He was born on March 1, 1878, in Aygestan of Van. He received his primary education in the St. Tarkmanchats school. In his early youth, Tarpinian entered the ranks of the Armenagan party, which had been founded by M. Portukalian in Van, in 1889. In March of 1894, one of the Armenagan leaders, Karekin Manugian, was being persecuted by the local Turkish government. He was living in hiding, but he was betrayed and police had come to arrest him. But Karekin was able with the help of his revolver to break his binding chains and escape. Betrayed also was the hiding place, where, incidentally, there was a letter written by Tarpinian which was to be sent to Persia.
Tarpinian, who was barely 15 years of age, received a summons for arrest, but he did not give himself up. He remained in hiding for three months when he found the opportunity to flee to Persia. From there he went to Echmiadzin and entered the Kevorkian seminary. The persecution by the Tsarist government against the Armenian Revolutionary Federation began in 1896-7, when this writer was in Tiflis. Among the Armenagans who were imprisoned in Tiflis and Baku were, among others, Karekin Manugian, Panos Terlemezian, Mikael Natanian, G. Zarehian. Also ordered for arrest was Ardag Kaprielian, at Echmiadzin. He was taken to Yerevan and held in prison for a month and a half, when he was released as a result of assurances. He returned to Echmiadzin to continue his studies, which he completed in 1898. On command of the Armenagan party in Tabriz Tarpinian went to Salmasd to teach at Payachug for a time. He then went to Van.
In 1904, he was arrested for “old” and “new” misdeeds, but through influential persons and the intercession of Tahir Pasha, he succeeded in receiving a royal decree of pardon.
On the decision of the Armenagan party in 1905, Tarpinian became superintendent of the Varak school, which was looked upon as the Khrimian monastery. Along with his duties Tarpinian did not forget once a week to go to Aygestan, seven kilometers from Varak, to help with party tasks, especially, with Sebuh (Yervant Keosaian of Arapgir), to produce gelatin-pad copies of the paper “Van-Dosp” and other fliers for public distribution. In 1907 the seminary established by Khrimian reached its 50th year. The next year, through arrangements made by the Jubilee Committee, Ardag Kaprielian went to the Caucasus to talk about it to Catholicos Izmirlian who issued a gontag [encyclical] urging the people to participate in the Varak Jubilee with their gifts. Tarpinian, after visiting Tiflis, Baku, Rostov, and other cities returned enthusiastically to Van bringing with him farming and other machinery. The Jubilee was celebrated with great fanfare in 1910, and the orphanage was converted into a technical school. It is appropriate to mention how helpful the Van Educational Society of America was for the school, also in providing a reserve fund for the school. That society in 1939 became the present Vasburagan Society.
In 1913 Ardag Tarpinian went to Constantinople as a delegate of the Van region S. R. [Ramgavar] party to take part in the Second General Representative Assembly of the party. World War I burst into flame in 1914. Two months earlier Tarpinian, though tired and sick, offered his room as a meeting place for the April uprising of Van, working day and night to plan for resistance against the expected troubles. Even the leader, Aram, of the opposition party was invited to take part in that planning meeting. For a month the Armenian people remained free of the danger of being wiped out by defending itself, thanks to the leadership of Yegarian and other braves and patriots like him.
Finally, under the cover of the Russian troops Armenian volunteer units entered Van and the Turks evacuated. Unfortunately, this freedom did not last long. The Russian commander and his troops quit Van, and the people were obliged to abandon Van and flee to the Caucasus. Tarpinian having gone to Tiflis, and with a number of members of the Van regional committee of the Armenagan party, reestablished the weekly paper “Van-Dosp.” The great Russian revolution began in 1917. The Russian troops left the Caucasus front, and the Turks, taking advantage of the opportunity, returned and occupied nearly one third of Armenia in the Caucasus, leaving only Yerevan to the Armenians who, with their authority, declared an “Independent Armenia.” Fortunately, with a victory of the allies, the defeated Turkish government was obliged to withdraw to the old boundaries.
