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This is a complete and accurate transcript of the tape of the fourth oral history interview of Miss Eleanor Ruth Elliott (CN 187, #T4) in the archives of the Billy Graham Center. Nothing recorded has been omitted, except for any non-English phrases which could not be understood by the transcribers. In a very few cases, words were too unclear to be distinguished, so the word "[unclear]" was inserted. This is a transcription of spoken English, which, of course, follows a different rhythm and rule than written English. Also, if the speaker used an older version of a Chinese name, such as Peking" instead of "Beijing," then it is the older version which is in the transcript.
... Three dots indicate what the interruption or break in the train of thought within the sentence on the part of the speaker.
.... Four dots indicate what the transcriber believes to be the end of an incomplete sentence.
() Words in parenthesis are asides made by the speaker.
 Words in brackets are comments made by the transcriber.
This transcription was made by Robert Shuster and Jennifer Bates and was completed November 10, 1989.
Collection 187, Tape #T4; Interview of Eleanor Ruth Elliott by Robert Shuster, October 26, 1981.
SHUSTER: This is an interview with Miss Ruth Elliott for the Missionary Sources Collection of Wheaton College. This interview took place at the Billy Graham Center on October 26th  at 2:30pm. Miss Elliott, we talked a little bit last week about your reaction to the news of the death of John and Betty Stam.
ELLIOTT: Oh yes, they were very dear friends of ours. And we felt at that particular time, they had just come back to Anhwei Provence and had gone down into south Anhwei to open up work there. There hadn't been permanent mission work there and my sister Margaret and her fiance Vincent were to be married in Wuhu and...John and Betty had gone south from Wuhu and...(Wuhu's on the Yangtze) and....
SHUSTER: How's that spelled? Wuhu?
ELLIOTT: W U H U. And so I believe the Raltons were there in charge at that time and....So they had planned to have their wedding there at Wuhu. But just at that time John and Betty were killed and...we all heard about it and we felt so...you know...sad. And then in that wonderful way that evangelist and his wife found the baby. Betty had put into a Chinese temple and she had put a ten dollar bill down the baby's neck and the Communists had taken them to another place and had disregarded the baby, fortunately. And nobody had told the Communists that the baby was hid...was, in a sense, hidden there. And they abused Betty all night and had John chained to the bedposts and he just...his arms, they said, after it were just raw and then they took them out in the morning and first executed John and then Betty fainted and they cut her head off. And so a.... Then just after that this evangelist and his wife came along and somebody said, "Oh CIM missionaries were killed!" And they said, "Oh, we worked with the CIM." And...and...then somebody whispered, "The baby is still there! And...but he...she's hidden." And so they went and they found her and they also found the ten dollar bill. And...they said, "But she needs milk." And do you know that most Chinese don't know anything about using... bottles. But this evangelist's wife had had a baby, but she wasn't able to feed the baby. And so she had gotten baby bottles. And so she had them with her. And she went to the...one of the stores there in this little place and very unexpectedly he had some powdered milk that could be used. And so she got that milk and she knew how to use it for the bottles. And so then they took the baby up to Wuhu. Well, because everybody was so upset they said, "Margaret and Vincent, do mind if you don't have your wedding here now? Because we're going to have John and Betty's funeral." And they had sent up for Betty's parents to come down. And...and..and then they took the baby. (I suppose you heard about that?) And...so Margaret and Vincent were married in Nanking, 'cause we had a dear friend from college who was there. She was with the Friends (Quakers). And so we had the...the wedding was there. But a....
SHUSTER: How a...how was it know that the communists had killed the Stams?
ELLIOTT: Because the communists were in the mountains in souther...southern Anhwei. And...they...and the Chinese all knew that they had come down and done this. And they proclaimed it there, in that town, that they were the communists and that they were going to take over China. And they were that part of the group that joined what they called "The Long March" that went from south China. They went to Sichuen and then went up to north China and...well went up to Shensi first and was...were there for a long time before they actually came out and took over.
SHUSTER: And what were...what were the reasons that you heard for...for the killing of
ELLIOTT: Oh just to say that they didn't believe in any mission work, they didn't believe in Jesus, they didn't believe in Christianity, they didn't believe in...in foreigners, they didn't believe in...uh...any...uh...you know.... They didn't believe in any God at all. And so they proved it by killing the missionaries.
SHUSTER: So there hadn't any personal antagonism...
SHUSTER: ...or anything of that nature?
ELLIOTT: ...they had never seen them before. They just came down out of the mountains, a whole large contingent, several hundred of them, and just took over the town. And anybody who was in a position of authority they killed too. They killed quite a lot of Chinese as well as John and Betty.
SHUSTER: Did you at this time have any contacts with communists soldiers or military?
ELLIOTT: The communist soldiers were in the mountains just north of Tungcheng, where my first station.... And so we had to be...they told us not to go too fa...too close...
SHUSTER: Who told you?
ELLIOTT: ...to the mountains.
SHUSTER: Who told you?
ELLIOTT: The Chinese in the city. They said,"It's not safe for.... We don't...." They said, "We don't go unless it's absolutely essential. We don't go out toward...toward the mountains...for fear of communism, of the communist soldiers." So they were in the mountains in Anhwei...south of the river and just north of the river also. And then when they....
SHUSTER: So you...
ELLIOTT: Then when they...
SHUSTER: ...you didn't have any personal contacts then with....
SHUSTER: ...or with any...
ELLIOTT: No, not at that time.
SHUSTER: ...of sympathizers there?
ELLIOTT: No, we didn't. But the rank and file didn't approve of them.
SHUSTER: You mean the rank and file Christians?
ELLIOTT: No, the rank and file of ordinary Chinese did not approve of communism.
SHUSTER: Why was that?
ELLIOTT: Well, they said, "We weren't gro...we weren't brought up that...that's all from Russia. They went to Russia for that. And we're...we don't believe that. We...we worship...we worship idols. We worship...we think that there is a...suprem...there are supreme beings." They believed in more than...one. But .But they said, "No, we want to be able to worship as we like. And they won't let us. We're not going to have communism!" So then the...the people didn't want communism.
SHUSTER: Did you have any contacts with Nationalists? I mean Natio...leaders of the Nationalist party or members of the Nationalist party?
