#1: From New York to Merzifon (1890)

We sailed from New York on the Scotch steamer Furnessia, October 11, caught glimpses of Glasgow with its shipbuilding on the Clyde, of aristocratic Edinburgh with its famous university, and of mighty London and the perennially friendly and generous Bible Lands Missions Aid Society. A visit to Parliament, where we saw the statue of John Selden, an alleged ancestor, in the hallway, almost made us feel as if we owned the place, and certainly prepared us to reciprocate the friendliness and cooperation of British friends and officials during succeeding years. We crossed the continent by trains with no sleeping car and made initial acquaintance with cosmopolitan Constantinople, then and naturally, the capital of the Near-eastern world, and we were especially glad to meet the hospitable Americans at the Bible House and at Robert College. Then came the small Russian steamer, Rostoff, with its characteristic crowd of deck passengers: Armenian rug merchants, Persians with their samovars and tea parties, muscular Kurdish porters, Turkish hucksters, Greek colonizers, Caucasian mountaineers with their daggers and cartridge bandoliers, and stalwart Russians commanding and respected by all.

So we reached Samsoun, and after some pushing through the slow moving Custom House and through other formalities on a Friday morning packed ourselves and our belongings into small, springless, seatless carts, quite like pocket editions of the covered wagons familiar to us on our western prairies. After bumping over rough, stone-paved roads till nightfall and far beyond, we met our first experience of an Oriental khan at Cavak. Before noon the next day at Cavsa, famous from classic times for its therapeutic hot spring, a group of thirteen young men met us. They were the senior class of the College, and as we shook hands with "our students", and heard the address given by J. P. Xenides, (later Professor) and Kevork Chakarian (later Reverend), we began to feel "at home". Soon some of the Americans came galloping up, followed at intervals by crowds on foot or with miscellaneous conveyances, all with a hearty welcome for the new-comers. The approach to the city resembled the approach to Jerusalem over the Mt. of Olives, and just where the cavalcade emerged from among 5,000 vineyards and orchards, the city lay spread out to view westward across "the brook". There a halt was called, introductions and cordial greetings were exchanged, and then in the autumn twilight our wagons rolled into the compound of the Mission Station and the campus of Anatolia College.

NEXT: The college and the town (1891)