Because of problems with the Ramgavar Party’s paper, it was transferred to Yerevan where it was published as the “Haireniki Tzayn” [Voice of the Fatherland], again with Tarpinian as editor, until 1920, when the Third General Representative Assembly was held in Constantinople, and Tarpinian, as a delegate, arrived there in October. The Turks, once again fired up, attacked and occupied Kars and Alexandropol. The Armenian people were fortunate that the Bosheviks were advancing on the Caucasus, and they were demanding that the Turks cease their savage actions. Tarpinian was elected by the representative assembly to be a member of the central committee, and a year later, the Ramgavar Liberal Party and the Armenian Revolutionary Federation designated him to be plenipotentiary to go to Yerevan and confer with the head of state A. Miasnigian and deliver a number of propositions, which he had put forth in his book. After two months on this mission, Tarpinian returned to Constantinople. In 1923 Kemal gained control of the Turkish position, and the Armenian political parties left Constantinople. After visiting Bulgaria and Rumania, Tarpinian went to Paris. In 1926 it was decided in a new meeting to keep the center in Paris, and Tarpinian, as a member of the center, as general secretary, and as the responsible editor of the “Abaka” paper, held office until 1934 when he, fatigued and weakened, became ill and was confined to bed.
The Second World War had begun, and his only son had fallen prisoner to the Germans. Tarpinian’s illness worsened, and when Paris was occupied, Tarpinian withdrew for a few months to a quiet spot, until 1943 when he had the good fortune to see his son’s return. His book “Memoirs” was published in 1947. It contained details of persons and events.
The Armenian people owe him a debt of gratitude and should celebrate his jubilee. As Mr. Levon Tiutiunjian made a point of that a year or two ago in the “Baikar” paper, so too did our intellectual comrade Mr. Arshag Safrastian. In a most conscientious manner, Tarpinian has carried out works and duties of high nationalistic value. He worked peacefully, without making a fuss. In modesty he hesitates to write about himself, and it seems it is for that reason that Mr. Levon Tiutiunjian’s call remained unanswered.
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And so he “went and died” on February 17, 1950. There remains for him to “come and be loved ...” Yes, and as we were writing this biography of him, to be submitted to the press, a telegram from the “Baikar” bore the sad news of his death. The message was signed by his dear son Aghasi, whose marriage had brought the deceased and his wife, Mrs. Annman, great happiness. We were honored to be present at that marriage ceremony. But that happiness had turned to grief two weeks later, with the receipt of the death notice bordered in black. That is life! Nature causes us to be happy, and to be saddened. The “Baikar” paper hurried to point out in an editorial the valuable good done by the lamented one. In the same way, Mr. Sahag Chechian, of Fresno, as a close acquaintance and friend, in two articles provided details of his life’s works (see “Baikar,” March 16-17, 1950). We recommend that the reader see these articles.
During the days that we were submitting the biography of the lamented one to the press, we received the following letter from the unfortunate widow, Mrs. Annman.
“I have no words to comfort you, for the wound is deep and the lost one is irretrievable. There is some comfort in that you heard his last words through me, and that I found mine through him at his desk. Do not speak about memories. His library is silent. Books and papers are stacked high. There are started letters and unfinished articles. His pencil, fountain pen, and paper lie on his desk. Newly arrived letters are waiting to be opened. I have placed on his desk the two photos he liked -- one, of my life’s companion, and the other, one I have liked, from his school days, my dear friend Achan (she refers to my late wife). Dear brother, my tears are choking me, and my pen is running dry. Heavenly comfort for the two of us.... I remain with you in grief, your widowed sister.
PROF. SETH ARSENIAN
He was born in Van, Aygestan, in 1902. He received his primary education in the parish school of Norashen and in the independent Yeremian school. Having taken refuge in the Caucasus during the 1915 massacres, he continued his education at the Kevorkian seminary, until its closure, and then at the diocesan school in Yerevan, from which he graduated.
