Abkarian 40, born Armenia, citizen, broker, Ruth M Abkarian 36, born N. Y., Vahan M Abkarian 7, Stephen F Abkarian 5, Ester K Abkarian 3, Ruth J Abkarian 2, Mary Miller 36, servant

    1917: Copyright, ABKARIAN (Ruth E. M.) * Rochester, N. Y. Stephen Francis Abkarian. 2 p. l., 9-58, 1916, English, Book, Illustrated edition: Stephen Francis Abkarian, March 29, 1910-August 12, 1915 ... Abkarian, Ruth E. M.

    WWI Draft Registration: Vahan Harutune Abkarian, Birth Date: 15 Sep 1874, Adress 196 N. Goodman Rochester, Monroe, New York, USA, Relative: Ruth Marsh Abkarian Relative's Relationship: Wife, Other Info: naturalized, real estate investments, self employed, 824 Granite Bldg. Rochester, N. Y., Medium hight, medium build, brown eyes, dark hair

    1917: Patent granted - One half to Vahan H. Abkarian Company, inc., Rochester, N. Y., bottle stopper, No. 1,198,786 Sept 19. Annual Report of the Commissioner of Patents By United States. Patent Office

    1925: Lockport, Niagara, New York, Vahan H Abkarian 50, farmer, Ruth M Abkarian 46 Vahan M Abkarian 17, farm helper, Esther K Abkarian 13, Ruth J Abkarian 11

    1930: Lockport, Niagara, Vahan Abkarian 53, salesman bonds, imm 1892, Ruth M Abkarian 51 Vahan M Abkarian 22, illustrator printer, Ruthea J Abkarian 16

    1940: Beattie Ave East Lockport, Niagara, farm, Vahan H Abkarian 65, salesman, rugs, Ruth M Abkarian 61

    Death: 1954 - Vahan H. Abkarian age 79, Buffalo, N. Y., July 20, Cert. No. 42225

    Mount Hope Cemetery, Rochester, N. Y.:
    ABKARIAN, Ruth Marsh, 1878-1963
    ABKARIAN, Stephen F., 1910-1915
    ABKARIAN, Vahan H., 1874-1954

    Jean Brooks Greenleaf Papers

Nishan Abkarian, born Sivas 1864, immigrated to USA 1891

Immigration: Nischam Abkarian age 2- , smith, born Sivas and Vahan Abkarian age 20, smith, born Sivas, immigrated together on the from Marseilles on the Hindoustan on 14 November 1891

Naturalization Index: US District court, NYC, Nov 23, 1898, vol 73, address 248 W 31st NYC, occupation nurse, date of Birth Dec 8, 1894, Turkey, date of arrival Nov 10, 1891, name and address of witness to naturalization, Sarkis H Abkarian, 248 W 31st Street, Physician

New-York tribune. (New York [N.Y.]) 1866-1924, June 18, 1904, Image 14:

NURSE. - Trained; attendant to invalid gentleman; long hospital and private experince. NISHAN ABKARIAN, care of Dr. Abkarian, 167 Glenmore ave. Brooklyn. Tel. 568L East New - York."
Michael George Abkarian, born Sivas 1896, immigrated to USA circa 1912


WW1DR: Michael George Abkarian 115 East 31st New York, age 46, born Sivas, Armenia, May 6, 1896 Person who will always know address, Mr. S. M. Sadi 42 Broadway, New York, employer, Ducoppt and Doremus 42 Broadway, New York, second page of registration missing on Ancestry.com

1930 Census: Manhattan, Abkarian, Michael, brother in law, age 35, Armenian, immigrated 1912, carpet cleaner, cleaning and dyeing co. with Helen Kassabian, age 37, born Asia Minor, Armenian, immigrated 1923, midwife

Photo courtesy Gene Abkarian, May 2011

Vahan and Ruth Abkarian with their children circa 1916. Vahan born 1908 is on the right.

Sivas (Sebastia) Information and Images

Click on Image

Connection to related pages Pirkinik
Arevian/Hagopian Azarians
Armenians in Turkey The Genocide
Armenian Customs, Dress & Food

If you have any suggestions, corrections, information, copies of documents, or photos that you would like to share with this page, please contact me at maggie@maggieblanck.com

If you wish to use any of the images or information on this page please feel free to do so provided that you give proper acknowledgement to this web site and include the same acknowledgments that I have made to the provenience of the image or information. Thanks, Maggie

©Maggie Land Blanck - Page created December 2008 - Latest update, August 2019