Saturday, August 10, 2019

Samuel Lewis Shaw in Amoy and Foochow (Xiamen and Fuzhou)

I just received a fascinating email from Chris S. about his great grandfather in Amoy and Foochow, also talking about the French attack on Mawei and its Luoxing Pagoda (famous as the Star Pagoda). I have a full color French postcard that France put out to celebrate their murder of over 3,000 in their attack on Fuzhou to "teach China a lesson." The sheer barbarity of colonial powers in Asia only a century ago is astonishing; I keep hoping we'll learn from it.  Thanks, Chris!  Bill

Dear Dr. Brown

I enjoyed your website on Fujian. I thought you might find it interesting that my paternal grandmother and her 7 siblings were born on Pagoda Anchorage in the big home next to the Luoxing Pagoda. My great grandfather was a retired sea captain who decided to put on his land legs and settle down in Foochow as it was then called in the mid 1870's after a life of sailing the Pacific and Indian Oceans. He became the harbor master and at that time of course most of the big ships anchored there.

His name was Samuel Lewis Shaw, he was widowed and in about 70 years old. After being there a couple years a Japanese business associate came to visit and told him a man of his stature should not be alone so he brought his sister back from Japan and they married and had the 8 children including my grandmother.

My grandmother's older sister remembered the Battle of Foochow and recounted it in a radio interview before she died in Macao at the age of 103. She said her father had told the Chinese servants to lower the British flag that hung from their home on the Anchorage as the French fleet was approaching and would not enjoy seeing the Union Jack. But it did not get lowered and the French fired canon balls at their home, several whizzing through their large windows of the sitting room narrowly missing anyone in the room. The flag was immediately lowered and the shots aimed at them stopped.

My great grandfather died in 1908 and was buried in Foochow. Sadly, during the Korean war the Chinese revolutionaries who were much like the later day Red Guard dug up the cemetery and tossed all the bones and grave markers into the river [same thing happened with the centuries-old foreign cemetery in Amoy--but the Red Guards were as thorough in desecrating their own Chinese heritage as that of the foreigners; Bill B].

My father said he remembered visiting his Japanese grandmother one last time before he and my grandparents departed for England in 1929. My grandfather knew the war was coming and wanted to leave. My father said he was only 9 but he remembered running up to the top of the pagoda which had no railing and only a narrow pathway.

Well anyway, I did enjoy the website. I hope to go visit there someday, I have only been to Shanghai once a few years ago. My father went to Foochow in about 1988 and to Pagoda Anchorage said the big old home was still there but had been made into a school or something like that.

Chris Sxxxxxx

Enjoy Amoy!
OneMBA, Xiamen University
Amazon Book on our 3 decades in China:
"Off the Wall: How we Fell for China"

Bill Brown Xiamen University

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Still Searching for Pastor Iap--China's First Chinese Pastor

Pastor Iap Yap China's First  Chinese Protestant PastorAhoy from Amoy! (Historic Xiamen Island)

On Oct. 31 (Halloween!), 2016, I posted info about Emily, a descendant of Pastor Iap (Yap) seeking more info on this man, who was China's first Chinese Protestant Pastor. Today, another descendant, who met Emily's Aunt Dee years ago. I post his email below (with his name and email address redacted). If you have more info on Professor Iap, please provide it!

Enjoy Amoy!

Dr. Bill
School of Management, Xiamen University
Amazon eBook
"Discover Xiamen"

Bill Brown Xiamen University

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Quanzhou, Zayton, Cayton--Why English Research on China is tricky

Ancient Quanzhou zayton Zaiton 泉州双塔Ahoy from Amoy! (Historic Xiamen, China).
One reason it is so hard to research Chinese cities in Western historical texts is that foreigners had so many ways to spell cities' names! Consider Marco Polo's and Ibn Battuta's legendary port of Quanzhou, the world's greatest port in the Middle Ages, which the Arabs called Zayton (and which was probably the inspiration for the story of Aladdin, who was Chinese) had probably two dozen spellings.

Even Amoy--historic Xiamen--was spelled many ways, including Emowi, Emoui, Emeng, etc. My favorite was from a 160-year-old map that spelled it Emony. (way ahead of their time: eMoney).

Here are variations of foreigners' spellings of Quanzhou, Enjoy!

زيتون (Arabic) Zayton, Zaytiin, Zaytun, Zaytûn, Zaytún, Zaiton, Zaitun, Zaitûn, Zaitún, Zaitūn, Zeiton, Zeitūn Zeitûn, , Caiton, Çaiton, Çayton, Chinchew, Chincheo, Chincheo fu, Chincheo fou, Ch‘üan-chou, Chuan-chiu, Choan-Chiu, Chwanchow-foo, Chwan-chau fu, Chwanchew, Chwanchew foo, Chwanchew fu, Chwanchew fou, Tswanchau, Tswanchau fou, Tswanchau foo, Tswanchau fu, T'swanchau, T'swan-chau fu, T'swan-chau foo, T'swan-chau fou, Ts'üan-chou, Ts'üan-chou foo, Ts'üan-chou fou, Ts'üan-chou fu, Tswanchow, Tswanchow-foo, Tswanchow-fu, Ts’wan-chow, Ts’wanchow-foo, Ts'wan-chow-fu, Ts'wan-chiu, Ts'wan-chiu foo, Ts'wan-chiu fu, Ts'wan-chiu fou, Thsiouan-tchéou, Thsiouan-tchéou fou, Thsiouan-tchéou foo,  Thsiouan-tchéou fu, Thsíouan-chéou, Thsíouan-chéou fu, Thsíouan-chéou foo, Thsíouan-chéou-fou, Shanju 等等!

