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The Hill Family in Tong'an in 1950


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The Reformed Church of China (Amoy Mission, started by the Reformed Church of America (Dutch)
Hill's Photo Album
    The Reformed Church of China (Amoy Mission, started by the Reformed Church of America (Dutch) AmoyMission Main Menu
    The Hill Family in Amoy

                                                    (Click thumbnails for lJoann and Jack Hill October 2006 Penney Farms Floridaarger photos)

Forward by Bill B: I first learned of the remarkable Hills (Joann and Dr. Jack) from their son, Keith Hill, an internationally renowned musical instrument maker.  Joann's parents, Henry and Stella, had served as RCA missionaries from 1917 to 1958 (in Amoy from 1917-1951), and Joann was born in Hope Hospital on Gulangyu (May 15, 1923), grew up here, and returned in the 1940s with her physician husband, Jack, and children (read about her homeschooling experience).  A big thanks to Jack and Joann for providing me with a wealth of biographical material and over 80 historic photos!

Jack and Joann Hill in Penney Farms, Florida in August 2007Part 1, by Jack Hill MD, Phd. (written in 1st person to his children)  Click Here for Questions & Answers.

  I [Jack Hill] went out to China as a medical missionary with the support of the Mission Board of the Reformed Church in America. The Chinese gave me a Chinese name San Ek Oan (an HOK-IME-LIAU-CHHIA ANDTEAM 1948 Tong'an Amoyalliteration-like of Jack Warren Hill) in the Amoy Chinese dialect.

Here is a little bit of the time before we arrived in Tong An.

We stayed a few days with my folks preparing and then traveled via rail to New York to the Mission Board Rooms and visited a church in Mt. Lakes NJ.

Jack and Joann Hill and family in 1947We embarked on the Marine Lynx, a converted troop ship of the Liberty class at Jersey City or Hoboken about the last few days of August. I was assigned one of the 3 tier bunks in the hospital bay and your mother was with your two brothers, Bunker (Jack) and Don, in a cabin with several other wives and their children on the deck above. We stopped a few hours in Havana on our way through the Panama Canal continuing up the Pacific Coast to San Pedro near LA , CA. From there we crossed the Pacific to Shanghai.
Back to TopMission Hospital and Compound in Tong'an Valley, Amoy 1948
We continued on the Lynx aka ¡°Jinx¡± to HK. There we disembarked and transferred to a Dutch ship, the ¡°Boissevain¡± which went up the China coast to Amoy, our final destination. Dr. Holleman, a fellow missionary practicing in Hope Hospital (Kulangsu),helped us get our stuff thru customs. A few days later we then traveled by sampan, launch and bus to
Tong-An, a small town upcountry .

Dr. Jack Hill kneeling in front of the doctor's house, Tong'an 1948 AmoyThis brings us to sometime in September 1947.We studied the Amoy dialect for close to 2 yrs and learned the first book of 1000 Chinese characters, as well as portions of the Bible in character and romanized ¡°peh-oe¡±, and passed our first exams. At the same time I worked pretty much full time at the 25 bed Elizabeth Blauvelt Memorial Hospital that was practically non-operational prior to our arrival because the Chinese doctor serving there was dying of TB. There was an American missionary nurse there helping. Joann, your mother, worked on setting up the labJoe Esther and Jack Hill on bibycles in Tong'an 1949.

In addition to our work in the hospital we organized and carried out an effort to help the people in the villages surrounding our Hospital. At first, another missionary and I went out on motorized bicycles, which were light enough to carry over the barriers put across paths to keep the pigs from wandering. I had brought out a second-hand ¡°Whizzer¡± and Rev. Joe Esther had an English-made ¡°James¡± cycle. Later, we were able to acquire an UNNRA truck, which we converted to a vehicle carrying a team from the hospital and the Siang-Tsun-thau Church to see patients in the surrounding mountains.

