Elizabeth Adda Robinson Ratcliffe
Harold and Mary Robinson
1 Nov 2023: Celebrating the Centennial of Elizabeth’s Birth

Mary and Harold, date unknown
Grandpa’s Story, A Yankee In China
The Chinese Chimes
                 The California Call
Mission Station Tehchow
Dartmouth Alumni Magazine
This is an archive of papers of Elizabeth’s parents, Harold Wesley Robinson and Mary Elizabeth Stambaugh Robinson as well as other sources about them. (All PDF files are text-searchable.) Born in 1886 and 1883, respectively, they met onboard the S.S. Wilhemena in 1910 bound for Honolulu, Hawaii. Mary was on her way to teach in the Kawaihao Seminary for Girls in Honolulu after being turned down for the job of principal in a school in Davenport, Washington because she “was not a man” and had heard of the opportunity from a Whitman (where she graduated Phi Beta Kappa) classmate who was then teaching at Kawaihao. Harold was going to teach mathematics at the Mid Pacific Institute in Honolulu to replace his friend Ralph Richardson who had been offered an engineering position for the construction of Pearl Harbor.

In Hawaii, Harold taught in Chinese and Korean churches and came in contact with leaders from China. He and Mary became great friends as both were teaching in Mills School. Three years in Honolulu, convinced Harold he should take up theological training in preparation for life work in China. Graduating from Union Theological Seminary in 1916, he and Mary were wed that same year.

From Sketch of Mr. and Mrs. Harold W. Robinson (1943):

From 1917 until 1932 Mr. and Mrs. Robinson were stationed in Paotingfu, where they were engaged in teaching in the schools and in rural church work. From 1933 until 1940 they were in Tunghsien and Tehsien, where they carried on important evangelistic and educational work in large rural districts. Mrs. Robinson was particularly concerned with work among women.
Years of fine, constructive service in North China where the Robinsons' contacts were with Chinese church workers as well as with students, have gone by. The faith of those who knew them in their younger days has been fully justified. Now the North China Mission is occupied by Japan and remaining missionaries are in an internment camp. The Robinsons came home on furlough in 1940 and Mr, Robinson returned to China in 1942. At present he is comptroller of Yenching University, Peiping, relocated in Chengtu, West China in unoccupied territory. Mrs. Robinson is living in Long Beach, California. (See Mrs. Robinson's letter of July, 1943).
Harold Wesley Robinson
Editor’s Note
Author’s Note
A Yankee in Vermont
Life at Dartmouth
Union Seminary
Life in China
Grandma’s Supplement
            Thayer Family History
            Family Tree
            Warren Vermont
            National Geographic Articles
            The Hairnet Industry In North China, Sep 1923
            Keeping Cool (?) in North China
  The Chinese Chimes    
The California Call
This archive celebrates the lost art of letter writing. In China, previous to 1925, Harold and Mary engaged in a process of letter-writing to family and friends back in the states through a form of “news letter” initially titled The Paotingfu Bugle and then re-christened as The Chinese Chimes. Returning from China for the last time in 1951, The Chimes was renamed The California Call. In the 1920s, using thin sheets of legal-sized paper, each edition was typewritten on one side, mimeographed copies were then folded at the top to make two pages from one piece of paper. Each set was stitched across the top as the final step before mailing. The magnitude of this endeavor is reflected in two Mailing Lists: circa early 1940s, >350 addresses / 7 pages and circa 1946,  >200 addresses / 5 pages. Unfortunately, no surviving copies of The Paotingfu Bugle were in Elizabeth’s papers and some editions of The Chimes and California Call are missing from this archive. (Nov 1947 may be missing additional pages and Aug 1950 is missing at least page 2.)
Portions of The Chinese Chimes describe almost 35 years of Harold’s and Mary’s direct, on-the-ground experiences during that tumultuous period of China’s history from 1916 to 1950. Two books that complement what is recorded in The Chimes are John Paton Davies, Jr.’s Dragon by the Tail - American, British, Japanese, and Russian Encounters with China and One Another (New York: W. W. Norton, 1972) and James Bradley’s The China Mirage - The Hidden History of American Disaster in Asia (New York: Little Brown and Company, 2015). The Prologue in the former, and Introduction in the latter provide useful overviews.
In the following Contents, each edition’s title links directly to the PDF copy of the original. The page number link in parenthesis jumps below to an expanded outline with all subheads for each Number. (Unfortunately, linking into a PDF file beyond page 1 does not work on mobile phones.) The first three Chimes are fully replicated in PDF format. A few additional subheads in bold link to hypertext copy.
Robinson Family Passport Photo, Long Beach, 1925
Harold and Mary arrive in China, September 1916 under the auspices of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. After studying at the North China Language School for a year, they move to Paotingfu in late summer, 1917. Harold Stambaugh Robinson is born on 1 January 1918. James Wesley Robinson is born on 4 October 1920. The family returns to the U.S. for their first furlough on 3 July 1923. Elizabeth is born in Barre Vermont on 1 November of that year. The Robinsons return to China in February, 1925. Prior to their return, the family of five stayed with Mary’s parents in California. The above is their Passport photograph taken at Long Beach.
Echoes of Elizabeth’s family’s timeline. Quoted captions are Mary’s handwriting on the back of the given picture. More photos are presented in China and Family Picture Books.

