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 Krikor Arakelian

Krikor Arakelian

Death 25 Feb 1951 (aged 79)
California, USA
Burial Fresno, Fresno County, California, USA
Memorial ID 31499379 · View Source
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"Mr. K" the Watermelon Baron of the San Joaquin Valley shipping out produce under the Mission Bell label. He later established the Mission Bell Winery in Madera California.


Krikor Arakelian, founder and president of the K. Arakelian, Inc., has been a resident of Fresno county since he was twelve years old. The corporation of which he is almost the sole owner, has about six thousand acres of vineyards and orchards in the San Joaquin Valley, besides other properties, and is capitalized for two million dollars.

Mr. Arakelian was born at Marsovan, Turkish Armenia, March 14, 1871, the son of John and Queenie Arakelian. The family moved to Fresno in 1883, where the father who had been a merchant of prominence in Asia, settled down as a farmer. Young Arakelian started to work for ten dollars per month, continuing for a few months, but soon after started peddling melons and fruit around Fresno. He attended Fresno schools whenever he had a chance, and in 1892 returned to Marsovan to take a college course. The completion of his course of study was interrupted by a revolution in Turkish Armenia, and he was imprisoned in a Turkish prison in 1895, but on account of being ay American citizen he was soon released and immediately thereafter came back to Fresno.

After his return to Fresno it was necessary for Mr. Arakelian to start over again in business, as he had spent all his savings, and his parents still in Fresno had been adversely effected by the financial conditions then prevailing in this country. He soon started in the melon business, and ultimately became known as the "Melon King of America," because of the tremendous number of water melons and cantaloupes which he handled. His "Mission Bell brand" of cantaloupes became noted all over the United States.

Mr. Arakelian retired from the melon business in 1919, at which time he bought two of the largest vineyards which the California Wine association then owned.

This was just at the time prohibition came into force in the United States and many owners of vineyards had become panicky and were disposing of their properties at very low prices. However, Mr. Arakelian realized that, notwithstanding prohibition, there would still be a large market for raisins and grapes, and his foresight in this laid the foundation for his present wealth.

K. Arakelian, Incorporated, now operates six packing houses in the San Joaquin Valley, and packs and markets its own products. Its acreage is located in Fresno, Kings, Madera, Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties, and the grapes and raisins are sold under the trade name of "Mission Bell."

Another important interest of K. Arakelian, Incorporated, is a winery located at Madera. This has a capacity of two million gallons, and the "Madera" brand of wine is sold all over the United States for sacramental, medicinal and manufacturing purposes.

In the acquirement of his large land interests, Mr. Arakelian's policy has been never to mortgage a piece of property after he had paid off the encumbrance on it. Following this plan he has kept himself on a more or less liquid basis at all times, and has been able to weather successfully the various periods of depression. His original piece of land contained only forty acres, and he has expanded only as fast as he could control his business with his personal credit.

Mr. Arakelian was married in 1899 to Rose Agamian, who was an Armenian, born in Constantinople, and educated in Catholic schools in that city. Mr. and Mrs. Arakelian have eleven children and thirteen grandchildren.

Rose passed away in 1945. In 1948 he married Renee Lyons of Pasadena, his son Vaughn's nurse. She survived him

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  • Created by: Lester Letson
  • Added: 18 Nov 2008
  • Find A Grave Memorial 31499379
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Krikor Arakelian (14 Mar 1871–25 Feb 1951), Find A Grave Memorial no. 31499379, citing Ararat Cemetery, Fresno, Fresno County, California, USA ; Maintained by Lester Letson (contributor 46627920) .