Monday, December 10, 2012

Beatrice Scott Stevenson '33

Beatrice ("Bunny") Scott Stevenson began her missionary work in China in 1934, teaching nurses at the Hackett Medical College, Canton, where her husband, Ted, was resident surgeon. He was interned during World War II in Manila for 3 ½ years.

Alumnae Quarterly (AQ) May 1938: "A letter received from Bunny Scott at Christmas time gives most interesting news of her experiences in China, where her husband is resident surgeon of a mission hospital in Canton. Due to the war, Bunny and their two year old son went as refugees to Hong Kong for two months, but at the time she wrote, had returned again to Canton, where, she said, Japanese planes were bombing almost every day, with terrible damage to all sorts of property.

"Bunny leads a busy life helping in any way she can at the hospital - she mentions teaching the nurses English, coaching choruses and plays, and landscaping the new hospital grounds."

AQ November 1945: "Polly Hay Cooley wrote of a Wilson Reunion at her home in North Carolina. They had a grand Wilson picnic with Helen Scott Mahy, Bunny Scott Stevenson and Laddie Scott, with all their families. Polly wrote she was expecting to hear that her husband would soon be on his way home after more than three years of duty with the Army Medical Corps in the Pacific. She says she expects to see more of her Wilson friends now that the war is over and they will soon be planning trips in their new cars."

AQ November 1945: "The Class will rejoice with Bunny Scott Stevenson, whose husband was released from a Japanese prison camp in the Philippines, where he had been a prisoner since 1942."

AQ November 1948: "Beatrice Scott Stevenson and family are now living permanently in the United States."

AQ November 1955: "Beatrice Scott Stevenson reports that her husband's appointment by the Presbyterian Board as medical director for all overseas medical work means a move for the Stevenson family to the New York City area. Ted will be off on long jaunts to Africa, India and other mission fields."

AQ February 1956: "Beatrice Scott Stevenson's husband, Dr. Ted, in his new position as Associate Medical Secretary for the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions, left before Christmas for the Near East, India and Pakistan to get acquainted with hospitals and medical personnel over there. He expects to return home in March."

AQ May 1958: "Beatrice Scott Stevenson writes that her doctor husband returned just before Christmas from a two-month tour of hospitals in the Orient."

AQ February 1957: "Theodore and Beatrice Scott Stevenson have just moved from Rye, NY to Tenafly, NJ. 'Positively the last move' - so Bunny says."

AQ February 1961: "Theodore and Beatrice Scott Stevenson left on January 5 for India. They expect to be gone for about eight months during which time Ted will inspect medical facilities in India, Pakistan and Nepal."

AQ August 1961: "The most intriguing letter of the spring came from Beatrice Scott Stevenson in Yeotmal, India, where she was visiting Libby Yerkes Kline in March. The following is a fascinating direct quote from Bunny's letter.

"It's impossible to believe I'm not dreaming. The things that seem so ordinary to Libby still make me stare. Just looking out of the window here I can see the water-cart drawn by two white bullocks as they bring her daily supply of water; the beautiful hump-backed Brahman cow which supplies Libby's milk and butter, the fierce watchman with his gun who guards the property. Last night at a 'progressive dinner,' Libby's contribution was a meat loaf made of wild boar and venison!

"We have had a strenuous two months so far, but fascinating enough to make up for all the midnight departures and dusty jeep rides. We did all our traveling in the Upper Nile in a tiny mission Cessna plane which had broken its pontoon landing on a hippo the week before. This was really wild country with tattooed natives seven feel tall. Ethiopia was primitive too with hyenas howling in Addis Ababa at night. The Emperor, himself, wants our church to take over medical work in his western, most primitive province, so that's where we traveled most."

AQ November 1961: "Satoko Matsumoto Tasaka '33 writes of a great reunion during the summer with Beatrice Scott Stevenson in Tokyo when Bunny and her family were returning home from India. They visited the International Christian University together, and Satty was thrilled to learn that Bunny had helped to raise money for the institution by giving talks."

AQ May 1963: "Beatrice Scott Stevenson is serving as PTA President and Sunday School teacher. Her husband is traveling in Iran, Ethiopia and the Camerouns."

AQ Winter 1964: Beatrice Scott Stevenson writes that she and her daughter, Dorothy, 'marched on Washington last August along with 200,000 others in one of the most interesting, meaningful days of my long and chequered life'."

Bunny and Ted in 1996
A Spring 1997 Alumnae Quarterly featured a story about Beatrice and Helen. Beatrice recalled, "During the early 1900s there was a great deal of fighting between the warlords in China. When I was old enough, I went to a boarding school in Northern China, but traveling there was very difficult even by train. I remember one trip where the warlords borrowed our engine right in the middle of our trip, leaving us stranded in the countryside."

