This is a complete and accurate transcript of the tape of the oral history interview of Margaret Rice Elliott Crossett (CN 287, T5) in the Archives of the Billy Graham Center. No spoken words have been omitted, except for any non-English phrases which could not be understood by the transcribers. Foreign terms are not commonly understood appear in italics. Place names in non-Western alphabets are spelled in the transcript in the old or new transliteration form according to how the speaker pronounced them. For example, Peking may be used instead of Beijing, because that is how the interviewee pronounced it. In very few cases words were too unclear to be distinguished. If the transcriber was not completely sure of having gotten what the speaker said, "[?]" was inserted. Grunts and verbal hesitations such as "ah" or "um" were usually omitted. The transcribers have not attempted to phonetically replicate English dialects but have instead entered the standard English word the speaker was expressing. Readers should remember that this is a transcript of spoken English, which follows a different rhythm and rule than written English.
... Three dots indicate an interruption or break in the train of though within the sentence on the part of the speaker.
.... Four dots indicate what the transcriber believes to be the end of a incomplete sentence.
() Words in parentheses are asides made by the speaker.
 Words in brackets are comments by the transcriber.
This transcription was made by Wayne D. Weber in June 1997.
Collection 287, T5. Interview of Margaret Rice Elliott Crossett by Paul A. Ericksen, April 7, 1986.
ERICKSEN: This is an interview with Margaret Rice Elliott Crossett by Paul Ericksen for the Missionary Sources Collection of Wheaton College. This interview took place at the office of the Billy Graham Center Archives in Wheaton, Illinois, on April 7, 1986 at 8:45 am. Well, I'd like to begin our interview this morning by talking about your next change. Following your . . . your marriage to Rev. Crossett, you [pauses] transferred to Zhengyangguang. What was the city like?
CROSSETT: Well, it was a walled city. It had small narrow streets with stores on both sides of the street and the church was in the north part of the city just inside the wall and [pauses] it didn't take long to go out of the city in any direction [laughs]. But it was [train in background] . . . it was built on an island surrounded by rivers, so . . . . There were three main rivers that joined there and lots of tributaries up country [laughs] so there was lots of water.
ERICKSEN: What . . . how would you compare the city there with the . . . your . . . your previous station. Wasn't that Tung . . . ?
CROSSETT: It was very different. Tungcheng was a city of educated people. They were educated in the emp . . . emperor's school and some of them had graduated from the Hall of Pencils, which was the highest exam they could take and if they did they had . . . they had little . . . four little . . . sort of beams that went up from their gates to showed that they were graduates. And they were of the governing class, the very educated and they spoke with the educated . . . the Wenli . . . the . . . the classical language, which Ruth and I had to learn to even greet them. But they never speak that way anymore. They don't know it anymore, and . . . but in the country, in Tungcheng, the country people just spoke ordinary [laughs] Mandarin like we always spoke, except that they had different dialects. In the east side of the city they had one dialect and on the west side they had another. They couldn't understand each other. But . . . and, of course, they didn't understand the Wenli of the city. But they did do their marketing and the things in the city.
ERICKSEN: How did having the different dialects affect church life? Presumably they were Christians from [unclear] . . . .
CROSSETT: Well, in Tungcheng there weren't many Christians. And the Christians that were there were [pauses] . . . they were quite proud and they hadn't been taught [pauses] so that they . . . they didn't see anything wrong in the sin they were committing, and [pauses] it was very difficult to deal with them. But the country Christians . . . .
ERICKSEN: That is the Christians outside Tungcheng that you worked . . . ?
CROSSETT: They were in villages outside the city not too far out, but [pauses] they had never seen white people before the . . . . There was a old tailor that lived in the village. He came in to Tungcheng and heard the gospel through missionaries that were passing through and he believed and he went back and won his whole village to the Lord. And they'd never heard the gospel except through him. So one . . . one time I went out there [pauses], visited with them and told them I would like to come and stay and teach them the Bible and they were delighted. So I went out and they didn't know what to do with me. [laughs] They put me in a . . . in a . . . they gave me a room and a bed. But it was a farm room, you know, with all the farm implements and their vinegar and pickles and everything in there too. But I slept in there and then in the morning [pauses] I got up and went out and the lady of . . . the men had gone out to the fields to work but the lady of the house was sitting at the table eating. She didn't know what to do with me. So I said, "May I sit down and have breakfast with you?" She said, "Oh, would you eat what I eat?" And I said, "Yeah, anything you eat." So I sat down. She gave me a bowl of rice gruel and she had a bowl of green vegetable in the middle of the table. And . . . she said, "Would you eat this?" I said, "If you eat it, I'll eat it." And it was [pauses] weeds that she had gathered out in the fields. So I tasted it. It tasted just like the bitterest quinine you've ever tasted. And . . . but I ate it, didn't show any sign that I didn't like it. And [pauses] after we got through she looked at me and she said, "Now I know you are one of us." [laughs] But I had Bible classes with them and . . . and the men would come in from the fields to listen and take note of the . . . what I taught them. And . . . but at night [pauses] those men would tramp round and round the village all night long. And I asked them why they did that and they said, "Because this is bandit country and you are here." And I thought that was sweet of them, to try to protect me. But we got to be very good friends. But the city people it was difficult to get close to at all.