Until 1920 he served in the Caucasus in the “Kaghakneri Miutyun” [Union of Cities], and later he served with the Armenian Brethren Benefit in the regions of Alashgerd, Echmiadzin, and Oshagan. He served also with the Near East Relief in Yerevan and elsewhere.
In Yerevan he was a correspondent with the “Zhoghovrti Tzayn” and the “Hayasdani Tzayn” papers. With Kurken Mahari he edited the weekly “Veradznunt” [Renaissance]. At the same time he was writing for a number of Armenian papers in Constantinople and America.
In 1921, together with the lamented Armenag Yegarian, he went to Constantinople and was admitted to the American Robert College, as a close friend of Professor Abraham Der Hagopian. He was graduated from the College in 1930. He served in Constantinople with the “Hay Gin” and “Aztarar” papers.
He came to America in 1930 and was admitted to Columbia University, from which he received the degree of Master of Arts in 1932, and the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in 1937.
As a student advisor, he served in the teachers college of the university in 1938. In New York he was president of the Armenian Scientific Society, and worked with the “Hayasdani Gochnag” weekly. He was invited in 1938 by Springfield College as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Theology. In 1940 and 1942 he was named a full Professor, an honor for the Armenian people.
From 1943-45 he served in the government in Washington, in the Federal Communications Commission, until the end of the war. After that he was called back to Springfield College to continue teaching as Director of the Department of Theology. He served also as director of veterans’ affairs advisory. Prof. Arsenian is a member of the American Theological Society, the American Academy of Sciences, and the American Educational Research Society, as well as of a number of important societies and institutions.
Prof. Arsenian has numerous interesting and beneficial published articles in British and American scientific journals on theological and educational topics. His name appears in a volume of American scholars, educators, and international figures.
We take special pleasure in reporting on our compatriot’s rapid rise and advancement in the above-named fields, and on his being named in the class of intellectuals. We wish him ever more success in bringing honor to Vasburagan, and to all Armenians generally. Prof. Seth is one of the memorable figures arising during Vasburagan’s Golden Age of Erudition.
With his being one of Van’s outstanding authors, and because he was the father of a teacher superintendent, we thought to keep the members of a family together. He was born in the St. Hagop parish. His father was Hagop, a philologist in his day, and well suited as a parish official, although conservative and a critic of the new breed of liberals.
The son Khachig, in contrast, and being against his father’s convictions, opposed the old ranks. He was even inclined toward the newly emerging Protestantism, although he had not failed to have his marriage and the baptism of his children performed in the mother church, He received his education from Amirjanian, and continued on his own to develop his mind. He even opened a book store and benefited by having books at hand. Though his craft was in silk, his book store had become a gathering place for intellectuals. He wrote articles for the “Byzantium” paper of Constantinople. The regarded masterpiece of those articles was the one telling of the chapel used by Krikor Naregatsi [Gregory of Narek] that was a cave carved high up on the vertical rock face of a mountain, looking toward the sea. There, on the hard floor of that tiny cave, were marks that showed where Krikor Naregatsi, kneeling in endless prayer, found fulfillment of his desire to see on the Arder island (as tradition has it) the image of the infant Christ on Mary’s lap. After describing that spiritual scene in his poem, Levonian thought it to be natural for a “spiritual” hermit, on having that vision, to hear the words “ar Der” [to the Lord], so says Yeramian.
Levonian studied natural history through the missionaries, and he wrote articles explaining that the level of Lake Van would continue to rise until the waters reached the base of Varak mountain, covering Aygestan and the nearby fields.
