Hejira: One Family’s Journey
My great grandfather Stepan Kurkjian left Mesre, in Armenia, in 1890 to come to America. He started in New York, where his brother Mesrob had already settled, then made his way to Grand Rapids. He was a cabinet maker, as were many Kurkjians. He had intended to return to Armenia, but when the massacres began, he sent for his family. His wife Anna and four children finally made it to America–and Grand Rapids–in 1897. Many Kurkjians, wood workers all, later joined him in Grand Rapids. His grandson Alfred Baloyan was the first Armenian baby born in Grand Rapids.