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Abeel, David (12 June 1804–03 September 1846), missionary, was born at New Brunswick, New Jersey, the son of Captain David Abeel, a U.S. naval officer, and Jane Hassert. At age fifteen he applied to West Point Military Academy, but, doubtful of success in the competition for places, he withdrew and began the study of medicine. Feeling a deep sense of sin, he found faith that Christ was his savior and determined to enter the ministry....

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Adger, John Bailey (13 December 1810–03 January 1899), Presbyterian missionary and seminary professor, was born in Charleston, South Carolina, the son of James Adger, a merchant and banker, and Sarah Elizabeth Ellison. His father was one of Charleston’s most affluent citizens. A graduate of Union College in Schenectady, New York (1828), and of Princeton Theological Seminary (1833), Adger married Elizabeth Keith Shewsbury of Charleston in June 1834. They would have eight children. Five weeks later the couple sailed to Smyrna, Asia Minor (now Izmir, Turkey), where Adger began his work as a missionary under the sponsorship of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. Adger’s primary work was among the Armenians as a translator and manager of a printing press. During the late 1830s and early 1840s he translated the New Testament, the Westminster Shorter Catechism, and ...

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Allen, Young John William (03 January 1836–30 May 1907), missionary, educator, and journalist in China, was born in Burke County, Georgia, the son of Andrew Young John Allen and Jane Wooten. Because of the early death of both parents, Allen was raised by an aunt and uncle, Wiley and Nancy (Wooten) Hutchins, who lived in Meriwether County, Georgia. He received a sizable inheritance from his father, which financed his education at several small private schools near his home in Starrsville, Georgia, including the Baptist-run Brownwood Institute in LaGrange, Georgia, and the Morgan H. Looney schools in Palmetto, Georgia. His inheritance also allowed him to collect a personal library, which made him the envy of his classmates as early as 1850, when he was only fourteen years old. He began college work at Emory and Henry College in Virginia in 1853 but transferred to Emory College in Oxford, Georgia, in the spring of 1854. At Emory, Allen acquired the secular learning of the European tradition as well as knowledge of Christianity. His extracurricular activities included membership in a debating society and religious study groups, both of which prepared him for his subsequent careers in China....

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Altham, John (1589–05 November 1640), Jesuit priest and missionary, who accompanied the first colonists to Maryland in 1634. Few sources exist through which a biography might be constructed. His parents are unknown and his schooling obscure. He entered the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) in 1623 at the age of thirty-two and was ordained to the priesthood after an apparently perfunctory course of studies in philosophy and theology for which he showed, it seems, little aptitude. Laboring in Devonshire and the district of London, he earned a reputation as a zealous and hard-working missionary, which recommended him for the Maryland enterprise....

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Anderson, David Lawrence (04 February 1850–16 March 1911), China missionary and first president of Suzhou University, was born in Summerhill, South Carolina, the son of James Harkins Anderson and Mary Margaret Adams. For two years he attended Washington and Lee University, at that time under the presidency of ...

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Anderson, Rufus (17 August 1796–30 May 1880), mission administrator and theologian, was born in North Yarmouth, Maine, the son of Rufus Anderson, a Congregational minister, and Hannah Parsons. His mother died when he was seven, and Anderson moved to Wenham, Massachusetts, after his father remarried. He grew up in the midst of the evangelical Protestant Christianity of the churches and other religious organizations in which his father was a leader and attended the 1812 ordination of the first Protestant foreign missionaries sent to India from the United States by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. Anderson attended Bowdoin College (A.B., 1818), where he experienced the conversion expected in his religious tradition and decided to be a missionary. He graduated from Andover Theological Seminary in 1822....