"When Beatrice reached high school, the fighting in Northern China was so bad that her school was forced to close. She finished her education in northern Korea, and then enrolled in Wilson College, where her older sisters were already students.

Here is more information about the life of Ted Stevenson, from the tribute upon his death in 1999, at the age of 96:

Ted Stevenson was the son of Dr. Ross Stevenson, a pastor, who became President of Princeton Theological Seminary. A trip around the world in 1926 opened Ted's eyes to the tragic need for medical care in third world countries, and he felt God's call to become a medical missionary. He graduated from Johns Hopkins Medical School in 1931, interned and completed a surgical residency and was appointed to China in 1934 by the Board of Foreign Missions of the Presbyterian Church. He and Bunny were married in September of 1934 and sailed on their honeymoon to their new assignment at Hackett Medical Center in Canton, South China.

Ted served as Chief Surgeon and Professor in the School of Nursing for the next five years. The Japanese bombed the city for 15 months before capturing it. In the city of one million people, without air protection, there were countless wounded, keeping the busy doctors at Hackett Hospital working around the clock. Two sons were born during our China tour, and a third followed when the family returned to the United States on furlough (1939 - 1941).

When it was time to return to China in 1941, Ted sailed alone, with three quarters of a ton of medical supplies for his hospital, even though Bunny's and the children's visas had been denied by the State Department. His ship was near the Philippines when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, December 6, 1941, and he was captured in Manila and held in Santo Tomas Prison, with 5000 other internees, for three and a half years. During this time Ted served as the chief medical officer for the prisoners. He himself lost 50 pounds and saw many internees die because of their starvation diet. To alert the world to their plight, Ted signed, as the cause of death, "Malnutrition" on most death certificates. The enraged Japanese Commandant ordered Ted, at gun-point, to change the "insulting" word, and when Ted refused, put him into the camp jail. There he stayed, a stubborn hero for the other internees, until the U.S. 1st Cavalry Division liberated Santo Tomas in February 1945.

This link includes testimony by Ted Stevenson before the Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce House of Representatives Eightieth Congress in 1947, on conditions in the prison camp:

Ted later spent 17 years as Medical Director of the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions, travelling throughout the world. He worked to raise health standards, push public health and family planning and see to the training of nationals. After his retirement, Ted and Bunny went to West India as volunteers to turn around a hospital that was on the verge of closing. Four years later, they did the same for a hospital in Tumu Tumu, Kenya.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Elisabeth Scott Stam '28 Part 2

John and Elisabeth Stam
A number of accounts have been written about the deaths of John and Elisabeth Stam at the hands of Chinese Communists on December 8, 1934. These include "The Triumph of John and Betty Stam" by Mrs. Howard Taylor, published in 1935 by the China Inland Mission, Philadelphia, and "Not Worthy to be Compared" and "The Miracle Baby" by Rev. E.H. Hamilton, 1935, in Kiangsu, China. Memorials include an Anniversary Letter by Clara and Charles Scott, Elisabeth's parents in 1936 in Tsinan, China, and materials published by a variety of religious organizations ranging from The Alliance Weekly in 1935, to The Christian History Institute's Glimpses in 2003.
Helen Priscilla as she arrived at C.I.M. Home Wuhu

Here is John's letter to the China Inland Mission upon being captured by the Communists on December 6:

Dear Brethren:

My wife, baby and myself are today in the hands of the Communists in the city of Tsingteh. Their demand is twenty thousand dollars for our release.

All our possessions and stores are in their hands, but we praise God for peace in our hearts, and for a meal tonight. God grant you wisdom in what you do, and us fortitude and courage, and peace of heart. He is able-and a wonderful Friend in such a time.

Things happened so quickly this A.M. They were in the city just a few hours after the everpersistent rumors really became alarming, so that we could not prepare in time. We were just too late.

The Lord bless and guide you and as for us, - may God be glorified, whether by life or by death, (Phil.I:20).
In Him,
John C. Stam

The original army of two thousand Communist soldiers quickly increased to six thousand and took command of the district. When they captured John and Betty, they discussed killing the baby immediately to avoid the trouble of dealing with an infant. An anonymous prisoner who had just been freed from jail spoke up to save the infant. Helen Priscilla was spared, but the man was killed instead.

The Stams were marched twelve miles away to Miaosheo. They were held overnight in the home of a man who had previously fled. Betty hid two five dollar bills in the baby's clothing and left her behind. John and Betty were taken to "Eagle's Hill" where it was announced that the "foreign devils" would die. A Chinese medicine seller, Chang Hsiu Sheng, pleaded for their lives and was murdered. John and Betty were then made to kneel and were swiftly executed with a sword.

