Part of the American
History & Genealogy Project
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.
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
Fidelia Fiske 1816 ~
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
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
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
Anne Wilkins 1806 ~
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 ~
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.
Source: The Part Taken by Women in
American History, By Mrs. John A. Logan, Published by The Perry-Nalle
Publishing Company, Wilmington, Delaware, 1912.