Enjoy Amoy!

Dr. Bill
School of Management, Xiamen University
Amazon eBook
"Discover Xiamen"

Bill Brown Xiamen University

Friday, February 24, 2017

In Search of Yeh Wen-lan (Yap)叶文澜: Amoy Electric, Foochow Arsenal, Amoy Foodstuffs, etc.)

淘化 厦门 鼓浪屿 Amoy Sauce Xiamen Gulangyu
Ahoy from Amoy! (historic Xiamen, China).

I just received a fascinating email asking for sources on Yeh Wen-lan [叶文澜, or 叶清渠]. He died in Taiwan in 1887 or 1888). If you have any documents, photos, etc. about the him or Yap family (also spelled Ye, Yap, Iap), please share them! He said Yeh made a fortune in the 1849 California gold rush, returned to make another fortune in Amoy's tea and baking, at the request of General Zuo Zongtang 左宗棠 supplied arms and food supplies to fight against the Taiping rebels. General Zuo was so impressed he recommended Yeh as Chief Supervisor of Asia's largest shipyard (Foochow Arsenal, in Mawei, east of Fuzhou, 2,200 years ago was the site of China's first maritime shipbuilding). When Yeh went to work for the Fujian government, his family became the HSBC's comprador until the 1950s (HSBC knew him as Ye Deshui  叶德水).

The Yeh family founded Amoy Electric Lights, Amoy Water Supply, etc. Amazing! Mr, Ye's younger brother, Ye Qingrui [叶清瑞], moved to Kaohsiung, Taiwan [高雄台湾】 in 1887, prospered in business, and his family was very influential until 1945.

Mr. Yeh's had many celebrated descendants in both Xiamen andTaiwan, including Li Yongjin 李永进 who started Taiwan's Daewoo Information Company 大宇资讯公司, among many others.

淘化 厦门 鼓浪屿 Amoy Sauce Xiamen GulangyuThe man who emailed me is now searching for more info about the Yap family. He's already written a book "The Legendary Yap Family in Amoy" but is trying to search out more information and asks for sources.

He also said the Yap [in the 19th century, spelled Iap) family started Amoy Foodstuffs, which began as Tao Fa 淘化大同 on Gulangyu Islet in 1908 and made soymilk and soy sauce),That was a surprise to me. I understood it was started by Mr, Huang Tingyuan (黄廷元), whose former home is now a Gulangyu hotel near the piano museum (#23-25 Xin Lu 鼓浪屿鼓新路23-25号. But many of these families were related, often through marriage. Today, Amoy Foodstuffs is based in Hong Kong (Tai Po, New Territories) and makes the famous Amoy Soy Sauce and others.

Loading coolies Amoy Xiamen 19th century 厦门苦力鼓浪屿
The question that he (and so many others) have is where to find more information. Too often people ask this and don't even know the Chinese name of their ancestor (which makes it almost impossible to research, as many have Anglicized names that have no relation to the original Chinese name). Even without the Chinese name, it is sometimes possible. I had one family from the Philippines send me a 1940s family photo, which Xiamen Daily published--and members of the family in Xiamen recognized the photo! That was quite a family reunion when they returned from Amoy to meet relatives none had seen in over 70 years.

Generally, it is difficult to find old records in Xiamen because many were destroyed by the Japanese invasion and occupation in 1938, and those that survived were consigned to bonfires on Gulangyu during the Cultural Revolution. Now that Gulangyu is applying for UNESCO World Heritage Site status (should get it in 2017), they deeply regret it. Almost all of my materials have come from abroad--books, old photos, maps, journals, diaries, magazines, etc. bought from dealers in dozens of countries, or else given to me by the descendants of Chinese and foreigners who lived in Amoy from the 1840s to 1940s (some gave them to me; some allowed me to scan the materials).

Many people searching their roots have visited me in Xiamen and I've shown them around Xiamen and Quanzhou just to the north, which was the ancient start of the Maritime Silk Road / Route. Most overseas Chinese from South Fujian are from South Quanzhou's Jinjiang. 1000 years ago, Quanzhou was called Zayton by the Arabs. Marco Polo, when sailing from there, said that for every 1 ship in Christendom carrying peppers (spices), Zayton had 100 ships. We get our English word "satin" from Zayton, and even Sinbad the sailor was said to have visited Zayton, which famed Arab explorer Ibn Battuta said was the greatest port in the world and produced the world's best porcelain (their Dehua produced the famous White Porcelain-- blanc 'de Chine).

One family was descendants of Pastor Yap (Iap), the first Chinese pastor of Amoy (so the first in China, since Xiamen had China's first church). And one of the most memorable foreigners was Mary Thompson from England--daughter of the last British Consul of Amoy. I helped many of these family find information primarily through Amoy mission archives (Holland, Michigan and New Jersey) and archives at universities such as Stanford, Yale, etc.

 The family of Yeh Wen-lan is in luck because they know so many particulars about him and can visit Mawei's Fuzhou Arsenal, contact the Amoy foodstuffs company, or visit Gulangyu Islet and talk with historians who are helping with the UNESCO World Heritage project (they'd be delighted, I'm sure, as this would also provide them more material as well for the museums we're hoping to set up).

As far as immigration records--those are hard to find as most were destroyed (and the U.S. lost most of its records when the first Amoy Consulate burned down in November, 1904).

