"Adventuring with Anatolia College"
- Introduction [5/20/95]
- I "OTTOMAN ANATOLIA" (1890-1908)
- II "NEOTURKISH ANATOLIA" (1908-1921)
- III "GREEK ANATOLIA" (1923-1931)
- Comments on parts I and II [4/17/95]
- Epilogue [5/23/95]
- November 1917 NYT article [3/23/01]
- If you wish to download the entire series in three parts, please click on I , II and III , respectively.
1: From New York to Merzifon (1890)Edit
We sailed from New York on the Scotch steamer Furnessia, October 11, caught glimpses of Glasgow with its shipbuilding on the Clyde, of aristocratic Edinburgh with its famous university, and of mighty London and the perennially friendly and generous Bible Lands Missions Aid Society. A visit to Parliament, where we saw the statue of John Selden, an alleged ancestor, in the hallway, almost made us feel as if we owned the place, and certainly prepared us to reciprocate the friendliness and cooperation of British friends and officials during succeeding years. We crossed the continent by trains with no sleeping car and made initial acquaintance with cosmopolitan Constantinople, then and naturally, the capital of the Near-eastern world, and we were especially glad to meet the hospitable Americans at the Bible House and at Robert College. Then came the small Russian steamer, Rostoff, with its characteristic crowd of deck passengers: Armenian rug merchants, Persians with their samovars and tea parties, muscular Kurdish porters, Turkish hucksters, Greek colonizers, Caucasian mountaineers with their daggers and cartridge bandoliers, and stalwart Russians commanding and respected by all.
So we reached Samsoun, and after some pushing through the slow moving Custom House and through other formalities on a Friday morning packed ourselves and our belongings into small, springless, seatless carts, quite like pocket editions of the covered wagons familiar to us on our western prairies. After bumping over rough, stone-paved roads till nightfall and far beyond, we met our first experience of an Oriental khan at Cavak. Before noon the next day at Cavsa, famous from classic times for its therapeutic hot spring, a group of thirteen young men met us. They were the senior class of the College, and as we shook hands with "our students", and heard the address given by J. P. Xenides, (later Professor) and Kevork Chakarian (later Reverend), we began to feel "at home". Soon some of the Americans came galloping up, followed at intervals by crowds on foot or with miscellaneous conveyances, all with a hearty welcome for the new-comers. The approach to the city resembled the approach to Jerusalem over the Mt. of Olives, and just where the cavalcade emerged from among 5,000 vineyards and orchards, the city lay spread out to view westward across "the brook". There a halt was called, introductions and cordial
2: The college and the town (1890)Edit
Within the enclosure were the Theological Seminary, College and Girls' School, about two hundred pupils in all. At the highest point in the premises was located the square, white-plastered, two story structure with basement below and small bell-tower above, originally erected in 1871 at a cost of Ltq. 400, or $1,760, for the Theological Seminary. This building was the authorized cradle of the College. The Girls' School was on lower ground as befitted a land at the stage of the veil and the harem. There were three American houses, part of one of which was assigned to us; a bakery already famous for its good bread; and a small self-help shop, where students could earn manhood and money and learn at the same time to keep their whiskers out of the machinery. Naturally there were spaces for games and sports, though some sedate seniors thought such amusements too frivolous for their dignity; a pleasant garden with trees and flowers; and a stable with a pair of horses and one cow. There were about 2,000 books in the Library, chiefly on theological and directly religious subjects. One of the prizes offered annually at Commencement by a native pastor was a volume of printed sermons. There were some home-made instruments and apparatus for use in the study of Physics. We were told that funds for endowment amounted to $13,433, not wholly bad for a four-year-old in far-away Turkey.
Outside of the compound, the city was primitive indeed in that remote bourne of time and space: houses and walls built generally of sun-dried brick, adobe as in the days of the Hittites; streets so narrow that I have seen a cat cross a street by jumping from roof to roof; streets sloping and draining to the middle, and between rains often clogged with garbage of every kind including the blood and refuse of butcher meat and fowls. Respectable citizens were expected ordinarily to be housed for the night by sunset and none went out later except in groups carrying oiled paper lanterns. Christian people certainly occupied Marsovan before the Turks appeared on the scene. The whole region was included in the "Armenaic Theme" of which Amasia was the capital during Byzantine Empire days, and the first Americans adopted the Christian pronunciation of the city's name. We all were familiar with the great stone wall and iron gates that enclosed the highest ground within the city as an acropolis, and within it were located the large Armenian Church and school buildings. "Unwarlike Armenians" never could have secured such a foothold after the Turks were in control. An old Turkish bath in the city was built with buttresses of evident Byzantine Church architecture, was known as St. Barbara's Church, and was authorized and used for Greek worship every year on "St. Barbara's Day".
3: The local people (1891)Edit
But as we became acquainted we found the people, whether Christian or Turkish, prevailingly of a friendly, kindly, progressive type, as is often the case with simple-minded people in times of peace. I always liked the common Turkish people unless they were stirred to passion by militarists. The fields and villages of the plain were almost entirely in the possession of the Turks, though there were a few Kurds and Circassians, while nearly half of our fellow towns-people were commercial and industrial Armenians. There were also some Greeks in the city, and great numbers dwelling among the mountains round about, whither they had been driven by the invading Turks of earlier generations to seek safety.
There was not a foot of railroad nearer than Constantinople. Mail came usually once a week, after the censor had kept what he wanted. Not a single newspaper had ever been printed in the city or in our section of Turkey. It was a day of small things, crude beginnings and a few great expectations, but was all under the suspicious and repressive officialdom of Sultan Abdul Hamid.
In the College two classes were called preparatory, while four bore the ordinary college class names. The schools from which our students came did not carry them far. When Americans first came to Turkey, hardly any vernacular was taught anywhere. Instruction was in classic tongues and religious lore. But our students for the most part came with a purpose in modern life. They wanted to attain a worth-while and useful manhood and they felt that the College could give them a start.
One student told me in after years that when he came to Marsovan he was really illiterate, that is, he could not fairly read his native tongue, or any other. But he had no chance of learning more in his native village. For a number of months he was cow-boy for an American family, and eagerly studying too. Then a year or two in the lowest classes helped him toward really a creditable manhood. Dartmouth and Williams and other American colleges may boast some fairly parallel examples in their early years.
4: Learning Turkish (1891)Edit
But the main task confronting us at first was to acquire a working knowledge of the Turkish language. I was glad that it was Turkish, the one general language of the government and the people, whereas our predecessors had of necessity stressed the Armenian and the Greek. Turkish was a noble tongue as we were taught it in those days, though it seemed as hard for Anglo-Saxons as both German and French. Like other Turanian tongues Turkish is agglutinative in structure. That is, various meanings are carried each by a single syllable or short word, and these are compounded in lengthened words, where our American and European speech would make separate words of the several parts. For instance, the phrase because-I-shall-not-be-able-to-come was expressed in one Turkish word of seven syllables. It was fine for telegrams, but with the difficulty that writing or reading the Arabo-Turkish of those days was essentially writing or reading rebusses, and positive and negative were often confused! The lack of relative pronouns and the use in their place of a vast and intricate system of gerunds was quite baffling to some foreigners. The phrase he (or she or it)-struck-my-heres included an adverb, used as a substantive, in the plural number, with possessive suffix, and in the dative case. But the Turkish grammar was more astonishingly regular than any other I ever studied; and I learned to enjoy the language very much and to feel measurably at home in it. I estimated in time at 14,000 the number of the verb forms that I knew and could use readily, but that seemed a possible exaggeration until I found someone else reckoning 17,000 as his range.
I never acquired the width of vocabulary, the diction and idiom of my native English, but could address or meet any group or individual up to generals, pashas and prime ministers, any ordinary audience in church or school, reasonably sure of communicating any message I had to offer, or of receiving any information offered me. I sometimes would use Turkish in my personal prayer as better suiting my mental mood than English, say at the end of a tense day or evening with some public church service, or discussion of some knotty problem with a committee or other group. Still I never mastered my Turkish with its confusing Arabic script so thoroughly as to undertake a second missionary language. I did venture to undertake preaching my first sermon in Turkish in the Marsovan Church in November 1891, a year after we reached the country. My text--was, "Beloved now are we the Sons of God," etc., a verse used as a theme of a Moody hymn."
5: Mountain life (1892)Edit
"The common people of the country lived in deep poverty and often in great fear. Dinner one Sunday evening in a mountain village home comes vividly to mind. It had been a heart-warming day with those dear and simple friends of the congregation with whom we celebrated the Lord's supper, and we were invited to the leading deacon's home for the evening meal. It was a log house with just one large room over the barn and stable where they stored their tools, animals, and supplies. There was a fire smoldering on a broad hearth or fireplace consisting of flat stones in the center of the room. It was the custom for the family to sleep at night flat on the floor, with or without bedding, ringed around the heated stones and embers, with their feet toward the fire. Some, but by no means all, of the smoke escaped by a huge, square hood or chimney rising toward and above the roof. The table was about a foot high, round, and a yard or so across. We sat cross-legged on the floor and had to sit close to make room for all, with our right shoulder toward the table whereon were just three articles of food. The staple was corn bread, johnny cake, which is good at its best, but in this case was baked of cornmeal very gritty from the mill stones that ground it; half-burned on one side and half-raw on the other; then there was a dish of soured milk, much thinned with water to make it go around, from which we dipped with wooden spoons; and there were green pepper pickles. There was nothing else to eat on the table. And that was the best meal of the week, in one of the best houses of the village, and with guests present whom they wished to treat with their best available hospitality.
Leaving that village one morning I was told in advance that they lived in danger of Georgian neighbors, Mohammedans who had settled in the region as immigrants from Russia. So three of the Armenian young men would escort me beyond the danger line several miles down the mountain side. For the protection of their lives and cattle and property some of their young men were each provided with a Russian rifle which must not be seen by officials for that would involve them in danger with the government, and so we should start in the small hours of the night. My hosts provided me a horse to ride, while my three guards walked, Indian file, one ahead and two behind me. The man ahead wore white cotton pants, but so dark was the night and so dense was the forest through which we threaded our way that I could not even see the white pants moving at my horse's head along those mountain pathways with their frequent precipitous descents and small streams.
Another time I was riding alone with a Circassian, and in the talk of man to man in such companionship, asked him a bit about his occupation and his affairs. "Sometimes I get a traveller to escort, like you", he replied, "and then I take him, but my regular business is smuggling tobacco. Every man in our village has a regular job, some are smugglers, some are farmers, and some are thieves". I asked him about his chance of getting caught, and he promptly said, "There are two kinds of smugglers; one kind gets caught and one kind doesn't get caught", and he added a pious expression of gratitude to the good Lord that he never had been put to shame yet. We knew very well that the mounted police of Anatolia were largely recruited from among the robbers and smugglers of the mountain roads. One of the most effective ways of securing official employment, and who knows what promotion later, was to acquire the reputation of a daring hold-up man on the mountains."
6: Ugly incidents (1893)Edit
January 5, 1893, students returning from Week of Prayer evening meetings in the city church found a placard posted on the College Gate, calling on the Turks to rise and apply the same medicine for the ills of the country that the people of India had employed. That meant to invite the British to assume control of Turkey and was clearly revolutionary and incendiary, though rather mildly put. But the Turks were furious, and charged that these placards, widely posted in Marsovan and the region, emanated from the College. They were printed on a cyclostyle, an instrument rarely found in Turkey. Dr. Herrick and the administration emphatically denied the charge of college complicity and certainly the administration was free from any knowledge of the affair. But two Armenian teachers were arrested, Professor Thoumayan and Mr. Kayayan, and sent to Angora for trial, along with scores of other alleged revolutionists. It was a dark time, trying to our souls. We Americans were strong in the consciousness of freedom from any share in revolution. We were in honor bound to our American government and to the government of Turkey in whose country we were guests. Many persons were imprisoned and there were sad echoes of beatings and torture, of threats and bribes, of alleged revolution and cruel oppression, deceit and violence. College students were in a panic; we Americans, well-nigh helpless. Ultimately our two teachers were released owing to British government pressure but were exiled from the country. Imagine it all!
About midnight February 1, 1893, we were awakened by the cry of fire, and jumped out of bed to find that our new Girls' School was in flames. The building was in process of construction. The frame timbers were completely in place, and so were the workmen's ladders and scaffolding within. Incendiaries had evidently carried tins of kerosene to the top of the building and along the foot walks under the ridgepole to the eaves, pouring kerosene all the way and carrying the stream down the central ladders and then dropped a lighted match and ran. In an instant in the quiet winter night the whole building was on fire from ground to roof, from end to end. Officials were on the ground so quickly as to rouse suspicion. But they immediately charged that the incendiaries were Armenian revolutionists whose aim was to foment trouble in the country. We had no reason to suspect any Armenian, but investigations were conducted by the American Consul from Sivas, and then by an international commission of Turks and Americans from Constantinople and ultimately the Turkish government accepted the responsibility for failure to protect our premises and paid us an indemnity of Ltq. 500, $2,200, estimated to cover the amount of our pecuniary loss. We revised our plans and rebuilt the School.
7: Armenian dissidents, Turkish riots (1893-1895)Edit
To return to the thread of this narrative. Toward the end of the summer of 1893 I was summoned to Samsoun to meet Miss Gage and Miss King, new recruits for our Girls' School. On the road up from the coast we heard rumors of "war" in Marsovan. I was very anxious for my wife and babies in the home nest. It proved that Bekir Pasha had received word one nightfall of the whereabouts of the revolutionary outlaw band. He threw a heavy cordon of soldiers around that section of the city, kindly waited till morning and then ordered the attack. Several insurrectionists were killed, others captured and imprisoned, and the band was broken up.
