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A Tale of Twin Towns: Everek and Fenesse.

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Abstract

This essay is of two neighboring and competing Armenian towns in the region of Kesaria, at the base of Mount Arkeos (Argaeus). The “twins” had been born separately, and they were characterized by physical, linguistic, and economic distinctions, too. Their story provides a glimpse into the everyday lives of these Ottoman Armenian citizens in the late nineteenth- and early twentieth century. Less than three decades after Dr. Amaduni, an transformational leader in Fenesse, would have his opportunity to initiate an educational revolution, this community would be no more. Its citizens, patrons, and supporters, like Hampartzum effendi, would undergo a decidedly different transformation, a harrowing one they could not have imagined.
Der-Sarkissian, Jack. “A Tale of Twin Towns: Everek and Fenesse.” Armenian Kesaria/Kayseri and
Cappadocia. Ed. Richard G. Hovannisian. Costa Mesa, California: Mazda Publishers, 2013.
http://www.mazdapublishers.com/book/armenian-kesaria-kayseri-and-cappadocia
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9 May 2013
A Tale of Twin Towns: Everek and Fenese
Jack Der-Sarkissian
A complete and fundamental transformation must have been on the mind of Hampartzum effendi
Amaduni (Hambartsum Amatuni) in 1888.1 A physician by training, and a teacher by vocation, he had
just signed a three-year contract for a high annual salary of 70 gold coins to move to a small provincial
town, Fenese, not only to educate its youth but to transform its educational system. After all, the
inhabitants of this town almost constantly felt an intense need to keep up with their more affluent
neighboring town, Everek. That neighboring town, it seems, had hired its own transformational leader,
Mr. Yervant Yergatian (Ervand Erkatian), five years earlier, and he had singularly modernized the local
educational system.
So begins this poignant tale of two neighboring and competing Armenian towns in the region of
Kesaria, at the base of Mount Arkeos (Argaeus). The “twins” had been born separately, and they were
characterized by physical, linguistic, and economic distinctions, too. Their story provides a glimpse into
the everyday lives of these Ottoman Armenian citizens in the late nineteenth- and early twentieth century.
Less than three decades after Dr. Amaduni would have his opportunity to initiate an educational
revolution, this community would be no more. Its citizens, patrons, and supporters, like Hampartzum
effendi, would undergo a decidedly different transformation, a harrowing one they could not have
imagined.
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1 I am pleased to acknowledge the research and editorial assistance of my wife, Dr. Marie A. Dakessian, in the
preparation of this essay.
Der-Sarkissian, Jack. “A Tale of Twin Towns: Everek and Fenesse.” Armenian Kesaria/Kayseri and
Cappadocia. Ed. Richard G. Hovannisian. Costa Mesa, California: Mazda Publishers, 2013.
http://www.mazdapublishers.com/book/armenian-kesaria-kayseri-and-cappadocia
2
Aleks Krikorian (Grigorian) was born in 1900 in one of these two towns, namely Fenese. He
recorded this long painful journey, spending the last twenty years of his life compiling a thousand page
book in Armenian, chronicling the history of the twin towns. His book, organized by Setrak Karageozian
(Garakeuzian), was published posthumously in 1959 as Hishatakaran Everek-Fenesei.2 Later, in 1998, it
appeared in an abridged English translation by Richard Norsigian as Evereg-Fenesse: Its Armenian
History and Traditions.3 This essay is based primarily on these accounts.
Everek and Fenese (more commonly spelled Evereg and Fenesse) were part of the Develu district
of Kesaria/Kayseri, and until 1915 they actually consisted of four adjoining villages. There was Everek,
home to approximately 1,000 Armenian families; Fenese, with a population of 700 Armenian families;
Ay-Kostan (also known as Hormuhnots), which encompassed 400 predominantly Greek families; and
Develi (also known as Turk Evereg), the Turkish village of 500 families.
