Historical Sketch of ABCFM in Foochow

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. -- 2 Timothy 3:16

This article was written by Rev. Charles Hartwell, and published in 1897. Rev. Hartwell was the senior missionary of the American Board in China. All footnotes were added by me.

ABCFM Foochow Mission
ABCFM Foochow Mission. The picture was taken on Mr. Hartwell’s seventieth birthday, December 19th, 1895. Beginning on the left in the rear are Mrs. Peet, Mr. Beard, Mrs. Kinnear, Mrs. Beard, Dr. Kinnear, Mr. Peet, Mrs. Gardner, Dr. Nieberg-Goddard, Mr. Gardner. In the middle row are Miss Woodhull, Dr. Whitney, Mrs. Walker, Mr. and Mrs. Hartwell, Mr. Walker, Mrs. Whitney, Dr. Woodhull. In front are Miss Chittenden, Mr. Goddard, Mrs. Hubbard, Miss Newton and Dr. Bliss.

Former Missionaries

Names Date of Arrival Date of Departure
Rev. Stephen Johnson 1847 1852
Mrs. Caroline (Selmer) Johnson 1849 1852
Rev. Lyman B. Peet 1847 1871
Mrs. Rebecca C. Peet 1847 *1856
Rev. Seneca Cummings 1848 1855
Mrs. Abbie M. Cummings 1848 1855
Rev. Caleb C. Baldwin 1848 1895
Mrs. Harriet F. Baldwin 1848 1895
Rev. William L. Richards 1848 *1850
Rev. Justus Doolittle 1850 1864
Mrs. Sophia A. Doolittle 1850 *1856
Mrs. Lucy E. Doolittle 1859 1864
Mrs. Lucy E. Hartwell 1853 *1883
Rev. Simeon F. Woodin 1860 1895
Mrs. Sarah L. Woodin 1860 1895
Miss Jane S. Peet 1867 1868
Miss Adelia M. Payson 1869 1879
Dauphin W. Osgood, M.D. 1870 *1880
Mrs. Helen M. Osgood 1870 1881
Mrs. E. A. (Claghorn) Walker 1872 *1896
Rev. Josiah B. Blakely 1874 1880
Mrs. Isabella Blakely 1874 1880
Miss Alice B. Harris 1882 1884
Miss Emily Susan Hartwell 1884 1887
Mrs. H. Jennie Kinnear 1889 *1892

* Died on the field.

Members of the Mission (as of 1897).

Address—Foochow, China

Names Date of Arrival


Rev. Charles Hartwell 1853 City
Mrs. H. L. (Peet) Hartwell 1859
Rev. Joseph E. Walker 1872 Absent in America
Henry T. Whitney, M.D. 1877 Pagoda Anchorage
Mrs. Lurie A. Whitney 1877 〃〃
Miss Ella J. Newton 1878 Po-na-sang
Miss Elsie M. Garretson 1884 Absent in America
Rev. Geo. H. Hubbard 1884 Pagoda Anchorage
Mrs. Ellen L. Hubbard 1884 〃〃
Kate C. Woodhull, M.D. 1884 Absent in America
Miss Hannah C. Woodhull 1884 〃〃〃
Miss Caroline (Koener) Peet 1888 City
Rev. Lyman P. Peet 1888
Rev. G. Milton Gardner 1889 Shao-wu
Mrs. Mary D. Gardner 1889
Hardman N. Kinnear, M.D. 1889 Absent in America
Edward L. Bliss, M.D. 1892 Shao-wu
Mrs. Ellen J. Kinnear 1893 Absent in America
Miss Caroline E. Chittenden 1893 City
Mrs. F. E. (Nieberg) Goddard, M.D. 1893
Rev. Dwight Goddard 1894
Rev. Williard L. Beard 1894 Po-na-sang
Mrs. Ellen L. K. Beard 1894
Miss Emily S. Hartwell 1896 City

Historical Sketch

The Foochow Mission was commenced by the Rev. Stephen Johnson and Rev. and Mrs. L. B. Peet. They had labored previously in Siam, the former twelve and the latter persons six years among the Chinese who had immigrated thither from the region of Amoy and who spoke the Amoy language. Mr. Johnson landed at Foochow on 2nd January, 1847, and Mr. and Mrs. Peet on 7th September of the same year. They were able at once to begin the distribution of books and tracts in the book language prepared by others and themselves, but were obliged to learn a new spoken language—one not previously learned by Protestant missionaries—before they were able to preach.

Foochow was one of the five ports first opened by treaty to commerce and the residence of missionaries. They found it an important field. Although at first by treaty rights their labors were restricted to a circuit with a radius of about thirty miles, within such a limit they found a population probably of three million people. The place also was comparatively salubrious and noted for its fine scenery. Mr. Mott, at the time of the Y. M. C. A. Convention, held here last October, told the present writer that in his travels around the world, in his estimation, he had seen no city more beautifully situated than Foochow, excepting Stockholm. The people, however, though comparatively literary, were found to be found, high spirited and disinclined to receive instruction from foreigners.

