Jellinwood, Alice
Group of Letters, Typescript Reports, Ephemera, written to her cousin, Mary Eliza Harrison, Utica, from the Wang Lang Girls’ School, Bangkok, Siam, 1915-1923

Five typed letters, 13 pages, plus three typescript carbons, six pages, describing mission activities: “Childrens’ Day at Second Church, Bangkok”; “A Trip to the Old Capital of Siam”; and “Our Annual Entertainment.” Plus one printed ephemeral item: Distribution of Prizes Wang Lang Girls’ School, four pages, plus four photographs of young students at the school.

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Wang Lang Girls’ School, Bangkok, Siam, Jan. 2, 1915

“My dear Cousin Lizzie,

… New Years Day is also the birthday of His Majesty, The King of Siam. For that reason we are now having a national holiday of about twelve days. Our Girls went home on Dec. 30, and will return on the eleventh of this month. There are still over thirty girls with us, however. A few still will go but probably about twenty five will remain through the month. The city is very beautiful at night now for it is lit up in honor of His Majesty. Electric lights are used on many buildings but in many places they still use the Siamese cocoanut oil lamps. These are little glass cups much like tumblers with wicks wired in and filled with cocoanut oil. Little sockets of wire are placed on the buildings desired to be lighted, arranged either in royal designs or in words of greetings to His Majesty. I like these lights much better than the electric lights, for they are softer and sparkle so prettily.

We had a very lovely Christmas this year. Several schools, taught by our old girls were invited to spend the day with us, and three of them came. There were about one hundred thirty children in the three schools. These added to our own hundred and fifty and the former pupils who came and a few other guests made quite a crowd. At two o’clock we all went over to what we call our Utitisan School. This is now for all intents and purposes a part of this school, for some of us go over there for recitation work every day. It is the large building which we rent which was once a gambling house. …

After the gifts were distributed, we returned to Wang Lang. Our Kindergarten veranda had been fixed up as a stage and after our guests were seated on the lawn, our play began. It was “The Christmas Carol” by Dickens this year….

In the evening the girls enjoyed watching from our river front the fire works that were being showed across the river. These were not to celebrate Christmas at all, but were to celebrate the little Emerald Buddah, a Buddah which was the property of His Majesty, The Late King of Siam. … I do not understand the significance of the celebration.

Last Sunday we had communion here in our Wanglang Church. Four grown people were taken into communion and two children were baptized.The four were servants of our school and one of the children was a child of two of these servants. The other was a child of Nai Rawang the reformed gambler… We are to have a union meeting of our Kings Daughters of Bangkok tomorrow at our school. These are little bands of Christian women. One band is composed almost entirely of our teachers…

As to new books, no I rarely see a new book. We can of course send home for books and get them in a few months timebut it is so unsatisfactory trying to… We are getting plenty of reading matter on the war now, but that is about all. A few of the new novels would be good for me. Please if you recommend a book to me tell me where I can get it. ….

I sent out several copies of the White Elephant the other day. I have the list of those I wanted to send to but have lost the list of those I did post. … This paper is a new venture. We hope in time to make it of interest to the people at home. You may see my name as one of the editors. I have not yet done any editing. The paper was only adopted by the mission at mission meeting time the last of September and I was put on the editing co. at that time but I have not yet been called upon to do any work. I did send in this one article of Maa Tart’s…”

Wang Lang Girls’ School, Bangkok, Siam

“My dear Courin: … The small missionary children of the mission very much enjoy the paper, “Something to do.” I have used a few things from it for our children but like many other such papers it is very hard to adapt. The Franklyn children get a great deal of pleasure from it. Our little Americans out here have to live pretty much in the house and play pretty much by themselves. Their parents usually do not like to have them play unguarded with the children of the land because they learn so much that is bad from them. They learn enough that is bad in spite of all that can be done. Siamese children know as much as their parents of all the sin and treachery of life in this land. This is not a Christian nation you see and not until it is will there be much improvement in these ways… Our dear little folks here need so much more than mothering than we can possibly give them. As I write I have nearly twenty girls, aged from ten to sixteen, gathered around me on the floor mending mattresses. They are talking and playing some as they do it but I have no heart to tell them to be quiet. It is vacation and these are the homeless ones or those who live too far away to go home…

