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Women in the Missionary Field


Many of these entered upon their work before the modern woman's societies were inaugurated, and had not the inspiration of associates, but were upheld solely by their Christian faith which led them to undertake the work in far distant and heathen lands. Patiently they endured the toil, danger, and loneliness with fortitude and Christian forbearance, dwelling almost universally in unhealthy climates, and frequently in contact with all forms of debasing heathenism.

Eliza Agnew ~ 1883
Born in New York City, she did not enter the missionary field until she was over thirty years of age. Was then sent by the Board of Foreign Missions to Ceylon to work in the Oodooville Boarding School.
Miss Agnew was the first unmarried missionary to arrive in Ceylon, and caused great consternation among the natives. She never returned to America, but gave her whole life to work among the people of India, and died an old lady in 1883.

Martia L. Davis Berry 1844 ~ 1894
Mrs. Berry was born in Portland, Michigan, the 22nd of January, 1844. Her father facing of Irish and Italian descent, was naturally a firm believer in human rights and her mother was an ardent anti-slavery woman and strong prohibitionist Her mother was a woman of great advancement and of thought decidedly above the women of her day. After her marriage, Mrs. Berry removed to Kansas and here she organized the first Woman's Foreign Missionary Society west of the Missouri River and was the originator of the woman's club. Was elected to the office of state treasurer of the Kansas Equal Suffrage Association and also placed at the head of the Sixth District of the Kansas Woman's Temperance Union.

Mrs. William Butler
Mrs. Butler, known as ''The Mother of Missions," was the wife of Rev. William Butler, who was commissioned in 1856 to open the mission work for the Methodist Episcopal Church. After passing through the great Sepoy rebellion, in 1857, their headquarters were made at Bareilly, India. After eight years in India, Dr. Butler returned to the United States, and was then sent by his church to the missionary field in Mexico. Mrs. Butler has reached the advanced age of ninety years. She makes her home at Newton Center, Massachusetts.

Emma V. Day 1853 ~ 1894
Mrs. Day was born June 10, 1853, in Philadelphia, and died August 10, 1894, near Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. Her mother died when she was quite an infant, and she was reared by an aunt.
In 1874, she was married to Rev. D. A. Day of the Lutheran Mission of Africa for the Evangelical Lutheran Church. On the establishment of their home in Africa, she took upon herself, as her part of her husband's work, the training of the children, and in a short time many of these naked little heathens were transformed into civilized creatures able to take part in the household duties of a Christian home. Being of a peculiarly cheerful and happy disposition, Mrs. Day met with great success in her work among these little people. Two of Mrs. Day's own children were born in this far away land. In 1894. Mrs. Day's health became so precarious she returned to America, and in August passed away.

Ann Eliot
One of the women who took her part in the missionary field was Mrs. Ann Eliot, the wife of Rev. John Eliot who was surnamed "the apostle." His work was among the Indian tribes of New England in the early days of the colonies. Mrs. Eliot not only was an able assistant to her husband in his religious work but she worked as a humanitarian among these savage people. Her skill and experience as a doctor brought her great reputation among these people. She dispensed large charity and salutary medicines. To her is ascribed no small share of her husband's success.

Fidelia Fiske 1816 ~ 1864
Born in Shelbourne, Massachusetts, in 1816. She was a graduate of Mount Holyoke Seminary, and a missionary to Persia. She was the first unmarried woman to enter that field. Her work in Oroomia, where the women were fear-fully degraded (and it was considered a disgrace for a woman to learn to read) was most earnest and valuable. The poverty and intense prejudice of the people made her task a trying one, but her efforts were crowned with great success.
Her work spread in the smaller places of the mountains, and the school which has been established there is a monument to her energy and fearless Christian faith. She returned to America in 1847, and was president of Mount Holyoke Seminary for a brief time, but her health failing, she died July 26, 1864, in her forty-eighth year.

Murilla Baker Ingalls
Married at her home in Eastport, Wisconsin, in 1850 and sailed with her husband, a missionary, for Burma, July 10, 1851. Her husband lived only two years after they were married.
After a visit to America to leave her husband's daughter to be educated, she returned to the work in Burma in 1859. She had a wonderful power and great influence among the Buddhist priests in spreading the truth of Christianity.
She established Bible societies, distributing tracts in their own language to the French, English, Burmese, Shans, Hindus and Karens. She opened a library for the benefit of the employees of the railway, and established branch libraries on these lines. Her work was most valuable among the men who went out into these countries to work for the syndicates building railroads, and also among the native workers. She and her associates gave lectures, and in every way tried to better the conditions and life of these men. The various governments represented appreciated her work, and often assisted her.