Armenians began arriving in the Everek region in 1326, when it had already fallen under Ottoman
rule. They came mostly from areas close to Cappadocia such Adiaman, Vakha (Feke), and Sis. Fenese
was settled 200 years later, mostly by natives of Konia and later of Hajin. These separate migrations and
settlements would give each town a unique character reminiscent of its ancestral villages. The differences
were even evident in small dialect variations between the towns, with more Turkish vernacular spoken in
Fenese than in Everek. The towns also were physically separated from one another by the Turkish section,
so that one had to traverse the Turkish village to reach the other Armenian village. While relations with
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2Aleks Grigorian and Sedrak Garageozian, Hishtakaran Everek-Fenesei [Memorial Volume of Everek-Fenese] (Paris:
Everek-Fenesei Mesropian-Rubinian Hayrenaktsakan Varchutiun, 1963).
3 Richard Norsigian, Evereg-Fenesse: Its Armenian History and Traditions (Detroit: Evereg-Fenesse Mesrobian-Roupinian
Educational Society, 1990).
Der-Sarkissian, Jack. “A Tale of Twin Towns: Everek and Fenesse.” Armenian Kesaria/Kayseri and
Cappadocia. Ed. Richard G. Hovannisian. Costa Mesa, California: Mazda Publishers, 2013.
http://www.mazdapublishers.com/book/armenian-kesaria-kayseri-and-cappadocia
3
the local Turks were generally amicable, Krikorian records that one always would travel this distance
with some trepidation.
The Armenians of both towns built their homes of abundant local stone, plastering the interior
walls with white lime. The older houses typically were connected by common walls and had either
underground or roof-to-roof passages, allowing neighbors to alert each other of danger. The low, flat, and
connected roofs also served as play areas for children and as walkways for the neighborhood.
Surrounding practically every home were gardens and vineyards. The grape leaves were particularly
desirable and were the main ingredient for a native specialty known as kurtumburt, a savory stew made of
cracked wheat, onions, dried meat, and spices, as well as for stuffed grape leaves, sarma or dolma.
Commerce in the area was dominated by Armenians who were more affluent collectively than
their Turkish neighbors. Merchants abounded, but rug weaving and silk manufacturing were also popular.
Livestock trade, known as clepji, was a profitable venture in which the Everek Armenians engaged by
buying camels, cattle, goats, and sheep, sometimes from as far away as Erzerum, to resell to local
peasants. In addition to merchants, by the nineteenth century Everek and Fenese also had local practicing
physicians, dentists, pharmacists, attorneys, architects, and sculptors. It is notable that the expert
blacksmiths were said to be concentrated in Fenese, while the master goldsmiths were in Everek. It was
also common practice in both towns for men to go to Constantinople to seek greater financial
opportunities while leaving their families behind. This arrangement would create a lasting connection
between the Ottoman capital and the twin towns and would influence their physical, spiritual, and
educational development.
Spirituality and the Armenian Christian faith were important to the townsfolk of Everek and
Fenese. The vast majority of Armenians here were adherents of the Armenian Apostolic Church, although
Der-Sarkissian, Jack. “A Tale of Twin Towns: Everek and Fenesse.” Armenian Kesaria/Kayseri and
Cappadocia. Ed. Richard G. Hovannisian. Costa Mesa, California: Mazda Publishers, 2013.
http://www.mazdapublishers.com/book/armenian-kesaria-kayseri-and-cappadocia
4
there was also a Protestant Church. Initially, the Everek community worshipped in a small chapel, but it
was expanded and converted into a church in 1757, then renovated in 1906. It had an adjoining school,
which was replaced by a modern and spacious new school completed in 1913. The church in Fenese was
built in 1800 and was connected to a small, older chapel. The school building similarly was constructed
next to the church. Interestingly, both Apostolic churches in Everek and Fenese were named Surb Toros
(Saint Theodore), the patron saint for the twin towns. These churches were under the jurisdiction of the
Diocese of Kesaria, which appointed the priests, generally native sons, to serve the parishes. The diocese
itself reported to the Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople.
In 1869, there was a new Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople, Mkrtich Khrimian, also known
as Khrimian Hayrik (Little Father), who would become remembered for advocating social, political, and
economic reforms. The patriarch stressed the importance of educating the Armenian population in the
interior provinces, furnishing money boxes to raise funds, and sending teachers to provincial schools. As
early as 1861, the Armenian men in Constantinople who were from Everek and Fenese had already begun
working collectively in the interest of their twin towns. That year, they formed the Agricultural Society
(Erkragordzakan Enkerutiun) with the objective of advancing and improving farming methods back
home. The first society numbered 300 members. This society was seen as the forerunner of the
educational associations that were soon established. Efforts to build a formal school in Everek date to
1864 and would soon blossom into two schools by 1872, enrolling about 300 boys. It was the men from
Everek living in Constantinople who helped fund the schools, eventually forming the Everek Mesrobian
Educational Society (Evereki Mesrobian Usumnasirats Enkerutiun) in 1878. Not to be outdone, the
natives of Fenese living in Constantinople, desiring to support their own town, formed the Fenese
Roupinian Educational Society (Fenesei Rupinian Usumnasirats Enkerutiun) in 1879.
