‘Khatchkar’ Memorial for Civil War Sailor Gets Go Ahead with Major Donation

PHILADELPHIA, Pa.—With an anonymous donation of $10,000, the project for a khatchkar (Armenian cross-stone) memorial for the only Armenian to have served in the American Civil War will go ahead, said Sandra Selverian, president of the Philadelphia Armenian-American Veterans Association (PAAVA).

“However, we are making this final appeal for more donations to have a perpetual-care program for the grave site,” she said.

Khachadour Garabedian was born near Constantinople and emigrated to Lowell, Mass. in the 1850’s. He worked as a machinist, became an American citizen, and enlisted in the Union Navy during the Civil War, where he held officer rank. He served aboard two ships engaged in the blockade of Southern ports—along the Atlantic Coast and later in the Gulf of Mexico. Garabedian was discharged in Philadelphia in August 1865, and remained there, becoming the first Armenian in the city. He married into a prominent Philadelphia family, and died in 1881. He is buried in Fernwood Cemetery, in southwest Philadelphia. He and his wife had no children.

Garabedian was “discovered” by chance by Gary Kooltokian of Chelmsford, Mass., who uncovered Garabedian’s early years in America.

“The reason we needed a gravestone for Garabedian,” said Paul Sookiasian, who has carried out extensive research into Garabedian’s life, “is that the original stone disintegrated in the 1950’s and his grave is without a marker. We thought that a traditional khatchkar would be an ideal replacement.” Sookiasian brought the Garabedian story to PAAVA, which readily agreed to undertake a fundraising drive for the memorial.

The 10-year-old PAAVA is made up of veterans from the tri-state Philadelphia area, as well as former Philadelphians who want to retain their ties with the area. At its peak, it had more than 420 members, and enjoys the support of all five churches in the area, with members serving on the PAAVA Board.

The date for the unveiling ceremony has not yet been set.

To make a tax-exempt donation to the khatchkar memorial, send a check (payable to “PAAVA Civil War Project”) to Richard Weinsheimer, # 229, 300 Ernest Way, Philadelphia, PA 19111.

Guest Contributor

Guest Contributor

Guest contributions to the Armenian Weekly are informative articles or press releases written and submitted by members of the community.


  1. I will not send one cent of donation for the khatchkar memorial of khachadour Garabedian; I am sure if he were alive he would have urged every Armenian to donate for Artsakh and Armenia, where the smallest fund is urgenly needed; when for centuries Armenia was deliberately subjected to all sorts of human rights crimes and is still subjected to up to this day, even by our own unashamed U.S. government; when now Armenia is facing total extinction and is in urgent need of our moral, physical and financial help, it is insane to see so much waste going for no purpose at all.

    Every Armenian should realize that the investment in Artsakh of $ 10,000 can secure the basic income for 10 families; I therefore, urge all those who have already donated to withdraw their money and donate to Artsakh fund, and why not in memory of Khachadour Garabedian. Wake up all Armenians!!! the enemy is at our throat, and if we do not unite NOW and put all our available resources for this cause we would lose ARMENIA for ever.

  2. Harry, your full agreement with my thought is a big sigh of relief for me and a great hope for the Armenian nation; let us wait and see how many sensible Armenians there are out there; hopefully, the donors for the Khatchkar will one by one withdraw and donate to Artsakh projects and the key to this sway is in the hands of the President of PAAVA Sandra Selverian, hopefully she will come to her senses and act quickly.

  3. Being an Armenian American and a student of the history of the American Civil War, I found the article to be of keen interest.

    I must, however, point out an error. Khachadour Garabedian, may have been the only Armenian Civil War veteran buried in America, but he was most certainly not the only Armenian to have served in the American Civil War.

    There were at least two other Armenians who served in the Union Army during the Civil War.

    These were Doctors Baronik Matteosian and Garabed Vartanian.

    The 2002 Calendar published by Project Save and entitled “Armenians in the Military” contains a photograph of Dr. Garabed Vartanian in his Union Army uniform together with the following biographical information: “Dr. Garabed Vartanian of Constantinople graduated from Bellevue Hospital Medical School (now New York University College of Medicine) in 1863, and was soon an officer in the 18th Regular Infantry of the Army of Tennessee under Brigadier Geberal William Rosecrans. At the Battle of Chicamauga Creek (August 15 – September 12, 1863) Garabewd was taken prisoner. He survived, returned to Constantinople where he practiced medicine and died in 1905.”