ERICKSEN: Now what about the city people of Zhengyangguang . . . .
CROSSETT: In Zhengyuangguang . . . .
ERICKSEN: . . . Were they the same?
CROSSETT: The city people in Zhengyangguang were mostly merchants and [pauses] . . . and they were . . . they were friendly but [pauses] yeah, the . . . . When we first went there after we were married, the church people were . . . had been terribly spoiled by Mr. Ferguson, who had been there before.
ERICKSEN: How so?
CROSSETT: Well, he gave out a lot of relief. And some of them got wealthy on that relief. And when we'd go out on the street, even men with long silk gowns, we knew they were wealthy, they would tap us on the shoulder, hold out there hands. And we said, "What do you want?" They said, "Money." We said, "Money! We don't give out money." And they said, Well, you don't have any love." And the church people were that way, too. They were expecting us to support them and help them and we never gave them a penny. And they thought we were very hard hearted. [laughs] But Mr. Ferguson had been very generous with the relief money.
ERICKSEN: Now was he a CIM missionary as well?
CROSSETT: Uh-hmm. And he had . . . he was the last one to live there and he'd been taken by bandits . . . by communists from that house and never heard from again. We were the next ones to go. But [pauses] communists never bothered us.
ERICKSEN: Did you see that tendency among the people change any while you were there?
CROSSETT: Yes. Well, because of the war [World War II]. When the war came [pauses] we were in Huoqiu at the time. And most of the church people fled and they were scattered all over China. And the pastor of the church who had been very anti-foreign died. And the elder that was . . . that made so much money off the relief, he died. And the whole situation was changed. There were very few Christians left. Then Marguerite and Harry Owen went there while we were on furlough. And they built it up till they got quite a congregation there. But they were entirely new and self supporting and self propagating and all that. And then when we came back from furlough we went back there and continued that. So it became quite a strong church.
ERICKSEN: Did the mission have any policy as far as providing relief for church people?
CROSSETT: Only if the missionary applied for it. But for church people, I mean, if they . . . where need was. I guess the missionary would try to help. But they could get it though the Red Cross and through other organizations, not through the mission.
ERICKSEN: So that's the way Mr. Ferguson was providing the relief.
CROSSETT: Yeah. That's one reason he was taken. The communists thought he had a lot of money. And the . . . the Chinese said that he still had money when he was taken and it was hidden in the house. And because of that when we went to that house all the windows had been broken, birds had come in, and we found [pauses] tin cans had open and half eaten and the rats had made their nests. It was a mess. And [pauses] we . . . it took us a month to clean it up, but [pauses] we were looking . . . they'd even dug up flo . . . the floors in some of the rooms to hunt for that ma . . . money. But we moved one of M . . . a trunk Mr. Ferguson had. We just moved it and there was the money underneath there. So . . . .
ERICKSEN: What did you do with the money?
CROSSETT: It was all gold dollars, I mean silver dollars, in rolls of silver dollars. [laughs] We had to go to a conference in Wuhu at the time, and we took these silver dollars and just put them in our camp cot case with our camp cot. No one ever suspected they were there and we took them down to the mission.
ERICKSEN: So it was mission money?
CROSSETT: It was mission relief money. Yeah.
ERICKSEN: How much was there?
CROSSETT: I don't remember. It was [pauses] . . . maybe it was [pauses] seven or eight hundred dollars.
ERICKSEN: Was that quite a bit for a . . . ?
CROSSETT: It was Chinese money. Yeah, it was . . . .
ERICKSEN: . . . quite a bit for a missionary to have on hand or . . . ?
CROSSETT: It's more that we ever had. [laughs]
ERICKSEN: When I was talking with Reverend Crossett last time, he was talking about how his being the junior missionary, it was decided that rather than move you, they would move him to where you were. How . . . was that a standard procedure in the mission?
CROSSETT: Well, if the girl was already there and established I don't think they'd move her. No.
ERICKSEN: How did you feel about that?
CROSSETT: Well, [pauses] was all right with me. I . . . but it kind of hard on Vincent because I knew the language, I knew the customs, I knew the people and he didn't know anything. And I . . . in a way, I had to take the leadership [pauses] for awhile. And the Chinese thought I was just being a bossy wife. [laughs] But he couldn't understand and he didn't know what was going on. But as soon as he could why I released everything.
ERICKSEN: Did that put any strain on [pauses] . . . on your work or your marriage that you remember?
