Missionaries

Circa 1906: Two Trewins in support of immigration

Trewins_immigration_play

‘Aliens or Americans’ – cast members from a church play? Elizabeth, NJ, circa 1906

Leafing through my grandmother’s photo album, I came across this group photo showing my great-grandmother Elizabeth Sargent Trewin standing in the back on the right, and her daughter (my grandmother) Zillah Trewin in the rear on the far left, partially obscured by a gentleman’s hat. On the back, Zillah had written Mother’s class in [???] ‘Aliens or Americans.’ I was intrigued. I scanned it at high resolution to read what was written on the rear left door:

A million immigrants!
A million opportunities!
A million obligations!

Interesting! My great-grandmother, a devout Christian, was evidently a proponent of immigration (not the least bit surprising since she was an immigrant herself—from England in about 1870).

The quotation on the door appears to come from a book called Aliens or Americans (by Howard B. Grose) which was published in 1906 by the Young People’s Missionary Movement, New York. I think this is about the time this photo was taken (Elizabeth’s hair has still not gone the gray that appears in photos from the 1910s).  The peak year of European immigration was 1907, so immigration was a very hot topic at that time, and the photo may be from a play that was performed in their Elizabeth, NJ, church (St. James Methodist) to highlight the church’s duty to engage in mission work by assisting newly arrived immigrants in the resettlement process.

I’ve pulled the author’s preface and Josiah Strong’s introduction to Aliens or Americans and have included them below to give a sense of what my great-grandmother and grandmother may have been experiencing and responding to. The book is available online through The Project Gutenburg (click the link in the previous paragraph). I have not had time to read it (it’s several hundred pages long), but glancing at the table of contents, it looks like it gives plenty of interesting insight into immigration at that time, the Ellis Island experience, etc. Anyone with ancestors who immigrated in the early 1900s may find something of interest here.

Have a good day, all. As always, thanks for stopping by.

PS: For interesting info and images of immigrants from that period visit: A Look at The People Coming Through Ellis Island, 1906 – Gjenvick-Gjønvik Archives Website

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Preface

new_americans

Image from Aliens or Americans, published 1906

It is not a question as to whether the aliens will come. They have come, millions of them; they are now coming, at the rate of a million a year. They come from every clime, country, and condition; and they are of every sort: good, bad, and indifferent, literate and illiterate, virtuous and vicious, ambitious and aimless, strong and weak, skilled and unskilled, married and single, old and young, Christian and infidel, Jew and pagan. They form to-day the raw material of the American citizenship of to-morrow. What they will be and do then depends largely upon what our American Protestant Christianity does for them now.

Immigration—the foreign peoples in America, who and where they are, whence they come, and what under our laws and liberties and influences they are likely to become—this is the subject of our study. The subject is as fascinating as it is vital. Its problems are by far the most pressing, serious, and perplexing with which the American people have to do. It is high time that our young people were familiarizing themselves with the facts, for this is preëminently the question of to-day. Patriotism and religion—love of country and love of Christ—unite to urge thoughtful consideration of this great question: Aliens or Americans? One aim of this book is to show our individual responsibility for the answer, and how we can discharge it.

Immigration may be regarded as a peril or a providence, an ogre or an obligation—according to the point of view. The Christian ought to see in it the unmistakable hand of God opening wide the door of evangelistic opportunity. Through foreign missions we are sending the gospel to the ends of the earth. As a home mission God is sending the ends of the earth to our shores and very doors. The author is a Christian optimist who believes God has a unique mission for Christian America, and that it will ultimately be fulfilled. While the facts are in many ways appalling, the result of his study of the foreign peoples in our country has made him hopeful concerning their Americanization and evangelization, if only American Christians are awake and faithful to their duty. The Christian young people, brought to realize that immigration is another way of spelling obligation, must do their part to remove that tremendous IF.

These newcomers are in reality a challenge to American Christianity. The challenge is clear and imperative. Will we give the gospel to the heathen in America? Will we extend the hand of Christian brotherhood and helpfulness to the stranger within our gates? Will we Christianize, which is the only real way to Americanize, the Aliens? May this book help to inspire the truly Christian answer that shall mean much for the future of our country, and hence of the world.

