Results of the Massacre
SCARCELY had the regiment arrived when news reached us of the awful massacre on the plain. Many Christian villages were completely wiped out and not one Armenian left alive. Where there was a mixed population the Armenian quarter was usually destroyed but here and there were places where no great harm was done simply because the officer in charge would not consent to it.
Widows and orphans by the hundreds came flocking back to Hadjin and the villages about us, from the plain, bereft of beloved ones, many of whom had been brutally massacred before their eyes. They were penniless, ragged, barefooted, sick, pale and almost beyond recognition, the mothers, wives, sisters and daughters of the three thousand Hadjin men who had been massacred on the plain.
Nearly all of these refugees flocked to the missionaries and told us of the dreadful experiences through which they had just passed. Some had not a male relative left. The effect of this is better understood when it is borne in mind that they were living in a land where womankind constantly needs protection and has no means of support. In one family twenty-three of the nearest relatives had been killed. In another no one but the infirm grandfather and aged grandmother, a son and a little grandson remained, although there had been thirty-two children and grandchildren in the family.
Some were insane and others on the verge of nervous prostration.
A young man wounded returned alone, not knowing what had become of his wife and child. It was later found that his wife after much wandering had received shelter in a village. The little one was found on the streets in another town with a number of helpless orphans, and friends had sent it with others to an orphanage in another part of the country. But this was only one of many families that were scattered, and only time will tell whether or not even those living will again meet.
The Turkish villagers could not be reconciled to the fact that Hadjin had been spared and as these frightened widows and orphans passed them on their return to Hadjin were heard to voice their regrets and shame that they could not even wipe out Hadjin or deride this idea of a massacre when the ghavurs (a contemptible name for Christian) were still so numerous.
Amongst these destitute refugees were a few of the wives and orphans of the tradesmen from Sigetchet. Our hearts were filled with sorrow as one after another told us how they had witnessed the death of our ministers, delegates, deacons, merchants and the head teacher in our girls' orphanage, numbering seventy-six in all.
After consulting the governor in Sis as to the safety of continuing their journey, they left the town, but only an hour or two later the news reached the people of Sis that the Christians in Adana were being massacred and that the town was in flames.
One of the members of the church committee whose wife had also joined the caravan, immediately sent his son-in-law on horseback to inform them of their danger and to return, but he overtook them just after they had unloaded in Sigetchet and the Turks had already taken possession of them.
The messenger was forced to join the same party and meet the same doom.
All were crowded into the dingy khan for the night while the mob of Turks in their frenzy surrounded it. All night long they prayed God to deliver them from the hands of these bloodthirsty enemies and if not His will, then to prepare them for the death that was awaiting them, and before morning our deacon's wife had literally pulled all the hair out of her head in her anguish. At last daylight came and a Turk came riding into the village at high speed, his horse covered with lather, and declared that he had been to Adana and returned during the night, and producing a document assured the Turks that the governor-general had said that he had all the Christians he wanted and they should dispose of the party without sending them farther.
As the prisoners were momentarily waiting and trying to hope against hope the door opened and the ruler entered. He assured them that the Mohammedans had no evil intentions whatever and that this excitement was due to the fact that the Turks had noticed a few weapons in their possession. He asked them to give up these, their money watches, jewelry, trunks and whatever they possessed into his keeping and he would then escort them into his home where he could protect them.
Although our helpless co-workers doubted the ruler's word, there was no alternative, and the members of the party at once assured the ruler that he was welcome to all their possessions if he would but protect them. The mob of Turks had taken their ablutions and were in the mosque praying "Allah" to assist them in their murderous plans as the disarmed Armenians were taken to the ruler's house.
As soon as their prayers were finished they came to the one who had promised to give protection. He opened the door and there stood the bloodthirsty and fanatical mob armed with swords, knives, clubs, guns and axes and the demonized expression of their faces told a more shameful story than their shrieks and yells could express. The martyrs were disrobed, with the exception of one garment. The pastor of the First Churchof Hadjin begged for an opportunity to speak to them and appealed to their sense of
justice and sympathy, but when he saw it availed nothing he appealed to their fear of God, but a Turk stepped forward and taking the pastor by the beard, led him forth and killed him.
The aged deacon of Hadjin was next led forth. His wife rushed after him trying to protect him but both were shot and her body fell upon his. Some were clubbed to death, some shot, some killed with swords and some with axes; but the women of the party, as is nearly always the case, were reserved until the last and after being humiliated and disgraced in the most unspeakable manner, were afterwards killed.
One Turk stood at the door and killed sixteen members of this party in succession, when he finally called someone to take his place saying his strength was exhausted.
After these were all killed they turned to the Christian tradesmen and their families who had spent each winter with them for the past twenty years. One of them was on his knees before the murderers and with a little son on each arm begged that for God's sake they should not make his little boys orphans. But they answered, " Drop your children or we will kill them too." He did so and was killed before the eyes of his wife and little boys.
The shoemaker was finishing a pair of shoes for one of the Turks and begged for his life saying he would present the shoes to him, but when the last stitch was taken the shoemaker was killed by the owner of the shoes. Less than two dozen of the smallest children and widows were spared to be haunted for life by the memory of these dreadful scenes.
An ox-cart was filled with these dead bodies and the remainder were dragged out by horses and all were thrown into the ditches and left to be devoured by the jackals and dogs.
No wonder one of the missionaries exclaimed, "So great and hospitable a plain, and yet it could not spare the ground to furnish these martyrs a grave."
