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The neighborhood of Brickbottom in the city Somerville, a suburb of Boston, Massachusetts, has a history of immigration from Western Asia Minor in the early 20th century, specifically from the coastal town of Alaçatı (Grk. Alatsata). Situated on the peninsula of Erytrea, Alaçatı is proximal to both Izmir and Chios, a port of call for many Alatsatians who immigrated to the US.

Brickbottom’s Alatsatians are most proud of their war hero George Dilboy, however this presentation focuses on the community writ-large.

The Alatsatian community of Somerville emerged through a process of chain migration. Individuals and families left Alaçatı for different reasons at different times. Some immigrated to escape conscription into the Ottoman Army. Others to escape the forced displacements of 1914-1915 and the final expulsion in the Fall of 1922.

Upon arrival, Alatsatians initially worked as laborers in the service industry. As they saved and accrued capital they were able to purchase their own businesses or buy their bosses.

The Refugees “We stuck together”

They also worked as hospital support staff in Mass General Hospital.
And as piecemeal seamstresses in Somerville’s local garment industry.

In addition, many Alatsatians were lured to work in local factories.

A salient indication of the close knit nature of the Alatsatian community of Somerville was the establishment of a fraternal organization called “The Pharos of Erythraia” in 1918.

The “Pharos” was instrumental in fundraising to construct the community’s Greek Orthodox Church. They organized picnics and dances whose entry fees were used for a variety of purposes such as aid families residing in Alatsata. The Pharos also provided death and burial benefits to dues-paying members. The Pharos also participated in parades commemorating the 4th of July and Greek independence Day.

Created By
George Topalidis
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