Item #516 [Original Extensive Autograph Letter Signed by a Female American Presbyterian Missionary in China, Written to Her Parents and Talking about Her Recent Missionary Trips around Weifang (Shandong Province), Preaching to Chinese Christians, Staying Overnight in a Village School “with the Heat & the Fleas,” Giving an Eye-Witness Account of the Bohai Sea Earthquake on June 13, 1888, and Discussing or Mentioning Several American Missionaries, including Her Husband James Boyd Neal, Dr. John L. Nevius, Rev. James H. Laughlin and his wife Annie, Lottie Moon, Margaret Jane Hayes, and Julia B. Mateer]. AMERICAN FEMALE MISSIONARY IN CHINA, Elizabeth Blackford NEAL, née Simonton.
[Original Extensive Autograph Letter Signed by a Female American Presbyterian Missionary in China, Written to Her Parents and Talking about Her Recent Missionary Trips around Weifang (Shandong Province), Preaching to Chinese Christians, Staying Overnight in a Village School “with the Heat & the Fleas,” Giving an Eye-Witness Account of the Bohai Sea Earthquake on June 13, 1888, and Discussing or Mentioning Several American Missionaries, including Her Husband James Boyd Neal, Dr. John L. Nevius, Rev. James H. Laughlin and his wife Annie, Lottie Moon, Margaret Jane Hayes, and Julia B. Mateer].
[Original Extensive Autograph Letter Signed by a Female American Presbyterian Missionary in China, Written to Her Parents and Talking about Her Recent Missionary Trips around Weifang (Shandong Province), Preaching to Chinese Christians, Staying Overnight in a Village School “with the Heat & the Fleas,” Giving an Eye-Witness Account of the Bohai Sea Earthquake on June 13, 1888, and Discussing or Mentioning Several American Missionaries, including Her Husband James Boyd Neal, Dr. John L. Nevius, Rev. James H. Laughlin and his wife Annie, Lottie Moon, Margaret Jane Hayes, and Julia B. Mateer].
[Original Extensive Autograph Letter Signed by a Female American Presbyterian Missionary in China, Written to Her Parents and Talking about Her Recent Missionary Trips around Weifang (Shandong Province), Preaching to Chinese Christians, Staying Overnight in a Village School “with the Heat & the Fleas,” Giving an Eye-Witness Account of the Bohai Sea Earthquake on June 13, 1888, and Discussing or Mentioning Several American Missionaries, including Her Husband James Boyd Neal, Dr. John L. Nevius, Rev. James H. Laughlin and his wife Annie, Lottie Moon, Margaret Jane Hayes, and Julia B. Mateer].
[Original Extensive Autograph Letter Signed by a Female American Presbyterian Missionary in China, Written to Her Parents and Talking about Her Recent Missionary Trips around Weifang (Shandong Province), Preaching to Chinese Christians, Staying Overnight in a Village School “with the Heat & the Fleas,” Giving an Eye-Witness Account of the Bohai Sea Earthquake on June 13, 1888, and Discussing or Mentioning Several American Missionaries, including Her Husband James Boyd Neal, Dr. John L. Nevius, Rev. James H. Laughlin and his wife Annie, Lottie Moon, Margaret Jane Hayes, and Julia B. Mateer].
Historically Important Content-Rich Letter by a Noted Female American Missionary in China

[Original Extensive Autograph Letter Signed by a Female American Presbyterian Missionary in China, Written to Her Parents and Talking about Her Recent Missionary Trips around Weifang (Shandong Province), Preaching to Chinese Christians, Staying Overnight in a Village School “with the Heat & the Fleas,” Giving an Eye-Witness Account of the Bohai Sea Earthquake on June 13, 1888, and Discussing or Mentioning Several American Missionaries, including Her Husband James Boyd Neal, Dr. John L. Nevius, Rev. James H. Laughlin and his wife Annie, Lottie Moon, Margaret Jane Hayes, and Julia B. Mateer].

