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September 2016: Image of a Colonial Mission Station

Our September Bulletin Board offers a painting on cloth of the Africa Inland Mission's station in Kijabe Kenya ca. 1908


Africa Inland Mission has been active in Kenya since 1895 and the branch in Kijabe is one of the oldest in the country, having been founded about 1903. The painting on this page is probably one of the earliest representations of that station. Along the bottom of the painting is a key, indicating the nature of the various buildings and sites in the painting. However some of the numbers on the legend do not appear on any of the buildings and some of buildings have no numbers. A close examination of the painting also shows some numbers have been partially erased. The large red building in the center of the painting was probably the home of Charles Hurlburt, the leader of the station and the entire mission for more than three decades. Beside Hurlburt, the people mentioned in the key are Lee H. Downing, Fred H. McKenrick, Josephine Hope, John R. Riebes and Ernest Devin. Except for Devin, all the people mentioned were significant leaders in the history of AIM. Josephine Hope, for example (who in 1912 married Theodore Westervelt) was the founder of Rift Valley Academy.

All the staff listed in the key were only together at Kijabe from 1907 through 1909, so that is probably when the painting was created. The origins and purpose of the painting are unknown but can be guessed at. In the lower left hand corner is a logo identifying H. Knell of Williamsport as the painter. There was a Henry Knell living in Williamsport in 1912 and Williamsport was about 180 miles from the Mission's then USA headquarters in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The painting came to the Archives many decades later from the AIM headquarters in Pearl River, New York. So the painting was created in the United States and probably used in the United States. Knell most likely worked from photos or maps or pictures supplied by AIM. Perhaps the painting was used at mission and church conferences to help illustrate their work. The Archives staff would be glad to hear from anyone who could give us more information on this interesting piece of mission history.

Collection 81, the Records of Africa Inland Mission is one of the most heavily used of the Archives' collections. Click here to go to the guide.


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Last Revised: 10/01/16
Expiration: indefinite

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