Der-Sarkissian, Jack. “A Tale of Twin Towns: Everek and Fenesse.” Armenian Kesaria/Kayseri and
Cappadocia. Ed. Richard G. Hovannisian. Costa Mesa, California: Mazda Publishers, 2013.
http://www.mazdapublishers.com/book/armenian-kesaria-kayseri-and-cappadocia
5
The prevailing mode of instruction in the region was known as the “Der Todikian” method, based
on “strictness and physical punishment.”4 Krikorian notes that “the more hard-hearted a teacher was, the
more respect he was thought to receive, regardless of how limited his ability may have been. Through
puritanical discipline, the pupil’s spirit of self-confidence was squelched.”5 The Everek natives in
Constantinople appealed to the patriarch for a new principal with a modern approach. In 1883, Father
Yervant Yergatian, suggested by the patriarch, agreed to be the principal in Everek for a three-year term
at an annual salary of 100 gold coins. His agreeable countenance and European attire must have made
quite an impression, as Everek widely celebrated the arrival of its new principal.
Yergatian did away with the old rules, school books, and the “Der Todikian” method. He
introduced an innovative educational philosophy with new textbooks, notebooks, examinations, and
awards ceremonies. He also added French to the basic curriculum. Moreover, he acquainted the
community with the laws of the Armenian National Constitution that had come into force in 1863 and
liberalized the administration of the Armenian Patriarch and Ottoman Armenian community. In an
attempt to free the church and school from the crippling influence of the conservative and affluent
community leaders known as aghas, Yergatian helped to organize the very first general parish council of
Everek. His methods fostered “a progressive movement of ethnic-national awareness.”6 However, this did
not sit well with the aghas, who feared reprisals by Turkish officials. Armenian history classes were
outlawed by the government, and Yergatian was seen as exceeding his mandate. Consequently, his
contract was not renewed.
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4 Ibid., p. 88.
5 Ibid.
6 Ibid., p. 90.
Der-Sarkissian, Jack. “A Tale of Twin Towns: Everek and Fenesse.” Armenian Kesaria/Kayseri and
Cappadocia. Ed. Richard G. Hovannisian. Costa Mesa, California: Mazda Publishers, 2013.
http://www.mazdapublishers.com/book/armenian-kesaria-kayseri-and-cappadocia
6
This conflict between the town’s aghas and the Everek natives in Constantinople produced a
steady stream of principals during the next decade, which saw varying degrees of regression compared
with the gains made under Yergatian. Reform-minded Garabed Kalayjian (Karapet Galayjian), known as
Armen, was appointed principal in 1898 for a three-year term. Having been traumatized by “Der
Todikian” teaching methods as a child, he had vowed to abolish such unbearable treatment. In 1899, he
became the principal of the girls’ school as well, which was in need of reorganization and lacked the
necessary books as well as instructional methods to make it effective. In addition to being a staunch
advocate of girls’ education, Kalayjian refused to favor the children of the wealthy over those of the poor.
All students were encouraged to realize their potential. Kalayjian also attempted to establish a
kindergarten. Although securing the funds for a building was a challenge, he did manage to find a site and
open its doors with about ten students. His sister Srpouhi assumed the role of instructor, in the absence of
a kindergarten teacher. By 1901, the schools of Everek had 440 students, of whom 150 were girls. Even
though all of the funding was still furnished by the Mesrobian Society in Constantinople, Kalayjian was
soon compelled to leave by the town’s aghas, who predictably frowned upon his progressive views.
