This is a complete and accurate transcript of the tape of the oral history interview with
Marguerite Elizabeth (Goodner) Owen (CN 534, T6) 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 which are not commonly understood appear in
italics. 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 after the word or
phrase in question. If the speech was inaudible or indistinguishable, "[unclear]" 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.
Chinese place names are spelled in the transcript in the old or new transliteration form according to how the speaker pronounced them. Thus, "Peking" is used instead of "Beijing," if that is how the interviewee pronounced it. Chinese terms and phrases which would be understood were spelled as they were pronounced with some attempt made to identify the accepted transliteration form to which it corresponds.
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 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 parentheses are asides made by the speaker.
[ ] Words in brackets are comments by the transcriber.
This transcript, made by Bob Shuster and Jeff Aernie, was completed in May 2005.
Collection 534, T6. Interview of Marguerite Owen by Bob Shuster, May 26, 1998.
SHUSTER: You were saying that you had been impressed by the crowd and the other missionary
OWEN: Yes she said this "Don't be impressed." He said "they either work in the hospital or
teach in the school or." Anyway they all have a job. Because...they come...they have to come to
church. And that's the...that's the reason they're there.
SHUSTER: Rice Christians?
OWEN: Rice Christians in a...in another form. They weren't getting sort of handouts but they
were getting something from the mission. But I don't think they were all that way because I
knew...met later some of them. But I meant there was a tremendous this...well, it was the
millionaire station in China. The man...a millionaire came over to China very enthused in
missions. He said "I'm going to build a perfect ideal station." So he bought this beautiful piece
of land right on a ri...the bend of a river and he built this station. A...a church with a clock
steeple in it, not at all Chinese you know.
SHUSTER: Western style?
OWEN: Western style. And a boys' school and a girls' school and an industrial school for
women, a training school. And on one side of the road and then on the other side of the road he
built four very lovely foreign houses, very foreign style. And in order that they didn't have to go
through the street to get from one to the other he made overpasses so the missionaries didn't have
to mingle with the crowd. And you...and this is when I was there. I saw this.
SHUSTER: Now where was this?
OWEN: It was Hwaiyuan, Anhwei. Hwaiyuan. It was a Presbyterian station. And it was...but I
don't blame the Presbyterian station it was this wealthy man who just thought he was doing a
wonderful thing you know to give all this....And...but the missionaries would not let any Chinese
in their homes. They had guest houses at the doors where they met Chinese. They
didn't...Chinese weren't allowed in their homes. I mean...I had...I spent my first night inland
China in that station on my way to mine. It was our stopping off place from the railroad. And
the superintendent said "Miss Goodner I hope you don't think you're going to this kind of
station." I said "I hope not." [Shuster chuckles]. I said "This is not what I came to." But
SHUSTER: How did he react to that?
OWEN: How did he?
SHUSTER: Yeah the one who said that?
OWEN: Oh he said "I'm glad." He said "I"...you know he was a CIM [China Inland Mission]
superintendent and he was escorting me. And this...I stayed friends with the one who told me
that Mrs. Kenneth Kammel she...her husband was in evangelistic work. And she was teaching in
the girls' school I think.
SHUSTER: This was a Presbyterian?
OWEN: Presbyterian. And I...I kept in touch with her until she died about fifteen years ago.
She was older than I was then, of course, when I...cause I was just twenty-three at that time or
SHUSTER: Now you were at a church for a year and a half and took your furlough?
SHUSTER: Went to the United States so this was about the middle of '41?
OWEN: Yes. We...we sailed in March of '41.
SHUSTER: In the time that you had been in China had you had much contact with any
communist forces up to that time?
OWENS: Not...no. There were the communists who killed Bet...John and Betty were in south
Anhwei. I was in the north. But it so happened that on the day that the were murdered, I was
alone in a Chinese inn just about a hundred miles north.
SHUSTER: You mentioned that.... [on tape T3 of this collection]
OWEN: I mentioned that before.
