The Methodist Mission in Jiujiang(Kiukiang), China

(If you can read Chinese, the Chinese version is recommended.)

The Methodist mission in Jiujiang (Kiukiang), China was sent by the Methodist Episcopal Church (abbr. MEC), a Northern American church and this mission played an important role in the modern history of Jiujiang City. Because of unifications with other Methodist churches, the name of this church changed to the Methodist Church in 1939 and now it is called the United Methodist Church. This article is written based on a few digitalized archives and the writer is not a Christian, so mistakes, including incorrect English usages, are certainly inevitable. If you have any information about this, please let me know.

Pinyin system, the current standard system in China Mainland, is adopted to romanize Chinese names and old spellings used by missionaries were put in parentheses. However, for some Chinese, their English names are used here, because those names were more commonly used in missionary documents than their Chinese ones, while their Chinese names are also given.

In 1847, MEC began its mission in China at Fuzhou (Foochow), the capital city of Fujian (Fukien) province. It resulted little for the first ten years and it took another ten years to make some progress in Fuzhou and nearby districts, then the church decided to expand its mission to other parts of China.

Dec. 1, 1867, Virgil Chittenden Hart (1840-1904) and Elbert S. Todd (1845-1919) arrived at Jiujiang, which began the Central China Mission of MEC. They arrived slightly earlier than missionaries sent to North China, so Jiujiang became the first station of MEC out of Fujian, and the Methodist mission was the first Protestant mission entering Jiujang. Rev. Hart was the Methodist pioneer of almost the entire Yangtze Valley and the building named after him still stands on the campus of Sichuan University, where formerly was the campus of West China Union University, a Christian university.

In 1869, for the first time a mission school was mentioned in the annual report of the mission in Jiujiang.

Nov. 13, 1872, Gertrude Howe (1846-1928) and Lucy H. Hoag (1844-1909) arrived at Jiujiang, who were sent by the Woman’s Foreign Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church (abbr. WFMS). A school for girls was open on the first day of the next year.

Dec. 1874, Letitia Mason (who married a Dr. Quine when no longer being a missionary), the first female medical missionary entering Yangtze Valley, after whom the hospital for women and children built at Zhenjiang (Chinkiang) later by MEC was named, arrived at Jiujiang. She did not work as a missionary long, but the medical work was carried on by several other medical women. It should be mentioned that one of them was Lucinda Combs Stritmatter (1849-1919), having arrived at Beijing (Peking) in 1873 as the first female medical missionary to China, who came to Jiujiang after she married a missionary in Jiujiang, Andrew Stritmatter (1847-1880).

In 1875, a medical missionary William E. Tarbell arrived at Jiujiang and he opened a dispensary in July, but he left just the next year. Since then, there was no male medical missionary of MEC in Jiujiang for a very long time, though there might be some foreign physicians helping the work in Jiujiang for MEC. Also in 1875, there was a riot against the missionary activities and chapels and schools of MEC inside of the Jiujiang City Wall were demolished. The indemnity for all the losses was paid by the local government.

At the end of 1876, Kiukiang Girl’s Boarding School of MEC moved to the southwest of Nengren Si (Ngn Ren Tsz), where the school, though have been merged with the boy’s school, still exists. After the relocation, the school was also called Mulberry Grove Academy.

At the beginning of 1881, Thomas C. Carter opened a boy’s high school, named Fowler University, to mark appreciation of the Secretary of the Missionary Society, Charles Henry Fowler (1837-1908). This school was one of the earliest general schools supplying English lessons in China. Rev. Carter was forced to leave by his falling health at the end of this year and newly-arrived Carl Frederick Kupfer (1852-1925) took charge of the school. Also in 1881, the mission began to build on Lushan for a sanitarium. Later on, two missionaries of MEC, Edward Selby Little (1864-1939) and John Reside Hykes (1852-1921), especially the first one, bought a lot of land on that mountain to develop and made it one of the most famous summer resorts, with the name Kuling given by Rev. Little.

In 1882, female medical missionaries in Jiujiang left and no more people succeeded, so the medical work of WFMS in Jiujiang discontinued.

In 1883, the only missionary of WFMS then, Miss Howe conflicted with male missionaries and she resigned and left. However, she went to Chongqing (Chung-king) and worked there for WFMS. Her work at Jiujiang was taken by wives of male missionaries.

In 1884 or 1885, Fowler University moved to the new site near the south gate of the City Wall, by the side of the Girl’s Boarding School, where the school still exists, and the quite imposing “University” was changed to “Institute”.