CROSSETT: Not on our marriage, but it was a strain on the work because I was the leader and [pauses] when we over the Huoqiu, I just did women and children's work and I let Vincent do all the other. He couldn't speak, he still couldn't preach, but he [pauses] . . . he had a unique way. He'd put a poster up on the wall and he'd do his best to give a message from the picture and then he'd looked and said, "Do you understand?" If somebody said, "Yeah, I understand." "Well, you get up and tell them." [laughs] Some of the people that way were won to the Lord. [laughs] But I was in the back. I didn't go to those meetings [pauses] and [pauses] the women [pauses] . . . the women wouldn't go to those meetings but they would come back and visit me in the back and then I would tell them the gospel and give them tracts and [pauses] get to know them, get their addresses and then I'd go and visit in their homes. And then I would have children's meeting. The children just flocked there and you couldn't have the children and the men in the same meeting. They disrupted. So I would take the children in the courtyard and have . . . teach them choruses and verses and tell them Bible stories and everything. I would have about seventy children. [laughs]
ERICKSEN: Were there any . . . do you remember and Bible stories that the children particularly liked [pauses] more than others?
CROSSETT: I don't remember.
ERICKSEN: Okay. [pauses] Did you do anything differently when you were working with the rural people as op . . . compared with the people in the city?
CROSSETT: Well, in the rural . . . rural we would visit in the homes and when we could we'd organize Bible classes there, but [pauses] it was mostly [pauses] handing our tracts and selling Gospels in the marketplaces in the rural work. If . . . if we really got acquainted we could do things but most of our work in Zhengyangguang and in Huoqiu was city work.
ERICKSEN: And so that would be more meeting in the church facility?
CROSSETT: Yeah, we didn't have any church facility. It was just a preaching place on the street and then we had a . . . some rooms in the back. We had open courtyards and we would have church services in the open courtyard. That was in [pauses] . . . in Huoqiu. In Zhengyangguang they had a church, they had a regular church. But in Huoqiu we just met in the courtyard until [pauses] there were a number of Christians and [pauses] then they said, "We don't like wait . . . meeting in the courtyard 'cause it's too sunny and rains and . . . and," they said, "We'd like a church." We said, "Well, [pauses] whose church will it be?" They said, "Ours. Will the mission build us a church?" We said, "Well, if it's yours why not you build it?" Well, we felt awful in doing that because when we went to Huoqiu they . . . they had been occupied by communists. Their houses had been bombed, their food had been taken from them, the people in the country were starving. They were even eating their own children. And they were just as poor as poor could be. And when we said, "Well, you build your own church," we felt terrible. [laughs] We never gave them anything. And . . . but they had . . . they said, "Well, that's fine." And they started putting their money aside. They'd . . . they'd . . . they elected a treasurer and then they turned the money over to Vincent to keep [laughs] and . . . but they kept their own accounts and everything. And finally when there were more Christians they bought property with buildings on it and reno . . . renovated the buildings and even had a section with a building on it for the missionaries to live in. I had never heard of any church [laughs] furnishing the house for the missionaries before. But that was . . . by that time we had had gone on furlough and the Steeds had gone there and they lived in that house. It was just a Chinese house with mud floors, but they said, "If they furnish it, we're going to live in it." And they carried on the same policy. They never helped them financially at all. But they were proud of their own church. When we went back there (it was ten year after we first started the work), they invited us back for meetings and there were four hundred Christians that gathered there for those special meetings.
ERICKSEN: I'm not sure where I [pauses] . . . where I came across but my notes indicated that you [pauses] . . . when you left to go on furlough [pauses] . . . that when you left Zheng . . . Zheng . . . Zhengyangguang . . .
ERICKSEN: . . . that you turned the work over to the Chinese.
CROSSETT: Well [pauses], it has always been in the hands of the Chinese, and we were just advisors. They led their own meetings. Everything was done by them except Bible classes. We taught Bible classes.
ERICKSEN: So was that a situation you had inherited from Mr. Ferguson?
CROSSETT: No, that church was all scattered. They had been running their own church, yeah, when Mr. Ferguson was there. [train in background] They had their elders and they didn't have . . . oh, they had a pastor too but he was very anti-foreign and [pauses] demanding [pauses], but . . . and he didn't like us [laughs]. But he died and . . . and then this elder that [pauses] he had stolen so much, he died too. And [pauses] that left the church without [pauses] firm leadership. And then the war came and the church was scattered and then the Owens came, they built it up after that.
ERICKSEN: Okay. Why were you transferred to Huoqiu?
CROSSETT: Well, we . . . I was part of the Two Hundred [group of new CIM missionaries who responded to an appeal in 1934 by the mission for two hundred new workers] and I wasn't to go into an occupied mission station and Huoqiu was new work, and so we were transferred there.
ERICKSEN: What that the first new station . . . new station you had been in?
CROSSETT: No, Tungcheng was the first.
ERICKSEN: Okay. Was it the missions intention to keep moving you into new stations?
CROSSETT: Yes. After the church got established we were supposed to go into new stations, but we went into Zhengyuangguang which was like a new station by that time. [laughs]
ERICKSEN: Going back to the . . . the difference between the rural people and the city people, did you see any difference in the way they responded to the gospel? [pauses] Was one group [pauses] more receptive or less receptive?
CROSSETT: Well, I should say maybe the country people were more receptive than the city, but they were both receptive, especially during the war when they were so frightened of the Japanese. And the Japanese were just twenty miles away and they'd fight just outside the city. Well, then they just flocked to us in the city. But the country people too were very receptive. That was an area where it had been hard work. All the time Mr. Ferguson was there and all those older missionaries they did a lot of church pl . . . I mean of gospel planting and we reaped the harvest. Many turned to the Lord.
