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July 2010: 100 Years Ago -
The Paper Trail of a Missionary's Life

Photo Album: Davis, Elwood - I
Group of AIM missionaries at the station at Machakos, Kenya in 1911. Elwood and Bernice Davis are in the first row, seated , on the left.
Photo Album: Davis, Elwood - I.

1910 was an important year for Elwood Davis and Bernice Charity Conger. They were married in Scranton, Pennsylvania by Charles Hurlburt,
general director of Africa Inland Mission. Then Elwood and Bernice (a newly graduated medical doctor and nurse respectively) sailed to Africa before the month was out, arriving in the British colony of Kenya in early January. They proceeded to Machkos, Kenya. There they began several decades of service to the African church that would include construction, church planting, medicine, education, Bible translation and administration.

On this page are documents from the Archives that tell a little bit of the story, unique in some ways but also typical of the hundreds of 20th century American missionary stories in our holdings. The rest of the documents that the BGC Archives has about Elwood and Bernice can be found in Collection 452 and Collection 81.
Collection 452, Box 1, Folder 2

Collection 452, Box 1, Folder 2

"Saturday. Cold, frequent snow flurries (Scranton) Married at last.
Ceremony began promptly at twelve, performed by Rev. Chas. E. Hurlburt.
Informal talks by Mr. Hurlburt, Dr. Child + Mr. Armstrong. About 50 present.
Everything went off smoothly + I stood it well. Now a married man with a jewel
of a wife. May God ever be with us."

Above, the entry in Elwood Davis' 5 year diary. This is the only entry
in the entire volume in red ink. Collection 452, Box 1, Folder 2.

Below, the wedding license. Collection 452, Box 2, Folder 6.


Click on the icon link above to go to Elwood registration from that he had to fill out with the American consul in Nairobi, Kenya as an American resident in Kenya. 1916.
Collection 452, Box 2, Folder 6.

Click on the icon link above to see the Davis's 1920 passport, signed by the then American Secretary of State, Robert Lansing. The passport by then included their two sons, Linnell & Phillip.
Collection 452, Box 2, Folder 6.

Above is the cover of Bernice's photo album. Below are some pages from it, dating from ca. 1911-1913. Captions in quotes beneath photos are from Bernice, captions in brackets are from the archivist. The album was probably used by the couple on their first furlough back to the United States, to help their supporters picture the family's life in Africa at AIM's Machkos station in Kenya.
Photo Album: Davis, Elwood - I

"Just a little corner of our African Home"

"Distant view of the 'Big Tree' Chapel, the Johnston's house and our house"

[This probably refers to June 22, 1911, the Coronation Day
of the new King of England, George V.]

[Elwood and Bernice with their first son, Linnell. Ca. 1913]

"This is one way of traveling 20 mi. from Kapiti plains station to Machakos. This happens to be Mr. Gribble, Miss Newman going to Mboni via Machakos and Rev. and Mrs. Westervelt coming to visit us. Taken July 1911. If you prefer, you can come on a mule or a bicycle."


Below, Elwood's obituary, as it appeared in 1962 in the AIM's periodical, Inland Africa.
He was then living in the AIM's retirement home in Media, Florida, USA.
Collection 452, Box 2, Folder 6

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Last Revised: 07/01/10
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