Many families in Lebanon with names like Haddad, Najjar, and Khoury would find it difficult to maintain discrete records of a cohesive family history because their name refers to a profession that many unrelated family groups share. Families that we feature in the pages of HOME, on the other hand, have clear histories and cohesive lineages. One such family is the Hamadeh family of the village of Baaqline.
The history of the Hamadehs is inextricably linked with the history of Baaqline where the Hamadehs are considered the largest family. In addition to those who officially carry the family name, a number of other Baaqline families have Hamadeh roots, but now use other names, including Nasrallah, Said, Alameddine, and Abou Hatoun. In all likelihood, they broke off generations ago, creating their own family lines named after their grandfather’s rather than using the larger extended family name.
Baaqline is located in the Shouf region in the very heart of Mount Lebanon near Deir el-Qamar and 35 miles (52 kilometers) from Beirut. The palace of Sheikh Hussein Hamadeh in the heart of Baaqline was built in stages, starting in 1591. The palace was restored after the Lebanese civil war. Before writing this article, I visited the Hamadeh Palace and met with Shawki Hamadeh, a family historian, and Tal’at Hamadeh, resident caretaker of the public areas of the palace.
Talaat offered me a tour of the museum which has an impressive collection of historical artifacts from traditional swords and musical instruments to early telephones and a hand-cranked record player. Above the museum, a complex of rooms serves as the archival depository for the palace. Its walls are covered with an extensive collection of historical documents and pictures. There is also a religious maqam (shrine) on the ground floor of the palace. In addition, three Hamadeh families have their private HOMEs in the palace, restored to maintain their historical integrity while providing modern comforts to those who reside in them. While the public areas of the palace are not open for regular hours, one can arrange a tour through Talaat Hamadeh.
The Hamadeh Family Association was established in 1993 as a community-based organization whose mission is to:
- Address the needs of family members in Baaqline and wherever else they might be in the world.
- Deliver programs and services to family members in ways that reflect their cultural heritage.
The Association holds an annual breakfast for Eid al-Adha, the one holiday the Druze share with Muslims. The Association also has both a website (www.hamadeh.weebly. com) and a Facebook page: Hamadeh- Family-Baakline.
While Baaqline had no intermediate or secondary school until 1957, it has since become known for its education. In that year, Shouf National College was established, motivated primarily by Professor Said Hamadeh who was at that time a Professor of Economics and head of the division of Economics and Business Administration at the American University of Beirut.
Maarouf Hamadeh was the school principal for more than 35 years starting in 1978, helping needy students and directing the school throughout the war years and into the 21st century.
Historical figures of the Hamadeh Family
For several centuries, the Shaykh al-Aql, the elected religious leader of the Druze community, came from the Hamadeh family. These include:
- Shaykh Abu Ali Merhi Hamadeh
- Shaykh al-Aql, who died in 1495
- Shaykh Muhammad Hamadeh
- Shaykh al-Aql, 1869-1915
- Shaykh Hussain Hamadeh
- Shaykh al-Aql, 1915-1945
- Shaykh Rashid Hamadeh
- Shaykh al-Aql, 1954-1970
Hamadeh Rulers & Governors
- Governor Shibly Bey Hamadeh Governor of Tartous
- Governor Ali Bey Hamadeh Governor of Al Qunaitera
- Said Bey Hamadeh PhD, Minister
- Qahtan Bey Hamadeh, Member of Parliament
- Muhammad Ali Bey Hamadeh, Ambassador
Contemporary Notable Members of the Family
Michael and Kamol Hamady founded the American supermarket chain, Hamady Brothers, based in Flint, Michigan in 1911. The company grew to have $100 million in annual sales, with 36 supermarkets and shopping centers, employing 1,300 employees. The paper bags the groceries were put in came to be called “Hamady sacks.” The company played an important role in the development of the United Auto Workers union, providing truckloads of food to the strikers in their 1937 strike of the General Motors' Fisher Body plant. A book about the Hamady family business, The Groceryman, by Robert Lee Hamady, was published in 2006 and is available free at: http://blog.mlive.com/flintjournal/ special/2007/12/groceryman.html
Marwan Mohammad Ali Hamadeh is a Lebanese journalist and politician, who served in various capacities in different cabinets, including Minister of Tourism (1982); Minister of Economy and Trade (1990- 92; 2003-2004), Minister of Health and Social Affairs (1992-1996); Minister for the Displaced (2000); and Minister of Telecommunications (2005-2008). He became a member of Parliament from the Shouf in 1996 and was re-elected in 2009. He suffered an assassination attempt in October 2004.
Nadia Hamadeh Tueni (1935 -1983), Marwan’s sister, was a notable author and was acclaimed as was one of Lebanon's greatest 20th century poets. She received a number of awards during her lifetime, including the Prix de l'Académie Française, Order of La Pleiade, and the Prix Said Akl. She married Ghassan Tueni, former UN ambassador, often referred to as the “dean of Lebanese journalist”, and headed the Lebanese daily, An Nahar. Their son, Gebran Tueni, was assassinated by a car bomb in Beirut in December 2005.
Wael K. Hamadeh is an artist who has lived in Dubai since 1995. His paintings, photographs, sculptures, and crafts reflect his cultural heritage of Lebanese villagers and farmers, mountains, valleys, olive trees and other subjects of folklore – all expressed in his own unique style. His website is replete with a wide variety of his paintings, many of which grace the walls of companies, hotels, restaurants, and private collectors. As he declares: “My name is Wael K. Hamadeh, my nationality is Lebanese, and the universe is my family.”
Maan Hamadeh is a Lebanese pianist and composer who achieved international fame when a video of him playing the piano went viral. He was in transit at Prague’s Vaclav Havel Airport in August 2014 when he saw a “Play Me” piano in the terminal and spontaneously sat down to play the theme of Beethoven’s Für Elise with variations in pop, march, and oriental rhythms. His travel companion and childhood friend, Rami El Ghoussainy, captured the experience on video and it was then uploaded on YouTube, getting over 17 million views in two weeks and reaching more than 29 million views by November 2016. Maan was honored at the Arouwad Awards 2016 in Beirut as a Lebanese musician with a new musical style which serves as a bridge between different cultures.
Taldat Hamadeh, the resident palace caretaker, summed up his own views about the family, noting that members of the family are very proud to carry the name, that most are very educated, and that they appreciate their deep historical roots and the close linkage of their family with the village of Baaqline.
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