Agn, ca 1889. From left: Margarite Jamgochian; Avedis’s mother, with Eliza in her lap; Akabi Jamgochian.

Jamgochian collection - USA

The photographic collection of the Jamgochian family is a treasure trove, and contains photographs from the 19th century all the way up to the first two decades of the 20th century. The members of this merchant family, in their capacity as traders, had always traveled from city to city and country to country, in many of which they established temporary residence. Consequently, the collection includes photographs from cities like Agn/Eğin, Mezire (Mamuretül-Aziz), London, Manchester, Liverpool, Los Angeles, etc.

The collection was provided to us by three descendants of the family, Earl Jamgochian, Nevdon Jamgochian and Sarah N. Ignatius.

The Jamgochians were natives of Agn/Eğin (modern-day Kemaliye). By the second half of the 19th century, they were already prominent cotton merchants with connections to Great Britain. One of the celebrated members of the family was Avedis, born in 1861, in Agn. In 1881 he had graduated from the Euphrates College in Kharpert/Harput, and his brother Melkon was also a graduate of the same American institution. Avedis eventually took over the family business in Agn, and in 1892 traveled to Manchester, where he also found success in the field of trade. In 1911 he settled in Glendale, a suburb of Los Angeles, which at the time was called Tropico. The Jamgochians were one of the first Armenian families to settle in Glendale.

Agn, Harput, Mezire

After graduating from the Euphrates College in Harput, Avedis returned to his native city of Agn. By that time, his father, Matteos (1830-1878) had already become a prominent merchant, and had established relations with British trading houses. Matteos was married to Hadem (1832-1927), and his business partner was his brother Nigoghos. Unfortunately, Matteos died very young, and Avedis took over the business immediately upon his graduation. In 1886, he married Akabi Janigian (also from Agn), who was 16 years old at the time. They had six children – Eliza (born in 1889, in Agn), Matteos/Matthew (born in 1891, in Agn), Nevdon (born in 1985, in Manchester), Vahan (born in 1898, in Manchester), Sybil (born in 1899, in Manchester), and Nicholas (born in 1912, in California).

Aside from his business enterprises, Avedis was also a man of intellectual pursuits. He had a large library in his home in Agn, and translated works from English to Armenian. However, he lived in the Ottoman Empire under the brutal reign of Sultan Abdul Hamid II. One day, policemen searched the Jamgochians’ home, and found some poems written by Avedis in which the word ‘liberty’ featured. This was considered to be a serious offense at the time, and Avedis was arrested and jailed. Fortunately, his uncle Nigoghos was able to bribe the authorities and secure Avedis’s release. But the police kept coming back to the home to search it. Under the circumstances, the family thought it wise to send Avedis to Great Britain, where the family already had many acquaintances.

Avedis had already left Agn when the 1895 massacres of Ottoman Armenians began. The pogroms affected Agn, too, and many members of the Jamgochian family were killed, including Nigoghos Jamgochian (Avedis’s uncle) and his children; Melkon Jamgochian (Avedis’s brother); as well as Avedis’s father-in-law. The Jamgochians’ business in Agn was severely affected by these events.

This family most probably hailed from Agn, and the photograph was taken either in Agn or a nearby city. The family is unidentified, but the photograph is in the Jamgochian collection. Therefore, it is presumed that the family in the photograph was either related or friendly with the Jamgochians.

1) Avedis Jamgochian, circa 1890.

2) Margarite Jamgochian (Avedis’s sister), circa 1890.

3) Melkon Jamgochian (Avedis’s brother), circa 1890.

As the backsides of the above photographs indicate, they were captured by Zorapapel Krikor Donatossian. He was considered to be one of the best photographers of Baghdad in the first few decades of the 20th century. Unfortunately, we know little about his life prior to his arrival in Baghdad.