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Andrews, Lorrin (29 April 1795–29 September 1868), missionary and educator, was born in East Windsor (now Vernon), Connecticut, the son of Samuel Andrews and his wife, whose name is unknown. Andrews grew up on the frontier in Kentucky and Ohio and later attended Jefferson College in Pennsylvania. After graduation he studied at Princeton Theological Seminary in New Jersey, where he graduated in 1825. He worked as a mechanic and printer while in school, and later as a teacher. On 26 April 1827 he volunteered his services to the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM) and was accepted for work in the Sandwich Islands, as Hawaii was then called. His various job experiences and his life in rough pioneer country where hard work was valued prepared him well for his missionary tasks....

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Francis Asbury. From an engraving by Benjamin Tanner. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZC4-6153).

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Asbury, Francis (20 August 1745–31 March 1816), missionary, bishop, and founder of the Methodist Episcopal Church, was born in Staffordshire, England, the son of Joseph Asbury and Elizabeth Rogers, farmers. His parents encouraged him early in his education, and he was reading the Bible by the age of seven. At twelve, however, he dropped out of school after being harshly treated by the schoolmaster and never returned to formal education....

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Ashmun, Jehudi (21 April 1794–25 August 1828), colonial agent and missionary in West Africa, was born in Champlain, New York, the son of Samuel Ashmun, a justice of the peace, and Parthenia (maiden name unknown). An intensely devout Christian from the age of sixteen, Ashmun studied theology and classics at Vermont’s Middlebury College and the University of Vermont in Burlington. Following his graduation from the latter in 1816, he was appointed principal and instructor at the Maine Charity School, a Congregationalist college in Hampden, Maine. In 1818 he married Catherine Gray; it is not known if they had any children....

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Badin, Stephen Theodore (17 July 1768–19 April 1853), Roman Catholic missionary, was born in Orléans, France, the son of Étienne Badin and Monique Hoüy, a prosperous middle-class couple. Educated at the Collège Montaigu in Paris, Badin entered the Sulpician seminary in Orléans to prepare for ordination to the priesthood in 1789, the year the French Revolution began. When his bishop took the constitutional oath of obedience to the French government rather than to the pope, Badin left the seminary and emigrated to America in 1792 in company with the Sulpician priests ...

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Bailey, Jacob (1731–26 July 1808), Anglican missionary and Loyalist, was born in Rowley, Massachusetts, the son of David Bailey and Mary Hodgkins, farmers. The details of Bailey’s early education are unknown, but by the age of ten he was able to read and write. Frustrated by the ignorance of the townspeople and a lack of books, he began to devote his leisure time to “scribbling” essays on various topics. One inadvertently came to the attention of the Reverend Jedediah Jewett, pastor of the First Congregational Society, who then offered to tutor Jacob gratis. Bailey matriculated at Harvard in 1751. He depended primarily upon charity for his fees and expenses but successfully graduated in 1755. Bailey then undertook a series of positions as a schoolmaster while preparing for the A.M. degree, which he received in 1758. In June of that year he was approved as a Congregational preacher. He failed to find a permanent parish and continued his precarious career as itinerant teacher and preacher until the end of 1759....

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Baird, Robert (06 October 1798–15 March 1863), Presbyterian missionary and author, was born near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the son of Robert Baird, and Elizabeth Reeves, farmers. After studying at Washington and Jefferson Colleges in his home state, Baird trained for a ministerial career at Princeton Theological Seminary. Graduating from that institution in 1822, he founded a grammar school nearby and served as its principal for five years. In 1824 he married Fermine A. DuBuisson; they had eight children. In 1828 he was ordained by the local presbytery, and for a year he was an agent of the New Jersey Missionary Society. In that capacity Baird traversed the state, distributing Bibles to all who would receive one. During those efforts to place a Bible in every household, he also observed the uneven quality of education among the citizenry. By publishing his observations in major newspapers in Trenton, Morristown, Burlington, and Newark and by lobbying with legislators, he helped lay the foundation for a state-supported system of public schools....