ELLIOTT: Oh yes, and...they were...they were very nice. Chiang Kai-Shek was...was really doing.... He was in Nanking at that time when.... And he was really well liked by the local people. The very first...one of the very first things he said to do was "We want to...open schools that will be for both boys and girls. And there had been no schools for girls before, except schools that were started by missionaries. And so they turned a lot of the Buddhist temples that people were beginning to sort of.... Well, they had too many Buddhist temples well, in Shucheng where we were.... (After I left Tengcheng I went to Shucheng). The Buddhist temples that weren't being used or hardly at all and so...he said "Well, we'll just use the temples as schools. And we will have schools for girls and boys." And the girls were so elated. They were so thrilled to be able to go to school. They had wanted to learn. Those who were wealthy had hired tutors to tutor their girls. But if they weren't wealthy, the girls hadn't been able to learn to read. One of the reasons that they liked to come to church was that we taught them to read. We had reading classes before they opened the schools. And...but Chiang Kai-Shek also said, "We want roads so that buses can come and there'll be more transportation and people can get in and out and things will be easy to...send your food stuffs that you grow. You can send them, you know, export it...it'll be...you'll get more money. It'll be easier for you. So people liked that, that he...he...built roads and then he said "Let's open the mines and...and we will have...things that we can sell abroad, and have an income that.... Because there were lots and lots of mines...and places that maybe there was just one mine and they knew that there were just lots of more places where they could have gotten.... Some were coal, some were oil, some were gold. They had a whole lot of different mines and...but they didn't have men working them and so he said, "Let's open more mines." So they did. So he had...the people really, by and large, the people liked Chiang Kai-Shek.
SHUSTER: What about the...the local Nationalist leaders? Were they also respected or liked?
ELLIOTT: Well, it just depended on the person who was in charge. Now it just happened that in Shucheng, there was a good one. But then later I was transferred north, and there was a bad one, you see. It depended on the local leader. But a....
SHUSTER: What do you mean, good or bad?
ELLIOTT: Well, one...the one in..in the Shucheng area, did just.... He opened the schools, he...he helped to start a mine, he helped with the building of the roads, and he didn't do too much, now they said a little, but not too much of pocketing what was taken up in taxes. But the man up north was, getting fabulously wealthy and he wasn't doing very much about opening roads and mines. Now he did do...he did...there were...there was a good road built, but only one...but...that I know of anyway. There may have been others but I only knew of one in that general area that went for oh, about two hundred miles. But anyway he...but he was not considered the best [laughs].
SHUSTER: When the government opened the schools did you close your reading classes, or...?
ELLIOTT: Oh no, because we had...they came, but they didn't learn the Bible. And so, we wanted them to learn to read the Bible. And then we had some simple primers that one of the girls, a Wheaton grad, Ruth Nowack, had written a series of primers for beginners and we...we taught those to the older women. The girls had learned more than that. But...or were learning it. But this was really for our Bible classes for the older women who wouldn't have had any chance at all to go to school. And we found really...we said the test of whether a woman is truly born again or not is whether or not she really loves to learn to read the Bible. And the ones who persevered and learned to read were the ones who were truly born again. And then they...they shared with the others, and helped to learn...helped to teach them. And so, it was really lovely to see. That was such a contrast, there in Shucheng as compared with what I'd had in Tungcheng, that it was such a joy to me to be to that...be there. And then, in... The other girls hadn't been particularly interested in children's work and I loved that. And so oh, I had the children's work and anybody who hadn't learned to read well, at least they memorized Scripture and we had the...the Bible in front of them and had the characters in front of them, so that they...they memorized and we...we wanted them to do a lot of Bible memory work. And then I said, "Now you can use this as a means of helping you to learn to read as well." And so then, then we taught them songs and...with motions and things, you know. And then, whenever there was a...a...like a Christmas time and Thanksgiving time and then Chinese New Year time and things, why, then the children would dress up in costumes and...and they loved that. And they'd sing Christmas carols or a Thanksgiving thing, or something, you know and it was.... And then there were Chinese holidays that they liked to celebrate and then they would wear some patriotic kind of thing, or something and...and they liked that. And we tried to make it interesting in any way possible and then they loved handwork. They're very good...almost every Chinese chil...child I knew was very artistic.
SHUSTER: How so? You...
ELLIOTT: They just...they just naturally were good.
SHUSTER: Do you mean painting or calligraphy or...
ELLIOTT: Well, I...I had brought out just oh...at least a hundred boxes of crayons. And they...upcountry they didn't have any crayons. And then I'd also brought quite a lot of...of water colors. Now they all had pens because they always wrote with pens. The Chinese writing has to use a pen with a, you know a point that can.... You press a little harder you see to make a curve and that's to make the...or else just use the very tip, depending on the way the character is written. And so they had learned to be very, very careful in holding a pen. Well, we used those brushes, we bought new ones, you see, and then used them like, this one would be for red and this one would be for blue or pink and you know different.... And then we'd...we'd make bowls of...bowls of water colors and they loved it. And they loved painting. And I was surprised at some of the beautiful things that they painted. They were just naturally artistic. And they did just beautifully. And we'd...I'd tell them Bible stories and then I'd say, "Alright now, let's illustrate." And now I'd have pictures, we had charts that we got in Shanghai and they had been done by Chinese artists. But then from that, they wouldn't copy it but they would use...make a...now I'd say, "Make up your own. If you see...if this was about a little boy, make it a Chinese boy." That was made as a...a...a...Israelite boy. And I said ,"Well now, put Chinese clothes on him, and...." (You know like that.) And they loved that, and they did really, just beautiful work. And then every time when...every little while when they got so they could sing well. Then the, one of the leaders of the church would ask them ah, "Come to church next Sunday prepared to sing and take part in the church service." So the children did. And then, a lot of them started coming simply because they were neighbors. And before that we had gon...we had visited in their homes and invited them to come. But when their child was going to be on the program, then they came! And that started them coming. And I've...I've thanked the Lord that I know of at least one family who joined the church just because they had started coming because their child had become interested. And it was through their child they came to know the Lord and joined the church.
SHUSTER: I notice in some of your letters you talk about the horror of cholera in the city...
ELLIOTT: Oh yes!
SHUSTER: Can you describe some of that?