OWEN: But anyway I...they had...then they...those communists retreated. And then the long
march didn't come through Anhwei but through the west. So I didn't have any contact with
communists at all. Until...
SHUSTER: ...you came back?
OWEN: I went back.
SHUSTER: Yeah. What did you observe of the [pauses] Kuomintang, the Nationalist
government of China? How would you describe...?
OWEN: Well, to my mind I didn't...I didn't see any of the corruption. They said it was a lot.
But I didn't know enough about things, I mean...that...those sort of things didn't effect me. I
mean I...I...I'm sorry that I wasn't more observant. I mean...
SHUSTER: Of course, many of the areas you were in were involved in the war, right?
OWEN: Yes. Yes.
SHUSTER: They were on the front lines so they were not a typical situation?
OWEN: No. I only had about three...three years of typical...before the war started. See I went in
'33 and '37 the war started. And it didn't come up there till about '38. And, of course, that's
when I was moving around all over the place. And I wasn't conscious of the Kuomintang at all.
SHUSTER: So the...So the Chinese government didn't really...you didn't have any contact with
in any way.
OWEN: No. No. Not at all. Now when...one of things when we left Taiho. This time going
out for furlough we...we went up the river to Taiho because we could go across the Bungbu [sp?]
River better from there. And they the Chinese said "The Japanese, oh, they just interrogate us
terribly about everything, you know. And, oh, everything had to be inspected." And everything.
And so they were interrogated. And they said "Draw me a map of Taiho."
SHUSTER: Who said this? The Japanese?
OWEN: Japanese. So I drew a square and a line this way and a line that way. And is it...I said
"I don't know any other streets." Which I didn't. I didn't know what they were. Well, he said
"Where's the police station?" I said "I don't know. I never was asked to go there." They looked
very astounded. you know, 'cause...they never were...we didn't have any connection with them.
We didn't do anything with the government at all. So anyway then we went...we went by
wheelbarrow from Taiho to Bungbu [sp?] just across this way. And we stopped in
various...stopped at a couple towns...Dr. Anna Pire was traveling with us.
SHUSTER: Anna Perry?
OWEN: Annie Pire. P-i-r-e. She's British. And she was happ...she happened to be on furlough
the same time we were. And we all met at Taiho and then we went together. And...the... (What
was I going to say now?) [pauses] The...we got...we went through one area coming to a fairly
good market town and out in the field we saw hundreds of Kuomintang soldiers
marching...drilling. But it was in the field. I mean, I couldn't have described which it was. But
we got to this town and we passed it and the to the next town. And the Japanese, of course,
interrogated us. And they said "How many soldiers did you see in the town?" And I said, "We
didn't see any." I said, "Maybe one or two but that's all." We didn't tell them...they didn't ask
us in the country. The said "how many did you see in the town." I'm afraid I was very awkward.
I gave him clear answers but as much confusing as....[Owen chuckles].
SHUSTER: Your sympathies were with the Chinese?
OWEN: Very much so. Very much so. Because I had seen enough of them by that time. You
know in Kaifung and in various places so I was.... We got...we went from...we went to...we went
up by river. The [Vincent and Margarett] Crossetts came before we left. In late November.
We'd been...I guess we'd been there just a little over a year and two months, not really a year and
SHUSTER: So this is about November '41?
OWEN: Yes, '41.
SHUSTER: So you left just before Pearl Harbor?
OWEN: No, I guess...I guess we there...we went...it was almost two years. I didn't realize that.
No, this was in '40, because we sailed in '41.
SHUSTER: Oh, okay.
OWEN: Yes and this was in December or November of '40. We'd been there just a little over a
year when the Cosse...Crossetts took over from us. And then we went up river because that was
the easiest way to travel (that time the river was high enough) to Taiho to stay a day or two with
my former bridesmaid Mabel Williamson who was there. And then we met Anna Pire there. She
came up Honan and we went....Don't let me take too long.
SHUSTER: No, no, no, no. Go ahead.
