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Main Page    E-mail   (This page copyrighted 2006 by Gary Veenschoten, MD)

Amoy Vignettes by Dr. Girard Veenschoten:
Gary's Father, Henry VeenschotenMy Story   Veenschoten Memorial Henry Stella Veenschoten Memorial Gary's Father, Henry VeenschotenDad's Practicality    Gary's Father, Henry VeenschotenAh Beng
Gary's Father, Henry VeenschotenOur Amoy Animals  Gary's Father, Henry VeenschotenChinese New Year Related: Gary's Father, Henry VeenschotenHill Family Gary's Father, Henry VeenschotenHill Photos 

by Girard (Gary) Veenschoten, MD, 2006 

The China Years  Amoy Mission in the 1920s
January 29, 1919: I, Girard Veenschoten, was born on the third floor of Hope and Wilhelmina Hospital, Kulangsu, Amoy, Fukien, China. My parents, the Rev. Henry Michael & Stella Girard Veenschoten had arrived in Amoy (Xiamen) in the fall of 1917 as career missionaries of the Reformed Church in America with first assignment by the Chinese Church to Sio-khe for language study.

Veenschotens in Toa-bo late 1920s (Gary Veenschoten as always holding an animalWith the arrival in Amoy of The Reverend David Abeel in 1842 and the establishment of a Reformed Church Mission to the Chinese, an ongoing missionary effort began. Over the years principally Reformed Church and English Presbyterian missionaries had given their lives to share the Gospel in many ways through the establishment of schools and hospitals as well as churches in Amoy, Sio-khe, Tong-an, Chang-chow and Leng-na and including many small chapels over a wide territory of South Fukien. So that by 1917 when a large group of professionals from Holland, Michigan 每 Hope College and Western Seminary 每came, they were to serve in a well established mission-related Chinese Church. The Veenschotens were a part of that 1917 era group.

A daughter Joann, in May 1923, had been added to the Veenschoten family by the time they went on a 15-month furlough in 1924. Of course, reconnecting with family in Iowa and Michigan was a must. But telling the missions story was the principle activity during those months in the States before returning to Chang-chow where they were now stationed. By the next furlough from 1932 每 1933, a second daughter Elin (April 1930) had joined the family.Veenschotens in Holland Michigan 1925

During my elementary school years I was home-schooled by my mother. This was besides doing extensive teaching of Church and school choirs, transposing and having translated English texts into Chinese. She also did considerable solo work, both in voice and piano. Beside this she stretched our salary so that living was comfortable.  But by 1931 and the seventh grade, my parents decided that I should join other Amoy Mission kids going by boat to Shanghai and Shanghai American School from which I subsequently graduated in 1937. That summer I traveled by boat to the States and enrolled in Hope College in Holland, Michigan.

The 1930s were an extremely turbulent time in China. With the down-fall of the Qing Dynasty and final demise in 1911, local strong warlords like General Yuan Shi-kai competed for the Golden Prize 每Peking. Sun Yat-sen and Chiang Kai-shek were hoping to establish a democratic republic. By the 1930s the communists, led by Mao Ste-tung, were pushing up the coast and the Japanese launched two attacks against China. A number of RCA China-missionaries returned to America not only because of the turbulent political situation but also because of the Great Depression.

My Memory of 1931
My parents, as were the rest of the missionaries, were forced to give up/ leave behind everything in their homes. In 1931, Dad and Mother, along with my sisters Joann and Elin, joined me in Shanghai where I was at school. We proceeded to the States by the Steamship BACH of the $-Line. When we arrive on the West coast, we had only my trunk. The US Customs officer gave us a hard time and finally charged my folks $200.00. Our family returned to the field in early 1933.

My memory of 1934 was that it was a terrible time in China, with the Communists moving north, and the Japanese were using strong suggestions to force the three coastal provinces to secede. Chiang Kai-shek*s government, the Republic of China, was pushing back trying to establish his hold on the whole country. Throughout China the missions effort was caught up in this turmoil, including the Amoy Mission.

In December of that year, Mao and his troops passed through Leng-na on their way north. The Hollemans and the Poppens were stationed there. The Poppens left ahead of the Mao*s group, as did Mrs. Holleman and her two children. I remember standing in our yard in Chang-Chow watching Mrs. Dorothy Poppen and Mrs. Ruth Holleman and their children come in the compound gate. They were very dirty and exceedingly tired after being evacuated days before. They could hardly walk and all they had were the clothes on their backs. They continued then down to Amoy.

However Dr. Holleman was captured, but made a miraculous escape a few days later with the help of courageous villagers along the way. He was rejoined with Ruth and the children three weeks later 每 during which time his wife*s hair turned white! There was a time during Mao*s pushes north, that he briefly occupied our house in Chang-Chow.

