Woman of the Century/Loretta C Van Hook
VAN HOOK, Mrs. Loretta C., missionary and educator in Persia, born in Shopiere, Wis., 4th July, 1852. Her maiden name was Turner. LORETTA C. VAN HOOK. Her ancestors were New Englanders and Hollanders. Her father was a millwright, a native of New York, and her mother belonged to one of the old Dutch families of the same State. From her mother Loretta inherited a fine artistic taste and talent She was a precocious child, and she generally led her classes. She acquired a varied education, and when fourteen years old she became a teacher. As a child she was deeply religious. She became the wife of Mr. Van Hook in 1870, and they moved to western Iowa. Her husband and her only child died in 1871, and Mrs. Van Hook consecrated her life to the service of others. She went to Rockford, Ill., and took a course in the seminary there, graduating in 1875. She sailed for Persia in 1876. During that and the two succeeding years she spent her time in missionary work and in the acquisition of the language of the country, having in view the delivery of Persian women from the degradation in which they live. She went out under the auspices of the Presbyterian Board of Missions. She settled in Tabriz, a city of 200,000 people, where women were taught to believe that they have no souls, and where no woman had ever been taught to read. After learning the language of the people, in 1879 Mrs. Van Hook established a school for girls in a quarter of the city where no other foreigner resided. Prejudices and suspicions met her, but she conquered them, and now her school is a flourishing seminary, with large buildings in the heart of Tabriz. She has students from Erinam, Russia, Kars, Turkey, and Zenjan, Persia. Her graduates are holding influential positions from the Caspian Sea to the borders of Turkey and Kurdistan. She is assisted in her work by the bands of King's Daughters, and her Persian, Turkish and Armenian graduates scattered over the land are changing harems into homes and doing much to dispel the utter darkness in which the women of that country have for ages been kept. She is a quiet, sad-faced, delicate woman, but her work and accomplishments are those <>f a mental, moral and physical giant.