The Congregation

Congregation in the late 1950's or early 1960's

Congregation in the late 1950’s or early 1960’s

In my last post I gave you a little bit of the history of the Armenian Church in Rangoon. After I visited and went home, I emailed the Yangon Heritage Trust to ask if the church could be put on the register of historical buildings. After all, the church was the first Christian church to be established in Rangoon in 1766, when it was made of  wood and brick. I corresponded with them regularly and tried to dig up more about the church. A relative I had met in Burma sent me two scans of the congregation, with pretty much the same members  in it. With help from my uncle Arthur in London, my dad’s cousin, Noel Minus and his daughter Chris in California, Rachel Minus in Rangoon and various others in Australia I added names and in some cases a word or two about their lives. I would dearly love to identify the question marks in this list.

The Yangon Heritage Trust put up a blue plaque on a building the other day, the first of many, we hope. One day this church will have its plaque, and it will be well deserved. Until I visited it was not a part of the tourist trail. I wrote the first review on Tripadvisor  in 2013 and told my friend Paula Swart-Till, who was the first person to encourage me to go to Burma. She is an Asian art history expert, hired by tour operators like National Geographic to lead tours in Burma, and now the church is one of the must-see places on the itineraries she devises.

Despite the fact that the current congregation when I was there consisted solely of my relative Rachel, her father Richard (the Warden) and the odd NGO worker, I think this church could have a future.Air max pas cher, This does not include selling the property to a developer, much as some people would like. I don’t usually espouse causes. I don’t belong to any political party. I don’t donate to Greenpeace, although I did attend their Amchitka concert years ago, but that was because of the music. I am a member of the silent majority but this cause stirs my heart. My grandparents were married in this church in 1920. My grandfather, broken and in ill health after the Japanese occupation, died at the age of 51, and his funeral ceremony was held in this church. The plaque honouring his sisters and their families who died in the Trek is in this church. I will do my utmost to see that this church survives.

Those identified in the photograph:

Front Row, L to R:

1. Pete Aratoon. Owned the Silver Grill pre-war. After 1945 he managed the Strand Hotel and later the Kanbawza, Nike Air Max 90 pas cher,the government run hotel that used to be Chin Tsong’s Palace.

2. Archie Gregory. Ran Gaspar and Co., started by his uncle, a bachelor. Archie’s younger brother is John, end of third row.

3. Carr Johns. A long time employee of A.C. Martin and Co. He married a Burmese lady and never left Burma.

Priest from Julfa, Ter Poghos Petrossian.

4. Joe Martin, youngest son of A.C. Martin. He married Helen Apcar, third row.

5. Alfred Simon Mackertich Minus,Air max 95 pas cher, eldest son of Simon Minus. Father of Keith and Eric.

6. Leon or Gregory Elias. Worked for years at Balthazar and Co.

Second Row, L to R.

7. John (?) Alexander.

8. Marjorie Minus, wife of Keith Minus

9. Priest’s wife, Mrs. ? Petrossian

10. Edie Gregory, nee Minus, married to Bertie Gregory, top row. Sister of Alfred Minus.

11. Annie Minus. Spinster sister of Edie and Alfred Minus.

12. Mrs. Gaspar, related to the Elias family who owned the Continental,Nike  air max pas cher france, a big catering and bakery business.

13. Mrs. Elias

14. Miss Christine Elias

15. Dr. Kenny Minus, second son of George N. S. Minus. He stayed in Burma but went to the U.S. for a short while, then spent the rest of his life in Fiji. I met him when our family travelled to California in 1960, so this photo is more likely to be from the 1950’s.

Third Row, L to R

16. Alexandra Maud Minus, my great-aunt

17. Helen Martin (nee Apcar.)

18. ?

19. Margaret Minus, youngest child of Simon Minus.

20. Sarah MacJohn.

21. ?

22. Noreen Martin, sister to Basil Martin.

23. Ripsy Minas ( wife of Jockey Minas, manager of Kanbawza Hotel.)

24. John Gregory, younger brother of Archie.

Fourth Row

Two men standing:

Man # 1, ?

Man # 2, William Hugh Minus, son of John Mackertich Minus, married to Alexandra Maud Minus.

Back Row, L to R

25. Bertie Gregory, husband of Edie Minus

26. Catchik Stevens, husband of Grace Minus, father of Kay Stevens

27. ?

28. ?

29. Keith Minus

30. Basil Martin

31. Jockey Minas, manager of Kanbawza Hotel

32. ?

33. ?

34. Joe Aratoon, nicknamed ‘Oxford Joe’

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12 Responses to The Congregation

  1. Chinthe Chaser says:

    Thanks to my friend, Paula Swart-Till and one of her tour guests, Mr. Richard Hart, we have identified number 30 as Mr. Basil Martin. I was lucky enough to visit him at his home in Rangoon before he died in May of 2013. He was chairman of the Church trustees in his latter years.

