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Fifty Years in China - An Eventful Memoir of Tarleton Perry Crawford
By L. S. Foster

Chapter XII
Troublous Times

[p. 83]
     For more than three years after their return from the United States, Mr. and Mrs. Crawford continued their mission work in Shanghai much the same as formerly. Mr. Crawford and his teacher, Wong Ping San, preached regularly at the Sung Way Dong, the general mission chapel, and also at the Nay Way Dong, his own rented house. To this latter place Mrs. Crawford accompanied them two or three times each week. The boys' and girls' schools at Nay Way Dong which had been disbanded when they left for America, were not resumed there; but Mr. Crawford rented another house for the special use of his wife in the northern part of the city. Here she opened a girls' day school, and held regular meetings for women twice week. Though the minds of all were much disturbed by wars and rumors of wars, their labors were not during these years without visible fruit, a few converts from time to time being brought into the church.

      Among those thus added were a Dutchman named DeGrew and his Chinese wife, living in the French settlement. Through the influence of Mr. Kloeckers, a Dutch missionary previously baptized by Mr. Crawford, Mr. DeGrew was led to repentance and conversion. In consequence he decided to reform his life and unite with the Baptist Church of Shanghai. For some time he had been living with a Chinese woman in an irregular manner, but was now anxious for her to become both a Christian and his lawful wife. Therefore calling upon the missionaries one day, he told them his wishes and asked Mrs. Crawford if she would give the woman religious instruction, which she cordially agreed to do. DeGrew could not speak Chinese and the woman could not speak Dutch, so they conversed with each other in the jargon called "pidgin English." Soon after this the woman came to the Crawford home dressed in foreign costume. After a few remarks on ordinary topics she said, "I no savee (understand) Englishman God. DeGrew no let me chin chin (worship) China joss (idols), so I thinkee suppose I makee die, where I go? No can go topside (heaven), no can go bottom

[p. 84]
side (hell)." She meant that having no religion to take her to the one place nor to the other, after death her soul would be a hopeless wanderer. She was a young woman of good mind, and after much careful instruction and prayer she professed conversion, and the two were afterward baptized and married. They became regular attendants at Sabbath services and seemed to live Christian lives to the best of their knowledge and opportunities.

      Though none were gathered into the church from Mrs. Crawford's women's meetings, yet they had good reason for believing that two persons were garnered in heaven. On Wednesday and Sunday afternoons Mrs. Crawford visited this place, examined the school girls and held a service for the women, the girls also attending. One day after services were over a handsomely dressed, good looking woman, Mrs. Dzung, came down stairs and said in a light, derisive tone, "Preach some to me. I was not ready to come down sooner, but now I wish to see how you do it." "No," replied Mrs. Crawford, "I never teach the gospel for people's amusement. The words contained in this precious book are for our salvation, not for our merry-making. Do you know that your soul is immortal, and that without the Saviour offered in this gospel you can never enjoy happiness?" Finding she gave close attention Mrs. Crawford had a long talk with her, and from that time she became a regular attendant at the meetings, her interest constantly increasing. She asked many serious questions and learned to pray. After some months she moved to another part of the city and nothing could be heard of her new home. But one day two or three years later, Mr. Wong came to Mrs. Crawford saying that Mrs. Dzung was very ill and wished to see her. Finding herself very low of consumption, she thought of her Christian friends and sent word begging Wong's permission to come and die at his house. On entering her room Mrs. Crawford found her pale and thin, a wreck of her former self, crouching on the bed. The dying woman reached both hands toward the visitor exclaiming, "Oh I am so glad to see you! I am going to be with Jesus. I am not afraid to die - Jesus has saved me." She spoke with difficulty, but Mrs. Crawford talked long with her, greatly rejoicing over this soul saved. A day or two after this she requested Mrs. Wong to put on her burial clothes and remove her from the bed to a stretcher, which is the Chinese custom. She assured all her friends that she was going to be with Jesus, and asked them not to weep nor perform any idolatrous ceremonies for her. A few hours afterwards she died.

