Robbie Fee-Thomson

Document #6

"Reported Murdered," Ravenna Republican, n.p., September 13, 1900

News, f: OCA, Lydia Lord Davis RG30/80, Miscellaneous Printed Matter Series VIII, Box 8, Printed Matter 1900 Folder.



This is a fragment of a newspaper article that announced the Shansi massacre and the death of Francis Davis on July 31, 1900. Official notification from the State Department did not arrive until September 10, 1900, indicating that the news of his death took almost a month to reach his widow and the public. Some missionary wives and children, including Lydia and her children and Alice Moon Williams and her daughters, were on furlough in the United States at the time of the massacre. This article documents that all ten American Missionaries and three of their children, all members of the Oberlin Band, were killed during the Boxer Rebellion. On July 31, 1900, a mob burned down the gate to the Taiku compound, gaining entrance to the mission. The six missionaries, including Francis, had fled the compound and hidden in an adjoining property, but were found and murdered by the Boxer mob. The Fenzhou missionaries were ordered into carts under the guise of transporting them to safety at the coast. The seven adults and three children were taken not far from Fenzhou and executed by Chinese soldiers. In addition to the Oberlin missionaries, a total of 250 foreigners and nearly 2,000 Chinese converts were killed in the massacre.


Reported Murdered.

Rev. F. W. Davis of This Place[qq] a Victim of Chinese
Fury at Tai-Ku – Report Confirmed by a Letter
from the Department of State.


The following Associated Press report was published in Sunday’s[rr] Cleveland Leader:

“Shanghai, Friday, September 7.—Ten American missionaries and three American children, two Danish missionaries and one British missionary stationed at Shan-Si province were murdered late in July, according to accurate reports received today. They were:

“Stationed at Fen-Chow-Fu—Rev. and Mrs. C.W. Price[ss], Rev. and Mrs. E. R. Atwater[tt], all of the Americans board; one child of Mr. and Mrs. Price, and Mr. and Mrs. Atwater’s two children; Mr. and Mrs. A.T. Grundren, Danes; and Miss Elldridge, British.

“Stationed at Tai-Ku—Rev. and Mrs. D. H. Clapp, Rev. G. L. Williams[uu], Rev. F. W. Davis, Miss Rowena Bird[vv], and Miss Mary L. Partridge[ww], all of the American board[xx].

“The Fen-Chow-Fu part left the station under Chinese escort for the coast and were murdered en route. The Tai-Ku party were killed at the station.

Mrs. Lydia Lord Davis of this place, wife of Rev. F.W. Davis, had received a similar notice the previous evening from a friend in Chicago. Mrs. Davis was seen Sunday by a Republican reporter, and although greatly grieved by the news, she said that it was not unexpected. She knew all the people named, and that they were located at the missions named. From this fact she concluded that the report is more liable to be true than many that have been received.

The report was confirmed Monday[yy] by a letter from the Department of state at Washington …


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[qq] Although this article claims Francis was from Ravenna, the same article (fragment omitted) indicates he was born in Massachusetts. “Of this place” is likely used because Ravenna was the hometown of his wife.

[rr] September 9, 1900.

[ss] Charles Wesley Price (1847-1900), of Oberlin, Ohio, was an 1889 graduate of Oberlin Seminary. In 1873, he married Eva Jane Keasey (1855-1900), who studied at the Oberlin Academy. The Price’s oldest son Stewart (1885-1897) was born prior to their departure for China and died while the family was on furlough in 1897. A second son, Donald (1889-1892) was born seven months prior to sailing to China but was struck with a fever and died in Shansi. The couple’s third child, Florence (1893-1900), died at Taiku with her parents. Oberlin in Asia, 61; The General Catalogue, 786; and The Oberlin Band, 186-87.

[tt] Ernest Richmond Atwater (1865-1900), had lived in Cleveland, Ohio before graduating from Oberlin College in 1887 and the Oberlin Seminary in 1892. In 1888, he married Jennie Evelyn Pond (1865-1896), who graduated from Oberlin’s classical course in 1888. Jennie died of complications following the birth of her fourth daughter in 1896. He married Elizabeth Graham in 1897. Oberlin in Asia, 61; The General Catalogue, 31; and The Oberlin Band, 192-93.

[uu] George Louis Williams (1858-) of Southington, Connecticut, was an 1888 graduate of Oberlin College and an 1891 graduate of Oberlin Seminary. In 1891, he married Mary Alice Moon (1860-1952) and the couple arrived in Shansi in 1892. Mary returned to the United States with her three daughters on furlough in 1899 and was not in Taiku at the time of the massacre. She later returned to China from 1909-1912. Oberlin in Asia, 61; The General Catalogue, 1065; and The Oberlin Band, 193-94.

[vv] Susan Rowena Bird (1865-1900), of Oberlin, Ohio, graduated from the Oberlin Ladies Board in 1880 and then from Oberlin College in 1895. By 1890, the American Board had appointed three single women, including Bird, Tinnie D’Etta Hewett Thompson and Mary Patridge. Rowena was the first of the three appointed and reached China in 1890. Oberlin in Asia, 61; The General Catalogue, 86.

[ww] Mary Louise Partridge (1865-1900), of Longwood, Florida, studied at Oberlin College from 1889-1893. She also studied at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts. She arrived in Shansi in October 1893. The daughter of a home missionary, she was known for riding horseback through villages, telling Bible stories and speaking to women and children about the Gospel. Oberlin in Asia, 61; The General Catalogue, 703; and The Oberlin Band, 190-91.

[xx] American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missionaries.

[yy] September 10, 1900.