ERICKSEN: How did the . . . the city and the rural people feel about each other?
CROSSETT: Well, as a rule it was the same as over here. The city people called them country bumpkins. [laughs] But they mixed well in the church. There's . . . we didn't have any difficulty, although the city people took the leadership.
ERICKSEN: You . . . you mentioned the Japanese just being twenty miles away. [pauses] What kind of contact did you have with the Japanese prior to your furlough?
CROSSETT: Prior to our first furlough [pauses] we didn't have any contact until we started to go out when we were going down to Shanghai. When we [pauses] . . . we were going . . . we had to cross the Japanese Chinese lines and we got to [pauses] . . . we got to a town . . . we had to go down the river and when we got to about half way to Bengbu from Zhengyangguang we came into the Japanese and they were very friendly and they took us in, gave us a place to sleep, and [pauses] then they said they'd take us by launch to Bengbu to the railroad the next morning at eight o'clock and all the Chinese yelled at us, "Tokyo time, not Chinese time." [laughs] So we had to reckon the difference between our time and Tokyo time. It was real early in the morning. [laughs] We got up and we went on the launch down to Bengbu and got the train, went down to Shanghai and [pauses] . . . but oh, I think at . . . at Nanking we had to change trains and then they had to inspect all our baggage and they just opened our trunks and dumped everything out and . . . and said okay and then we had to repack. [laughs] And . . . .
ERICKSEN: So when you were leaving the country was you first [pauses] contact with them?
CROSSETT: Then when we came back from furlough, they were still occupying Shanghai and . . . and when went up to go inland they had to inspect our trunks again. [pauses] But they wouldn't let us be with them and they demanded our keys so they opened the trunks and took what they pleased and gave the rest to us. [laughs] And then when we got to Bengbu on the railroad [pauses] we had a pass that only lasted a few days and [pauses] we . . . they had to inspect all our baggage again and we . . . . Because we were the last missionaries going in, the mission had sent us [pauses] lots of boxes of stuff for missionaries inland, and given us . . . to us to take in. And they demanded that we put all those boxes on the street [pauses] and open them and tell them what was in those boxes. We said, "We didn't know but here's a list of everything we've got." "We don't want that. We want to know what's in that box." [pauses] And we said, "We don't know." So they just took hammers and broke them open, scattered the things on the sidewalk [pauses] and we were scared people were going to steal them. So we were . . . I was running up and down, Vincent was talking to them and [pauses] . . . and finally when they got through breaking all the boxes open they said, "We aren't the ones to inspect. You'll have to see so-and-so." [pauses] So we had to nail them all up and . . . and we went to see so-and-so and he said, "We're having vacation for three days." [laughs] And they wouldn't inspect for three days, so we had to wait, and by that time our pass ran out. And [pauses] finally they did grant us [pauses] passage and [pauses] then we had to get the Chinese permission to go out. So they had to inspect the baggage, but they didn't do much. They . . . they gave us a pass right away. But the . . . by that time it was mid-morning, it was about noon and [pauses] . . . but we hired some row boats to take us across the river [pauses] . . . up the river a ways. [It] would have taken . . . ordinary would have taken about half an hour. But the row boat we got on, the men began to fight. There was one at the head and one at the back rowing. And they . . . they'd prod each other and . . . and they worked against each other. So we just went round in circles for hours and [laughs] we thought, "Well, the Lord's in charge," so we didn't worry. And it was dark by the time we got across the river. [clears throat] And a farmer took us in and we slept on the straw in his barn. In . . . in the morning the c . . . the donkey and the cows poked their heads in the windows [pauses] and began to bray and moo and everything and Virginia was only two then and she stood up and clapped hands, "Just like the Lord Jesus." [laughs] But then we got started real early in the morning and we started out. And we're going [pauses] . . . going across the fields 'cause we couldn't . . . we had to cross the lines. We didn't dare go on the roads, passing the fields [?] Way off in the distance a Japanese soldier saw us and they were waving their guns and yelling "Stop, stop!" And the more they yelled the more our coolies pulled the carts and the rickshaws and everything and went as fast as they could. We had eighteen carts of stuff for people and [clears throat] . . . and [laughs] they went faster than the Japanese and they got across and got to the Chinese lines. And then we could take it leisurely. It took us eight days to get where we would have taken half a day on the river. We slept in Chinese inns on the floor, mud . . . dirt floors [pauses] and got through. [pauses] And the last day we were to get to Taiho, we had to cross a lake. And we hired a . . . a boat with a bamboo matting top to it, put everything on there and all these coolies and we and everything were all in this boat. And it was a beautiful sunny day and all of a sudden there was a storm. And it just poured and poured and blew and it was an awful storm and we were all night on that boat. And we were all packed in this little cabin with straw matts with our knees up to our [pauses, laughs] necks. And we stayed there all night on that boat. And the next day it was all beautiful, sunny again. And we looked around and every boat around us had sunk. We were the only ones that didn't. The Lord kept us and we soon got across the lake, and went on our trip.
ERICKSEN: So that was when you were going back inland after your furlough.
