Mr. Conger to Mr. Hay.

No. 417.]

Sir: I herewith inclose copy of a very interesting letter from Dr. John Wherry, giving additional particulars of the fiendish murder of the Americans at Paoting-fu,

And to be, sir, etc.,

E. H. Conger.

Dr. John Wherry to Mr. Conger.

Dear Sir: From a young man [Chinese] named ------- -------, originally from ------, but who for nearly a year has been at Paoting-fu, * * * I learn some particulars of the last days of our missionaries at that place. Since their death Mr. ----- has been in hiding from the Boxers, and has but recently dared to venture into the city. He is a Christian and is regarded as thoroughly trustworthy. He says that until near the final catastrophe the provincial treasurer remained friendly to the missionaries, although conscious that he thereby incurred the ill-will of the Boxers. Among other kindly acts, he offered the missionaries a public building (not a yamen) in the city as a refuge. This, however, they declined to accept, partly because they feared that moving thither might precipitate an attack upon them, and especially because in any event they would have been no safer there than at their own homes. This refusal to accept the treasurer’s offer made no difference in his friendship toward them. For ten days or more previous to the 25th or 26th of June a guard of 18 cavalrymen had been stationed at a temple close by the Presbyterian mission, a short distance outside the north gate of the city. These were reenforced for two nights only by some 200 of General Nieh Shih-cheng’s infantry. About the 25th or 26th of June an imperial edict was said to have reached Paoting-fu denouncing the Christians, whereupon the original guard and General Nieh’s troops all abandoned their watch and did not return. At the same time the attitude of the provincial treasurer toward the missionaries and Christians changed. In appearance at least he became hostile. From this date the Boxers, who were known to be enrolled in large numbers, but who had kept themselves hidden, became much bolder and began to appear on the streets in their distinctive colors.

At the fatal attack on the Presbyterian Mission, Mr. ----- was not present, Dr. and Mrs. Hodge having released him in the gathering storm from service. But during his hiding he was thrown into company with a young man named ----- -------, who, as an eyewitness of the final catastrophe, gave him some important particulars. [Page 194] ----- -------, though the son of a Presbyterian convert, was not himself a professing Christian, and so, having no special fear of the Boxers, mingled freely with the crowd that gathered to witness the killing of the foreigners and the destruction of their buildings. From his account it seems that the city was still quiet enough on the morning of the 30th of June to allow Dr. Taylor to enter it on his professional duties as usual. In the afternoon, after Dr. Taylor’s return, he and Mr. and Mrs. Simcox and their three children, and Dr. and Mrs. Hodge, being each in his own house, the assault came. One or two of the missionaries made some defense, and two of their assailants were killed. ------ -------, the witness, was himself slightly wounded in the head by a bullet from one of the houses. Undeterred, however, the Boxers crowded up to the doors and set the buildings on fire, and the inmates, with one exception, perished in the flames. One of Mr. Simcox’s children, presumably Paul, the oldest, driven by the heat or smoke, ran out, and was immediately dispatched by a sword or spear. After the houses were consumed the charred retrains of the dead were thrown into a well. The bodies of the two dead Boxers were carried away.

The above account differs in some points from that received by Mr. J. W. Lowrie at Tientsin. I think it is likely more nearly correct.

Mr.------- had also some information regarding the destruction of the American Board mission at the south of the city, but no doubt you will receive a fuller and more accurate account than he can give from some member of the same mission in Pekin.

With high appreciation of your interest in our martyred brethren, and protracted efforts to save them,

I am, dear sir, yours, sincerely,

John Wherry.