Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Letter from T. P. Crawford

Tarleton Perry Crawford was a Baptist missionary who spent 50 years in China. His story was told by his wife’s nephew in Fifty Years in China: an Eventful Memoir of Tarleton Perry Crawford (Lovelace Savidge Foster, Nashville, TN: Bayless-Pullen Company, 1909). In 1855 Crawford published a hymnal he had compiled in the Shanghai dialect called Tsán Shîn She (Hymn Book; 讚神詩). He wrote a curiously interesting book titled The Patriarchal Dynasties from Adam to Abraham, shown to cover 10,500 years, and the highest human life only 187 (Richmond, VA: Josiah Ryland & Co., 1877). The following letter comes from Biographical Sketches of Tennessee Baptist Ministers, by Joseph Henry Borum (Memphis, TN: Rogers & Co., 1880).

“TUNG CHOW, CHINA, July 18, 1876.
      Dear Brother:
      “I can only give you a few facts connected with my history. To write such an autobiography as you ask for is out of the question, as I have neither time, thought, nor inclination to attempt it.
      “I was born in Warren county, Ky., May 8, 1821. My parents (John and Cretia), were Baptists, and blessed with a family of seven sons and three daughters, of whom I am the fourth. They have been dead many years.
      “I professed religion at home, under the instruction of my mother, in the spring of 1837, and in July was baptized into the fellowship of Sinking Spring church, by Elder Ephraim H. Owing, of Callaway county, Ky. I felt called to the ministry from the day of my conversion, but made a seven years’ struggle against the impression.
      “About that time I united with the Bird’s Creek church, Henry county, Tenn., and began, at Clark’s Institute, to study, preparatory to entering the ministry, in company with John Bateman and Granville Martin, where I continued one year. My funds were exhausted; I taught a session and then took up my studies again. Rev. Peter S. Gayle, (blessed be his memory), having heard of my efforts, invited me to come to Denmark, Madison county, Tenn., and live at his house, and pursue my studies in the academy there. I gladly accepted his offer and continued them, there and elsewhere, without interruption, till able to enter college. After a four years’ course at Union University I graduated in the session of 1850-1.
      “During my course I received aid from the Board of the West Tennessee convention, which I shall always remember with the deepest gratitude. Before my graduation the Big Hatchie association adopted me as their missionary, agreeing to support me in China, instead of Rev. Henry Goodale, who had died in Africa. At the end of 1850 I was appointed to Shanghai, by the Foreign Mission Board, at Richmond, Va. March 12, 1851, I was married to Miss Martha Foster, of Alabama, and we began our life-work together.
      “April 28, 1851, I was ordained by Denmark church, of which I was a member, by the following council of ministers: Rev. Champ C. Conner, pastor of the church and moderator of the Big Hatchie association; Henry L. Pettus, Archibald Maclay, D. D., of New York; George Tucker, pastor of the church at Jackson, Tenn.; Abraham Whitson, George E. Thomas, Hugh Coffey and William Nolen.
      “We were set apart by the Southern Baptist convention, at Nashville, in May, and sailed in the ship Horatio from New York, November 17, 1851. We reached Shanghai on the 30th of March, 1852, where we labored until August, 1863, when, from failing health, we removed to the salubrious climate of Tung Chow Foo, on the gulf of Pechell, where, our health being fully restored, we have since continued to labor in the gospel without serious interruption. We have aided in establishing churches in China; have preached the gospel to millions of people; taught many youths of both sexes; made and distributed many books – all we have done and suffered for the cause of God, during these twenty-five years, can never be told. What remains for us in the future is known only to God, our Heavenly Father, to whom we have consecrated our entire lives. During about six years of the war times we had to support ourselves. This was done without interfering with our work.
      “I send you a rough drawing of our chapel. I remember Brother Borum and other dear brethren of West Tennessee with great pleasure, and hope to meet them in heaven, where I may lecture on China, but I can not write on it much while in this world.
Yours very truly, T. P. CRAWFORD.”

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