He lectured in the missionary school for girls, and he was liked by all for his easygoing manner and his wise advice. He had many articles, humorous dramas, collections of traditions, fairy tales, curses and blessings, riddles, axioms and sayings. Levonian compiled a dictionary of folk speech. He wrote a history of the Catholicate of Aghtamar, information on historical facts and shrines, as well as a history of the past four hundred years drawn from manuscripts and inscriptions. For this work he received the Hovsep Izmirlian prize. Levonian, a tireless writer, also wrote novels, such as “Seyran yev ir kuyr Jeyran” (a beauty from Arjesh is raped by freebooters of Hasan khan of Yerevan, and handed over to the Shah, of the 18th century). Levonian traveled broadly throughout the cantons of Vasburagan and Duruperan making extensive studies. He prepared a work on botany, an inexhaustible source of information. Unfortunately, being the father of four sons, and being obliged to provide a living for his family, he was unable to devote himself entirely to putting the work of his mind and his hands to good use in publishing them. The output would have consisted of many volumes.
Mr. Haig Ajemian tells that after the July retreat out of Van, Levonian had returned to his ruined home and was able to retrieve only crumbs of his work. After the 1915 deportations, and after suffering untold tribulation, Levonian was barely able to reach Yerevan, but tired and famished his life ended. May his memory be venerated.
During a school vacation Khachig Levonian and this writer together made visits to villages in Hayots Tzor, Aghtamar, and elsewhere. I have kept some of his writings, especially some satire, from which, perhaps, we will report on some if the opportunity arises. Levonian has tried to establish, in the “Byzantium” paper of Constantinople, that the familiar Gulbenkian family are descendants of the princely house of Vart Badrig of Van.
PROF. LEVON KH. LEVONIAN
He was born in Van on February 27, 1888. His early education was received locally. He came to America around 1908. For a time he worked in Detroit, and also continued his education.
Prof. Levonian spent his entire time in the study of the microbiology of plants. For fifteen years he conducted experiments ceaselessly on various plants, on their species, and on the distinctions of the good and bad effects of various microbes. He conducted detailed research on their manufacture, nature of growth, and development. He tried to develop new methods for maintaining the health of plants. He was working on extracting vitamins from the earth, which was a very important service to the science.
Through an article in Science magazine he established that vitamins could be extracted from earth, with the B Vitamin as deep down as eight feet.
Prof. Levonian’s death was a great loss for the world of science. His students had been charmed by his pleasant face and manner, and especially his teaching technique. They even established the Levon Fund of Students, in his memory. On the occasion of his death the New York Herald Tribune carried a column-long story praising his works, written by columnist Morgentown. Prof. Levonian was married in 1922 to Nell Lenham, a graduate of the University of West Virginia. They had three children, Philip, Armen, and John. The first two became university graduates, and entered professional fields. Armen followed in his father’s field, and we wish him success.
Mrs. Levonian is now a teacher in the University’s English Department. Levonian had two brothers, but we do not know of their whereabouts.
And so it is! We see both father and son in the same fields, being productive and beneficial to mankind and science. The bereaved father, Khachig Levonian, a philologist, wandered on foot over the extensive lands of Vasburagn, and gathered knowledge of our traditional and ancestral ways. While his son, Levon, served the refined people of America with his knowledge of plant science. In doing so he brought honor to the Armenian name. In articles written about him it was always mentioned that he was Armenian, that he was born in the city of Van, Armenia, and that he, through his own efforts, attained his knowledge and position in his field of knowledge.
Concerning his very considerable amount of published material about his work, we wish here to include at least this writing about him that appeared in the April 1946 issue of Bio-Pathology [in the original English], which his wife wanted to have the children enjoy reading.
LEON HATCHIG LEONIAN
C. R. ORTON
Dr. Leon Hatchig Leonian was born at Van, Armenia, February 17, 1888, and received his secondary education there. He emigrated to the United States at the age of 20, where he worked for a few years in New York and in Detroit.
He was graduated from the University of Kentucky with the B.S. degree in 1916 and from the University of Michigan with the degree of M.S. in 1917. Following a year as Assistant Research Horticulturist at Clemson College and a period as Assistant Professor of Botany and Plant Pathology in the New Mexico State College and Experiment Station, he returned to the University of Michigan. There he studied Mycology under Kaufman and received the Ph. D. degree in 1922. That year he was appointed Assistant Plant Pathologist in the College of Agriculture and Experiment Station at West Virginia University. Here he became Professor of Mycology, and Mycologist at the Experiment Station in 1936, the position he held to the time of his death, June 7, 1945.