For the next day and a half, the bodies lay where they had fallen and the baby cried quietly still hidden in the house. The Communist army was only several miles away and no one dared touch the bodies, or retrieve the infant. Finally, a Chinese Evangelist, Mr. Lo, whom John had previously worked with returned. With the help of an elderly Chinese woman, he found the baby still located in the abandoned house in which John and Betty had spent their last night. Lo's wife cared for the baby and coffins were made to properly bury the Stams. The Los walked nearly one hundred miles carrying Helen and their own young son in rice baskets, in order to return Helen to her maternal grandparents in Tsinan.

Left to right: Evangelist Lo, nurse, Chinese helper, Rev. George Birch, Mrs. Lo, Dr. Brown
This account is drawn largely from "The Triumph of John and Betty Stam" by Mrs. Howard Taylor, 1935.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Elisabeth Scott Stam '28 Part 1.

Elisabeth Alden Scott was the oldest of three sisters who were raised in China as the children of foreign missionaries and attended Wilson College. After graduating from Wilson in 1928, Betty completed a course of study at the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. She married John Cornelius Stam on October 25, 1933.

The Stams were stationed at the China Inland Mission in Yangchow, Kiangsu, China. Betty wrote of their assignment:
"If the Lord wants me to be one of the two hundred (new missionaries of the C.I.M.) nothing can touch me beyond His will. It doesn't matter what happens in China. If God wants those people to be given the last change before He comes, what does it matter if one or two hundred missionaries are captured by the Bandits, or succumb to famine, or sickness, or are in any way endangered, provided only they do what they are meant of God to do." (The Story of John and Betty Stam, E.H. Hamilton. March, 1936)

The Wilson Billboard, December 15, 1934:
"Word has come through the Associated Press in the last week of the seizure by communistic bandits of the Rev. and Mrs. J.C. Stam and their ten week old baby in southern Anhui province in China. By Thursday night, a report from the China Inland Mission revealed that the bodies of Mr. and Mrs. Stam had been found. No other details were given. Mrs. Stam was Elisabeth Scott, '28, and a sister of Mrs. Gordon Mahy (Helen Scott, '30), and of Mrs. Theodore Dwight Stevenson (Beatrice Scott, '33); the latter was married early in September and sailed with her husband on the staff of the Hackett Medical College in Canton. Mrs. Stam's parents are Dr. and Mrs. Charles E. Scott, Presbyterian missionaries at Tsinan, Shantung.

"Immediately after the China Inland Mission was advised of the seizure, the superintendent of the mission for Anhui province left for Nanking to help the American consulate release Mr. and Mrs. Stam. The foreign office wired the governor of Anhui province urging him to undertake a rescue expedition.

"The Stams, who spent the summer in Anhui because of disorder in their own district, had but recently returned to their station in the town of Tsingteh. This has just been raided by Reds, presumably a portion of those defeated in Kiangsi province and scattered."

Alumnae Quarterly (AQ) February 1935 - a tribute to Betty by Wilson College Professor of Ethics and English Bible, Warren N. Nevius, D.D. appeared:

"The story as finally disclosed in the papers of the tragic event which has cost the lives of Betty Scott '28, and her devoted husband, John Stam, at the hands of Communist bandits in China, has made an impression on the College community that will not soon be forgotten. It is safe to say that nothing from the mission field in recent years has so poignantly brought home what Christian consecration and Christlike heroism can mean.

"By reason of the many close friendships of the present student body with Beatrice Scott '33, and among the more recent graduates of the College with Helen Scott '30, both undergraduates and alumnae, as well as the many members of the faculty who knew Betty here so intimately, will long continue to share with Dr. and Mrs. Scott, and with the members of their family, the intense grief and profound sense of loss which this tragedy has entailed, a sorrow mitigated only by the joy of knowing that their infant grand-daughter survived.

"Faced in its stark reality what has actually happened  seems scarcely possible of realization. it seems only yesterday that Betty herself was here, in the classroom, as a Student Volunteer, at her post in the Cabinet, and in her literary society; with her gentle and gracious presence exerting that quiet and pervasive influence for which she will always be remembered by those who knew her. To recall Elisabeth Scott to her own classmates is needless. To recall her to those who shared with her any one of the four happy years of her college life is to recall a presence so radiant of sincerity and of inward beauty that its memory can never be lost.

"Perhaps what most alumnae will recall, aside from the gentleness of her demeanor, the fragrance of her loving affection and the grace of her literary expression, is the serenity and faith with which she lived among us; a serenity born of the deep peace of her own soul, and a faith that was founded upon a Rock. Values like this have not perished. Faith demands the acknowledgement that they have but moved on to higher and ampler fields of service. What Dr. Robert E. Speer wrote some twenty-five years ago of William Borden of Yale, "It seems impossible that all this strength and devotion can have been taken away from the work of the Church here below. Evidently there are missionary undertakings of even greater importance elsewhere." must be said of Elisabeth Scott and of John Stam."

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Frances Fulton '27

Frances Fulton was a teacher at Hwa Nan College in Foochow, China during the 1930s.