Jack Hill pointing to mission compound in Tong'an ValleyA ton and a half truck, from a relief agency, on which we constructed a cab. This we used to carry more supplies to the villages and were able to bring patients to the hospital for more extended treatment.  We had an American nurse as well as three Chinese nurses that were trained in our nursing schools,one in Kulangsu associated with our larger Kiu-se(Hope)
, and the other with the hospital in Chang Chow. Our mission also had hospitals in Sio-Khe and in Leng-Na. We lived in China for just over three years.Christian cemetery in Tong'an

In September 1949 we heard increasing gunfire for about a month. Then on September 19th the Communist Army which had been moving steadily south from more northerly provinces, finally appeared on the scene at 3AM from the hills behind our compound and by 9 AM had gained control from the Nationalist army in our area. We suddenly had about 270 Nationalist military casualties to take care of. The Communist army took care of their own but not the Nationalists.
Back to TopTong'an Mission Compound
Life under the Communists was a time of uncertainty.  The US State Dept. had long since encouraged missionaries to pull out and leave the country. There was only the British Consulate in Amoy and they,so far as we know. were not able to help us if we needed help.

The mobile clinic was prohibited so I no longer went to the surrounding villages. We didn¡¯t know from one day to the next what to expect. I was still supposed to continue my language study but in view of events I decided to work full time in the hospital.Tongan Single Women's Residence, 1948

In June of 1950, I believe that is when the Communist Army of N. Korea decided to take S. Korea. Then US and allies came to S. Korea¡¯s defense and US was fighting Communists. This changed the atmosphere in China considerably. People were increasingly concerned to talk to us and then only in private. The church people felt that they could do very little to help us and advised us to consider returning to the States.

The Gospel Healing Bus Tong'an Amoy 1948So on July 4, 1950 we applied to leave at the local police station that was controlled , by that time by the Communists. We followed up our request by checking a the Police station usually twice a week.  Those were anxious days especially in September when the Americans neared the Chinese-Korean border and the Chinese Communists then attacked the Americans, driving them back . About ten days before Christmas the police came out and told us to pack up our belongings and make arrangements to leave, telling us that they would be out to search through our luggage. They further told us to give them a detailed itinerary of our planned trip to Canton. We hired a transportation company and they supplied some information and indicated we would have a guide with us who spoke our dialect and knew mandarinElizabeth Blauvelt Memorial Hospital Tong'an Amoy and the dialects of the provinces we would pass through.
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On Christmas Day we finally loaded ourselves onto a ¡°bus¡± ( a 11/2 ton truck with a wooden covering without windows) We entered it through a rear door and it was bolted from the outside. That first lap of 40 mi. was on a road that had been recently pushed through to Chang Chow which was on our way. There we stayed for one day after Christmas with Joann's parents Henry and Stella (they applied a litlle later but were delayed).

From there on we were put on a public bus with Chinese passengers and there were soldiers on as well. Our next stop was Ko¡¯tin, a small coastal village where we missed the nightly trip of the coastal steamer to Swatow [Shantou] further down the coast. That night we had the first of our midnight visits in this Chinese. We all,including Glayds Kooy, a single missionary who was traveling with us, slept on boards over sawhorses .

Tong'an RCA Mission Classis Retreat December 8, 1950The next night we boarded this vessel and found a hatch cover on the deck where all 6 of us tried to sleep under the stars. It was about 6 ft. square. Everything was blacked out onboard and our ship rolled from side to side. Our eldest son Jack Jr.joined the Chinese passengers on the deck around us in being seasick enough to vomit and when we arrived in Swatow the Communist inspector who came on board in a surprisingly trim uniform stepped his way carefully across the deck.

At the hotel there the midnight police took Gladys¡¯s passport. They gave it back to her about 5 AM. And so it went as we crossed over land to Canton for the next 5 days in each stop a similar routine. At Canton, we met the missionary nurse there and gave her most of what little money we had. On Jan 2 1951, we went by train to the short railway bridge where we got off and walked across the bridge into Hong Kong.  Tong'an Church Choir September 1957

We spent 3 wks in Hong Kong awaiting a ship and finally sailed for San Francisco on the California Bear, a freighter of the President Lines.
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Part 2 Questions

1. Did you have to set up a market stall clinic to see patients?
Answer: All I did was to take my cases of medicines, place them on a table and use another room if possible for the examinations, where a bed or cot or some boards were laid across saw horses for patients to lie on. Otherwise we made a screened-off part with sheets.  Usually if there was a church available we set up shop in it. The nurse and I would go to work. We tried to get a more educated person to write down the patients¡¯name, etc. on which we wrote a few notes of history and findings.