The promising educational reforms made by the forward-looking principals in Everek inspired the
Fenese natives in Constantinople to seek out their own innovative leader. Dr. Hampartzum effendi
Amaduni signed the three-year contract in 1888 to fill that role. Possibly as the result of Yergatian’s
struggles with the local aghas, Amaduni was held directly accountable to the executive committee of the
Roupinian Society in Constantinople. Because of this arrangement and his solid reputation as a talented
and experienced physician, Amaduni succeeded in reforming existing educational programs by revising
the curriculum, instructional methods, and textbooks as well as by establishing better fiscal oversight. He
also instituted a tuition system for financially secure families, requiring that they pay an annual tuition for
Der-Sarkissian, Jack. “A Tale of Twin Towns: Everek and Fenesse.” Armenian Kesaria/Kayseri and
Cappadocia. Ed. Richard G. Hovannisian. Costa Mesa, California: Mazda Publishers, 2013.
http://www.mazdapublishers.com/book/armenian-kesaria-kayseri-and-cappadocia
7
male students. Furthermore, the need for a new building arose when Dr. Amaduni decided to separate the
elementary from the secondary school. This goal was realized through the generosity of a local
benefactor. Lofty and spacious facilities were constructed for both the boys’ and girls’ schools.
Hampartzum Amaduni would stay on for a fourth year, establishing a firm educational foundation
for the school and inculcating “a strong nationalistic fiber in the character of his pupils.”7 The Roupinian
Society in Constantinople sent textbooks directly to Fenese on science, geography, composition, and
Armenian history, though the latter would come to haunt Dr. Amaduni, as teaching of this subject was
prohibited. The seeds of nationalism had nonetheless begun to take root.
Political Developments
The failure of various Ottoman reform measures to extend equality to all citizens regardless of race or
religion and of the half-hearted attempts of the European powers to intercede on behalf of the Ottoman
Armenian population, together with continued unequal treatment, double taxation, and usurpation of the
lands of the Armenian peasants, stirred Armenian resentment to the surface. By the 1890s the Hnchakian
political party had become established in the twin towns. The flow of migrant workers through
Constantinople and Smyrna (Izmir), another major metropolitan area, brought back to Everek and Fenese
more than money. Workers returned home with banned publications as well as stories about the European
and Balkan revolutions and freedom fighters. In the well-connected community, with rooftop walkways,
ideas spread quickly and the discussion of national freedom predominated. The school halls themselves
served as gathering places for lectures, where the youth heard about the unfavorable decisions made at the
Berlin Conference of 1878 regarding the implementation of effective reforms to secure Armenian life and
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7 Ibid., p. 98.
Der-Sarkissian, Jack. “A Tale of Twin Towns: Everek and Fenesse.” Armenian Kesaria/Kayseri and
Cappadocia. Ed. Richard G. Hovannisian. Costa Mesa, California: Mazda Publishers, 2013.
http://www.mazdapublishers.com/book/armenian-kesaria-kayseri-and-cappadocia
8
property; the successful liberation movements of Greece and other Balkan countries; and the armed
resistance exhibited by the Armenians of Zeitun and Sasun.
It was in 1890 that a Hnchakian field worker—nom de guerre, Jirayr (Mardiros Boyajian)—being
pursued by Turkish officials, made his way to Everek and Fenese for safe haven. Jirayr was a teacher
from Hajin who sparked nationalism and political activism in the twin towns. People frequently listened
to his lectures in the evenings. As a result many, including women, joined the ranks of the Hnchakian
party. This would bring about the first calamity to hit the twin towns as the result of political activity.
The Hnchakian Central Executive Committee planned an episode of mass protests on September
25, 1892 (October 8 by the Gregorian calendar). On that day, party activists posted proclamations in a
number of places in the central and eastern Ottoman provinces, including the twin towns. It was made to
appear as though the proclamations were from a Muslim revolutionary group. One essentially stated that
the rule of the sultans would soon be ending and encouraged people to be brave, while another hinted at
an “Indian cure,” stating that it “has a great [effect] on people and makes them aware and receptive . . . .
The ignorant and ill willed have forbidden its entry into Turkey. But let everyone be patient. After a
while, men from India who are knowledgeable in using this remedy will come to the country of Islam and
lead the people in its use. They will then prosecute the ignorant and ill willed men.”8 In place of the
Caliphate of Sultan Abdul Hamid, British imperialism in India was being invited into the Ottoman
Empire.
The government, which eventually uncovered the Hnchakian plot, responded with mass arrests.