We know that Zorapapel was born in Arapgir, in 1870. In 1896 he immigrated into Iraq. In 1904, in Izmit, he married Takouhi Takvorian (born in 1884), a native of Izmit. In the same year, the newly-wed couple settled in Baghdad. Zorapapel was a member of a team of experts who were dispatched by Sultan Abdul-Hamid II to various corners of the Ottoman Empire to photograph landscapes and architectural structures.

In Baghdad, his photographic studio was located on Khalil Pasha Avenue, which was later renamed Rashid Avenue. Zorapapel died in 1926, in Baghdad, and was interned in the British Protestant cemetery, adjacent to the local Armenian Protestant Cemetery. The above photographs were probably captured by him during his years in his native Arapgir.

Source: "Les Photographes Arméniens d’Ayntab et de la Cilicie, Bref Aperçu", by Mihran Minassian, in Les Arméniens de Cilicie: Terroir, Mémoire, et Identité, by Raymond Kévorkian, Lévon Nordiguian, Mihran Minassian, Michel Paboudjian, Vahé Tachjian (editors), Presses de l’Université Saint-Joseph, Beirut, 2012, pages 135-167.

Euphrates College, Harput. Pedagogical School graduates and teachers. Standing, left to right: Arshaluis Asdigian, Yevbrakse Ablahadian, Pailadzou Antreasian, Nerme Kalousdian, Aghavni Tashjian, Azniv Antreasian, Srma Doudou Kevorkian, Lousntak Bozoian. Seated, left to right: Miss Barnum, Soultan Takhmazian, Anna Benneyan, Aghavni Boghosian, Mary L Daniels. Photographed by the Soursourian brothers.

Graduating class of the Euphrates College of Harput. Date unknown. The red spots on the photograph were added later. The two seated men are teachers. The teacher sitting on the left is Rev. Mardiros Shmavonian, on the right is M.A. Melcon (1839-1910).

1) Unidentified individual.

2) The backside of photograph #1, with the trademark of Zorapapel Krikor Donatossian in three languages – Turkish, French, and Armenian.

3) Avedis Jamgochian, circa 1880.

4) The backside of photograph #3, which provides the name of the photographer as Soursouriants. He had photographic studios both in Mamuretül-Aziz (Mezire) and in neighboring Harput. His name appears in three languages – French, Armenian, and Russian. The presence of Russian is explained by the fact that Soursouriants had learned his craft in the Caucasus.

5) Agn, circa 1889. From left to right – Margarite Jamgochian (Avedis Jamgochian’s sister); Avedis’s mother, with Eliza Jamgochian (the daughter of Avedis and Akabi) in her lap; Akabi Jamgochian (Avedis’s wife).

6) The backside of photograph #5, featuring the trademark of Zorapapel Donatossian.

Seated, left to right – Melkon Jamgochian (Avedis Jamgochian’s brother), and Mariam Jamgochian (Melkon’s wife). The children, from left to right – Matteos and Eliza, Avedis and Akabi’s children. The photograph was taken around 1892. Melkon was killed in Agn during the 1895 Hamidian massacres.

1) From left to right – Akabi Jamgochian (nee Janigian, Avedis Jamgochian’s wife, 1861-1940), and Avedis’s mother (name unknown; seated) with Araksi Jamgochian (the daughter of Melkon, Avedis’s brother) in her lap. The photograph was taken around 1894.

2) From left to right – Avedis’s mother; Akabi Jamgochian (nee Janigian); Margarite Jamgochian (Avedis’s sister, later Kasabian, 1872-1911); Melkon Jamgochian (Avedis Jamgochian’s brother, killed during the 1895 Hamidian massacres).

Mezire (Mamuretül-Aziz), 1910. Official opening of American missionary Annie Tracy Riggs’s hospital in the city. In attendance are Armenian, Turkish, and American dignitaries. The Jamgochian family was one of the main donors to the fund that paid for the hospital’s construction.

1) Hagop and Hripsime Benneyan. The photograph was captured by the Soursourian and Tyutyunjian photographic studio in Harput, and it was a gift to Yeghsa Constantian.