CROSSETT: After first furlough. We had the two babies then.
ERICKSEN: Even though you didn't have any contact prior to your leaving . . . contact with the Japanese prior to your leaving, what effects of the Japanese presence [pauses] were there on your work and . . . .
CROSSETT: Well, that was . . . it had a big effect, because the Japanese were beginning to make a push through that area. And they . . . they could hear them [clears throat], hear their boats going by on the river just three miles north of us. And [pauses] the people were frightened. This was in Huoqiu. And almost everybody in the city fled. And we were . . . we were in a dead city, just us [pauses] and a few Chinese stayed. And then there was a lot of looting going on and the people that stayed looted the houses. But people that left brought some of their things to us and said, "You can have them. You can have them. We're leaving". We put them aside and after a while when the scare got over some of them came back and we gave back there things to them. But [clears throat, pauses] lot of them never came back. They just fled clear to west China. Also before that time when we first knew of . . . of the Japanese being so near was [pauses] some people came in . . .
ERICKSEN: When was that?
CROSSETT: Well, I don't remember. It was '30 [pauses] . . . must have been about '35 or '36, [pauses] before Virginia was born. A bunch of people came into our compound. They were . . . it was cold weather and they were dressed in just heavy underwear and the children were naked. And I . . . I didn't know who they were and I said, "How come your children don't have any clothes and you're dressed like that?" I said, "Well, why don't you dress them so they have some warmth . . . some warm clothes?" And they all began to cry and they said, "Well, the Japanese bombed Zhengyangguang today or yesterday and we fled." And they . . . they said, "As we fled . . . fled across the river" the Japanese [pauses] shot them from the [pauses] from the airplanes. And some of the mothers just threw their babies in the river and [pauses] . . . and they . . . when they got across and were coming across to Huoqiu, the bandits raided them took all their clothes. And, oh, I felt so sorry I began to cry. [laughs] And I didn't have anything much but whatever we had we gave them. We gave them rice and whatever clothes we had they were [pauses] . . . weren't fitting to them but they could at least cover with them. We gave them everything we could spare. And they went on their way. They didn't stay.
ERICKSEN: And where were they heading?
CROSSETT: Anywhere they could go. But they'd meet bandits all the way. They were just . . . they didn't know where they were going. They were just frightened. [pauses] And then . . . then [pauses] another time the . . . the Japanese bombed Zhengyangguang and bombed other towns around and people just fled by the thousands. And many of them came and slept in our compound. And they would write on the doors with chalk. And we said . . . we'd put their names and when they were there and everything and if any of their family came why they would know where to find them. And [pauses] they . . . the families were all scattered. When the bombs came they all fled in different directions so they didn't know where they were. The one man came in and he had such a bright face. I said, "You're a Christian, aren't you?" He said, "Yes, I am." And he said . . . I said, [pauses] "What happened?" He told . . . told when his town was bombed and everything. And he said, "My family is scattered in all different directions. I don't know where they are, but I'm going to look for them." He said, "You pray with me that I'll find them." And he found every one of them. He came back and reported. He said, "Just rejoice. I found all my family." But they were all scattered in different areas. And . . . but all the families were scattered like that. [sighs] One woman was crying in the night and I got up to see what she was crying about. She said, "I want my little girl." I said, "What happened to you little girl?" She said, "Well, we came from Xuzhou [?]," which was a city quite far north. [She] said, "We'd been fleeing from Xuzhou [?]." She said, "I carried her for so many many miles and days," but she said, "Finally, I couldn't carry her anymore. The Japanese, I could see them coming," and [pauses] she said, "I just dropped her and fled." And she said, "The last I heard of her she was crying, 'Mommy, mommy.'" And I said, "Well, why didn't you stay with her and die with her if needed?" She said, "I would have, but it's far worse. It was far worse with the Japanese soldiers. I couldn't stand that." Because they were raping all the women. [pauses] But she didn't know what happened to her little girl. But that . . . we heard stories like that all the time. [pauses] But we . . . we ourselves didn't have contact with the Japanese.
ERICKSEN: How did [pauses] . . . how did the Christian Chinese respond to that kind of suffering?
CROSSETT: Well, many of them were afraid. Some of them were willing to deny the Lord because of it, but some of them weren't. They were standing up strong. This one woman that . . . [pauses] they were throwing their Bibles and hymnbooks away, you know, and they didn't want the Japanese to see that they were Christians. And the woman said, "Don't throw them away. Give them to me." She had a whole stack [laughs] of Bible and hymnbooks [laughs]. And she just kept them all. [laughs]
ERICKSEN: What happened to her?
CROSSETT: Nothing. The Japanese occupied her home and they said . . . they . . . she . . . they said, "You're a Christian?" "Yeah." "Well, fine." [laughs] But they didn't persecute her at all.
ERICKSEN: Did it sort of depend on who the Japanese were that you happen to have contact with? Or who they happened to have contact with? It sounds like [pauses] . . .
CROSSETT: Yes, some were very cruel.
ERICKSEN: . . . some Japanese were . . .