In 1886, a riot against Christian missions happened in Chongqing. Missionaries of MEC there retreated to Jiujiang, when the confliction between Miss Howe and male missionaries seemed to be vanished and she worked at Jiujiang again.

In 1888, Bishop Fowler (elected to the Episcopacy in 1884), who came to China to supervise the missions in China, thought it was improper to name the boy’s school at Jiujiang after his own name and changed its name to Kiukiang Institute.

In 1889, two Chinese students Hu Qibing (Hu Chi-ping) and Yü Kaizhi (Yü Kai-chi) went to Germany to study in the Methodist Mission Institute at Frankfurt, probably the first to study abroad from Jiujiang. Hu Qibing graduated in 1893 and Yü Kaizhi unfortunately died there in 1894.

In 1893, Kate Louise Ogborn (1862-1932) opened a Woman’s Bible Training School.

In 1896, Ida Kahn (1873-1931, Chinese name: Kang Aide or Kang Cheng), an adopted daughter of Miss Howe, and Mary Stone (1873-1954, Chinese name: Shi Meiyu), a daughter of one of the first native pastors of the Central China Mission, graduated from the Medical School of Michigan University. They had probably never been in America before they went to the university four years ago, but their grades were always leading their class. They returned to Jiujiang in the fall and a dispensary was erected before the end of the year. These two of the earliest female graduates from Western countries came back when the Chinese reformists were advocating woman’s education and these two young doctors were widely introduced as the new models of Chinese women.

Early in 1901, Kiukiang Institute was renamed to William Nast College, to memorialize William Nast (1807-1899), the founder and leader of German-American Methodism, in recognition of large contributions to this school from German-American Methodism. Rev. Kupfer, who had once been the president and who was from a German-American Conference, served as the president again. Only two years’ courses were supplied at the beginning and courses were like those in colleges in America in 1905, but after all this school could hardly be called a real college.

Dec. 7, 1901, Danforth Memorial Hospital for women and children opened formally, funded by Dr. Isaac Newton Danforth (1835-1911) of Chicago to memorialize his wife Elizabeth Skelton Danforth (1843-1895) and supervised by Dr. Kahn and Dr. Stone. The hospital still stands at its original site with some old buildings.

About 1903, some female missionaries in Jiujiang were appointed to Nanchang. Miss Ogborn opened Baldwin Memorial High School for Girls and Dr. Kahn opened a dispensary, which was later turned into Nanchang Woman’s and Child’s Hospital.

About 1905, the Girl’s Boarding School was renamed after Sally Ann Rulison-Fish (1833-1902), who was a famous organizer of missionary societies and publisher of missionary periodicals then in Michigan. Sep. 1907, the new school building opened to receive students, and this building still stands.

About 1907, the Woman’s Bible Training School was named after Ellin J. Knowles (1834-1929) and in 1911, the new school was ready for students. Its site was opposite to Danforth Hospital, but now no evidence of that school can be found there.

In 1909, a Chinese, Yu Facheng was struck in the British Concession in Jiujiang by a policeman and died. Native Methodists tried to help the victim with their knowledge about foreign affairs and the Superintendent of Methodist Wuhu Hospital, Dr. Edgerton Haskell Hart (1868-1913), born at Jiujiang to Rev. Virgil Hart, was invited to Jiujiang to examine the body. It was stated in his report that the death was caused by the injury of the blows, but his testimony was discounted by the British Consul and the policeman was released for there was no sufficient evidence.

In 1912, Kiangsi Mission was separated from the Central China Annual Conference and in 1917, it was elevated to an annual conference.

In 1918, under the special condition of World War I, Rev. Kupfer, the President of William Nast College, was accused for his pro-German disloyalty. The church ordered him to retire and German and German-American people in this college was forced to leave. The plan of the college was also reduced, and it turned to be just a high school in 1920. After the school was degraded, some better-educated native teachers left. Yet the name “College” had not been changed until about 1928, when it was renamed to William Nast Academy.

Sep. 20, 1918, Edward Carter Perkins (1875-1958) opened Water of Life Hospital. Its name was from the sentence he loved, “Whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely.” The fund of building and maintaining the hospital was mainly from Dr. Perkins himself. Only men were received at the beginning because there had been Danforth Hospital for women, but after 1936 women could also come to this hospital while obstetrical cases should be turned to Danforth Hospital. This hospital now is the largest hospital in Jiujiang, at the place where it was founded. The old main building of the hospital and Dr. Perkins’ house still exists.