Alumnae Quarterly (AQ) February 1940: "Frances Fulton sails February 24 for Lima, Peru, where she will teach science and math in the Lima Girls’ High School."

AQ May 1947: "Frances Fulton has gone to China to teach in Hwa Nan College, Foochow. Fukien Province. She expects to be there for at least five years. She took her cello with her and hopes to continue her enjoyment of it in China."

Frances Fulton wrote a Christmas letter from China, having returned on the third trip of the Marine Lynx with some hundreds of others in crowded hatches. Frances had been away from China eight years, and her first impression was one of the sameness of China. On closer examination, however, she found that there were many changes. The educated group and the once moderately comfortable middle class are shabby. The college’s greatest need is buildings. The largest buildings are in ruins and they have more than twice the enrollment of pre-war days.

Frances wrote from Peiping where she has been studying Mandarin which she thinks must be the hardest language on earth. However, she is glad for the opportunity and hopes to put it to good use when she returns to Foochow.

AQ February 1948: "Frances says that in spite of what our newspapers print about China, there is much that is constructive going on. The people are going about their daily work, the schools are overflowing, the churches have full programs and full houses, and life in general seems to be going on in a normal way. She believes China will make interesting history in the next few years."

AQ November 1949: "A long letter reached us from Frances Fulton from Hwa Nan College at Foochow, Fukien, China, where she is one of the music faculty. At the time of writing in May, the situation in China was tense, but college was to continue on normal schedule, come what may. She said that communications might become difficult, but to continue writing to her because it meant so much."

AQ Spring 1950 p. 7 “D.P. in China” Frances discusses the circumstances in which she found herself as a "displaced person" after leaving Foochow and finding that she was allowed to return. (Click link to read letter.)

AQ November 1951: "Frances Fulton’s plans include the study of Korean at Yale, then off to Korea, perhaps."

AQ November 1952: "Frances Fulton sailed September 26 for Japan. Her eventual destination is Ewha Womens University, now in Pusan; but until she is permitted to enter Korea she will be at the Seiwa Training School, near Kobe Japan."

AQ February 1953: "Frances Fulton describes Ewha Unversity and the difficulties of teaching and living there. “The pianos! Ewha had 60 in the prewar days. Now it is down to seven and none of those have all the hammers and strings. The practice rooms are board sheds about 9x12 with dirt floors and canvas roofs. The pianos are up on board platforms to keep them from sinking into the mud, so the chairs must be propped up too. Each lesson becomes a balancing act…That Ewha has been able to keep going at all, and has 1300 students in its various colleges is nothing short of amazing…I have covered the floor of my room with heavy paper pasted down at the edges, and with matting so the wind no longer whistles up between the boards and blows out the oil stove. We can buy the root vegetables, spinach, Chinese cabbage, carrots, apples, pears, persimmons and some beef and excellent fish on the local market."

Frances, conducting the women's choir at Ewha University.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Susan Sharpe Waddell Hsu '15x

Susan S. Waddell Hsu’15x (Mrs. Hsu Shih Chu) transferred from Wilson College to the University of Pittsburgh. She was murdered in China in 1935 while riding in a rickshaw on her way to work. She had been head of Physiological Chemistry at the Medical School of Tsinan.

Alumnae Quarterly November 1935: 
Bandits Kill Wilson Alumna in China.
Wilson College has for the second time within a year heard of the tragic death of an alumna serving as a missionary in China. The New York and Philadelphia newspapers have reported the death of Dr. Susan Sharpe Waddell Chu (Hsu), a member of the Class of '15. Although few details are available, it is believed that Dr. Chu was slain by robbers who waylaid her rickshaw. Dr. Chu was head of the department of physiological chemistry in the Medical school of Tsinan, China. She was known in China as Dr. Hsu Shih Chu.  The October 24 issue of the The Presbyterian painted the following article concerning Dr. Chu:

"Mrs. Susan Sharpe Waddell Chu, wife of Dr. Hsu Shih Chu, a professor at Central University, Nanking, China, was found slain on October 15, near Nanking, apparently strangled by Bandits. For twelve years Mrs. Chu had been a medical missionary in China under the Board of Foreign Missions. She was the daughter of Dr. John M. Waddell, a former pastor of the Bellevue Church, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, but now residing in Mill Valley, California. She was always at the head of her class at the University of Pittsburgh and Medical School. She had a real sense of humor, and was one of the most beloved college girls of her day. She had been in laboratory work in the Orient, and had planned for a further career in China, where she hoped to establish medical stations in some of the outlying regions."

Wilson College classmate and fellow missionary, Theodora Gleysteen's tribute to Susan Waddell appeared in the Alumnae Quarterly.