CROSSETT: And some were Christians. So that if they contacted the Christians there wasn't anything. But the cruel . . . there were many that were very cruel.
ERICKSEN: Now [pauses] your sister talks about when you left she got a pass from an officer, a Japanese officer . . .
CROSSETT: Oh, she was in . . . in Huangchuan in Honan. And she had a . . . a refugee camp for women. And a Japanese Christian officer came. Well, the . . . they had men too on the compound and in a different section. And they couldn't get any food because they couldn't go out of the compound. So they got . . . they got a pass to go out for one hour, I think. And the men all went out, went to their homes or went to the farmers who had grain and stuff. And they . . . in this hour they brought in enough food for the whole camp. But I had . . . we had nothing to do with that.
ERICKSEN: It seems to me that she mentioned about getting a pass to leave the country when you went on your furlough that [pauses] she and you all left together?
CROSSETT: We left. I don't remember anything about a pass. But [pauses] we . . . we were . . . you know she was . . . she had come from Huangchuan to visit us and to go with us to furlough. And we just hired a sailboat, went up the river to . . . [pauses] We had quite an experience that night. The [pauses] . . . the [pauses] . . . we couldn't . . . we . . . the river turned and the wind was contrary so the sailboat couldn't go. So they stopped at the curve of the river and [pauses] . . . and it was unsafe. They stopped in the middle of the river. But [pauses] the Red [pauses] . . . Red Spear Society, which was one of the most fierce bandit organizations in the area, they came down to the river. They knew we were foreigners on the boat. [pauses] And we could hear their. . . they blew cows horns and it was weird in the night to hear these cows' horns and they came down to the edge of the river. And they wanted to board our ship . . . our boat, I guess. But anyway [train in the background], we had [pauses] . . . they anchored near a larger boat [pauses] who had duck hunters on and they had guns, and a sort of cannon thing. And they shot their cannon. And we were scared [laughs]. We were just laying their just sh . . . tremb . . . trembling, but scared the Red Spear Society away so [pauses] we just [pauses] got [laughs] through all right.
ERICKSEN: How was . . . now, this Red Spear Society, it sounds like an organization?
CROSSETT: It was. They had . . . they initiated themselves with blood, I think, and they had special and [pauses] they sold themselves to the devil on purpose, to . . . and they . . . they thought they could never be killed because of that. They were very bold and cruel.
ERICKSEN: Did you ever have any contact with them other than that?
CROSSETT: No. We could hear their horns in the country. But we didn't contact them.
ERICKSEN: Were any of the . . . any of the members of those groups converted that you know of?
CROSSETT: I don't know. I never heard of it.
ERICKSEN: What about contact with the communists at this point [pauses] before your [pauses] furlough?
CROSSETT: We didn't have any actual contact with them but we came near. One time Vincent and I went out. We had a lake at Huoqiu. It was a big lake but that year it was dry. There wasn't any water in it. So we went [pauses] . . . walked across the lake visit and visited different villages at the market towns. (Maybe you know those market towns. They would have market one day. And the next town would have a market the next day and so forth.) So we went from market town to market town selling Gospels and giving out tracts, holding meetings where we could and [pauses] at one . . . after one village [pauses] we sold and [pauses] gave out Gospels in the morning until the market was over and then we started out on a . . . in the country walking to go to the next town. And we didn't know our way. We didn't where that . . . we knew the name of the town but we didn't know exactly the direction. And we came to a fork in the road and we didn't know which fork to take, so [pauses] I think I was at the lead so I just took the one fork and we started down. Sort of a southern direction. And we walked for about an hour or so. And I saw a farmer out in the country. He . . . he was farming and I [pauses] . . . on the fields. And I . . . I called to him and I said, "Is this the way to a certain [pauses] . . . this certain town". And he said, "No. You'd have to go back to the fork in the road and go the other fork, if you wanted to." I said, "Well, it's too late to do that, it's getting dark." And he said, "Well, there's a town (if you keep on going) . . . there's a town south here." So we went on down to that. And [pauses] it was already . . . the walls . . . the doors was already been locked. And we wanted to get in and they wouldn't let us in. And so then . . . (it was a tiny village) and there was a man in there that heard our voices. And he came and he said, "I know these people." He lived in Zhengyangguang and so he [pauses] . . . he said, "Let them in. They're good people." So they let us in on his word. And we had a good time there, preaching and giving out Gospels and selling [pauses] . . . selling them. And then when we got back to Zhengyangguang . . . . Oh, oh, no, there at the village they said, "It's a good thing you didn't go to this other village today because the communists went there and they killed a lot of people. We would have been killed if we'd gone there. So the Lord just led [train in the background] and went back home. And a few days later they carried nineteen coffins past our door [of] people had been killed at that village. [pauses] So the Lord kept us. But we didn't have any contact with the communists.
ERICKSEN: What was the general feeling of the people about the communists?
CROSSETT: They hated them. They were scared of them. But we had them all around us all the time.
ERICKSEN: When [pauses] . . . I guess, before we go on your furlough I should ask about [pauses] what changes having . . . starting a family on the field had on your work. Ginny was born in 1937. How did that change things for you?