OWEN: And then she...we took this thing...and that's when I saw these soldiers and that's when
we draw the map of the thing. So we got to Bungbu [?] and got tickets to go down to Shanghai
on the train. And we were assigned to a car full of Japanese soldiers. There was no place to sit.
Nobody stood up. We sat on our baggage in the aisles. And they...if they could have
dis...displayed their contempt anymore they would have. I mean, it was a very difficult journey
SHUSTER: How long did you have to ride with them?
OWEN: About fourteen hours I think it is. It was a long time. And, anyway, we got down to
Shanghai and, of course, there we were in our own mission home and well treated and all. But
we had...there was...that's when sailing was so difficult, you see. And we had to wait until well
into Mar...we came down I guess...no we had Christmas in Taiho. It was after Christmas we left.
We had Christmas in Taiho and then we went down. So we had to wait about a month and a
half in....And they kept Harry busy right away. They needed him in the accounting and in the
SHUSTER: The mission did?
OWEN: The mission did. So when anybody came down.... And I....
SHUSTER: Did they have assignments for you?
OWEN: No...no. We were just there. When you come down to Taiho...to Shanghai, if you were
free they grabbed you. I did loads of shopping for somebody you know. Anybody that was able
bodied got out and that had Chinese [language], you know. So we...we put in useful time there.
Although it was just here...a bit...you know...a bit and pieces...not an appointment [?]. And then
we sailed. And on that some shape ship there were at least four other of my fellow missionaries
that I'd been with in language school.
OWEN: It was very nice.
SHUSTER: The same class.
OWEN: Same class. And we were all, of course, had been out seven and a half years. So that's
why we were all...we really due to come home. So we came home to California to my folks and
it was wonderful. And then we had a month with my folks and we went East [east coast of the
United States] to Harry's folks. And meanwhile we bought round trip tickets from Los Angeles
to Montreal back to San Francisco. So that we could ship our....
SHUSTER: You were going by train?
OWEN: Yes, we were going by train.
OWEN: And we bought...so...everything was train then. And then we bought these tickets to
San Francisco to the point of sailing because we expected to sail the next March back to China.
SHUSTER: March of '42.
OWEN: '42. And, of course, in the middle of '42 was Pearl Harbor.
SHUSTER: ...of '41.
OWEN: I mean it was '41 to '42. Well, we went back to....
SHUSTER: Do you recall where you were when you heard about Pearl Harbor?
OWEN: Oh yes.
SHUSTER: Where was that?
OWEN: Very much so. I was at my dinner...Sunday dinner table. And we'd just come from
SHUSTER: This was with your family?
OWEN: My family. And they...and meanwhile I had come...I'd had such a short time with my
family. We'd been in the East you see from April until December...until November in the....
SHUSTER: On deputation work.
OWEN: Yes, oh yes. We were sent all around. All around the East. My husband was a very
good speaker. And we both talked a lot. And we had real good leaders. Dr. Isaac Page. Bishop
Houghton was with us. The...a whole team of us went through the whole Canadian...it was a
whole Canadian tour. We took that in September and October. And...but the thing was I'd had
so little time with my family, Harry said "You"...he...he still had meetings scheduled for
Winnipeg and where was the next place...Minnesota, Minneapolis. He had big conferences and I
wasn't any part of them. And he said "If you don't go and see your folks you won't have any
time with them at all." Because we thought we were sailing in March. So I had gone home via
Texas to see my aunt and my sister who was there then. And on home to...to the L.A. And
meanwhile he took a big conference in Minneapolis which he backed...backed twice. After that
they had him back later. And then to Winnipeg and then he went to Vancouver. And he was in
Vancouver when Pearl Harbor struck. And I was in Los Angeles and I thought "Oh, I wonder if
he'll get home." You know how you feel in those days. But we were all just absolutely stunned
when we...when Pearl Harbor...it just was...I mean it was just unbelievable. I think the whole
world just couldn't believe that the Japanese could do so much damage. We didn't ever think of
them as that important then. But anyway...
SHUSTER: Was there any fear of California? Was anybody afraid of California might be...?