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Bapst, John (07 December 1815–02 November 1887), missionary and educator, was born at La Roche in the canton of Fribourg, Switzerland, the son of a prosperous farmer. He received a classical education at the Jesuit College of Fribourg and entered the Society of Jesus in 1835. Two years after his ordination in 1846 the Jesuits were expelled from Switzerland as the result of a brief war in which Swiss Catholics were defeated by Swiss Protestants. Though his success in theological studies seemed to destine him for a career as a professor of theology, Bapst was sent to the United States as a missionary to the Penobscot Indians in Old Town, Maine. It was a daunting assignment since he knew neither English nor the Abnaki language of the Indians. However, with the help of an Indian girl who knew French, he was able to communicate with the natives and learn their language, which he felt somewhat resembled Hebrew....

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Barton, James Levi (23 September 1855–21 July 1936), missionary, mission administrator, and author, was born in Charlotte, Vermont, the son of Jacob Barton and Hannah Knowles, a daughter of a prominent Quaker family. His father farmed and worked at lumbering in several remote Vermont communities. While his father served several years in the Union army, Barton worked in the lumbermill and was the main support of his mother, whose faith profoundly influenced his life and thought. Barton’s relative disinterest in theological controversy, his major concern for social improvement, and his confidence in divine presence and guidance all gave evidence of this Quaker influence. He also credited the spartan but happy years on the farm and in the workshop for preparing him for his career....

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Bashford, James Whitford (29 May 1849–18 March 1919), Methodist bishop and missionary, was born in Fayette, Wisconsin, the son of Samuel Morris Bashford, a farmer, part-time physician, and local preacher in the Methodist Episcopal church, and his wife Mary Ann McKee. At the time of his birth in southwestern Wisconsin, the community labored under the rigors of pioneer life on the frontier; Bashford’s mother once beat off with a shovel a prowling wolf about to enter their log cabin where her young child lay sleeping. Despite these early hardships, Bashford was prepared for college by one of his cousins, John P. Parkinson, who opened a school in the village of Fayette before eventually becoming a professor of mathematics at the University of Wisconsin, from which Bashford graduated in 1873, receiving the highest honors in the classical course. He then taught there as an instructor of Greek for a year before entering the School of Theology of Boston University in the fall of 1874. Earning his B.D. in 1876 and his Ph.D. in 1881, he was especially influenced by the liberal theology and sermons of ...

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Beach, Harlan Page (04 April 1854–04 March 1933), missionary, missions librarian, and professor of missions, was born in South Orange, New Jersey, the son of Joseph Wickliff Beach and Mary Angeline Walkley, farmers. He prepared for college at Phillips Andover Academy and graduated from Yale University in 1878. He taught at Phillips Andover Academy for two years, then entered Andover Theological Seminary, graduating (B.D.) in 1883. His father opposed his decision to be a missionary, but his mother encouraged him. He married Lucy Lucretia Ward on 29 June 1883 and was ordained to the Congregational ministry on 19 July 1883; later in the same year they were sent by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions to serve in North China. After language study he was on the staff of a high school and theological seminary at Tung-chau until December 1889, when his wife’s ill health caused their return to the United States....

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A. J. Becker (standing, second from left) and Magdalena Becker (seated, center). Courtesy of the Center for Mennonite Brethren Studies, Fresno, California.

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Becker, Abraham Jacob (25 February 1872–15 January 1953), and Magdalena Hergert Becker (04 August 1878–07 July 1938), missionaries, were born in Russia and Kansas, respectively. Abraham Becker was born in Wohldemfuerst, Kuban, Russia, the son of Jacob P. Becker, a farmer and minister and a founder of the Mennonite Brethren branch of the Mennonite Church, and Margaretha Wiens Becker. Magdalena Becker was born Magdalena Hergert in Hillsboro, Kansas, the daughter of Wilhelm and Magdalena Hergert, farmers. The Jacob Becker family emigrated to America in 1875 and settled in central Kansas among other Germans from Russia. In 1893 Abraham Becker claimed a homestead in the Cherokee Outlet of Oklahoma, near Fairview. The following year the Hergert family moved to Fairview....

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