On Wednesday, October 30, 1895, Armenians were massacred in Erzurum and the surrounding Armenian villages. American journalist William Sachtleben happened to be in Erzurum at that time, investigating the disappearance of American cyclist Frank Lenz. During the massacre Sachtleben was in the American mission building, where over 200 Armenians fled for protection. Sachtleben witnessed the aftermath of the massacre; he took photographs of the victims in the Armenian Cemetery and wrote three lengthy and detailed letters about the massacre that were published, unsigned and attributed to an Occasional Correspondent, in the London Times on November 16, 27 and December 9. In the Nov. 16 letter he wrote: "Saturday, Nov. 2...I went with one of the cavasses of the English Legation, a soldier, my interpreter, and a photographer (Armenian) to the Armenian Gregorian Cemetery. The municipality had sent down a number of bodies, friends had brought more, and a horrible sight met my eyes. Along the wall on the north in a row 20ft. wide and 150ft. long, lay 321 dead bodies of the massacred Armenians..." In the Times Nov. 27 letter, Sachtleben wrote: "The number of houses of Armenians in Erzerum is about 2,000...Of these 2,000 houses, about 1,500 to 1,800 are completely emptied of their contents. Many families, formerly well-to-do, are now completely in poverty, having lost all their goods in the shops and all their household articles as well..."
This photograph was most probably taken in 1895, when William Sachtleben was in Turkey to investigate the disappearance of cyclist Frank Lenz who had last been seen near Erzurum. Notes accompanying negatives indicate that during this trip, Sachtleben was in Bursa and travelled from Trabzon to Erzurum. Sachtleben's 1891 photographs of his bicycle tour across Asia have a circular format.
Photograph of William Lewis Sachtleben at the Stoa of the Giants in the Agora in Athens. Sachtleben stands with his bicycle next to a colossal statue on a pedestal. Another unidentified man stands on the left. A high stone wall and two houses are visible in the background.