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BY REV. CYRUS S. BATES, D.D.
Mr. Antranig Azhderian, whom I have known for several years, and in whom I feel a lively interest, has asked me to write a brief account of his life, to be inserted in his book entitled, “Under Oriental Skies.”
Antranig Azhderian was born September 1, 1871, in the City of Marsovan, Asia Minor. By birth he is an Armenian of noble parentage and ancestry. His grandfather, Simeon Azhderian, holds the honorable position of representative of the local Protestant community to the government.
Through the teaching of American missionaries, all the immediate relatives of Antranig became, many years ago, earnest supporters of Protestantism. His father and uncles were among the first adherents to the Protestant cause in Marsovan, and they are to-day among the leading members of the Church in that place. They are great friends to the missionaries. The Rev. Dr. Judson Smith, Senior Secretary of the American Board, in a recent letter to Antranig writes: “The evening which I spent at your home in Marsovan was a memorable occasion for me. I should like to send my kind regards to your father and uncles, in memory of the kind entertainment which they gave me six years ago."
After a course of several years in the common schools of Marsovan, Antranig entered Anatolia College in that city, where he studied for about four years. His vacations were spent in his father's store, or in travelling about the country. During his college days he developed a strong desire to visit America-a desire greatly increased by the fact that a young uncle of his, Garabed Azhderian, was in America, a student at Williams College. After a long correspondenee between Antranig and his uncle at Williamstown, he was permitted by his father to journey to America, starting in the fall of 1889. On his way, in Constantinople, he become acquainted with the Patriarch of the Armenian National Church, and also with a number of professors in the Armenian and American educational institutions in Constantinople. While in Paris he made the acquaintance of a set of students from some American colleges, and visited the International Exposition in their company.
After a short visit to his uncle at Williamstown, Antranig went to St. Louis to become a salesman in a large Oriental store in that city. His ability and faithfulness in this position made so favorable an impression upon his employers that they sent him to Springfield, Ill., to take charge of a branch store, in which responsible and difficult work he was quite successful.
While in Springfield, Antranig made the acquaintance of the Rev. Dr. David S. Johnson, who became a very faithful counsellor, helper and friend. Through the influence of Dr. Johnson he entered again upon a course of study, being
for some time a student of Blackburn University, of which Dr. Johnson was a trustee. The President of the college speaks of him as a bright and promising young man, in good standing, and enjoying the confidence and respect of the faculty and students.
From Blackburn University, Mr. Azhderian came to Ohio to further his studies, and while in college here he has been preparing and delivering lectures upon interesting themes on his native land. The lectures of Mr. Azhderian upon Oriental life and customs have been greatly enjoyed.
Baptized in infancy in the Armenian National Church, educated in early years in the Armenian public schools, and yet trained up in a strongly Protestant home, and spending his later years in America, he combines in rare degree sympathy with the old historic national and ecclesiastical life of his people with sympathy for western political ideas and religious thought. This double sympathy peculiarly fits him to interpret Armenian life and thought to us, thus giving especial interest and value to his lectures here. And when he returns to his own people, the same double sympathy niust be of great advantage for the interpreting of our life and thought to them.
From what I know of Mr. Azhderian, I believe him to be painstaking, thorough and earnest in any work undertaken by him; and I anticipate for him a life abounding in good service to others.
C. S. Bates.