#2: The college and the town (1890)

Within the enclosure were the Theological Seminary, College and Girls' School, about two hundred pupils in all. At the highest point in the premises was located the square, white-plastered, two story structure with basement below and small bell-tower above, originally erected in 1871 at a cost of Ltq. 400, or $1,760, for the Theological Seminary. This building was the authorized cradle of the College. The Girls' School was on lower ground as befitted a land at the stage of the veil and the harem. There were three American houses, part of one of which was assigned to us; a bakery already famous for its good bread; and a small self-help shop, where students could earn manhood and money and learn at the same time to keep their whiskers out of the machinery. Naturally there were spaces for games and sports, though some sedate seniors thought such amusements too frivolous for their dignity; a pleasant garden with trees and flowers; and a stable with a pair of horses and one cow. There were about 2,000 books in the Library, chiefly on theological and directly religious subjects. One of the prizes offered annually at Commencement by a native pastor was a volume of printed sermons. There were some home-made instruments and apparatus for use in the study of Physics. We were told that funds for endowment amounted to $13,433, not wholly bad for a four-year-old in far-away Turkey.

Outside of the compound, the city was primitive indeed in that remote bourne of time and space: houses and walls built generally of sun-dried brick, adobe as in the days of the Hittites; streets so narrow that I have seen a cat cross a street by jumping from roof to roof; streets sloping and draining to the middle, and between rains often clogged with garbage of every kind including the blood and refuse of butcher meat and fowls. Respectable citizens were expected ordinarily to be housed for the night by sunset and none went out later except in groups carrying oiled paper lanterns. Christian people certainly occupied Marsovan before the Turks appeared on the scene. The whole region was included in the "Armenaic Theme" of which Amasia was the capital during Byzantine Empire days, and the first Americans adopted the Christian pronunciation of the city's name. We all were familiar with the great stone wall and iron gates that enclosed the highest ground within the city as an acropolis, and within it were located the large Armenian Church and school buildings. "Unwarlike Armenians" never could have secured such a foothold after the Turks were in control. An old Turkish bath in the city was built with buttresses of evident Byzantine Church architecture, was known as St. Barbara's Church, and was authorized and used for Greek worship every year on "St. Barbara's Day".

NEXT: The local people (1891)