      The other case was a man. Among those who regularly attended

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Mrs. Crawford's meetings was a woman whose name is not remembered. She listened attentively, and often asked explanations of what she did not understand, seeming to try to remember all she heard. One day it was noticed as she came in she made signs to a man to go into the adjoining school room where he could hear without being seen. After services were over she told Mrs. Crawford that her husband was in the next room listening to what was said, thinking it would be improper to come in where the women were. Hearing their conversation he showed himself and asked Mrs. Crawford if she would give him instruction. He had received from some missionary a copy of the New Testament which he loved to read, and he was in the habit of praying to the true God. On account of his occupation he could find no leisure to attend preaching during the day, while at night the city gates were shut and there was no preaching within the walls; so he sent his wife regularly to hear the teaching in the women's meetings and she repeated to him all she could remember. After a long talk with him, he was requested to come to the missionary's home and see Mr. Crawford. When he did so the interview gave them both great joy, for they felt sure he was a true child of God. Soon afterwards the woman was missed one day from her accustomed seat in the little congregation, but the next meeting she was there with her eyes red and swollen from weeping. Her husband was dead. "He was not afraid to die," she said, "because he knew Jesus had saved him. He told me to continue to come and learn to walk the heavenly road."

      In the summer of 1860, the Board had sent out Mr. and Mrs. Bond for North China, and Mr. and Mrs. Rohrer to open a mission in Japan. They sailed, with two other missionary families, on the Edwin Forest which was never heard from again. Some of Mrs. Rohrer's personal effects, forwarded after the sailing of the Edwin Forest, arrived safely at Shanghai; but for weeks and months all waited in vain for the coming of the new missionaries. Mrs. Rohrer's mother, Mrs. Robinson, who had been providentially hindered from sailing with the party, wrote anxious letters about her daughter. As time wore on all hearts grew sick and gave them up as lost; and the sad task was performed, in compliance with Mrs. Robinson's directions, of taking out certain articles from Mrs. Rohrer's boxes to keep as mementoes, and repacking the remainder to be returned to the widowed and now childless mother. The loss of these expected co-workers was a deep sorrow to those on the field.

[p. 86]
      China had not only been engaged in a life and death struggle with her own Tai Ping rebels, but, during a part of those years, had also to defend herself against the allied armies of England and France. During the English-French war no Imperial troops came near Shanghai, but the English and French invading soldiers might be seen all about the settlements. The rebels were capturing city after city throughout the Plain, and the inhabitants fled in great numbers to Shanghai for safety. This was truly an anomolous state of affairs. While the allies were waging war upon China they were also protecting her people on the coast from the rebels. Both parties were willing that the treaty ports should be neutral territory, in order that trade might go on as usual and the customs still be collected for the Chinese government by her foreign employees. The population of Shanghai, usually estimated at 300,000, now rose to fully 1,000,000, a large portion of the excess consisting of refugees from the surrounding cities and towns. About 20,000 of them were Nankin people who seven years previously had fled to Su Chow before the rebels, and now, on its capture, to Shanghai. Both foreigners and natives contributed largely to the relief of the sufferers. Bamboo sheds were built to shelter them, but these were utterly inadequate to the demand, and thousands perished from exposure to the heavy rains in this low, malarial region. Their miseries were beyond expression or power of relief and they died like sheep. The necessities of life became exorbitantly high and some of them were difficult to obtain at any price. During the sickly seasons of these years, cholera carried off its victims by tens of thousands. Many coffins were placed in the open fields and roadsides, while hundreds of the victims who could not afford this covering were cast out to be devoured by gangs of hungry dogs. This daily familiarity with the dying and dead was harrowing in the extreme.

      At the same time political clouds were growing dark in America. Dr. J. B. Taylor, Corresponding Secretary of the Foreign Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, wrote Mr. Crawford, March 22, 1861, as follows:

"My dear brother, I address you at Shanghai, because we do not know where you will permanently settle. We are feeling solicitous on this point, desiring that you may select some position where you may be able to lay deep and broad foundations; and as you are something like the apostle Paul, not liking to build on another man's foundation, I trust you may be guided by the divine wisdom. It will require much circumspection to decide this question aright, but if the Lord shall be your counsellor all will be well. I see you have been at Nankin. What are

