Bedros Keljik escaped his homeland amid a rising tide of Turkish nationalism. He managed to save his parents and most — but not all — of his siblings from what would become the Armenian genocide.
He found his way to St. Paul in 1899 where he and a partner opened a rug store downtown at 4th and Market streets near Rice Park.
More than a century later, the business thrives in south Minneapolis in a shop run by his grandson Mark. Even in prosperity, though, the family has never lost sight of what Bedros and other Armenians endured.
April marks the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide. As many as 1.5 million perished at the hands of Turkish forces. To commemorate, the Keljiks are sharing some of their family's stories. That includes one about a French captain who told police that his boat was essentially French soil, a declaration that saved Bedros and his brother.
Bedros later lectured widely on what was happening in his homeland to sound the alarm. Mark hopes remembering atrocities from a century ago will help avert future genocide.
Click on the audio above to hear more from the Keljik family.