The way in which the Mission has been reinforced by foreign laborers, can be learned from the list of members and dates of their arrivals already given, but a few words may be of additional interest. In 1848 the Mission was strongly reinforced by the arrival of five persons from America. In 1849 a Swedish lady, who had taught at Ningpo, joined the Mission as Mrs. Johnson. In 1850 two more workers came from the United States, and in 1853 two others. But the depleting of the missionary force had already begun. In 1851 the Rev. William L. Richards, a son of Rev. William Richards of the Hawaiian Islands, died at sea on his way to America. Near the end of 1852, on account of his failing health, Mr. and Mrs. Johnson left for U. S., and in 1856 Mrs. Doolittle and Mrs. Peet died at Foochow, and the Rev. Seneca Cummings died in America. While therefore in 1850 for a few months there were eleven members of the Mission, men and women, on the ground, in 1858 there were only three were only three persons in the field, and the number for both the Foochow and Shao-wu fields never again rose to eleven until the arrival of Mr. and Mrs. Blakely in 1874. Since then the number of workers has increased, but it has often been and is now quite inadequate to meet the demands of the work. Some of the forty-eight persons who have been connected with the Mission during the past fifty years, for various reasons, have filled but short terms of service, but others have been permitted to labor many years in the field, and the average term of service has been quite good. In this Jubilee year of the Mission there have been fifteen men and women at Foochow city, Foochow suburbs and Pagoda Anchorage[1] stations, and three at Shao-wu.

At first all the missionaries lived on the island in the river between the bridges[2], and the Chinese would have been glad to restrict their residence to that locality. But in 1849 Mr. Cummings succeeded in renting premises on the south bank of the river, where he built a house. In 1850 Mr. Richards, after a great deal of trouble, rented premises at Po-na-sang[3], in the large suburb north of the river, and a little over a mile from the city gate. There two houses were erected, one of which is still occupied as a missionary residence. After the opening of the port to the tea trade, from 1853 and onwards, the Mission houses on the island and the one on the south side of the river were sold to foreign merchants, and more suitable locations were sought elsewhere. In 1861 land was secured inside the city proper, on which two houses were built. In 1876 premises were first secured for a mission residence at Shao-wu, two hundred and fifty miles up the river. Previous to this, for two years or more, chapels had been rented at two other places connected with this station and occupied by the native helpers from Foochow. In 1890 a house was purchased at Pagoda Anchorage, which was first occupied as a mission residence by Mr. Hubbard in 1891. The Chang-loh district[4], with its three to five hundred thousand people, is adjacent to and connected with this station. Work was begun at Chang-loh city by the Mission in 1862. This district and the Yung-fuh district[5] have, by agreement with the other missions, been left for our Mission to evangelize. Work was begun by Mr. Woodin in the latter district or county in 1865, and Mr. Goddard is hoping to occupy it as a resident station soon.

The first baptism connected with the mission occurred in 1856, when Mr. Doolittle baptized the Chinese teacher employed in his boarding-school. In 1857 six more were baptized—the wife of the teacher just mentioned, four pupils and a second teacher in the school. Of these the first church was formed at the suburbs station.[6] Since then there has been a gradual but steady growth in the native membership. In 1866 twelve members were received to the church, and the whole number reported was sixty-four. In 1876 fifteen were added by baptism, and the whole number of members reported was one hundred and seventy-one. In 1886 thirty-four were added to the churches, and the total of members was three hundred and thirty-four. In 1896 the number of members received has been five hundred and thirty-eight, and the total membership is fourteen hundred and forty. In 1866 the Mission reported five native preachers and four other helpers. At present there are three native pastors wholly supported by their churches, thirty-three unordained preachers, twenty-eight theological students, ten Christian medical students, eighty-seven Christian teachers in boarding and day-schools and thirty-three colporteurs, Bible women booksellers and other helpers.

Medical work for the Mission was begun by Dr. D. W. Osgood, who arrived at Foochow in January, 1870. Although sent out especially to aid in opening work in the interior, after visiting Yen-ping, Shao-wu and Kien-ning prefectural cities and other cities of less importance, without finding a good opening at the time, he located at Foochow, and succeeded in opening the Po-na-sang hospital at the suburbs station. Dr. H. T. Whitney arrived in 1877, and opened medical work at Shao-wu. He has since engaged in this work at Foochow suburbs and at Pagoda Anchorage. Dr. Kate C. Woodhull arrived in 1884, and opened our medical work for women and children in Foochow city. These physicians have been succeeded and aided in their work respectively by Dr. H. N. Kinnear in the suburbs, Dr. E. L. Bliss at Shao-wu and Dr. Nieberg-Goddard in Foochow city.

