Union of Marash Armenians, Watertown to Celebrate 100 Years

As early as 1906 in New York City and 1910 in Boston, young men from Marash gathered together to form “education societies” to fund and support educational and cultural development in their home town of Marash within the Ottoman Empire.

An early 20th-century photo of Marash from the papers of Peter Bilezikian (1912-2010).

Formalizing their relationships in 1925, the first convention of the Union of Marash Armenians was held to establish bylaws and rules for its chapters including chapters in Boston, Springfield, Mass., New York, and Patterson, N.J.

Continuing in the tradition of supporting educational and cultural development in Marash communities all over the world, the Union of Marash Armenians, Watertown Chapter, is celebrating its centennial year with a cocktail reception on Saturday evening, Oct. 23, at 7 p.m., at the ACEC Hovnanian Hall, 47 Nichols Ave. in Watertown, Mass.

Featuring guest speaker, Massachusetts State Representative Peter Koutoujian (grandson of a survivor from Marash), the event will be in the tradition of the Union of Marash Armenian gatherings with opera singer Victoria Avedisian and violinist Hayg Hovsepian, accompanied by Ani Hovsepian on the piano. Again in the tradition of the yergir, Berj Chekijian, son of a survivor, will give a recitation in Armenian. An exhibition of photos by Marie Bazarian will feature Marash needlework, and the Armenian Library and Museum of America (ALMA) will mount an exhibit of the life of successful Boston businessman Moses Gulusian, a native of Marash. Well-known videographer Roger Hagopian (son of a survivor) will present his new video entitled “Marash and Famous Marashtsi Armenians.”

The master of ceremonies will be Lalig Musserian with president Nevart Kouyoumjian giving the opening remarks.


  1. I’m from Marash in which lots of Ottoman Armenians and Turks lived together with harmony, respect each other especially about relgious and cultural things. This is one of the reason that Ottoman Armenians were not assimilated, they were free to believe anything they wanted and to live their traditions..

  2. Are you serious Ugur? Then what happened to the Marash Armenians? Do you that they wake up all one morning and decided to leave their fatherland to follow their dolce vita dreams in the deserts of Der Zor? It’s not kind from you to underestimate people’s intelligence by those old cliches, which are null and void since a very very long time ago.

  3. Ugur,

    the number of forcibly assimilated and murdered Armenians is higher than the number of those who survived. We survived thanks to our resilience and a bit of luck. We survived DESPITE all the unfairness and horror.   

  4. Harout and Gina,
    You comment as if you lived during the complicated times in Marash or as if you had relatives from Marash. Nobody should speak unauthorized and without any knowledge with just nationalist feelings. Here is a strange truth: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ottoman Empire between 1912-1913 was an Armenian called Gabriel Narodunciyan. I ask you, what happened so rapidly that the Empire decided to commit a genocide?

  5. Ugur,
    It’s not wise to make assumptions before you know whom you are talking to. Actually, my mother’s family are derived from Marash. I am not saying this to secure myself a scapegoat, but only to feed your curiosity. It’d be so infantile to limit  the right to comment here with one’s family’s hometown or patrimony. “Authorization”, as it comes in your words, doesn’t exist in a healthy discussion.
    Second, I am not a professional historian, but that doesn’t mean that I speak “without any knowledge” as you said. The information that you gave about that Armenian minister might be true or false. However, that is definitely not the criteria or the standard to analyze the policy of the Young Turks, at all.
    Finally, I wouldn’t even address you for labeling me with nationalism. That’s the cheapest way to feel safer while entering to a dialogue. Obviously, you are not ready yet to enter to a conversation.

  6. Ugur
    the whole armenian population of the mutessariflik of Marash was deported in 1915. The deportations started on march 8, 1915 according to the book “Le genocide des armeniens” written by the French-Armenian historian Raymond Kevorkian

  7. Ugur, I wish your pretty picture was true.  You don’t have the whole story.  You must read non-Turkish sources.  Where did all the Marash Armenians go?

  8. Boyajian,
    Isn’t it quite contradictory that you comment on such a way that I should read non-Turkish sources, after a comment of Ragnar Naess giving me reference from an Armenian source? I think this is an international truth, that if you want to see the truth you have to go over foreign resources not just Armenian or Turkish. The information i’ve given to you is correct, you can confirm it by any contract signed during those times. Let’s assume Turks were facist during those times, what about you? Were you perfectly innocent?

  9. Ugur – Why don’t you read a book called “Lions of Marash” written by Stanley E. Kerr. This book is obviously written by a non Armenian!   You can find it on Amazon for $49.99.  It will be the best dollar you ever spend on a book.  It will tell you exactly what happened in Marash especially during the 1918 to 1921 period!  It is the best education you can get about your/our city!
    By the way, my father’s family is from Marash and I was in Marash in May 2008 and in June 2010.   My grandfather was at Beth Shalom orphanage.  Do you know where that is?  The building is still there.  By the way, what happened to all the Armenian churches? Not even one chruchi is left!  Does that tell you something about Turkish culture and their tolerance towards others?  I liked Mato’s Kahramanmarash dondurma!!

  10. My Grandfather, Sagh Haroutoung Bazarian (please excuse the spelling) was from Marash. Is there anyway to connect with the Armenians still in Marash?

    • My greatperants from mother side are from Marash
      Mostlikly there aren’t much left after Ataturk fought with French in 1920 in Marash.
      Within a few months after the Genocide approximately 150,000 Armenians had been repatriated, including 20,000 natives from Marash.
      It says 12,000 Armenians civilians died under French watch. And the rest is history.
      Of course they have disroyed our churches and schools.

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