The Ararat Massis Armenian Cemetery, commonly known as the Ararat Cemetery, is an Armenian cemetery in Fresno, California established in 1885 and continues to be operated by the Armenian community of Fresno. The cemetery is the burial place of many prominent figures of Armenian American history including Soghomon Tehlirian, Victor Maghakian, William Saroyan. The Ararat Massis Cemetery was the only Armenian cemetery built outside Armenia and the Middle East for more than a century.
The cemetery was established in 1885 at the southeast corner of Belmont and Hughes avenues, west of Fresno on land granted by Moses J. Church on December 2, 1885. Church donated twenty acres to the Armenian community but community leaders believed that they needed only ten acres. Later the community had to buy additional land. It is believed that Mary Papazian, the second Armenian to die in Fresno, was the first to be buried there.
In June 9, 1919, the Ararat Cemetery Association was established. A fire in 1930 destroyed many of Ararat Cemetery records. In 1956, with the efforts of the association, the cemetery expanded by acquiring a two-acre parcel of land beside the existing. In 1969, further expansion was done and the cemetery was renamed Ararat Massis Cemetery.
The cemetery features a memorial dedicated to the victims of the Armenian Genocide. The memorial includes bones from unknown victims brought over from Der Zor, Syria. The cemetery also features a memorial to Moses J. Church, the donor of the property.
- Soghomon Tehlirian
- Victor Maghakian
- William Saroyan
- Alma Rubens
- Andranik Ozanian (his body was later moved to Pere Lachaise, Paris in 1928 and finally to Yerablur, Armenia in 2000)
- Lucy Saroyan
- Hovannisian, Garin K. (2010). Family of shadows a century of murder, memory, and the Armenian American dream. New York: Harper. ISBN 9780062011602. "Kaspar arrived at the Masis section of the Ararat Cemetery of Fresno. He would be among his people, the fossils of Western Armenia. A few yards away, under the statue of an eagle slaying a snake, lay the hero Soghomon Tehlirian"
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- Panosian, Sarkis (January 11, 2013). "Ֆրեզնոյի Արարատ Եւ Մասիս Գերեզմանատուները". Asbarez (in Armenian). Retrieved 20 March 2013.
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