Armenians of more substantial character and reliable judgement were relieved to have the hidden band of outlaws broken up. They disliked assassination in the streets of the city. They disliked paying levies of money to irresponsible parties. They distrusted the leadership of nihilists and atheists. They resented dictation from a remote clique of agitators living comfortably in Paris or Athens, provoking terribly dangerous hostility from the Turks but keeping themselves out of harm's way. The more level headed Armenians realized that the Turks controlled the government, the post and telegraph, the army and all military supplies; they represented preponderating numbers among the congeries of nationalities in the country. The Armenians hoped for justice and for the promised help from the concert of Europe if they were only patient, and yet patient, and still patient.
No one who was in the College in 1895 could ever forget the thrills of restrained excitement with which announcement in October was received from Turkish and American officials that His Majesty had granted the Reforms demanded in the Six Eastern "Villayets" of Asia Minor, Erzroum, Van, Bitlis, Trebizond, Harpout and Sivas. We in Marsovan were located in the province of Sivas,--and November 15 was a Black Friday. The city officials suspended animation from the noon call to prayer till about 4 o'clock. Meantime, about 70 Armenians were killed and all the Armenian shops were picked clean of their contents by the mob. Shots were fired into our premises, but no blood was shed within our walls. Teachers and students crowded into our American houses for protection. And ours was but one experience in a wave that rolled across Asia Minor and cost the lives of about 70,000 Armenian people. We must draw a veil of tenderness over those events and turn our eyes away.
8: After the storm (1896)Edit
Our little city had 2,000 or more looms, weaving cheap gingham cloth out of cotton thread from Manchester. When the storm of November 15th, 1895, broke, every loom in the city perforce came to a sudden standstill; and every Armenian merchant stopped importing thread. Knowledge of the facts in the world outside brought some funds for relief from Europe and America. But if available resources were given out in doles, the end would soon be reached with nothing abiding as a result. So we formed the plan of relief work and managed to employ many of the women in the habit of weaving or bobbin winding, practically every one the bread-winner for a large family. It naturally fell to the treasurer largely to handle this business, especially the sales, and in two years we produced 150,000 yards of gingham and a quantity of Turkish towels, sold all on the common market, recovering capital invested at every turnover and eventually reducing and then closing the business, distributing the funds in direct relief and leaving the gradually recovering manufacturers to carry on again.
One feature of the aftermath was the establishment of two orphan homes for boys and for girls and the gathering up for shelter, food, and care of 150 orphan children under the special charge of Mrs. Tracy, who was kind of heart and strict in requirements. It was a touching sight, those bereaved children.
Establishment of the Home for Younger Boys, between 12 and 15 years of age, in 1894, was a marked event. It was clearly recognized that they needed different arrangements and a different routine from those of the older students. When the girls moved to their new and better building, the old quarters of the Girls' School were available for the younger boys and Mrs. Edward Riggs, who had mothered her own boys, took charge of the new Home. A few years later she was succeeded by Mrs. Smith, and then Mr. and Mrs. Getchell jointly became superintendents for twelve memorable years.
9: Understanding Islam (1890's)Edit
A very suggestive point in their creed and practice was that "God Almighty never requires anything of man *the doing of which is hard*". Several commandments of the decalogue are shattered by that comforting *alibi*, and the second great command of Jesus goes glimmering. Sociology and secular law may rise above religious precepts or permission. The fact is our Moslem neighbors were really in theory fatalists. Of such events as bloodshed and pillage they said "it was impossible to prevent them for they were all written in the stars ages ago". But a fatalist has no clear ground for distinguishing between right and wrong and for the action of conscience; no real basis for moral judgements and awards.
By degrees I became quite at home in mosques, which I visited, always with feelings of real reverence, and always meeting a friendly welcome. The preachers would habitually discuss their sermons with me in talks before or after preaching, and I came to understand the language used essentially as well as English. One day a friendly caller asked me to explain the Christian theory of the divinity of Jesus, saying courteously his object was not to make me deny his divinity, but if possible for me to make him confess that divinity. Their thought of the Son of God was habitually sensual and unworthy of the Supreme Being, as their thought of human life and conduct was low and unworthy of children of God. The Apostle John said, "he that hath not the Son hath not the Father".
Mosque worship was always highly, absorbingly impressive. A thousand men (no women) standing shoulder to shoulder, breast to back, in solid phalanx, the voice of the *muezzin* rings out,--all are erect; again the voice, every man on his knees with his forehead touching the floor; another call, and again the erect position. Mosque ceremonies always seemed to me very real worship and in my place I shared as truly as I could do. I studied the first Sura of the Koran carefully and could use it in English as a prayer of my own, but I never reached a point where a Mohammedan would authorize me to use it in my worship. Translation into Turkish was taboo.
10: Anatolian Archaeology (1890's)Edit
A wealth of archaeological lore lay scattered over and within the soil of our College field, much of it only half suspected, and now we came to the organization of an Archaeological Club. Some old castles partly or often wholly in ruins might be encountered on a ride of a few miles in almost any direction. Several capital cities were not far away. Our earlier Americans never had heard the word Hittite used of Asia Minor, and knowledge of that great people and their great empires was only just beginning to struggle into the consciousness of savants, but evidence of their presence among our mountains, valleys and plains was beginning to be realized. A party of us once rode through a village where we found a magnificent Hittite lion, Roman milestones, Byzantine Greek Christian tombstones, where the villagers were Shia or heretic Turks. Thus, these old stones and living people represented four different types of race, religion, language and culture of every kind, living at intervals about a thousand years apart. We grew accustomed to picking up and comparing the painted pottery which lay abundantly around old city or fortress sites, artificial mounds, hidden sanctuaries, and like places. And our children grew adept at finding and picking up fragments of cuneiform script, usually Hittite. We established relations with the British Museum and some other centers of learning where any artefact, inscription even if fragmentary, or other object of archaeological interest was welcomed if we sent it, and with such information as could be furnished us by specialists in return.
So came to be founded our Anatolia Archaeological Club. In general the mature members of our community enrolled as active members, many of the more mature students were welcomed as associates and we secured several distinguished archaeologists as honorary members. Meetings were quarterly, rather informal, and decidedly interesting. By bringing our information to a common fund and all drawing from that fund, we learned to watch for objects of interest on journeys or during vacations, wherever spent, to report to the Club. Small fees during the course of a few years provided quite a library of useful and entertaining books and periodicals. Journals, scientific or popular, usually were glad to publish information supplied to them. Our field was new, there was a wealth of discovery and varied information to work upon and report to our home-land or European centers.
11: Turkish introspection (c. 1900)Edit
Our Turkish friends during these times were rather confused and unhappy. Business, trade, was developing. There were more travel, talk, education, and all that, but there was much perplexity and some doubt. One day as I was riding with a Turkish wagon driver he turned to me and said, "When a European king wishes to be crowned, he must first get permission from our Sultan and then he may be crowned; is not that the way?" Before I could quite frame a reply that would be neither impolite nor untrue he answered his own question, "Yes, of course that's the way. When a European king wants to be crowned, he must first get permission from our Sultan and then he may be crowned". That represents the old belief of Islam, with its Koran, tribute or sword alternative, but in these modern days there began to be doubt, and doubts are painful as well as confusing.
The Mufti and I often exchanged calls and we discussed freely any subject of common interest. One day in a burst of confidence he exclaimed, "You see how things are going in our unhappy country. There is no fear of God, no worshipper in the mosques; during Ramazan, people who fast by day eat so much by night that they are fatter at the end of the month than they were at the beginning of the fast; nothing anywhere but worldliness, self-seeking and vice. The fact is we will get no real settlement for our unsettled and unhappy condition until we bring in the English and set them up as they are in Egypt. I've been in Egypt and seen things and I know. We were on the pilgrimage to Mecca, and there was quarantine because there was an epidemic of cholera. About 20,000 of us pilgrims were put ashore, and all our baggage was piled in one great pile. It was guarded by just one British soldier, and he looked half-asleep, and there wasn't a thing stolen; but if it had been guarded by a whole regiment of our soldiers there wouldn't have been a thing left. The British don't interfere with a man's religion or his private life either and they provide work for everybody". Of course my caller might be regarded as a spy, but I knew my friend too well to harbor such suspicions of him.
There were officials and citizens of a different type, for example Hadji Hamdi Effendi of Gumush. A go-between came to him one day from the clique of his central town and seat of government and said, "They're cutting up a little melon over at headquarters, Hadji Hamdi Effendi, and they reckon your share at about $100. Come on over and get it". But the upright old man, not an official, but a highly respected and very influential citizen, indignantly poured out his wrath at being approached with any such proposition and refused to have anything with it. "What's the matter", asked the messenger; "aren't you satisfied with the amount? If not, we could probably make it more". I pitied the Turks and pitied most of all the really good men among them, and at the other extreme, I pitied the very poor who were almost crushed by taxes and exactions, while their ranks were decimated by military service.
One day Tatar Osman Pasha, a keen man with the deep, sad eyes of the Mongol, called at the College, as such officials habitually did when passing through our place. The General, who bore a great reputation for his military ability and was on his way to the European, or Balkan, wing of the Ottoman Empire to suppress some disturbance there, said that Turkey would be better off without the Balkans if they could but recognize facts. Those provinces were not the real Turkey, and the chief tribes and kindred were not kindred of the Turks, but the Turks had conquered that area and could not make up their minds to let it go.
12: Armenian revolutionaries (c. 1900)Edit
One day Dr. Tracy had occasion to be in Amasia, the ranking city, above our Kaimaklik, less than 30 miles away. He was informed that a group of young Armenians desired to meet with him in private. According to their request, he was conducted by secret ways to a hidden chamber where he met the band, headed by a recent graduate of the College and the spokesman. Every man wore the well known headdress of a brigand or revolutionist, was fully armed with good weapons, and wore his bandolier of cartridges. The fine, tall young leader explained to his College President that patriotism was a religious duty and he led in prayer. Then he stated their purpose. The Armenians had lived for generations as bondsmen under the unjust, oppressive, and cruel Turks. They were entitled to relief from such suffering, as was so well known throughout the world that the European powers at the Berlin Conference had promised reform measures. But nothing was done. It seemed necessary for the Armenians themselves to take the lead, to create disturbances by insurrection to show the Europeans that Turks could no longer control or protect the Armenians, or maintain order in the country. They pledged their lives, their all, to the sacred cause. They would shed blood if necessary, and they would not spare their own blood. Then the Europeans would remember the Armenians and their promises in behalf of the Armenians and would come to their help.
The Christian educator was certainly in a difficult position. Wisdom, judgment, inevitable danger, probable failure, counselled peace, order, patience, in spite of some natural sympathy with the oppressed. Dr. Tracy was clear and strong in counsel and as winning as possible in manner. It was not long before the band was broken up and the leader, our alumnus, was slain.
13: A grateful Turk (c. 1902)Edit
Once when the whole country-side was busy with the wheat harvest I was one of three on a ride to a neighboring city, and as we passed a village harvesting and threshing, I asked about someone who had been in our Hospital. The answer came, "You must mean Osman Agha; he's not here today, he's at another village". The next day as we came back, three men stepped into our roadway, laid hold of our bridle reins and said, "You must turn back. You must stop and see us, and accept a little of our refreshment before you proceed on your way". We answered that we were travelers, and must push along on our journey. Then the villager holding my horse stepped forward and said most courteously and earnestly, "I'm Osman Agha. I'm the man you asked for yesterday. I was in your American Hospital. And now if you should pass my village without entering my little house and partaking of my humble hospitality, it would be a lasting shame and disgrace to me." Such an invitation was not to be rejected. We were escorted to the coolest spot, furnished with the best available village carpets and pillows, and while the best meal the place afforded was prepared as quickly as possible (and such fare in its way was almost equal to a Thanksgiving dinner), our host told the listeners about his experiences. He came to the Hospital for relief from a cruel facial cancer, and an operation was prescribed. He was afraid, but when they got ready they laid him on a nice, clean bed and gave him some medicine. He went comfortably to sleep, and when he woke up his operation was all done. He was in the Hospital till the wound healed, and he did not know there could be such a place in the world. There was no quarrelling, fighting, swearing, among the people working there, but everyone was full of kindness, good nature and good will; knew his work and did it day or night on time and just as the doctor ordered. So medicine, food and care were given just as each patient needed, and the whole place was really just like heaven. Then he talked of his personal condition and affairs with a faith and a peace worthy of faithful Abraham. But the facial cancer had not been wholly cured. He said he knew it might come back any time with extreme force, but he and all his interests were in the hands of God and whatever happened it would be all right. We never met again, but I think when the Doctor approaches the gate of Paradise, he will find Osman Agha waiting and watching to welcome him.
14: Anatolian Hellenism (c. 1902)Edit
Another comes to mind, a fatherless Greek youth from Marsovan, whose mother was poor and blind. He used to come to school over the stones of the snowy streets in winter, carrying his one pair of cheap shoes in his hand till he reached the fountain in the College yard, where he would wash his feet in the icy water, put on his shoes for decency, wear them during the day, and then carry them again as he walked barefoot to his house in the evening. Later he was for many years an industrious laborer and an earnest preacher of the gospel.
