Sierra Leone, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Illinois: 1888-1897. Album. This album measures 11½“ x 9” with 36 pages containing 66 cabinet photographs in page-inserts. Most of the photographs have ink captions on either the front or back. The album is padded in red velvet and has a decorative metal clasp. All are in nice shape with some minor wear to the album.
The Church of the United Brethren, the first denomination to begin in the United States, had its origins in the late 1700s and was formally established at Fredrick, Maryland in 1800. It expanded westward, organizing a Home, Frontier and Foreign Missionary Society in 1853, after which establishing missions became an important part of the church. Beginning in 1855, the church established a mission in Sierra Leone, followed by others in Japan, China, Latin America, and the Indian Subcontinent.
The majority of images in this album are single or group portraits of members many with ties to the Salem Bible Church at Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, e.g., the Kellers, Phillips, and Smiths.
More importantly, 15 are of missionaries who served at Rotofunk Station, Sierra Leone and Sendai, Japan plus two images of the Rotofunk mission, one of the facility and one of a group of converts.
The Sierra Leone missionary images include the Reverend and Mrs. Jacob Miller, the Reverend and Mrs. R. N. West, Ellen Groenendyke, Francies Williams, Ella Schenck, Marietta Hatfield M.D., and Elma Bittle. Some of these photographs are important and related to the complete destruction of the mission during the Hut Tax War of 1898: Dr. Marietta Hatfield, Ella Schrenk, the rest of the staff, and all the residential converts were slaughtered by Mende warriors who then burned the entire station to the ground. Ellen Groenendyke escaped the massacre only because she was then raising funds for the station in the United States. Following the massacre, Ellen returned to Sierra Leone to re-establish the mission. Elma Brittle and Frances Williams died soon after arriving in Africa, succumbing to malaria despite treatment by Dr. Hatfield.
The images of the Japanese missionaries are also significant. One is of Fuji Tsukamoto, a native of Kobe, Japan. Others include Mary C. Hallowell, Lizzie R. Poorbaugh, Emma J. Poorbaugh, the Reverend W. E. Hoy family, the Reverend A. E. Bartholomew family, Lena Zarfluck, S. S. Snyder, Lillie M. Rohrbugh, and Margaret Powell. Very good. Item #009504
The album was probably compiled by John Kelker, the “Master Mechanist on the Denver & Rio Grande Railway”, or his wife, as photos of them (and their daughters) are in the album as are two Colorado images, one of the Garden of the Gods, and of a stopped train, titled “View on the Calumet Branch Denver & Rio Grande Rail Road, on the 409 ft Grade”.
Unique. As of 2020, no similar missionary albums are for sale in the trade, and the Rare Book Hub shows nothing similar as having been sold at auction. OCLC shows two institutions hold African missionary albums: one primarily filled with scenery views in the Congo, and one showing missionary activities from an unknown and unlocated mission.