Gadar (Catherine) Azarian Parnagian (1896-1982)
BORN: Constantinople, Turkey
DIED: Lawrence, Massachusetts


My thanks to:
  • George and Polly Parnagian for sharing information on George's parents
  • Paula Parnagian and Eileen Claveloux for photos and information

Gadar (Catherine) Azarian and Toros Parnagian

Birth of Toros Parnagian

Toros Parnegian was born circa 1880 in Chemishgezek [Ch'mskatsag (Robert Hewsen), Cemisgezek (Google map 2009), and Tehumuch Kazak (1908 immigration)*], Harput, Turkey.

His father was "Kovork" [Kevork=George] Parnagian - mother not known.

Information on father, date and place of birth was taken from the ship manifests at the immigrations of Toros in 1908 and 1920.

* also Cmskacag, Ch'mshgatsak, Tzimiskes

Chemishgezek is northwest of the city of Harput and and southeast of Sivas. It lies in a particularly fertile area which has many more trees than the high plateau near Sivas. The climate is mild with snowy winters. The economy is mainly agricultural. There was a silver mine in Chemishgezek in Armenian times. There were 31 Armenian parishs, with 32 churches counting about 9,000 member pre 1915. (Armenia A Historical Atlas, by Robert H Hewsen)


Fotograflar [images of Cemiskezek]*

*This site contains some lovely old and new images. However, is in Turkish and I cannot find the home page.

You Tube

First Immigration of Toros Parnagian to US

1909 to 1915 in Lawrence, "R. I.", as indicated by his 1920 immigration papers.

Listed in the 1910 census in Lawrence, Massachusetts. See below.

Manifest: "Parnagnian" Toros age "32", laborer, Turkish, last residence "Tehumuch" Kazak Father Kovork Parnagnian to Providence, R. I. 8 Feb 1908, from Havre on the La Lorraine, to brother in law ---d Papajian (?) 8-7 Westminster, St Providence, R. I. 5'7" black eyes black hair, born "T-chumuch", Turkey

Toros Parnagian in the 1910 US Census

Toros Parnegian was listed in Lawrence, Massachusetts in the 1910 census at 208 Cannon Street as a boarder in a large boarding house. There were 44 people listed at that address, all of the male, all of them Armenian.

Toros Parnagian was listed as age 35, married 8 years, immigrated in 1907 alien, scrubber woolen mill.

There were three other Parnegians listed in the same boarding house: Garabad Parnagian age 55 widow, immigrated 1896, winder woolen mill, Vahan Parnagian age 27, married 6 years, (no wife), immigrated 1907 operator woolen mill, Sahag Parnagian, age 32, immigrated 1909, finisher woolen mill. They were listed together. Toros was listed on the next page.

Notes: George Parnagian (Toros' son) said that Toros did not have family in the US.

When Toros Parnagian and family entered the US in 1920 they listed their nearest relatives as a "brother" "Messrop Parnakian" of 208 Cannon Street Lawrence.

There were a number of Parnagians in Lawrence including Garabad, Sahag, Vahan, and Manoog who were a father and his three sons. Gadabar immigrated circa 1896, Sarag immigrated circa 1909, Vahan circa 1908, and Monoog immigrated circa 1912. Vahan and "Manjon" were listed in the 1920 census as "partners" of Martin Parnagian farmer who immigrated in 1917. Sarag, Vahan, and Manoog were listed in the WWI Draft Registration. The information shows that they were related to each other as brothers, that the came from the town of Arapkir (Arabkir, Arabgir) in Harput villayet at the confluence of the eastern and western Euphrates in Turkey and that they lived on Cannon Street in Lawrence.

Arapkir is is northwest of Harput. Chemishgezek (the birthplace of Toros) is a few miles to the east of Arabkir. I do not know the actual distance but they are relatively close to each other.

"Arabkir was one of those towns in Anatolia where an especially high population of men left to seek work elsewhere leaving their wives and children behind with their parents."

Armenia, A Historical Atlas Robert Hewson

A local industry in Arabkir was cotton cloth manufacture.

It is possible that the other Parnagians in Lawrence were cousins of Toros Parnegian.

