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..."
Photograph of rows of Armenian massacre victims interred in a mass grave in the Armenian cemetery in Erzurum. Four men place a body on the ground, while others holding shovels pause and watch or look towards the photographer. The grave is lined by a row of mourners, with tall trees visible behind them.