Our Beloved Lebanon:
"Mithleek mab la'iy bi diny kilaa,
ou mitil jamaleek ma khalak Allah!"
On September 15, 1880, the first Kfarsghabians to come to the United States were Karam and Hala Bou Arab, (Maneera Burkot's parents) and Unis and Milkee Bou Arab, (Susie Unis's parents). They landed in Philadelphia, Pa. and traveled to Easton, Pa, New York City, and Providence, R.I. Two years later, another brother, Beshara, joined them. They stayed in the Delaware Valley where they worked for 6 years, then returned to Lebanon.
In 1884, Elias Abbood Koury and his brother, John, landed in Philadelphia. They settled in New Orleans, La. Elias died soon afterwards; John stayed in New Orleans and married there in 1888. He became the first to emigrate permanently to the United States.
In 1885, the Utchee Boulous family came to Philadelphia, stayed 2 years and returned to Lebanon.
In 1885, Hanna and Yusef Boulous Mussa came to Washington, D.C. under the sponsorship of a rich American woman, Yusef attended school 7 years. Both Hanna and Yusef returned to Lebanon after 8 years. Yusef was one of the few who could read and write English well.
In 1885, Hanna Yusef Karam went to St. Louis, Mo. He stayed 5 years and returned to Lebanon.
On May 13, 1887, Anthony Assad Sar left Lebanon with Father Ambrose, a Jesuit missionary. He traveled to Yucatan, Honduras, Cuba, and Mexico; then to Santa Barbara, California, where he left the missions and went to St. Louis, Mo., where he met his boyhood friend, Hanna Yusef Karam. They spent 3 years together before Karam returned to Lebanon. While in St. Louis, Anthony met and married Catherine Deeb, a Lebanese girl from Karam-Sudee. The wedding took place in Herman, Mo. on April 18,1896. Sar and his family moved to Easton in 1917.
In 1898, Mehsen Ibrahim Wehbi and his wife, Nazira Bou Arab Wehbi arrived in Pittsburgh, Pa. Nazira was the daughter of Karam Bou Arab who came to the United States in 1880. Mehsen and Nazira returned to Lebanon in 1906.
From 1894 to 1900 there was a temporary restriction on all quotas to the United States. This restriction was lifted in the autumn of 1901.
Had it not been for an extraordinarily long delay in the arrival and loading of a ship heading to Australia in the port of Marseilles, France, the Lebanese probably would have never settled in Easton.
Around 1900, a group of about a dozen Lebanese, having grown dissatisfied with the dismal prospect of earning a livelihood from the stubborn northern Lebanese soil, set out to stake their claim on the mythical riches in the new land of Australia. But, while waiting for days in the crowded, damp room that was used to hold passengers in transit, the Lebanese noticed that European passengers were boarding certain ships without any problems whatsoever. Puzzled, fortunately they found a Lebanese shipping agent in Marseilles and asked why it was that others wishing to board for Australia were able to do so with such ease, while they had been kept waiting for days. The group was told that those in the fast moving lines were not headed for Australia, but for another land, America, which none of the group knew much about. Some of the group, bored with waiting for the Australian ship and growing ever more restless, suggested that they board the next ship going to America. A dispute then arose among the group-half decided to go to America, and the other half grew so disgusted with their situation, that they decided to return to their village---Kfarsghab, Lebanon.
The shipping agent was able to recommend the departing Kfarsghabians to a Lebanese businessman in New York, a Mr. Faour. Faour had sent many Lebanese immigrants on their separate ways by providing them with a large sack of combs, brushes, pins, rosaries, and other such items.
He would then accompany them on a train marked for a well chosen destination away from New York. Upon reaching that destination, the immigrants would disembark and immediately begin selling their wares as agents of Mr. Faour, who never left the train station, but always returned immediately to New York. Actually, Easton was chosen for the Kfarsghabians simply because Faour did not have any sellers in this area. The Kfarsghabians promised Faour that they would purchase from him all the goods which they might sell. After many years of physical hardship and problems in overcoming the language barrier, the immigrants began to acquire meager dwellings of their own and eventually most were united in this new world.
Please note: The names of some immigrants will appear more than once. Some returned to Lebanon to straighten out affairs. Some to bring their families to the U.S.
After World War I, the Lebanese bought homes from the Italians and Jews, who were moving away. They learned about clothes, home improvements, insurance and credit. Businesses were branching out, the dry goods and notions business was replaced by grocery stores, butcher shops, coffee houses and truck farms.
In 1941, when war was declared, 39 men and 2 women served in the armed forces of the United States. Work, wait, and pray, became the watchwords of the day. In 1945, the war was over. We lost one soldier, Airman Charles Laholdt, who died somewhere over Europe in 1944.
The greatest progress of the Easton Lebanese was made after World War II. Many innovations learned during the war were put to useful purposes. They entered the business, professional, and social world. The parents and children took an active part in the church, school, social, and political affairs.
In the late 1960's, Lehigh Street came under the ax of the redevelopment authority. This brought an end to the Kfarsghabiyi on Lehigh Street. In 1969, our church and rectory were moved to 4th and Ferry streets. The Lebanese are now scattered throughout the city and townships. Our Lehigh Street is no more; however, the memories of it are many, and will live forever and ever, in the hearts of all Kfarsghabiyi who knew it as their first home and haven in America.
The Kfarsghabiyi stand second to none as defenders of the Maronite rite. Kfarsghab sits at the top of the valley of Kadisha, just under the Cedars of Lebanon, an area which is generally known to be the strongest fortress of the Maronite Rite. Indeed, one story in circulation has it that one of the immigrants, when asked for a comparison between God and Mar Maroun, remarked quite innocently, "God is surely great but is really no match for Mar Maroun."