Approximately 200 suspects were arrested from the twin towns and surrounding areas. Dr. Amaduni was
also apprehended, together with several of his teenage students and sent to Angora (Ankara) to be tried.

8 Ibid., p. 113
Der-Sarkissian, Jack. “A Tale of Twin Towns: Everek and Fenesse.” Armenian Kesaria/Kayseri and
Cappadocia. Ed. Richard G. Hovannisian. Costa Mesa, California: Mazda Publishers, 2013.
http://www.mazdapublishers.com/book/armenian-kesaria-kayseri-and-cappadocia
9
He was imprisoned and tormented for months before he was finally released and granted amnesty, largely
through the efforts of his wife. Jirayr, who was also arrested, was eventually executed by hanging in
Yozghat in 1894.
The date 1892 became known as “The Year of the Yafta” (Proclamation), and it marked a
milestone in the political life of the twin towns. Thereafter, open political discussion was discouraged:
“From the pulpits of the churches and at gatherings, the people were cautioned to be prudent.”9 Relations
with the local Turkish population were now strained, and it became increasingly difficult to conduct daily
business transactions normally and equitably. Payments went uncollected out of fear of retaliation
because of a general breakdown of law enforcement. Heavy taxes were imposed arbitrarily on the
Armenian families of Everek and Fenese, while petitions addressed to the Patriarch of Constantinople
hopelessly described the dire situation.
The year 1892 also was a turning point in the life of Dr. Amaduni. Embittered and despondent
after his arrest, imprisonment, and torture, he resigned from his post in Fenese and returned to
Constantinople. Much like the trauma he experienced, which led to his withdrawal in disillusionment and
despair, the last vestiges of revolutionary zeal were likewise eliminated among the traumatized citizenry
of Everek and Fenese. Even though the twin towns remained politically quiet, in 1896 during the
widespread Hamidian massacres that claimed thousands of Armenian lives and caused financial ruin in
the Armenian-populated regions, a three-day pogrom in Everek-Fenese added 60 lives and 42 homes to
the devastation.
Some years later, the Armenians rejoiced at the 1908 Young Turk revolution led by the
Committee of Union and Progress (CUP), which promised the restoration of the constitution and
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9 Ibid., p. 115.
Der-Sarkissian, Jack. “A Tale of Twin Towns: Everek and Fenesse.” Armenian Kesaria/Kayseri and
Cappadocia. Ed. Richard G. Hovannisian. Costa Mesa, California: Mazda Publishers, 2013.
http://www.mazdapublishers.com/book/armenian-kesaria-kayseri-and-cappadocia
10
parliament that had been suspended by Sultan Abdul Hamid II thirty years earlier. It was with such
jubilation that the Fenese Roupinian Society once again reached out to Dr. Amaduni, asking him to return
as the principal of their school. The able physician had since chosen to become a celibate priest, taking
the name Mesrob Vartabed Amaduni, probably as a reaction to the loss of his beloved wife. He accepted
the invitation enthusiastically, as this was a time of new hope and new beginnings.
In April 1909, supporters of Abdul Hamid attempted an unsuccessful countercoup. It triggered a
ten-day massacre of thousands of Armenians in the city of Adana and surrounding towns and villages.
Once the killings ceased, the CUP tried and executed both Muslim and Armenian agitators judged
responsible for provoking the massacres. This hardly reassured the Armenians in Everek and Fenese. It
also may have released repressed anguish, not only in Amaduni but also in the Fenese community. He
would not last a year in Fenese as principal, as he had “changed both physically and mentally; in fact, his
state of mind [drove] people to [dismiss] his [previous] accomplishments.”10 Krikorian believes that
Amaduni never recovered from the death of his wife, and his return to Fenese had evoked painful
memories. In truth, the town itself probably also had changed and had never recovered from the earlier
traumatic events. The Adana massacres seemed to unleash unanticipated anger and resentment in Fenese
against a vulnerable Amaduni. Such a reaction is known to be common among victims of unresolved
trauma, when rage cannot be directed toward the actual perpetrator.11 Broken, Dr. Amaduni would leave
Fenese forever. Nothing more is stated about him in Krikorian’s volume, but what is clear is that the fate
of the two towns would closely mirror that of Hampartzum Amaduni.

