Monika Ghattas.
Courtesy photo.

“Los Arabes of New Mexico,” presented by retired history professor Monika Ghattas, is set for 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 15, at Historic Old San Ysidro Church, 966 Old Church Road, across from Casa San Ysidro.

It’s free and open to the public.

Corrales Historical Society invites everyone to hear “the fascinating story of how the first Arab peddlers arrived in New Mexico.” Ghattas will describe how in the late 1880s, they arrived via the train from the East or came north from Mexico.

Most were young men in their early 20s, related to each other and from the same village in Mount Lebanon. They were listed in census records and other documents as Turks, Arabs, Ottomans and Syrians.

They peddled goods in the outlying Hispanic villages of New Mexico and the thriving mining communities of that period. Eventually, they settled down and opened general stores in many New Mexico villages and small towns.

Some opened businesses in Albuquerque and Santa Fe.

They blended almost seamlessly into New Mexican communities. Some of their descendants became prominent citizens in this state.

Ghattas’ professional background is in Modern European and Far East history. From her experiences and travel adventures, musings and observations about life, she has produced the acclaimed book, “Los Arabes of New Mexico: Compadres from a Distant Land.”

She received her bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate from the University of New Mexico. She has been a docent at the Albuquerque Museum for over 30 years, arranging tours for children and adults.

She has served on the board of the Wheels Museum and the Albuquerque International Association.