A Brief Parish History of the Armenian Church in Hartford, CT

(Reprinted from Consecration of the  Armenian Apostolic Church in Hartford, 1953)

The first Armenian to settle in Hartford was Samuel Donchian. He arrived in 1884 to establish the Samuel Donchian Rug Company. Samuel Donchian left this city in 1889 to go to Constantinople. He returned in 1891 with his wife, Armenuhi Arousiag Daud Donchian. In the same year a son, Arthur was born. This is the first known birth of a child of Armenian parentage in Hartford.

The next settlers in Hartford were Ghazar Kallajian and Garabed Kallajian in 1886. They were followed by Hovhannes Maghigian in 1887 and Mgrditch Kallajian in 1893. Then came Kapriel Sadoian, Bedros Nahigian, Kevork Partoian, Krikor Kuzurian, all of whom immigrated from Hoosenik in the province of Harpoot by way of Worcester, Massachusetts.

Still later others coming from Worcester, in 1894, were Mardiros Bagdigian, Krikor Ghazar Chavooshian, Kevork Surmelian, Aharon Avedisian and Sarkis Giligian. This group formed a firewood business. Khayajan Surmelian, Minas Jamagochian, Dzeron Bagdigian were later added to the company. After approximately eight years of this enterprise, the group sold out to an American firm, under the name of the Edwin L. Taylor Lumber Company.

The first Armenian married in Hartford was Hovaness Maghigian to a non-Armenian. This union produced two girls who later married Armenians.

In 1894 Kevork Jamagochian returned to Hoosenik where he married Anagil Derohanian. He returned to Hartford leaving his wife to follow later. Among the first women to join their
husbands were Mrs. Margarite Sadoian (with children) in 1896, Mrs. Margarite Ghazar Chavooshian (with children) in 1897, and Mrs. Anagil Jamagochian.

By 1987 the Armenian community was large enough to warrant organization. A Board of Trustees was formed in that year. Among its members were Charles Kallajian and Stephen Kalagian. Other groups were the Educational Society of Hoosenik and the Armenian National Library.

The first political group, formed in 1889, was the “Veragazmial Hunchagan Guzagtsootyoon” followed by other such organizations. In 1910 and Armenian General Benevolent Union chapter was organized.

November of 1913 saw the formation of the first Ladies Auxiliary of the Armenian Church in Hartford. The executive body consisted of Mrs. Anna Kallajian, chairman; Mrs. Anna Giligian, secretary; and Mrs. Juhar Giligian, treasurer.

General Anthranik Ozanian, the Amenian National hero, visited Hartford in 1917 during his tour of this country.

In 1926 the first Armenian Church Building Committee was formed. Karl Gregor was elected chairman. Andrew Ajemian was secretary. J. G. Menasian was treasurer. An advisory board was also created consisting of the following: Dr. Garo Bulbul, Paul Boornazian, Armenag Derderian, and Mushek Partoian.  This committee was commissioned to raise funds to build a church. If not able to build a church they were then directed to buy a cemetary for Armenians. If this proved unfeasible then the money collected was to be sent to the Diocese of the Armenian Church in North America. With two hundred dollars from the Ladies Auxiliary and one hundred dollars from the Armenian Red Cross, this group began to raise funds.

With the onset of the depression of the thirties the work of this committee was brought to a virtual standstill. The City Bank and Trust Company of this city failed. Our money had been deposited there.

As this institution began to reorganize partial payments were repaid to its depositors, including the Building Committee. On January 6, 1944, a new Building Committee was organized under the chairmanship of John Giligian. This group consisted of George B. Norsigian, secretary; Khayajan Surmelian, treasurer; Richard Bedrossian and Aram Hakimian. On February 3, 1944 Mr. J. G. Menasian turned approximately four hundred dollars to this committee. With this initial amount the group commenced their appointed task by getting pledges from individuals.

As this work progressed the chairmanship of the group changed and the body enlarged. Among the chairmen were Girard O. Kevorkian, Edward Bagdigian, and Lazarus D. Kazarian. Members in 1953 included Girard Kevorkian, secretary; George B. Norsigian, assistant secretary; Stephen Simonian, treasurer; Dr. Garo Bulbul, Antranik Ajemian, Aram Hakimian, Richard Bedrossian, and David J. Kazarian.

With the dedication of the basement portion of the church building in 1953, the first step of the goal was completed. The upper portion of the church was built in 1962 and the basement portion was converted from the sanctuary to the church hall. The Parish House, located next door on White St. was purchased in 1980 and renovated. Today it is used for Sunday School, Armenian school and other activities.

Beginning in the 1989 and into the 1990s, many Armenian families from Baku, Azerbaijan and other areas immigrated to the Hartford area after being forced to leave during Genocide events. Today, we are fortunate to have integrated these families into our St. George community.