2) The backside of photograph #3, with the trademark of the Soursourian and Tyutyunjian Studio, Harput. 

3) Unidentified Armenian women. The backside of the photograph indicates that the photograph was a gift to Yeghsa Constantian, who was one of the women’s niece.

The Jamgochian Ward inside the hospital of American missionary Annie Tracy Riggs, in Mezire (Mamuretül-Aziz). The hospital was built with the financial aid of the Jamgochian family.

Graduating class of the Euphrates College of Harput, 1885. Standing, left to right: Melkon Jamgochian, M. Shamalian, K. Papazian, M. Kalaijian, K. Der Kasbarian, (name unknown), M. Choukasezian. Seated, left to right: Rev. Mardiros Shmavonian, T. Soghalian, H. Yardmian, G. Mikayelian, A. Hajinian, M. Santigian, M. Gagosian, M. Melcon.


The Jamgochian collection contains many photographs from Constantinople (Istanbul). Many of the individuals in the photographs are unidentified, but presumably they are all relatives and friends of the family. We know that Akabi Jamgochian’s (nee Janigian, Avedis’s wife) sisters and mother lived in Constantinople. In 1909, when it became clear that the Jamgochians would leave Manchester and resettle in the United States, Akabi and her children visited Constantinople, to see her relatives one more time.

Many of the photographs from the Constantinople collection bear no relevance to Avedis Jamgochian and his generation, and were added to the collection later by children of Avedis, who in their turn married Armenians in the United States, and acquired historic photographs of these other Armenians’ families.

The Constantian family, photographed in Constantinople. On the right, the bearded man is Reverend Avedis/John Constantian, who was the grandfather of Eugenie Donchian (born in 1894), who would later marry Matteos/Matthew Jamgochian (the first-born son of Avedis and Akabi Jamgochian). Photographed by Phébus.

1) The Shmavonian family, Constantinople. Photographed by Sébah & Joaillier.

2) Baydzar Janigian, the sister of Akabi Jamgochian-Janigian.

3) Unidentified individuals. Photographed by Nikolaki Andriomeno. The photographer’s address is Sultan Bayazid, 99 Kioktchiller-Bachi, Constantinople.

The backside of a photograph produced by the Abdullah Brothers (Constantinople and Cairo), bearing the studio’s name and address.

1) Constantinople, 1901. The identity of the man is unknown, but the backside of the photograph gives the initial of his given name as A. His family name is also written, but illegibly. However, it clearly begins with a C and ends with the customary Armenian –ian. Photographed by the Phébus.

2) Unidentified woman. Based on the inscription on the backside of the photograph, we know that it was a gift to Avedis Efendi Jamgochian. Photographed by G. Amirian, at the address Okdjoular-Bachi, No. 29, Constantinople.

3) Unidentified child. Photographed by Sébah & Joaillier, Constantinople.

The backsides of the three photographs featured above, bearing the trademarks of the photographers.

From left to right – Reverend Avedis/John Constantian; Reverend Madatia Karakashian. Avedis/John was the grandfather of Eugenie Donchian (born in 1894), who would later marry Matteos/Matthew Jamgochian (the first-born son of Avedis and Akabi Jamgochian). Photographed by the Abdullah Brothers, Constantinople.

United Kingdom

Avedis Jamgochian settled in Manchester in 1892. His wife Akabi (nee Janigian), daughter Eliza, and son Matteos joined him in the ensuing years. Avedis’s brother’s family, uncle’s family, and Akabi’s parents and most of her relatives remained in Agn, and, as we have seen, many of them fell victim to the Hamidian Massacres of 1895.

At the time, Manchester was the epicenter of the world’s cotton commerce. Avedis founded a cotton trading company, which quickly became very successful. The family prospered. They spent their summers in the City of Llandudno, in Wales.

By 1909, Avedis had decided to migrate to the United States, partly to escape the dismal climate of Manchester.

