HISTORY OF KFARSGHAB
The Summer Village of Kfarsghab, Lebanon overlooks the Wadi Qadisha (Holy Valley), the refuge of St. Maron and his followers, after they were driven from the Syrian wilderness by religious antagonists. The Summer village is located near Ehden and Jabail Mar Sarkis and is 1400 meters (4593 feet) above sea level. The Summer Village is 108 Kilometers from Beirut, 34 Kilometers from Tripoli, and 28 Kilometers from Zgharta. The village name means “rugged and rocky terrain”.
Kfarsghab’s legendary first settler, whose name is lost to history, came to that beautiful land in the shadow of the cedars, about one thousand years ago. Like the other Maronites scattered here and there on the bare slopes of the Lebanese mountains, he was undoubtedly a man of unshakeable faith in God and in the teachings and practices of his great hermit Maron.
Our forefather must have endured much physical hardship, but succeeding generations of Kfarsghabiyi can be grateful to him for persisting in his struggles to establish a family and a clan on that bare mountainside. The perseverence, bravery, and ingenuity of his descendants can be traced to this tough man of the mountain, and when the opportunity arose for Kfarsghabiyi to leave their crowded village some nine hundred years later, they must have carried with them the same limitless hope for the future that possessed that first settler.
In 1745, the Sheikhdom of Morh Kfarsghab (Winter village), which is approximately 300 meters above sea level, and located at the foothills of the mountains of North Lebanon, was purchased by Abou Youssef Elias from Assad Hamadeh for 10 Turkish piastres, which would amount to $6.20 today. It is approximately 20 kilometers away from our summer village, but is considerably lower in altitude, allowing for milder winter conditions than the heavy snowfall that occurs in the winter months of the summer village.
The first Kfarsghabiyi to emigrate were pioneers in more than one sense. True, they were going to places where the language and customs would be different and this alone would have been a difficult enough task. But they also took upon themselves the added burden of making the way easier for the emigrants that would surely follow them.
Nearly all of the Kfarsghabiyi that emigrated in the 19th century went to Australia; a few went to New Zealand, and although Kfarsghabian emigration to the United States began in 1881 with the arrival of Karam Abou Arab in Philadelphia, it was not until 1900 that the first Kfarsghabian came to Easton, Pennsylvania.