Foundation of Mersin and Captain Mehmet HADRA…
1838’s Balta Port Commercial Convention was one of the most important conventions of the Ottoman’s economic and political history and was also important from the aspect of the Ottoman Empire’s raw materials opening abroad.
By that, the Ottoman trade had also attained a significant activity. And naturally, Mersin was one of the places where this speed and activity had reflected.
The Ottoman Empire by announcing the rescript of Gülhane in 1839 and the Edict of Reform in 1856 had launched the process of reconstruction and radical changes.
Thus, the Empire had went through the reeling development speed by entering the market economy and world’s economic system integration.
Europe which had a completely foreign-dependent economy; had asked the Ottomans to rehabilitate their port cities in order to implement its economic activities and help its industry.
In the 1860s demand to huge quantities of timber was present for the construction of Suez Canal in Egypt, then huge quantities of woods from Toros Mountains were started to be shipped via Mersin Port.
During the American Civil War, in order to eliminate the world’s famine of cotton, the production of cotton in the Çukurova region and the region’s connection to the railway network, changed the destiny of Mersin.
During that period, Mersin had become the port and center of trade from which Çukurova’s agricultural products were exported.
All these progresses attracted the attention of national and foreigner businessmen who had trade experience, capital and command of foreign languages and families engaged in these businesses migrated to strategic Ottoman cities (Istanbul, Izmir, Mersin and Iskenderun) and settled there.
The human resources of capital owner Arab-Christian families who established businesses in these cities were the Ottoman citizen Arab-Muslims who had migrated to the same centers.
The HADRA’s are one of these Ottoman families.
The HADRA family which was one of the families under the Ottoman sovereignty came from Egypt in the 1850s and settled in Mersin used to be engaged in maritime business since then. They were ship-owners (windjammers and motor vessels) and used to perform loading and unloading management business by barges and shipping agency activities.
The benefactor businessman Captain Mehmet Hadra who used to spend what he earned in this land to the country and community of this land had acted with the social responsibility and employed the revenues he gained to various charity activities.
- In 1903 he had built Mersin’s biggest public bath at the district of Lazkiye (presently Kiremithane district) and invested that bath for both commercial business and offered free services to the poor and needy people of the district.
- The airplane named “Mersin” was purchased for the Turkish Air Forces with the donation of the people of Mersin had landed in Mersin on November 2, 1926 and introduced to the people. Captain Mehmet Hadra was awarded with the “Golden Plane Mock-Up” for making the biggest contribution in the purchase of the plane.
- During the visits of Mustafa Kemal ATATÜRK to Mersin in 1923, Captain Hadra promised contributed with 5000 Golden liras for the nationalization of a building with a large court upon which Gazipaşa Primary School was established. Moreover, Captain Mehmet Hadra contributed to the National Education of Turkey in various occasions until he was granted two Certificates of Excellence and Achievement (signed by Veteran Mustafa Kemal Ataturk and Ismet Inonu) upon a Resolution made by the then Turkish Republic Council of Ministers.
After the nationalization of Mersin Port under the name of the Turkish State Railways, the Hadra’s had resumed providing shipping agency services to Arab countries flag vessels and ships calling on Mersin port through the second generation led by elder son Abdulkadir Hadra and then his son Mustafa Hadra.
In the 1945s, Abdulkadir and Mustafa HADRA had carried out the mission of being the unique ship owner company at Mersin port for 25 years. The company had three 150 ton wooden vessels named “Hareket”, “Yeşiltoros”, “Güzelnil” which were used to transport cargoes on the Mersin-Syria-Lebanon-Egypt-Cyprus-Iskenderun-Antalya line and provided employment to many seamen as well.
In 1965 during the Cyprus events, the Hadra family owned vessel Yeşiltoros had fulfilled an honorably mission when she carried the Turkish Red Crescent’s humanitarian supplies to Famagusta port under the flag of the Red Crescent.
The maritime mission started by Captain Mehmet Hadra in the 1850s is being carried on by his son and grandsons in the best manner at the Eastern Mediterranean region by well known selective business corporations. “ HADRA INTERNATIONAL SEA TRANSPORTATION “ which is founded by Captain Mehmet Hadra’s grandson Mehmet Hadra (Mustafa Hadra’s son) with a brand new vision is now an acting company in the field of International Maritime transport.