Lillie Resler Keister
Mrs. Lillie Resler Keister was born in May, 1951, in Mount Pleasant; Pennsylvania. Her father was the Rev. J. B. Resler. Her husband was the Rev. George Keister, Professor of Hebrew in the Union Biblical Seminary of Dayton, Ohio. An active worker in the Missionary Association of her church, the United Brethren in Christ Is a woman of marked executive ability and has delivered lectures for the Women's Missionary Society. In 1880 she was one of the two delegates sent by the Woman's Missionary Association to the World's Missionary Conference in London, England.

Jemima Bingham Kirkland
Another woman who deserves mention in the missionary work among the Indians during the colonial period was Jemima Bingham, the niece of Eleazar Wheelock, D.D., an eminent missionary among the Indians. In 1769 she married the Rev. Samuel Kirkland who had taken up the missionary work among the Oneida Indians in that section of country where Rome, New York, is now situated. She taught the women and children and by her example and patient work brought about a changed condition among these people. In 1787 the Ohio Company was organized in Boston and built a stockade fort at Marietta, Ohio, called Campos Martius and Rev. Daniel Story was sent out as a chaplain. He was probably the first Protestant minister to go into the vast wilderness west of the Ohio River. In this garrison at Marietta was formed one of the first Sunday schools in the United States and its first superintendent and teacher was Mrs. Andrew.

Mrs. R. B. Lyth
She went with her husband, Rev. R. B. Lyth, M. D., to the South Sea missions in 1836, living among the cannibals of the Fiji and Polynesian Islands, and suffering the most frightful experiences and sickening sights among the cannibal tribes of these islands.
Nothing but a deep sense of duty and a strong determination to perform it, added to her religious faith, could have made a woman of refinement endure the experiences she was called upon to witness. The incident is told of how she saved the lives of six women out of thirteen, who were killed for a feast of one of these tribes. Braving every danger, she appeared before this cannibal king to beg for mercy and he listened to her pleadings and spared their lives. She lived to see a great work accomplished, the islands Christianized, the Sabbath observed. On September 18, 1890, Mrs. Lyth died.

Carrie Frances Judd Montgomery 1858 ~ 1946
Church worker and poet was born April 8, 1858, in Buffalo, New York. Her father was Orvan Kellogg Judd, and her mother was Emily Sweetland. Her first literary effort appeared in Demorest's, Young America and the Buffalo Courier. At eighteen she published a small volume of poems. She was imbued with a deep Christian faith and most of her writings are of a religious character. She established a Faith Rest and Home, where sick and weary ones may stay a brief time free of charge. This is sustained by voluntary contributions. She married George Simpson Montgomery, of San Francisco. California and both she and her husband entered the Salvation Army in 1891.

Harriet Newell 1793 ~ 1812
Harriet Atwood was born at Haverhill, Massachusetts, the 10th of October, 1793. At the age of thirteen, when a student at the academy in Bradford, Massachusetts, she became strongly imbued with religious thought and took up religious readings and the study of the Bible during her leisure time, and in 1809 made an open confession of Christianity. In 181 1 she met Mr. Newell who was preparing for missionary service in India. The following year they were married, and in February, 1812, sailed with Mr. and Mrs. Judson for India. Owing to trouble between the United States and England they were not permitted to remain in Calcutta, so sought residence in the Isle of France. Here their little daughter was born, but lived but a short time, and was soon followed by her mother. She was then but nineteen years of age.

Anne Wilkins 1806 ~ 1857
Her work as a missionary was among the people of Liberia, Africa. She was born in 1806 in New York State, of Methodist parents. 'She sailed for Liberia, June 15, 1837, the first time. She made many trips back and forth on account of her health, dying November, 1857.

Beulah Woolston 1828 ~ 1886
Was born in Vincenttown, New Jersey, August 3, 1828, and died at Mount Holly, New Jersey, October 34, 1886. She was educated at the Wesleyan Female College in Wilmington, Delaware, where she was graduated with honor in both the English and classic departments. She taught for some years in this college, and while engaged in this occupation, she took up missionary work, going as a teacher to one of the Chinese missions.
Her sister accompanied her to this field, and their work consisted in organizing and superintending a boarding school for Chinese girls under the Chinese Female Missionary Society of Baltimore. After twenty-five years of faithful work, she returned to this country in 1883 and died October 24, 1886.

Women of America

Source: The Part Taken by Women in American History, By Mrs. John A. Logan, Published by The Perry-Nalle Publishing Company, Wilmington, Delaware, 1912.


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