SYRIA-L ArchivesArchiver > SYRIA > 2009-04 > 1240641408
From: "Lilly Martin" <>
Subject: Re: [SYRIA] John SIDE, born 1889 Syria, died 1971 NY
Date: Sat, 25 Apr 2009 08:36:48 +0200
I would like to help you in your research.
If you can find among the various records that John Side left in USA or
elsewhere, a MIDDLE name. This middle name would be the FIRST name of his
For example: a man named Joseph George Khouri is the son of George Khouri.
To find out what is the name of George's father, first find out what was the
name of his first born son. This will be the name of George's father, or
alternatively, find the middle name of George.
In Syria every male and female carry a middle name which is their FATHER'S
first name. This makes identification really easy. Also, in a telephone
directory listing, you can look for a surname, now gather together all the
names who have the same middle name as well, and you probably are looking at
a list of siblings, both male and female siblings.
Syria used to cover all the geography of present day Syria and Lebanon. So
basically everything North of Palestine and South of Turkey.
In 1920 the country now called Lebanon was founded. Prior to 1920 it was
Anyone born in Lebanon prior to 1920 would have been legally idetified as
born in SYRIA. If you wrote a letter to someone in Beirut prior to 1920 you
would address it to Beirut, SYRIA.
However, once immigrants got to USA, and for example they were asked in the
1920 or 1930 census: "Where were you born?" To be geographically correct,
if they were born in Beirut for example, they should still state: "SYRIA".
However, they could also stated: "Lebanon", because that was what the
location was called at the moment the question was asked of them.
Some people did state they were from Damascus, TURKEY and Beirut, TURKEY,
for example. This was not because they were Turkish ethnically, or had ever
even been to Turkey, it was because the Ottoman Turkish Empire, ruled by the
Sultan in Istanbul, was the government for 400 years, ending in 1918, which
was the end of WW1.
In this area ARABIC is the language, and all named are only correctly
written in Arabic. There is no correct or accepted way of writing Arabic
names in English. You must foregt about standard spelling, and you must
forget about trying to find the correct way to spell a name from Syria in
English. There is no correct or accepted way, because Arabic and English
are different languages and different alphabets. The only correct way to
spell SIDE is in Arabic.
For example: Khouri, Khourey, Koury, Couri, Curry, Courey. These are all
ONE name, they are the same name, not different. However, in English there
are many ways in which to express or spell that one name, so who have men in
NY who spell it one way, and their cousins in Texas who spell it
differently. How is correct? None are correct, they only correct way is to
spell it in Arabic, but a English speaking person in USA will not understand
it, so you have to choose your own spelling variation.
Alot of passenger records state, for example: "Joseph Khouri, age 20, from
Beirut". At first glance you would think this guy was living at Beirut
before he migrated. However, that could be far from the truth. Any person
leaving anywhere in Lebanon of Syria had to leave from BEIRUT. There was no
other port who had passenger ships leaving the country. These ships were
all FRENCH steamships. The French companies had a monopoly on the passenger
If you lived anywhere in Syria or Lebanon (and perhaps even further inland?)
you had to first get yourself to Beirut, then buy your ticket from a French
steamship ticket agent, then get on the ship and first land in one of 3
major ports in France, then get off the ship and get another ticket on a
larger steamship which would make the Atlantic crossing. You could go to
Canada, USA, Cuba or the various Carribean Islands, South America, or
So you see that people who were leaving from Beirut often were listed as
FROM BEIRUT, when in fact they were not from Beirut, they only departed from
I feel that you should try contacting by phone or letter to other people
named SIDE in USA, or even Canada. www.zabasearch.com This is an excellent
way to find living people, and next go to www.anywho.com and confirm their
current address and phone number. Tell them what you are doing, and ask if
they know the origins of the name. For example: I know a researcher who was
working on her own Syrian genealogy. She worked on it for years, and then
by chance happened to find another person in USA who had done all the
genealogy back to ancient times of the same name she had, so she was able to
tie into the other research.
Specifically: the name SIDE does not seem to me to be pronouced like SIDE,
as in "The Side of my Face". In English we put an E on the end of a short
word to make the reader understand that the VOWEL preceding is a LONG vowel
sound. In English we say SIDE and we pronouce the I like the word "eye" but
we do not pronounce the last E. For example we do not in English pronounce
SIDE as "S-eye-dee". We say, "S-eye-d".