Avedis Jamgochian, photographed in Llandudno, Wales (United Kingdom).

1) Deovletian (given name unknown), a friend of the Jamgochian family, photographed in Manchester.

2) The same man, Deovletian, photographed in his youth, in London.

1) The children of Avedis and Akabi Jamgochian. From left to right – Matteos/Matthew (born in Agn, 1891-1981); Nevdon (born in Manchester, 1895-1981); and Eliza (born in Agn, 1889-1955). Photographed in Manchester.

2) Nevdon Jamgochian (1895-1981).

3) Vahan Jamgohian, the fourth child of Avedis and Akabi. He was born in Manchester, in 1898, and died in 1978.

From left to right – Vahan Jamgochian (1898-1978) and Nevdon Jamgochian (1895-1981). Photographed in Manchester.

1) Sybil Jamgochian, photographed in Llandudno, Wales.

2) Akabi Jamgochian (nee Janigian, 1872-1955), photographed in Manchester.

3) Avedis Jamgochian.

Akabi Jamgochian, with her daughter Sybil, photographed in in Llandudno, Wales.


In 1909, Avedis arrived in the United States, alone, to investigate the local conditions. Eventually, the family chose the Los Angeles area as their new home. After making all necessary preparations, in 1911 the family finally left the United Kingdom, and settled in Los Angeles.

A notable photograph. The American flag in the background and the attire of the photographed individuals indicate that they had just arrived in the United States. Unfortunately, the identity of these individuals is unknown.

1) Nishan Kassabian. Born in Agn, in 1866. He was the husband of Margarite Jamgochian (Avedis and Melkon’s sister). Nishan and Margarite married in 1891, in Agn. Later, Nishan traveled to the United States to complete his university education. In 1896 he received his medical degree from Northwestern University. In 1897, Margarite joined her husband in America, and the couple settled in the State of Wisconsin. Margarite died in 1911, while Nishan died in 1960.

2) Baydzar Janigian, the sister of Akabi Jamgochian (nee Janigian).

1) Avedis and Akabi Jamgochian, with their family, in Los Angeles, circa 1910. Back row, from left to right – Matteos/Matthew, Akabi, and Eliza (who would later marry Hovsep Ignatius). Front row, from left to right – Nevdon, Sybil, and Vahan.

2) A postcard sent to the Jamgochian family from Fresno, California, dated September 1912.

1) The family of Melkon Jamgochian, Avedis’s brother, photographed in New York. Melkon was killed during the Hamidian massacres in 1895, and this photograph was captured after his death, when his family had already moved to the United States. From left to right – Melkon/Malcolm (1896-1984; born after his father’s death, and probably named Melkon in his father’s memory); Mariam Jamgochian (Melkon’s widow); and Araksi Jamgochian (1893-1977).

2) Unidentified man, photographed in Boston by Sahakian.

3) From left to right – Margarite Kassabian (nee Jamgochian, Avedis’s sister, 1872-1911) holding her child; and Nishan Kassabian (Margarite’s husband, 1866-1960).

Probably Nishan Kassabian in his youth. Photographed in New York.


It is now known where this photographed was captured. On the backside of the photograph, an inscription reads “Hovhanness Efendi Pashkian,” who is probably the man in the fez. The woman beside him is probably his wife.

1) Three unidentified women.

2) Nicosia (Cyprus), December 16 1919. The woman is Margarite Elmajian (nee Constantian). The seated man is probably her husband, S. Elmajian.

3) Nicosia (Cyprus), December 16 1919. S. Elmajian.

The backsides of photographs #2 and #3 above. Both photographed were sent to the Jamgochians from Nicosia (Cyprus).

1) Unidentified child, although he bears a strong resemblance to Melkon, the son of Melkon and Mariam Jamgochian (born in 1896, after his father’s death).

2) Mr. and Mrs. Kamberian.

3) Matteos/Matthew Jamgochian, the eldest of Avedis Jamgochian’s children.

An unidentified family.