George Robinson home postcard

“The ‘Kid Faculty’ on the farm beside some wild taro”

“The ‘Kid Faculty’ in the banana patch
Shaw Wallin Cross Peabody Cotter HWR Hammond”

“Our Building [3rd flr, bldg on left, rightmost window:] one of my windows”

The little cottage where we spent our Honeymoon
Harold’s and Mary’s honeymoon at Spirit Lake, Idaho, August, 1916.
“As we looked about two months ago.”

“To show off our Christmas Presents”

At Peitaiho: “Are you shocked by this show of legs?”

Mary’s calling card when the family lived in Tehchow, Shantung Province.

At Deer Lodge, Montana, 1932 Furlough:
back row: Harold, Mary, Aunt Bess, Harold, Jr.
front row: James, Elizabeth, Betty Jeanne, Sydney
Harold and Mary circa 1930s

Mary and Harold, date unknown

Harold, date unknown

Harold and Mary in Tehchow, 1938

Harold, Elizabeth, and James, date unknown

27. The Yenching "Honest Club", a social and "self improvment" organization.
Miss Chow Chi-hsin, second from the left, and Mr. H.W. Robinson,
at the extreme right are faculty advisers to the Club. Circa 1943

Harold W. Robinson of China
Harvard Studios, Boston
D.P. Cushing, News Editor
Congregational Christian Press Bureau
14 Beacon St., Boston, Mass.

Graduating Class, Entering Class, members of faculty and guests of the Communists Training Class in Public Health taken in spring of 1949 in front of the Girls Dormitory of the North China American School, T’unghsien, China. This School was established and run for many years by Congregationalists, Presbyterians and Church of the Brethren. The Girls dormitory was built with funds from the Russell Sage Foundation and was used by the Communists as a dormitory for their students and some of the members of the faculty. This, and other buildings of the N.C.A.S. were still being used by the Communists for training young people in Public Health the last l knew.
A close-up of #1. At the extreme right in second row from the front is the Communist doctor who was speaker of the day at the Graduation exercises. Left of him the second person is Dr. Eleosser who was head of the UNICEF work in North China which cooperated with the Communist government in the Training Class in Public Health. Left of Dr.E. is Mrs. Drummond,an other member of the UNICEF. Next to Mrs.D. on the left is Mrs.Chu Teh, one of the wives of the Communist General, who was vice-chairman of the National Federation of Chinese Women. Just back of Mrs.Chu (head turned) is Miss Edith Galt, and just back of Dr.E. is Miss Isabell Hemingway. These two American nurses were missionaries of the American Board (Congregational) and were loaned to UNICEF as teachers of Midwifery in the Training Class at T'unghsien. Mrs. Robinson is back of Mrs.Drummond and Dr. Adaline Satterthwaite, a missionary of the American Board is at the left of Edith Galt.

Left to right: Dr. McPhail (Canadian), "Johnny" ? an English Eurasian,
Dr. Eleosser and Mrs.Drummond, all of the Peking office of UNICEF.
Dr. Su, the Communist doctor who spoke at the meeting, left in picture; Dr. Eleosser and Dr. Hatem (at the right), an American doctor who had worked with the Chinese Communists in West China several years and was an advisor for them in the Public Health Bureau at Peking when the picture was taken.

Julie, Harold, Mary, Harold, Hope, and Jim, 1952
Harold and Mary at 430 Ellsworth Court, San Mateo (the one owned home throughout their lives), visited by son Harold and grandson Tom, circa mid-1950s.

Dave and Patty with Gramp and Gram at Cazadero, circa 1959
(The can holds many acorns gathered from the grove we were in.)

Mary and Harold at San Mateo Congregational Church, 24 Apr 1960

The seven children of George and Julia Robinson:
George, Mabel, May Josie, Ruth, Doris, and Harold. June 1960

On Visiting My Aged Father In A Nursing Home

Harold’s 95th Birthday, 20 February 1981

Remembrance Service - Harold Wesley Robinson
Written by a friend of Harold’s and a resident of Carmel Valley Manor.
This publication is an on-the-ground account of the place Harold and Mary were stationed and worked from after the period of lives spent in Paotingfu. Search on “Robinson” to see the pages where they are written about.
Mission Station Tehchow   
Dr. Fritz Baumgarten
prepared at the request of the members of the
Tehchow station of the North China Mission of
the American Board of Commissioners
for foreign Missions,
in order to give through the eyes of a
newcomer a fresh impression of what
a mission station is.