Parnagians in the 1930 Census

  1. Haverhill Mass. Saville Ave. Sahag Parnagian, head, Owing house $12,000, radio, age 49 single, immigrated 1909, Pa, Farmer, general farming, Vahan brother, married age 47, married at age 27, immigrated in 1906, saster (?), shoe factory, alien, Manog brother age 42, married at age 19, immigrated in 1913, alien, farmer, general farming, Leo son age 24, immigrated in 1919 engraver electro--, Pa, Hag son age ? Berjoohn daughter age 9, Nellie daughter age 18, immigrated in 1919, alien, stitcher, shoe factory, Berge son age 9*, Sondonleth, sister in law age 45 married at 18, immigrated 1919, Elizabeth sister in law age 40 married at 21, immigrated 1919 All of the adults (including Leo age 24 and Nellie age 18) were born in Harput Turkey. The children were all born in Massachusetts. All of the adults were Armenian speakers.
  2. In Lawrence, Bedros Parnagian, age 30, married at 24, hotel barber, immigrated in 1920, born Armenia, and his wife Surphur, age 23, married at 19, immigrated 1926 (?) dressmaker tailor shop.
  3. In Lawrence, Roopan Parnegian head age 42, married at 40 born Armenian immigrated 1913, naturalized, proprietor grocery store, Vastoohe wife age 32 married at age 30, born Turkey Sivas, immigrated 1927, Harg son age 3 months born Massachusetts

According to the Nashua Telegraph of September 27, 1967, George Parnagian and Berg Parnegian were "bearers" at the funeral of Diana Q Manasian. Diana was the sister of Pauline Parnagian. In August 2010 Paula Parnegian wote:

"*Berge and George Parnagian were distant cousins and both families were from the same village, Chimishkezek, a village in the Harpoot/Kharpet region."

*Berge Parnagian SSN: 016-18-6307 Last Residence: 03060 Nashua, Hillsborough, New Hampshire, United States of America Born: 24 Mar 1921 Died: 3 Feb 2002 State (Year) SSN issued: Massachusetts (Before 1951)

Most of the earlier Parnagain records in the US were in Massachusetts. Some later records are in Fresno, California.

MARY (ARABIAN) PARNAGIAN: The Boston Globe obituary of Mary Arabain Parnagian indicates that there were some other Parnagians in the area:

Of Watertown January 10, 2007. Beloved wife of the late Archie Parnagian. Dear sister of the late Grace Hagopian. Sister-in-law of the late Henry Hagopian. Loving aunt of Adrenna Antreasian and her husband Richard of Waltham, Kenneth Hagopian and his wife Carol of Watertown, Bruce Hagopian and his wife Gail of Burlington, Pauline Parnagian* of Methuen and the late George Parnagian*. Great-aunt of Christopher and Alicia Antreasian, Lauren and Noelle Hagopian, David Hagopian, James Cartolano, Diane** and Mark Juknavorian, Kay** and Bob Husson, Paula**, Cindy** and Christopher** Parnagian. Also survived by many great-great nieces and nephews. Services at St. James Armenian Church, 465 Mt. Auburn St., Watertown on Saturday, January 13 at 12:00 p.m.

George Parnagian son of Toros Parnagian and Catherine Azarian and his second wife Pauline. **Children of George and Pauline.

Toros' Return to Turkey

Toros returned to Turkey circa 1915 according to the 1920 immigration manifest.

Death of Toros' First Wife

Family history says that Toros' first wife and all his family died in the 1915 genocide. He was listed as married 8 years in the 1910 census in the US.

How and why was he spared? Did he return to Turkey too late?

Birth of Gadar (Catherine) Azarian

Gadarine Azarian, the daughter of Abraham Azarian and Lousia Hagopian, born October 3, 1896, Galatia, priest, Bishop Abigian, godfather, Avitis Hagopian, church------, baptized October 6, 1896. LDS film #1037106, Surp Savour, Beyoghle, Istanbul.

Marriage of Catherine Azarian and Toros Parnagian

According to their son, George, Catherine Azarian married Toros Parnagian in Constantinople in February 1919.

I have not been able to find the marriage record in the Catholic churches in Istanbul. I have not looked in the Apostolic churches.


If it is true that Catherine and Toros married in 1919, Catherine would have been 22 years old at the time of the marriage. I find this date troublesome for two reasons:
  1. It is a little on the old side for a first marriage in the culture, the time and the place.

