A Village Remembered: The Armenians of Habousi - The Compatriotic Union of Habousi

Chapter 2:

The Foundation of Habousi

The village of Habousi—also mentioned in Armenian records as Habousé or Abousi—was located in “well irrigated fields full of wheat and in meadows full of flowers,” as cited by Ghevond Alishan, a great historian of encyclopedic knowledge. With its abundant and clear springs, with its fertile soil, and its orchards and vineyards, Habousi indeed could be named “The Queen of Villages.”

Only fifteen miles away from the city of Kharpert, Habousi counted some 350 to 400 households. Although fifty percent of the land was owned by Turkish landlords, the population of Habousi was entirely Armenian. The Armenian population totaled 3,000 people during the late 1890’s according to some sources.

A highway passed the Taurus Mountains and through the plains linked the village to the cities of Palu, Keghi and Garin. Another highway led to Kharpert.

Habousi was established during the mid-sixteenth century when wealthy Armen ians from Persia arrived near Palu. Some of them settled on the eastern woody shores of the Murat River, at the western side of the highway leading to Garin and Kharpert. The family name, Ajemian, still maintained in many Habousetzie families, is an indication of the families’ relocation from Persian territories.

There was a large meadow. Wood was the energy source. The pretty and fertile site attracted newcomers. One of the settlers lost a family member soon after. And when winter arrived, they cut the trees, built underground houses, and found shelter in those houses with their animals, awaiting for the spring to arrive.

The climate was mild. In the spring the settlers cultivated the soil, and by doing so they became the first dwellers of the village of Habousi.

Gradually others came from Palu, Perri, Keghi, and neighboring sites to join them and develop the agriculture and trades.

There was a legend that the name, Habousi, originated from the Turkish words ha bou sou (this is the water), exclaimed by a Turkish governor who was astonished by the quality of the water.

It is difficult to find out the real story, for no archives are available. But in the absence of written records, stories and tales passed from generation to generation become valuable links to the past of the village.

According to one tale, in the mid-seventeenth century, the village known as Kuchuk Keoy Habousi (Small Village of Habousi) had only sixteen households—eight farmers and eight weavers working for the farmers. There were two springs. Ten minutes away, to the north, there was a big meadow for cattle to graze. Nearby ruins indicate that people had lived there in ancient times.

The early dwellers slowly grew in number, built houses, a church, and springs. When the village became prosperous, Turks began to harass the population out of jealousy.

Feudal Kurdish tribes, similarly, had difficulty tolerating the prosperity of the Habousetzies. Their chieftains began to terrorize the new settlers, demanding tribute (bribe) from the immigrants who were then becoming prosperous farmers. Thus, confrontations between Kurds and Armen ians began.

It is safe to conclude that the story of the foundation of Habousi is a miniature reflection of the general history of Armenians—born out of harassment and a search for new settlements.