Diab Catoni Thomas immigrated to the United States from Mtein, Lebanon in 1892. Mtein, a village near Beirut in Lebanon, flourished in the 18th century due to the rise of the silk industry in Lebanon. The village had seven textile factories where residents of Mtein and nearby villages worked.
After working for nine years peddling dry goods in Virginia, Diab returned to Lebanon where he married Mary Ramah and had two children. Mary formerly worked in one of the seven textile factories after her father broke his back when she was nine or ten years old. Mary and the children, Salene and Alene, immigrated to the United States in 1907.
The family settled in Matoaka, Virginia where Diab opened a successful general store. Diab and Mary had nine more children in America bringing their family to a total of five daughters and six sons. By the 1930s, the family had moved to Mullens, West Virginia where they operated a grocery store. Diab died in Mullens in 1971 at the age of 103.
Did You Know?
From 1910 to 1940, the Angel Island Immigration Station in San Francisco Bay processed approximately 1 million Asian immigrants entering into the US, leading to it sometimes being referred to as "The Ellis Island of the West". Due to the restrictions of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, many immigrants spent years on the island, waiting for entry. Access to the island is by private boat or public ferry from San Francisco, Tiburon or Vallejo. Ferry services are reduced during the winter. More...