  2. Her sister, Christine (who was younger than Catherine by two or three years) was supposed to have been married by the time of the marches into Syria in 1915, which would mean that Christine was no more than 16 at the time of her marriage and was married four years before her older sister. See Christine

Pauline and George Parnagian said that Catherine did not marry at an earlier age because she was needed to take care of her younger siblings. Most family traditions contain a measure of truth and Catherine, as the oldest daughter, was most certainly invaluable as a helper to her parents.

However there are problems with this scenario.

While I have not been able to confirm it definitely, I believe that both Armenian custom and the period of time would have dictated that the oldest girl marry first - the marriages of her younger sisters following in the order of their ages. As far as I can determine this was the situation in all pre-WWI Middle Eastern societies.

More importantly, unless they were very well to do, all Armenian girls had to learn to cook, shop, maintain a home and take care of babies (younger siblings or nieces and nephews). Even when there were servants, all Armenian girls were expected to participate in household chores which prepared them for their own marriage and families. The Azarians were Europeanized to a certain extent and were probably rich enough to have some level of servants. Moreover, with six daughters this was not a family lacking in mother's helpers - making one daughter more valuable than the others in this respect.

There is no apparent reason why Christine (born in 1899) would not have replaced Catherine as the major mother's helper when Catherine married and left the household (or as in many Armenian households lived after her marriage with her parents or in laws where, in either case, she would be expected to help in running the house).

Catherine did not marry until 1919 when she was 22/23. On the other hand her younger sister, Christine, is supposed to have married at age 15 or 16 (at least seven years younger). I believe that this is highly unusual and that there must be an additional reason or reasons for Catherine's late age at marriage versus Christine's marriage at a much younger age. Perhaps it is simply that Catherine and Toros were married at an earlier date than stated by George Parnagian. Perhaps Catherine was widowed.

George (Kovork) Parnagian (1919-2003)

Catherine and Toros had a son, George (Kovork), born in Constantinople on December 26, 1919.

George was listed as Kivot at their immigration in 1920.

I have not located the baptismal record of George in the Catholic records. I have not checked the Apostolic church records.

The Parnagians were members of the Armenian Apostolic church in the United States.

Immigration 1920

Toros "Parmakian" a 38-year-old merchant from Harput, Turkey, his wife, Gadarini, age 23, and their son, Kivot, age 2 months, arrived in New York on March 25, 1920 on the S.S. Argentina from Patras, Greece. They were listed as having paid their own passage. Toros and Gadarini are listed as able to read and write Armenian. Their last address is given as Harput, Turkey. They listed no relatives in Turkey. Their destination was listed as Lawrence, "R.I.". Their relative or friend in US was Messrop Parmakian, brother, of 908 Canon Street Lawrence, "R.I.".

Toros is listed as 5 feet 8 inches tall, dark complexion, brown hair and brown eyes in good health, place of birth, Harput, Turkey.

Gadarini is listed as 5ft. 3in. tall, white complexion, black hair and black eyes, in good health, place of birth, Constantinople.

Kivot was listed as fair complexion, blond hair and blue eyes, place of birth, Constantinople.

This information was taken from the passenger manifest of the S.S. Argentina available on microfilm at the National Archive Records Administration, NYC Branch.

<>Toros is listed as having been in the US in Lawrence Mass between 1909 and 1915.<>

Notes and Questions:

  • Harput (Kharpert) is on the Euphrates River in southern Anatolia. It was once a thriving Armenian community but after the deportation of 1915 there is no Armenian population.

    Harput is/was a town on top of a low mountain (1,148 ft above sea lever). Below it lies a rich and fertile plain. Robert H. Hewsen in Armenia, A Historical Atlas says,

    " This part of Armenia was particularly fertile and, with its numerous trees, was much more verdant than most of the high plateau. The climate was generally healthy although there were intermittent fevers in the area around Keban Maden and Malatya during the summer months. There was much snow in the winter but little after February. By Armenian standards, the climate must be counted as mild"
  • Did Catherine and Toros live in Harput at any time after their marriage?
  • Given the Armenian ethnic situation in that part of Turkey and the fact that Kivot was born in Constantinople was the Parnegian's last address in Turkey really Harput?
  • What was the situation of the Armenian population of Harput during the genocide?
  • Why didn't Toros and Catherine Parnegian list their relatives in Turkey as the Azarians or Arevians of Constantinople?
  • Why was Toros in Lawrence between 1909 and 1915? Did he return to Turkey too late to help his family? Why did he not just send for them to come to the States?
  • Pauline said that Toros had a family who died in the genocide. How does that fit in with his being in the US for plus or minus 6 years?
  • There are no listings in the censuses for Messrop Parnagian (Parmakian)
  • Obviously the address of the relatives in the US was Lawrence, Massachusetts and not Lawrence, Rhode Island


Since Toros, Gadar (Catherine) and George were all born in Turkey there is the potential for three naturalization records. I did not find any on as of August 2017.