From the Clearfield Progress, Clearfield, PA, Wednesday, October 16, 1935:
Chinese Missionary, Born in Clearfield, Killed by Bandits
In far away Nanking, China, authorities hunted today for the slayers of Dr. Susan Waddell, 39, former Pennsylvania girl who was found strangled in a ditch.The body of Dr. Waddell, who spent 15 years in China teaching medicine, was found yesterday. She apparently had been killed by bandits. Dr. Waddell was a native of Clearfield, PA, born there while her father, the Rev. J.M. Waddell was pastor of a Presbyterian Church. She lived in Charleston, W. Va., from 1908 to 1912 when she entered a private school in Pittsburgh. Dr. Waddell was graduated from the University of Pittsburgh school of Medicine in 1920 and for a time did research for the Rockefeller Foundation. She went to China in 1921 but returned two years later for further study. Three years ago she married Dr. Hsu Shih Chu, Chinese physician. Friends in Pittsburgh were told that a month before Dr. Waddell's death she wrote to California that "when I hear and read all of what is going on in Europe and Africa, I think China is the safest place of all."

From the Danville Register Bee, Danville, VA, January 15, 1937:
Murderer of Dr. Susan Waddell Hsu Found in China; Rickshaw Runner
The woman referred to in the following dispatch, Dr. Susan Waddell Hsu, was the daughter of a former pastor of the Clearfield Presbyterian Church and was born in Clearfield. Accounts of the terrible tragedy to befall Mrs. Hsu were carried in the Progress recently. "Nanking, January 15 - The fifteen month old mystery of the death of Dr. Susan Waddell Hsu, formerly of Berkeley, California, was solved Friday with police announcement - a "rickshaw coolie had confessed her slaying. The body of the American woman was found in a ditch beside a lonely Nanking road Oct. 15, 1935. Police said Liu Yung-Hsing, the coolie, had confessed strangling and robbing her. Liu will be strangled Saturday."

Note - the newspaper really does say that Liu will be strangled. It is unclear if it was supposed to say 'executed' instead.

Note - an 'x' following a graduation year indicates that the student did not graduate from Wilson College, but had previously been a member of the class.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Marguerite Luce Young '28

Marguerite Luce Young graduated from Yale University School of Nursing in June 1931. She sailed for China on September 3, 1931. In 1938 she became Director of Clinical Instruction in the Temple Hill Hospital in Chefee.

Alumnae Quarterly (AQ) August 1942: "Marguerite Luce was married on December 9, 1941 to Dr. James Young, a cancer specialist (two days after Pearl Harbor). The Youngs are in occupied China and since all mail is suspended Marguerite sent word of her marriage to a friend in Free China who finally managed to get word to Mrs. Luce by radiogram on April 11."

AQ May 1943: "Marguerite Luce Young and her husband have been interned by the Japanese in Chefoo, China. They are being held in their home, one of the residences which surrounds the hospital. A large number of missionaries, both English and American are being held in the same area."

AQ February 1944: "Marguerite Luce Young and her husband returned to the United States from China on the “Gripsholm.”

From an article in the Valley News Dispatch, Tarentum, PA, September 24, 1977 on the occasion of Dr. Young’s retirement: “They were engaged only a short time when Pearl Harbor was attacked. The couple suddenly became enemy aliens. According to Marguerite, ‘The Japanese officer in charge of taking over American institutions in Chefoo, North China, on December 8, 1941, said emphatically that we could not get married.’

‘Admitting the Japanese authority over us as enemy nationals, but being determined to carry out our plan, Dr. Young and I took advantage of the general confusion and got married anyhow!’

‘It was a strange sort of wedding with the bridegroom wearing a suit he had slept in the night before while I took time only to change from uniform to street dress. There were no flowers, no music. For a wedding ring we used a Chinese silver puzzle ring.

‘There were only four guests besides the minister and we had kippered herring for the wedding supper. But all initiated a great deal of happiness and in the hectic days that followed we learned that “danger shared is affection deepened”'".

Interned with 357 “foreigners” the second year of the war, the Youngs were included in an exchange of civilians arranged through neutral nations. After 11 weeks on the sea and over 20,000 miles of ocean, they finally reached New York.

AQ February 1948 - letter from Marguerite Luce Young: “We want to acquaint you with our plan to return to China in August, 1948, under the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions. We have had a happy, profitable period in the homeland but return eagerly to share with Chinese and other colleagues in the task of Christian medical education. We expect to go, not to our former station of Chefoo, but to Cheeloo University in Tsinan, the capital of Shantung Province. Jim will help in the Medical School and hospital and I will help in the School of Nursing."

AQ November 1949: "The Young family have been in Foochow, China for about a year, where Jim is attached to the Cheeloo University Medical School. They are not certain whether the school will be moved back to Shantung but in any case have decided to stay in China so long as they can do it without too much risk for the children. They are very comfortably housed in the American Board Compound adjoining Union Hospital."