10 Ibid., p. 101.
11 http://www.changingminds.org/explanations/behaviors/coping/defense_mechanisms
Der-Sarkissian, Jack. “A Tale of Twin Towns: Everek and Fenesse.” Armenian Kesaria/Kayseri and
Cappadocia. Ed. Richard G. Hovannisian. Costa Mesa, California: Mazda Publishers, 2013.
http://www.mazdapublishers.com/book/armenian-kesaria-kayseri-and-cappadocia
11
The revolution of 1908 and the attempted countercoup in 1909 raised profound concerns about
the future safety and welfare of Everek and Fenese. Trust in the government was seriously compromised,
and revolutionary thoughts were resurrected among a part of the population. Once again the Hnchakian
party began organizing meetings, but now it was also joined by the Armenian Revolutionary Federation
(ARF; Dashnaktsutiun). The ARF had collaborated with the CUP in suppressing the countercoup. While
there was political rivalry and heated disagreement, the two Armenian parties would form a united front
to protect the townsfolk, should the need arise. Soon the Ottoman Empire would be engulfed in World
War I as an ally of Germany against Russia, Great Britain, and France, and the issue of Armenian reforms
was abandoned for a final time. Both the Dashnaktsutiun and the Hnchakian parties belatedly encouraged
the taking of measures for self-defense.
In 1915 locusts plagued the fields of Everek and Fenese, decimating the crops and presaging
future ill. In the same year, on February 11, Kevork Hampartzumian (also identified as Kevork Defjian or
Poshents), recently having returned to Everek from America, tried to make a bomb in his home. While
filling the casing, it accidently exploded and killed him. The explosion could not be concealed; soon, a
few individuals were arrested but later released by local Turkish officers who believed the bomb to be the
plot of one man. The provincial governor, however, saw a larger conspiracy and ordered a full
investigation. Most of the townsfolk of both Everek and Fenese, including nearby villages, were brought
in for questioning. Many were tortured into false confessions. Escalating fear compelled those who had
concealed weapons to bury them in outlying fields in the dark of night. Unfortunately, these weapons
were discovered by local Turkish farmers. This brought forth another round of imprisonments, causing
the local Armenian population to panic. Fearing that the authorities might deem their possession
subversive, the inhabitants themselves burned most of the educational materials that the Everek
Der-Sarkissian, Jack. “A Tale of Twin Towns: Everek and Fenesse.” Armenian Kesaria/Kayseri and
Cappadocia. Ed. Richard G. Hovannisian. Costa Mesa, California: Mazda Publishers, 2013.
http://www.mazdapublishers.com/book/armenian-kesaria-kayseri-and-cappadocia
12
Mesrobian Society and Fenese Roupinian Society had sent to the twin towns over the years. The
interrogations continued for three months and, for those who still survived, culminated in public
executions by hanging. The succeeding months would bring additional rounds of interrogation and
execution, mostly of the intellectuals affiliated with the political parties. Fifty-four in all were executed by
hanging through 1916. In addition to these public executions, those convicted of lesser crimes—or for just
being an Armenian male—soon disappeared under police guard, to be murdered in valleys around
Kesaria.
August 4, 1915 brought the official deportation proclamation for all Armenians living in the
province. Fenese began its deportation on August 16, while Everek began on August 19. Only those who
converted to Islam, along with the Protestant Armenians, were left behind. The two caravans were united
in the fields of Tarsus in Cilicia and then moved on toward Aleppo. They were subjected to random
attacks and theft by local Turks and fell prey to exhaustion, exposure, and disease. Very few would
survive the harrowing experience.
The war ended in 1918, with most of the towns in the region of Kesaria depopulated of
Armenians. Except for the thirty Armenian families that were exempted from deportation, Everek and
Fenese were deserted. Some surviving deportees did come back, and their first effort was to restore the
church and school. A single, united Everek-Fenese school, along with a committee of teachers, was
formed. Under difficult conditions, with neither supplies nor equipment, 239 students enrolled in the
school, 125 of them girls. Local Kurds also enrolled. In 1926, however, the government closed the school
and forced students to attend local public schools. The Mesrobian and Roupinian societies, now
essentially based in the United States, tried to reopen the schools, perhaps somewhat in denial about the
Der-Sarkissian, Jack. “A Tale of Twin Towns: Everek and Fenesse.” Armenian Kesaria/Kayseri and
Cappadocia. Ed. Richard G. Hovannisian. Costa Mesa, California: Mazda Publishers, 2013.
http://www.mazdapublishers.com/book/armenian-kesaria-kayseri-and-cappadocia
13
final fate of Everek and Fenese. Their compatriots in Turkey quickly pointed to the grim reality: the
schools would never reopen.