Tang Wu, 20 April 1888; Wei Hien, 19 May 1888; & Tengchowfoo, 16 June, 1888. Octavo (ca. 20x12,5 cm). 9 leaves of creamy laid paper with 17 numbered pages of manuscript text in brown ink. With a period envelope addressed to “Mrs. Joshua Williams, 1628 Laurel Ave., Minneapolis, Minn.,” with an ink postal stamp and two postage stamps. Fold marks, the envelope with several tears on extremities, but overall a very good letter written in a legible hand.

Historically important content-rich original letter written by noted female American missionary in China, Elizabeth B. Neal which provides a lively first-hand account of her trips around modern-day Shandong province, interactions with Chinese Christians and other American missionaries, overnight stays in the countryside “Inns,” the Bohai Sea earthquake (June 13, 1888), &c. The 17-page manuscript contains the text of three letters (two addressed to Mrs. Neal’s father and one – to her mother), written in “Tang Wu” (likely, Tangwuzhen, south-east of Weifang), “Wei Hien” (or Weihsien, now Weifang) and “Tengchowfoo” (or Dengzhou, now Penglai). Original manuscript letter compiled over the course of two months. The letter is signed “Lillie” and addressed to “My very dear Father” or “My dear, dear Mother.” It became possible to identify the author on the basis of the mentions of her husband, whom she calls “James” and “my beloved,” and her obvious relative “Sallie.” “James” is Dr. James Boyd Neal (1855-1925), who worked for the North China and Shantung missions of the American Presbyterian Church in China “for forty years. <…> During his service in China, he acted as President of the China Medical Missionary Association, Dean of the interdenominational school of medicine at Tsinangfu, which later was merged into the medical department of Shantung University, and finally as President of the University” (Obituary// The Missionary Review of the World. Vol. XLVIII. No. 5, May 1925, p. 419). “Sallie” was Elizabeth’s younger sister Sallie Rose Grier Simonton (1861-1945).
In the text, the author vividly describes the hardships of missionary travels around the Chinese countryside between Weifang, Tangwuzhen and Penglai, and on the “great road” between Chefoo (Yantai) and Chinanfu (Jinan), preaching to devoted local Christian women, staying overnight with Chinese girls, most of whom “never seen foreigners before & it was both comical & trying to see them watch every movement of the undressing process,” the protection device they installed against burglars at night, &c. Very interesting is her eye-witness account of the destruction in Penglai during the Bohan Sea earthquake, which occurred on June 13, 1888. There are also notes or longer passages talking about American Presbyterian missionaries in the area, including Rev. James H. Laughlin and his wife Annie (arrived to Weifang in 1881, Mrs. Laughlin died in China in 1891), Dr. John L. Nevius (1829-1893, served in China in 1854-1887), Lottie Moon (1840-1912, Southern Baptist missionary to China in 1873-1912), Margaret Jane Hayes (wife of missionary and educator Dr. Watson M. Hayes), and Julia B. Mateer (wife of missionary Dr. Calvin W. Mateer, died in China in 1898). Overall an important content-rich source on the history of American Presbyterian missions in China in the 1880s.
A daughter of a Pennsylvania Presbyterian preacher Rev. William Simonton (1820-1908), Elizabeth married a young Presbyterian missionary James Boyed Neal in 1883 and left for work in China with him the same year. During her service in China, she was actively involved in teaching and managing Christian schools. In the 1900s, she worked as a superintendent of the Clara Linton Hamilton Memorial School in Chinanfu (Jinan) (The Educational Directory for China: An Account of the Various Schools and Colleges Connected with Protestant Missions…/Gee, N.G. 1905, p. 23).
The letter has a period envelope with an ink postal stamp dated “Minneapolis, 1889” and addressed to “Mrs. Joshua Williams, 1628 Laurel Ave., Minneapolis, Minn.” This was Elizabeth’s cousin Martha Louise Williams (née Rittenhouse, 1848-1907), a daughter of Elizabeth’s father’s sister Jane C. Simonton (1819-1886). The handwriting on the envelope and in the letter is different.