However, I have learned that many Arabic speakers will write a name like
SIDE, but they pronounce it as "S-eye-de"
This last ending "sound" is not long, like : "Dee", no it is very short
If at all possible go and find an ARAB and ask them to say the name for you,
and once you hear it you will understand what I am trying to express to you
through words, but sounds are better.
I feel that the name SIDE is the same sound as a CITY on the Southern
Lebanese Coast which is written in English as SIDON, however when spoken in
Arabic there is no "N" sound. I do not know for sure, but I would guess
that the name SIDE has some connection to SIDON the city on the southern
coast of Lebanon.
John is an English variation, but the original name may have been Jean
(French spelling) or Hanna, or Yohanna, which is the Arabic variation. Or
perhaps John was not his first name at all, and he just used that when he
John should have named his first born son for his own father, however, many
of the traditions kept in Lebanon and Syria were abandoned when they got
abroad, especially if they married a foreign woman, she might dictate the
names used. Many migrants had the feeling that they should use American or
Western names and abandon the use of their traditional Arab names. It is
sad from the historical aspect, but that is what happened in many cases.
Many migrants did not go alone, they had brothers, and cousins, and Uncles
who also migrated abroad. They may not have contacted each other or
socialised with each other, but they were there. By checking each name SIDE
who came thru Ellis Island, then looking at the original manifest online,
enlarge it, and read the section that says: "Final destination" you may find
several or many who stated they were going to the same man, be he brother or
cousin, or uncle.
Concerning what was the original RELIGION. If you can find the original
true name, this may shed light, because Christians and Moslems do tend to
use different names, which in themselves identify their religion. Among the
Christian community there are many sects: Greek Orthodox, Greek Catholic,
Syrian Orthodox, Roman Catholic, American Protestant, Maronite Catholic.
Many immigrants switched their religion, probably because of marrying
someone from a different sect, or religion. Most Syrian immigrants were
Christians, but there were some Moslems and Jews as well. Some of these
migrants remained within their own faith, some changed, or their descendants
If you could determine what church they attended, and if there is any
marriage or baptism records which might help to shed light on the original
faith. For example: when he married did he have to switch, or learn, or
conform to some new religions sect in order to have a church wedding with
his bride in USA or Canada? The marriage record could possibly state the
Was he very religious, or barely? Most Christians in Syria and Lebanon are
very religious, it is part of their heritage, it is a big part of their
personal identity. What is your opinion? And of course you need to talk to
all the older relatives to see if anyone has ideas, or old stories, or
diaries, or whatever.
Let's discuss this further if you like.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Jenny Riggs" <>
Sent: Thursday, April 23, 2009 9:20 PM
Subject: [SYRIA] John SIDE, born 1889 Syria, died 1971 NY
>I am researching my husband's paternal line, surname is SIDE. According to
> census and military records, my husband's great-grandfather was John Side,
> born May 1889 in Syria, immigrated to the US through Canada around 1910,
> married Ella Page in New York. They lived in Alexandria, Jefferson County,
> and had at least seven children: John, George, Ella, Anna, Earl, Elmer,
> Janice. John died in Alexandria in 1971.
> Different censuses say different things regarding John Side's
> birthplace-Syria, Syrian Arab Emirates, Turkey. I assume this is because
> area was controlled by different entities at different times in history.
> document lists his father's name as also being John Side, from Beirut,
> (what is now Lebanon).
> I have found MANY men with the last name of SIDE emigrated from Syria in
> late 1800s/early 1900s, but I have no way to connect them to my John Side.
> I'm trying to find more information on this family, if they were Christian
> or Muslim or Jew, since apparently all three religions were common in the
> area. I'm also trying to figure out if SIDE was an American translation of
> more Arabic surname.
> Thanks for any help you can provide!
> To unsubscribe from the list, please send an email to
> with the word 'unsubscribe' without the quotes
> in the subject and the body of the message
|Re: [SYRIA] John SIDE, born 1889 Syria, died 1971 NY by "Lilly Martin" <>|