Education has received a good share of attention by the Mission from the beginning. Messres. Johnson, Peet, Baldwin, Cummings and Doolittle, and Mrs. Cummings and Mrs. Doolittle opened day-schools as soon as they were able to accomplish it, to which they gave most careful supervision. In 1854 Mr. Doolittle opened a boarding-school for boys, and Mrs. Doolittle took three girls as boarding pupils under her special care. Subsequently there were breaks in continuity in the boarding-schools. The boys’ boarding-school was started again inside the city by Mr. Woodin, and subsequently it was in charge of Messrs. Baldwin and Hartwell till 1889. In 1890 Mr. Peet took charge of it, and in 1891 introduced an English department, since which time it has grown to be the present Banyan City Institute[7] with its one hundred and forty students. The Girls’ Boarding-school, started again by Mrs. Baldwin, was afterwards in charge of Miss Payson till early in 1879. Since then, under the charge of Misses Newton and Garretson, it has developed into a school of ninety pupils. The day-schools have been fostered by nearly all the members of the Mission, but more especially by Mrs. Baldwin and Miss Chittenden. As to Biblical and theological training of native helper our first preachers came largely from the Boys’ Boarding-school, where they had been thoroughly instructed in Biblical knowledge. These and others were also instructed in special classes, taught by Messrs. Baldwin, Woodin, Hubbard and Hartwell. In 1896 Mr. Beard secured premises for enlargement in this branch of the work, and is laboring to promote it. A boarding-school for educating women was begun at the suburbs station in 1885 by Mrs. H. L. Peet. They next year it was removed to the city, and has been for the most part in charge of Miss H. C. Woodhull. Since her return to U.S. on furlough it has been in charge of Mrs. Dr. Nieberg-Goddard. Station calluses for women have been held at the suburbs station in charge of Mrs. Woodin, Miss Newton, Mrs. Kinnear and Mrs. Beard. Kindergarten methods have been introduced somewhat at the city and suburbs stations.

At the Shao-wu station, in the Shao-wu language, the educational work has not advanced so far as at Foochow. But preachers and theological students have been instructed in classes by Messrs. Walker and Gardner; a few boarding pupils have been taught; women have received instruction from the missionary ladies; medical students have been taught by Drs. Whitney and Bliss; and Christian day-schools have been opened at a number of places.

In literary work most of the members of the mission have taken a part. Messrs. L. P. Peet, Baldwin, Doolittle, Woodin and Hartwell shared in the early tentative translations of portions of the New Testament or of the Old. Messrs. Baldwin and Hartwell were on the committee for a common version of the New Testament, and Messrs. Baldwin and Woodin were on that for the Old Testament. Dr. Baldwin also did a large share in the final revision of the whole Bible. Mr. Walker has prepared portious of the New Testament in the Shao-wu Colloquial, which have been published.

Dr. Baldwin did a large share in the preparation of the “Alphabetic Dictionary in the Foochow Dialect,” and Mrs. Baldwin and he prepared the “Manual of the Foochow Dialect.”[8]

Members of the Mission have prepared books and tracts in the Book Language, in the Foochow Colloquial and in the Mandarin and Shao-wu Colloquial. Dr. and Mrs. Baldwin, Miss Newton, Mr. Walker and Mr. Hartwell have prepared hymns in the languages used by the Mission. Miss Payson aided in starting the Child’s Paper[9] in the Foochow Colloquial in connection with ladies of the Methodist Mission, and Miss Newton, Mrs. Hubbard and others have shared in conducting it. Mr. and Mrs. Hubbard and Mr. and Mrs. L. P. Peet have started the Banyan City News in the Romanized Colloquial, and the same persons, for about ten years, have conducted the Romanized Press, and have published Scriptures, books and tracts in this form for use in schools for women and children.

At present all departments of the work are prospering, and although the Mission is straitened in the lack of workers and of funds, the outlook during all the fifty years has never been brighter than it is now.

Chas. Hartwell


[1] 罗星塔 (Lò̤-sĭng-ták).
[2] The land is known as 中洲 (Dŏng-ciŭ, lit., Middle Island). The two bridges are 万寿桥 (Uâng-sêu-giò, lit., The Bridge of Ten Thousand Ages) and 江南桥 (Gĕ̤ng-nàng-giò, lit., The Bridge over the South River).
[3] 婆奶山 (Bò̤-nā̤-săng), a.k.a. 保福山 (Bō̤-hók-săng) or 吉祥山 (Gék-siòng-săng).
[4] 长乐 (Diòng-lŏ̤h).
[5] 永福 (Īng-hók), today known as 永泰 (Īng-tái).
[6] 铺前顶救主堂 (Géu-cuō-dòng, lit., Church of the Savior).
[7] 榕城格致书院 (Ṳ̀ng-siàng Gáik-dé Cṳ̆-iêng).
[8] Please refer to the Fuzhou Dialect Resources.
[9] 小孩月报 (Siēu-hài Nguŏk-bó̤).

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Last updated: 2010/06/07