As to his question (below) about coolies--Amoy, in 1947, had first shipment of coolies. In that first year, 8,000 coolies were shipped to Cuba alone to work the sugar fields. In 1849, 75 were sent to labor in Peru's guano pits, and in 1850, several thousand were sent to the railroad work in Panama. Many even paid for their passage, thinking they'd be laborers, not knowing they'd be stripped, have their destination painted on their back, and be packed tighter than African slaves, 1/3 or more dying enroute. No wonder the profitable opium and coolie trade (opium into China, coolies out) was called "Pigs and Poison Trade." While many Westerns sighed sadly over such atrocities, nothing was done until 400 Chinese who paid to work in San Franciso learned they were being shipped on the Robert Bowne' as slaves to Peru's deadly Chincha islands, where few survived one year working the guano pits. Sickness broke out on the packed ship, ten sick coolies were thrown overboard and the rest scrubbed down like pigs. They mutinied, killing the officers. Then the Westerners united to find them and bring these "terrorists" to "justice."

Ahhh... no wonder in school they never taught us anything about the U.S.' and Europe's history in China during the 19th century and first half of the 20th.

Back to the point at hand: if anyone has any information about Yeh Wen-lan--texts, photos, etc.--please feel free to share it. And please read the letter of explanation below....

Enjoy Amoy!

Dr. Bill
Academic Director, SMXMU OneMBA
School of Management, Xiamen University

Dear Dr. Bill,

I am writing to you to seek help in my research on a famous family in the late 19th century and early 20th century in Amoy.

My wife was born in Gulansu in late 1960s. My father-in-law’s great grand father was Yeh Wen-lan, who was said to have gone to San Francisco during the 1849 Gold Rush, made a fortune, coming home and started his own business in tea and banking. He even owned boat fleet travelling to south east Asia, Taiwan etc.

At the request of General Zuo Zong-tang, he managed to buy arms and prepare food supplies for the government troops to fight the rebels in the 1860s taking advantage of his connections with foreigners. General Zuo was so impressed that Yeh Wen-lan was sent as Chief Supervisor to build the largest shipyard in Asia at the time – Foochow Arsenal where he worked for 10 years. He was a successful business man and later became a high ranking government official. His position was slightly below the provincial governor.

While he worked for the government in Fuzhou, his family business was run by his sons. The Yeh family was HSBC’s comprador until 1950s. The Yeh family were also founders of many of Amoy’s early and modern utilities companies, such as Amoy Electric Lights, Water Supply and Amoy Foodstuff etc.

However, many documents, photographs were destroyed during the cultural revolution. After Yeh Wen-lan’s grand parents died, few people knew about their family’s glory past. My father-in-law did not even know the name of his great grand father, not to mention the stories.

I spent two years digging into the family history and completed a book called The Legendary Yap Family in Amoy.

I believe I will find more information from the west in sources like:

US/Britain consul reports in Amoy and Foochow
Missionary reports/accounts in Amoy and Foochow
Britain and US library archives/books

I attempted to locate Yeh Wen-lan’s immigration records around the 1850s but failed

I worked in Xiamen from 2013 to 2015 but I didn’t know you until I came across your website recently, otherwise I’d definitely go visit you for advice.

I was wondering if you could let me know how I could further my study by leveraging online British or American resources. I am also interested in the history societies and organizations/historians who specialize in 19th century Chinese American Coolly trade, Chinese laborers During Gold etc.

Thank you very much in advance.

[Name redacted]

Enjoy Amoy!
 Amazon eBook "Discover Xiamen"

Bill Brown    Xiamen University

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Betty of the Consulate (1860s Amoy, daughter of Amoy Consul Trowbridge)

Betty of the Consulate story of daughter of Amoy Consul General Trowbridge in 1860s
Betty of the Consulate story of daughter of Amoy Consul General Trowbridge in 1860s Ahoy from Amoy (historic Xiamen, China).
I just purchased a book written by Betty Trowbridge, daughter of the U.S. Amoy Consul in the 1860s. Inside the cover is inscribed, "Betty and Billy are ready. Come, let's go to China with them! Lydia Jones Trowbridge." (I'm assuming Lydia was her daughter?).

It was published in 1929 by Doubleday and given to someone as a Christmas present in 1934. It has no photos, but nice drawings--a children's book, but just over 200 pages, so good content (it says "For children up to eight years," which is just about my speed).

The inside cover says,
"Betty was five years old and her small brother, Billy, was just three when they left San Francisco on a sailing vessel bound for Amoy where their was was to be a consul for the United States.

"China in the 1860's was a very exciting place to Betty and Billy--and they were thrilled by the strange nurses, the coolies with their long queues, the ever-present straw sandals, the solemn-faced little children, the amazing jugglers, the strange houses and hosts, the colorful feast days and holidays.

"This story of Betty and Billy in China is written as the author remembers it when she was a little girl there--the daughter of an Americana consul appointed by President Grant--just as Betty's Father was."

When I have time, I'll scan and upload it (as it is beyond copyright, I trust).

Betty of the Consulate story of daughter of Amoy Consul General Trowbridge in 1860s
Click image above to enlarge
Enjoy Amoy!

Dr. Bill
School of Management, Xiamen University
Amazon eBook
"Discover Xiamen"

Bill Brown Xiamen University

Monday, December 5, 2016

Bamboo Church founder's descendent's letter

Ahoy from Amoy! (Historic Xiamen, China).
Bamboo Church Chapel Amoy Xiamen Amoy Mission

I've just received a couple of interesting letters from a man who is a descendant of people who were very influential in the Amoy Mission and also pioneering education not only in Amoy but also in the Philippines (they founded Xiamen's Bamboo Church, built the first road connecting Xiamen to Fuzhou City, founded the Ta Teng Drugstore in Xiamen and the Amoy Foods, which moved to Hong Kong, helped Sun Yat-sen overthrow the Qing Dynasty, etc. I attach his letter (with his full name removed; if you'd like to contact him, send me your contact info and I'll forward it).