I remember that, as a ninth-grader in Shanghai American School, I was home for Christmas vacation.  It was during that chaotic period that Chiang Kai-shek*s Nationalist planes bombed the current ward-lord*s forces stationed in Chang-chow. With planes flying overhead and bombs dropping, we hurried down to our house*s basement. I was very nervous. I was carrying our cat Jupiter. in spite of admonition, I insisted on walking around, stumbling on some loose water-pipes stored in the center room, making an awful racket! And addingto the nerve-wracking dismay of the others. Ah-beng, our cook, was hiding under a table. We were not hurt, even by the one bomb which exploded about 100 yards away beyond the compound.

The bombers were small bi-planes, carrying the bombs strapped to their wings. The bombs had to be pushed off the wings by hand! They dropped about 30 bombs, one of which fell on the campus of Talmage College the Mission boys highschool.

Later when we also were evacuated to Kulangsu, we could see them as they flew by. I was standing on Flag-staff rock when w bi-plane went over me about 200 feet away. The Chinese pilot waved at me. Kulangsu had international-concession status and thus, because of extraterritoriality, we were immune from attack. My parents had many stories about those very suspenseful years.

The Calm Summer of 1937
The Opium Wars of the 19th Century had opened up China to domination by foreign powers. Especially the British established their own rules, laws, customs, methods and ways of speaking. Some of these were very intrusive and grating, However along with this, they established excellence of administration and honesty in performance.

One custom, which was very pleasant for us, was the establishment of summer resorts 每 nearby Toa-bo Soa* (Big Hat Mountain) with a few stone cottages was one. Often it was not possible to summer in Toa-Bo because banditry was rife. But the summer of 1937 was one of the few times we were able to use our house on Toa-Bo.

Our house was especially well planned 每three bedrooms, two bath-rooms, a large living/dining-room, and a roomy wide screened porch facing south between wooded hills and looking toward the China sea 15 miles away. It was built of indigenous granite corners, reconstructed brick from an old house ruined by a typhoon, and roof-tiles (typhoon-proof?) brought up from the valley below. We had a gorgeous view of the Amoy harbor to the East.

To move our family up there for the summer was quite a job. We had a family of five 每 my parents, ※Nelson§ and Stella Veenschoten and us three children ( I, Girard, the oldest, followed by my sisters: Joann( Hill) and Elin (Moerland). We were accompanied by three servants, two cats and a dog. The arduous trip began in Chang-chow with a bus to Phu-kiong. Then by river-boat ten miles up-stream to Peh-Tsui-ia* and thence by canal to the foot of the mountain. Hired burden-bearers carried our baggage from the foot of the mountain up to the cottage at the top. Everybody but mother walked up the maintain. Mother had a sedan-chair with six bearers.
It was very serene. Away from the ※Madding croud§. We had good times, including swimming in a natural pool and picnics. There was a tennis-court of sorts and a swimming pool, but usually not in very good condition.

Good-by to China
In August it came time for me to leave China 每 return to the United States and attend Hope College. From Chang-chow Dad accompanied me to Amoy to catch a Butterfield & Swire coastal steamer for Hong Kong where I would board a Dollar Steamship Line the President Taft to cross the Pacific to the West Coast of America. That was a sad occasion!

However, that tropical day in August, the weather was beautiful. The first day out was very serene. The next morning, however, we stopped in mid-ocean. Very soon the sun was rising in the WEST! Thereafter rumors started. Shanghai was being attacked by the Japanese navy. Simultaneously, the Japanese army was attacking the northern provinces.

Soon we started up again going northward to Shanghai. We turned west into the Yang-Tsi River. But when we came to the Whangpoo River, we stopped. There were about 15 Japanese warships lobbing shells over Woo-sung into Shanghai. We could see the arc of the projectiles. Soon the firing stopped and in about a half hour the largest Japanese liner The Tatsuta Maru came down the Whang-poo River. We could see the passengers lining the rails. As the Maru passed, she went outside the line of gun-boats which remained silent the while, and turned into the Yang-Tsi River towards the sea. The gun-boats resumed firing again, but stopped about an hour later.

Down the Whang-poo River came two tug-boats. They were loaded with people〞the last Americans to leave Shanghai. We could seee some fighter planes dog-fighting all around them. Some of the bullets even landed on the decks. However no one was injured.

And here is the last of the story. The passengers climbed off the boats and up the gang-way into the President Taft. As their baggage was being unloaded, one of the slings broke from about 20 feet up. A cascade of baggage fell to the Taft*s deck 每some of the bags broke open. Two of these suitcases were identical. There were packed with opium!

Please Help the "The Amoy Mission Project!" Please share any relevant biographical material and photos for the website and upcoming book, or consider helping with the costs of the site and research materials.   All text and photos will remain your property, and photos will be imprinted to prevent unauthorized use.  Thanks!  

