Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Grandpa Moses: "He didn't know the gun was loaded." Or, from Ahir Dağı to Newtonville, Massachusetts

Grandpa Moses was a young man riding in the mountains of Marash (Ahir Dağı).  His friends rode with him. As the story goes, Grandpa Moses (then single) was sitting around a campfire in the mountains with his best friend and his best friend's wife (who they were, we do not know; some say his best friend was a Kurd.)  Grandpa Moses was inspecting a recently purchased gun (whether it was his or his friend's is unclear) when the gun went off by accident and instantly killed his best friend.  He went into hiding in the mountains, protected by his Kurdish friends.  The authorities knew that they would never be able to find him as long as his friends were hiding him in the mountains.  In his place, the authorities placed father, the minister,  in prison for the crime; his father would stay in prison until his son Moses gave himself up.  That was the only way that Moses would ever be caught.  Yes, in a Turkish prison in the late 1800's, early 1900's.  You can imagine.

So Grandpa Moses, son of the first Protestant minister in Marash, gave himself up to the Turkish authorities, was placed in prison (and who knows what else), and the case actually went up for trial.  (Death was the penalty for the crime.)  At the trial, his best friend's wife testified that the murder was an accident, that her husband and "Mose" were best of friends, and in no way would Moses ever wish harm to his best friend.  Grandpa Moses was released from prison and exonerated for the crime.

However, his father, Rev. Sarkis Bilezikjian, reminded his son that "The Turks never forget. . . Leave the country,  and leave the country fast." 

 And leave the country Moses did . . . heading for the good old U S of A. and Newtonville, Massachusetts.

That was the way Marash Girl heard the story.  She knows no more.  


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