Hagop Bogigian was an emigrant from Western Armenia who became the first American millionaire of Armenian descent.
Bogigian was born into a large Armenian family in 1856 in the Usenik village, Kharberd province, Western Armenia (now in modern Turkey). He arrived in the US at the age of 20 without any money in his pocket. Having settled in Boston (Massachusetts), the young Armenian began to engage in the flourishing oriental carpet business.
Over the years, Bogigian would become one of the largest entrepreneurs in this field of activity in New England. Financial success was not long in coming, and already by the end of the 19th century, he had become the first millionaire of Armenian descent in the United States. Bogigian was not only one of the richest people of his time but also had close ties with the elite of New England and well beyond.
The Armenian entrepreneur has also been actively engaged in philanthropic activities and has provided financial and humanitarian assistance to Armenians in the US and the Ottoman Empire.
During the Hamidian massacres in the Ottoman Empire (1894-1896), Bogigian was actively involved in charity for the Armenians and convinced the founder of the American Red Cross Clara Barton to launch a mission to assist Armenian people in distress.
Bogigian has repeatedly spoken in the American press with a call to stop the Armenian Genocide and has been engaged in various missions to save the Armenians who had survived during the Genocide.
In the meantime, Bogigian has become one of the philanthropists and trustees of Wilson College in Chambersburg (Pennsylvania) where his wife had studied, as well as other educational institutions in California and Massachusetts.
Since Bogigian did not have children and heirs, most of his fortune was bequeathed to educational scholarships, primarily for women of Armenian descent. Bogigian’s scholarship fund now stands at about $1 million.
In 2016, the book “Hakob Bogigian: Armenian-American Pioneer and Philanthropist” was published in the US, telling about the life and activities of the philanthropist.
Russian original from Michael Osipov