Tehchow, December 1940

Dartmouth Alumni Magazine    
Dartmouth In China
by Ralph Dwinell ’25, Feb 1927 (4 pp.)
Evidently Dartmouth men in North China are also interested and impressed with the type of educational work with which their college is becoming identified judging from the following extract from one of Mr. Robinson’s news letters. “Tuesday noon we attended a luncheon in honor of the Strong’s (Dr. and Mrs. William E. Strong ’82) given by the Dartmouth Alumni Association of North China. A t this time the Association voted $100 Mexican to our Dartmouth-in-China work in Paotingfu.” To date the physical part of Dartmouth-in-China is embodied in H. W. Robinson ’10 and several Chinese teachers, a country school in Kao I and a dormitory and class room building in Paotingfu.
Dartmouth In China—A Symposium, Mar 1930 (4 pp.)
By Charles E. Butler, secretary of the Dartmouth Christian Association,
Dr. Edmund Meleney ’09, Keith Drake ’24, and C.E.Griffith ’15.
At this time it was suggested by the alumni committee of the Christian Association that Dartmouth lend her support to educational work in China. H. W. Robinson ’10 and Mrs. Robinson had been located in Paotingfu (Bow-ding-fu) since 1916 as representatives of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (Congregational). Previous to going to China Mr. Robinson had taught in the Mills School in Honolulu. Because of the imperative need for more schools in China it was decided that the Dartmouth Christian Association with its alumni committee should forward its gifts through the American Board of Foreign Missions to Mr. Robinson whose past experience had qualified him so thoroughly to co-operate with the Chinese educational leaders....
Paotingfu, located fairly centrally in that part of North China which is south of Peking, is on one of the few railroads which luckily enough runs after a fashion. It is an outpost of the American Board Mission. One of its two “foreign” (meaning American) directors and one of its three American residents, a most plucky lot, is H. W. Robinson of 1910 class and through whom a post called Dartmouth-in-China has been established....
At the west end of the ... thirty acre compound of the Tung Jen Middle School ... is situated the four homes of the American Board missionaries. All of these are empty except for one occupant, Robinson in one, for his family is in Peking per consular orders; Hubbard in a second, with his family in Peking, one hundred miles to the north, but more like five hundred with the present state of communications; and Miss Phelps in the third. These people are all illegally or daringly, as you care to look at it, here. United States consular orders from Tientsin and Peking are that all missionaries are advised to keep out of the interior and stay in the treaty ports or Peking.
It is in this connection that the American Board Mission took an advanced stand much criticized. Hubbard wrote the document stating that since friendliness and the spread of Christ’s spirit was the object of the American Board’s station men they protested against the use of force for the protection of themselves in China’s interior. Should they be endangered, captured, or killed as they expected, they requested in a manifesto that no military force, demands, or expeditions be made by their government, nor indemnities asked in case of their deaths. Robinson and others signed this. It was sent to Washington, diplomatic and consular officials in China, Senator Borah, among others, and the American Board offices in the United States.
Good News in China
Letters to the Editor, Mar 1939 (1 pp.)
Dangerous Post
To the Editor:
Since I wrote in June the guerilla forces have extended their control over more area here in the north and the Chinese Central Government has improved its civil government in this area. In this province of Shantung, and Hopei to the west, the Central Government has a civil governor in each province. Under these governors are county magistrates in nearly all of the counties so that the whole administration is in the hands of the Chinese. About the middle of August the guerrillas destroyed sections of the railways in these provinces and for about ten days there was no passenger service between here and Tsinan.
Stronger Central Government
The spirit of loyalty to the Central Government, and the belief that the invaders will not be able to conquer China, increases constantly in this part of the country. Even if Hankow falls, as it is likely to do in the near future, China will not be a conquered country. I don't know how long the struggle will continue but I do not look for an early cessation, much as I wish it were possible. Tremendous forces have been set loose and it is a much more difficult task to stop them than it was to start them.
I am enclosing a snapshot of myself and my seventeen-year-old son, “Jimmy,” who is now in Dartmouth. This picture was taken just after we received the good news that he had been admitted to Dartmouth. The smiles on our faces indicate how the news affected us.
Harold W. Robinson ’10
American Board Mission
Tehchow, Shantung
[Mr. Robinson has two sons in Hanover—Harold S. ’39 and a first-year Medic; and James W. ’42, shown above with his father who is an authority on far eastern affairs.—Ed.]
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