First, I apologize for disappearing for years without replying to all the kind follow-up comments and questions regarding Haiks in the South. I appreciate all remarks. Life intercepted my project, to which I am finally returning: researching and writing stories of my maternal grandfather, immigrant Espir Haik family, his siblings, and related others. As a mea culpa, I provide below a brief Haik capsule and family tree in progress, which may, I hope, be useful. I shared a variation of this capsule at our 2005 Haik reunion in Bogalusa, LA (where some Haiks and progeny still live).
All related memories, stories, and facts will be much appreciated. Please see www.mineyourmemories.com (note the Mid-East life stories section) and email me through that site as well as here.
HAIK FAMILY HISTORY CAPSULE
Our Haik roots are in Lebanon (Beirut area and village of Bikfaya, 30 miles away). This beautiful, mountainous Mid-Eastern country on the Mediterranean Sea was part of Syria until Independence in 1943. Lebanese marble cutter/stonemason Saba Haik and his wife (either a Geymeyal or Selma Aboud, can anyone tell me??). They had six children, 4 boys, 2 girls. Saba Haik, my great-grandfather, was killed in a scaffolding accident. All six children and Widow Haik immigrated by the early 1900s, seeking freedom and “streets paved with gold.”
Family stories indicate the first was my grandfather, Espir Saba Haik, who stowed away on a freighter after fleeing a false murder rap! “A dying Turk accused him and fellow Christians hid him in the Mountains for two years.” The Moslem-Christian conflict that led to Lebanon’s 1973-1992 Civil war and persists (for some) today, is a crucial part of our rich ancestral story.
In New Orleans, 1903, Espir, 30, married Tamam Ofeish,15. Her family (believed to have changed their Ofeish name to Fisher) had immigrated from Bikfaya, Lebanon, and lived in Altoona, Pennsylvania.
Espir and Tamam "Mamie" had 8 children, of which my Mother, Elaine Helen Haik, was the youngest. Elaine married (first generation German-American) “Mac” Malcolm Fielding Adams and they had seven children. In order, we were “Dolly” Dolores Ann, Carolyn Marie, Rita Helen, “Pam” Pamela Jean, Connie Lynn, “Lorrie” LorendaGail, and “Mal” Malcolm Fielding Jr.
Presumed birth order of the (Lebanon-born) Saba Haik children: Braxia (Bressier?), Michel, Aclamondas (Aclumundes), Espir (Espa), Esma, and Gibran or Gabrial (“Gabe”). All Haik brothers took their father’s name (Saba) as a middle name, as is traditional. Both Haik sisters married Haiks, as was common, to preserve the family land. All started their US life in New Orleans then moved to other South Louisiana towns as indicated. While the second and third generations scattered more, many remain in Louisiana. Espir, Gabe, and their Mother (and young families) lived in the now famous Pontalbo Apartments off Jackson Square, with a dry goods business (or two?) on the bottom floor.
I developed this capsule from various interviews and notes, names primarily from information gathered in 1993-95 from Violet Haik, who got information from her brother Lester (Gabe’s children). Name variations come partly from a tree developed by Paula Z. Haik (Mark’s wife, Gabe’s grandson). Interviews with various first generation Haik Americans provided memories. Spellings vary in different resources. Subsequent input is expected to clarify, correct, and add to this family story in progress.
The immigrant generation was Braxia, Michel, Espir, Aclumundes, Esma, Gibran (Gabe). I know least about the two sisters, and would LOVE to learn more.
Braxia wed Assard Haik Reserve area?
Michel wed Olga Ofeish (Tamam’s cousin) Bogalusa and New Orleans
Espir wed Tamam Ofeish (Olga’s cousin) New Orleans and Bogalusa
Aclumundes wed Ferida ? Bogalusa
Esma wed Michel (Nutley) Haik, Bogalusa, New Iberia?
Gibran “Gabe” wed Cleo Huck, New Orleans, Bogalusa
The first generation Americans, children of the immigrants, are listed under their parents:
BRAXIA HAIK & ASSARD HAIK:
Taft, Philip, Lilly, Michel, Joseph
MICHEL HAIK & OLGA OFEISH:
Waddad, Isabel, Emile, Evelyn, Leslie, George
ESPIR HAIK & TAMAM OFEISH:
Laurice, Saba (Big Saba), Louis, Louise, Raymond, Jeannette, Elaine
ACLUMUNDES & FERIDA ?
Melanee, Ellis, Thelma (was Selwa), Emma, Dora, Saba (Little Saba)
ESMA & MICHEL (NUTLEY) HAIK
George, Waddad, Nedra, Theodore “Tedo”, Eleanor, Laurice
GIBRAN (GABE) HAIK & CLEO HUCK (the first nonLeb)
Leonard, Victor, Roy, Ralph, Lester, Violet