ELLIOTT: Well cholera is a very...it's a...it's a horrible [long pause]. You...it spreads so quickly and it can be fatal very quickly and people die of it within three or four days. It's vomiting, diarrhea, and every...you know, it's just...just horrible, and very high fever and anybody with the least bit of heart trouble would...couldn't survive. And so when there was a cholera...cholera epidemic it would...it could spread very fast. And so we would.... During that time we would tell everybody,"Try not to get into big groups." And...but we would also say,"Wash your hands! Wash your faces! So that you won't have any germs. Don't pick up germs. And don't eat anything raw. And don't, you know, cook everything, be very careful and, you know, don't let anything.... Keep you house immaculate!" Things like that. And that would help.
SHUSTER: Were these epidemics common?
ELLIOTT: Oh, probably at least once in every two or three years, at least. We just expected cholera. Hazel had had one year of training in medical help in...at Biola, Hazel Todd. And so she used to help ah. .she had a little clinic, not regularly, but if people came, she knew what to do, usually. Well, because my mother had been a doctor, and we...she had helped to...we just automatically learned and then people came to mother, and so she'd say...well she'd tell...she'd fix...fix them up, you know, and treat them and then she'd teach...tell us, "Now avoid that, you know, and avoid this." And so, we just learned from the time we were children certain things. So I could help Hazel sometimes in her clinic. Now there were things that she could do that I couldn't. But I couldn't give any injections and I couldn't do anything like that but she could.... But I could at least tell little boys who had scalps that were absolutely crawling, I could tell them,"Go home and wash you hair! And be sure to put soap on it! And...and try to keep your hair clean so that you won't have [laughs] all these things!" I could do things like that. [laughs]
SHUSTER: Were the precautions that you gave to the Chinese Christians effective? Were...did it seem that the cholera was less prevalent among...
ELLIOTT: I believe...
ELLIOTT: I...I won't be too dogmatic on that but by and large, yes. I think it did help. And I think they were thankful for...for the prevention that we urged upon them.
SHUSTER: Were there any other diseases that were common?
ELLIOTT: Oh dysentery! Oh we all...there wasn't any way that you could avoid getting dysentery.
SHUSTER: It was in the water or...?
ELLIOTT: Well, like...we would go into...when we were traveling, we had to go into a restaurant. And when we had a restaurant, when we went in the restaurant, you couldn't...it would take a person's face...Now you know, they said "If you take...take a person's face that's [Chinese phrase] that means you've disgraced them and.... So you couldn't anything to anybody when you were in their shop that would take their face. But so many times a man would have a...a...a cloth in his hand. He'd wipe his sweaty face and then he'd take it and wipe a bowl out, and then he'd put soup in it and serve us, you know. Well, we didn't want to, but we had to eat out of that bowl. And we just prayed, "Lord, don't let us get any disease", you know. But sometimes we couldn't help it, we...we would get dysentery. And so you have to...we had to keep salts on hand all the time.
Because you take salts regularly for dysentery. And usually you could get over it within, oh, within three or four days. And.... But it would be painful and so.... But then we also had to keep quinine [pronounced quenine] on hand (or quinine) because of.... We could get malaria, because of the mosquitos. You see if a mosquito has bitten somebody that has malaria, and then comes and bites you, you can get malaria. And so you could never tell when you were going to get malaria. So we had to keep taking...every little while we'd be coming down with malaria. And so then we'd have to take quinine or quinine [pronounced quenine]. The British call it quinine [pronounced quenine] and we called it quinine. So whichever.... But we....
SHUSTER: Do you still have a touch of malaria? Or is that....
ELLIOTT: Oh, no! I haven't had any since we've been in this country. I...all the time I've never had any...either one, [laughs], of those. And I thank the Lord for that! [laughs]
SHUSTER: What about typhus? Was that a problem?
ELLIOTT: Well, typhus was rare, but oh boy, I got it! Did I tell you about when I had typhus?
SHUSTER: Not yet.
ELLIOTT: Well, it comes on very suddenly and Hazel had died of typhoid and then I had gone...I had sent.... First, I had a Chinese nurse who had been trained in an American hospital, but then she said,"Ruth, the...the...she...Miss Todd is too...too ill. I don't want to be responsible for her." So I sent for the lady in the next station. Mrs. Costerus was a British nurse. So she came over right at once, and she looked after Hazel and she told me what to fix, you know, for her. And so I prepared the food and...or I supervised the provision of it with..through the cook. And she was making very good progress and we were so delighted. And she was beginning to feel so much better, her fever was going down and we were so thrilled. And so then she and I were standing at the foot of the stairs. Now I had allowed her to have my bed because my...my bedroom because it was at the head of the stairs and it was easier for Mrs. Costerus to see her than to go to her bedroom that was at the back of upstairs. And so while we at the bottom there, at the bottom of the stairs, we heard a peculiar noise coming from Hazel's room. And so we both ran upstairs and here, she was having a heart attack and within two hours, she was gone. And oh, that was a great loss. I loved Hazel. And so I felt.... It was such a shock to me because we had thought she was getting better. Well of course, we stayed for the funeral. Mr. Costerus came over from Liuan, and he took the funeral service and then afterward I wrote to the mission and asked them if I could go for a little rest to be with.... Because I had been nursing her before...before Mrs. Costerus came to, and she's been sick for several weeks and.... So I was tired and so I asked if I could go be with Margaret and Vincent who were married and up in Chengyangkwan. And so I went up and stayed about two or three weeks with them, and then I was to come back and they were going to send a single girl and a young couple to be in Shucheng with me. And so I returned before they came and then just a few days after I was there they came and a lot of their stuff had come on wheelbarrows and so I went out and I was helping carry the stuff in. And I didn't think anything about...about anything else you know, but then.... Eleven days is the incubation period for typhus. Well, eleven days after they came I had felt fine all the time they were, you know, that time. And I was down at the breakfast table and they were British and they always stand behind the chairs to have grace before you sit down. And so while I was standing there, I suddenly began to feel a little bit queer. And I had to grab the chair to hold myself up. And then when we sat down and the cook brought in the breakfast stuff, I just took one look at it and I thought, "Oh dear, I can't possible eat! I don't feel like eating anything." And so I said, "I hope you don't mind, but I...I think I'd better go up and lie down." And I didn't tell them that I wasn't feeling well, but.... And so I went up. It happened that this single girl and the young wife were both nurses, they were both British nurses. And when...when one of them came up about ten o'clock in the morning, she took my fev...my temperature and I had a temperature of a hundred and three! And she thought, "Hey, what's this?" And...but it certainly I think by evening, it was a hundred and five. And so right away, and I started having these terrible chills and then...then fever.
