finding your roots

Hejira: One Family’s Journey

Betsy Goolian May 14, 2012

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.

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About the Series

The basic drive to discover who we are and where we come from is at the core of the new 10-part PBS series Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr., the 12th series from Professor Gates, the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor at Harvard University and director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research. Filmed on location across the United States, the series premieres nationally Sundays, March 25 – May 20 at 8 pm ET on PBS (check local listings).

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