The Greek community in Marsovan was never large, only a few hundred souls or perhaps a thousand at most. Nor did they represent the upper levels of Greek wealth or learning. Most of them belonged to a clan of miners brought some generations earlier from the miners of the Trebizond mountains to work the silver mines of Gumush Maden at the upper end of our plain. Some digging and smelting continued to our day, but it gradually ceased to be profitable and some families of miners whose ancestors were virtually serfs at first started to seek work and bread in other places. But the Greek people had in Athens one of the world's proud historic capitals, though dilapidated then by foreign domination. They had a Greek country, though rather distant and inaccessible for the peasant stock of Asia Minor. Above all they were the chief keepers of the Byzantine heritage and the priceless treasures of the Greek Orthodox Church, though wars and oppression had almost crushed the semblance of life in some places. In ancient and ruined graveyards, it was touching to read such Christian epitaphs a thousand years old as, "Here lies the servant of God, Daniel"; "Here lies the deaconess, Maria", in regions where there were no present day Christians.
The Greek priest of our town was a kind-hearted, warm- hearted Christian man and we became good friends. For quite a time he was a familiar figure on our premises as he came to attend such Theological lessons as he could find conducted in Turkish, the only language he really knew, though, of course, he read the liturgy and conducted the church services in Greek. The Greek community school was very elementary, and to bridge the gap between it and our First Form lessons, we maintained special classes in College and Girls' School for several years. The priest was much interested in these special classes, as he was in the occasional trips of students to preach in village churches. He was not afraid of our taking any sectarian attitude. The first time I ever was invited to preach in an Eastern Church, when I questioned the priest as to his confidence in so inviting me, he said, "I know you won't say anything in my church that would be unfriendly to me".
15: A memorable sermon (c. 1902)Edit
Another sermon story from the mosque begs to be recorded. Men sin, said the earnest preacher, because they forget God, and they forget God because they love the world too much. Humanity is like a man walking across a plain who finds himself pursued by a lion. Running at top speed and casting about for some refuge from the danger he finds a well with a platform half way down where he reaches temporary safety. The lion comes to the mouth of the well and threatens to tear him in pieces if he tries to escape. As he looks, he sees a huge dragon at the bottom of the well ready to devour him if he falls. And then he sees two mice, a black mouse and a white one, coming out of the sides of the well and beginning to gnaw away the supports of the frail platform on which he has found security. But the man, foolish fellow, having food and drink with him by chance, begins to eat and drink and make merry without meditating on the threatening dangers of the situation. Then the preacher said, in effect, may God Almighty have mercy upon us and deliver us from the temptations and dangers of the world, the flesh and the devil. The great assembly of hundreds of strong men knelt and rose, knelt and rose again, pouring forth earnest prayers for divine salvation and blessing.
As we walked away from the service, I remarked to my Moslem friend with whom I had visited the mosque, "That was a good story that the hodja told about the man in the well". He assented that it was a very good story. I said it seemed to me that one point was omitted. "What was that", he asked. I replied that I did not hear the preacher tell how the man could escape out of his danger. Did he point that out? My companion had not noticed or heard anything about that. "Well", I said, "what would you say? You're a Moslem. There's no doubt about the temptations and dangers for all of us in the life of this world. The question is how to escape them all. What would you say about that"? "I declare I don't know", was his answer. And Moslems do not know so far as I could ever learn from my many friends. Islam can depict the frailty and the foibles of men as vividly as it can depict the majesty and the mercy of God, but it has no available way of escape to propose, it has no way of salvation, no Savior, no Redeemer.
By degrees we came to realize that from about one- fourth to one-third of our Turkish friends and neighbors were not orthodox Sunni Mohammedans but were unorthodox Shia or Alevi sectaries. Their professed religion was largely camouflage. As a semi-separate clan or tribe, usually in separate villages of their own, they were pitiably ignorant, secretive and superstitious.
16: The Alevi Turks (c. 1902)Edit
Those Alevi Turks probably came near to representing the original inhabitants of Asia Minor, with a minimum of blood strains brought by invaders. The modern culture of the country rests on earlier strata, whether that of Hittites or other Aryan tribes, Roman, Byzantine or what not. How many times soever conquered by invading hosts many of the people have survived the conquests, carrying with them what they had under the former regime, with a protective coloring or camouflage adopted in recognition of the power that for the time holds sway.
It was often supposed that the Alevis represented a Christian heritage from the pre-Turkish generations. Possibly in some hour of agony they went over by tribes or villages far enough to secure protective toleration. Alevi women did not veil their faces before Christian men, though they wore the veil in the presence of true Turks. Alevis observed among themselves a sacramental meal which was commonly believed to be a perverted form of the Lord's Supper. At certain seasons their *dedes* or priests made the rounds of their communities. The occasion was one of great importance for these simple people. Sins were confessed and absolved, transgressors received punishment, quarrels were settled, and the sacramental supper was observed with much secrecy. Guards were placed around the village, around the house, and at the door of the room. The *dede* addressed his congregation inculcating the standard virtues and explaining the sacred ceremonies. The communicants approached on their knees and partook of bread and wine together. Possibly this ceremony was a heritage from forefathers of Christian name and faith. I have heard Alevis say, "he who was revealed to you as Jesus was revealed to us as Ali".
There is a legend that when the great Ali was slain by persecutors, his head by some chance fell into the keeping of a Christian priest and was by him protected. The persecutors demanded the head that they might defile and gloat over it, but the priest refused to surrender it and with the consent of the members of his family cut off his wife's head, that of his third son, his second, and his first born, and offered these successively as a ransom for the head of Ali, but without avail. The degree of truth or error in this story is not of importance to us now but wherever it was told by father to son, as they chopped wood or herded sheep together, or when related by a grandsire to a group around the winter fire it had a very deep significance. It showed the rising generation of Alevis that in the hour of agony for their great hero, he was slain by regular Moslems, while Christians gave their dearest life-blood in his behalf.
17: Turkish "anastenaria" (c. 1902)Edit
Braziers of coals were brought, and little shovels about a foot long were heated in them till the iron glowed an angry white. Then the chief called up half a dozen men, and, with stately form, placed a heated iron in the hand of each. Dervishes call this iron their "rose" because of its color in the fire, and each recipient walked about within the circle formed by the admiring, fascinated crowd, and lapped his red-hot iron. I saw the metal glow, and heard the hiss every time it came in contact with the moist tongue. As the irons cooled, the dervishes caught live coals from the braziers, placed them in their mouths, and fanned them to fiercer heat by drawing great draughts of air across the glowing embers. Then several iron spikes were produced, each set in a wooden ball nearly as large as the fist, this latter being girt about with tinkling bangles.
The sight of this instrument always makes my blood run cold, albeit the performers insist that they are insensible to pain while using it. The virtue of being a Rufa'i consists in this, that the power or virtue of the dead Pir, transmitted through the living sheikh, protects a humble man in performing feats ordinarily impossible. God is thus proved to accept the person and the worship of a Rufa'i. Taking the instrument with a deep bow, each performer kissed it, fondled it, and walked about twirling it in his hands, and growing ever more and more excited, until at last, with the cry, "Allah, Allah", he struck the point heavily into his cheek, temple, neck, breast, or other tender part of his body. He would then walk about twirling the spike by its ball until after a time he would wrench the instrument from his flesh with a jerk, and begin again with increasing frenzy. It is claimed that no blood flows from such wounds, and I have never seen any, though I have seen the cheek pierced and the tip of the spike protruding from the mouth.
I do not undertake the explanation of these "proofs". Pious Mohammedans regard them as manifestations of divine approval for certain religious men. Hypnotism, whatever that may be, perhaps accounts for some things; I find no evidence of attempts at imposture, though self-deception is quite possible.
18: Memories of Anatolian Gods? (c. 1902)Edit
The impulse to offer sacrifice, substituting the blood or life or limb of one for another, was almost universal in Asia Minor and met widespread response from people of all classes and creeds. The ceremony seems to have been prompted by the monitions of conscience which suggested feelings of guilt or fear. It was of piacular rather than honorific character, that is for reconciliation with a feared and possibly alienated God, or as atonement for possible sins, rather than as a merely worshipful or convivial meal. The victim usually was a male, young and free from physical blemish. Especially acceptable animals were sheep, goats, cattle, cocks, deer and wild goats. Tradition avers that at some shrines deer used formerly to stalk out of the forest and present themselves for offering annually, but in these degenerate days such wonderful religion is realized no more. Still a true believer should renew his faith annually by eating the flesh of a wild goat caught and killed as an offering. Cattle, especially calves, were much used and abundant archaeological evidence all around us showed that in early days the people, especially the Hittites, cultivated a great system of cattle worship. Then it was with renewed interest and understanding that we read how the Israelites when they went astray from the worship of Jehovah proceeded to make and worship a golden calf with immoral Hittite orgies which were always forbidden in the Bible.
I was once in a picnic high up among the beautiful Anatolian mountains and beside a beautiful mountain spring. While we were lunching another party arrived, who built a fire, killed a goat that they had brought, and roasted the meat of which they presented some choice pieces to our party, urging us to eat, and thereby become active, or at least tacit, partakers in their petition. They did not inform us of the object of their prayers and in view of the circumstances it would not have been good form to inquire. The leader, a Redhead or Shia Turk, was accompanied by his wife and an Armenian cattle lifter. The spot was much frequented by young mothers to induce an abundant flow of milk.
In general each village or perhaps community or region had its sacred place, apart from church or mosque. This was often on some high hill, under a green tree, near a flowing stream or fountain, and beside a sacred grave with its enclosing wall of stone or near a stone pillar. The presence of the saint ensures powerful intersection in behalf of the loyal people of his parish and of any humble worshipper.
19: College affairs (1908)Edit
During the twelve years ending in 1908 with the proclamation of the Constitution, 893 students entered the College, about 75 new students every year; the average attendance ranged around 250; about three-fourths were usually boarders, and fully half the twenty-eight provinces of the whole Turkish Empire as well as several foreign countries were habitually represented in the student body. The graduates in these 12 classes numbered 149.
On the whole our students were a very eager and responsive company of young men with whom to work. True, their earlier studies and culture had been limited, but that made them the more keen to use present opportunities. True, the material plant was of the cheapest style of construction, but we never heard students complain because the dormitories never had any fire, and sometimes students woke in the morning with snow spread over their bed covering. True, the table board was plain, but it was wholesome, nourishing, and tasty; and I think that criticism was less common than was common in American boarding schools. True, the Library had only a few thousand volumes, but students hardly ever read them all and so began to call for more. True, the discipline was rather rigid, somewhat Puritanic, but parents fully approved, and there were always fresh applicants for any available places. When the leading commercial firm of our region wanted all our graduates, Anatolia men felt at a premium in the country.
By this time the College had acquired sufficient momentum and resources to do more thorough work than it had been possible in the early years. Our work never was perfect but I think it never was shoddy. The achievements of graduates in American universities and after graduation there were a creditable, even honorable, testimonial. They were most of them "workmen needing not to be ashamed".
20: The Constitution -- hopes and clouds (1908)Edit
Suddenly, July 24, 1908, came the proclamation of the Constitution. Liberty, Justice, Equality, Fraternity! Wonderful! Wonderful scenes of joy, happiness, and friendly feeling! So nice to like everybody! Moslems and Christians, priests, and representatives of all creeds, colors, and classes, prominent officials and common citizens, embraced one another in public, and fraternized happily in personal and private relations.
Up to the era of the Constitution no newspaper had ever been published in Marsovan, but with increased freedom, newspaper men started up in the larger cities along the coast, and College students wanted to write and to publish their thoughts also. A student who had done something with photography and toy types said he believed he could do the printing and he was right. (He owned and operated a printing house in New York City later.) The two small towers of the old main building furnished admirable editorial sanctums, and a group of Greek students began to write, manage, print and publish the first newspaper ever circulated in or from Marsovan, with careful teacher supervision, assistance and authority.
The Armenians soon occupied the other little tower sanctum with their similarly creditable publication, "A family paper issued monthly". Copies of every number of each paper were filed with government officials, and all was done with full official information and supervision. Armenians and Greeks felt that they were accorded a position in the Ottoman Empire somewhat like that of the Scotch or the Irish in Britain, or, nearer at hand, say, like Hungarians and Slavs in the Austrian Empire. About this time I gave a college address on "Victory Without War", recounting Austro-Hungarian history and suggesting without saying a model for Turkey.
After the proclamation of the Constitution, there were stories in circulation to the effect that these folk determined to take the difficult, if not desperate, chance of throwing off the masque and announcing their return to the faith of their fathers, and this they did, with stern penalties as a result.
A Stavrili and a neighbor Turk met one day, according to coffee house talk, and the Moslem said, "We hear you've turned Christian". "Well", replied the Greek, "we've always known and you've known that our forefathers were Christian, and we've decided now to recognize our heritage and confess ourselves Christian". "But", the Turk went on, "you've acknowledged yourself a true believer all the time, you've stood shoulder to shoulder with me in worship and offered the same Mohammedan prayers. How did you think you could deceive God all this time"? "I never tried to deceive God", replied the Stavrili, "He knew all the time just what I was. I tried to deceive you, and in that I succeeded".