Again, from the Valley News Dispatch article: “Four years in New York and two children later, the Youngs returned to China to join the Medical School at Tsinan, Shantung, but were forced to flee by the Communists with the advent of the Korean War. It was evident the Chinese were sympathetic to the North Koreans and Americans were again on the 'wrong' side and an embarrassment to their Chinese colleagues.“

The Youngs, enjoying retirement.
The Youngs had a third child in November 1949 in China, but all further class notes are from the U.S.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Tirzah Roberts McCandliss '18

Tirzah Roberts McCandliss '18 was a medical missionary in Hwai Yuan, Anhwei, Canton. She assisted at the Relief Bureau of the Rockefeller Foundation Hospital in Peking. In 1930, she published  “A Program of Religious Education for pre-school children of Working Class Parents.".

Excerpt from a letter from Canton, China October 16, 1924: "The last few days have been the most tragic we have seen. Canton is full of war and looting, though our side of the river is normal Shameen and the warships stand between us and the fighting. Sun’s soldiers are fighting the Merchants’ Volunteer Protective Association which refused to turn over its $70,000 worth of imported arms to him. Yesterday all day was fighting, looting, and setting fire, and the sky was red back of Shameen till 3 a.m. this morning. The tragedy is all this gets nowhere. They are no nearer settlement than if yesterdays destruction had not been wrought. Language school closed yesterday (for the sake of the teachers) and we get no bread, ice, or groceries. No one can cross the river. However, it can’t last long. These poor people!"

Alumnae Quarterly (AQ) August 1928: "Dr. and Mrs. McCandliss and their three children spent the past winter in a mountainous station in China which would have been closed had they not volunteered to carry on the work in this dangerous bandit district."

AQ November 1928: "In a September issue of The Detroit Free Press appeared a picture of Tirzah Roberts McCandliss and an article concerning some phases of her life in China: Mrs. McCandliss has some interesting experiences to relate about the days that followed the outbreak of the Civil War. How thievery was so common that no night went by without robbers attempting to break into the house: how, one morning bullets crashed into her bedroom; How, during a smallpox epidemic, she opened the door one morning to find that a little child had died on her doorstep of that dread disease. She counted four such bodies lying on the street that day in a half-mile walk. 'I considered my supreme accomplishment the fact that I have managed to raise three healthy children in Canton. The hygienic conditions in that city are unspeakable. During the anti-foreign fever that followed the outbreak of war we could not get a Chinese to so much as deliver our groceries. It was considered disloyal for a Chinaman to be seen entering a foreigner’s house. But - was not without blessing. The robbers, evidently afraid of being caught leaving the home of a foreigner, bothered us no more. Despite the fact that the political unrest was bringing more and more patients to the hospital – the sudden and terrible attacks of bandits, particularly, terrorized many Chinese women to the point of insanity – the hospital was ordered closed by the party then in power.' Dr. and Mrs. McCandliss and their children were for a while refugees in Hong Kong. And then word came that a small country hospital up the North river needed a doctor. The little family braved their way for eleven days through bandit country until they reached their destination."

AQ August 1930: "Dr. and Mrs. McCandliss and their family sailed August 11 for China."

AQ May 1931: "Dr. and Mrs. McCandliss have taken up their new work in China after six months’ study of Northern Mandarin at the Union Language School, Peiping. They are now located in central China, near Nanking."

AQ August 1938: "Tirzah McCandliss sent a letter from China. Her husband is in the war zone, and has been separated from the family for months."

AQ August 1939: "Tirzah McCandliss attended alumnae weekend in June. She has been much in demand as a speaker while on furlough in this country, among her subjects being the work at the Relief Bureau of the Rockefeller Foundation Hospital in Peking, where she has been assisting with the work."

AQ February 1940: "Tirzah McCandliss her husband and three younger children have returned to China."

The family had returned to the United States by 1943.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Wilson Missionaries in China

Ruth Johnson Clarke '12
Of the more than eighty Wilson College alumnae who became missionaries in foreign countries, twenty spent time in China. The earliest were Ruth Johnson Clarke and her sister, Margaret Johnson Corbett, both class of 1912, and the most recent was Miriam Mathews Haddad, class of 1947. The women who served in China were teachers, doctors, nurses, and evangelists. Some spent time interned in Japanese prison camps during World War II, others narrowly escaped. Some endured hunger and primitive conditions during the early years of the Chinese Civil War in the late 1920s, others were forced to flee from Communists in 1949. Some lost infants and children to disease, others tended to the children of war refugees. Two were murdered.

Miriam Matthews Haddad '47

As we trace the lives of these women through letters, clippings and notes to classmates in the College's Alumnae Quarterly, we will discover eye-witness moments to history. Where we can, we supplement the stories with historical and cultural context, but for the most part, we leave it to the scholar to use these primary sources as a starting point for further study.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Theodora Culver Gleysteen '16 and Eleanor Logan Thomson '12

Theodora Culver graduated from Wilson College in 1916 before receiving a Master's degree in history from the University of Pennsylvania. She became a teacher with the American Presbyterian Mission in Peking, China. She married Dr. William H. Gleysteen in 1920.