Enjoy Amoy!

Dr. Bill 

December 5 (Monday) 2016
Dear brother Bill:

Thanks for intro opportunities around Xiamen...  My CV was sent under a separate email following the 1st. Indeed E. W. Tan my sister has been to Xiamen regularly and we still have many direct relatives in Xiamen. Glad to know your strong affiliation with Xiamen our mother home town. Our affiliation/legacy runs over 100 years with Xiamen as my grandfather Dr. Chen Tien En was a famous surgeon in Xiamen the Tatung Drugstore was one time owned by our family he was Dr. Sun Yet Sun's classmate he was the head for Fukkien Province together with Dr. Sun Yet Sun in overthrowing the last Manchus Dynasty and Dr. Sun Yet Sun established the Republic of China.

He had great contribution to the infrastructure of Xiamen and the old 1st road connecting Xiamen and Fuzhou City was build by my grandfather and donated to the gov't he died in 1949 of old age. As founder of the "bamboo church", which now has 7000 church members and planning on building a larger sanctuary sitting 4000.00. The lady pastor Chen Man Li visited our family in Manila we also run a large mission high school (K-12) plus now a Grace Christian College my brother Dr. James Lee Tan is college president. Mother Mrs. Julia Lee Tan and Dr. & Mrs. Edwin & Spahr Baptist missionaries from Philadelphia, Penna USA founded in 1950.

Dr. Chen Tien Un would go weekends to rural Fukien heal the sick/establish over 200 churches throughout Fukien Province but only  the Bamboo Church was revived in 1985. When I visited The Bamboo Church there were 150 members and I was asked to preach and play my piano accordion on Sunday servies. I was also invited to play my piano accordion solo numbers at the Trinity Church, Kulangsu, Xiamen then during my academic lecture tour of China. My grandfather also founded the Amoy Canning Corporation (moved to Hongkong) and the 2nd largest paper mill of China in Futzou City which I visited with his large picture in lobby.

If you open the website Grace Christian College, Quezon City, Grace Villlage, Philippines you might see the photos of the founders with mother Mrs. Julia Lee Tan and Dr & Mrs. Edwin/Helen Spahr.I have written Intl Markering books used in my MBA courses and am particularly good in CASE ANALYSIS in MBA classes in "Organizational Behavior" and "Intl Marketing Strategies". You mentioned arriving In Xiamen Univ 1988 whereas, I was invited for the one month Intl Marketing Strategies series of lectures by Xiamen Univ College of Economics, Dept of Intl Trade.
The president daughter was then head of the Marketing Dept of Xiamen University...

My name, Prof. J. L. T. was also placed in China website as once consultant to Xiamen City Major when Huli Industrial Zone just opened for foreign investments.

Thank you will plan on visiting Xiamen by end January, 2017 and hope to meet you at Xiamen University.

Best regards,

Prof. J.L. T.

School of Management, Xiamen University
Amazon eBook
"Discover Xiamen"

Bill Brown Xiamen University

Monday, October 31, 2016

Pastor Iap Han Chiong -- China's First Pastor (Amoy) 葉漢章牧師

葉漢章牧師 Pastor Iap Han Chiong first Chinese pastor Amoy China churchAhoy from Amoy! (historic Xiamen, China).

I received an interesting letter today from a 5th generation descendant of Pastor Iap Han Chiong, the first Chinese pastor in Amoy (and given that the Amoy Mission had China's first Protestant church, that pretty much makes Pastor Iap China's first Chinese pastor.

Iap is of course mentioned a lot in my old books and letters, and later I will post more about him. For now, here is Emily's letter. If you have more information about Pastor Iap or others in old Amoy, please share it (I just scanned 184 photos from the photo album of Andrew Bonthius, who was a doctor at Hope Hospital on Amoy's Gulangyu Islet from 1909 to 1915 and who built the Hope Hospital chapel as a memorial to his mother; very exciting to see all those old photos--a big thanks to Andrew Bonthius' grandson--also named Andrew Bonthius).

Oct. 31, 2016 Email from Emily Cheng, 5th Generation Descendant of Pastor Iap Han Chiong 葉漢章牧師.   [again, if you have more info, please share it!]

Dear Mr. Bill,
Since I read your blog, I have some information for your interest. Perhaps you maybe able to add to your historical accounts.

We are the fifth generation of pastor Iap Han Chiong - who was the first pastor of the bamboo church. You can check with the bamboo church.

We still have relatives with photos of that generations who were the first midwives of gulangyi ( kolongsu island). My aunty ( now 96 residing in Vancouver canada was a student of the famous girls school founded by Dr.Talmage. Aunty Peggy Hwang has a hard copy of 40 years in southern China - an autobiography of DR. Talmage.

Dr. Talmage, Dutch reform pastor was the person who lead Rev yap Han Chiong whole family to Christ, as a matter of fact, I was told- my family- has become a gateway of missionaries staying over- in their mission trip- the house was 24 Chong Hua road in kulangyi.

Midwives - YAP ko new ( 葉姑娘) in the photos are when they, were in their teens  - 葉亮彩and 葉友益( she's called the first midwives of kulangyi ) and has delivered most babies in those times.