21: Russian students and shadows (1910)Edit
From the time of our first voyage on the Black Sea, in 1890, we felt the shadowy influence of Czarist Russia lying along those coasts, often quite intangible and cold but always powerful. And one who knew them could not help liking the Russian people, characteristically kind-hearted, good-natured and winning. If they were superstitious, they were also reverend; if ignorant, they were thirsty for information; if poor, belated and oppressed, there was the more reason for friendly cooperation on the part of us Americans. The Caucasus provinces were next door to Anatolia. Many of the people of the two neighbor regions were of the same blood, Turks or Tatars, Armenians, Georgians, Circassians, Greeks. And the Crimea was just beyond the Caucasus. The process of Russification was going steadily forward. Some settlers in Russia had relatives in Turkey. So it was not strange when a student or two of non-Russian race slipped over to study in our College. Following the Constitution, two students became six, Russian or non-Russian citizens from Muscovy, then rapidly increased to a dozen, a score, and with the academic year, 1910, our students from Russia numbered 31, 10 or more coming from truly Russian homes, but with Cossack, Polish, Georgian, Greek and Jewish representatives in the growing quota. Students completing our course would lay the foundation for an education, while those leaving after a shorter period could acquire an adequate use of English, French and accounting, not forgetting Russian, and could find employment on leaving school at salaries as good as were received by their college professors and better than their fathers ever earned. Young Russians were keen to get what we Americans offered.
The Russian students were well liked individually and as a group. They did not "grind" as scholars, but they got the English language rapidly and well, and that was primarily their object in coming to us. With their tall figures, blue eyes, tight jackets, and belts with brass buckles, they presented a Northern appearance quite different from some students of more southern areas, Arabs and others, whom we knew, often with loose robes and relaxed muscles. One might expect the Russians to be difficult students to control, but such did not prove to be the case. When student and teacher faced each other, the characteristic Slav in our experience was fully amenable to authority and was exceedingly courteous.
Working as Dean with the students who sought us, and visiting their homes and communities when the right time came, gave me the key as I felt to the Russian character: it was essentially youthful, boyish, sometimes seeming almost childish. Russia was the youth among the nations. Peter the Great grabbed the Russian coat collar and yanked the awkward, bashful boy forward to a place in the refined society of Europe. Russians suggested the remark of Abraham Lincoln that the Lord must love common people, or he wouldn't have made so many of them.
22: Turkish students (1914)Edit
At the time when we first became acquainted with the College in 1890 there were two young Turks among the students. There were also three Turks who were members of the Protestant Church in the city. Now and then along the years a Moslem youth entered the College, but they never stayed long till the new Regime manifested a change in public spirit. The general attitude of Turks was one of superiority toward all Christians, especially toward their *Rayah* subject nationalities. The authority of government officials frequently, and certainly their influence habitually, were opposed to allowing their Turkish youth to attend Christian institutions. We never made religious connection a condition of entrance to College, nor did we ever conceal facts from officials. But our Turkish friends feared we would give their sons pork to eat, without letting them know. They were afraid we would prevent students from going to mosque or even forbid their Mohammedan prayers on our premises. But shall any man forbid a fellow human being from worshipping God in his own way and that of his fathers? We assigned our Moslem students a room where they could repeat their prayers and offer their worship at any hour of day or night, and we made it easy for them to go to the mosque on Friday. As for pork, it was never served on our College tables and seldom on our own, in deference to the ruling sentiment in the country. Turkish boys, as they became accustomed to our school life, enjoyed it all very much, and were quite happy and at home with the other students.
At another time a young Turk came whose father was a tobacco merchant in Samsoun. He wanted to learn English, for they needed it in their business, and his ability to learn was unquestioned. Warned repeatedly by city officials to return to his home, he assented but did not go. Finally one day, near nightfall, he came and told me he was called to the government building. I told him he should go, but to inform me of the result as soon as he returned. But he did not return; instead, came a note in the evening asking for his bedding as he was to be detained over the night. I sent the things requested, and went to see the governor. He had retired to his harem, his family apartment, early, leaving orders not to be disturbed by anyone. In the morning the student sent a request for all his things, as he was to be sent to his home in Samsoun, under guard, without setting foot in the College again. This time the governor received me courteously when I called, and said he was warmly in favor of education, as I knew, and was a good friend of the College, but his orders were clear and strict; no young Moslem was to attend a Christian school; so he had no option, but to send our student to his home.
The first and only Turk to complete our course, Noureddin Pehliwanzade, entered College in 1909 and graduated in 1914, saying, "I want to serve my people". He was in every way a very acceptable student. In that last year before the Great War there were 20 Moslems in the College and several more in the Girls' School.
23: The Great War begins (1914)Edit
But Turkey was already at war; the struggle in the Balkans had already begun. In fact, in 1908, directly after the proclamation of the Constitution, Austria had proclaimed her annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Bulgaria had followed by proclaiming her full independence. These and following events exceedingly embittered and angered the Turks. They were warriors and the Christian nations wanted war: very well, they should have it. War. *War*. WAR.
In the early spring of 1914, the Turks began mobilization. The German-trained General who arrived in Marsovan with his staff about the time the snows melted in the Balkans, to organize the forces in our district, said to me that Turkey had been quite unprepared in recent wars and added with a knowing smile that now they meant to be "ready for eventualities". The General often called on us at the College. He liked to sit in our pleasant garden and listen to our College band and the students liked to play for the authoritative Commander. Sealed circulars were placed in the hands of certain officials in the wards of the city and in the villages round about which were not to be opened pending further orders. But the curiosity of Turkish men is not less than that of American women. They opened and read the circulars on the sly and whispered the contents to their friends on the sly. After Sunday evening, August 4th, 1914, when the mobilization order was read out in the mosques, these circulars were produced and posted on the street walls where everybody could see them. They proclaimed that hostilities had begun; that the country was invaded, and the land laid waste; the villages were destroyed and the women insulted; the people, therefore, were called upon to rally to the crescent flag in defense of hearth and home and native land.
When the College opened in September, eight teachers and several employees had been drafted for military service. Of our students during the preceding year, 36, including 7 of the 14 who graduated in June, were similarly called to the colors. Twenty-two alumni who had completed medical courses had been drafted as army surgeons. These were people of whom we knew individually, whereas great numbers, beyond the reach of our communication at that time under war conditions and strict censorship, were involved, and successive levies of soldiers continued till the end of the wars.
24: The Armenian deportations (1915)Edit
In the spring of 1915, we realized with sinking hearts that there was a great movement against the Armenian people. We had nothing to do directly with plans or prospects throughout the wide Empire as a whole, but we witnessed clearly what took place within our horizon. Our fine American ambassador, Dr. Morgenthau, stated that Talaat Bey, Enver Pasha and Djemal Pasha were the men chiefly responsible for the movement as a whole. The plan was to eliminate the Armenian question by eliminating the Armenians, but this was not intended by the Turkish people at first. The Armenians in general may have had their faults in Turkish eyes. For one thing, these survivors of the centuries were one of the Christian peoples of the world and not Moslem; again, though the Armenians clearly joined in the political effort under the new Constitution, in 1908, the toleration that would make them an acceptable element among the citizens of the Empire was too much for Turkish human nature to achieve at once and in a hurry; further, the Armenians were able business men, made money faster than others, and their accumulation of property was a temptation; also, among the women folks of the Near East, Armenian women and girls were accounted fair and attractive for the home or the harem. The agony of that reign of terror surpasses description or comprehension, especially for us, as our American and College attitude had been one of full friendship for our Turkish neighbors, and loyalty to the Turkish government under the clear advice of our American officials and in accordance with our own convictions. The College did not shelter revolution or revolutionists.
If ever a group of individuals struggled to protect life, the Americans in Marsovan struggled to defend their Armenian associates, students, and friends, in the summer of 1915. But we had no adequate or real resources, and our efforts were largely fruitless. Turkey had denounced the Capitulations by unilateral action, and resented foreign diplomacy. August 9th a strong telegram from Ambassador Morgenthau reached me following other messages of a similar nature, promising that our premises would not be interfered with. On the morning of August 10th, as I was holding morning prayers with such students as remained for a summer session because they could not get to their homes, the white face of Dr. Marden appeared at the door and he whispered, "They've come". I happened to be just reading from Ezekiel 34. Please read verses 5 to 16. Officials forced an entrance at our gates and on different patrols, drew up sixty-one ox-carts in a ring in the open campus, and demanded the surrender of all Armenians. For two hours we parleyed, but the armed guards were increased to about thirty men, and a search was made by the breaking down of doors, and the forcing of entrance everywhere. Finally, our Armenian friends, feeling that further opposition was worse than useless, voluntarily appeared and gave themselves up. An ox-cart was assigned to each family. A meager stock of food, bedding, and personal effects was piled upon it. The wife and mother sat with her children on the load. The husband and father walked beside the cart. As the procession was forming in the street, a pilgrim group gathered around me and I offered prayer. Soon after noon the procession, with seventy-two persons from the College and Hospital moved away.
25: The Armenians "depart" (1915)Edit
As Prof. Hagopian and myself drew aside and kissed each other goodbye, he said to me: "Dr. White, I want you to understand and remember that I am going on my own choice. I have friends among the officials and influential Turks. They promised me a traveling permit for Constantinople. I could have gone there and have been safe. But I did not want to separate from my own people. I wanted to share in whatever experiences were in store for them. So I go now, because I would not try to escape". I have no doubt that was fully true. Twenty-five years we had worked shoulder to shoulder. He was a true and able man. "Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die" .....
Prof. Sivaslian, whose study of Mathematics and Surveying fitted him splendidly for city engineering, had been invited by the commander of gendarmes to accept his special protection, at the cost of a nominal adherence to Mohammedanism, and serve as city engineer in the extensive plans for new streets, grading, and building, on which the Turks were seriously at work. He refused to consider the invitation.
Of the Armenian members of the Faculty in 1914-'15, seven were dead, together with the much respected head of the Self Help Department, and the young superintendent of grounds and buildings. Not one of the 72 persons deported from our loved College campus ever came back.
The deportation of sixty-two persons from the Girls' School and King School for the Deaf Children, August 12th, with the return of forty-eight from Sivas, rescued by Miss Willard and Miss Gage, forms a story second to none in the history of the Western Turkey Mission in significance. But that is another story, and has been told elsewhere. Perhaps it is only right to add that every school boy was a potential soldier, possibly hostile to Islam, as the girls were not.
Every school girl was a potential member of a Moslem home or harem, as had been the experience with unnumbered Christian girls. During these days, girls were bought and sold in our town for three or four dollars a piece. I heard the conversation of men engaged in the traffic. Indeed, I procured the release of three myself for a ransom of one gold lira, $4.40.
I was permitted to ride my horse with the mounted guards of the Girls' School convoy for their first day's journey. One of them was a friend of my dear daughter, who had been taken to America by her mother not long before, and before the public situation had grown so acute. This nice Armenian girl, with a sheet over her person for protection, took a ring from her hand and asked me to give it to her friend, my daughter, who was comfortable, happy and *safe* in blessed America.
At the season for fall plowing and planting, we saw with sad hearts the Armenian burying ground plowed by the officials and sowed to grain and saw the green grain growing, as their way of giving public notice that they did not intend to allow enough Armenians to live in the city to need a place for one of them to be buried. There had been about 14,000 of that race resident in the homes of our city the preceding spring.
26: A difficult year (1915-16)Edit
It was a serious question in Managers' meeting, Sept. 7th, 1915, whether the College should open at the appointed hour the next day or not. There was not an Armenian teacher left to the institution, and but one student, though a few employees and two families had been spared to us by special official favor at the time of deportation. The financial problem was exceedingly difficult. It was decided, however, to continue on as nearly lines as possible, and we thus completed thirty-two weeks of the academic year in a very rewarding way. Five men went through this period as regular members of the Faculty, three Americans and two Greeks. One young man who began teaching in September went as a soldier in October. Another continued until December, when he, too, was called to the colors. Another, who began in January, was drafted away in February. There was no regular teacher of Mathematics or Science, and the higher work in these departments was omitted. Several of the lower classes were taught by advanced students. Mrs. Getchell, Mrs. Pye, and Dr. Marden finely volunteered to share in teaching.
About sixty-five students were registered, seven Russians, eight Turks, and the remainder Greeks. The three Seniors left for military duty during the year, as did ten others. But the student spirit was earnest; discipline, easy; religious interest, fully alert. During and following the "events" of the summer, it was unspeakably difficult to preach or conduct religious exercises, but as the months went by it became easier, until it became almost easier than ever before to give the Christian message, and audiences were more responsive than ever. The Protestant Church maintained its depleted Sunday School and prayer meeting, though the pastor was lost in the deportation, with nearly 900 out of 950 members of the congregation, but its other services were merged in those of the College. Student attendance at preaching services was wholly voluntary, and habitually all attended. There was a gracious season of spiritual refreshing in the winter. Four of the six Greek pastors in the Marsovan field visited us, each for some days during the year, and each shared helpfully in our religious services. The Y.M.C.A. was the one active student organization, and to some extent it took up and carried literary and athletic interests among the students. The Greek community in the city was so straitened by war conditions that it abandoned the effort to maintain a school. The Y.M.C.A. met the need. The College readily supplied the rooms and furniture required, and the Association employed one of its members as a regular teacher, and added volunteer instructors for various lessons to the number of about twelve, thus providing a first class school of four grades with forty-eight pupils. Those student teachers were thus prepared to manage and maintain other and larger schools in later years.
About the middle of the year the officials, acting on behalf of the Department of Education, demanded the exclusion of Moslem students from Bible lessons and religious exercises. The students were excused from such attendance, and they were constrained to remain away, though several of them would really have been glad to share with the other boys. As for the common Turkish people, however, the great majority were steadily friendly, as were most of the officials personally.