Professor Leonian’s early work was devoted to the study and control of plant disease, particularly those caused by the downy mildews and by the Fusaria. His training and his experiences with the behavior of fungi led him into more detailed studies of the physiology of fungi, studies which became his major research program during his last fifteen years. His work on the influence of growth and sexuality factors in fungi and on growth factors for bacteria was productive of a long series of publications in ranking scientific journals.
Dr. Leonian was highly individualistic, always interested in living organisms, their habits of development and reproduction, their growth and metabolisms. He was never interested in dead specimens. He abhored the herbarium. To him taxonomy by the accustomed method of studying herbarium specimens was a great waste of time. His ultimate aim was to discover as many potentialities as possible of those living organisms in which he was particularly interested. His later association with Dr. V. G. Lilly enabled him to delve deeper into the field of mineral and vitamin metabolism of several groups of lower organisms -- work which was productive of several new contributions to science.
As an avocation he became interested in the breeding of delphiniums, day lillies, and oriental poppies, achieving outstanding results from hybridization. Seeds from his “Lyondel Gardens” justly received international acclaim. With his ability as a speaker and as a flower breeder, he was much in demand as a speaker at garden club conventions in a several-state area. For many years he edited the Delphinium Year Book and in 1935 published “How to Grow Delphiniums” in book form.
As a teacher his knowledge, his ready wit, and his sympathetic understanding of their problems made him a favorite with his students. In tribute to his interest in the welfare of students, his friends and associates have established a Student Loan Fund in his memory.
A large host of friends and associates will remember for their life-time his frank ways and genial smile.
PROF. ARMENAG SHAGHOIAN
He was the son of the Kharagants village of lower Hayots Tzor of Van. Having received his elementary education locally, and then from the American school, he studied for two years in Religious History at the Aintab College. But being under political suspicion he was arrested and taken to Van. He was freed and went to London, attending the Harley Theological Seminary. He prepared for preaching, but at the same time he studied in his preferred fields, mathematics, English literature, and other subjects. Having received the degree of Bachelor of Arts, he returned to Constantinople and taught for a time at Robert College. Coming to America, he entered the University of California at Berkeley as a teacher and student where he received the degrees of Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy. He was immediately invited to a teaching position.
He continued as Professor of Mathematics at Arizona State University until his death in 1941. He occupied a brilliant place in the American education field, especially as a competent mathematician.
He attained that position through his persistent and untiring efforts. A number of his valuable mathematical papers are in the Princeton University library. In his later days he undertook a study on Greek and Armenian mathematics (incomplete). Physically robust, strongly willed for success, and with enduring energy and faith as a Christian, he lifted himself from his humble situation as a village lad without help to become a professor. He was very pleasant by nature, and he won the favor of all those about him. He died in the St. Luke Hospital of San Francisco, from a stomach ailment. He leaves his wife and two children, as well as close relatives. He left many works, unpublished, and incomplete.
PROF. ARAM TOROSIAN
He was born in Van on Dec. 14, 1884, and died on Dec. 6. 1941, in Berkeley, California. He received his early education at the missionary school in Van. At the age of 11, he came to America with his parents, at first in Norwich and then in Chelsea, and then later to California with the whole family. He studied literature and the English language at Harvard University where he received the degree of Bachelor of Arts. After spending some time in engineering in the University of California he received a position in engineering. Unfortunately he died suddenly in an accident in 1941, at the age of 56. A large crowd of Armenians were present at the funeral services, as well as six well-known professors. This writer was well acquainted with him. I marveled at his astuteness, and his rapid progress. His father, skilled David, was a wonderfully warm-hearted man, a friendly and witty person from whose presence we never wanted to part because he was so entertaining. Elsewhere, we shall write about his brother Boghos, a physician.