We are so happy over the prospects of a new school. We have actually bought the land and are trying to raise money to build. That the teachers are anxious to have it you may judge when I tell you that they have pledged one month’s salary out of twelve to the cause besides doing all they can to get from others. Most of these teachers are already giving one tenth of their slary, their tithe to the church, so this is really a sacrifice for them…”

Wang Lang Girls’ School, Bangkok, Siam, Feb. 21, 1918

“My dear Cousin:-  … My furlough has been delayed a little, not because of the war but for several other reasons. My passage is booked however and I plan to leave Hong Kong on the Korea Maru, May 24 I shall take two American children home to be put in to school. They are daughter and son, aged 11 and 12, of Mr. Franklyn, the principal of our boy’s school here in Bangkok.

I expect you are in the thick of Red Cross work. I have had no time to do any thing as yet but am trying to learn to knit over again so that I may be able to do a little on shipboard.  I have done no knitting since in my early teens so you may imagine I am rather out of practice.

Our girls are writing government examinations this week so it has been a hard week. Two inspectors are kindly sent by the government to inspect our school. They hear the girls read and give out the questions for examination, though we have to be responsible for watching the girls while they write. All classes are through except my class. Their examination is the longest because it is the highest the government has to offer for girls. They are supposed to have finished their education when they have passed that examination. We have still another year of work for them as our course goes beyond that of the government schools for girls, though that is not true of the education for boys. We used to write the boys’ examination but they will not allow us to do that anymore….

I suppose you know that Siam has joined the war with us. Some of her young men have already gone to France. All the Germans and Austrians in Bangkok were interned and recently all except those who were ill were sent to India. Just where in India they will be interned we do not know. They probably have not reached there as yet. We had a weeping day here when they left for some of our little children in school are illegitimate children of the Germans taken away. Such of the Siamese women and children as were actually married to these men were taken too but all others are counted Siamese citizens and were left behind. Some of these children now have no means of support and no home but this school, but we shall not turn them out. They will forget their fathers or pretty nearly so and we shall no doubt make teachers of them. Their case is not so sad even as that of children whose fathers refuse to recognize them or allow them to take their name and go away leaving them entirely to their mother to support… We have one girl here, likewise of Austrian birth, who can not remember her father nor has she any idea where he is. He never paid one stang toward her support. He left long before the war with no word of good bye even. Such cases are frequent here in the East. Temptations are too many here for men who have no wives. Proper means of recreation are too few. I feel sorry every time I see or hear of a young man from foreign parts coming to this land …”

Nong Khae by the Sea, April 19, 1923

“My dear Lizzie:-

… As you may judge by the heading I am off for vacation again. We are having our regular hot season vacation. We have six weeks now…

I think I must have written you about our Senior class this year and how the Christian girls in the class have been praying for the conversion of the non Christians … At the beginning of the year five of the girls had not yet given up Buddhism. Of the fourteen girls in the class two only came to us from Christian homes. All the rest had been taught to worship Buddah. Eight of the girls are daughters of noblemen. The Christian girls of the class have had a prayer circle all the year the purpose of which was to pray for the non Christian girls of the class … Before the year closed every girl in the class had joined the C. E. thus taking a definite stand before her fellow pupils as a Christian. Not all have joined the church for we do not let minors join the church without consent of parents or guardians…

Not long after coming here I had a real shock. A telegram came saying one of our pupils and also one of our best, oldest and dearest teachers had died of plague. I had not known that either was sick. Bubonic plague is thick in Bangkok now but since we were so far out in the country none of us had thought of taking the plague inoculation. I shall have it as soon as I return to Bangkok. …”