Baptism Registration at Our Parish St. George in Mangeshi Part II
By: Francis K. Khosho
Recently, I published part one of the Baptism Registration at Our Parish St. George in Mangeshi article series on Mangish.net and on the Facebook blog, Mangeshi Diaries. The article was also translated into Arabic by Hanna Shumon. Since its publication, the article has generated many thoughtful questions and inquiries. Specifically, one of my dear friends, Dr. Rabi questioned why the recording of births began in 1884? And also, how can we prove that this was the approximate timeframe of the inception of birth records?
So, I decided to take a deeper dive into these questions about our baptism records. Nowadays, many research tools are made more readily available through the World Wide Web. One can simply conduct a search utilizing popular search engines, such as Google or Yahoo. But what is the reliability of that information? How does one avoid confirmation bias? (Which is the ability to find the answer you are specifically looking for and ignore the totality of information available). My preference is to access every resource available. Take everything into consideration and then hypothesize from the entirety of information available. So, that is what I did. In my search for the best evidence, I called upon information from articles, books, members of our community and experts in the field.
With this information, my hypothesis on the query of our baptism records remains rather consistent: that the Turkish government was involved in recording births in Mangeshi and throughout the Ottoman Empire in and around the 1884 timeframe through their census efforts. Here is why:
1.) Many other Assyrian/Chaldean villages have official birth records close in proximity to the year 1884: a. Alqush: earliest documented record is dated 1890. b. Baqofah: earliest documented record was 1874. However, there is no official record of registration from 1898 – 1901 for reasons unknown.1 c. Dawedia: the first official birth record was dated September 12, 1894. The second was dated February 7, 1920. It is not known why there was such a significant gap in time between the two, but the first record in 1894 was an official recording.2 d. Telesqof: the first official birth record was in 1886.3
It is clear that official birth rIt is clear that official birth records for both our St. George Parish in Mangeshi and surrounding communities all coincide in time with the census that was conducted by the Ottoman Empire in and around the 1884 timeframe. This information lends itself to the hypothesis that the
1 Al-Noufaly Habib , Baqofah a Grain of Mustard Seed (2002), p. 121.
2 Issac Hezqead Issac, Dawedia Village Past and Present (2012), p. 59.
3 Parish of Telesqof Church, Registry of Birth Records, Father Karam Najeeb Yousif Shamasha.
Turkish government was instrumental in requiring the compilation of official birth records for their government census.
The baptism registry has been such a vital tool in the exploration of our family history, genealogy and understanding of the intricacies of our village network. I am so very thankful for the work of my dear friend, Ibrahim Ossi, who is essentially bringing this village tree to life through his hard work and dedication in compiling this significant data.
Our baptism certificates have allowed for us to have official records of our personal dataIt is clear that official birth r that is not available elsewhere. While they do not serve as official legal documents, they are certainly recognized as such and treated as such by governmental agencies throughout the world who realize their meaning and legitimacy. Many of our community members have utilized these records as a tool in obtaining immigration status and navigating other legal channels. Governmental agencies around the world use baptism records as a means to verify personal data and issue national identification documents. It is imperative that we continue to preserve this information and safeguard our ancestry.
As always, I appreciate that you all have taken the time to participate in this conversation as we work together in maintaining and celebrating our history. Blessings to you all from California.
Francis K. Khosho California