In 1920, Dr. Stone, the Superintendent of Danforth Hospital, and Jennie V. Hughes (1874-1951), the Principal of Knowles Woman’s Bible Training School, conflicted with the board of WFMS. They resigned and went to Shanghai to found Bethel Church. Not a small part of the staff of the hospital and the school left with them.

In 1927, it was demanded by the Chinese government that heads of schools must be Chinese. Cai Degao (Tsai Teh-kao) was appointed the first Chinese Principal of William Nast College, and Xiong Xiangxi (Hsiung Chiang-hsu) succeeded him in the next year. Hu Zihua (Hu Tze-hwa) was appointed the first Chinese Principal of Rulison-Fish School, and Grace Wu (Chinese name: Wu Maocheng) succeeded her in the next year. Rev. Xiong and Miss Wu headed the two schools long until early 1950’s. Beatrice Lee (Chinese name: Li Zhemin) was appointed the Principal of Knowles Woman’s Bible Training School, of which the younger sister of Dr. Stone, Anna Stone (1880-1906, Chinese name: Shi Anli), had been the principal before. Also in 1927, the primary department of William Nast College moved to Taling Street and became an independent school, William Nast Primary School. This school does not exist but one building is left.

In 1938, because of the invasion of Japan, William Nast Academy moved to Dingjia’ao, Bishan, Sichuan (Tin-chia-ngao, Pi-shan, Sze-chwan) and Rulison-Fish School moved to Zizhong (Tze-chung), Sichuan, then to Suining the next year, where it collaborated with a part of Baldwin School which also came here and the local Methodist girl’s school, forming an associated school. The part of these two schools left in Jiujiang and Knowles Woman’s Bible Training School were associated.

In 1939, three large Methodist churches in America, Methodist Episcopal Church and Methodist Episcopal Church, South and Methodist Protestant Church were united to be the Methodist Church.

After the Pacific War broke out in 1941, Americans in the territory occupied by Japanese were interned. These people were repatriated to America in the next years, exchanged with interned Japanese and institutions owned by them were occupied by Japanese. When the war ended, Methodist schools moved back and hospitals opened again.

In 1949, the Communist army crossed Yangtze River and the new government tightened the restriction against missionaries gradually. At the end of 1950, after America and China went to war, Methodist missionaries in Jiujiang were ordered to leave by the local government. These last missionaries were Mabel A. Woodruff, Dr. & Mrs. Perkins, Annie May Pittman, Deanetta & Elizabeth Ploeg (perhaps the list is not a complete one). In 1951, Methodist schools and hospitals were nationalized by the government and soon Rulison-Fish School was merged with William Nast Academy. The Methodist Church in China Mainland survived several years more, then it was absorbed into “Three-Self” Church, the official Protestant church in 1958.

The heads of schools and hospitals built by the Methodist mission in Jiujiang are listed below, though these lists are not complete obviously.

Principal of Rulison-Fish School for Girls

1873~1883 Gertrude Howe*
1883~1886 Lydia Krill Kupfer(Carl Frederick Kupfer’s wife)
1886~1898 Gertrude Howe*
1898~1927 Clara E. Merrill
1927~1928 Hu Zihua
1928~1951 Grace Wu

* At most times, more than one missionary supervised the educational work for girls in Jiujiang and it is not clear which one was the head of this school. Miss Howe is put in the table only because she served long in Jiujiang.

Principal of William Nast Academy

1881 Thomas C. Carter
1881~1888 Carl Frederick Kupfer
1888~1899 James Jackson
1899~1901 Jesse F. Newman
1901~1918 Carl Frederick Kupfer
1918~1920 Vacancy*
1920~1927 Charles F. Johannaber
1927~1928 Cai Degao
1928~1951 Xiong Xiangxi

* George Carleton Lacy, Edward Carter Perkins and Hu Qibing served as the acting one successively.

Principal of Knowles Woman’s Bible Training School

1893~1903 Kate Louise Ogborn
1903~1906 Anna Stone
1906~1920 Jennie V. Hughes
1920~1922 Mabel A. Woodruff
1922~1927 May Bel Thompson
1927~1934 Beatrice Lee

Superintendent of Danforth Hospital

1901~1903 Ida Kahn and Mary Stone
1903~1920 Mary Stone
1920~1921 Vacancy (Acting Superintendent: Chen Yuzhen (Chen Yu-chen) )
1921~1924 Zou Bangyuan (Tseo Pang-yuen)
1924~1934 Chen Yuzhen

Superintendent of Water of Life Hospital

1918~1942 Edward Carter Perkins
1946~1950 Edward Carter Perkins
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