OWEN: There were a few people that....I wasn't. I don't...I mean...I had seen to much of the
Orient to know...
SHUSTER: You know the distances involved.
OWEN: Yes and I knew that and a lot of them didn't. There was a Japanese submarine that
close enough to Japan to lob some shells into the...California. But they didn't do any harm. And
they were immediately chased off by some...some kind of gunboats or whatever. So...so then I
began a very full schedule of meetings in California. And...But before...before that Harry got
home before Christmas. I was so glad. He came down about three or four days later. Still while
it was...and the whole city of Los Angeles was blacked out. And we had to drive from Santa
Anna into Los Angeles to meet him at the..at the airport...or the railroad. He came down by train.
And then to get back in the dark, it was.... You weren't suppose to put your headlights...your
main headlights on, just your fog lights. Well, that was not very easy driving. But, anyway, we
had a wonderful Christmas. It was the first Christmas tree that my husband had ever had. They
never had...his folks didn't do much. They give you a real nice Christmas present but it was...but
my family did everything you know. So anyway...
SHUSTER: So you were in then...you were in the U.S. from or you were at least in North
America from '42 through '46?
OWEN: To '47.
SHUSTER: To '47. What were you doing with the mission in the U.S.?
OWEN: Well, we thought we were going to take a church because we couldn't go back. The
mission says, "We have other plans for you. We want you to take charge of the southwest
district. Be a regional director. And the mission home."
SHUSTER: What did the southwest district comprise?
OWEN: California, Texas, U...Nevada.
SHUSTER: California and Texas that's quite the largest....
OWEN: I know and Arizona. He had...we had contacts in all of those places. Oregon was the
northwest. Oregon. But we had all of California. And Harry traveled a whole lot over all these
places. And any missionaries from those states were responsible to him. That's the way you
have...work it. But they assign you where...you don't have to go there but they give you some
hints as to where you could have a church that wants you or if they....
SHUSTER: Speak for deputation?
OWEN: Speak for them, yes. And then you handle all the business that comes in and donations
and that sort of thing. And I was very busy of course with the mission home. I was hostess of
the mission home.
SHUSTER: And this was for guests passing through?
OWEN: Yes and because it was in the war we had lots of them. Because they were all coming
out of China by the back door.
OWEN: And landing in Shanghai. One night in...I know exactly the date, November the 18th,
1945...no, '44, beg your pardon. Norman was born in January that year. He was a baby.
Elizabeth was two. Meanwhile we had two children while we were there. And I had gone...since
we had no guests for a wonder (there was just Harry and myself), I was going to a Biola [Bible
Institute of Los Angeles] class reunion in Glendale and left Harry with the two children. I'd
given them supper before I left and all. And during the dinner I was called to the phone. And I
never paid for my dinner, because I never...I left. But anyway I knew nobody knew I was there
but Harry so I thought the children "Oh, dear! Something has happened to the children!" So I
went to phone and I said...and Harry said...I said "Harry what's wrong?" He said "Dear
seventeen guests have arrived what I do with them?" Saturday night, in [wartime] rationing..... I
said "Just tell me who they are." The senior [A.] Moores. The senior [W. E.] Tylers. The [J. E.]
Hoivaags. The [G. R.] Gustafsons with one child. The [G. M.] Steeds with two children. The
Andersons with no children and a single lady who I've forgotten because I didn't know it. I said
"Well, get Mrs. Cuspison [sp?] (a neighbor lady who was also a missionary from Japan) to come
over and make tea. Go down in the cellar and get lots of canned fruit. Give them bread and
butter and fruit and tea, and I'll get home as soon as I can. And I slid out and on my way home I
was mentally putting them in beds. It was all worked out except one. I put the single lady in
with our single secretary. But she weighed about two hundred pounds. [Shuster chuckles] And
when we saw her Cathy said...the secretary says "I'll sleep on the couch." [both chuckle]. But I
think that was the most startling. And the next morning happened to be my birthday that's how I
remembered the date. And I got up and made six packages of pudding all at once. Very big
thing. I had exactly two pounds of breast of lamb for dinner for the next day. That's all I had.