Wilson College Alumnae Quarterly (AQ) May 1927: “Theodora Gleysteen writes that their work has gone on without interruption despite the political chaos in China. Her husband is Principal of Truth Hall, part of the American Presbyterian Mission."

AQ August 1936: "Theordora Gleysteen is still busy with her work in the Presbyterian Mission at Peking, teaching English in the Boys’ School, and assisting in the School for Girls, which has established a Self Help Department, in which girls are taught weaving."

AQ May 1942: "A letter just received from Theodora Gleysteen tells of the horrors of the war in China, among the people she has grown to admire and love. During the winter she and Tirzah Roberts McCandliss have worked together in relief work, receiving funds from the American Red Cross and the Lord Mayor’s Fund."

AQ May 1942. "From the latest news received from Theodora Gleysteen, she and her husband are still at their mission station in Peking."
Theodora on the porch of Norland Hall, Wilson College

AQ August 1943: "Another of our class “daughters” graduated this year – Anne Gleysteen. We were delighted to have her tell us that she had heard from her parents. They are in a detention camp on the Presbyterian Mission Grounds at Weihsien, Shantung Province, China. They have two of their children with them, and are seemingly comfortable. Theodora had her appendix removed in October, but recovered quickly. She has been employing her time in studying Chinese history."

Olympic athlete Eric Liddell, upon whom the film Chariots of Fire was based, was also interned at Wiehsien. Liddell spent much of his time in the camp working with children and the elderly. He died of a brain tumor before the end of the war.

AQ May 1946: "We are happy to hear that the Gleysteen family arrived in this country on the “Gripsholm”.

For more information about the Gripsholm, including photographs and passenger lists, see

In October, 1945, a despairing letter from Lily Young Au, ex-'17 to Theodora Gleysteen reveals the troubles Lily and her family were experiencing in China: "Dear Theodora, On the first of August, if I remember, I wrote you a letter from Yanfar. And on the 11th of the same month, we were glad to learn the Great Peace came at last! About a few weeks later, my husband and my elder son walked three days to Lockcheung, where the leather factory was. He had to keep his eye on the factory and make a report of the loss. My younger son and I moved on to Koogang, where we waited sixteen days for a boat to come back to Canton. I was glad to get away from Yanfar, for we all got sick over there. It was fortunate that we did not starve to death at Yanfar.

"But it is out of our expectation that we may be starved to death in Canton, sooner or later. Sorry to say, among the return students, about 60% are out of work, and most of us were "clean sweep" by the Japs. I have been back here for a month or more now. I ran around every day for a job, but everywhere were filled up with workers already. I am disappointed with everything. My only hope is that I hope my boys will be able to get their college education under any circumstances. Since we lost everything we had at Lockcheung, I got disgusted with this world. The conditions seem worse than ever...Much love, Lily W. Young."

When the plight of this family was brought to the attention of Wilson students, the Student Council made arrangements to send a gift of $75 to Mrs. Young.

Circumstances improved apparently under the new communist regime according to Lily. A February 1951 letter from Lily Young Au to Wilson College, "tells of a happy visit with Theodora Gleysteen in Hong Kong last summer and adds: Our younger son was going to America for his college work, but it proved impossible. He is now helping his father who recently started a small-scale chemical plant. But due to the heavy duty on anything going into China, all business hope here seems at a standstill just now. We hope there will be no more wars – human beings suffer too much in any kind of war. The new government in China seems to be doing pretty well and is doing all it can for the people. The manufacturers and merchants are enjoying its protection which the Chinese people have not had for the past thirty or forty years.”

Eleanor Logan Thomson lived in Paak-Hock-Tung, Canton beginning in 1928. During WWII she “helped to feed thousands at present in and around Canton with wheat sent by the Red Cross from America.” She spent two years in an internment camp. She was repatriated on the SS Gripsholm in 1944. She returned to China for a short period after the war, then spent 1952 through 1959 in Java, Djarkarta, Indonesia.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Ruth Johnson Clarke '12 and Margaret Johnson Corbett '12

This post is a compilation of information and quotes from an article about Ruth Johnson in the San Francisco Examiner, January 21, 1962, an article in a local paper (name and date unknown) in 1940, Wilson College Alumnae Quarterly class notes, and background information directly from a biographical note from Stanford University Archives, which houses the personal papers of Ruth's husband, Eric Clarke.

