Sweet Auburn: The Magazine of the Friends of Mount Auburn Lives of the Past Informing the Future - Page 17

“Simon Antranighian, in his short life, was a pioneer and deserves to be recognized and remembered. The Armenian-American community really owes Steve Pinkerton its thanks for leading the effort to call greater attention to the rich history of Armenian-Americans at Mount Auburn Cemetery....” – Marc A. Mamigonian, Director of Academic Affairs National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR) St. John’s Lot, Vesper Avenue According to his Boston death record, Antranighian died at 2 Crescent Place on March 15, 1855, just 470 days after his arrival in the United States. His age at death was given as twenty-seven, though he was actually twenty-eight. The cause of death was recorded as “Infl. of Lungs,” which could have been pleurisy, tuberculosis, asthma, pneumonia, or something else. Respiratory diseases were the most common killer in cities around the world in the early nineteenth century, and Boston was no exception. His work as a daguerreotypist would also have exposed him to toxic chemical vapors, including mercury fumes. Crescent Place was a residential cul-de-sac located just north of Bowdoin Square at what is now a small park on New Chardon Street across from Bullfinch Place. Antranighian died there under the care of Drs. Moses C. Greene and Eli Whitney Blake. He had been cared for “night & day, in his last illness” by a friend and fellow boarder named Jacob “Balien,” a fellow Turkish immigrant. Boston immigration records show that Jacob “Balyan” or “Balayan” arrived in Boston from “Armenia” on the Sultana on July 20, 1853, age twenty-five. “Hajob Balian” applied for naturalization in Milton, MA, on January 17, 1855, listing his occupation as “cracker baker” and stating that he was born in Constantinople on February 12, 1829. Antranighian died intestate. Boston attorney Francis Edward Parker, at that time practicing in partnership with Richard Henry Dana, Jr., was appointed to administer his meager estate, valued at $136.80. (Later that spring, Dana and the prominent African American attorney Robert Morris would unsuccessfully represent Anthony Burns, a victim of the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act.) Clipper Bark Sultana The 452-ton Sultana was built in 1850 by clipper-ship wizard Donald McKay in his East Boston shipyard. With her smaller size and simpler rigging, she was classified as a “bark” or “barque,” able to perform almost as well as a fully rigged ship but with a smaller crew. Her captain was Charles Watson, a Dane. Sultana made many trips to and from Smyrna in the 1850s, often carrying American missionaries and Armenian sympathizers and merchants. The poet James Russell Lowell, also buried at Mount Auburn Cemetery, sailed on the Sultana on his first trip to Europe in 1851. One of the passengers with Antranighian on the 1853 trip was nineteen-year-old Artin “Hatchadurien,” who was probably a younger brother of the dentist Sarkis Hachadoorian. In January 1860, the Sultana was purchased by Boston merchants Francis Braggiotti and James T. Wood and sailed from New York for the Congo River under the command of pirate captain Francis Bowen. She reportedly landed a cargo of about 1,000 enslaved people in Cuba the following June, nearly two years after the last shipment of enslaved people to the United States in 1858. The ship was then burned and sunk off the coast of Cuba. Braggiotti was born in Smyrna of Italian parents, immigrated to Boston as sixteen-year-old in 1847, and became an American citizen in 1853. He appears in 1850s maritime news reports as the consignee for shipments of fruit on Sultana. He died in Boston in 1893 and was buried at Mount Auburn Cemetery on Peony Path, a dozen yards from the Sphinx monument commemorating the abolition of slavery. 15