And...and they told me that the incubation period is eleven days and they said that the men who had brought their things over on the wheelbarrels, had put their clothes on it. Now it is carried by lice. And I had helped carry the things in. Well they'd taken their clothes...their jackets off and the men had put their jackets back on, and so I didn't know that they had their jackets there. And I hadn't looked at...to see if there was any lice on the [laughs] things that I'd carried in. But obviously that must have been, because it's always carried by lice. And so I really don't know how long I was sick. But I do know that I would go unconscious when my fever got so high and then I would have these terrible rigors, they call them rigors, you know, where you have...first you're hot and then you get colder and colder and colder and colder and colder. And they got so that they got out all my blankets, all my quilts. Then they got all their quilts, all their blanket. And here this was in July, I think, in the hot, hot summer, June...June...the end of June. And finally they got so that I had to have twenty-four layers of quilts and blankets on top of me, and I would still be cold. And then I'd start running a fever and I would go unconscious and then I came...I came to and I heard...I heard one of the nurses say, "She's going now." And she...the other one said, "Yeah, she's got a temperature of 106.2." And...well, do you know I had an..an unusual experience. I...I almost...it was so beautiful that I kind of haste...hate to tell anything about it, but I will. I felt as if I were going, I wasn't walking, but I had left my body and I was going and there was somebody right behind me at my shoulder, I didn't ever see. But I didn't feel a bit afraid and I was going toward beautiful light. And I look...I remember looking over to the left and I could...as far as I could see it was all dark, but this li...this way was just going toward the light. And I was...it was getting closer and closer and closer to the light. And I thought, "Oh, in just a few seconds I'll see the beautiful face of Jesus." And then I heard a voice say, a verse...a verse I never remember memorizing, "I shall not die, but live and declare the works of the Lord." Afterwards, when I got well I had to hunt to find that verse, Psalm 118. But then, I went unconscious again and I know that it must have...I must have been unconscious for I think two days. Because they sent a telegram to Margaret and Vincent to say that I was dying and that if they wanted to see me at all to come right away. And...but at that time Margaret and Vincent were out in the country and hadn't gotten the telegram, so they didn't come. But then I came to and I heard...I heard one of the nurses say, "Well, she's going this time, she's got a temperature of 106.6." And inside.... I couldn't say a word, my eyes were closed, and I was still so very very weak and I'd lost weight till I was literally nothing but a...skin and bones. And...but inside I laughed and I said, "I'm not gonna die, but live!" And then I went unconscious again and then I gradually began to get better. It took a long time for me to get my strength back and so then the mission said well if I wanted to go and recuperate with Margaret and Vincent, why I could, because they knew that I loved to be with them, and so I did. And then I was transferred up to be in Yingshang to be with Margaret...to be with Kathy Dodd. (And now she's Katharine Dodd Schoerner.) And...but...and we were to open the new station in Yingshang, because we were all still part of the two hundred and we were still supposed to open new...new stations. You asked about Pearl, and I remember now, it was Pearl Galloway. And she was with us...
SHUSTER: With you....
ELLIOTT: ...and in...in...ah Shucheng.
ELLIOTT: And...but part of the time bef...while I was there I had to go to Shanghai and have my appendix out [laughs]. And so I wasn't with her during that time. And then when I came back, I was...then she got engaged and so then she left to go to get married. So I really...I did work with her part of the time. She was a lovely girl I liked her, but I couldn't.... Isn't that terrible that I couldn't remember. [laughs]
SHUSTER: No, there were a lot of people. Tell me, what was the attitude towards women in China?
ELLIOTT: Well, the average man thought the average women was beneath him. Man was fa...a far superior person than the woman.
SHUSTER: In what way?
ELLIOTT: Well, they were the ones who were supposed to be the educated. And they were the ones who were always the boss in the home. And, now they ran the stores. Their wives had to do a whole lot of work behind the scenes, but they were the ones who were the store keepers, who sold the goods. The women would prepare it and everything, but they were behind the scenes as a rule. But that's the...the general attitude was that men were in charge and.... But usually, now the Christian men, that was one thing that they felt that the Bible taught, "Husbands, love you wives." And that was a new thought. Really love them. And to be kind and considerate. And do you know that it did make a difference in the home. The family life of the Christians in Shucheng was different from...from the life of the heathen. (They...they called them heathen, round about them.) The...the Christian homes really loved the....he whole atmosphere in their families was different. And they...there...there was...the Lord made a difference in family life.
SHUSTER: How so? How was it a lot different?
ELLIOTT: Well, the men were more polite to their wives. They would...they would ask them to do things. They wouldn't boss them so hard and, you know.... And they wouldn't, like a lot of the heathen men, kick them if they wouldn't do it fast enough, literally. And you know, things like that. They didn't...they didn't...if they did something that they didn't like, they didn't beat them all to pieces like and...like I told you the Mrs....Mrs. Tunguh had...you know, so that they would have to be in bed for two or three days, things like that. They...they encouraged the young men when they married, "Now, be kind to your wife, and considerate." And they weren't perfect, there were...[laughs]...there were couples that didn't get along too well. But...but the general teaching of the Word was emphasized. And they said, "God is love and if God is within us, we are to show love one to another. And we're not to beat our children to pieces. When they're..when they're disobedient, we can smack them, yes, but we don't need to beat them all so they that they'll be...have to be in bed like some of the heathen around. And we don't have to kick them and we don't have to, you know, use a rod on them so that we'll break a leg", which is what some of them did. "But we'll try to...and we will also try to keep the physically clean so that they will not contact all these diseases." So they...they...there was a difference, people could see a difference between the Christians and the non-Christians.
SHUSTER: Were there ever any divorces between Christian couples?
ELLIOTT: Divorce was just not...not known, even among the...the heathen. Now they took mor...more than one wife. If they...they...they...they would in that way not be faithful to their ow...their first wife. But as far as divorcing, no, that was just not done. Any...any...no Chinese ever would think of.... Because you see they would write down in their ancestral tablets when a person married and they worshiped their ancestors. Well, if that name had to be removed from the ancestral tablet, that would be a disgrace. They couldn't do that. So they wouldn't do that.
SHUSTER: Did you ever have any problem with theft in...?