Oh! how these poor widows longed for Hadjin and their homeland, for they had heard that a regiment was sent to protect us. They walked for days and entered the town footsore and weary, ragged and hungry, penniless and homeless, helpless and hopeless, but alas! they threw up their hands and shrieked in terror as the first person they saw was the trumpeter and soldiers of the new regiment and they recognized the former as their neighbor who had killed the first sixteen and the latter as those who had murdered their husbands and brothers.
From amongst the heaps of dead bodies, a pastor's wife, a tradesman and a servant who were supposed to be dead regained consciousness and at dead of night crept away and after days of misery reached another village and were spared to tell this tale of suffering.
Ardashas, one of the young ministers in the party, had been our interpreter for a few years. He was an earnest Christian and entered the ministry only a year before his death. At that time he married one of the high school teachers in the American Board Mission School. She was taken into the school when but a child and educated by the Board.
Our night watch in the boys' orphanage was a cousin to this young minister.
When the husband started for the conference, the young wife remained in the village. But this village was also surrounded by the Turks at the same time that Hadjin was, and although a part of the Christian quarter was burned the villagers bravely defended themselves.
The minister's wife was ill but her suffering was a secondary matter to her, for she constantly sighed, "Oh! for some word from my husband." Several times at dead of night a footman from the village arrived to tell us of their distress and to beg help from Hadjin and he would carry a few pounds of salt back with him for the besieged villagers . Each time he brought a letter from the pastor's wife to the cousin in our employ and it always contained this one message, "My grief is unbearable. Do send me some news about my husband."
Only rumors had reached us at this time. He would not be a " black messenger," so without our knowledge the cousin gave no answer at all to the letter.
Again a letter was received which the cousin brought to us. The poor wife wrote, " I am ill. Our village is strongly attacked and we may soon all be destroyed but all this is nothing compared with the fear for Ardashas. Surely you can tell me where he is. Pity me in my misery and send me an answer. Oh ! for some news about my husband."
We begged him to tell her that we could not locate the party but that we had traced them as far as the Turkish village Sigetchet, but after this letter reached the village the mother-in-law withheld it from the sorrowful wife, fearing she was too ill to bear the news. All this time, of course, she had already been a widow.
As soon as possible she was brought to Hadjin and at once requested to see us. Never can we forget the sight of the poor, pale, grief-stricken and suffering Iittle woman as she threw herself into our arms and embraced us and amid tears said, "God has at least answered this prayer of mine. for after I knew I should never see my dear husband again, I then begged Him that in some way He should bring me to the missionaries "
A few days later we visited her again and our hearts were moved with pity as we beheld the little fatherless babe in the distressed mother’s arms.
The sight of her as she lay vainly trying to regain strength and on one half of a peck of wheat given her , weekly, by the government for there were no other provisions in the house, is one of the memories of those days.
A poor brother in the village sent a horse telling her to come and live with him.
She prepared to take the three days' journey on horseback across the mountains. She had no food to take with her and knew she could get none on the way. At first she decided to go hungry but afterwards sent one of her relatives to us with the message, “Were it not for my little babe I would say nothing and start hungry and without food ready to die on the mountains and forget my sorrow, but my conscience reproves me for entertaining such a thought when I look at my helpless babe and remember it has no one left but me to care for it. I can tell my condition to no one else."
We sent her provisions for the journey. She came to bid us good-bye and to thank us for the help given, but with tears in our eyes we embraced each other and although we could not express ourselves, we felt each other's grief and sympathy and thus parted.
During the two weeks that Hadjin was surrounded our Bible woman, Isabelle, was a constant help to us as she comforted the people and gathered them together that they might unite their prayers to God for deliverance. After the regiment had arrived andpeace was partially restored, we sent a message inquiring about the safety of her parents, brothers and sisters who lived in Adana. The answer received was, " The men were all killed, and Martha was seriously wounded and is lying here in the hospital."
The father who was in a village at the time was slain there.
The younger brother had returned from college for the Easter vacation. As the murderers rushed into the little house, the older brother was fatally wounded.
They rushed towards the younger brother with their daggers, but Martha, the youngest sister who was older than her brothers, sprang between the Turk and the brother, begging that they kill her instead and spare one son for the aged mother who had no one left to care for her. She was fatally wounded and the younger brother was killed. Somehow the mother and wounded Martha found refuge with the missionaries but after suffering for several months Martha died as a result of the wounds.
The house was burned and in it the old blind grandmother, the wounded brother and the body of the student brother. Although this news was heart-breaking to Isabelle she steadfastly looked to God for grace to bear it and the Lord strengthened her as she went about from home to home speaking words of comfort to the many who were bereaved.
Her old mother came to spend the summer with her daughter. She was so thin and weak that one could scarcely recognize her. As she told us of her sad experience she also told us what a comfort Isabelle was to her. At times it seemed as if her heart would break, but Isabelle would read a promise to her out of God's Word and remind her mother of the fact that both brothers and father were wearing martyrs' crowns and that God would give them grace to bear their sorrow cheerfully, for after all it could not be long, and then when Jesus came to receive His own unto Himself they should be reunited as a family and be forever with the Lord. As the old mother told us this she said, " Then Isabelle and I kneel in prayer and she prays so earnestly that God may give me strength to bear it, that I feel sure it is all right, and say, ' Thy will be done, my Father.'"
We praise God that amongst these suffering ones there are at least some who know the source of comfort.