The Souvenir of Western Women/Baptist Women in the Pacific Northwest
Work of Baptist Women in the Pacific Northwest
By MRS. ELLEN SCOTT LATOURETTE
FROM the time of the organization of the first Baptist Church in the Northwest, the call came to our women to be co-laborers in lines of Christian work which especially appeal to women. This was the giving of the gospel to women in pagan lands. Besides these duties, the Baptist women have not been unmindful of the individual needs in their home churches and neighborhoods, or of the opportunities for service in various directions, as is evidenced by the Ladies' Aid Societies in our churches, the systematic calling upon strangers and the sick and poor.
For a time the mission circle was auxiliary to the Woman's Baptist Foreign Missionary Society of the West, which, with its sister society of the East, had been formed only the year before. Thus quick were the sisters of this remote territory to respond to calls and opportunities for help. By 1874 the missionary idea had so grown upon the coast that there was formed in San Francisco the Woman's Baptist Foreign Missionary Society of the Pacific Coast, which claimed as one of its constituents this little band at Olympia, and also two more which had been first baptist church formed by this time at Elma and Seattle.
In 1876 Mrs. J. C. Baker, of Oakland, Cal., came to Oregon and organized some circles, among them one at Oregon City and another at Salem, making them auxiliary to the same general society at San Francisco. But two years later, as the distances were so great, making it impossible for delegates to gather from the remote fields, another general society, called the Woman's Baptist Foreign Missionary Society of the North Pacific Coast, was formed having for its constituency Oregon, Eastern Washington, North Idaho and British Columbia.
In 1882 Oregon voted to leave the North Pacific Coast Society, and become directly auxiliary to the Missionary Union. Its constituency at this time was twelve circles and six mission bands—a few of these being in Eastern Washington.
In 1883 Miss Adele M. Fields, of Swatow, China, made a hasty tour of Oregon and Washington, and enlisted many circles in a plan for providing a training school for Chinese women in a part of the Swatow district. The circle at Seattle in particular gave important aid in this work. Mission work among the Japanese and Chinese at Seattle has resulted in the formation of a church for each of these nationalities, under the auspices of the first
church; the Tabernacle church of the same city has sent a missionary to the Philippines; work among the Danes, Swedes and Norwegians also has received much attention at the hands of Seattle Baptists.
In 1884 Oregon decided to assume the support of a missionary, and Miss Minnie Buzzell, of Nebraska, was sent to Swatow, China. For only a few years did her health allow her to labor there; but on her return fruitful work was done in Oregon for several years, being marked by a large increase in missionary interest, and by large contributions, reaching in one year the sum of $1,875.
From that time until now the Oregon society has had in the foreign field a number of representatives—Miss Pursell at Nowgong, Assam, sent by the Young People's Societies; Miss Skinner, an Oregon girl, at Cumbum, India; Miss Elia Campbell, sent to the Hakkas, in China; Miss Kate Goddard to Ningpo, China, and Miss Stella Ragon to Shevegyin, Burmah. It also sent to the training school at Chicago Miss Addie Williams, of Oregon. Since 1885 Mrs. E. S. Latourette has continuously served as corresponding secretary; Mrs. M. L. Driggs as president since 1889, and Mrs. James Failing as recording secretary from 1888 to 1903. The society was incorporated in 1890.
In Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho the home and foreign mission work have for the most part gone hand in hand, Union circles pledging support to both causes having been the rule. Miss Allen, general missionary, took charge of the Chinese mission work in Spokane in 1895. The general work was also actively prosecuted, nearly every church in the field being enlisted.
Some of the specific work of the women in this field has been the education of one young woman at the training school, the support for a time of the Scandinavian mission at Spokane. Another opportunity for help was given our women about 1894, by Rev. S. W. Beaven, a resident pastor on Vashon Island, Washington, at Burton, between Seattle and Tacoma. The need for another home for the children of foreign missionaries, beside those already in Massachusetts and Illinois, had long been apparent. Mr. Beaven's proposition was that he and his wife, assisted by his two sisters, should take the initiative in providing such a home if the women's missionary societies on the coast would co-operate. In 1895 a large house was built by Mr. Beaven, the women's societies and individual friends assisting in the furnishings. Later it, with its grounds, was purchased by the denomination on the coast and placed under the management of a representative committee of fifteen, five to reside near the home. Mr. Beaven and his wife were retained as superintendent and matron. Their care and the home has proved ideal, thus softening the sorrows of missionary parents whose children must have their early education in the home land, away from those most dear to them.
During the past two years all the women's foreign missionary societies on the coast have become affiliated with the Woman's Baptist Foreign Missionary Society of the West, and the probabilities are that the home at Burton will also come under the same management.
Pioneer courts, as well as pioneers of all other sorts, have a history peculiar to themselves. The first court opened in Corvallis was in a little log house, the home of Mrs. J. C. Avery. Judge Pratt, with all due dignity and the usual ceremony, pronounced the court open, and then Joe Meek, clothed with the authority of United States Marshal, stepped outside the door and called in a loud, sonorous voice, "Hear ye! hear ye! come into court," though there was not a person within hearing save Mrs. Avery, nor another object that broke the stillness save the dasher of her churn, as she sat by the fireplace composedly churning during this imposing ceremony, the formal opening of the first court in that judicial district.—(Notes furnished by Mrs. George R. Helm, nee Miss Frances Avery.)