The author makes grateful acknowledgment to all who have assisted by suggestion or otherwise. He has tried to give credit to the authors whose works he has used. He is under special obligation for counsel and many courtesies to Josiah Strong, one of the modern patriot-prophets who has sought to awaken Americans to their Christian duty and privilege.

Howard B. Grose. Briarcliff Manor, June, 1906.

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Introduction

A million immigrants!
A million opportunities!
A million obligations!
This in brief is the message of Aliens or Americans?

In this country every man is an American who has American ideals, the American spirit, American conceptions of life, American habits. A man is foreign not because he was born in a foreign land but because he clings to foreign customs and ideas.

I do not fear foreigners half so much as I fear Americans who impose on them and brutally abuse them. Such Americans are the real foreigners.

Most of those who come to us are predisposed in favor of our institutions They are generally unacquainted with the true character of those institutions, but they all know that America is the land of freedom and of plenty, and they are favorably inclined toward the ideas and the obligations which are bound up with these blessings. They are open to American influence and quickly respond to a new and a better environment.

They naturally look up to us, and if with fair and friendly treatment we win their confidence, they are easily transformed into enthusiastic Americans. But if by terms of opprobrium such as “sheeny” and “dago,” we convince them that they are held in contempt, and if by oppression and fraud we render them suspicious of us, we can easily compact them into masses, hostile to us and dangerous to our institutions and organized for the express purpose of resisting all American influences.

Whether immigrants remain Aliens or become Americans depends less on them than on ourselves.

Categories: Elizabeth, Union Co., Methodist, Missionaries, Religion, Sargent, Slaymaker, Trewin | Tags: | 1 Comment

Rev. Frank Stiles Woodruff in Beirut, Syria–Late 1800s

American University of Beirut (Wikipedia copyright-free image) view of Mediterranean

One of Francis Woodruff‘s younger brothers was Ogden Woodruff (1832-1918). Ogden was married to Phebe Asenath Bonnell and between 1860 and 1884, the couple had twelve children–eight boys and four girls. Frank Stiles Woodruff (Jan 29, 1863 – May 26, 1893) was the second-born child in the family, and we have a letter written by him in 1892, the year before he passed away, to his cousin William E. Woodruff, Francis’s son. William E. Woodruff, my great grandfather, and his wife Wealthy Ann Angus had six daughters, the youngest being Bertha, who has been mentioned in previous posts. She would have been about four when the letter was written. William was about fourteen years older than his cousin Frank.

Frank Stiles Woodruff led a short but very interesting life. He attended Princeton University, graduating on June 17, 1885, with academic honors. The New York Herald of June 18, 1885, lists his name and honorary thesis/oration, “General Excellent Poem, ‘The Battle of Princeton’.” While a student, he won the Dickinson Prize in 1884 and the Science and Religion Prize in 1885. In 1885, he was also listed as one of the Baird Prizemen, having won in the category of Poetry. (The previous details can be found in John Roger Williams’s Academic Honors in Princeton University (p.8.)). He later returned to Princeton and graduated from the Theological Seminary.

On March 28, 1887, The Princetonian mentioned: Frank S. Woodruff, who is now in Syria, has written a poem on the “Cedars,” which has been favorably commented upon as showing much true poetic genius.

The New York Times “City and Suburban” section of June 30, 1891, printed a small article on Frank Stiles Woodruff’s ordination as a Presbyterian minister to Beirut, Syria. The ceremony took place on June 29, 1891 at the Third Presbyterian Church in Elizabeth, NJ: At the Third Presbyterian Church in Elizabeth last night Frank Stiles Woodruff of Linden was ordained as a Presbyterian minister to Beirut, Syria. The Rev. Dr. J. Garland Hammer, Moderator of the Elizabeth Presbytery, presided, and the charge to the candidate was delivered by the Rev. Dr. James G. Dennis of Beirut. The Rev. Dr. Gillespie, Secretary of the Board of Foreign Missions of the Presbyterian Church, preached the sermon.

Also in 1891, an article written by Rev. Woodruff appeared in the much-beloved children’s publication St. Nicholas (Vol. XVIII, No. 1-6, Nov 1890 – Apr 1891, Part One, pp. 471-476). The article, “Busy Corners in the Orient,” appears below.

