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August 30, 2013

Vigo County Historical Museum to receive historic keystone

TERRE HAUTE — An important link in the long chain of Terre Haute’s rich immigrant history will be marked Saturday at the Vigo County Historical Society Museum.

At 2 p.m., decedents of Kaleel and Sadie Hanna will be presenting the keystone from the former Hanna general store building at Third and Eagle streets to the museum’s collection.

The keystone, weighing approximately 300 pounds, was at the top of the two-story building and bears the inscription: “K. Hanna 1907 A.D.”

“It was at the very top of the building,” said Bill Hanna, grandson of Kaleel and Sadie Shahadey Hanna and one of several decedents expected at the ceremony. The general store was where the former Boy’s and Girl’s Club building now stands, he said.

Kaleel and Sadie arrived in the U.S. in 1895 and came to Terre Haute two years later. Kaleel worked in Fort Wayne as a peddler and, after moving to Terre Haute, eventually received a line of credit from Herman Hulman, allowing the Syrian entrepreneur to purchase and sell items such as sheets, blankets and clothing, Bill Hanna said. Kaleel and Sadie constructed their general store building 10 years after arriving in Terre Haute.

The line of credit from Herman Hulman was instrumental in allowing Kaleel to operate his business and also to assist other immigrants, Bill Hanna said. Kaleel and Sadie were instrumental in helping establish the area’s Syrian community, he said.

Saturday’s ceremony at the museum at 1411 S. Sixth Street is open to the public.

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