CROSSETT: Well, the people were interested. [laughs] More people would come just to see the baby. [pauses] I don't know, I guess it made me more sympathetic with the women with children. I don't know. But [pauses], [it] didn't seem to make a lot of difference.
ERICKSEN: How did your schedule of responsibilities change?
CROSSETT: Well, I still went ahead with the same meetings and Bible classes I'd had.
ERICKSEN: Just took her along?
CROSSETT: I . . . I would take her along. [pauses] Yeah.
ERICKSEN: So at least in the early days it didn't have much impact at all, it sounds like.
CROSSETT: I don't remember that it did. We just kept on [laughs] with the same kind of work.
ERICKSEN: Now then in . . . was it in 1938 or '39 that you left on your furlough?
ERICKSEN: It had been [pauses] . . . . You had first gotten to [pauses] . . . to China in 1930, so . . .
CROSSETT: I got there in 1929.
ERICKSEN: '29. Did you feel ready for a furlough?
CROSSETT: Well, it had been nine-and-a-half years. [pauses] Yeah. Most of them went home in seven years, but because I got married I had to stay longer. And Vincent got to go home earlier. [pauses] We had to have fifteen years between us. [laughs]
ERICKSEN: What did you do on your furlough?
CROSSETT: Had a baby. [laughs] And I was ver. . . I had been very very ill at the birth and [pauses] so [paused] had to rest a bit.
ERICKSEN: Now was some of that time in China when you were [pauses] ill or was . . . ?
CROSSETT: No, was here in . . . in Wyanet. Margaret was born in Princeton just six miles from Wyanet. And [pauses] then when she was a few months old we started on trips to visit prayer partners and donors and . . . [pauses] and just [laughs] had meetings whenever they asked us.
ERICKSEN: So [pauses] was furlough a [pauses] . . . a rest time or a different kind of work time?
CROSSETT: It was different and sort of . . . it was sort of relaxing. But the mission didn't direct us like they do now. They direct the furlough-ites, which is much better.
ERICKSEN: Now when you say they direct them, what does that mean?
CROSSETT: They appoint them to meetings and . . .
ERICKSEN: Oh, I see, they arrange . . . .
CROSSETT: . . . and they have furlough institutes where the . . . all furlough-ites get together. They give them . . . have special speakers and I don't know what all they do. But they are much more [pauses] directive of the missionaries that come on furlough. We were left to our own. We asked the mission what they wanted us to do. And they said, "Well, make contacts." [laughs] We weren't directed and we wished we had been.
ERICKSEN: What [pauses] . . . had you noticed any changes in the ten years that you had been away among, let's say, Christians in this country?
CROSSETT: Yes. When we first got to Los Angeles we met a prayer partner that we had never met before but she had . . . by correspondence she become our prayer partner. And here she was all painted up. And looked at her and I thought . . . I said to Vincent, "Is she a Christian?" Because in China if a woman painted her face she was a prostitute. And here I was looking at all these prostitutes. Up in the choir and everywhere. Oh, I was shocked. I [laughs] . . . . That's what impressed me. [laughs] And then there were many many changes, of course. My niece had been born while I was away. She was ten years old before I ever saw her. And I was exclaiming over something I'd never seen before. She said, "Don't you know that. I've know that all my life." [laughs] But there many changes.
ERICKSEN: Where there ever times in your furlough when you couldn't wait to get back to . . . to China?
CROSSETT: No, we'd been through a lot. And I sort of dreaded going back. [pauses] I knew it would be worse [laughs] and it was. But the Lord brought us through.
ERICKSEN: Now when you [pauses] when you got back to . . . when you went back you were restationed at Zhengyangguang and I think [pauses] you had mentioned some of the changes that had taken place. The Owens had been there and had started the church.
CROSSETT: Yes, it was practically started from scratch.
ERICKSEN: Where there other changes that you noticed in the city?
CROSSETT: In the city [pauses], I didn't notice, but in the church, yes. There were a lot of changes.
ERICKSEN: Most of the Christians were . . . were newer Christians?
CROSSETT: Yes, they were young Christians. And we asked them if they would like Bible studies and they said, "No, we don't want any Bible studies. [pauses] Bt we want meetings, [pauses] worship meetings." So we turned all the worship meetings into Bible studies, they didn't know the difference. [laughs]
ERICKSEN: Why didn't they want Bible studies?
CROSSETT: I don't know. They . . . we asked them, "Do you want a women's Bible class? Do you want a men's Bible class?" "No, we don't want anything like that." But we soon had them. [laughs] I don't think they understood what it was all about.
ERICKSEN: Now how long a time period would there be when [pauses] the missionaries were more responsible for the leadership and when there was . . . turned over to the Chinese, or even . . . were you advisors in this period?
CROSSETT: We were advisors.
ERICKSEN: So they were in charge?
CROSSETT: In our work the Chinese were always in charge, except when we started the work in Huoqiu and as soon as we could we turned it over to them. [pauses] I would . . . in Huoqiu I would [pauses] take these new women that had just confessed the Lord and I would . . . had to teach them to read. And after I taught them to read I taught them to how read the Word. And them I taught them how to [pauses] . . . to get up in the meeting and read . . . read a verse. And then gradually I taught them how lead a meeting, and how to pray. And as soon as they could lead they own meetings I turned it all over to them. And I would . . . I would go over with them the . . . the message they were to give and correct them on any errors they made. [pauses] And they just took over.