Ruth Johnson and her sister Margaret came to Wilson College in 1908 from Wei Hsien, Shantung Province, China. Their parents, Dr. Charles Fletcher and Agnes Elliott Johnson, were Presbyterian medical missionaries. Ruth and Margaret attended Miss Jewell's School in Shanghai, later attended briefly by Pearl Buck. They graduated from Wilson in 1912 and Ruth returned to Shanghai to teach at Miss Jewell's.

In 1916 Ruth began teaching at the Peking American School where she met Eric Clarke. Clarke was born in Tientsin, China to British missionary parents. He attended the Chefoo School where Henry Luce and Thornton Wilder were educated. Ruth and Eric were married on June 21, 1916. The couple spent 16 years in Peking. During this time, Ruth began collecting jade and other art.

In 1939 a selection of the most precious pieces was sent to New York, to the Arden Galleries on Park Ave. for a benefit showing for Chinese war orphans. After the exhibit, because the Clarke’s were planning to retire shortly, the collection was left in New York storage.

Alumnae Quarterly (AQ) May 1940: "Mr. Clarke was interviewed by one of the local papers in Pensacola, Florida, while on furlough. He stated that the war-changed way of the world has not so greatly changed life in China, and the International Settlement in Shanghai holds its charm, and men and women assembled there from many nations find life good, and oft time gay, as life in Shanghai has been for many generations. The Clarkes plan to return to China in May (1940)."

Then in December 1941, the Japanese occupied Shanghai. The Clarkes were taken to a military internment camp, where they were to spend 33 stark months. Their possessions were reduced to one trunk of clothes and a bed. Mrs. Clarke managed to secret two fine small pieces of jade in a sandwich.

AQ November 1947: "Ruth Clarke, and her good husband, Eric attended our Reunion at which time they thrilled us all with the grim story of their war experience in China where they spent thirty months in a Japanese Internment Camp. Space here is not available to give much of her account but be assured their predicament was unthinkable. Indescribable hardships were forced upon them but they made the very best of conditions, even organizing community life where every person was commandeered to some vital job. Ruth was made chief of police. Can’t you just see her? The great lack of food, the separation from the outside world and its news, the sickness, lack of medicine, and supplies and, at times, insults and near blackout of hope made their experience desperate, yet their faith, ingenuity, vitality and courage carried them through."

For a complete history of the internment of civilians in Japanese prison camps in China during World War II see Captives of Empire by Greg Leck:

For a look at the experience of women in the internment camps, see Chapter 3 of Bernice Archer's book, The Internment of Western Civilians under the Japanese:

From the biographical note from Stanford: "Among the nearly 1800 interns at LungHwa were men and women from all professions and backgrounds. Although spirits were high during the first season at the camp, morale worsened during the winter - food became scarce and poorer in quality and the stoves which the Japanese installed on each floor of the ten dormitories were never lit.

"The cubicles they occupied were 4'8 by 22' long. Despite the difficult conditions they encountered at the camp, the Clarkes and their fellow inmates managed to maintain a high level of personal development which is reflected in the many activities enjoyed at the camp: lectures, plays, musical productions and many other kinds of intellectual stimulation.

"One of the most amusing highlights of their stay was the development of a game called Dictionary Please. Because of their limited reading material, the Clarkes designed a game which relied only upon the dictionary they brought with them and their active imaginations. The game was so successful that it became a partial livelihood following their return to America in 1946."

Eric Clarke's sister Agnes, was with the China Inland Mission for 47 years. She was evacuated with others during World War II and continued to serve at Mission Headquarters in London.


From the San Francisco Examiner: Ruth began collecting jade as a young wife and gradually became very knowledgeable. Over the years, she added to the collection, selling lesser pieces to acquire better ones. She amassed a collection beginning from the Ming Dynasty in 1366  through the end of the Ching dynasty in 1911.

When Ruth and Eric were preparing to go to the internment camp, she hid two valuable jade pieces in a sandwich. One was a phoenix which she still had in old age, the other, a dragon, paid their passage on the “General Meiggs”, when they came to the US in 1946 after the war was over.

Lavender jade pigeons, with insets of amber as eyes, date from Ch'ien Lung period (1736-1796).

Ruth's sister, Margaret Johnson Corbett, returned to China after graduating from Wilson College - also in 1912. She was a relief worker for refugees during the war from 1914-1918. Margaret wrote on an alumna survey from 1942: "Teaching in China, one had to be ready to teach everthing. I had pupils studying for the Cambridge and Oxford examinations. I had one pupil who studied Greek with me for two months and passed her entrance exam to Wellesley. I also taught French and mathematics, history - one has to be a Jack of all trades!"

Alumnae Quarterly May 1949: "A letter from Margaret Johnson Corbett detailed a description of the dream house which her husband designed and built. She reports that sister, Ruth Johnson Clarke, and husband, Eric, are settling in Portland. Ruth now being an American citizen again, and Eric is in under the proper visa. What a relief for Ruth to be safe as an American housewife, instead of the family here wondering about their status in worn-town China!"