This fine family was nearly torn apart because of deaths. One sister, Miss Christina, now lives in California. She is a well-educated woman. Prof. Aram has written a number of textbooks. He has translated Armen Garo’s “Why Armenia Should Be Free,” from Armenian to English. He has translated a number of scientific and critical articles from Armenian to English. His articles have appeared in nearly all Armenian papers in America. He was the chairman of the executive committee of the Vasburagan Society of San Francisco. Many intellectuals have benefited from his capabilities. The hospitality of his family was praiseworthy.
He was born in Van, Aygestan, a writer and assistant editor of “Van-Dosp,” of Van., and then editor of the same paper in Tiflis. He was a correspondent for many papers, using pen-names of Srink, A. Hrachya, A. Vruyr, and Hraztan.
With the withdrawal of the Russian troops in 1918 a volunteer military unit was formed in the Caucasus, consisting mostly of refugees from Turkish Armenia. Editor Babigian, in spite of numerous suggestions that as an editor he should remain in that position, he first, in his paper, castigated the faint of heart, and then, putting aside his pen, he took up sword and gun he joined the Armenagan unit and marched on Orgov, where in clashing with a Turkish troops, he and Sahag Hiusian fell as victims, on April 10. Unfortunately, even by sacrificing his life, he was unable to become a force in the volunteer legion.
He was born in Van, a writer, educator, orator, and linguist. His works were numerous, and we here give a list of his works. Nor jashag tbrutian gam hamarod jardasanutiun, Nor entatsk krapar lezvi usman, Keraganutiun Kaghieren lezvi, Artzern krakidutiun, Hamarod keraganutiun hayeren lezvi, Barsgagan namagani, Dzaghig arti madenakrutian, Knnagan badmutiun Arshag II-i yev Bab vortvuyn, Amusnagan aroghchapanutiun, Kijagan akhderu hedevankner, and other books.
To learn more about the death of this learned man see “Arevelian Mamul,” 1891, p 413.
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We have the names of a number of other writers of this period, but we lack biographical details. However, we consider it important to list their names, and works.
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KRIKOR AGHTAMARTSI: He has written “Odes,” published by Sharatze of Tiflis, a biography in 1898, His subjects were Vasn Varti yev Sokhagi (Concern,ing the Rose and the Nightingale), ode to spring, ode to love, etc.
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N. ARA-YEZIAN: He was born in Van, and has written Tzayn Parparo Hayasdani, a plea of the people of Van to all the nations, published in Tiflis.
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MGO: We do not know his true name. He wrote Vana Dzov, Vana Dzovin Gghzinere, and Pagheshi kavare. He had a series of articles, for which see “Artzakank: of Tiflis, 1882, pp. 297-547.
He was born in Van in 1885, and received his primary education in the Araruts parish school. He went to Constantinople in 1881 and become a Hnchagian worker. During the Kum Kapu event in 1890, Jihangiulian and his colleagues went to the Patriarchate, and in the cathedral he read the document setting forth the reforms being demanded of the Sultan. He trampled on the Turkish flag and the picture of the Sultan, and demanded of the Patriarchate to present those demands to the Sultan. Jihangiulian and his companions were imprisoned and exiled to Akia , and sentenced to death. Jihangiulian was able to escape from Akia and flee to foreign lands. After the Constitution was promulgated, he returned to Constantinople and became elected as a representative.
He was exiled in 1915, along with other intellectuals, and was put to death with many others. He wrote Timangarner, Hishadagner Haygagan Jknazhamen, Azkayin Heghapokhagan Gyanke Antser yev Antsker. He wrote a variety of articles under the pen-name of “Gaydzag.”
MIHRAN B. ASKANAZIAN
He was born in Van, educated in Constantinople, and was teacher, writer, and Armenologist. His works were Krakidutiun, Voj, vols. A & B, Tzaynavor Voj, Panali.
There is an article on his works in the paper, “Yergrakund,” 1885, p 187. Also, he edited the journal “Dzaghig Mangants Bardez.”