ERICKSEN: How long a time period was that covering?
CROSSETT: About a year [pauses] or less than two years. [pauses] But we had had [pauses] about an eight day Bible school for the men. Well, we would have it for the women too, but the men knew how read and the women couldn't. And I'd urged them to have reading class so I could teach them to read. No, they didn't want to learn to read. Women couldn't read, weren't suppose to read. And . . . but after we had that Bible school [pauses] the women came and said, "Oh, the men can read and we can't. We've got to learn." So I had classes . . . reading classes for them from then on.
ERICKSEN: Then [pauses] from what I can see during the next . . . the next few years you were moved a number of times.
CROSSETT: It was only because of the war [World War II]. Yeah. [pauses] From . . . because the Japanese were making their push through there the Chinese came and said, "You've got to get out [pauses], 'cause the Japanese are making a push through here." Well, most of the missionaries were fleeing and getting out. And Vincent said, "You take the children and go." And I said, "I want you to go, too." But he wouldn't. He said he'd go in the country and hide and [pauses] carry on as fas . . . as much as he could. So [pauses] I took the children. We went on a launch up river. We were going to meet everybody at Fowyang. And [pauses] this launch was a wood burning launch 'cause they couldn't get coal or gas or anything and they burned wood. And they broke down [laughs] on the first day and they just stayed in one place for a day or so. But that launch was just packed with people fleeing, Chinese fleeing. And there wasn't anyplace to sit or lie down or anything. I finally found a little corner where Virginia and Margaret could lie. And I just took my suitcase and went out on the prow of the boat and stayed there for a couple of days [laughs] and nights. And then [pauses] we finally got up to Hoc . . . to Fowyang and I got off and went in to the mission there. And a bunch of us [pauses] had gath . . . were gathering there. And when everybody had got there, why, we hired different sailboats. Each family had a sailboat and we went up the rest of the river to the Honan border. And then we took a [pauses] charcoal bar . . . burning truck. Put our baggage on, sat on top of the baggage [pauses] and started out. We went across Honan and [pauses] slept in chapels on . . . on dirt floors in chapels and [pauses] . . . and finally got up to Luoyang in Honan. And the Lutheran missionaries [pauses] had heard that we were coming. By that time there were twenty-one of us. And there must have been six or seven children, one baby, only six months old. And they [pauses] . . . the Lutheran missionaries had all fled except two that heard we were coming and they said . . . they stayed because of us. They had taken all of their furniture and everything with them. [laughs] But [pauses] we [pauses] . . . we got there just as the [pauses] city was being bombed [pauses] and we waited after until after the bombing and . . . and it was dark by that time. And we got into the city and [pauses] the Lutheran . . . these two Lutherans welcomed us. And . . .and took us and said, "Go upstairs and sleep up there." Well, there wasn't any furniture or anything so we slept on the floor there. About five-thirty in the morning the sirens all started blowing and . . . and they . . . they . . . the . . . one of the missionaries called up the stairs and said, "Hurry, get your children. Go down into the dugout." So we grabbed our children, we dressed them as fast as we could and took them down to the dugout. We didn't know where the dugout was but we saw a hole in the ground [laughs] and we went down. There was [pauses] . . . they had little steps going down. It was forty feet deep. And it was a big dugout that they had made where all the people on the compound could go down in there. We went down and all day long the bombs were dropping. And we were trying to amuse the children and keep them from being afraid and [pauses] . . . and the [pauses] . . . the cook at the Lutheran place there would fix meals and [pauses] in between raids she would bring them to the top of the dugout and we'd eat and go down again. I asked her what she did when the bombs were falling, 'cause they dropping all around the mission compound. And she said, "Oh, I just pray." [laughs] And [pauses] we spent two days like that. But nights we could go out. And by the evening of the second day it . . . the Japanese were almost ready to take the city. We had to get out so [pauses] we went [pauses] to the railway station. There must have been I don't know how many thousands of people were there trying to get on the train. The train finally pulled in, the last train to leave the city. And it was already packed with people, with people up on the roof and down even between the wheels everything was packed. And all these thousands of people trying to get on we wanted to get on. And so [pauses] one of the men of our . . . our group managed to open a window in one car. And he started pushing in all the children and pushing us in and then pushing our baggage in. And [pauses] we [pauses] went in the car. Some of our missionaries just sat on their baggage. I . . . there was a soldier there that was guarding a half of a seat. There was a big fat man at the window and this half . . . soldier had his arm around that seat and I just [pauses] slipped in it and said, "Do you mind if I sit here?" [laughs] He was saving it for some officer or something, I guess. He looked at me and said, "Oh, oh, okay." So I had . . . they had two seats facing each other. And I [pauses] . . . I sat here and Virginia sat between and then . . . oh, no. The fat man sat there and then Virginia and me. And across was . . . were three Chinese.
END OF TAPE