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Rendel J. Harris and Helen B. Harris

LETTERS FROM ARMENIA


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LETTER No. X.

A MORNING WITH MISS SHATTUCK AT OURFA.

May 6, 1896.

DEAR FRIEND H. S. NEWMAN, — At this time of distress and emergency in Armenia, it is wonderful what a work God is giving to American missionaries, and especially to the lady missionaries, to do. At Van all know of Dr. Grace Kimball and her noble and successful work. That of Miss Shattuck at Ourfa is perhaps less known, but not less heroic. She was the one help and hope of the Christian population during the massacres (her own life at one crisis being in great danger); and ever since, her house, with the mission premises and the adjoining large Protestant church, has been the centre of distribution of the charity which has flowed hither from America and England, as also from the Armenians themselves. The mission premises surround a large courtyard, and when I arrived there this morning on a brief errand, as I supposed, I found a busy scene. Here are a group of Armenians waiting to state their various needs. Here are two native women who are employed as Bible-readers. They also gather the donations from the poor people among whom they visit, so freely given for those poorer still. Some of these are not able to give more than the

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value of the well-known widow’s mite, while others give good sums, and brides the gold coins from their dowry-strings, while last night a pair of chased gold earrings were brought in. These Bible-women, by-the-bye, find those they go to so hungry for Bible comfort, that instead of the twos and threes, as is usual, coming together, the women are crowding by the hundred, and yesterday one of the Bible-women told Miss Shattuck that in one house -and courtyard alone there were as many as three hundred. As Miss S. is afraid of this attracting too much attention, she has told them not to allow such large gatherings. How different this thirst for the Gospel is to the state of things in many favoured English towns, and how it shows that God is even now bringing good out of evil.

Near these groups are a band of children, mostly orphan, and, standing a little aloof, two Turkish soldiers, who are the immediate guards of the establishment (there being twenty others a little further off); some of these go with us when we go out, and seem to take a real interest in what is going on.

Mounting the out-door stairs to the verandah, upon which open Miss Shattuck’s private rooms, and entering, I find her seated amidst her Armenian Relief Committee, seven earnest, good, and reliable men of responsible positions in the town, and she is manifestly their leader and guide in all their work. Every day they thus sit in council, and consider every case of need separately, and then scatter to carry out the blessed work upon which they are engaged.

Just now, as I enter, they are considering how to send

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some orphans to Smyrna, for whom the good German deaconesses there are ready to provide. They have also a letter from Mrs. Dobrashian of Constantinople, concerning her taking some more of these parentless little ones under her care, and the whole matter is carefully considered. Miss Shattuck and the committee receive numerous personal appeals daily, and she had a number of these translated to me this morning, from an appeal for a donkey from a pedlar now recovered from his wounds, who declares he is too weak for any other work, to a request to be made whole by a dying woman who thinks the committee have all power. Most of the cases are, however, from widows with children whose husbands were killed. This committee work takes about an hour. Then comes looking at needle-work, for in one of the mission rooms are many girls engaged embroidering felt, for mats and other purposes, in hope of an English market. In the church are great heaps of wool being prepared for making up into beds for the poor. This is of course cleared out every Sunday, when the church is crowded with worshippers, holding about 2000 people. One of the visitors to Miss Shattuck this morning was an Armenian gentleman who had supplied her with money before help could come from Europe, and she was returning what had been lent by him. His life had been saved by two Turkish neighbours, whose wives called on Miss Shattuck when I was present yesterday. It is needless to say that social intercourse with the Turks on such a basis is one of the bright spots in this dark picture, which are happily not wanting to relieve it in every place.

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After these items of business Miss Shattuck and I, accompanied by our guard and some of the Relief Committee, went to inspect an Armenian house, kindly lent free of cost for two months, to receive orphans, until further arrangements can be made. It has been terribly battered about, and, indeed, we have not been in one Armenian house yet which does not show marks of violence; but, in spite of injury, it is a fine old house, evidently belonging, to a family or families (since life is on the patriarchal basis here) of the better class. Carved marble pillars and beautifully carved woodwork on doors and shutters showed the refinement of its late occupants. The owner was with us, and told us that twenty-one of his kith and kin who had lived there with him had been killed in the massacre. Twenty-one ! Just think of the desolation of his hearth and home! and of the nobility and charity of nature that could take joy in giving the scene of former happy family life to shelter the orphan children of his people. After Miss Shattuck and her helpers had decided what had to be done to put the house in order, we next proceeded to the little infirmary where the few wounded people who have neither recovered nor died yet remain. Here is a man with a great sword-gash across his face cutting the nose in two, another shot through the lungs, another with one hand off and the other wounded, &c. Miss Shattuck gives kind words and sympathising looks to each, and as she is so occupied it becomes known that she is here, and women crowd into the outer court, each with her own hope for a word and a promise from their one friend.

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Here let me leave her surrounded by the needy people she loves — utterly self-forgetful and apparently incapable of fatigue, a woman full of the deepest sympathy and tenderness, and yet, as Mr. Fitzmaurice, the British Vice-Consul, said of her, possessing the most level head of any one far and near. — Sincerely thy friend,

HELEN B. HARRIS.

 


Table of contents
The cover and pages 1-4 | Preface | Table of contents (as in the book)
Turkish Armenia with Route of J.R. & H.B. Harris (a map)
Letter I | Letter II | Letter III | Letter IV | Letter V | Letter VI | Letter VII | Letter VIII
Letter IX | Letter X | Letter XI | Letter XII | Letter XIII | Letter XIV | Letter XV
Letter XVI | Letter XVII | Letter XVIII | Letter XIX | Letter XX | Letter XXI | Letter XXII
Letter XXIII | Letter XXIV | Letter XXV | Letter XXVI | Letter XXVII | Letter XXVIII
Memorandum: Notes of Information from J. R. H. | Letter XXIX | Letter XXX
Letter XXXI | Letter XXXII | Letter XXXIII | Letter XXXIV | Letter XXXV
Letter XXXVI | Letter XXXVII

Acknowledgements:

Source: J. Rendel Harris & B. Helen Harris. Letters from the Scenes of the Recent Massacres in Armenia. London, James Nisbet & Co., Limited, 1897
Provided by: Aram Arkun, Krikor and Clara Zohrab Information Center
Scanned by: Karen Vrtanesyan
OCR: Irina Minasyan

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