That's rationing and they had no ration books. But they had been on troop ships and they'd had
lots of meat. And I brought box of Jonathan apples which they hadn't seen in all.... And I
bought lots of lettuce and I bought plenty of bread and I got margarine because butter was
rationed. But I had plenty of margarine. And we had lots of canned fruit. And they were...they
were perfectly happy. None of them minded at all.
SHUSTER: Of course, the mission...mission house was obviously large enough to hold
OWEN: Well, we had three houses...we had three houses at the mission home. There was a
center house which had the...which our family occupied because we had two children and
ourselves. And then there was a cottage, Livingstone Cottage we called it. It was named for
David Livingstone. Had three bedrooms and a living...a small living room that had a hide-a-bed
in it. And so the Tyler's being the oldest couple, I gave them the best and then the Moore's the
next and the Gustafsons so I put them in a room where we could put a baby bed. And the
Hoivaags (who were associate mission but we were glad to have them), we gave them a day bed
in the...in the little living room. And there was a little...there was...but the thing was, I think of it
now, one bathroom for all those people. I don't know how they got along. But I didn't...I
didn't...we gave them all plenty of towels but they must have taken their turns.
SHUSTER: And they had just come from...
OWEN: Through the back door.
SHUSTER: The mission didn't know they were coming?
OWEN: No they wou...see, they came on a troop ship.
SHUSTER: But I mean when they left India, I mean, didn't there...wasn't there some kind of
communication with the mission?
OWEN: No they wouldn't let any...it was...they were on a troop ship and it was...so they just had
to arrive. And when they got to the port and Red Cross, they said, "Where you want to go?"
They said "We'll take you there." They didn't even call us. They didn't even telephone us.
Sometimes they'd telephone us. But this time...they didn't even...it was...I guess it was late. It
must have been five o'clock or so you see. So when I came in they were all sitting around.
They'd all eaten. But they were just wondering how I...because Harry didn't know where to put
em. And I said "Oh we're so glad to see you." And Mrs. Moore, the oldest one, broke... "Are
you really glad to see us?" I said "We've been praying for you safety. We didn't know where
you were but we've praying for you coming out." And she said "Oh I'm so glad to be home."
They'd had to stay in various mission homes in India you know here and there. People had taken
them in. But you know, "More people!"
SHUSTER: Yeah, sure.
OWEN: And you felt you were in the way all the time and to be....
SHUSTER: Now you mentioned that there was a missions secretary. How many other staff
were there? Were there other staff?
OWEN: Yes there was an eld...but the missions secretary lived there. She had the room down in
the basement. We had another room. But there was only one other staff and that was an elderly
retired...she had retired twice already but she was still...she was...but she was tremendous help
in...in looking after the linen and doing accounts. She was Ms. Mary Braaten [sp?].
SHUSTER: So just basically though that was the only help you had?
OWEN: That was all the help we had, yes.
SHUSTER: For all of administrating that large area. And did you also interview prospective
OWEN: Yes, oh yes. One of them we inspected was Dr. Arthur Glasser.
SHUSTER: Oh, yes. Sure.
OWEN: And they became our junior missionaries.
SHUSTER: That when you went to China?
OWEN: When we went to China, they were assigned to us. Oh that was a real joy. No, we
had...and they had came to us and Harry had inspected I don't know how many missionaries. But
we had inspected one couple. And I...they...Harry came in...it was a couple who he asked me to
come in and talk too. And they were going out with two babies and all and they weren't
going...they wer going to live right among the people. They were going to just buy...buy
diap...buy paper diapers and do the.... And I said "But you can't buy them there, you know."
And, anyway, they decided it sounded too, discouraging going to China. So they went to Africa
instead. The [Nathan and Doris] Barlows . [Shuster chuckles]. They went with SIM [Sudan
Interior Mission]. And then she died several years ago after...I think they had four children. And
then he just recently at the age of eighty married a Gospel Recordings missionary, Vonna Biddle.
