F. G. Jabara early days
Farris George and Hanna Jabara
Farris George Jabara came to the United States in 1903 from what is now known as Lebanon. His father was dead, he had no brothers, one sister came to America while the other sister stayed in Lebanon. Christians were persecuted in the Middle East and he wanted to escape that, in addition he wanted freedom to pursue his dreams.
He was 15 years old when he traveled to America through Ellis Island. He came to this country with cousins and then settled in Texas. Later he went to Oklahoma and began as a peddler, walking with a pack on his back filled with things he tried to sell. He could not speak English. He had no money and he walked from town to town selling the items in his pack. He slept in the barns at night. He finally saved enough money to buy a horse, then a buggy, then a team.
He had cousins in Oklahoma so he moved from Texas to Byron, Oklahoma, where he met my mother, Hanna, who came to this country from the same small village in Lebanon. She came to this country in 1914 at the age of 16, never to return to her native land, never to see her parents again. She worked for cousins who had a "dry goods" store in Byron.
My father and mother were married May 6, 1917 in Byron, Oklahoma and in the early 1920's they settled in Cambridge, Kansas, where my father and his brother-in-law owned a general merchandise store. He later bought out his partner when his brother-in-law moved to Wichita.
My father was a successful businessman. He bought a house at the top of the hill in Cambridge, about three blocks North of his store. His son George and daughter Elsie were born in Oklahoma. Kay, Fran and Eddie were born in Cambridge.
Daughters Helen, Donna and Duana, and another son, Everett, were born in Burden, Kansas.
Burden home the night Helen graduated High School.
In November 1929 the Jabara Family moved to Burden where my father bought a home and a building on Main Street and opened a grocery store. He ran the store until the summer of 1942, at which time the store was closed. World War II had started. Son George was in the Anny. Later son-in-law Virgil Nimrod married to Elsie entered the Air Force. Kay and Fran enlisted in the Army in 1942 and reported for military duty in March 1943. Eddie entered the service in 1945.
During the 1930's F. G. had purchased four small farms. He began buying and selling cattle, a business he stayed in until his death in July, 1957, at the age of 68. In 1956, F. G. and Hanna purchased a home in Eastborough, Wichita, where they lived and my mother continued to reside until her death in 1981 at the age of 82.
F. G. and Hanna were very community minded. They supported both the Baptist and Methodist churches, as well as the Eastern Orthodox Church in Wichita. F. G. was a 32 degree Mason. He worked for years collecting funds for the Burden Fair in Winfield, Arkansas City and Wichita. In the early 1930's he contributed his 1928 Nash automobile to be given away at the fair. He contributed to Southwestern College. Throughout their lifetimes, regularly they sent money to their families in Lebanon.
For many years, two $1,000 F. G. and Hanna Jabara Leadership Awards have been given annually to the outstanding young man and outstanding young lady graduates from Burden High School. These awards are given to help these graduates continue their education in college.
In front of Century II in downtown Wichita there is a life size bronze statue depicting my father when he was peddling in Oklahoma. In addition there is a six foot bronze eagle reflecting the freedom that F. G. and Hanna sought when they left their homeland. In addition, there is a group of bronze statues of children at play. Soon a large fountain will be erected. All of this is a part of the F. G. and Hanna Jabara Sculpture Garden suggesting a time for meditation.
Fran D. Jabara
May 26, 2004