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!"