27: Old Armenian ladies (1915-16)Edit
There was one very interesting feature of this year's strange life and work. Some time before, the Armenians of the city in their poverty had undertaken to establish and maintain a Home for some of the old women alone in life and poor. They had rented a house and received two persons. When the deportations came, city officials, instead of troubling to send some of the old women on the road, told them to go to this Home. One by one about 50 persons tottered there, each with a bag of flour, or other food, or bedding, on her shoulder, and there they stayed. One day one of them died and I was asked to conduct a burial service. It was pitiful the way those poor human waifs crowded around me and said, "Badvelli (Reverend), won't you bury me? Won't you bury me? I'd go gladly today if I could only go to the other world with a Christian burial". After that, all through the fall and winter, I went there and held a service every Sunday. One student dared to go with me and help in the service. He could sing; he was a Russian. I was the minister and he was the choir. A good lady teacher from the Girls' School, Pampish Prapione, was often at the Home and was intimate and profoundly helpful among the lonely old women there.
Two of them were Protestants, whether Church "members" or not; all the rest were Gregorians, in the habit of receiving the communion at Easter and greatly cherishing the opportunity. They felt kindly toward me, yet I was not sure they would regard themselves authorized to receive the sacrament from an ecclesiastic of another denomination. But I announced in advance that I was a Christian minister of my church as they knew well, that on Easter Sunday I would come to celebrate the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, and that I heartily invited everyone to share who wanted to do so without any question as to church "membership", official denomination, or other such condition. When Easter came, infinitely solemn and yet glad, every one of those simple, kindly old women partook of the communion at my hands. I think that was for me the richest celebration of the Lord's Supper in all my life.
28: The Caucasus campaign (1914-16)Edit
All the military movement from our region and recruiting post was in the direction of the Russian Caucasus frontier, a far 400 miles away. There was no railroad and the Black Sea shores were dominated by the Russian fleet. Horse-wagons were used for all transport until the horses were decimated by the strain, then two-wheeled ox-carts were pressed into service. But the patient cattle had such heavy loads and such scanty fodder, that they dropped by the way and farmers commandeered with their cattle, abandoned oxen, carts and loads along the road, and stole back home in dreadful fear of penalties for desertion. Then the camels were drafted. They endured snow and cold as well as sand and heat, and American children in the happy days gone by would often count 500 camels in a day's ride across the beautiful Anatolian plains and mountain ridges. Now, however, we heard, as an example, of one train starting with 900 camels of which only 36 reached the front. Then the military authorities called for the donkeys and then our neighbors in Marsovan shed tears, not that they were unwilling to do their bit, but they knew that poor Jack and Jenny from their little stalls under the house could not carry food enough to feed themselves all the way to the distant battle front, let alone reaching there with loads of military supplies.
Soldiers recruited and sent forward in frequent convoys marched all the way on foot and some of our young graduates, found to be capable and reliable as well as educated, were appointed subaltern officers and placed in charge of such groups of men for the long march to the war front. A convoy of recruits would reach a village toward evening and the officer in charge would requisition lodging and supplies for the night. Most of the men were away doing their own soldier service, and the village women with their children and others would neither dare to refuse their uninvited guests nor remain in their homes over night when soldiers were camping in their village. So the village families would go out to the fields or forests to pass the night and return cold and miserable in the morning to find that their hungry visitors had eaten what there was to eat; had burned what there was to burn; had carried away what there was to wear; and had left behind them a half-wrecked village. A few days later, the experience would be repeated, and this time one or more of the soldiers would be left behind sick with smallpox when the rest marched away, and soon the village cemetery would be crowded with fresh graves. Some villages were almost or entirely wiped out by such experiences. The atmosphere around us and around everybody in the country was quivering with excitement. This was war.
29: The first exodus (1916)Edit
The Third College Decade ended in 1916. On the tenth of May all the principal government officers of the city visited our premises and informed us that in view of the Russian invasion by Erzroum and Trebizond, our section of Asia Minor was reckoned to be within "the zone of war". All Americans, therefore, being foreigners, must withdraw to Constantinople; and all our grounds and buildings would be requisitioned for the purposes of a military hospital.
I sent at once for Miss Willard, Dr. Marden, Mr. Getchell, and Mr. Pye, that we might receive the communication and consider it together. The officials had brought with them armed gendarmes, had posted them at all our gates, at several points outside, and had established patrols in different parts of our premises. Mr. Getchell, in attempting to cross the narrow street that separated our College and Hospital premises to call Mr. Marden, was prevented by a gendarme with the threat of using weapons.
Our Board in Boston had fully authorized its representatives to act in emergencies as their own best judgement determined, and sustained us in such decisions as we were constrained to make. After counsel at Constantinople among ourselves and with others, Mr. and Mrs. Getchell, Miss Willard, Miss Gage, and Miss Zbinden remained at the capital till they could obtain permission, after several weeks of toilsome appealing, to return and reside in Marsovan, hold the situation and render all possible service, while the others of us went on to America. Several of our American circle, for over-ruling reasons, had left for America earlier in the war.
When the five who returned to Marsovan reached "home" again, they were allowed to occupy some corners of the American grounds and buildings, while all the main structures and facilities were used by 2,000 sick soldiers, who later increased to 4,000; one American residence was occupied by typhus patients and another by those who had smallpox. But besides holding the situation, in general our associates were of immense aid and comfort to many until the end of the military occupation, April 2, 1919. The ladies soon gathered some of their pupils together and re-opened the Girls' School. Indeed, the Girls' School was never really or officially "closed". Many sick were comforted and cared for; many Greeks from along the sea coast latterly were helped to procure food and supplies, when the exigencies of war drove them from their homes as exiles.
In this great and supremely difficult service Miss Gage succumbed, worn out, and reached the culmination of her great, and at several points tragic, life-work, in the place where her life-work really began. She died July 15th, 1917, and was buried near the Girls' School in the Mission compound at Marsovan, Turkey, her grave shaded by tall poplars and dark pines.
30: Casualties of war (1919)Edit
Some hundreds of unhappy Armenians who had registered as Moslems on invitation of the Turkish officials to save their lives, or often more truly to save the life and the honor of a wife or daughter, were issued fresh citizenship papers restoring their Christian names and nationality. Numbers of Armenian women and girls also were released from Moslem *harems* in accordance with the terms of the Armistice. With the gradual subsistence of warfare between Russia and Turkey, the College and Mission plant had been changed from a vast hospital with patients up to the number of 4,000 to a vast orphanage with real human children up to the number of 2,500, of which Miss Willard was given chief charge when American control was restored April 2nd. Dr. Pye took in hand the renovation of such parts of the plant and grounds as could be recovered from their use and abuse, their degeneracy and decay. The old main building, rambling and extensive, was almost beyond repair, and was ultimately torn down, as were some other smaller structures. In due season Dr. Marden came into his own, in rights and in service, at the Hospital, which had been commandeered and occupied by Turkish soldiers early in the war. The dawn of a new day was surely breaking after the dreary night of dreadful war. When my wife and I were given release from Constantinople to rejoin our associates old and new in Merzifon and re-enter our home, I asked some of my Turkish friends how many of the 3,800 men who marched away as the first levy of soldiers on the outbreak of the war, had come back, and the answer was,--six! Now at last the war was over! But was it? Probably this figure was not mathematically exact but it was certainly suggestive. And Turkey was still at war!
Another day there came to my office a young woman whose face was somewhat familiar. She had been one of the girls in our School before the war. She reminded me of herself and of members of her family whom I knew quite well, then told how she had been "taken" by one of the Mohammedans of the city to his home where she had lived as his wife. She had a child a few months old whom she loved as did the father; the husband and father was very anxious that she should remain. In general his treatment was kindly within the means at his disposal, yet she was a Christian with all that that meant in all the outlook of life and she could not bear to remain in those surroundings. So she said simply, "When he was not at home I put my baby to sleep, and I closed the door, and I came away. Will you admit me?" Mars was still driving the chariot.
31: Starting again (1919)Edit
The responsibility for reopening the College inevitably pressed upon us like an Old Testament "burden" or a Quaker "concern". Normal activities had been entirely suspended since May, 1916. Four times the month of June had come and gone without a college commencement. Four times the month of September had come and gone without ushering in the beginning of a new college year. President Grant had once said of specie payments, "the way to resume, gentlemen, is to resume". Because of the many handicaps in the situation everywhere within the months following the Armistice, and because first place was given to Relief work, Anatolia's reopening was delayed until October 1st, 1919. Yet the first academic function was held September 6th, and that was the presentation of his Anatolia diploma and Bachelor of Arts degree to Mr. Timothy Papadopoulos, now of Chicago. He had nearly completed his course in 1916 and during the interval had led the life of an educated young man as bandmaster for the Turkish Army, and a special tutor of English and other lessons to a number of persons. The exercise was as interesting as it was unusual. My academic robe for the occasion was the uniform of a Near East Relief officer. Indeed, the prime obligation of every American on the grounds was in care of the orphans, the sick and the throngs still dependent on Relief. My own duties were double, in Relief work and in the College. Most of the entire college plant was used for relief purposes.
The opening week of school was both solemn and cheering. Eight of our former teachers had perished by violence; others had died; yet others had been drafted as soldiers or scattered by protracted war conditions. Many students had gone, not only from college life but from life in this world. Contingents of our students had served, most of them drafted, in Turkish, Russian, Greek, Armenian, French and British armies, with more than forty volunteers in the army of Uncle Sam. Much of our material plant was wrecked beyond repair. Much space was assigned to Near East Relief orphans. However, it was possible to pick up and go on, and Dr. Tracy would have said, "there wasn't any other way to do". "The way to resume was to resume", specie payments or meeting other responsibilities.
Students enrolled during the year numbered 166, all in the preparatory department; by classes, Fourth Forum 14, Third 22, Second 40, First 90; by nationality, Armenian 77, Bulgarian 1, Greek 75, Russian 1, Turkish 12. There were 77 boarders and 89 day pupils. These students, in the general conditions of impoverishment by war, paid into the treasury all that we could ask.
32: Business as usual? (1920-1921)Edit
The school year 1920-21 opened as per calendar, September 8th. The full staff numbered 21, of whom 15 gave full time to teaching, markedly strengthening the work over the year before. Of these regular teachers four were American, three Armenians, four Greeks, one Russian, one Swiss, and two Turks. And we lived and labored together in the love of God, and the fear of God and good-will for all mankind. Two Turkish lads from the city persuaded their parents, who were not rich, to pay their bills as boarders instead of going home to live when lessons were over, because they would rather stay in the College and share in its evening studies and its sports and general life than to go to their own homes. This certainly speaks well for the companionship they met from the Christian students who were already in the College. Our relations with the local government officials were very intimate and very cordial.
During the school year 218 students entered the College, 29 of whom were Turks. This was a marked increase of 52 over the numbers of the year before and indicated the thirst of people generally for education, and their confidence in our administration. During the year students paid into the Treasury $20,000, an average of nearly $100,000 per student and these figures are a wonderful proof of the eagerness for American education on the part of the people who had lost almost everything during the war.
Relief work continued to hold the first place in all our thought and care and efforts, both in personal service and in the use of our plant. Healing the sick and cleaning up unsanitary conditions; repatriation of refugees and deportees scattered over continental areas; feeding the near-starving and clothing the near-naked; teaching multitudes of orphan children and training them toward worth-while manhood and womanhood; the share of us American Anatolians in this service claimed at least the right hand of everyone, in addition to all that was undertaken and accomplished by our fine relief recruits fresh from America.
33: Ataturk offers a ride (1919)Edit
In June, 1919, the British decided to withdraw their soldiers, several score in number, from Merzifon but they were kind enough to send Colonel Anderson from Headquarters in Constantinople to inform us of their decision. The message produced consternation in our group. It was felt that such British withdrawal would lead to serious disturbances in our city and region and my associates requested me to make a special trip to Constantinople to secure a reversal of the British military order if possible. A small British detachment had been overpowered by a brigand band on our road to Samsoun and had surrendered a few days before, and Colonel Anderson and the Captain commanding the detachment in Merzifon took 28 Hindoo soldiers as a guard, with a full supply of bandages and weapons, including a machine gun or two, and we set out, with three Near East Relief trucks for transport. Before we reached Cavsa, 18 miles away, our watering place with its famous hot spring, we came to a small stream, the bridge over which was broken down, while the swollen waters were too deep for the trucks to ford. So we left the soldiers and equipment to camp there over night, and I walked with the two British officers into the town. An odd situation for a mere missionary and American College educator in a foreign field!
A Turkish general by the name of Mustapha Kemal Pasha, whose name was little known then but was to become famous afterward, was stopping in Cavsa just then, and we three men called on him that June evening. We understood that he might have been taken by the British in Constantinople and sent to Malta like many others, but he had slipped through their fingers, escaped into the interior, and was trying to start a new movement. The British officers conversed with him in French, and I in Turkish. Turkish military officers had visited and called on me almost daily along the years and I knew them as a class quite intimately. He offered us the use of his automobile for our trip to Samsoun the next day and my companion Britishers accepted his courtesy. Their comments afterward on Mustapha Kemal Pasha, later to become the "Ghazi", the "Conqueror", and Ataturk, on his intended enterprise, and the whole situation in Turkey were exceedingly interesting. That was the only occasion when I met the strong commander, who then hardly seemed to have even one soldier in his service. The facts and the prospects were not realized until long afterwards. However, the next morning at sunrise I saw a band of about twenty horsemen come riding into town at a smart gallop with a well-set-up young officer at their head, and I naturally suspected some Christian village had been raided during the night, though there was no avowed "war" then.
