[The following transcripts of letters by Sarah Alice (Troyer) Young (along with a few letters by others) were made by Mrs. Carol Whiting in the 1990s from the originals, which in many cases were very faded and difficult to read. The originals are often on very thin or poor quality paper. A very few minor revisions were made by the archives staff, including Laurie Ellison, a Wheaton College graduate student working under the supervision of the BGC Archives staff. The 1901 letter from Orr Ewing was entirely transcribed by the Archives staff.]
[Comments in brackets were added by an archivist, except those in italics, which are by Mrs. Whiting. The full text of Bible verses mentioned in the letters were also provided by Mrs. Whiting. No attempt has been made to maintain the layout or page numbering of Young's letters or to indicate page breaks, except to have paragraph breaks at the same points as they occur in the correspondence. Misspelling in the correspondence have been left as is, as has punctuation and capitalization.]
[Many letter start on one day and then have a new section added on, headed by the date of addtion. In this transcription, a row of five asterisks "*****" separate indicate the start of a new letter.]
[Preface by Carol (Mizer) Whiting, a relative of Sarah Alice Troyer Young and the transcriber of the letters and diary:
Sarah Alice Troyer was born in 1871, one of 11 children of John D. and Catharine (Egly) Troyer. She was my Grandmother's sister. These are letters she wrote to her sisters and brothers before she became a Missionary and while in training and when she was in China as a Missionary. Her siblings were Daniel, Marietta, Anna (my grandmother), Lydia, Joseph, Emanline, David, Ellen, Martha, and John. ]
It was a treat by last messenger to get your letter with those of Anna and Ella from Medford. Their scarcity make them all the more precious, perhaps, when they do come. I had such a lot of foreign letters by last messenger . It was very nice.
John came home today from our out station where he spent Sunday. I tell you it is nice to have him back again although I did not feel lonely while he was away. I now have a new woman with her daughter staying here to help me. They are both enquirers and the girl of 14 is very bright. Mrs. Ts'iu is a widow and so is here for as long as I want her I suppose. It is nice to have one that you know will stay long enough to pay teaching her for it is not an easy matter to teach some of them. They have not the least idea of how to do our work and some persist in doing things their own way. To give you an idea I'll tell you about an experience with the woman who had just come. Three mornings in succession I helped her make the bed and told her each time just how to do. The fourth morning I put the bed to airing and spread the under sheet then left the rest for her to do while we were having our morning worship (John and I). But she only got as far as the first blanket which was put on the bed in a very peculiar way and then she was at a stand still--she had forgotten. I came and helped her again telling her just how to do and left her to do it alone next morning. After worship I came in and found her spreading the second sheet on top of the blanket which were not allowed to go down far enough to cover our feet let alone tuck in at the bottom!
I was stopped writing on Monday by John coming in for a chat and guess the rest----. I'll take up my string where I left off on Monday. I don't want you to think that the woman is so bad at every thing as at bed making, In two or three days I could leave her alone as to the other part of the room. Today was her first trial at washing. She did not so badly but of course I did most of it myself. They find our way of washing very trying. They wash their clothes in a pool of water or the river. I am very thankful that I knew the language when I was married. It must be very trying to go to housekeeping at once on coming to China when you have not the words to use to tell what you want. The little girl who is here reads in the forenoon and does sewing and etc. in the P.M. She is very quick both with her reading and needle work.
Yesterday--Tuesday-- John and I went to a village 30 li away to see the people who broke off opium last year. These are two women. I was delighted to find them so bright and happy. They seemed to be really in earnest about believing in Jesus. One of the 2, a young woman, has learned many hymns and has also taught her little boy of five to sing hymns, and it is only about two months since she went home. Both of the women say they have worship daily in their homes. The whole village is very friendly to us and what is more to the Gospel. Two men, son and father of the village have been baptized and are very earnest. We had such a hearty welcome and could hardly get away. They made me promise that I would come and stay over night and I do hope to go soon. We had a good lot of people at the meeting held in the cave in which one of the women lives. The whole village is caves in the side of the bluffs, a family usually living in one cave. Some of the believer hope that the temple belonging to the village will be turned into a "Li-pai tang" (chapel), before very long but in order to do that every family must turn from their idols and be willing for this to be done for the place belongs to all.
But I must go and give John's hair a wash. It needs it badly enough for the pig tail catches all the dust and dirt.
I am glad the children have decided to write me often. I hope to get at writing a children letter again soon. I know you must be very busy with all your family but it will do Lewis and Flossie good to write me occasionally. Thank you Lewis and Flossie for the papers you send me. The children pictures in them are very nice. I'll make a scrap book for children from them. Love to Charley and the little ones and much for yourself.
