The Biography of Herant Athanasian


Jacob Ekmekjian is pictured in the back row, first person on the left. Hrant is pictured in the front row sitting, second individual to the left. This picture is undated.

Herant was born in Izmit, Turkey and was about 23-24 years old when he first arrived in America. He seemed to enjoy his time at Messiah. There is a photo (will post when my laptop recovers) of Herant embracing Meshach, they are both laughing into the camera’s lens. It was indeed a Kodak moment, if the company existed at the time. In an alumni booklet published in 1922, it was written that Herant moved to Pasadena, California and worked at a local hotel. The only evidence I could locate attesting to this statement was the 1920 Federal Census taken in Fresno, California.


Here, Herant lived with two other Armenians and worked as a farm laborer. By 1920, he was 30 years of age. Again, this information was reaffirmed through another federal document—Herant’s WWI draft card. His age varied from document to document and Herant himself was even uncertain of his birth date. As you can see in this document and the next, he writes uncertain in those spaces.


What you will note from these two documents is the misspelling of Hrant’s name. It is written Herant as it was spelt in the 1920 census. He was 29 years old and employed as a farm laborer. Also, this is important to note, like Meshach and Jacob, Herant claimed an exemption from war because of his religious beliefs. It seemed as if another draft form was filled out in 1918. The last document I will leave you with is Herant’s Declaration of Intention (naturalization) in 1923.


Herant is buried at Ararat Cemetery, an Armenian burial ground in Fresno County, California. He died August 26, 1944. With this find, I was given his birth date, October 27, 1888. It seems like someone knew his birthday all along.

Until the next post,


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