On September 30, 1891, Rev. Woodruff was once again mentioned in The Princetonian: The Rev. Frank S. Woodruff was ordained to the ministry in Elizabeth, New Jersey, June 29. Mr. Woodruff has been elected to the professorship of the English Language and Literature in the Syrian Protestant College* at Beirut, Syria, and sailed for his field of labor early this month.

*Now known as the American University of Beirut.

Sadly, Rev. Woodruff died very young, at just 30. His New York Times obituary dated May 27, 1893, stated: The Rev. Frank S. Woodruff of Elizabeth, who for three years was a teacher in the Presbyterian College of Beyroot, Syria, and later was Professor of English Literature there, died suddenly yesterday at his parents’ home in Elizabeth from a hemorrhage. He left Syria in bad health, but felt much better after reaching home. He was twenty-nine years old. Having been graduated from Princeton College in the class of ’85, he went to Syria, where he taught for a while. Returning, he entered the Princeton Theological Seminary and was ordained in 1891. Soon after he went to Beyroot again and remained there until forced to leave his work by failing health.

Woodruff’s work in Beirut was also mentioned in the book, That They May Have Life: The Story Of The American University Of Beirut, 1866-1941: Another Princeton man called back to a professorship was Frank S. Woodruff, who came first to Beirut in 1885 as tutor of English and was made head of the English Department in 1891 after his graduation from Princeton Theological Seminary. Unfortunately Professor Woodruff’s health forced him to withdraw early in 1893 and he died in America in May of that year, shortly after his return from Beirut. He was buried in Evergreen Cemetery in Hillside, NJ, alongside his parents and some of his siblings, Lucetta, William, Carrie, Edward, and Mary. For a view of his grave marker and the family plot, click here.

I was able to find the ship record for his last journey home–he sailed from Genoa, Italy, on an English vessel called the Kaiser Wilhelm II, arriving in New York on May 9, 1893.

The letter to William Woodruff appears below in the photo gallery. As the handwriting is very legible, I won’t go to the trouble of transcribing it here. In it, Rev. Woodruff mentioned the frailty of his health but firmly believed he was in Beirut for a reason–that it was the place he was meant to be. Looking out at the azure waters of the Mediterranean, as he likely often did, Rev. Woodruff must have reveled in his exotic location and in being in such close proximity to places at the heart of the Christian faith. And to all those back in New Jersey who knew him, he must have seemed quite literally a world away.

In the last paragraph of his article for St. Nicholas, Rev. Woodruff pondered whether the technology of Western civilization would impact “Beyroot” by the year 2000 A.D., akin to one of us imagining what changes may take place in our own geographic locations by 2120.  Surely that he himself would be the subject of a blog post in the 21st century would never have crossed his mind–but I hope he would be pleased to know that his work and life have been remembered, among other places, here.

Link to Frank Stiles Woodruff’s grave on Find a Grave

Categories: Angus, Beirut, Syria (now Lebanon), Elizabeth, Union Co., Evergreen Cemetery, Hillside, NJ, Missionaries, Obituaries, Presbyterian, Woodruff | Leave a comment

George Wills Handwritten Pledge, 22 February 1846

Here is a handwritten note dated 22 February 1846. It was written by George Wills and appears to be a record of a charitable pledge he made and eventually fulfilled. Funds were donated to various entities including “widows,” “Roade Missionary Meeting,” “Blisworth Missionary Journey,” “Brother Kent,” “Missionary Society,” and “Hope Chapel.” At the end of the note, it reads: “Glory be to God who hath enabled me to redeem my pledge this 31st day of December 1846. May the next year exceed the former. Amen & Amen.” This document confirms what I had read about George Wills–that he was an extremely generous and kind man, a devout Christian, and someone who gave of himself to make life better for those around him. According to Mr. Marsh who manages the Blisworth.org website, builders were known to tithe heavily.

George Wills note dated 22 February 1846

Categories: Blisworth, Northamptonshire, England, Missionaries, Roade, Northants, Wesleyan Methodist, Wills | Leave a comment

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