Benjamin Bouchman’s Story

A story from a fourth generation immigrant.

In 1917, my great grandfather Benjamin Bouchman began walking. He was ten years old and his family was fleeing the Bolshevik Revolution. They walked from their home in Гранів, Ukraine to Bucharest, Romania, roughly 415 miles as the crow flies.

Their group consisted of 18 people, Ben’s siblings, his mother, and other children from the village. They walked at night to avoid the sparring armies, and relied on the kindness of local farmers to allow them to sleep on their land during the day. They risked violence almost beyond words, but only almost. Had they been found, the women in the group would have been raped and the men would have been killed. This isn’t an over-dramatization, but a literal reality. Rape and murder is what drove them from their village to begin with.

Over the next few weeks, I will be telling Benjamin’s story. It has never been easy to be a migrant, nor will it ever.

Through this project I hope to accomplish a few things: to learn more about my namesake, to create parallels to the current refugee crisis, and to remind White America that most of us got here very recently. My father’s side of the family hasn’t even been here 100 years.

Welcome to my self-exploration.

-Troy Benjamin Haas, Fourth Generation Immigrant.