First Fifty Years of
THE MISSIONARY COHORT.
It will be remembered that at an early day in the history of the Seminary a theological and missionary society was organized, and in this society most important questions were discussed. It was succeeded by the society of "Religious Inquiry," the aim and character of which were nearly identical with those of its predecessor. The organization of this society presupposed the missionary spirit. The spirit was infused into the school by its first principal. It is just that this class of students should have their appropriate recognition.
Miss Sophronia Farrington heads the list of heroic self-sacrificing student missionaries. She was born in Concord, N. H., in 1801. She entered the Seminary in 1825 and left in 1828. She pursued her studies in the female Seminary at Utica, N. Y. She taught a school in Onondaga, N. Y., also in a female Seminary in Salem, Mass. In 1843 she went out as the first female missionary to Africa, under the auspices of the Young Men's Missionary Society of Boston. This was the earliest mission established by the Methodist Episcopal Church in foreign lands. Rev. Melville Cox had gone in advance, and Miss Farrington soon followed. Cox did not long survive. In 1851 Miss Farrington married Mr. George Cone, of Utica, N. Y., where she now resides. She is an humble, intelligent Christian, and was faithful and successful in her work at a period when it cost more of sacrifice than now to serve Christ.
Rev. John B. Benham was a student in 1827-28. He was a very devoted Christian. His earliest missionary work was among the Indians in Canada. Rev. William Case, who had been laboring among the Indian tribes in that province, had brought over with him, on a visit to this State, (N. Y.,) some of the converted Indians. Young Benham accompanied them on their return to Canada, and there commenced his missionary work. He returned to the States after a year or more, and consummated a marriage engagement, made previous to his going, with Miss Susan Hamilton, of Lansing, N. Y. They at once returned to the missionary work among the Indians. Subsequently he was appointed superintendent of the Liberia Mission in Africa in place of Rev. John Seys, who had returned to the States. Mr. Benham, while in Liberia, pushed explorations for missionary purpose's further inland than had previously been done, and accomplished a good work among the colonists. He was in Liberia when a slave ship was captured and the cargo of Congoes were landed at Monrovia, and was charged with the labor of providing for the education of the rescued slaves. His faithful wife was a colaborer with him in all his work. His last missionary work was done among the Indians of Onondaga, N. Y. He died many years since, rich in experience, and leaving an honorable record of labor and sacrifice.
Rev. Erastus Wentworth, D.D., the late accomplished editor of the "Ladies' Repository," was for years a missionary to Foochow, China. (See personal sketch, first Decade.)
Rev. Augustus W. Loomis, D.D:, who now resides in San Francisco, was for many years a missionary in China. He was a student in this Seminary in 1836-37.
Miss Lucy M. Clark, a student in 1835. Married Rev. Solomon Carpenter. She died in China in 1874.
Moses Clark White, M. D. This gentleman is a brother of Professor Aaron White. He was a student in this Seminary in 1841. Graduated at Wesleyan University in 1845. Studied theology and medicine at Yale College. Joined the New York Conference in 1846, and was stationed at New Haven, Conn. From 1847 to 1853 he was a missionary and physician in Foochow, China. Mr. White has distinguished himself in science and medicine especially. In 1851 he published the Gospel of Matthew in the colloquial dialect of Foochow, and conducted a public dispensary. 1854 received the title of M.D. from Yale College. He practiced medicine in New Haven, Conn., from 1856 to 1876. He published an "Introduction" to the study of the colloquial language of Foochow, a treatise on microscopy, and wrote the chapter on Optics in Silliman's "Physics." He revised and edited the second edition of Porter's "Chemistry." Lecturer on microscopy in medical department of Yale College. Lecturer on histology and microscopy in Wesleyan University. 1864 to 1873 he was secretary of Connecticut Medical Society. Mr. White has been twice married; both his wives were students at Cazenovia, and both were with him in the mission field successively. He first married Miss Isabel Jane Atwater, of Homer, N. Y. She died in China in 1848. His second wife, Miss Mary Seeley, he married in 1851, at Onondaga, N. Y.
Rev. Charles W. Judd and wife. This faithful missionary was born on the 31st day of January, 1829. Converted while yet young, he at once turned his attention to the Christian ministry. His education was successively prosecuted in Elmira Academy, Cazenovia Seminary, and Charlotteville. In all these places, while pursuing his studies, he retained his zeal and fervor in the service of God. He attended Cazenovia Seminary in 1850-51. During this period he served as pastor under direction of the presiding elder. He joined the Wyoming Conference in 1854, and after five years of labor was sent with others as a missionary to India. They sailed in April, 1859. Meanwhile he had married Miss Sarah A. Hubbard, a student of the Seminary, who accompanied him. to India. Here they labored faithfully for about ten years. In the summer of 1869 the need of rest compelled them to return to their native land. During their vacation of two years they did not give themselves entirely to rest, but sought to promote the great missionary cause. Mr. Judd spoke in many places in reference to the great missionary work, and while thus engaged he visited Cazenovia and addressed the students. At the expiration of two years they felt it to be their duty to return to their loved labors in India. Hence in October, 1871, they again bade adieu to friends and departed. With good health which gives prospect of years of earnest work in the vineyard, they joyfully toil on, and endure as "seeing Him who is invisible."