Here are the links of 300 over pages of the history of the set up of the girls school ( where my grandma and aunties were educated and how they have develop ROMANISED fookien language. Speak to Peggy Hwang who is now residing in San Francisco who can give you accurate accounts.. or my aunty Dee, in Vancouver who still recalls many stories.

I still have families from that region- that migrated to Australia like us.. my dad is 90, most of them are still fluent in speaking English and are students of the boys school Eng Hua in kulangyi.

Anyway, here's the book that may interest you - only 2 hard copies are available in the world - state library in the states ( Peggy will know as she has the other copy). Fortunately it's scanned - so here's the link to it. This book" 40 years in china" is written for Rev John van nest Talmage autobiography and about kolongsu island ( now is gulangyi)  PASTOR and published in 1894. A copy is kept in State library, USA

Page 303 Rev IAP Han Chiong
Page 201 photo of Sio-Ke valley
Page 275 photo of women school giok-tek now
Page 169 Rev IAP Han- Chiong 葉漢章牧師 family
David yap chi beng father is 葉克寬mother is 李淑義

Thank you, Emily, for your email! I'll post more from my own collection about Pastor Iap when I have time.

Pastor Iap, by the way, wrote a Tribute to John Van Nest Talmage, which gives insights into the values and character traits that Iap thought important. Click Here to read it.

Enjoy Amoy!

Dr. Bill
School of Management, Xiamen University
Amazon eBook
"Discover Xiamen"

Bill Brown Xiamen University

Talmage Tribute by Pastor Iap Han Chiong, 1st Pastor of Amoy's Bamboo Church

Ahoy from Amoy! (modern Xiamen, China)
葉漢章牧師 Pastor Iap Han Chiong first Chinese pastor church amoy china

I received an email today from Emily Cheng, 5th generation descendant of Xiamen Bamboo Church's first pastor, Iap Han Chiong (葉漢章牧師). Click Here to read her letter; if you have more information about Pastor Iap, please share it. Many of my old books have photos or text about pastor Iap, the first Chinese pastor to the Chinese church in Amoy (which was China's first Protestant church, so we can pretty much say Pastor Iap was the first Chinese pastor!).

I will post more about Pastor Iap, but for now, but this Tribute by Iap to  John Van Next Talmage (Amoy's pioneering preacher, teacher and educator) tells you much about the qualities that Iap saw as important in life. Click Here for a short biography of Talmage on the Amoy Mission section of our Amoy Magic website.


[Pastor Iap was the first pastor of the Chinese Church]Teacher Talmage was very gentle. He wished ever to be at peace with men. If he saw a man in error he used words of meekness in convincing and converting the man from his error. Whether he exhorted, encouraged or instructed, his words were words of prudence, seasoned with salt, so that men were glad to receive and obey.
John Van Next Talmage Talmadge Amoy Mission Pastor Iap Han Chiong Tribute

Teacher Talmage was a lover of men. When he saw a man in distress and it was right for him to help, he helped. In peril, he exerted himself to deliver the man; in weakness, in danger of falling, he tried to uphold; suffering oppression, he arose to the defense, fearing no power, but contending earnestly
for the right.

Teacher Talmage was very gracious in receiving men, whether men of position or the common people. He treated all alike. If they wished to discuss any matter with him and get his advice, he would patiently listen to their tale. If he had any counsel to give, he gave it. If he felt he could not conscicntiously have anything to do with the affair, he told the men forthwith.

He could pierce through words, and see through men's countenances and judge what the man was, who was addressing him.

Teacher Talmage had great eloquence and possessed great intelligence. His utterance was clear, his voice powerful, his exposition of doctrine very thorough. Men listened and the truth entered their ears and their hearts understood.

Teacher Talmage was grave in manner. He commanded the respect and praise of men. His was a truly ministerial bearing. Men within and without the Church venerated him.

Sometimes differences between brethren arose. Teacher Talmage earnestly exhorted to harmony. Even serious differences, which looked beyond healing, were removed, because men felt constrained to listen to his counsel.

Teacher Talmage was exceedingly diligent. When not otherwise engaged, morning and afternoon found him in his study reading, writing, preparing sermons, translating books.

He preached every Sabbath. He conducted classes of catechumens. He founded the Girls' School at the Church "Under the Bamboos." He founded the Theological Seminary. Others taught with him, but he was the master spirit. He was ten points careful that everything relating to the organization and administration of the Church should be in accordance with the Holy Book.

Only at the urgent request of two physicians did he finally leave China. He was prepared to die and to be buried at Amoy. And this was not because he was not honored in his ancestral country, or could find no home. No, he had sons, he had a brother, he had nephews and nieces, he had many relatives and friends who greatly reverenced and loved him.

But Teacher Talmage could not bear to be separated from the Church in China. Surely this was imitating the heart of Christ. Surely this was loving the people of China to the utmost.

Pastor Iap Han Chiong, Bamboo Church, Amoy (Xiamen

Enjoy Amoy!

Dr. Bill
School of Management, Xiamen University
Amazon eBook
"Discover Xiamen"

Bill Brown Xiamen University

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Edna Beekman, Amoy Missionary, Pioneer Chinese Women's Education

Edna Beekman Amoy Mission China Reformed Church Kulongsoo Kulongsu Women Education PioneerAhoy from Amoy (historic Xiamen, China).