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[Not dated as to year. Because it refers to John as her husband, this letter must have been written after their wedding in April 1899 and so is probably 1900]
Kib Ches Mar. 22
My Dear Anna:
I was thankful to get all your nice letters by last messenger-- Ella's, Lydia's and other friends from whom I had not heard for a long time all came with yours. (I must take another pin or C. J. will think I am using a chop stick). It was so nice to hear from you from home. I could imagine I saw you all at home having a good time. And now I am anxiously waiting for the next letter to hear whether Mattie has gone home with you or not. It has just occurred to me to make Lydia's letter do for you too so far as news is concerned. that will save repetition.
You say you hope John and I are happy and enjoying our work. Yes, we are happy and we are enjoying our work too. I have recently wondered often why the Lord has been so good to me. When I think of Ella and Mattie I should like to share my joy with them. Nothing gives so much genuine joy as a life for our Master when our will are yielded to His will. It is that which makes a missionary's life happy and nothing else can for there is much to make one anything but happy. And another thing for which I often thank God is a kind loving husband. I don't know that I should want to give him up to Ella or Mattie but I wish they both had husbands as good as he. God has not only blessed me with spiritual blessings but with earthly blessings also.
I am so glad you went to Dell's. Edith was a dear little girl when I saw her She is now quite a young lady. How time flies. I wish she would send me one of her photos.
Poor Ella! it must have been a trial to her to meet her boy and not be able to claim him as such. Clifford will not be the little boy in red and white who used to call me Grandma, when I see him again.
Tea is just ready and we are going for our afternoon walk after it so I must close now. Love to Charley and Clifford and to yourself a big bundle--We often talk about the time when we shall make you a visit.
Your loving Sister
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April 19th 1900
My Dear Nephews and Nieces:
Here I am writing you again. Since writing you last mail I have visited a fair and want to tell you about it. The place where the fair was held is over 30 miles from our home, and to get there we had to climb a hill-a gradual ascent for about 5 miles. It was raining and the mud roads were very difficult to travel being so very slippery. Of course I rode my horse, but the two natives who were with me had not a little difficulty in ascending this high hill. The snow was lying on the top of the hill and it was very cold. There was only one inn at the place where the fair was held and we didn't know where we should stay. We pled with the innkeeper to let us sleep in his straw barn and at last he consented. The place wasn't at all inviting, and was very cold, but as we had come to preach the Gospel to the people we were glad of any place to shelter us. After we had food we went to the fair to preach and as soon as we got to the theater entrance a man brought us a form to sit on. One of the men then asked if he could put us up in his house, and he said he could place a cave at our disposal. We gladly accepted his offer, and moved our bedding into the cave. At night two natives, myself and horse all occupied the same place. What a lovely bed I had (?) and I just slept like a top on it. I wonder if ever you slept on such a nice bed? I thing not however now I am sure you are all wondering what wonderful bed this was. Well it was composed of two forms (one minus a leg) half a door, and farmers harrow and a baking board- truly a wonderful bed, but it served the purpose all right. At one time I don't think I could have slept on such a lovely (?) bed, but in China we get use to these sort of things and think nothing of them.
There were a great many country people present, and there was also a procession in honor of the gods. Some carried flags, some beat gongs etc. some wore wigs, and some of the boys were dressed like girls. Toward evening two idols were carried in chairs and then set down side by side and all the people bowed down to the ground before them. The heathen are not ashamed to be seen bowing down to wood and stone, and should we be ashamed to be seen serving the living and true God? I hope you will never be ashamed of Jesus, even though bad boys and girls mock you for loving and serving Him.
We spoke to the people about the true God. and quite a number listened. I played a Melodeon, and soon got crowds of people around, and as was the case in the days of old some listened, but others paid no heed to the things that were spoken.
I suppose you all know what a vegetarian is. There a great many in China. They don't eat flesh and eggs only vegetables and flour. Why do you think they won't eat meat? It is because they believe that when people die they are turned into animals and if they eat animals they may be eating their ancestors. Others won't beat drums fearing lest they should beat the skins of some of their forefathers.
All kinds of superstition abounds. When people have a headache they get a bowl full or nearly full of water. They then make 3 chopsticks stand alone in the bowl of water. It is imagined that the devil comes on to the chopsticks. After this is done a little millet is put into the water which is then poured out. If the head ache continues this is done several times a day. The Christians however pray to the true God and sometimes have remarkable answers.
Just now our house is being repaired and our court yard is full of rubbish etc. We are now having rain and the farmers are busy in the fields.
With warmest love
From your Uncle John
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April 21, 1900
My Dear Anna;
Today is your birthday. My best wishes for the year you are beginning today. May God bless you richly and let you know more of Himself than ever before, for with a deep knowledge of Himself come all true blessings and joy. The more we know our Lord the more we know of true joy.
By last mail I received notice of the receipt of money from you Ella and Mrs. Smith. Thank you very much, I'll enclose a note here with for Mrs. Smith.
You will soon be beginning your busy time. I wonder whether Mattie is with you. How time flies. I can scarcely realize that my time before furlough will soon be half gone, then we will D.V.[God willing] spend a summer with you. Won't that be nice. But who knows what may take place before then."God holds the key of all unknown and I am glad". Miss Huston has just had news of the death by drowning of one of her brothers. John spent from last Friday to Tuesday away attending a fair in the Hsiang ning district leaving me alone with the natives. On Monday while he was away I walked to a village 10 li away to spend the day with the Christian family there.