ELLIOTT: Oh, yes. After...see, after the...the Japanese had come through Shucheng, and I had been stationed in Wonchang and Honan. During that time when I...Then after I came home on furlough in '39, and came back in 1940, I came back to Shucheng. And then that was when I was with Hazel again, and.... But she and I were alone in...in Shucheng. And.... [long pause] I've forgotten what...were you...the question was!
SHUSTER: Did you have any problem with theft?
ELLIOTT: Oh, we found that the people who.... While there weren't any missionaries there, people broke into the house and stole.... Well, because of the bombings, the...everything except the church and the gate house were burned. And now...they weren't all completely burned clear down and what was left, people helped themselves to very very liberally. But it seemed to get everybody into the mood of robbing and when we came back, first our wo...woman who was supposed to be a Christian, our woman servant (we only had one) when we first came back we lived in the little thatched roof, mud-floored.... Hazel and I had a...three rooms and a kitchen, that was all. And...but we found that things were missing, and I remember saying to her, "It's a funny thing, that everything that's missing belongs of Miss Todd." The very next day, my things started going.
ELLIOTT: And I didn't suspect her because she had said she was a Christian. And...but it wasn't very long before we found we had to get rid of her. Well, we got another woman who was supposed to be a Christian, and she started stealing. And do you know that, I...I didn't know.... I...I hadn't looked in my trunks because when I came back from...from Shanghai and we only lived in this little place and they were going to rebuild a...the mission home. And Mr. Costerus from Liuan came over an he supervised the rebuilding of a mission home, much smaller than the one we had had before. And...but I...so when that was built, I...I put my trunk in...we had a storeroom, and I put my trunk in there. And I didn't go to my trunk very often. I had already gotten the things out that I needed. And then I went there and I found, "Hey I bought a whole lot of cloth to make things to last for several years." When I came I bought it in Shanghai and it was especially nice, fine cloth that you couldn't buy upcountry, up there in Shucheng. And just after I found that those were missing, that girl who we had fired, came to church wearing a garment made of my cloth. I just felt so sick. And we...we hired a cook, a new cook, and then when I was in...in the.... I guess I had gone to Shanghai when I had my appendix out. I came back and found that I had been making an afghan and I had all the little squares made and all I had to do was to sew it together, well, I had a few more to make.... Here he had stolen all my wool and all my afghan squares and you know, things like that just made you feel sick. And so we were very...we just...it just seemed as though there was a.... Shucheng had been such a lovely growing church and the...the main leaders had fled to the west and hadn't returned and these were people who hadn't been leaders in the church. And they were...so that it was sort of a new group trying...we were trying to in a sense raise up a new church. And so these people we had trusted, they had been church members but not too long. Well now, that first girl had been the daughter of a Christian family. And that Christian family had been a lovely, really, truly born again family. But she...she didn't seem to... And so it was, that was a discouraging thing for us.
SHUSTER: Was there some kind of...was there church discipline or any kind of action they were taking when a Christian was...
ELLIOTT: Well, we...we came...we...we finally said we...we...we couldn't prove who was doing it at first. And then, when...when this girl wore my garment to church, that was one thing, but some of the leaders realized.... Some of the good ones had come back by this time and so we...we called a meeting of the elders and we presented this to them and they said, "This needs church discipline and we will. We will discipline them." And so, they said, "Now we will not do it publicly, but we will go, we will call them one by one to us, here in the elders group, in the...the church leaders group and ask them about it. And ask them if they have done it. If they haven't we will tell them that we have proof that because we saw also this cook's...." Some people had...had the roll that couldn't be bought anywhere except Shanghai or America. And so they...they saw these things and they realized that that really was true. And so when they asked them, some of them repented, some of them didn't. But at least the church did take a...a matter...make it a matter of discipline.
SHUSTER: And what kind of discipline was it, then?
ELLIOT: Well, they said they couldn't take communion for a year. And that they wou...would be praying for them that they would repent and that if they did, they would have to come to them and ask the Lord's forgiveness and ask for readmission to the church and then they would reconsider. But they didn't promise that...but they said at least you are suspended for one year from church membership and you cannot take communion. And then at the end of that year, we will see again. Some of them did come back, but some did not.
SHUSTER: When did you first become aware of the danger from the Japanese army when you were at Shucheng?
ELLIOTT: Well, it wasn't at Shucheng. I...I had been transferred up to Yingshang to be with Katie and we worked like mad. Now there was a Chinese pastor and he was very good leader and when we.... Yingshang was only about a hundred miles or maybe a hundred and twenty miles north of Shucheng. But it was like going from south China to north China. I didn't realize that northern Anhwei is an entirely different way of life. I mean, they grow wheat, they never grow rice. And they grow...they grow soybeans. Well, they have soybeans down in...in Shucheng. They had soybeans too. But, everything was wheat, and that's the northern way. They have bread, they never serve rice. And.... Except for weddings and New Year's and some special thing like that. But everything is.... Of course they can make bread into a whole lot of different ways. And, noodles and...wheat into noodles and spaghetti and stuff. But they made all kinds of steamed bread, different forms. But their whole way of life was different. And also, they said, "Oh, the people down in the...the...in the Shucheng area. Oh they're too particular, they're too clean. And up there I...the first Sunday that I was there, I did just like I did in Shucheng. When the church was beginning to get a little bit crowded, I slid over and sat next to a woman. And it didn't take me very long to wonder, "What in the world is the matter? I'm getting so...my arm is getting so itching?" and then I looked and I saw lice walking up and down my sleeve and walking up and down her sleeve. [laughs] All those people up there were so filthy dirty. Now in Shucheng, everybody expected to take a bath every day. The summer greeting was, "Have you had your bath today?" That was the greeting. And up there, if they had a bath once a week, I'll bet.... I don't think [laughs] it was true. And they didn't was their clothes. And the smell in the church, oh. And so it was an entirely different atmosphere. Well, Katie and I worked with the children and the younger women, mostly. The older women looked down on young women and we were young then. And so they didn't particularly.... And they said, "Oh no, we've got a pastor, we don't need to go to your class for Bible study, nah, nah..." And so...but the...the children and the wom...young girls liked it. And we taught them...we taught to read to...because they didn't have the schools up there. And they were too lazy to start schools. And so we did have some good children's meetings and then in the summer we had special Vacation Bible School, although it was really because the boys were going to school, the girls weren't. But then we had Vacation Bible School, and they came and we had a...we had some good...opportunities there. And we worked so hard and we were living in a very, kind of a crude place. It wasn't a very comfortable place that we had to live in and.... So I...I decided that I would go up to Kikungshan in Honan, which was a mountain resort where there for missionaries. And the CIM had a mission home there and so if you write ahead you can go up there. And so I went up to be there for, I don't know, I think I was going to be there six weeks, and while we were in church one Sunday morning, right in the middle of the sermon, a man came running in...or a missionary came running in and he ran right up on the platform and he said, "I just received a telegram from north China! The Japanese have attacked." And...and he said, "This means war!" Well two women in th...these were all missionaries there, two women fainted, all the other women started to cry and.... War in China with the Japanese! And that...and that was the beginning, literally the beginning of war in China. Well...