It looks like Gulangyu Islet will finally receive UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 2017, barring further complications (Typhoon Meranti recently made a mess of our beautiful little islet, as it did Xiamen Island). And a bit part of Gulangyu's heritage was the work done by the Amoy Mission--especially the pioneering medical work (first mission medical work in China) and educational work  carried on by Talmage (Talmadge) and others. The tiny islet of Gulangyu not only had 20 colleges and schools but was also deemed the "richest square mile on earth" from 1900 to 1920, largely because in Amoy, like nowhere else, Chinese and foreigners worked together.

Xiamen pioneered education for children, for women, vocational and technical education, education for the blind--and also had a program to help rescue women and girls from slavery (human trafficking).

Below is a small pamphlet, "Living Stones," by Edna Beekman. a missionary in Amoy from 1914-1951).
Edna Beekman women girl students pioneering girls education human trafficking slavery Talmage Talmadge
 Living Stones, by Edna Beekman
THE Spring of 1930 has marked two Anniversaries in the educational work in Amoy, China the sixtieth year of the founding of the Amoy Girls' Primary School (the Developing Character school for Girls), and the tenth year of the establishment of the Amoy Girls' High School. A one reviews the history of those sixty years, and contrasts the present schools with those beginning of education for girls sixty years ago, one cannot but be impressed with the accomplishment of the year.

Sixty years is not long, as time is reckoned in China and so it is not so far from the day" when it seemed, in Chinese eyes, a foolish to educate a girl as to attempt to educate a cow! Those, too, were the days of foot,binding, symbolic of the fettering of women, physically, mentally and spiritually. To see our girls today, with these fetters shattered, having their chance to develop in all three directions, one rejoices with them that the clear vision and high hope of those early missionaries as into the needs of the future and the possibilities of the womenhood of China, and so, in the face of almost unsurmountable obstacles, gave to the girls their chance.
Edna Beekman Amoy Mission pioneering girls womens education human trafficking white jade butterfly
And have they proved themselves worthy? Have they fittingly used these new opportunities that are theirs? Have they passed on to others the torch of service that they themselves received? Let us look at some of the "living stones" of these schools of ours.

Education for girls has become such a popular thing these days that we reach in our schools not only the children from Christian homes, but many, many from homes that do not know the light and peace of the Gospel. Two little sisters entered the first year of our Primary School. They were bright, lovable children, but not very strong. Misfortune seemed to follow them, for first one, then the other, met with accidents in school. After the fourth mishap, both children were absent from school for several days, and on going to their home to find out the reason, the neighbors told us that the grandmother had concluded that some evil spirit of misfortune was following the family, because the children had been allowed to go to a Christian school, and so she had moved away during the dark hours of the night leaving no address, so that the evil spirit might not be able to trace them!

Edna Beekman Amoy Missions wedding Embroidered Scroll White Jade Jade Butterfly human trafficking slavery pioneering Chinese women's educationWe feared we should not see them again, but a week later, to our joy, they reappeared at school, having given their grandmother no peace until she had permitted them to come. Their grandmother tries to prevent them from attending church and Sunday School, but they love to come, and are willing to risk a possible whipping in order to do so. The Bible stories they learn in school, and the hymns they love to sing, cannot help but have an influence on them in later years. And they give very generously of their spending money for the work of the Chinese Home Missionary Society.

"Gold Piece" came to our school from a non-Christian home on Amoy Island. She was older and more mature then some of the other girls, and quickly assumed a position of leadership, becoming president of her class in the graduating year. When a small group of disgruntled girls, urged on by enemies of the school among the anti-Christian forces outside, went on strike and tried to involve the classes of the Higher Primary and bring about the closing of the school, "Gold Piece" and her friends threw the weight of their influence on the side of order and obedience, and most loyally helped to save the day. "Gold Piece" is determined that she will marry no one but a Christian.

The year before she graduated, "Gold Piece" brought her little sister, "Glorious Learning," to school one of our smallest boarding pupils. Everything was so new and strange to "Glorious Learning" that she went around with her eyes wide open and a thousand questions on her tongue. Sunday School was her chief joy, with the attendance charts, and gold stars and colored Bible picture cards which she treasured and looked over many times, repeating to herself the story illustrated by the picture. When she went home each month she showed the pictures and told the stories to her little brothers and cousins. The little metal pig that the children "fed" at Sunday School for the work among the lepers was her great delight, and when at the end of the term we "killed the pig" to see how much money we had, her excitement knew no bounds.

A slave girl managed to escape from a house of ill fame and was taken into the Slave Refuge at Amoy. She attended our Women's School and became an earnest Christian. The pastor's wife became interested in her and recommended her to a widower who was looking for a second wife. Her influence immediately became felt in that home and she won the love of her step children. The oldest girl, "Pure" Flower" was sent to our school. We were warned that she was deceptive and untruthful and loved to gamble, but with Christian surroundings and training she developed into one of the most studious, polite and lovable girls of her class. At the time of the strike she stood by the school most loyally.

When "Embroidered Scroll" first came to our school, she was a little bare-foot girl from the mountains. She did well in her studies and so was helped all the way through High School. Then she came back to the Primary School as a teacher, doing faithful work there for five years. The summer of 1928 she was married to a graduate of the Theological Seminary, and the young couple went back into the mountain districts to work. With their capabilities and training they could have had better opportunities, from a worldly standpoint of view, in churches nearer Amoy, but as they themselves said, "The need up"country is great, and we are accustomed to walk the mountain roads, so we feel our place of service is there." And how much it has meant to that isolated district in the mountains, to have these consecrated young people working there.