We expected Mr. Cooper of Shanghai and Mr. Lultey, Supt. of Shansi Prov. on last Tuesday but had word that they could not come until next Tuesday. We are quite excited at the thought of visitors in China. How different from home. We are also to have Mr. Robertson, a Scotch bachelor in May. We spent one night with him when we were on our round of stations in January. That is all I have seen of him, but he seems very nice but a poor old bachelor. I do feel sorry for the men in China who have no housekeepers. I tell you John fares better then he use to and he is much better in health too. They have so little comfort when there is no woman to look after them. John knows how to appreciate his housekeeper after having his half-day steamed-dinners.
The repairs on the house are getting on nicely and in about six weeks we shall be moving into the other courtyard, where we shall have more room and a nicer house. I am quite excited at the thought of getting things done up nicely and in order, for here in this house we have so little room. Now this must do. Good By
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[This manuscript was apparently sent to Alice Sara Troyer Young's sister Lydia Brown after Sarah's death in an envelope postmarked Nov. 1900. The envelope also contained the brief seven line newspaper notice of the Young's death, a xerox of which is in folder 1-1.]
Whereas the cruelties of a darkened and uncivilized nation have taken the dearly beloved sister of Lady [sic] Brown, who went to teach those who are in darkness in regard to the God love and truth.
Therefore-be-it resolved-that we, as a band of loyal sisters extend to our sister our deepest sympathies in her hour of sorrow but if she will look to the great comforter for whose work her dearly beloved gave her life in defending his cause she will find her sorrow lifted, for he is the only one who can help us carry our sorrow. Although her spirit has flown her grand work will long be remembered. For a noble cause she gave her life, that many may walk there-in for darkness must give way to light and Godliness.
Therefore-be it Resolved-That a copy of these resolutions be spread on the records of our hive, and also a copy be sent to our bereaved sister.
Her spirit has flown, to the great unknown, Her mission work above, will be
repaid with God's love.
Com.- Nina Squires.
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[Written at top in script, “Duplicate” The rest of th letter including signature is typed.]
5th December, 1901.
To the friends of Mr. and Mrs. John Young.
It is not long since I returned from the province of Shan-si and you will have noticed, from China’s Millions, that it was intended we should as far as possible visit the various Mission stations. I was entrusted with the work of Sih-cheo, Ta-ning, Kih-cheo and other places. I was thus permitted to be in the house which was used by Mr. And Mrs. Young prior to their escape across the mountains in the direction of Ho-tsin. It was very sad, notwithstanding the honors that the officials heaped upon me on my arrival at the place, to enter their home and find that all their effects had been stolen. The Mandarin had largely repaired the house so it was ready for my use, but, at the same time, though I had never before been in Kih-cheo, my thoughts were full of those who last year laid down their lives for the Gospel. You will have heard much about Kih-cheo so ther [sic] is no need that I should enter into many particulars but I should like to ask your prayers on behalf of Shansi, for the country, especially the districts that I have already named, is in great need owing to the lack of rain.
We had, of course, no funeral service at Kih-cheo, and you are doubtless aware that when our beloved brother and sister laid down their lives they were near the Yellow River, whcih [sic] divides the province of Shan-si from Shen-si. Their bodies were thrown into the Yellow River and hence, though much effort has been made to recover some of the bodies, none have been found. We, however, arranged for the Mandarin to prepare a cemetery in Ho-tsin quite near the Mission premises, and he is also to erect memorials to the memory of our friends who were murdered. A stone is also to be erected at a prominent place in Kih-cheo itself. The official at Ho-tsin was most anxious to do everything possible to give evidence that he was wholly out of sympathy with the murder of our friends and he did much to honor the memory of the departed by his arrangements for the funeral ceremony which took place.
After our friends left the house at Kih-cheo the native evangelist, Mr. Yuen, who was to take care of the place did his best to fulfill his duty. He went several times to see the Mandarin about protecting the property and because of his earnest endeavors to insist on obtaining protection the magistrate took offense and put him in jail. Later on when the Boxers captured the city Yuen was put to death by them. You will understand that their things were all taken when the chapel was looted. I have, however, Mr. Young’s watch which had been handed to the native helper at Hsiang-ning who stayed with them almost to the last and only left when entreated to do so by both Mr. And Mrs. Young. I also send some banners which were given in memory of our friends.
Will you not pray that the Lord will yet vouchsafe rich blessing to the Kih-cheo district? Mr. and Mrs. Schindler are expecting to go there. It would be nice if you would constantly remember them in prayer, and seek that the work which our brother and his wife carried on may be continued by these workers, and that numbers may be saved.
Warmly sympathizing with you in your sad loss, and seeking that we may all be led to live more in the light of eternity,
Yours in His service,
The things spoken of have been forwarded to Scotland.
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