Immigration has existed during the entire history of mankind and people have moved from their homelands for centuries. There may be several reasons why people would want to leave their country of birth. For our Swaida early immigrants, among the older and most common causes of immigration were that people felt the need to leave their country to escape conflict zones.
Individuals in Swaida during the late 19th century were living in a war-torn region under Ottoman rule. They felt the need to immigrate to get away from the fighting and escape danger in hopes to make a better life for themselves. Other important reasons are to escape poverty and to look for higher standards of living in various countries as in America. Younger generations left in the mid-20th century and beyond to pursue a higher education in better universities available abroad. They moved to study, yet some of them may have enjoyed their new places and stayed indefinitely. It is almost certain, however, that most immigrants from Swaida, came to America with no money or wealth, yet they did have the will to survive and face their future. They absolutely stood on their own two feet and made it in the new land.
Among the first wave of Swaida immigrants known to us are Fadel (Charlie) Assed and Ameen (George) Assed who migrated towards the end of the 1800’s. Like other immigrants at the time, they arrived in Ellis Island of New York, then they went to Oklahoma later settling in Arkansas. Fadel (Charlie) Assed made his fortune when he began opening a chain of Five & Dime Stores and Dry Goods Stores throughout Oklahoma, Arkansas and Texas. His family and sons ended up in Killeen, Texas.
In 1903, a group of Swaida immigrants gathered in New York and took the photo below as shown on a carriage pulled by a buffalo. Among those who congregated at that time were Mahmoud Dwyer, Fadel Assed, Miriy Hassan Hatoum and Shaheen Abo Asali. The other individuals are unrecognized. However, Shaheen’s son Hamad Abo Asali (Howard Boasley), migrated to America in 1914 to join his dad, Shaheen. Later in 1948, Hamad Howard Boasley settled in Killeen, Texas.
Saleem Ahmad Al Aissami migrated to Brazil in 1907 then went to Argentina and Cuba before entering America in 1912. During his stay in America, he would visit and offer help to the warriors of the Syrian Revolution. During his last visit to Syria in 1964, he died just one year later in a car accident.
Around 1914, a young man from the town of Sultan Pasha Al-Attrach (Kraiya) migrated to America. His name was Joe Jaber Shoukair. While in America, he continued to communicate with Sultan Pasha Al-Atrach, especially during the Syrian Revolution against the French. He settled in a small town called Matoaka in West Virginia. Joe Jaber worked as a peddler, walking over the coalfields of West Virginia and later ran a Five and Ten Cent Store.
Swaida American Society (SAS) is looking to publish stories about those incredible early Swaida Immigrants and will be seeking proposals of first-hand information on immigrants who achieved remarkable accomplishments to the SAS community as well as to their homeland. Qualifying proposals will be published. Thank you
SAS Education Committee