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your impressions? Mr. Roberts is publishing long and flaming notices of his great influence with the rebels. I enclose you a specimen. Do you think the influence of this insurrection as a movement is to be favorable to the spread of the true gospel? As I suppose you will desire to learn the condition of things in our own country, I will state a few facts bearing on the question. Nothing could be more unhappy than the state of our country, except the actual occurrence of war. Three weeks have passed since the elevation of the Republican president and party, and every day the expectation has been, all through our land, that a collision between the two sections would occur. The forts, Sumpter and Pickens, in South Carolina and Florida, are yet held by the United States, with every preparation on the other side to take them by force if not surrendered. Mr. Lincoln declares himself resolved to collect the revenue and hold the forts in the seceding states, while they as persistently declare it shall not be done. Thus you see that war may at any moment be precipitated upon us. I assure you the hearts of the people are filled with dread, lest fraternal blood should flow and a deep, bitter hate take place between these sections of the land. The Confederate States are proceeding with all the form and force of a separate government, having marshalled large armies ready for a conflict if necessary. The border slave states are yet undecided as to the course they will pursue. They will probably call a convention to consider this whole question. The hope is entertained by the Union party that the seceded states will yet come back upon the offering of proper guarantees on the part of the North. This hope is leading to a postponement of action. In the meantime, the border states are suffering from a conflict of opinion in their own midst. Many are for immediate, unconditional separation, others for awaiting developments. The Republican party are perplexed, not knowing what to do. If they do not coerce, but suffer the seceding states to proceed with all the paraphernalia of a distinct government, it will be a virtual acknowledgement of their independence; if they do coerce, the border states will be driven into connection with the new Confederacy by sympathy, and thus war with its direful effects will be visited upon the nation. This is the condition of things, sad and fearful, which is filling all our minds with consternation. The effect of this on the business interests of the country you can well imagine. All is uncertainty and distrust in commercial circles, and consequently we are feeling an influence unfavorable for the collection of funds. We are hoping, however, that ere long these calamities will be overpassed, and that with new energy

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we shall be able to prosecute our great and blessed work. I have been much gratified to know that thus far Sister Crawford and you have been preserved, and that in the enjoyment of a good measure of health you are prosecuting the work on which you have entered. Please present kind, Christian regards to sister Crawford. Her solicitude for the perishing around her, especially those of her own sex, I believe will be attended with results to the glory of God. Let me encourage you both to trust in Him. He will bring the desires of your hearts to pass. He will give His Son to see the travail of His soul through your instrumentality. So prays your affectionate brother,
      Shortly after this date the war of secession actually opened. It was difficult to collect any funds, and Dr. Taylor wrote the mission to curtail expenses in every possible way. Thenceforth only salaries were paid from the mission treasury. The proceeds of the sale of the Te Hwo Dong house and a check which had been sent for the lost missionaries were early in 1862 available for this purpose. In the spring of that year the Sung Way Dong, to the great grief of the missionaries, was accidentally destroyed by fire, but the walls and tower were left standing and it was thought desirable to rebuild at once. While consulting together on the subject, Mr. Crawford proposed to Mr. Yates that he would collect the money if Mr. Yates would superintend the repairs, to which the latter agreed. They drew up a statement of the facts in the case, and of their helpless condition on account of the American war, and Mr. Crawford set out to see what assistance he could obtain. He took the houses street by street, in the foreign settlement, and solicited contributions from every one, regardless of nationality or religious belief. All except heathen Chinese responded cheerfully, some even liberally, and in a few weeks about three thousand taels were secured (a tael is an ounce of silver), they themselves and various other missionaries, and also some native Christians, contributing. Repairs were begun without delay, and in a few months they were again holding services in the chapel as before. Its original construction cost the Southern Baptist people about twelve thousand dollars, while its restoration cost them nothing. Before this Mr. Crawford and Mr. Yates had begun to support themselves by aiding the Chinese owners to sell their land to foreigners.*
* It has been erroneously stated that Dr. Yates during this period supported himself and the other missionaries by filling the position of vice-consul. He did support himself by acting in the office of municipal interpreter, but he did not support the other missionaries. They did this themselves, though some of them were aided by contributions from friends at home, which were gotten through the blockade. It was some years after the civil war that Dr. Yates held the position of vice-consul.
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      The large increase of population requiring additional house room brought the land in and around the settlement into demand, and foreigners were eager to purchase. Messrs. Crawford and Yates, being conversant with both the English and Chinese languages, were qualified to act as go-betweens, or real estate agents, in these transactions. They received sufficient commission on the sales to support themselves and their mission work, and have a surplus left to invest in lots which yielded a good income. Besides this Mr. and Mrs. Crawford gave two hours' instruction in English every night to a class of young Chinese merchants, at ten dollars each per month. Mr. Crawford in general having command of his own time, attended to his land sales in the forenoon and to his preaching in the afternoon as usual. While it cannot be asserted that these extra labors did not interfere with his work, yet the missionary scarcely perceived that they did. Of course he had less time for study, but through the experience of the eighteen months thus employed he learned much that proved of use to him in subsequent life.