Excerpts from the letters:
“Tang Wu, 30 miles W. of Wei Hien. Friday, Apr. 20, 1888.
My very dear Father, <…> We are in a large market town, & as there is a band of strolling players here holding a theatre & consequently there are a good many drinking & merry-making men in the Inn where we are stopping. The young theological student who is also here thought it safest & easiest for us to put an end to our receiving for the day, so now since our door is shut, all is quiet & I can write until it grows dark.
Mrs. Laughlin, my companion, is taking a rest. The work in the country somehow takes all one’s vitality very quickly, so that this little breathing spell seems most restful & refreshing. We only came out to the country on Tuesday of this week & expect to spend in all 20 days this time in this region. Then our plan is to go back to Wei Hien to stay for 3 days, resting and laying in a fresh supply of food & clean clothing, before again starting out in another direction. Tomorrow Mr. Laughlin is to come to stay over Sunday, preaching to the Xtians in this vicinity, & going back to Wei Hien on Monday. Our plan is thus to go out on short trips until it grows too warm for country work, when I will go home to my school & its work & duties. <…>
The Inn we are stopping in now has a Xtian landlord & there are several Xtian women in the village. Our work has been principally with them, teaching them & trying to help & strengthen them as much as we can. The stations we are now among have all this time been under Dr. Nevius’ care & we find all the women very well instructed in Bible knowledge & wanting to be taught. <…> Oh! We need so much in this North China Mission, a real outpouring of the Holy Spirit, an apostolic, Pentecostal blessing. Nothing else seems to us will warm up & revive the work here. Yesterday we went to a place 3 ½ miles from here & spent a very pleasant day with the Xtian women there. <…> Tomorrow we go out to a village 5 miles away, for the day & on Mond. start to another 20 miles further west. There we will be for several days & from there start homeward, visiting several places on the way. <…> An old woman has just come from a village 6 miles away, having walked all the distance to learn some more “doctrine.” She just heard we were here. I [can’t?] stop to teach her. <…> Mr. Laughlin has arrived bringing us fresh bread for which we are most grateful, as we ate our last this morning. <…> Our visit today was tiring, but very interesting. The Xtians seemed so glad to see us & we had a good time with the 3 old women who belong to the Church there. Tomorrow we are to spend quickly here teaching the women & on Mond. push on westward. Mr. Laughlin is to meet us again next Sunday & by the next Sat., May 5, we hope to be back in Wei Hien. <…>

Wei Hien, May 19, 1888, Sat. morning.
[About her recent missionary trip during a heat wave]: “My dear Father, <…> that day we were visiting a place which is the home of 5 of the Tungchow school girls, where they have a boys’ school (which is taught on weekdays in what is used as the chapel on Sundays), a girls’ school of 16 scholars, & quite a number of Xtians, & is one of our most live stations & where there was no place for us to stay except in the girls’ school room. This was a good sized room with a Kang at one end & a wooden bedstead at the other. The Chinese bedstead in this part of the country has neither head nor foot board as ours have, & it is really nothing but a large low table, for it is made throughout of wood & covered with a piece of straw matting. Two of the scholars & their teacher, who is a girl from the Chefoo school, sleep on the Kang, two more on the bed. Where we saw they were putting benches together for the 2 girls who were to give their places to us on the Kang, we were rather taken aback, for we are not very anxious to sleep so near the natives. We preferred using the bed, but they said the children who slept on it both had itch, & they thought we would prefer the Kang for that reason. We did, I can assure you. They wouldn’t let us get to bed before 10 o’clock, they were so glad to see us & anxious to talk with us & they were all up & dressing before 5 in the morning. They had most of them never seen foreigners before & it was both comical & trying to see them watch every movement of the undressing process. It was so hot to sleep 7 in one room, that we coaxed them to keep the door open, & it was funny to see them making arrangements to keep out a possible burglar. They piled 2 benches before the door & put a string of mule bells on the top one. But what with the heat & the fleas, we passed the worst night I can remember. How often I thanked Mother for that Persian insect powder & the little gun she gave us when we came away. I don’t see how we could get along without it in the country. We kept that little gun going hard almost all the time that night. <…>”
I wrote Sallie that as she was sailing along in the elegant Atlantic steamer, I would be ploughing my way too through a sea of dust (the dust on the way to Wei Hien is something dreadful) towards my desired heaven & that I am sure she will not be more glad to reach terra firma in England, that I Tungchow in China <…>