Toros Parnagian Residence Year: 1931 Street address: 237 Chest- Residence Place: Lawrence, Massachusetts, USA Spouse: Kada Parnagian

1920 Census

They arrived in the US in March.

Toros and Catherine in the 1930 census

I did not find a listing for Toros and Catherine Parnagian in the 1930 census.

I tired a number of tricks but could not pull them out.

Most likley living in Lawrence, Mass..

Parnegian Lawrence Massachusetts Directory

Toros Parnagian Residence Year: 1920, 1921, 1922, 1923 Street Address: 224 Elm Residence Place: Lawrence, Massachusetts Occupation: Opr Spouse: Gadar Parnagian Publication Title: Lawrence, Massachusetts, City Directory, 1920

Toros Parnagian Residence Year: 1930, 1931, 1932, 1933, 1934, 1935 Street Address: 237 Chestnut Residence Place: Lawrence, Massachusetts Spouse: Kada Parnagian Publication Title: Lawrence, Massachusetts, City Directory, 1934

1939 Toros Parnagian Residence Year: 1939, Street Address: 110 Auburn, Residence Place: Lawrence, Massachusetts, Occupation: Opr, Spouse: Catherine Parnagian, Publication Title: Lawrence, Massachusetts, City Directory, 1939

1948 Parnegian:
Geo (Capital Sales Co.) r. 110 Auburn
Sahag opr r 489 Common
Toros (Cath) emp Arl r 110 Aubourn

1940 census

Under Pornagiaw on ancestry and Pornagiaro on

110 Auburn, Lawrence, "Pornagiaro", Toros, M 58 Armenia, laborer, cotton mill, Katherine Pornagiaro Wife F 44 Turkey, George Pornagiaro Son M 20 Massachusetts, jack spooler cotton mill

George Parnegian and Angela Krikorian

George Parnagian's first wife was Angela Krikorian. They had a daughter, Christine Parnagian Esposito. See below for photos of Angela Krikorian Parnagian and Christine Parnagian Esposito.

Notes on Angela Krikorian:

  1. Born New Britain, Hartford Co., Connecticut 23 January 1922.

  2. 1930 Census: New Britain Hartford Connecticut Wenthop Street, Garibert Krikorian, own $13,000, age 50 married at 40, born Turkey, immigrated 1909, NA, proprietor barber shop, Agavni, wife age 44, immigrated 19(0 or 1)9, AL, Angeli, daughter, age 8, born Connecticut, Edward, son age 7, born Connecticut, Ghevondian, Veronica, step daughter, age 23, immigrated 1920, AL, Armenia (?), bent (?) worker, hardware factory

    No further listings for Edward.

  3. Immigration of Agavni and her children: SS Kenry R Mallory arriving New York May 14, 1920 from Napoli: Aghavoni Ghevontian, age 38, female, house wife, unable to read, 5 ft 4 in Ernestine age 16 female housewife, unable to read, 5 ft 3 inches, Veronica age 14, Housewife unable to read, 5 feet no incles, Hrepsimeh age 10 female, no height, unable to read, no height, all had brown hair and brown eyes. All coming from Constantinople, Turkey. Relative in Turkey Aghavoni's aunt Jackzian. All going to Worcester Mass All going to Aghavoni's uncle John Ghevontian 70 Winter Street Worcester Mass.

George Parnegian WWII

George Parnagian born 1919, in Turkey, living in Hartford Connecticut, enlisted 31 August 1943 in Boston, Massachusetts, private enlistment for duration of war, 4 years of high school, married.

Death of Toros Parnegian

December 1955 per George Parnagian.

Toros Parnaglan Death Date: 1955 Death Place: Methuen, Massachusetts, USA Volume Number: 69 Page Number: 211 Index Volume Number: 116 Reference Number: F63.M363 v.116

It was actually spelled Parnagian but listed as "Parnaglan" by

Death of Catherine Azarian Parnegian

According to George Parnagian, Catherine died December 1, 1982 in Lawrence, Massachusetts.