SHUSTER: Well, what did you think of when you heard that...that...?
ELLIOTT: Well, they...we...we...then tried to get all the new we could and that was when we...I found out about that...that Chefoo, which was way up in the north was one of the first places attacked. And the Chefoo School...they...and the Presbyterian work there in...in Chefoo was taken over by the Japanese. And then they moved them to the university, not far from Beijing, Kungcheng[sp?] University and made them stay there, all the children and all the teachers. And then they made all of the foreigners, regardless of whether they were in business or missionaries or anything, they had over four thousand missionaries and...over four thousand white people in that university compound. And soldiers guarding, electric wires all around the...on the outside wall. And it was very crowded. And they lived...they had to stay there for three and a half years, and they didn't have enough food. And everybody was getting skin and bones before the end of the three and a half years. And then they were able...able to come home on the Gripsholm.
SHUSTER: Able to come home on what?
ELLIOTT: The name of the ship.
ELLIOTT: That.... Twice the Gripsholm made trips to take refugees home. So that's called "the refugee ship" and.... Everybody at that time knew the name Gripsholm means refugee ship. It took them...well, the Japanese ship took them to where the Gripsholm was parked waiting for them. And then the Gripsholm, when they got onto that and they got food for the first time for three and a half years that was really palatable and...and oohh, they thought it was wonderful to get good food again.
SHUSTER: How was that spelled, Gripsholm?
ELLIOTT: G R I P S H O L M, The Gripsholm. It was a Swedish ship, I believe. And so...but as soon as war was declared and they started advancing very rapidly. They would just go from one city to the next and...the Chinese were not prepared to fight at that time. They were beginning to get a little bit more organized but the Nationalist army was scattered and they...they had the army in different provinces. They had provincial army with provincial generals, but it wasn't a unified army at that time, a national army. And so they...they.... The mission tele...telegraphed me up in...in...when I was up in Kikungshan and said, "Do not return to Yingshang because they were coming right down into Anhwei Provence." The Japanese were.
SHUSTER: This is in 1936?
ELLIOTT: And so I...they said for me to go to Hwangchuan to be with Miss Davis. Miss Davis was up there. And she was a...a lovely woman from England. And she was a...a...she'd had many years of experience as a missionary and I was very glad to be with her. And I learned a lot from her. And Hwangchuan was a wonderful church. They had...it had been there, I don't know how many years, but it was a lovely church with I suppose at least, oh, a thousand members or something, eight hundred members or something, I don't remember exactly how many members there were but that was a really wonderful.... We had a lovely Bible woman. She was...she loved the Lord and she had had Bible training and she studied the Bible all the time herself and so she had something really alive to teach. And then I believe it was Jonathan Goforth who had been there previously and he said, "In order for you to really take part in prayer, everybody pray aloud at once." Because he said, "Don't you remember that when other people lead in prayer you were thinking about other things and you weren't praying along with him. Now this way you will all pray." Well I had never heard that before I went to Hwangchuan and when they first said, "Now is the time of prayer", and then they all started praying at once, it sounded to me rather like a babble, and yet it was lovely. I felt myself, "This is really a wonderful way for everybody to pray." And then, when it...there wasn't any signal the time is over, but people would just stop and then a few more would pray a little bit...maybe a few more sentences and then everybody stopped. And it really meant a great deal to me to see the way the Lord blessed that church. And people were being saved. And they were going out and witnessing and going out into the country and having Bible classes out in the country and.... The women and the men, they had men's group and women's group who went out, and...and evangel...evangelization groups, it was really good. Well then Miss Davis...
SHUSTER: Was it in Hwangchuan that you were there when the Japanese briefly occupied it then?
ELLIOTT: Yes, right. And that was a very exciting time I can tell you!
SHUSTER: I can imagine!
ELLIOTT: Because Miss...Miss Davis left to go home on furlough just a few months after I was there and then in the fall of '38 the Japanese came toward us. Well, the Chinese army had retreated from Anhwei and so they were with the Honan army there in Hwangchuan. And they were all...the armies had been retreating from the Japanese and we thought, "Well...." There were people who were passing through who had been running, literally running ahead of the Japanese and some of them were so exhausted. And also then we heard that there was a single lady in Anhwei who had had a refugee center and the Japanese had honored it and refused to allow the soldiers to harm them and...
SHUSTER: What do you mean, refugee center?
ELLIOTT: For anybody who was running away from the Japanese and who would st...the elderly or the wo,wo...mothers with little children who couldn't run any further, she opened the gates of the compound and let them come in and she laid in supplies quickly and...and then she told the church members that if they wanted to come in, they could come in too. And so she had a couple of hundred people in. And the Japanese honored it and didn't...wouldn't allow the soldiers to go in and harm them. And they were safe. But, now they were only there about three or four days and then went on and then she let them go home and the ones who couldn't go, she.... They had a hospital there in that place too, and so she helped... helped them and that was used of the Lord. Well, we heard about that so we said, "Well, let's have a refugee center for us too." And so Mr. Davis...Mrs. Davis had gone up to...to Chefoo to see their girls and then, she was caught and couldn't get back. So Mr. Davis was in their house and we had a single ladies house on the compound and between was the big church and then we had a women's chapel and sunday school rooms over on the side where the single ladies house was and over on that side were the men's chapel and the men's sunday school rooms over...and all...
SHUSTER: Katharine...Katharine Dodd was also with you there or was it...?
