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.


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