Tong'an RCA Mission Classis Retreat December 8, 19502. Were people glad to see you coming?
Answer: Yes, usually we may have informed the local pastor we were coming and people were eagerly waiting to see the Clinic Team come into town. Sometime the crowd was a problem.
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3. Were there buildings in the various towns? you visited to use as clinics?

Answer: If there was no church available , usually someone offered their home or there might be a vacant building that we used.
Elizabeth Blauvelt Memorial Hospital Tong'an 1949
4. Where did you get your medical supplies?
Answer: We bought some, mostly from Hong Kong. Since this was after WWII, some surplus meds were turned over to aid agencies and we got ample supplies of Atabrine (for malaria) and sulpha drugs for diarrhea.

5. What was your relationship with the mayors or governors of the areas you visited?
In the villages, the head men usually came and they welcomed what we did and quite often if a family member was ill we did what we could to deal with the illness. Everywhere in the villages and even in the cities at that time , all water was boiled for drinking. And of course tea was the predominant drink.

Tong'an Upcountry church 19496. Did you actively set up churches or clinics?
Answer: Our effort was too short lived to leave behind any permanent church or clinic although our purpose was ultimately to establish a church and if possible and with more trained personnel some kind of a permanent health program. The need was great. After all, my main effort on arriving in China was to get acquainted with the language so especially in the first two years my time was taken up with that. And we were there just
3 years, the last 15 months under the new government which put a stop to our mobile clinic work.
Back to TopTong'an Station 1950
7. What was the condition of the hospital and what did you have to do to get it in shape for use?
Answer: The Elizabeth Blauvelt Memorial Hospital was built in 1920. When we arrived the building as a whole was still sound, but it was showing its age and money for on-going maintenance was hard to come by. We charged ery little for treatment.. and this was just after WWII during which time the Japanese had taken control of the port cities and further north were advancing into the interior making it difficult for the mission to carry on. The beds and some of the equipment like in the operating room was there and there were some bassinets for babies although the mothers generally carried the babies with them. The work was being carried on to some extent by Jean Neinhuis, the missionary nurse, and 2 Chinese nurses.

Nelson Veenschoten and Jean Neinhuis in Tong,a' 1948The Chinese Dr. was not there as he was dying of Tong'an Colleague Pastor Tan Sin-sui 1949advanced TB and may have died by the time we got there. I don¡¯t remember ever seeing him. I think that during that first year , we were able to engage the services of a Dr. Ong and he treated patients mostly alone until I was able to struggle along with the language to the point where I could help him.? Just to the north of the hospital was a Chinese tomb (a cave-like structure which was as yet empty. It covered over with a type of concrete.) We used that once for a shelter when there was a bombing raid by Nationalist fighter planes and bombs were dropped about three hundred yards from the hospital. Also there was a small house about 100 feet northeast of the hospital which was a home for a Bible woman who had cutaneous leprosy. Our  doctor¡¯s residence was about 250 ft. off the northwest corner of the hospital.
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Bunker, Donny and Keith Hill with red wagon, 19508. Mom, What did you do all this time? I know you set up Triple Trouble--the Hills 3 sons in 1950the Lab. Did you do blood work, stain slides, prepare samples, etc.? Or did you do Music like you did in the Philippines?
Joann Hill answers: First, let me say that your father spent a great deal of time at the hospital even during his first two years on the field. Yes, we spent a couple of hours a day with our teacher, but he spent mornings and afternoons at the hospital.

As for me, I ran the household. I didn¡¯t really need the language-study as far as conversation was concerned. I did set up the small lab at the hospital ordered the equipment and supplies. Yes, spent time the first few months, before you were born, doing blood-work, stool slides once found active amoeba swimming in the diarrhea specimen of a very young baby! Did a hemoglobin test on an anemic young boy. I could barely read it light pink. Couldn't get a numerical reading. The boy died the next day.

Bunker at Tong'an Grave, 1950About 6 months later your father was able to hire a chap who¡¯d learned lab-work in Taiwan and came from a prominent Christian Amoy family. After the new government came in, he proudly told us he was a communist!

You ask about music yes I did help at the local church. Especially after the Esthers left in the summer of 1949. I played for the church services at the little Siang-tsun-tau church and even had charge of the choir. That Christmas the choir even put on a pagent!!!

I also did a lot of the family correspondance.

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