Tungchowfoo, June 16, 1888, Sunday morning.
My dear, dear Mother, <…> I have been back home 2 weeks <…> The women did interest me very much & I found the work among them growing in attractiveness for me all the time. Perhaps it is because this work is more directly religious than school teaching is during a good part of each week, that one gets more satisfaction in the doing of it.
Miss Moon has had such a remarkable work opening up for her doing in Pingtu. It is wonderful the hold she has upon the hearts of the people among whom she has been living during the past 2 years. She has indeed done a brave, self sacrificing thing, for when she came to say her goodbye to her people there (she has been 10 full years among them and was going home to live with a much-loved & only-living sister <…>), because she would not promise to come back again, they plead with her so earnestly not to go yet, not to go until they were better taught, that she gave up her heart's desire and promised to stay with them indefinitely. That would be so hard for me to do! <...> She has come to the coast for a short vacation and is to go back to her lonely life in Aug.[ust]. She says strong men and women wept like children when they realized that she was going to give up her home going for their sakes. <...> The Chinese from San Francisco just flock back to Canton every New Year’s time to spend that holiday in the home circle. It seems it is just Miss Moon who has this hold on the hearts of the Pingtu women and children. Others trying have been unable to find the opportunities she has in abundance. Mrs. Crawford spent two months there this spring with Miss Moon. <…>
How very, very different is the life here from that in Syria as Helen Boyd saw it & wrote of it to her father! As compared with Japan life & missionary work among the Japanese, it is vastly more primitive & toilsome. The journey home positively seemed a rest, fatiguing as it was in itself after the life in the country, where from dawn until dark & long after it, we were giving all our time & strength to the women. On the great road (as we call the highway from Chefoo to Chinanfoo) where we once reached an Inn, we could wash & refresh ourselves, eat, sleep & rest <…> Both Miss Boyd & I had excellent animals in our [… carriages], & came along at a rapid speed for China, leaving Wei Hien on Mond. at 9 a.m., & being in Whang Hien before noon on Thursday. There my beloved met me & brought me safely home the next day <…>
Last Wednesday we had an entirely new experience – an earthquake! Yes, a really live one that shook the houses so that several fell in town; part of the water city wall tumbled, & one life was lost, that of a man crushed by the falling walls. I was at Ms. Hayes at the time – it was after 4 o’clock p.m., & Mrs. Mateer was present too. The whole house began to shake. I cried out “earthquake.” Mrs. Mateer doubted at first, but we all rushed out into the front garden, & soon no one doubted that it was a veritable quaking of the earth. It lasted over a minute & we saw the chimney on Mr. Hayes’ house crack & shake, while we were sure by the way the brick & tiles were falling over at Mrs. Mateers’ that their house must surely tumble. But only the chimnies gave way, though there were cracks in the walls. Our house is of stone & on a rocky foundation, so the shock was less severe here. Another at 6 ½ p.m. stopped the clock in James’ study. Dr. Mateer’s house is built on an alluvial soil & they have been feeling slight shocks ever since. James was over at the old temple (dispensary) at the time lecturing to the girls & said he felt sure for awhile that the old building would come down on them.
(Our curiosity with regard to earthquakes is now fully satisfied, & we would prefer not to experience any more of them). The natives are frightened, & think some terrible disaster to coming upon them…”.

Item #516

Price: $1,500.00 USD