His sister, Jade Butterfly, was our first Scholarship Girl with the Talmage Jubilee Fund, and all through High School she stood out as a leader. As president of the Y. W. C. A., she presided over the Armistice Day meeting of International Fellowship and Goodwill, when girls dressed to represent the different nations of the world led in a candle-light service of consecration a service that will live long in the memories of those who shared in it. She also served as superintendent of the Sunday School and conducted weekly children's meetings in Amoy. Her great desire is to train for church leadership, so after she has had some experience as a teacher she will probably be sent to the Nanking Bible Training School, to fit herself for that work.

"Upper Springs" and "Loving Grace" were sent to the Amoy High School from our Leng-na [Longyan] Station so that they might be trained to carry on the work later in their own school. They both showed great initiative and executive ability, and interested themselves in many phases of the school life. Just before graduation the communists galned control of their district. The teacher to whom "Upper Springs" was engaged had to flee, so the two were married in Amoy after school closed, and went to Java, to carry the light of a Christian home and Christian education there. "Loving Grace" had been taken as a child into a family as a "little daughter-in -law," destined to marry the son in later years. He proved to be her inferior in every way, but because of the kindness of these foster parents through all the years, she felt it her duty to follow out their wishes. So upon graduation she returned to Leng'na [Longyan] and was married to this man, whom through all the years she had called "Brother." But when all the educated girls in that region were being forced by the Reds to do propaganda work, with the consent of the family she escaped to Amoy, where she is now teaching.

Time would fail to tell of all who have gone through our schools and then gone out again to serve the church and the community as teachers, doctors, nurses, Bible women, elders and deacons, or as mothers in Christian homes. We are seeing the third generation in our chools now. Those girls of sixty years ago are now grandmothers and their grand,daughters are the scholars of today. Who can measure the influence that has gone out from our schools through these "living stones," or what our schools, with their emphasis not only on proficiency in the secular studies, but even more on the developing of character and training in Christian service, will mean to the China of the future?

* * * * *
"Open the Abbey doors and bring him in,
To sleep with king and statesman, chief and sage;
The missionary come of weaver kin,
But great by work that brooks no lower wage.
He needs no epitaph to guard a name
Which men will prize while worthy work is known.
He lived and died for good; be that his fame.
Let marble crumble; this is Living stone."
* * * * *

Reformed Church in America
25 22nd Street
New York, N.Y.

Enjoy Amoy!

Dr. Bill
School of Management, Xiamen University
Amazon eBook
"Discover Xiamen"

Bill Brown Xiamen University

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Doctor Andrew Bonthius in Amoy, China

Ahoy from Amoy (historic Xiamen, China)!
Andrew Bonthius Bontius Benthius Amoy Mission Photos Photograph album Fujian China Xiamen Fukien

Great news! It looks pretty certain that Gulangyu (Kolongsoo) Islet will in 2017 be designated a UNESCO World Heritage site! And, happily, more and more people are contacting me to ask for (or sometimes share) materials about their Chinese or foreign ancestors in Amoy and Kolongsoo.

The grandson of missionary doctor Andrew Bonthius contacted me in 2011, and even six years later, I've found almost nothing about him, except for a few brief notes about his work in Dr. John Otte's letters.  If you have any information (written, photos, etc.), please share them with us! We need as much material as possible (if possible, originals) to bolster our final claim for UNESCO World Heritage status, at which point we hope to be able to do even more to protect our very unique history.

Update! I've just learned part of the reason I can find nothing about Bonthius is that the Reformed Church of America's records misspell his name! De Jong's "The Reformed Church in China 1842-1951," the definitive book on the Amoy Mission, spells it Andrew Bontius and Andrew Benthius, but  not the correct Andrew Bonthius!

Page 236 of De Jong's book records,

"Legacies, too, were an important source of funds. Thus, a generous legacy provided by Elizabeth Cappon, who served in China from 1891 to 1909, was designated for the reconstruction of Neerbosch [first hospital built by John Otte]. Similarly, as a memorial to the mother of Dr. Andrew Bontius, who served the mission from 1909 to 1914, the family made provisions for a new chapel to serve the Kulangsu hospitals. Like the building it replaced, it served the three-fold purpose of chapel, reading room, and hall for lectures. The former chapel was then converted into a large hospital ward."

Below is the letter from Dr. Andrew Bonthius' grandson (though I delete, of course, his email; if you'd like to contact him, please send me your email address and I'll forward it to him).

Enjoy Amoy!

Dr. Bill

Andrew Bonthius II's 2011 Email about his Grandfather
Hello Mr. Brown.
My name is Andrew Bonthius II.  I am the grandson and namesake of Dr. Andrew Bonthius who was a missionary doctor of the Dutch Reformed Church in Xiamen (Amoy), China from 1909 to 1913.  Mr. John de Velder suggested I contact you in my search for the chapel my grandfather sponsored while he was there.
missionary doctor Andrew Bonthius Amoy Mission Gulanghu Dr. John Otte
Photo by Amdrew Bonthius II
Dr. Bonthius II was a surgical doctor  who performed many hundreds, if not thousands, of operations for indigent Chinese and taught medicine while there as well as his main task of missionary work. He was an assistant to Dr. Otte who fell ill and died of the pneumonic plague while in Xiamen.  After tending to Dr. Otte during his illness, my grandfather was forced to return home in 1913 due to his own ill health, ending his missionary career.  He did bring with him, however,a wonderful photo album of those years which I have in my possession--handed down to me by my father Reverend Robert Harold Bonthius, Ph D.
My understanding is that my grandfather made provisions for a Christian chapel to serve the Kulangsu hospitals for the three-fold purpose of worship, reading room, and lecture hall.  I wonder if you know either of my grandfather's missionary work there or whether or not the chapel is still standing.  He was accompanied by his wife Nellie de Young Bonthius and they had two daughters born during their time in Amoy.
  I hope to hear from you soon.  Thank you very much.


