Submitted by Silva Terjanian, Yercanik Arabaci’s granddaughter
Turkish soldiers took her father from their house in Yozghad [Yozgat] in the middle of the night, saying he had to join the army. That was their order: to collect young Armenian men and take them a few miles outside the town and shoot them to death.
The Turkish soldiers then put Yercanik [pronounced Yerchanik] and her mother with other Armenian women and children in a nearby mosque, and they told them that in order to avoid deportation and suffering, they had to accept the Muslim faith. They stayed together and prayed for freedom. Later, another order came, and the soldiers let them go.
Yercanik‘s mother found her uncle and they hid until the danger was over. Yercanik’s aunt and young uncle had been routed from their homes and deported with another group of Armenians. First they went on horse drawn carts, and later on foot to Death Valley. Her uncle was massacred with others.
The next day, the Turkish soldiers came back to the Valley to check if anyone was still alive. Whoever asked for help or made a sound was killed. Yercanik’s aunt acted dead to survive. She was able to leave the area with an axe mark on her head, almost naked, starving and exhausted, and she reached a tent where an Armenian family saved her from death. She later joined Yercanik’s mother, and they lived together until she got married again.
Yercanik lost her mother to illness at a young age. She married her husband Garabed Arabaci when she was fourteen. They had five children. They continued their Christian faith, and passed it on to their great- grandchildren. Yercanik was well known for her handmade lace doilies (igne oyasi).
When we began the Remembrance project for the Survivors of the Armenian Genocide at Chhange, I asked my mother about the Genocide experiences of my grandparents, Garabed and Yercanik Tahminci Arabaci. I also asked her for my grandmother’s doilies. She was very emotional as she tried to tell me my grandparents’ stories and gave me their pictures. Unfortunately, I lost my dear mother on December 18, 2013, but at least I was able to get this much information about my grandparents and their pictures.