34: Hostile supervision (1920-1921)Edit
In December a Turkish lawyer, Saduk Bey Mehami, came and announced that he had been appointed Comisser of us Americans in Relief work, and also in education. We accepted the former in view of all the circumstances, but protested the latter for the College and Girls' School had been fully authorized by the Ottoman Government for many years. Our protest was unavailing. Saduk Bey was notoriously hostile to us. He was commonly quoted as saying that he would not rest till our campus was turned into a barley field again. His bitterness was probably due, at least in part, to the fact that he had taken possession of a College house, occupied by an Armenian professor, who had disappeared in the deportation, and he refused to pay any rent until it was collected under the authority of the British. The Comisser made things trying for us beyond all precedent. Yet in January, when I telegraphed Constantinople recommending the appointment of an American to reside in Angora, at least as a *liason* representative for the interchange of information and for better mutual understanding, I received a message of thanks from the Great National Assembly at Angora. That was in 1921.
Christmas eve just before, I had received a confidential message from a visiting American to the effect that I was the next man marked for deportation. And one day when I was summoned to the government an associate asked me whether I had my belt on, meaning to inquire whether I had money on my person, so indicating his doubt as to whether I would ever come back. I offered to withdraw as Director of N. E. R., but no one criticized my management and no one wanted to accept my responsibility.
On the evening of February 12, Zeki Effendi Ketani, our head Turkish teacher, after presiding at a meeting of the Turkish students' literary society, was assassinated in the street on his way home and within twenty-four hours was dead. We had no doubt that his death was caused by Turks who could not bear to have one of their own number happy in helping us to conduct an American and Christian school.
Almost that very day the headquarters of the Army Division covering our region were brought to Merzifon with General Jemil Jahid in command. Troops were assembled in considerable numbers.
For long hours that wintry day, the officers eagerly sought for arms and ammunition in every nook and corner, without finding anything, for there was nothing to find. British officers, when they left with their soldiers, had offered us a supply of at least a few first-class weapons and recommended us to accept and hold them for some possible emergency, but we had refused to receive them. Our city governor, a colonel in military rank, who accompanied me to conduct the search of my house, was friendly and kind. He looked things over rapidly as Mrs. White escorted us about. Then the Governor and I sat down to chat, drink coffee and listen to the victrola together.
35: "Pontus" (1921)Edit
There remained the question of "political" matters. In this respect, our attitude toward the Turkish Government had been careful and correct. We always recognized our obligations to the Government in authority, and our American officials in Constantinople or nearer frequently reminded us, whenever we consulted them, of our duty to maintain a neutral attitude as between contending parties with a spirit of friendliness for all and respect for authority. Our domineering visitors seemed eager to find some incriminating evidence, something that would implicate or compromise us Americans. This clear and strong impression was confirmed by our legally-minded associate, who was in my office at the time while the search was being conducted there, Mr. Theodore Riggs. When I was allowed to be also present, the General and the Judge compared notes in my office over two maps hanging on the wall on which they read the word, "Pontus". "See", they said eagerly to each other, "these are maps of the province of Pontus, which they aim to establish. See, the Pontus boundaries are not the same; on one map they are larger than on the other. They enlarge the boundaries as their ambitions increase". The wall maps were printed in Chicago some years before to illustrate the Roman provinces in the time of the Apostle Paul! But afterwards Turkish papers published statements to the effect that charts had been found in the College on which was outlined the province of "Pontus", which revolutionists connected with the College, especially the Pontus club, planned should be annexed to the Hellenic kingdom.
That evening the Executive Committee of the Greek Literary Society, consisting of three teachers, one alumnus, and two students, were arrested, with the promise that they would return as soon as they had been asked and answered a few questions. But they never came back. Much was made of the Pontus Society seal, as rebellion; it carried a device clearly showing a school boys' club for "musical, literary, and athletic" exercisese
36: The final exodus (1921)Edit
During the three days allowed us to prepare for departure, I was occupied to the limit in arranging to close up affairs and leave my official responsibilities to my able understudy and substitute, Mr. Compton. My wife superintended all our household packing, sorting the few things that could be taken with us, and piling the rest in one of the College recitation rooms. She asked how long an absence she should plan in packing and I said, "Plan that we will be back again before long". We liked and sympathized with all the people, without ill-will toward any, but as the event turned out we were never to return. We had lived in Merzifon and labored in love and good will there more than thirty years. The people were our friends and our home was there.
On Tuesday morning, March 22, 1921, with the weather still ruled by belated winter storms, two N. E. R. trucks and six small spring wagons left our Anatolia College campus, under the escort and control of mounted policemen, to cross mountain passes nearly a mile high, wallow through deep snow drifts and watch the wagons, loads, teams and drivers that along some roads we must pass had slid and rolled over the brink into the valley below.
The next day we reached Samsoun and the Sea, and it was good to see Old Glory floating over an American destroyer in the harbor, giving us a sense of real and needed protection for the time, while we were kept under guarded surveillance and really arrest. Then we were authorized to proceed by the destroyer to Constantinople. I do not remember to have heard a word of hate or fear or any vindictive expression from any American or other Christian lips during all these trying experiences. See photograph of our group.
Most of us made headquarters in Constantinople during the summer, one and another drifting away as some other opening for usefulness presented itself, while hopes of soon returning to Merzifon faded. Miss Antony and Miss Corning, however, by dint of much patient waiting and many persistent appeals, received permission to return and share in their interrupted service. In July came another sad period of bloodshed, conflagration and spoilation in our old home town, headed by Lame Osman, news being carefully suppressed for the time being. About that time the four Greek teachers and two students arrested and taken from our campus in March were executed.
37: Venizelos' suggestion (1923)Edit
"We were some three days in Tiflis, we three Anatolia men, eagerly observing and conferring. Representatives from a city Gymnasium came to call on us and urgently invited us to come and take over their school. They had kept it open till then, 1921, but could not reopen after that summer vacation. The Gymnasium had no support but student tuitions, and the students had no money left for tuition. There was almost no business in the city. But if we would come with, say, two or three Americans to manage the school and teach English, and perhaps $1,000 a year in cash, students would crowd in; their tuition money would pay the salaries of a staff of Russian teachers who would loyally work with us, and the school would be a success. How we wished we could accept their proposals! But the Bolshevik government would be repressive, restrictive, suspicious and arbitrary. It was not the thing to undertake it and we reluctantly turned away.
By degrees the conviction of some of us from the first, that a college belongs with its human constituency rather than with the location of its campus and material plant, came to prevail. The Armenian element had largely moved eastward from Asia Minor into the Caucasus area, but the larger Greek element with many Armenians and others, had moved westward. Modern Pilgrim Fathers, and families deprived of fathers, crossed the Aegean Sea; eighty to ninety percent of our Anatolia constituency were exiles, chiefly settling in the northern, that is the Macedonian, section of the country. October 26, 1912, the flag of modern and Christian Greece had again been hoisted over the famous White Tower in Thessaloniki, and the boundaries of Macedonia were outlined essentially as in the days of Philip of Macedon and his son, Alexander the Great, and as they stood later when visited by the Apostle Paul. Now for almost exactly 500 years, Macedonia had been ruled by Moslem Turks.
On the way I stopped in Paris to see Mr. Venizelos, who was then temporarily residing there. He knew in general about our vicissitudes with Anatolia College in Turkey, and as soon as introductions were over, he said, "We hope you will bring your good work to our country. We want American education, though I must say we cannot offer pecuniary support; we have too many requirements and too few resources in our Greek situation to do that; but we will give you any favors you want such as securing *terrain*, water supply, and exemption from customs duties, taxes, and the like. You had better locate in Saloniki; that's the best place for you; it's the most international". I inquired whether there was anything in the Greek regulations that would hinder or hamper us and he assured me that there was nothing of the sort. Then I asked for some letters of introduction to leading Hellenic citizens, and he said, "Better than several letters to various men is one letter to the right man. I will give you a letter to Mr. Anastasios Adossides, who was recently Governor General of Macedonia. You can rely on him".
October 14, 1923, was my sixty-second birthday and I was already awake that morning when Mr. Getchell, in whose home I was entertained, stepped into my room to congratulate me. He asked me what I was thinking about, and I told him about the relocation and rebuilding of the College. He said he knew *that* already. Together we had already visited Vodena, or Edessa, the upland eyrie of King Philip of Macedon and the old capital of the country, and we inspected there the campus already selected provisionally for favorable consideration. It was a wonderful site for a college, but Vodena was isolated from the main currents of travel, and influence, and human activity."
38: Thessaloniki, Greek again (1923)Edit
"Saloniki was in a chaotic condition. It was only a few years before when in 1912 the Turks went out of the government, the Greeks came in again and the city name was changed to the old form, Thessaloniki. Most of the intervening years had been a period of warfare between the two peoples, and there had been neither time nor opportunity nor resources to establish a new and stable government with the amenities of ordinary life. Officials seemed hard to reach and uncertain in authority though fully friendly. Venizelos street was a highway of bottomless mud.
About a mile square covering the principal business district of the city had been burned during the war. We could not then foresee that the Thessaloniki fire was to have an effect something like that of the great fire in Chicago in the early days of that wonder city, clearing the path and inspiring the people to redoubled progress. There were thirty-five refugee camps in Thessaloniki and its immediate environs, with an aggregate of 160,000 refugees. Ten thousand confronted bitter winter weather sheltered only in left-over army tents.
A tall minaret still towered over Saint Sophia, one of seventeen minarets in the city that I counted one day from the window of my room. St. Sophia in Thessaloniki was older than St. Sophia in Constantinople. Before long the government removed the tall minaret and placed over the doorway of the old Christian sanctuary two dates: 1430 in black figures, marking the establishment of Moslem worship in the building and government of the country; and 1912 in figures of gold marking the restoration of Christianity within the sanctuary and throughout Macedonia. By this time, most of the Turks had gone and the rest were expecting to go soon, on their way back to Turkey and Asia from which their forefathers had come."
39: A casino's strange fate (1923-1924)Edit
"December 18th our trustees held a meeting in Boston, and December 20th Mr. Getchell and I stood together and read the cabled message announcing the result. It was a bleak and bitter winter day, with a bitting Vardar wind from the snowy peaks of high Balkan mountains in the air. All around us were the charred remains of buildings burned in the great fire. Refugees huddled in sheltered nooks and corners or shivered along the streets almost too benumbed to remember whence they had come or whither they were hoping to go. The message by cable included the authorizing words, "Proceed plan temporary interim school", and we wondered! Could we do it? Dare we undertake it, two of us? What else could we do? "Let's go"! And before night we had rented a building to be the cradle of a reborn Anatolia College. The next day we planned with Mr. Carbonides, the manager of the Casino we had rented, for such partitions and reconstruction of the interior as would enable us to have a school with the separate classes in the building, and the following day work began.
We were fortunate in that about $150,000 were held in Boston as the property of the College, chiefly as endowment. While College activities had been suspended, although not all expenses had stopped, part of the income had been conserved as a fund for beginning reconstruction. We paid the rent of the Casino for a year in advance, deposited enough as a fund to cover two years more, and as the situation developed we were able to buy the building with its grounds before the three years' rental period was completed. The location in the Charilaos Quarter was at least as good as any other, indeed was doubtless the best in the city for our purpose. It was just at the terminal of the city tram line, and the area, three and one-third acres, furnished ample grounds for school purposes with room for games and sports. For our purposes, the Casino was not so bad. It was a roomy structure and was new, though of cheap construction, and after we acquired the ownership it was not unworthy of the name, "Tracy Hall". That was the cradle in which the reborn Anatolia College was nursed during its second childhood."
40: New teachers (1924)Edit
"Meanwhile, we had been making every effort to secure suitable teachers. Mr. Getchell came from his office at Rue Franque 5, at appointed hours to take care of College business again, and Mr. Brewster also came by appointment to teach certain Bible lessons. I estimated that I wrote fifty letters before finding the right man for one Greek position, but he became a reliable and permanent teacher and has been one of the faculty to this day.
The first new teacher was Mr. Savvas Theodorides, who had been one of our students as a ruddy-faced Greek lad during the irregular war years in Turkey. He had learned something of pharmacy by voluntary work for our doctors, and that probably kept him alive, for when he was drafted into the Turkish army, he made himself useful to the army doctors, and they spared his life. When Kiri Savvas came, I was the President of the College and he was the rest of the faculty, or staff, as clerk, translator, secretary, errand-boy, factotum, and then monitor and teacher.
Our reputation with the officials would depend very much on competent instruction in Greek. Rev. Aristidi Mihitsopoulos had been one of our students of Theology in Merzifon. He was now the capable minister of the Evangelical Church in Thessaloniki, manager of an entire orphanage amid the foothills of Mt. Olympus, and a man well-known and much respected. His counsel and help were of great significance to us strangers. One day he came to my room in the hotel, bringing a young man, Prof. Ioannes Papastavrou, whom he recommended as a teacher of Greek. Prof. Papastavrou was a real scholar, a graduate of the University of Athens, a very likeable man, and a respected teacher in the city. He became the approved head of our Greek Department from the beginning.
Pupils and their parents were chiefly anxious for the learning of English, and in this we were fortunate in finding Mr. H. R. Henwood, an English soldier, who had recently been discharged in Constantinople and who, having married a Greek wife, did not care to hurry away. He was an admirable man for our first classes in English, and in various ways, and his wife served helpfully as matron.
