The Fighting Spirit of Armenians in Chicago


Ever since the mid-to-late 1800s, Armenians have been a part of Chicago’s community. Oscar Tatosian’s grandfather, Oscar Isberian, entered the trade of oriental rugs after coming to Chicago in about 1912, joining an uncle who was already living there. He eventually made a business with 3 of his 4 brothers, that still exists today, more than a century later. Tatosian says “Armenians sort of brought the East and West together as a merchant class and were engaged in trading, including rugs. When they came to the West, they continued”. Tatosian is involved even more so in Chicagoland and its Armenian American community as a leader, philanthropist and honorary consul of the Republic of Armenia in Chicago. Tatosian’s grandparents would host people when they came from Armenia, some of which were probably fleeing the 1915 genocide.Hagop Soulakian, who is a leader within the local Armenian community centered around the Armenian All Saints Church in suburban Glenview spoke about the strong ties Armenians retain to their country and culture, saying “you have to have a sense of identity of who you are as an Armenian, and you have to carry on the traditions.” He continued by saying “I don’t think our parents and grandparents came to this country to forget everything that they grew up with.” Soulakian said this of Armenian people “we’re very innovative, entrepreneurial people, we know how to survive. There are not many peoples that have been around for 3,000 years. We’ve always found a way to survive.”


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