Miss Sarah Minerva Rockwell, daughter of Rev. T. B. and Caroline Rockwell, was born January 11, 1831, at Ridgefield, Conn., and died at Nynee Tal, India, October 30, 1862. She had from childhood a foretaste of subsequent missionary experience in her familiarity with the peculiar life of the Methodist itinerant, and a residence among the Indians, to whom her father was one time missionary. She was educated at Cazenovia Seminary, graduating in the class of 1850. She was converted while there, in her sixteenth year. In the theological and missionary societies of the Seminary she caught her missionary inspiration. She taught for several years; was preceptress of Clark Seminary, Ill. In 1859 she married Rev. J. R. Downey, then under appointment. as a missionary to India, an able and devoted man. On landing at Calcutta in August, 1859, he started for his field in Rohilcund, but died before reaching his station, and was buried in the city of Lucknow, his widow being left a stranger in that far-off land. Though utterly crushed by the affliction, she begged to proceed to her husband's station and do as much as she could of his work. At Bareilly she took charge of the "Boys' Orphanage," and found a pleasant home in the family of Dr. Waugh. Her work was very severe, and exhausted her strength to such a degree that she was obliged to repair to the sanitarium at Nynee Tal, where she remained five months and afterward returned to her charge. During the following December she married Rev. John M. Thoburn, (now "Dr.,") of the India Mission, stationed at Nynee Tal, and entered upon a new field of labor, itinerating among the villages, and securing a good influence over the women, laboring among the Europeans and natives at the station, organizing a Sunday-school among the children of the soldiers, an "orphanage for mountaineers," and opened a school for Hindoo girls. Her success with this school was considered very encouraging, soon becoming quite largely attended. But in the midst of her labors she died as she had lived, full of love, and trusting in Christ. Her deathbed was a scene of holy triumph. She was of a meek and quiet spirit, but possessed great energy, working for direct results. She was in the highest sense a missionary, having faith in her work, and believing that God had called her to it. Her constant effort was to bring the people to the knowledge of their Saviour. To her missionary sisters she left this message: "I had hoped to live and labor with you, but I am more than happy to die."
Marilla Peck Pierce, the adopted daughter of Bishop Jesse T. Peck, was born in 1834. Adopted by her foster-parents when two years old. Converted when but nine years old. In a letter to her foster-parents, written on the eve of her departure for the missionary field, she says: "It was you, my dear mother, who first taught me to pray; you led me to the foot of the cross, and showed me the way of simple faith, and it has been, in a measure, through your unceasing prayers that I have been enabled to overcome the besetments of youth." She was brought up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. She delighted in the study of the languages, and when in India she readily learned the colloquial language, and could talk to the native women as they stood in her tent door. While Dr. Peck was President of Dickinson College the late Bishop Hamlin and wife sojourned at the house of the doctor for a week or more. During their stay the theme of Christian holiness was the delight of the household. Marilla became deeply interested in the subject; her perceptions and convictions of its nature and necessity were clear and deep. She sought and obtained the precious pearl. About this time she was sent from Carlisle to Cazenovia Seminary. Here she was associated with the theological and missionary societies, where, doubtless, thoughts of missionary life were revealed to her. Dr. Peck was talked of at the time of the initiation of the India Mission as a candidate for the superintendency of the mission. Meantime Marilla was married to a young man, (the valedictorian of his class in Dickinson College,) and upon the forming of the new mission in India, under the superintendency of Rev. William Butler, D.D., she, together with her husband, went to India. They were on their way to Lucknow when the horrible massacre by the hands of the Sepoys at that place occurred. One hundred and forty famished orphans, made such by the rebellion, were collected by the authorities, and through the influence of an English officer, forty of them were secured for the new mission. ... These orphans were placed under the care of Mrs. Pierce, and they formed the nucleus of what has since become one of the most successful and important instrumentalities for the spread of Christianity in the mission fields of Lucknow, "Bareilly Orphanage," of which Mrs. Pierce was the first superintendent. She fell a victim to a climatical disease, and died at Lucknow.
Miss Lucinda L. Combs was a student in 1866 from Syracuse. She was dependent upon her own resources, and resolutely set herself to work to fit herself for the great missionary work. She continued her studies at Cazenovia for three years. The medical profession was her choice, and going to Philadelphia without means to enter the medical college she sought a position where she might do housework, and at the same time prosecute her studies and attend the college lectures. She learned of a small family of "Friends," and upon application for a position, with the avowed purpose of graduation in the medical college, the lady said, "You cannot do our work and accomplish the other." Miss Combs said, "Try me, and if I do not your work, and do it well, then discharge me."' They did try her and she succeeded. But the Christian ladies with whom Mrs. Annie Wittenmeyer was associated, learning of the case, at once interested themselves in Miss Combs. This introduced her into society and aided her pecuniarily. Upon graduation, friends made her valuable presents, and sent her forth with their benediction. She is now physician and missionary at Peking, China, laboring under the auspices of the Presbyterian Mission Board.