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Rendel J. Harris and Helen B. Harris

LETTERS FROM ARMENIA


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LETTER No. XXXIV.

ON THE EVE OF SETTING OUT FROM HARPOOT FOR ARABKIR AND EGHIN — THE LATE PANIC : MASSACRE AVERTED — THAT AT EGHIN CARRIED OUT BY THE CITIZENS : ALLEGED REVOLUTIONARY CAUSE FALSE — AT ARABKIR, THE PEOPLE STARVING — THE REPAIRED SCHOOLHOUSE AT HARPOOT WELL FILLED — COLLEGE DOING EXCELLENT WORK.

HARPOOT, October 4, 1896.

DEAR FRIENDS, — I do not like to leave you so long without a circular letter, as it is likely to be some time before I write again if I miss this post, and so will send a short letter to-night, hoping that if I am permitted to address you again from Sivas, it will be with much of interest (necessarily painful, alas!) to tell concerning Arabkir and Eghin, to which we expect to go at once.

You all know what a time of panic we passed through here a short time since. This panic extended all over this vilayet, and indeed, as we hear from letters from the missionaries in other parts, in many other places as well. No doubt another general massacre was contemplated at Harpoot, but something mercifully intervened to prevent its execution; and so in this vilayet the Damocles sword only fell on one large town, though, alas! in one or two smaller places also.

Eghin was spared last year because a large bribe was

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paid to avert a massacre, but this time no such mercy was shown, and the ruin of the Christian population has been very complete, the first and most leading men of the community, and especially of the Protestants, being carefully sought out and killed.

This massacre was not carried out (we are informed) by the Kurds alone, as in so many places, but by the citizens of the town and the military. The excuse was, of course, that revolutionary spirits were inciting the people to insurrection, which, it is needless to say to you, had not one spark of truth in it from beginning to end; for the only uncertain or difficult character among the Armenians had left the town some time previously, and all remaining were perfectly quiet, law-abiding, or rather, enduring, citizens.

We are so very thankful that we have permission to go there at once and carry relief. We have been praying about it ever since we heard of the trouble, for now that the college is in working order and going on smoothly, and Mr. Gates has pretty much recovered from the fever he lately suffered from, he feels that he should visit the stricken town without delay, and so we all feel who are going. He has some funds, and I also have some, having heard of the safe arrival of £300 more from the Friends’ Fund, and of more as on the road, and having a balance from the first £1000 which I had reserved for Van, and shall now use for Eghin and Arabkir, my way having been closed as to going to Van for the present.

We go on horseback to Arabkir first. Here Mr. Gates will make distribution of money for rebuilding the houses, giving each family £5 — rather a small sum towards shelter

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for the winter, but enough to put up something to be added to as the people are able. There is much hunger there now, as the relief was stopped some time since, and the weaving industry, on which they depend, has not yet begun again, and although £2000 worth of material for work has now (quite lately) been promised from England, it has not yet come, and the people have fallen between these two stools, and have been and are in a suffering condition. I propose, therefore, to spend several hundred liras there in providing food for the present immediate and future necessity to carry them on until they shall be able to earn something for themselves. The accounts we hear are very terrible, and no doubt will soon be verified by our own eyes and ears.

We propose starting to-morrow if our guards arrive in time. If not, on Tuesday, and our party will consist, beside Miss Bush and myself, Mr. Gates, and Mr. Browne, a missionary just returned to the “ Station ” from America, who has had twenty years’ experience of the country, and is an earnest, warm-hearted, go-ahead American, full of zeal, and not without a considerable fund of cheerfulness, and sometimes of humour as well, so we are rather a satisfactory party.

But it is time to close this hasty letter, especially as I am tired to-night, having addressed three farewell meetings, and gone through as well many personal partings with dear people to whom I have become quite attached during my long stay here, and who, I believe, love me also; and to-morrow it will not be easy to bid a long farewell to this beloved mission station, much as I have been

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longing for the time to arrive when I could enter once again into more active work. — So with affectionate farewells to you also, I remain yours as ever,

HELEN B. H.

P.S. — The Protestant schoolhouse in the other part of the city, which we gave £40 to repair before E. left, I saw to-day in capital order, and 120 children are in daily attendance! I also yesterday visited every department of this college, and the girls’ schools adjoining, containing in all over 600 students, and was much impressed with the very good work being done, and the excellent order maintained. God grant that nothing may ever overturn this grand work; but rather that, obtaining the indemnity demanded, new buildings may arise from the ruins of the old, and the missionaries’ plans for extending the work be fulfilled.

 


Table of contents
The cover and pages 1-4 | Preface | Table of contents (as in the book)
Turkish Armenia with Route of J.R. & H.B. Harris (a map)
Letter I | Letter II | Letter III | Letter IV | Letter V | Letter VI | Letter VII | Letter VIII
Letter IX | Letter X | Letter XI | Letter XII | Letter XIII | Letter XIV | Letter XV
Letter XVI | Letter XVII | Letter XVIII | Letter XIX | Letter XX | Letter XXI | Letter XXII
Letter XXIII | Letter XXIV | Letter XXV | Letter XXVI | Letter XXVII | Letter XXVIII
Memorandum: Notes of Information from J. R. H. | Letter XXIX | Letter XXX
Letter XXXI | Letter XXXII | Letter XXXIII | Letter XXXIV | Letter XXXV
Letter XXXVI | Letter XXXVII

Acknowledgements:

Source: J. Rendel Harris & B. Helen Harris. Letters from the Scenes of the Recent Massacres in Armenia. London, James Nisbet & Co., Limited, 1897
Provided by: Aram Arkun, Krikor and Clara Zohrab Information Center
Scanned by: Karen Vrtanesyan
OCR: Irina Minasyan

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