      In the summer of 1862 Mr. Crawford was very ill, while Dr. Bradley, their boarder, and Lao Lung, their cook, had sharp attacks of cholera, but all were mercifully restored. Dr. Taylor, Secretary of the Mission Board, in a letter sent through the blockade, authorized the mission to borrow money on the credit of the Board for the support of the mission while the war should last, but fortunately this mission was not driven to that necessity. Dr. Burton, who had returned to the United States, sent in 1862, a year's salary to Mr. Hartwell, and later an additional sum of five hundred ounces of silver to each of the other missionary families. Mr. Crawford with Dr. Burton's consent, donated the five hundred ounces given him to the rebuilding of the Sung Way Dong. Mr. Holmes had resigned his salary at the opening of hostilities and engaged with his brother in a lucrative business at the newly opened port of Chefoo. After his murder by bandits in October, 1861, Mrs. Holmes was allowed one-third of the profits of the firm which, with the proceeds of some cotton smuggled through the blockade by the Board, proved sufficient for her maintenance. Besides a land agency, Mr. Yates accepted the situation of interpreter

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to the municipal council of the English settlement at a good salary. When he joined his wife and daughter in Europe he turned the position over to Mr. Hartwell, who, by this time, had found it necessary to leave Teng Chow in order to make a support for his family. Thus the wants of the missionaries and the necessary expenses of the mission work were provided for during the terrible American war, and on until the home people had had some time to recuperate. A letter from Dr. Taylor written two years after the fall of the Confederacy, stated that the Board's missionaries in Shanghai and Shantung met the Board's liabilities during the five years from 1861 to 1866 inclusive, for salaries and working expenses to the amount of twelve thousand, six hundred and eighty-one taels, including Dr. Burton's donation of two thousand two hundred and fifty taels. This was equal at that time to eighteen thousand dollars in United States gold. Dr. Taylor further wrote,
"The Board appreciates the energy and activity of these brethren and their wonderful skill in the fearful crisis through which they had passed. They thus saved the churches of the South from liabilities which would have seriously crippled, if not entirely broken up, all our operations in heathen lands. As it was our brethren nobly suffered and labored, in sympathy with thousands and thousands of their brethren in the South, who had literally lost all. In view of this the committee recommends the adoption of the following resolutions:

     "1. Resolved, That the Board recognize with gratitude to God the opening of His providence by which our missionaries in Shanghai and Shantung were enabled by their own exertions largely to secure funds for the support of the mission, when funds from the Board failed to reach them.

     "2. Resolved, That the Board feel themselves called upon to reiterate the sentiment expressed in their last annual report, that the brethren of the different missions especially deserve our thanks for their considerate regard for our condition by voluntarily reducing their expenses in some instances, and in others by partial secular labors providing so largely for their own support. As the Board had authorized them in the event of straightened circumstances to secure loans, a much larger and more embarrassing debt might have been created, from which it would have been difficult to release ourselves. The brethren prefer to suffer privation and hardship, being willing to share with the sorrowing ones at home, who were drinking in various forms the bitter cup of affliction."

      These resolutions expressed the views and feelings of the Board toward the actions of the missionaries then on the field.
Go to Chapter 13

[From L. S. Foster, Fifty Years in China - An Eventful Memoir of Tarleton Perry Crawford, D. D., 1909; reprinted and reformatted in 2005. The document was provided by Jackie Battles, Winchester, VA. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

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