ELLIOTT: No, she...she wa...she had gone to Shanghai because she was engaged to whil...while we were together, she became engaged to Otto. And he was coming back from Singiang and so she went to Shanghai to meet him.
SHUSTER: So who was with you there besides Mr. Davis?
ELLIOTT: Well then two young girls who had just come to China (I don't think they had even gone to language school yet) had come and they were sent to Hwangchuan and so there were the three of us. Well, I hadn't been too long in China but I was senior missionary and these two girls were just brand new and could hardly speak at all any Chinese. And one was from Canada and one was from England. No, from Australia. So we...we said...we went around and invited all the women, well all the people who were in the neighborhood who hadn't run away from the.... The people who were young and healthy ran to get away from the Japanese, away to the west. And...but the older women and women with babies knew that if they tried to run, they couldn't...couldn't get very far. So they came in. And I said, "All right, if you come in, you bring enough food for one month. Now, I know the Japanese have been moving fast, but still, I want you to be sure to bring in enough food for one month." And so they were...couples came in and...but the men all slept on their side. But it was mostly older men and we only allowed seven young men because we had to have will...water brought in from the city well outside our compound. We didn't have a well and we thought if they...they see as whole lot of young men, they'll think we are harboring soldiers who are going to attack, so we only allowed seven and all the rest were old men. And then we had the older women and young women with little children. So we had two hundred and sixteen refugees and...well just as we were...just before.... Well, they started bombing us and we had about twelve or fourteen days of bombings, every day.
SHUSTER: You mean they started bombing the town or they started bombing the compound in particular?
ELLIOTT: No, they didn't bomb the compound in particular, We...we put.... [Chuckles] There were two girls...Marian and Doris and I made an American flag. We quickly went out and bought red, white and blue and we made the American flag. Huge one. And we put it on the roof. And then the church had a...a...a flag pole and we put a Christian flag and a British flag (Mr. Davis was British) and a...on that compound. And so we had an American flag and a British flag and a Christian flag.
SHUSTER: That was effective?
ELLIOTT: And they.... Yes, they honored that. We were bombed on this side. There was a big house there...a nice brick house. I mean a stone house. And that thing was completely shattered.
SHUSTER: That was on the right side.
ELLIOTT: And then on this side there was the street side and on the other side there was a whole run of little thatched roofed mud houses and those were just completely bombed.
SHUSTER: On the left side.
ELLIOTT: On the left side. And on the east side of us, which was just about inside the east gate (the east gate was there and then the road came and gave a curve and we were just around the curve) all that was bombed. But we were not bombed. The Lord wonderfully protected. But then, when they got close and then they were starting shelling.... Now, I quickly told the men, "Brick up the win...our windows!" because we were having shrapnel coming on to and bouncing up, although it...we didn't actually have a complete shell land on us but bits of shrapnel dropped off somehow. I've never known how. [Bumps microphone] Excuse me. So we...we had that and the women all said, "Please, may we come and stay in your home, your house/" So we said, "Sure, come on in." And so women, and children and babies and.... We had a living room, a dining room , a hall and a study and a kitchen downstairs and then three bedrooms upstairs. They were absolutely crowded, packed in. And because of the bombing, we didn't dare go upstairs and sleep upstairs anyway so we had...we were sleeping downstairs too with them. There was hardly any room and we were all scrunched up like this most of the time. Then, I looked out...we were...I had left just a little bit of space at the top of the window so that I could look out and so we could get some fresh air. I looked out and I saw.... "Hey, what's that cloud coming over?" Sort of a greenish yellow. And then it came in and we all...everybody started vomiting and then we all...I...I just...we leaned over. I got weak and I leaned over and my heart was just pounding and I said, "Well, I guess Lord this is the time You're going to take us." 'Cause that was poison gas. And just then Mr. Davis threw open the door and he said, "Come out quickly! The wind has changed" And it had turned right around and blew that poison gas right back on to the Japanese. But in that few minutes that the Japa...that the gas had come and the soldiers on the wall who were fighting them were overcome by the gas. They had been able to attack the gate and break the gate...break in the gate. And they came in. Well, a few minutes later....
SHUSTER: This was the gate to the town.
ELLIOTT: Yes. The big city gates. Very, very thick. And they came in and a few of the soldiers came and banged at the gate of our church. Well, Mr. Davis and one of the elders went and the soldiers said, "Sugar, sugar, sugar." And he said, "No, we don't have any." And they said, "Tea, tea, tea, tea." And he said, "No." He hadn't.... You see, we had thought we were going to leave. So we hadn't sent for some extra supplies from Shanghai. So, things like, you know.... We had bought things when we knew we were going to stay. We had bought as much as we could. But there wasn't an awful lot. A lot of people had left. The stores were...a lot of the stores...most of the stores were closed. And so we had not been able to lay in a lot of supplies. Then they said, "Women, women, women." And Mr. Davis said, "No, you can't come in." And they started to push. And so he and the elder were holding the gate and just then a...a general with beautiful white kid gloves and high black shiny boots came along and he spoke in English to Mr. Davis and he said, "What are these men doing?" And he said, "They want to come in but we have a refugee camp here." And he said, "Do you have women and children?" And he said, "Yes." And he said, "I'll write you a notice to put.... Do you have get...back gates as well as front gates?" And he said, "Yes." And he said, "I will send notices to you that no Japanese soldier are allowed in this compound. You will be safe." And in just a little while he sent back huge big notices to paste on our front gate and back gate and he sent another extra one and we put that into a great big picture frame and whenever the Japanese started to climb over the wall, one of the men would run to Mr. Davis and he and one of the elders would run and hold this. And the first night, they went and just went all around the compound with the lantern shining on it so they could read and when they would look over and look and he saw them over and over and over trying to climb in. But they'd read this and they'd go. And one day when Mr. Davis was out with the men trying to get water, they tried to come over and the women came running to me, so I grabbed this and I ran to...to..where they were coming.... There was one man, and so he read it out loud to the soldiers that were below. I could hear him...I could hear a group of them there. He read it out loud, so then I...I...he sort of nodded his head and then he said to me, "How old are you?"
SHUSTER: In English?
ELLIOTT: No, he said it in Chinese. [Repeats question in Chinese.] And oh boy, I just took that thing and ran, as fast as I could go. [Laughs] And so but we....
SHUSTER: Remarkably disciplined....
