Rev. Jacob David
Did you know that Assyrians were attending universities in the United States as early as the nineteenth century? Rev. Jacob David was one of those individuals. He came to the United States in 1893 to attend the Ivy League school, Brown University, in Providence, Rhode Island. After graduating in 1899, he continued his education at Newton Theological Seminary in Newton Massachusetts (now part of Yale University), where he received his pastoral ordination.
Born in the village of Seir in Urmia, Iran in 1873, Rev. Jacob David grew up attending American Presbyterian missionary schools in Urmia. After completing his degrees in the United States, Rev. Jacob David returned to Urmia and worked for the Presbyterian missionary, Dr. William Ambrose Shedd, at a boys’ school. However, when the Assyrians of Urmia underwent a genocide during World War I, Rev. Jacob David fled to the city of Tabriz, while Dr. Shedd died from cholera during his flight.
While in Tabriz, Rev. David superintended the Near East Relief Orphanage that cared for Assyrian children whose parents had perished during the Genocide. He also superintended a refugee school there, and worked with his wife, Judith Moorhatch, to comfort many Genocide survivors. In 1921, he and his family moved to the United States. However, Rev. David continued to assist his people by serving as a national speaker for an American organization called Near East Relief, which aided Assyrian and Armenian refugees of the Genocide. His speaking engagements helped bring awareness of the Genocide to Americans.
Rev. Jacob David served as a missionary in Chicago for the remainder of his life. He and his wife had four children. Rev. David passed away in 1967 and is buried at Elmwood Cemetery, near Chicago.
Written by Esther Lang
Jacob David. U.S., School Catalogs, 1765-1935 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012.
Naby, Eden. “David, Jacob.” Encyclopaedia Iranica. https://iranicaonline.org/articles/david-jacob#prettyPhoto (accessed September 8, 2021).
“The Unforgettable Shepherd.” Assyrian Star, May-June 1967.