SHUSTER: Huh. Well, it sounds like so...did...was that usually the case that you had people
arriving without notice?
OWEN: Very seldom. Very seldom. Once in a while there would be we'd be...as I said they
usually called us from...from the...from the boat...from the shore, when they got there. They'd
call us and say "we've got missionaries can we bring em?" We'd say "Yes. Bring em ahead."
We'd have...we'd never have that big a group, anyway. Every time it'd be four maybe or five
and maybe six or seven I think one time. I've forgotten just how many. That one stayed in my
mind because of the date, because of the circumstances. And also they...the mission usually let
us know when they were leaving, you know, when they were leaving China. But you see if you
were going to...if they're suddenly put on a troop ship the mission didn't even know where they
were. The mission just knew they were some where. But where? And you...the secrecy was so
tight. See this was right in the mi...just as when the war was heating up terribly. '44. And the
next year, it was over, you see. And it was at the very tensest time. And so they came...Oh, in
'45 several people arrived but among them Bert and Winnie Kane. And when they came in, Oh I
was so glad to see them. I hugged Bert. That was the day before hugging was the style but it was
just so good to see them because they had been my junior missionaries in...in Fowyang.
SHUSTER: Now when did you start planning to go back to China.?
OWEN: Well, then after we...after the...the..the Japanese war was over in '45. And they would
let men go back then, but no women yet. And meanwhile there was no one to take our place.
We were...I mean we had....
SHUSTER: In Los Angeles?
OWEN: In Los Angeles. [Coughs] And then in the middle of '46 the mission said "If you
want..." Oh, the mission then said to us "Would you like to stay on? Or would you want to go
SHUSTER: In Los Angeles?
OWEN: In Los Angeles. We loved it but we...we both were mission minded. We both had...we
were.... For one thing, we were both senior missionaries. We both had our exams off. We had
the language. Also our children were too small for school to be a factor. They were just two and
four. Just little. And so there was no bother about school. A lot.... Now, the ones who took our
place they had three teenagers. And there was no school for them.
SHUSTER: The ones who took your place in Los Angeles?
OWEN: In Los Angeles. The Waltons. Lois...Nathan and Lois Walton took over from us.
SHUSTER: We have their papers in the Archives. [Small Collection 84]
OWEN: Yes. Uh-huh. Well, anyway their youngest daughter is the same age as my
daughter...my only daughter. And they were friends together when they were children...when we
were...when we were in Los Angeles...when we were in Santa Anna later on and they were in Los
Angeles. But...so we said we wanted to go back. So we...the mission said "fine." And so...but
she said you know you need about six months to get, you know, get...get your things together and
tell people goodbye and farewell meetings and that sort of thing. So we left just before
Christmas 1946 and went to Santa Anna, my mother's home. And stayed with her until March of
SHUSTER: And how long did it take you reach...now did you dock in Shanghai again?
SHUSTER: I guess first you went to Japan and then to Shanghai?
OWEN: Yes. Then Shanghai on a...on a ship. And it was very...a troop ship. And Harry was
with me and thirty-six other people in one room. And I had brought two children with me in the
room with about twenty-two women.
OWEN: And I'm not a good sailor. I'm sea sick nearly all the time. And it was very rough
voyage all together. And when we got to Shanghai they flew us into Kunming. Because this
SHUSTER: Going to Yunnan?
OWEN: Yeah Yunnan. They would go to Harry's place. This was back to there.
SHUSTER: The mission had the airplanes or had the?
OWEN: No there was commercial planes going in. You could get in in this...I don't
know...what was the...the C.N....the China National Airports or something...I don't know which
planes they were...but anyway we flew in. You've got go.
SHUSTER: This might be...well, I was wondering I mean we've been talking for two hours.
This might be a good point to stop?
OWEN: That's fine. Anywhere. It's your time more than mine.
SHUSTER: No I just don't want to make it too long for you today.
OWEN: Well, I...where are you going from...you're going to York now?
END OF TAPE