The churches shared the fate of the schools. The Surb Toros Church in Everek, the cemetery, and
the schools were seized by the government in 1927. The remaining Armenians were instructed to use the
smaller Surb Toros Church in Fenese. Deprived of their property, the capacity to educate their youth, and
the ability to worship freely, many felt compelled to leave. The final liturgy took place in Fenese’s Surb
Toros Church on Easter Sunday, April 24, 1960. Two days later, torrential rains destroyed the great dome
of the church, rendering it unusable. By the latter decades of the twentieth century, the last few
Armenians in Everek had died or departed. The physical community was no more. Survivors of the
Armenian Genocide moved to Egypt (Alexandria and Cairo), the United States (primarily New York,
Detroit, and Los Angeles), Argentina, Lebanon, and Syria in an attempt to rebuild their lives.
The Constantinople Mesrobian and Roupinian societies merged in 1920, only to be quickly
dissolved by the Turkish authorities. Both organizations continued to operate independently in the United
States until 1956, when they merged to form the Evereg-Fenesse Mesrobian-Roupinian Educational
Society. The merger was finalized in time for the 1959 convention, and a new charter was adopted for the
organization, with chapters in New York, Detroit, and Los Angeles. Beirut, Lebanon formed a sister
chapter after its two societies merged as well.
The preamble of the new charter, written in English, is simple in its language yet telling:
Throughout the centuries, the two Armenian sections of the county of Develou in Turkey lived
side by side and shared all the joys and sorrows of life.
As a consequence of World War I and the deportations, our homes and domiciles, as well as
religious and national institutions, and our Mesrobian and Roupinian twin educational institutions—the
elevation of whose standards had been the primary objective of the two associations—were utterly
destroyed.
Der-Sarkissian, Jack. “A Tale of Twin Towns: Everek and Fenesse.” Armenian Kesaria/Kayseri and
Cappadocia. Ed. Richard G. Hovannisian. Costa Mesa, California: Mazda Publishers, 2013.
http://www.mazdapublishers.com/book/armenian-kesaria-kayseri-and-cappadocia
14
The Mesrobian Association of Evereg and Roupinian Association of Fenesse consistently served
their respective communities through their fine educational and philanthropic projects.
WHEREAS, owing to a tragic stroke of fate, the two sections have now become one community,
with only one church, and deprived of the privilege of maintaining even an elementary school, and
WHEREAS, having in view the responsibilities transmitted to us by our fathers concerning
education and our destitute survivors, and
WHEREAS, in response to the commendable aspiration of our countrymen now living in
America and overseas for cooperative endeavor and appeals with the same objective.
THEREFORE, authorized representatives of the Mesrobian and Roupinian Societies met on April
17, 1955 and prepared the ground by signing an agreement for unification, thereby putting an end to
uncoordinated activities.
Our compatriots of New York, Detroit, and Los Angeles gathered around the newly organized
Union, and endowed it with the guiding principles of by-laws and ratified them at the first Convention,
which was held on September 1, 1956, thereby rendering the Union an accomplished reality.12
The preamble traces the long, arduous, and painful journey that these competing twin towns had
taken to reach consensus and partnership. Moreover, it neither mentions the word “genocide” nor
identifies a perpetrator. In fact, the very notion that fate had shaped their predicament, rather than a
sinister agenda conceived by the Turkish government and their own Turkish neighbors, exposes their state
of denial. The trauma of the past had remained unresolved.
Yet the language hints at hope for a new beginning in a new land. Indeed, throughout the years
the Evereg-Fenesse Mesrobian Roupinian Educational Society would fund scholarships for its
descendants and does so to the present time. In their quest to transform their educational systems, two
competing provincial towns, together with extraordinary leaders such as Yervant Yergatian and
Hampartzum Amaduni, left an enduring legacy.
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12 Evereg-Fenesse Mesrobian Roupinian Educational Society, Inc., By-Laws (New York: Evereg-Fenesse Mesrobian-
Roupinian Educational Society, April 17, 1955).
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