    While we are on the subject of veterans and military matters, I believe that the Arstakh government needs to immediately send out a call for volunteers to form a diaspora military reserve force (an Armenian Foreign Legion of sorts)to train in Artsakh for two weeks a year and to serve as needed without pay. I would think that 10,000 volunteers would respond from California alone. This would definitely tip the balance of power in Artsakh and Armenia’s favor not to mention provide a huge boost to the local economy.

  4. Thank you for the very interesting historical details and a huge congralulation for initiating the idea of a volunteer corp, ready to intervene if necessary, for Artsakh. As you are saying Armenian Realist, it will tip the balance, and with more and more joining the corp, Artsakh enemies will not dare attack.

  5. Whether or not he was the ONLY Armenian-American to fight in the civil war, he was burried here in the USA. That in and of itself is worth more than the 10K that is required to properly mark this historical fact –  a remarkable one at that.  If there is a grave in Istanbul for Dr. Vartanian, I doubt it mentions his tenure in the US Civil War and if it does, believe that there is a Turk out there who will destroy it.  If we follow your logic Kamer, should we stop trying to pass an Armenian Genocide Resolution in the USA and send all those funds over to Armenia/Artsakh only to be used for mansions in Beverly Hills?
    In the volumes of Diasporan wealth, preserving and appropriately marking the grave of an/the Armenian-American Civil War soldier is a drop in the bucket and more importantly is vital to the history of USA, Armenian history and the universal quest for truth, justice and democracy no matter what background you are from.
    It is shameful, at best, that you not only object to this project but urge others to withdraw their funding and support. The PAAVA and all its members are supported by more than the few ignorant Kamer’s who obviously have no respect for history.  Armenians, not just Armenian-Americans, should support PAAVA and this project in particular and I believe overall that we do. As a descendant of Armenian-American Veterans, it is critical, to many Armenian initiatives, that Khatchadour’s grave be properly marked so that everyone who visits can bear witness to the sacrifice that Armenians have made to the establishment of the United States of America.

  6. Taniel Varoujan, unfortunately you are digressing, you are confused and you are contradicting yourself; you raise concerns about Dr. Vartanian’s grave’s possible destruction by a traditionally violent and bloodthirsty Turkish individual in Istambul, but you do not seem to be worried about an eventual invasion and destruction of Armenia and Artsakh by 70 million Turks and 25 million Azerbaijanees,this kind of thinking is the ultimate illogicalness. With that same lack of logic you assumed that, the person who initiated this discourse, is against helping the passage of the Armenian Genocide resolution, you are totally confused; as a non-Armenian but as a person who is well aware of the unparalleled horrible atrocities committed by the Turks against the Armenian nation, I truly believe every drop in the bucket crucially counts and should go for building the rapid prosperity and defense of Armenia/Artsakh and the efforts for the passage of the Armenian Genocde Resolution in U.S. Taniel, I think with your irresponsible attitude you are either an unconscious Armenian or a Turk in disguise trying to create confusion among Armenians and divert their attention on unimportant priorities in this critical time when Armenia is facing total extinction. By the way, I am told by an Armenian friend that Taniel Varoujan is the name of a great Armenian poet who was one of the first victims of the Armenian Genocide, if you are a Turk in disguise using that great Armenian poet’s name, it is not a surprise; but if you are Armenian, shame on you for desecrating the name of a great man by spreading such negative and destructive ideas against the Armenian nation.

  7. When was the last time an entity in any capacity has campaigned for building Tanks in Armenia or Artsakh? Armenians due to the being lost in the crowd of nations trying to prove to themselves that they exist by constructing different monuments for different reasons on the foreign soil. Now, we have two sovereign republics. What we need to do is to develop modern weapon systems to defend our children and our identity for that matter. We need to keep the beautiful smiles on the face of our people! Our enemies are not only Turks. Remember those who stood behind the signers of those unfortunate protocols!!!!

  8. If I may correct one of your writers, since I was the one who first wrote about the gentleman whose grave was being marked after all of these years, no one ever thought he was the ONLY Armenian in the Civil War. He was,however, as I recall, the only SAILOR who served, and an engineer; there were several physicians, etc., but they were not actual military men, which Mr. Garabedian most certainly was, and I was delighted to have been able to share his story. I am frequently on the look-out for other Armenian based stories involving the civil war, and appreciate any information. Best to all.

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