Dr. Bill   Xiamen University MBA Center
Snail Mail: Dr. William Brown 
Box 1288  Xiamen University, Xiamen, Fujian  PRC   361005

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The Reformed Church of China (Amoy Mission, started by the Reformed Church of America (Dutch)  in Amoy Hea-mun (aka Ameouy )A.M. Main Menu
List of Amoy Mission Reformed Church of America (Dutch) Missionaries in ChinaRCA Miss'ry List
Reformed Church of China's Amoy Mission 1877 Report by DuryeaAmoyMission-1877
Fifty Years in Amoy Story of Amoy Mission by Philip Wilson Pitcher Reformed Church of ChinaAmoyMission-1893
David Abeel Father of the Amoy Mission, and China's first education for girls and women
Abeel, David
Henry and Sarah Beltman, Amoy Mission  1902-1928?Beltman
Boot Family of the Amoy Mission,South Fujian ChinaBoot Family
Ruth Broekema Amoy Mission 1921 1951Broekema, Ruth
Henry and Sarah Beltman, Amoy Mission  1902-1928?Bruce, Elizabeth
William Burns, Scottish Missionary to China, visited Amoy Burns, Wm.
John Caldwell China Coast Family Caldwells
Henry and Kate Depree Amoy Mission  1907 to 1948DePree
Dr. John Otte and Hope Hospital Develder, Wally
   Dr. John Otte and Hope Hospital Wally's Memoirs!
Douglas CarstairsDouglas, Carstairs
Elihu Doty RCA Missionary to Amoy ChinaDoty, Elihu
Rev William Rankin Duryea, D.D. The Amoy Mission 1877Duryea, Wm. Rankin
Joseph and Marion Esther
Esther,Joe & Marion
Katherine Green Amoy Mission  1907 to 1950Green, Katherine
Karl Gutzlaff Missionary to ChinaGutzlaff, Karl
Stella Girard Veenschoten
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. Stella Girard Veenschoten
Hill's Photos.80+
..Stella Girard VeenschotenKeith H.
Dr. John Otte and Hope Hospital Homeschool
Richard and Johanna Hofstra of the Amoy MIssion ChinaHofstras
Tena Holkeboer Amoy Mission, Hope HospitalHolkeboer, Tena
Dr. Clarence Holleman and his wife Ruth Eleanor Vanden Berg Holleman were RCA missionaries on AmoyHolleman, M.D.
Hope Hospital Amoy  on Gulangyu (Kulangsu, Koolongsoo, etc.)Hope Hospital
Stella Girard Veenschoten
Johnston Bio
Rev. and Mrs. Joralman of the Amoy MissionJoralmans
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Karsen, W&R
Edwin and Elizabeth Koeppe Family, Amoy Mission ChinaKoeppes, Edwin&Eliz.
Dr. Clarence Holleman and his wife Ruth Eleanor Vanden Berg Holleman were RCA missionaries on AmoyKip, Leonard W.
William Vander Meer  Talmage College Fukien Christian UniversityMeer Wm. Vander
Margaret Morrison, Amoy Mission  1892-1931Morrison, Margaret
John Muilenberg Amoy MissionMuilenbergs
Jean Neinhuis, Amoy Mission Hope Hospital Gulangyu or Ku-long-sooNeinhuis, Jean
Theodore Oltman M.D. Amoy Missionary DoctorOltman, M.D.
Reverend Alvin Ostrum, of the Amoy Mission, Fujian ChinaOstrum, Alvin
Dr. John Otte and Hope Hospital Otte,M.D.Stella Girard VeenschotenLast Days
Henry and Mary Voskuil Amoy MissionPlatz, Jessie
Reverend W. J. Pohlman, Amoy MIssion, Fujian ChinaPohlman, W. J.
Henry and Dorothy Poppen, RCA Missionaries to Amoy China Amoy Mission Project 1841-1951Poppen, H.& D.
Reverend Daniel Rapalje, Amoy Mission, Fujian ChinaRapalje, Daniel
Herman and Bessie Renskers Amoy Mission  1910-1933Renskers
Dr. John Otte and Hope Hospital Talmage, J.V.N.

Lyman and Rose Talman Amoy Mission  1916 to 1931Talman, Dr.
Stella Girard VeenschotenVeenschotens
. Nelson VeenschotenHenry V.Stella Girard VeenschotenStella V.
. Dr. John Otte and Hope Hospital Girard V.
Jeanette Veldman, Amoy Mission ChinaVeldman, J.
Henry and Mary Voskuil Amoy MissionVoskuil, H & M
Jean Walvoord Amoy Mission  1931-1951Walvoord
A. Livingston WarnshuisWarnshuis, A.L.
Nellie Zwemer Amoy Mission  1891-1930Zwemer, Nellie
"The MIssion Cemetery of Fuh-Chau" / Foochow by Rev.J.W. Wiley , M.D. (also mispelled Wylie )Fuh-chau Cemetery
Dr. John Otte and Hope Hospital City of Springs
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