Baptist History Homepage

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

Chapter V
The "Setting Apart" - Sailing

      This was Mrs. Crawford's first attendance at one of the general meetings of the Baptists, and she was much interested in the proceedings of the Convention. A. B. Cabaniss, G. W. Burton, M. D., T. P. Crawford, Mrs. Crawford and B. W. Whilden were solemnly set apart to the work of foreign missions, and to the China field in particular, Mrs. Crawford being the only lady. A Bible was presented by the Convention with an address to each of the male missionaries. The Alabama delegation presented to Mrs. Crawford a Bible and a hymn book, delivered in public by Rev. E. B. Teague whom Mr. Crawford met at this Convention for the first time.

      They were invited by some of the Kentucky brethren to visit that state and there have their outfit prepared. To this they consented. A long voyage, twice crossing the tropics, required a great many changes of clothing, and no washing could be done on the voyage. As they had been married without any time for such preparation, and had been constantly traveling ever since, this special outfitting was necessary. Preparations that might now be made in a few days by visiting ready-made clothing and other stores, then and there required much time and tedious labor. They visited Covington, Georgetown, Lexington, Augusta, Maysville and some other places, remaining until the last of August.

      They then went on to Baltimore, having heard from Dr. Taylor that there was a probability of their sailing on The Mandarin. They soon learned, however, that The Mandarin was filled with other passengers and could not take them.

      At length, after long waiting which afforded ample time to make all their arrangements, they sailed from New York in company with Dr. Burton, of their mission, November 17, 1851, on the then old-fashioned ship Horatio. She was built of live-oak timber many years before the days of "clippers," not for passengers, but for the tea trade. She was safe but not very comfortable, having no port holes or other ventilators between decks, and the only opening for fresh air was through the companionway and

[p. 36]
the hatches. When rough weather required these to be battened down, the sufferings of passengers was intense. Captain Crocker, in command of the Horatio, kept the ship clean and well provisioned, but a large proportion of her cargo was lead, and consequently she was stiff, which greatly increased the pitching, and the sea-sickness of the passengers. Those were the days of long sailing voyages around the Cape of Good Hope, fifteen years before the opening of the first railroad to San Francisco and the line of steamers across the Pacific Ocean, and the sufferings of passengers were endured as a matter of course.

      An unusual succession of favorable winds drove them rapidly toward their destination, and the Horatio made one of the quickest voyages by the outer, or eastern passage, then on record - from New York to Hong Kong in one hundred and two days. The clipper Samuel Russell, however, arrived soon after, in ninety-eight days - the wonder of seagoing men.

      Soon after the anchoring of the Horatio in Hong Kong harbor, Rev. John Johnson came on board and conducted our missionaries to the hospitable homes of himself and Dr. William Dean, both missionaries of the American Baptist Missionary Union. Even then premature gray hairs adorned the temples of Dr. Dean, and his fatherly counsel was always treasured in the hearts of the new missionaries. During the few days spent at Hong Kong they saw and heard much that gave them food for future reflection. After making a flying visit up the river to Canton, they secured passage on the steamer Minna to Shanghai. After seventeen days against a heavy northeast monsoon, they arrived in Shanghai on the misty afternoon of March 30, 1852.

      They had scarcely anchored in the Hwong Poo river, opposite the foreign settlement, when Rev. M. T. Yates, of the Southern Baptist Mission, came on board to take them in charge. He was very tall and slender, and as he was wearing a pair of Chinese mud boots, the thick soles of which were studded, with great iron knobs, he appeared even taller than he was. The party of four, entering a sampan, were rowed to the jetty where Mr. Yates had in readiness three sedans, with native bearers, to carry the party to his house, about a mile distant, near the north gate of city the Dr. Burton preferred walking with Mr. Yates through the mud, while Mr. and Mrs. Crawford took sedans.

      As they entered the narrow streets twilight deepened into night. The fronts of the low shops were open to view, lighted by dim, smoking lamps, making darkness more dense. Splash! splash!

[p. 37]

[The top portion of this page has a picture of Dr. and Mrs. Crawford just before sailing from New York in 1851.]

tramp! tramp! the sedan bearers rushed on, screaming at the top of their voices to warn the busy throngs of their approach and right of way. Now along the banks of a muddy canal, now through crowded alleys, across a bridge, they went tramping on. It was so dark the occupants of the sedans could not see each other nor Messrs. Yates and Burton, but took it for granted they were all going in the right direction and would reach their destination in due time. Suddenly they emerged from the street into an open field, dotted as they afterwards saw with grave mounds. Soon the bright lights, shining through the windows of the mission houses, burst upon their view, driving away much of their feeling of loneliness in a strange land. By the time the sedans were lowered at the front

[p. 38]
gate, Mr. Yates was at hand to conduct them in, and the first sound that greeted them as they entered the door was Mrs. Yates' cheery voice, at the head of the stairs, asking, "Are they really here?"

      Mr. Shuck and two of his children were of the party that surrounded the Yates' hospitable tea table that night. Mr. and Mrs. Pearcy and Miss Baker, the other members of the Baptist mission, had been there until late in the afternoon, hoping to greet the new-comers, but living a long distance away in the southern part of the city; they had gone home, intending to call again next day. It had already been arranged that Dr. Burton should live with the Yates family, while Mr. and Mrs. Crawford should find a temporary home next door with Mr. Shuck.

Go to Chapter 6

[From L. S. Foster, Fifty Years in China - An Eventful Memoir of Tarleton Perry Crawford, D. D., 1909, chapter 5; reprinted and reformatted in 2005. The document was provided by Jackie Battles, Winchester, VA. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

More Baptist China Missionaries
Baptist History Homepage