The Ararat Massis Armenian Cemetery, commonly known as the Ararat Cemetery, is an Armenian cemetery in Fresno, Fresno County, 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.
- Victor Maghakian (1915–1977), recipient of the Navy Cross during World War II
- Andranik Ozanian (1865–1927), military commander and statesman (he was re-buried in Pere Lachaise, Paris in 1928 and finally to Yerablur, Armenia in 2000)
- Alma Rubens (1897–1931), actress
- Lucy Saroyan (1946–2003), actress
- William Saroyan (1908–1981), dramatist and author
- Soghomon Tehlirian (1896–1960), Armenian Genocide survivor who assassinated the former Ottoman Interior Minister Talaat Pasha
- 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
- Radanovich, George P. (September 17, 1996). "Tribute to Victor Maghakian" (PDF). United States Government. Congressional Record Volume 142; Number 128. Retrieved 14 March 2013.
- "Relative to William Saroyan Year.". United States Government. Retrieved 19 March 2013.
- Bulbulian, Berge (2000). The Fresno Armenians : history of a diaspora community. Fresno, CA: Press at California State University, Fresno. ISBN 9780912201351.
- Greer, Rebecca F. (1995). Armenian Cemeteries: Ararat and Masis Ararat Cemeteries, Fresno, Fresno County, California. Fresno Genealogical Society. Retrieved 2013-03-29.
- "Ararat Armenian Cemetery". Poochigian Family History & Genealogy. Retrieved 19 March 2013.
- "Fresno's Little Armenia" Comes Alive Through Walking Tour". Hay Sharzhoom. Retrieved 19 March 2013.
- Panosian, Sarkis (January 11, 2013). Ֆրեզնոյի Արարատ Եւ Մասիս Գերեզմանատուները. Asbarez (in Armenian). Retrieved 20 March 2013.
- Capt Victor "Transport" Maghakian at Find a Grave
- Chalabian, Antranig (1988). General Andranik and the Armenian Revolutionary Movement. University of Michigan. p. 541.
- Holding, Nicholas. Bradt Armenia: With Nagorno Karabagh (3rd ed.). Chalfont St. Peter, Bucks: Bradt Travel Guides. p. 121. ISBN 9781841623450.
- Find a Grave, Ararat Cemetery famous names
- Սողոմոն Թէհլիրեանի Յուշարձանի Պատմականը. Asbarez (in Armenian). 9 January 2012. Retrieved 21 February 2014.