Gadar Parnagian SSN 033-09-0534, 01841 Lawrence, Essex, Massachusetts, born 29 Oct 1896 died Dec 1892. (SSDI)

Information Supplied by George Parnagian

George provided me with the following information several years ago

Mother, Catherine (Gadarini) born October, 1896, died December 31, 1982 in Lawrence, Massachusetts

Father, Toros Parnagian, born in Haput, Turkey in 1882, died on December 8, 1955 in Lawrence, Massachusetts.

Catherine and Toros were married in Constantinople in February 1919.

Their son, George, was born on December 26, 1919 in Constantinople.

George's wife, Pauline (Polly) Boghus was born on November 23, 1927 in Lawrence, Massachusetts.

Polly and George met in Nashua, New Hampshire. Polly says,

"I was working in a drug store and George was selling merchandize to them. (Ours is a long story.)".

Children of George and Polly:

  1. Diane, born February 15, 1950, Nashua, New Hampshire.

    Diane married Mark Juknavorian who was born on June 28, 1948 in Lowell, Ma. They met at church.

    Diane and Mark have :

    1. Dara born in 1980 in Methuen, Massachusetts
    2. Mark born December 7, 1985 in Methuen, Massachusetts.
  2. Katherine (Kay), born May 15, 1951, Nashua, New Hampshire.

    Katherine married Robert Hussen who was born on November 6, 1948 in Lowell, Ma. They met in church.

    Kay and Bob have four children:

    1. Christine, born September 13, 1974
    2. Michelle born June 10, 1977
    3. Michael born July 22, 1979
    4. Gregory born October 16, 1991
  3. Paula, born November 7, 1953, Methuen, Massachusetts

  4. Charlotte, born April 9, 1957, Methuen, Massachusetts
  5. Christopher, born September 5, 1961, Methuen, Massachusetts.
  6. As of 1999 Paula, Charlotte and Christopher were single.

In February 2002 Tom and I saw George and Polly in Florida. At that time they provided me with the following information.

Death of George Parnagian

George T. Parnagian, Birth: 26 Dec 1919, Death: 26 Dec 2003 - Methuen, Essex, Massachusetts, United States of America Civil: Massachusetts

Also listed in Massachusetts Death Index, wife, Pauline Boghus, other info the same.

Toros Parnagian and the Bread and Roses Strike in Lawrence, Massachusetts in 1912

In December 2009 Paula Parnagian emailed a connection to a newspaper article about Toros and the Bread and Roses Strike in Lawrence Massachusetts in 1912.

Attacked the City Marshal Several arrest were made during the forenoon, Taras Parnagian an Armenian was taken to the police station where he was booked for an assault on City Marshall James T. O'Sullivan. It is alleged that Parnagian was intimidating women operators when the city marshal disguised in civilian's clothes came along and interfered. Believing Marshal O'Sullivan a worker, Parnagian, it is alleged assaulted the head of the city's police force and was promptly dragged off to the police station.

Auburn NY Semi Weekly Journal, January 30, 1912

The story was carried in the El Paso Herald, El Paso Texas with the headline RIOTING RESUMED MY MILL STRIKERS. Serious rioting in Lawrence was reported as mill workers sought to prevent other workers from entering several textile mills. The "rioters" held up at least 20 electric cars headed towards the mills. Bottles and lumps of ice wer thrown at the windows of the cars. "The mob was composed mostly of foreigners and many were women."

There is a lot on the internet about the Bread and Roses Strike.

Photos of the Parnagians

Catherine and either Mary or Alice
Photo courtesy Eileen Claveloux

Catherine Azarian and Toros Parnagian, circa 1919.
Photo courtesy Eileen Claveloux

Toros Parnagian, Catherine Azarian Parnagian, and George Parnagian 1925
Photo courtesy Eileen Claveloux

George Parnagian and daughters.

left to right: Diane, George, Paula, and Kay.

Estimated date late 1950s.

Photo courtesy Eileen Claveloux

Angela Krikorian Parnagian (in the print dress) and Emilla Marzullo Esposito (in the blue dress) at Emilla's 90th birthday party, August 2002.

Photo courtesy Christine Parnagian Esposito

Tony Esposito and Christine Parnagian Esposito at Emilla's 90th birthday party, August 2002.

Photo courtesy Christine Parnagian Esposito

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
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 2004 - Latest update, July 2012