Mr. Nazaret Mikhlian, a graduate of the American Normal School in Sivas, was one among the throng of Armenians who were resettling westward of the Aegean Sea, a teacher by profession, choice and preparation, and he was engaged as teacher of the Armenian language.
Mr. John G. Racopoulos, one of our former students, a graduate of the Trebizond Greek Gymnasium, referred to by Mrs. Getchell as "her foster son", fortunately was available as business manager and for some lessons in Mathematics."
41: White Russians (1924)Edit
"Among our nearest neighbors was a camp of 600 White Russians, exiles like ourselves. There was a Russian restaurant, and for a time we all, students and teachers, took our meals there. The whole Charilaos section had been a French military hospital camp, with barrack-like buildings in rows of uniform size and design. Most of these one-story hospital wards were occupied by families now, but we succeeded in renting one and then another. The first became our first "hostel", with a long dormitory in one end and dining tables in the other. The second barrack building, when we obtained it, was used for our Self-Help Shop. Carpentry, largely for school needs, shoe-making, gardening, with grading, tree-planting, building roads and the like, on our grounds, furnished wholesome work to the students, helped them pay school bills, and helped build a school home. We were fortunate in having good water from the mountains, electric light, and tram service to our gates from the first day.
It was cold that winter in Macedonia, on about the latitude of New York City. I roomed in Hotel Majestic and never in my life suffered more with the cold. There was never a spark of fire in my room or in any place accessible in the hotel, except in one little stove in the dining room on Sunday mornings. For nearly 500 miles the banks and bluffs of the Vardar river seemed to act as a flume from the North, and bring the icy winds from the peaks and snow fields of the Scardus Mountains in the mid-Balkans down to our city at the river mouth on the sea shore. There were the coils and parts of a heating plant standing in the hotel corridors, but there were no workmen available to set them up and start the heating system all that winter. Many refugees dropped down of an evening and did not get up the next morning. But the Government served rations just as far as its slender resources could be extended, and widowed mothers often said they had not bread enough to satisfy hunger, and yet their greatest desire was an education for their sons who would thereby escape from street Arab conditions and soon become bread-winners. I never knew what it was to go "over the top" on a single double-quick charge, but by March we seemed to have climbed to the level of the first plateau or tableland, and to be moving along fairly steadily with about 50 students and a good teaching staff. There was no feeling of defeatism at any point or on any line.
Our Russian neighbors were in a pitiable condition of poverty, and one day they came to me saying that their teacher of English had left the city. They had no worthy salary to offer another instructor, but they would give all they could; were we able to supply them with a teacher twice a week? Miss Robins consented to undertake the service, asking no additional pay and asking no reduction of her regular duties. A Russian student volunteered to help as translator, and almost the whole Russian camp crowded in to learn a few words of English. As a return favor their choir sometimes came of a Sunday and gave us a sacred concert. The singers were of all possible ages and descriptions and robes, from shirtsleeves and boots to tattered army uniforms, and with the cheapest possible dresses for the girls; but they could sing,--sing the music of their great church heritage: they were Russians!"
42: Orphans and refugees (1924)Edit
"About half of our students were homeless and alone in the world. Several stayed during the summer vacation and served with the skilled workmen who built our dormitory. Refugee ships were still coming in so loaded that people could not lie down even on the open deck without more or less lying one on another. As a ship drew up to the wharf we could sometimes see haggard exiles looking shoreward, nudging one another, and then indicate some of us Americans, glad to feel that they had some friends standing by them in the land of their pilgrimage. Macedonian Turks filled the streets and lanes of our city, anxious for their turn to go, since it was "Kismet".
In September the attendance of boys at the Mission School for Girls was discontinued, and thirty-six were added to our boys at half tuition rates, that is, $20.00 each, for the first year. The Girls School carried on with increased efficiency for its real constituency. Of our 157 boys, about half were boarders and about half were Armenians, with about one-hundred applicants refused admission for lack of adequate facilities. The Armenians realized a condition of urgent need. Some other peoples and nations were disappointed with the outcome of the great war, but I do not think any would want to exchange places with the Armenians at that time. They were left without an independent country. In Greece and elsewhere they were foreigners; really intruders. They had not a national system of organized schools accessible and they appealed to their old Anatolia friends. There were thirteen regular teachers in our staff, including Mrs. Bertha Arnold, a lady of experience as a teacher, who came over to the Near East with her daughters and was available for some of our special classes. Mr. Hadji Kyriakos, a graduate of the International College at Smyrna, Mr. Samuel Arukian, from the School of Religion in Athens, joined our staff, as did others in due time whose names are included elsewhere in that list of teachers. Every student had an English lesson every day taught by a native English speaker.
During the summer, Mr. and Mrs. Compton had finished their work in charge of the one Turkish orphanage, that is, an orphanage for Turkish children, maintained by the Near East Relief and they called to visit us on their way home to America for a furlough, needed and earned. Mr. Compton and I climbed the height of Kara Tepe together and I felt like Abraham and Isaac as we viewed the landscape and seascape o'er; with the city, the harbor, the Aegean gulf with various fringes of bordering land, and Mount Olympus on beyond. It was a thrilling spectacle but Mr. Compton would give no indication what their decision would be in regard to returning from America to the College after their furlough. The next March told the next chapter of the story."
43: The final decision (1925)Edit
"Our trustees in Boston had taken action authorizing and desiring me to make a special trip to America when decisions as to main questions seemed to us to be growing clearer, but it was March before my wife and I could leave for America, with Mr. Getchell again to act as President in my absence. On the first day of April, 1925, we reached New York, and soon thereafter were in Boston, where we expected first of all to meet our associates, Mr. and Mrs. Theodore Riggs. Alas for the ways of Providence that are beyond our understanding! Theodore Riggs had suffered from an attack of tuberculosis when in College but seemed to have fully recovered in Colorado, and with training and experience both in law and in business, knowing the Near East from boyhood and admirably fitted to handle the business and legal matters for the College, had been stricken with influenza and his system failed to carry him through the process of recovery. April 11, instead of sharing in the counsel of my associate as to our common task, I was called upon to share in his funeral service, with a great burden of sorrow for his wife and their five little children.
Workers fall--but the work must go on. At 14 Beacon Street there was a friendly hearing for my message but not a finished plan. One of the officials warned me that I must be prepared for disappointment; trustees were always conservative and in any case would hesitate to effect a permanent withdrawal from Turkey and an entire rebuilding of the whole Anatolia enterprise. I saw individual members of the Board of Trustees and other supporters and friends as I might find or make an opportunity to do so; and the trustee meeting was called for May 26. Dr. James L. Barton, then as always a leading spirit, took an encouraging attitude, when some of our trustees representing a common attitude said, "I hae me doots". When the trustees met May 26 there were twelve voting members present. They listened to my statement and discussed some points with me. I had fifty pages in different documents ready for use on any point if wanted. When the vote was taken it was unanimous; twelve votes in favor of proceeding with the Anatolia College enterprise in Thessaloniki! I think I never was so tired in my life.
After the meeting one of our officers said to me with a confidential smile that the Trustees were chiefly relying on me to lead in efforts for funds with which to rebuild and carry on the institution. And that was my next task, always under their authority and with their cooperation and support. One of the Trustees, resident in another city, said to me, "You'll have to take the initiative, but a lot of us want to help you."
44: New grounds (1926)Edit
"With the breath of spring, work for promotion such as mine inevitably slackened in momentum and I heard the echoes calling from our Anatolia campus, so in March I went overseas again by the route we came ordinarily to prefer, via London, Paris, Geneva, and the Simplon Orient Express to Thessaloniki. College and Girls' School had been going very well in view of the actual facts and general conditions. Even yet, refugee multitudes by the thousand were expected to reach Macedonia, chiefly from up-country Balkan states and provinces, but this now was a fairly normal "exchange", with inevitable hardships kept to a minimum.
There had been increasing doubts in regard to the Kara Tepe ridge where for more than two years we had anticipated permanently rebuilding the College. There certainly were difficulties. It was remote from town for day pupils. The soil was thin and stony, and it would be difficult for trees and vegetation to take root and grow. There was no water near. No work had been done on the site except some preliminary surveying. On April 14th, as Mr. Brewster and I were walking from the Kara Tepe locality down to the city, our attention was attracted to the lay of the land on our present campus, along the edge of which we were passing, by the old British military road. We turned aside, walked carefully over the ground, considering the requirements of our eagerly sought campus, with transportation, water supply which was lacking and difficult outside of town, and the like, and felt our quest was ending. Others soon agreed, and from that time there was in general increasing approval and satisfaction with what our Trustee, President Thwing, when visiting us soon afterward, called "one of the finest locations for a college in the whole world". The plan was formed in May, 1926.
Having selected grounds for our main and permanent campus, the next thing was to acquire the property. Within what soon became and still is the main campus, there were five small, unfenced fields. Cotton with a red boll grew in one. There were some peas in another. Most of the ground was rather thorny and stony. We employed Mr. John Racopoulos as our agent, and I kept out of sight. One or two of the pieces were inheritances and owned by family groups of a score or more persons, any one of whom might forbid or delay the sale, for the sake of the few drachmae belonging to his small share. The middle piece of the five belonged to the Kapoujides Church, probably having been left as a bequest by someone who thought it might be well for him to insure prayers for the rest of his soul when he was done with this world. I asked the attorney who was passing on titles for us about purchasing the piece. He said, "You can't get it. This belongs to a Greek Orthodox Church. You are foreigners and Protestants". I asked him if he could not find some way to act as our agent and secure it, and he emphatically declined to undertake it, saying, finally, that if I could get the authority of the Metropolitan Bishop, we might acquire it, but he evidently felt that our chance was slim. Of course, I had to make the effort, and I was fortunate enough to secure the full permission of His Holiness for one of the little fields that we wanted. That was near the beginning of an acquaintance between us which grew and ripened with the years and resulting relations of mutual friendship and respect between Christian brethren. Through our Metropolitan Bishop, I learned to regard the great Eastern Orthodox Churches with great and increasing respect and good will."
45: The first graduation (1926)Edit
"With the middle of June came the usual commencement season, and it was a glad time among our college people. True, many appointments of a full-fledged college were lacking, but we had much to be thankful for. There were nineteen competent and loyal persons on the staff of administration and instruction. A class of fifteen completed our course of study and received our certificates of graduation from our junior college courses. There were one Russian and one Albanian, besides Armenians and Greeks. True, they were almost without exception refugees, but they were picked fellows and were disciplined by their experience of hard knocks. True, the resources of their school had been meagre, but they had been used to the full. Members of the class who went on to higher study elsewhere sooner or later did well, practically without exception. One who went to Boston University took his Bachelor of Arts degree with full credit in two years. Several in the graduating class had worked their way almost entirely and expected to fend for themselves without favor or fear after their school days were done. As the College was a growing concern, they expected to go on growing as its first graduates in Macedonia.
Mr. Getchell spent the early part of the summer in Constantinople, where he had the use of his own old account books, later continued by Theodore Riggs, including many deposits for safe keeping, and all these accounts left during the dreadful days of deportation were settled correctly. Mr. Compton, also, during the vacation took a trip back to Merzifon, sorted the properties which had been left behind and brought away some thirty-five boxes containing movables, and including about one thousand library books, some other equipment and apparatus, besides a good many personal effects of individuals who had been located at the old home.
During the early days of August, negotiations for the purchase of the five fields aggregating eighteen acres, constituting our main campus on the ridge back from the city and 500-600 feet above the level of the Aegean Sea, were completed and during the summer the deeds were deposited in our safe. The local habitation of Anatolia College was determined. The first evidence of occupation of this ground by our College was the construction of a three-strand, barbed-wire fence around it with a clumsy wooden gate, which bore the announcement that this was the location of Anatolia College. Sunday, September 19th, we were favored by a visit from Dr. and Mrs. Westervelt of Honolulu. Together we visited our new campus purchase and paused at the gate for a few moments, looking up over that rough and bare ground and then Dr. Westervelt led us in prayer. This, I believe, was the second such prayer ever offered in this place, on these grounds."
46: Water! (1926)Edit
"On the last day of the vacation, a jubilant little party of us stood around a tank on the new campus and watched the turning on of water flowing from the mountains back of the city by gravity to our grounds. That was a really significant item in the development of our enterprise and represented the culmination of long and careful efforts. During the great war-storm, when British, French, Russian, Italian, and Yugoslavian soldiers, as well as the Greek army, were based on Saloniki, the question of water was provided for in part by the construction of water courses from the slopes of Mt. Hortiati to the city. The main supply skirted our grounds along a height not far away. Water for the city was rather inadequate, and it was a question whether they would allow any to be diverted for our use. In due time, however, careful negotiations were brought to a satisfactory issue and the municipal authorities allowed us to tap the stream on a height of ground and lead a reasonable amount, carefully calculated, into our campus. It proved later that water flowing from the mountainous background to the height above our campus by gravity would flow again by gravity from this height to the top floor of our highest buildings. Surely, we had much to be thankful for.
Similarly, during many months, we were working with the municipal authorities to prevent our Tracy Hall campus on the lower ground from being cut into by a broad avenue, which was included in their preliminary charts. A small and reasonable rectification or revision of the municipal plans carried the avenue near but not through our grounds, and a vote of appreciation by our Trustees in Boston was quite in place and the mutual friendliness apparently pleased both parties. By this time, we realized that the principal thoroughfare passing our campus was named Marathon street. What possible name could be better for an athletic field in Greece? So, Marathon Field came to be the accepted name of our athletic ground, and it was regarded as the best school athletic field in the city.