  2. Carl Grigorian says:

    Very nice blog.

    Carr Johns (Carapiet Hovhanessi) is on my family tree. Although he was a structural engineer by profession, he was also the last deacon of the church in Rangoon. I may have some information that might be of interest to you regarding the Minus, Gregory and Martin families. I would be glad to share whatever information I have.



  3. Paul Rigg says:

    My mother, born Siranoosh Carmen Minas, is the daughter of Jockey and Ripsy Minas and lived for many years in the Kanbawza Palace. She was delighted today to see your photos and blog.

  4. Patrick Scully says:

    I was very interested in coming across you site as my family were from Burma, it was even more excited to see the photo of the Congregation because I recognised the name of Pete Arratoon and Marjorie Minus. My mother was a Receptionist and Telephonist at the Strand Hotel when Pete and Mrs Minus were there. I was around 10-13 years old at the time and remember enjoying Sundays when my mother was on duty as after church (St Marys Cathedral) my elder sister and I would go to The Strand for a good breakfast. The Strand played a big part in out lives until my parents and I left, in January, for England, with my eldest sister getting married there in 1957. If you have no objection I will print off the photo and show it to my siblings who are all much older than me and will remember the faces and names better than a pre-teen aged boy who’s only objective at the time was to go out and fly my kites and try to win the aerial battles.If you have any other photographs or blogs that would be of interest please point me to them as it would be nice to fill in the in the background to my family’s life and friends at that time.

    • Sharman says:

      Hi Patrick, Please feel fee to show this photo to your extended family. If they recognize some of the un-named people, please let me know. You mentioned kite flying – my Dad always talked wistfully of flying kites whose strings were dipped in glue and ground glass, so you could cut your opponent’s kite. I always wondered how your hands survived handlng a string like that!

  5. Dr Brian.P.D Colquhoun says:

    I am Brian Colquhoun. I was fascinated to read your account about he Armenian church in Rangoon. For some while now I have been trying to trace my mothers side of our family. My mother Mathilda Isabel Carrapiett was married to my father L.D.Colquhoun, affectionately known in Rangoon as “Jock”, an inspector in the city Police. My father trekked through the Hukawng valley when the Japanese occupied Burma. I attended High school at St Pauls in Rangoon, and worked during the holidays as an accounts clerk being employed by Peter Aratoon, manager of the Strand. I worked at the Kanbawza Palace hotel in 1956 and 1957 during the summer and this helped me buy my texts in University and afterwards in the Medical school. Whilst at the Kanbawza hotel I worked for Mr A.C.Minas and his wife Ripsy who was Asst.Mgr. I had no idea that A.C was called Jock, nor did I know they had a child. Our family were good friends with the Campbell’s and Galstins both families living in Keighley street. Teeny Campbell (Murie’s daughter) was married to Leon Gaspar who ran the Continental confectionery. We left Burma in 1960.
    I am curious to know where the name Carrapiett fits into this whole scene. My grandfather was Lawrence Carrapiett , and married to Johanna Gallope. My late great uncle John Carrapiett was in the Forestry service in Burma and we stayed with them in Thonze in TharAwaddy district during the war. I was able to contact great uncle though he was of an advanced age. His wife Kathleen was very helpful. I have been in touch with my cousin Peter Carrapiett who lives in Yorkshire. I had a suspicion that my mothers family name (Carrapiett) is Armenian. I am a retired Professor of Surgery living in Saskatoon in Canada. Any information you might have about “Carrapiett” will be gratefully received. Thanks.

  6. Stephen Elias says:

    Hello, my name is Stephen Elias, grandson of Arratoon Elias who owned and operated the Continental Hotel and confectionery in Rangoon. This blog is of great interest to me as I research my DNA and family tree. My father, also Stephen, had six siblings, Leon Elias, Minus Elias, a doctor whose daughter Sian is Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of New Zealand, Victor Elias, Tillie Elias, Dora Elias, and Hosie Elias. i would love to correspond with anyone with information about and connections to my family. Thanks for including me in this blog! Stephen Elias

    • Liz Chater says:

      Hello Stephen, I research Armenian families in India and SE Asia. I saw your message today. I’m also looking into your Elias family from Burma. Please contact me via my blog contact page (see attached website). Would very much like to correspond with you. Kind regards, Liz.

  7. Mg Naing Soe says:

    For my knowledge of researching on Armenians tombstone inscriptions in Myanmar, No.33 of the man we called D.S. Aparamay in Myanmar. The real naming was still missing. He was working Balthazar & Son building,581, Merchant Street, Rangoon(Now Yangon),Myanmar. he was famous among Myanmar society as a guy who know the pathway of the enshrine of relic of Shwedagon pagoda when he was young.

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