Andrew Bonthius
My June 20, 2011 Reply

My sincere apologies for the delayed reply.  I was in Geneva when you sent your email, and my hard drive crashed completely, irrecoverably, and I also lost the emails from that period.  After returning to Xiamen, I put in a new hard drive—and just now saw your email on my other computer. 

I attach a couple of documents that have very brief references to Dr. Bonthius, and also part of a page in “In and About Amoy,” by Rev. Pitcher, which shows him in his three positions.

Regarding the chapel—it still stands.  In fact, the two hospitals, as well as the chapel between them, were recently beautifully renovated by the Gulangyu and Xiamen governments.  It was in terrible condition, and they considered razing the place, but fortunately, they’ve become more and more interested in their heritage.   I attach a photo of the newly renovated hospital complex (which will be a museum), and the chapel is the small white building between Hope Hospital (on the left) and Wilhelmina Hospital (on the right).

I regret that I have no other information about your grandfather (I did not even know he sponsored the chapel!).  If you have information I could upload on the site about Dr. Bonthius (and especially old photos), I would appreciate your sharing them.  The government has much interest in this heritage now—though when I first started writing about it ten years ago, there was almost no interest).  In fact, only last Saturday I gave a lecture from the pulpit of the Union Church (built in the 1860s), which the government spent over 4 million yuan helping to renovate, and will now be used for various Christian and social functions.

Warm regards, Bill

My June 24, 2011 reply to Andrew Bonthius' 2nd letter:

Dear Andrew,

Again, my apologies for the delayed reply.  I’ve been swamped wrapping up this semester’s classes, grades, and preparing to return to the U.S. for the summer next Tuesday (Fresno area).  

I don’t have photos of the inside [of Hope Hospital and Hope Chapel] because the facilities are closed until the work out the details of making it a museum.  I did take some photos of the interior before they worked on it.  It was a disaster, both inside and out.  The Japanese pretty much destroyed the buildings during their occupation, so to see it in its present condition is a great encouragement.  The government spent a small fortune to restore the hospitals and chapel, as well as the grounds.  I do attach a picture of the Union Church’s interior before the government spent several million renovating it.  The hospital and chapel looked almost exactly like this inside (run down, used for storage).  Last Saturday, the Union Church (1860s) was officially reopened, with many leaders (vice mayor, etc.), TV and newspapers, etc. in attendance, and I was blessed to give the first talk from the pulpit (not a sermon, of course—though I did shock them by suggesting we bow our heads in prayer, since it was a church).

Your grandfather would have attended Union Church, as well as the chapel, so I attach photos of the original building, as it was before restoration, and how it looks now.  

Your grandfather would have known Colin Campbell Brown, who studied Chinese on Gulangyu from about 1893-1895, then served 70 km. north in Quanzhou, starting a hospital, pasturing a church, and starting a homeschool that expanded and is today their best school.   Two weeks ago, CC Brown’s two granddaughters visited and I spent 3 days showing them around Xiamen and Quanzhou.  The Quanzhou Evening News (one of S.E. China’s best papers) had an entire page about their visit.  CC Brown wrote 3 books, and I had two but not the third one, so I was happy they gave me the one I was missing.

Two years ago, a former RCA missionary loaned me 8 photo albums from people here during the 1920s to 1952. I scanned about 600+ photos at high resolution, put them on DVDs, and gave copies to the church leaders, the government, and the RCA archives at Holland, Michigan.  They also now have the photo albums in their archives.  Unfortunately, the time span does not cover your grandfather’s stay here, but I have many Hope Hospital photos if you’re interested.  I attach an excellent old photo of the chapel and hospitals, taken by head nurse Jean Nienhius in 1924.    I also attach a page from one album showing photos taken in Hope Chapel of Dr. Holleman’s farewell gathering, and a very nice 1927 photo of the chapel’s interior. When I return to Xiamen in mid September, I will ask the Gulangyu government to let me in the hospital and chapel for photos, though I doubt the interior has had anything done to it yet.

Regarding your grandfather’s photos, it would be great if you could share them with us, as almost all of my photos are from the 1920s to 1952, and the mid 1850s to 1870s.  I bought a high resolution scanner last year to scan the 8 albums of Jean Nienhuis, and I’d be happy to pay for registered air to Fresno and back to you if I could scan them, and provide you and the archives a DVD of the photos.

And if you’d agree, I could post some on the website, which might stimulate more interest about your grandfather.  Many people have made connections through this and exchanged materials and photos (I have all of Dr. Ottes’ writings, by the way, which might mention your grandfather; I could scan them as well).  I’ve been contacted by the descendants of most of the early missionaries here.

Xiamen is applying for UNESCO World Heritage Status for Gulangyu (will happen in 2017!],one of the reasons they restored Hope Chapel and Hospital), and we could really use the photos for that as well.  And finally, I’ve been helping the local churches compile a history of the Amoy Mission here, and the photos would add a lot.  Of course, all photo scans would be marked to show their source.

In closing (sorry this is so long), I put out a book last year, “Old Gulangyu in Foreigners’ Eyes,” with over 500 photos, paintings, drawings, etc., and excerpts from old books, diaries, journals, letters, etc., describing Gulangyu and Amoy from about the 1570s to 1952.  I’d be happy to send you a copy of that.

Thanks again for contacting me.  It is very encouraging.

Bill Brown
Xiamen University
Bill Brown Xiamen University