47: Progress in Thessaloniki (1927)Edit
"On May 1st, 1927, I left my family in Minneapolis and my work among widely scattered friends in America, to make another trip to Macedonia, which included the opportunity of meeting our trustees, secretaries, and friends in Boston on the way out and back. In Thessaloniki, progress was apparent at every point in the horizon. There was an increasing number of Greeks in the city who had made some money in the United States and came back to invest it where capital was more scanty and life more easy. One touch of America appeared in a movie picture announcement, not far from the College, entitled in English, "Jim the Devil". I was glad that that was not the only kind of influence from the land of my citizenship in the land of my adoption. It was encouraging to find four boys in four of our teachers' homes, born within the year; and while our teachers' salaries were often so meager as to make one feel very sober, during the ten years of this period some ten families of our College Staff each acquired a modest house as a home of their own.
"The School for Girls" had vacated its old abode on Rue Franque, where American mission work had been started long before and carried on for years, and it now occupied a new and far better site between Allatini Street and the Aegean Seashore. The ground was limited and the building, while good of its kind, was only the "konak" or mansion of a Turkish official, who had left with the rest of his people. There was the inevitable urge of growth in whatever has vitality. The School had outgrown its permit, gradually dropping its lower classes and adding classes higher up, until the permit for a common school had been outgrown and did not apply to the actual courses of instruction followed. So, the School was ordered closed, by meticulous officials and with legal right. A good deal of discussion, planning and some discouragement was finally terminated when, by a sort of side door route, it was found that if the College permit could be stretched so as to cover the Girls' School, it would be satisfactory to the officials of Greece. Provisional plans toward this result were agreed upon among us locally, and within a year when Boston could take unhurried action, this arrangement was confirmed. As one result, Miss Mabel Emerson was added to the Board of Trustees, and the Girls' School and College began to move toward a merger which could not be stopped half way. When it was announced in manager meeting that the Government in Athens had revoked the order closing the Girls' School, our feelings were expressed by our youngest member, who took a flying leap over the chairs and table with which the room was furnished.
As a city, Thessaloniki was struggling forward. Paving of main streets had begun, although such municipal improvements proceed slowly unless there are large, capital resources available for taxation. Parks and parking were taking shape. There never had been a sewer in the city until these years following the war, but by this time an urban system was fully half built. Millions were said to have been expended in building in the business area, which had been burned during the war. A "Free Zone" had been established in the harbor to provide transportation and trade facilities between Yugoslavia and the Aegean Sea, free from Greek custom duties or other regulations. Forty-five ten-ton freight cars each way were reckoned as average normal daily traffic."
48: Macedonia (1927)Edit
"The area and boundaries of Macedonia were very nearly the same as in the days of Philip of Macedon, who first put his little country "on the map" and of his son, Alexander the Great, who conquered the world and wept because there were no more worlds to conquer. Slavs at different times had over-run considerable parts of the province, but no Slav power ever ruled in Saloniki, neither Serbian nor Bulgarian. The term Macedonia was sometimes used by extension and as a geographical expression for southern Serbia, but that region was never truly Macedonian.
The Slav plowman and the Greek seaman met at the Free Zone in Thessaloniki, but many of the refugees from Pontus, Thrace, and other provinces were naturally tillers of the soil and wanted land. This urged the Government undertaking of two great reclamation projects. The Vardar River came down from the mid-Balkan area and just beyond its source began the Maritza, flowing northward, reaching the beautiful "blue" Danube below Belgrade. These waterways formed an almost straight north and south wrinkle on the face of Mother Nature from the Danube to the Aegean Sea, which had been followed by colonists and conquering hosts at intervals through all the ages. This now had become part of a main line of railroad travel and traffic from the English Channel and Paris to the Aegean Sea. But the untamed river breaking through the mountains had washed down and spread out the detritus in vast, marshy flats, chiefly productive of mosquitoes and malaria. The "Vardar Reclamation Project" was planned to provide about 20,000 twenty-acre farms and was a national enterprise of noble proportions undertaken by the "Foundation Company" of New York. Of course, it was the work of years.
Just over the ridge east of Thessaloniki, the Struma River followed an almost parallel course from the Balkan mountains to salt water, and the Monks-Ulen Company undertook a similar vast reclamation project among the marches and swamps of the Struma, only a little smaller than the Vardar project. Thessaloniki was also on the line of the old Egnatian Highway, running east and west, connecting not only the banks of these two streams, which were about one hundred miles apart; indeed, the Via Egnatia was first built to connect Rome and Constantinople, and it still serves this purpose. These projects were of exceedingly great commercial importance for the agricultural development of the region, for the commercial and industrial possibilities, and for the supply of food for the people without their needing to buy too much of foreign countries. Incidentally, a good many of our Anatolia boys secured employment with one or the other of these two great American companies. Thessaloniki was recognized as "the nearest port to the heart of the Balkans".
49: Back and forth (1928)Edit
"Work in America held me as long as possible in the spring of 1928, but I reached Thessaloniki and the College campus again on the morning of June 17, which was Baccalaureate Sunday, and I preached that day to our College audience from the words, "As Jesus passed by, he saw a man".
The condition of the College looked good, with Dean Compton in chief charge and a class of 13 to graduate creditably that week with the motto "Argonauts". A good record in interschool athletics during the year was a fact cheering to the students. Government officials and other friends, whom I met as soon as possible, were cordial and appreciative. The Girls' School was soon officially recognized as carrying on under the College permit, and was gaining a highly worthwhile constituency. An item not unimportant, was the report that farm crops for the year 1927 were good, "very good". We moved forward soon to complete the purchase and occupation of twelve acres of bench land for our athletic field on the upper campus and another small piece on the slope leading down to it to fill out the upper campus. Three rooms were built during the summer as a cheap addition to London Lodge, enlarging by a little the provision required immediately for the school in Charilaos.
In July, our son, George, and his wife had finished their work with the Near East Relief on the island of Syra, and accepted the invitation of College authorities to join in the effort to build and administer the College. Mrs. White and I started to leave our college campus again, October 29th, with fresh enthusiasm for work beyond the Atlantic Ocean. The Self-Help Shop was nearly finished, and they arranged to live in it during the months while the first house on the new campus was in process of construction. On our way to the train, which left late in the evening, they asked us to stop in at the Shop, and there served us a cup of coffee and the first light refreshments ever served on our upper campus.
Work in Thessaloniki was essentially set up for the academic year. There were 208 students registered for the six College classes and 92 in the Girls' School, which was already recognized as included under the College permit, while still supported by the fine women of the American Board. The College budget was right around $40,000.
During this season, on the invitation and arrangement of friends, I made my first trip to the North Pacific Coast. Some persons in that region were already among our contributors, especially the Coleman Brothers of Seattle. Mr. A. L. Tertsagian, at home both in Seattle and in Cashmere of the apple country, had taken a creditable place in the state of Washington. He gave a significant luncheon in Seattle for our work, but he had located his home and business amid Wenatchee apple orchards where he was building up an extensive business in apples and "aplets", this latter being a delightful confection which he had invented, somewhat on the model of "Turkish Delight". Another time when I was visiting Cashmere our former student invited me to a luncheon of the Chamber of Commerce where I was asked to say a few words of greeting. When a banker, who was the chief speaker, rose, he began by addressing me personally and saying that our Anatolia graduate was what he said he wanted to be: he was one of the best *citizens* in that part of the State of Washington. It is significant in this connection to recall that, whereas a good many young men of those earlier College years left the Near East because it was all so uncertain for the future, there is now good hope that our young graduates can go out to render such service for their own communities and countries as some of their earlier brothers and predecessors had done in America."
"When we reached Thessaloniki, May 25, 1929, Mrs. Elsie White, who was our landscape gardener, led us out into the garden to pick roses, not a seed or any living vegetation having been planted anywhere on those grounds when we left for America, October 29th preceding. There are the sun and the soil for some of Nature's best work in Macedonia provided human efforts are supplied in a skillful and industrious way, especially in adding water.
Government officials, as well as the College constituency, seemed generally to be increasingly favorable toward the College as intimacies increased. When I met the superintendent of education for Macedonia, who was charged with the responsibility of supervising our institution, it was heart warming for Mr. Compton as well as myself to hear him say, "We regularly report to Athens, Anatolia is the only foreign school that conforms to all the government regulations. Your attitude of respect for the laws won't hurt you". A class of 24 completed our course and received their diplomas at the commencement season.
One evidence of general development in the province was the gradual construction of better roadways, as we clearly realized when a new highway was built on a direct line between our lower and upper campus grounds. On the next slope above the College, also, a government "vineyard nursery" had been established to supply grapevines to the new settlers and others in Macedonia at cheap rates and free from diseases. The blight, phyloxera, a few years before, had almost destroyed the grapevines in that part of the world. The purpose of the nursery was to furnish roots of American stock, free from disease, grafted with different varieties of grapes, liked and wanted in the Near East. Near to the American College was the wayside announcement of "American grape wines". They were supplied in astonishing numbers and at equally remarkable low cost, usually from a quarter million to a half million vines for the planting season every spring, distributed at a price of about one cent per tiny vine.
In September, the annual International Commercial Fair was held, an institution which had now become quite an affair. Merchants from different countries gathered, Japan being usually the most remote, and for about a week were meeting one another, advertising their respective bargains, learning market needs, and planning for a full tide of business. The "Field of Mars", which had been used as a military parade ground, was assigned permanently for the purposes of the Fair. When Mars turns merchant, it is usually a very good thing for all concerned."
51: Fruitful interactions (1930)Edit
"It was very interesting to visit our fellow teacher at the University and see what he was doing. There were about a thousand students in the institution, nearly all of them young men. Many were refugees and very poor. Some had no fire in their rooms by which to study during cold weather. Many boarded themselves, with the most meagre facilities for preparing food. The Club occupied a rather roomy house rented and furnished by the University. There was room for study, games, reading, and writing, and the varied interests of the students, with a good cafeteria furnishing food at barely cost prices, and all under carefully strict regulations as to all conduct. Mr. Iatrides carried this work on for more than two years and then was invited to accept the position permanently at full time service and with the rank and rewards of a university professor. I rather thought he would go, but he chose to continue with the College and we rejoiced. This record chiefly for American readers who cannot adequately recognize able and loyal overseas Greek associates.
I timed my visit to America that fall with some reference to a national meeting of the Ahepa, which was held in Boston soon after we landed. A-H-E-P-A was a rather ambitious organization of Greeks in America (American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association), among half a million Hellenes who had migrated to Hesperia. This was a very important and useful movement. Its members were Greek- Americans, wholly loyal to the country of their adoption and desirous of promoting Americanism in every respect, including loyal citizenship among the members. At the same time, they were as proud of their classical heritage as were representatives of other nationalities whose fore- fathers had settled in this country. The group gatherings in different American cities where they could enjoy a degree of social life, talk in their mother tongue, confer and promote some community enterprises in the way of philanthropy, education, business, picnics, and excursions, including usually one annual trip of those who could go on a visit to the old country, were a cheerful and useful feature of their life in the country of their adoption.
Some of the leaders at this annual meeting in Boston gave me a cordial welcome and at one point in their program, one of them asked me to take a few steps with him. He opened a back stage door, and I found myself on the platform of a large hall filled with men, everyone standing, and with hearty applause they welcomed the transfer of the College from Turkey to Greece and welcomed me as its representative. Afterward, I frequently addressed chapters of the Ahepa in different cities, always with cordial and courteous treatment and often with some gift or gifts for American education in Macedonia."
52: Summer (1931)Edit
"The good Lord had been kind enough to bury quantities of beautiful bluish Macedonia marble in the soil within two miles of our campus and higher up, making a "down haul" for our building stone. Several different villages with their groups of stone masons, small capitalists or contractors, and officials were interested in quarrying and delivering our building stone, but were all at odds among themselves, until one day they came to Mr. Myer and said, "Mr. Myer, won't you please take this quarry business and run it? We can't agree among themselves, but we can all agree with you. If you'll take charge, we'll all work with you, and we'll all be happy". Myer quietly did so and really splendid marble stone was furnished on our campus, rough-cut, for about one dollar per cubic meter.
Arrived again in Thessaloniki, I went to see our able and friendly Governor General with my son as my companion and interpreter, for I had not learned colloquial Greek. His Excellency received us standing and we did not sit down during the interview. My son, on my behalf, made statement of our purpose to build and desire for permission. The Governor touched a bell and before this brief statement was fairly finished another man was standing near. The Governor said a few words to him and then turning to us again, remarked, "This is our chief engineer. He officially handles for us such matters as you have brought to my attention. I have just told him that we all know of the land which you own and where you want to build your College plant. We will be grateful if, for the sake of good and full understanding, you will keep us informed of what you are doing, but as for permission, I tell the engineer that I have given it to you. If that is satisfactory, you may proceed".
During the summer the children of the Charilaos community were granted the use of our athletic field as a play ground, supervised by a young Russian athlete employed for the purpose. The many children had a great time that summer enjoying our large field and we hoped to make that the beginning of social service in our neighborhood, but the time for that was not quite ripe yet. Some of us often dreamed of turning the Quadrangle into a Social Settlement or Neighborhood House, but the reach of dreamers often exceeds their grasp."