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From Bitlis to Fresno: The Karabians of Fresno
Time: 56 minutes
A Film by J. Michael Hagopian  
 
The story of a family's journey from Turkish occupied Bitlis, to Fresno, California, and their life in Fresno, spanning 100 years.
 
Krikor Karabian left Bitlis in Turkish occupied Armenia and arrived in Fresno, California to celebrate Thanksgiving Day in November, 1896. His family's story is in many ways the story of the Armenians of Fresno: Battles against discrimination, difficulty of economic life, rivalry between various Armenian Christian sects, pride in their old country "home town," assimilation, intermarriage and finally, success. 
 
Krikor's intense pride of land transferred to a fierce loyalty to the farming community of Fresno. Great uncle Krikor always said, "If you have land you have everything." 
 
Krikor left his homeland in Ancient Armenia because of persecutions and massacres by the ruling Turks. An American missionary in Bitlis inspired Krikor to migrate to America. 
Soon afterwards, Krikor was instrumental in inviting the same missionary, Lysander Burbank, to be the founding pastor of the first Armenian Presbyterian Church of Fresno. 
 
At age thirty-six Krikor brought to the new world his wife and three children; four others were born in Fresno. His clan now numbers almost three hundred and most still live in or near Fresno. In addition to the Karabians, the Samonians, Basmajians, Badigians, Avakians and the Krikorians can trace their history to Krikor Karabian. 
 
This is the fascinating story of a people who lost their heritage for lack of interest. Some have relearned their old language and are experiencing a rebirth of the Armenian spirit. 
 
Krikor Karabian died in 1948. Throughout his life he was noted for his frugality and his intense religious beliefs. One quarter of his earnings went to his church, one quarter to bring relatives to the United States, and the remainder for living. 

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