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Erie Cemetery History Project

Malham Shaheen (1878-1949)
Sadie (Saad) Shaheen (1885-1960)

Malham Shaheen was born in Ain Ata, Syria (now Lebanon). In 1895, at the age of 17, he immigrated to the United States to find his “gold in the streets” of New York. On arrival, however, he discovered he had to work for his money, the same as at home.

He travelled to Clinton, IA, where he had relatives and friends. He set up a peddling business, selling notions and items he could carry in a pack on his back. He ventured as far as Kearney, NE, by foot. He received his U.S. citizenship in 1900, having spent five years in this country.

Sadie Saad was born in Kfier, Syria, and came to the U.S. and Clinton, IA, with her two brothers. On January 29, 1906, she and Mr. Shaheen were married in the Episcopal Church, Clinton, IA.

The couple was blessed with 10 children. George was born in Clinton. Margaret was born in Sterling, IL, and died at 22 months of pneumonia. Rose, Louis and Mealia were born in Rock Falls, IL. Solomon, Nezema, Ferris and Dorothy were born in Whiteside County and May was born near Dixon, IL.

After dissolving his business in Clinton, Malham Shaheen moved to Sterling, where he and a friend opened a dry goods store. They sold piece goods, notions, carpet sweepers and other items. About 1914, the family moved to a farm, because Mr. Shaheen decided it would be best to raise his children on a farm. In the years to 1935, the family moved from farm to farm.

In January of 1935, Mr. Shaheen sold his farm equipment on Route 172, having a large sale of his stock, each animal bringing a good amount of money. On March 8, 1935, he opened a Royal Blue Store in the Seiben Building in Erie, assisted by his children. Just before 1940, he purchased the Echelbarger Bakery building. When his sons Solomon and Ferris went into the service during World War II, he merged his business with a store owned by his daughter, Rose, and the two operated together until 1947, when his son Solomon returned from his 48 months in the South Pacific.

After World War II, the business was taken over by Solomon and Ferris Shaheen.

Three of Mr. Shaheen’s sons had searved in the armed forces, Solomon in the Army, Ferris in the Navy and George in the Air Force.

Mrs. Shaheen was a housewife, caring for her children, cooking, baking delicious breads and Lebanese foods, sewing, crocheting and making many memories. (Information from May Shaheen)