Robbie Fee-Thomson

Document #7

Lydia Lord Davis Letter to “My dear Mother”

Yu Tao Ho, Shansi; August 24, 1924

L, A: Oberlin College Archives, Lydia Lord Davis Records Group (RG 30/80), Personal Correspondence Series III, Box 3, Letters Sent to Mr. Lois Pickett, 1894-99, 1903-06, 1924, n.d. Folder



This original handwritten letter from Lydia to her mother was written during her seven-month trip back to Shansi Province, China in 1924, her only return visit to China. During this trip, she visited the “Lydia Lord Davis School for Girls” at Fenzhou, which was renamed for her following the rebuilding of the mission after the 1900 Boxer Rebellion. She also visited the martyrs’ garden cemetery during her stay. Lydia had been a promoter and advocate for foreign missions since her time in China, but after her three young sons were older, she made a “career” of it. She organized missionary study groups and spoke to area churches to promote missions. At the time of her visit to China, she was a traveling speaker for the Board of Missions for the Interior; Midwest Regional Commission.


Yű Tao Ho, Shansi

Aug 24/24[zz]


My dear Mother:-

            I have looked for a letter from you for several days but one will be here soon I’m sure. I’m enclosing a letter for Miss Bostwick[aaa] I hope she is to be with us this year.

It is so lovely here at the valley I never had such a good rest in my life as I’m having now & feel so well – and such good food as Gertrude Pye[bbb] has. I feel like a different person than I did two months ago. In two days we go into the city of Fen Chow for 2 weeks then to Taiku & the journey home. Louis & family will be home before this reaches you. I mailed a letter to Frances[ccc] at Oak St about a week ago.

I hope she received it all right. The young people in the Mission are so fine it is a joy to know them.

Dear Clara Wolfe is so brave & Jesse[ddd] too – I shall be in their house one day in Trestsin[eee] & its there I’m to get your present I hope you’ll like it –

Did I write you that Lewis has quite a place of honor in the book but has to work from 8 AM to 7 P.M. I don’t see how he can stand it.

I did love it in Manila[fff] in spite of the heat & feel homesick for it all again.

Now Ill say good bye with love



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[zz] August 24, 1924.

[aaa] Unable to locate information about her identity.

[bbb] Mrs. Gertrude Chaney Pye, a 1908 graduate of Oberlin College, served in Shansi with her husband Watts Orsen Pye from 1909-1926. Watts, a 1907 graduate of Oberlin Theological Seminary, died in Shansi in 1926. Gertrude remained in China until 1942 and returned again in 1947-1948. Oberlin in Asia, 62.

[ccc] This could be Frances Cade, Oberlin graduate who later succeeded Lydia as the Executive Secretary of the Oberlin-Shansi Memorial Association. Lydia Lord Davis Memo to Oberlin College Alumni, Oberlin-Shansi Memorial Association, September 1, 1941; OCA, RG 30/80 Lydia Lord Davis, Series V, Box 6, Midwest Regional Commission Folder.

[ddd] Clara Husted Wolfe (1883-1970), of Oberlin, Ohio, graduated with her A.B. from Oberlin College in 1906. She married Jesse Benjamin Wolfe (1881-1972), in 1909. The couple traveled to China soon after their wedding and where they were missionaries at the Methodist University in Peking before serving in Shansi. One of the couple’s five children, Mildred Husted had died in 1923 and another daughter, Mary Evangeline (1922-24), died two months before Lydia’s visit, which may explain Lydia’s reference to “brave.” Clara was a teacher at the mission school at Tientsien and Jesse was an architect and builder for the mission at this time. Various alumni forms, OCA RG 28 Alumni Records, Grads and Formers Series, Box 241, Clara Husten Wolfe and Jesse Benjamin Wolfe student files.

[eee] Unable to locate geographical information about this location’s proximity to the mission school at Tientsien.

[fff] Unable to locate  information about this visit.