ELLIOTT: It really was wonderful that we didn't have any time that.... Then just after this general left and a man was put in charge who was...I don't know if he was a colonel or what but when...about ten days after the Japanese came, they didn't go. They didn't keep on going. And we couldn't understand why they stayed there. We didn't realize until afterwards that it was because in the north city we had an airport and they were using that for bombing and so that's why they didn't leave Hwangchaun.
SHUSTER: You mean Hwangchaun had an airport?
ELLIOTT: Yes, but that was in the north city and we were in the south city and there was a river between and the Lutherans were in the north city and we were in the south and they wouldn't let us go to the north city at all and this...this man who was a colonel became very, very rude to Mr. Davis. Whenever mr. Davis would go and ask him for anything at all, for permission for anything, he'd would refuse pointblank. And after 10 days, you see, I had told everybody to sign up that they had enough for 10...for a month. After 10 days one family came to me and said, "We're out of food." Well, I said, "You had written right there." I showed him his signature that he had signed up, that he had food for 10 [sic] days for his family. He said "Oh they had been moving so fast, we thought surely they couldn't stay that long." So, then I announced, "Is there anybody who has extra food who would be willing to let this family have some." And there were [sic] an elderly couple who were quite well off who had brought heaps of food and so they said, "Yes, we have. We'll share with them." So I said, "Okay. You'll pay. You'll not going to get it free just because you didn't bring it in." And so that helped and then it went on and Mr. Davis went to this officer and asked, "Can we go out?" We were all getting short of food. "Can we go out and get food?" He said, "Nope!" And then...he went about 4 times and the fourth time, Mr. Davis had him [sic] paraded up and down the street fort about an hour or more with solider with guns and bayonets parading him up and down and he said to him, "All right. Now I will let you go and I will give you two hours to bring in food but you are not to come to me again about anything. If you do, that's what you are going to get." And so when they came, they sent a man and he had a watch and he said, "Ready, set, go!" Well, we had...now they had poles and baskets at the end of the poles. Well, even the old men who hadn't carried for years and could hardly totter along, they did and Mr. Davis, who had never carried on his shoulder, [laughs], he went. But these seven young men, they ran. And this elderly couple, they had a lot of.... You see, the way the Chinese do, they have their house in front and they have a courtyard and behind that they have storerooms. And they have rice, they have wheat, they have beans, you know soybeans, and dried vegetables and stuff, all stored. And so they had a big supply laid in. And so that was the house that they went to. And it was almost a mile. And these young men ran and I had the women lay out mats in the courtyards, just inside the front gates. And so I said, "All right, rice here, wheat here, beans here, and dried vegetables here." You know. And I said, "Now, get extra baskets ready so that as soon as they come, all they'll have to do is take the ends of the rope off of their pole and then grab these two empty baskets and run." And so they did that and...we...we...they...and then at the end of the time, before...when they came, each time they'd say, "All right, you won't have time to make another trip." And...but those young fellows made I don't know how many trips, but anyway they made quite a few trips. I know Mr. Davis was able to make two. And so they brought that food in and we all...by that time we had all run out and we were hardly...we hardly had anything at all to eat and so we...we had started eating every vegetable, I mean every eatable weed in the garden. The Chinese knew the difference between what was eatable and what was poisonous and we had all eaten those until we were all so [make a sound of disgust] sick of weeds and then we....
SHUSTER: So this food was very welcome.
ELLIOTT: Yes. But we ate very economically. And we said, "No, we are not going to...we are not going to have dry rice, we have to shefan[sp?]." You know watery rice and everything liquidy and so we said, "All right, now" And it made it last for 10 days.
SHUSTER: It might be a good point to stop here now.
SHUSTER: And continue next time.
ELLIOTT: Oh, okay because the next...the last...the next part is the most exciting, to me anyway. I didn't....
SHUSTER: Okay, well we'll pick up there. Let me ask you one question. Did you ever find out the Japanese general's name?
ELLIOTT: Not until I went home and got to Shanghai. I looked it up in the paper and I found out he was the brother of the Emperor.
ELLIOTT: And before I left, he came to see me. Well, he came to see Mr. Davis, but Mr. Davis happened to be out then and he saw me. They called me quickly and I came over to him and served him tea and everything and he was very nice. And he said, "Would you like to go...would you like to fly to Shanghai or would you like to fly to Hanchow or Peking or anything? I'll be glad to have you fly anywhere free." And I said, "Well, thank you very much. I appreciate that but I'm going to say here. I feel the Lord would have me stay here." He said, "You know, there is going to be trouble here, there is going to be war when the Chinese come back into the city. There is going to be trouble." And he said, "I want you to get out of this trouble, you know." And I said, "I appreciate that very much. I feel.... You'll kind." And he said, "Now, what is your name?" And so then he took his card out and he wrote on it and he said, "Now, if you ever have to cross Japanese lines, just give this card to them." And when we went home on furlough in '39, I went with...I went over and got, with Margaret and Vincent, and then Mr. and Mrs. Costerus also. And we across and went.... They had told us, "When we see the Japanese...." I mean, "When the Japanese.... They shoot first and ask questions afterwards." So we all carried flags and everything. And when we got there, I took this card out. Now, he did not tell me who he was.
SHUSTER: Uh huh.
ELLIOTT: I just knew that he was a general...
SHUSTER: Uh huh.
ELLIOTT: ...but that's all I knew. And he didn't say his name and I didn't.... And even if he did say his name, I wouldn't have recognized it. But when I got there, the guard looked at this and said, "Who gave this to you?" And I said, "The general." And he said, "Wait, wait, wait!" And he ran and called the captain and then the captain called the colonel and they all looked and it and they said...they all came, each one, and said to me, "Who gave it to you?" I said, "The general." "Oh," they said, "Oh, this is wonderful." And they...they got a special launch for us and provided a lovely lunch and they gave us.... And we were expecting to go.... We were going down the river. They took us on this launch all the way down to Bungbu [sp?] where we could get the train to go to Shanghai and this was on the basis of this card. And so when we got to Shanghai, I looked in the paper to see who was the general who in charge there in Hwangchaun and it was the brother of the Emperor of Japan.
SHUSTER: And his name was...?
ELLIOTT: I don't remember. [laughs]
SHUSTER: Well, that's quite a story. [laughs]
SHUSTER: Thank you again for...for your interview.
ELLIOTT: All right.
END OF TAPE