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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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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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Holcombe, Chester (16 October 1844–25 April 1912), missionary and diplomat to China, was born in Winfield, New York, the son of the Reverend Chester Holcombe, a Presbyterian minister, and Lucy Thompkins. Holcombe’s mother, who had intended to be a missionary herself prior to Chester’s birth, passed on that intention to her son. Following graduation from Union College in 1861, Holcombe entered the teaching profession. He taught for a number of years at both the high school level and the normal school level in Troy, New York; Hartford and Norwich, Connecticut; and Brooklyn, New York. During the 1860s he also began to study theology and in 1867 was licensed by the Presbytery of Lyons, New York, to begin preaching. In 1868, the same year he was ordained, he began work in Georgia as a missionary for the American Sunday School Union. This first experience as a missionary turned out to be of short duration, for in 1869 Holcombe, accompanied by his wife, Olive Kate Sage, and his brother Gilbert Holcombe, departed for China as a missionary of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions....

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Judd, Gerrit Parmele (23 April 1803–12 July 1873), physician, medical missionary, and Hawaiian government official and adviser, was born in Paris, New York, the son of Elnathan Judd, Jr., a physician, and Betsey Hastings. Being the eldest son of a physician, Judd took an early interest in the medical profession and attended medical school in Fairfield, Herkimer County, where he received his M.D. in 1825. In 1826 Judd dedicated his life to the missionary cause as directed by the Boston-based Congregational American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM). At this time the board was recruiting missionaries for the third company to join the Sandwich Islands Mission in Hawaii in the fall of 1827....

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Mayhew, Thomas, Jr. (1621–1657), missionary and settler of Martha's Vineyard, missionary and settler of Martha’s Vineyard, was born in Southampton, England, the son of Thomas Mayhew, a merchant and proprietor of Martha’s Vineyard. (His mother’s name is unknown.) Thomas accompanied his father to Medford, Massachusetts, in 1631 and was educated in Medford and Watertown schools. He was tutored for the ministry with training in the classics and languages. Instead, he first assisted his father in operating their corn and timber mills. In 1641 he shared his father’s proprietorship of Martha’s Vineyard (known then variously as “Noepe” or the “Isle of Capswack”) and took the first colonists there. He was a farmer and an early trader with the Indians. Until his father arrived in 1646 to assume personal charge of the property, Mayhew was sole agent, but he was anxious to work with the Indians. His marriage in 1647 to Jane Paine, his father’s stepdaughter from his second marriage, brought six children who were responsible in coming years for the increase of the Mayhew family in the Vineyard....

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Parker, Peter (18 June 1804–10 January 1888), medical missionary and diplomat, was born in Framingham, Massachusetts, the son of Nathan Parker and Catherine Murdock, farmers. The member of a family of devout Calvinists, Parker had a series of religious experiences at the age of fourteen or fifteen that reinforced his overwhelming fear of sin but promised salvation through Jesus....

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Pierson, Abraham (1609–09 August 1678), colonial minister, missionary, leader of Branford, Connecticut, and cofounder of Newark, New Jersey, was born in Yorkshire, England. Nothing is known about his parents or his youth. He prepared for the ministry at Trinity College, Cambridge University, graduated in 1632, and was subsequently ordained as pastor at Newark, Nottinghamshire, before emigrating to America in 1639 or 1640. Pierson settled in Southampton, Long Island, which at the time was part of the Connecticut Colony. However, he preferred the religious climate of the New Haven Colony, which required prospective church members to present evidence of spiritual conversion and undertake a public profession of faith. Consequently, sometime after 1643 he, his wife, Abigail (Wheelwright), and their children crossed Long Island Sound to the New Haven Colony, which, under the influence of Puritan divine ...

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Tenney, Charles Daniel (29 June 1857–14 March 1930), missionary, educator, and diplomat in China, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Rev. Daniel Tenney, a Congregational minister, and Mary Adams Parker. He received his B.A. from Dartmouth College in 1878 and his M.A. in 1879; in 1900 his alma mater awarded him an honorary doctor of laws. Reared in a religious household and educated during a time of growing interest in missions among college students, he decided to enter divinity school after a year of teaching at an academy in New Hampshire. Immediately upon graduation from Oberlin Theological Seminary in Oberlin, Ohio, in 1882, Tenney was assigned by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions to Shanxi, China. He thereby joined what became known as the “Oberlin Band,” dedicated to educational and evangelistic work in this poverty-stricken province. His wife, Anne Runcie Jerrell of Bridgeton, New Jersey, whom he had married in March of that year, accompanied him. The couple would have five children, two daughters and three sons. While at Taigu, Shanxi, Tenney founded a primary school where Kong Xiangxi, banker and Guomindang official, learned English and became acquainted with Christianity....

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Williams, Edward Thomas (17 October 1854–27 January 1944), missionary and diplomat, was born in Columbus, Ohio, the son of William Williams, a cooper, plasterer, and housing contractor, and Dinah Louisa Hughes. Although raised a Baptist, Williams was attracted to the Disciples of Christ and attended Bethany College, established to prepare students for the ministry. He was influenced by his teacher, Charles L. Loos, who became his father-in-law in 1884, when Williams married Caroline Dorothy Loos, with whom he would have two children. After graduating in 1875, Williams was ordained a minister, and for the next twelve years he served a number of congregations, including the leading liberal church in Cincinnati (1881–1887). Williams became a prominent Disciples exponent of reform Darwinism and doctrinal innovation, which brought him into conflict with the conservatives, who emphasized the denomination’s dedication to primitive Christianity. An advocate of the social gospel, Williams in 1887 volunteered for missionary work in China....