Posts Tagged ‘Missions’

The Phoebe Chapman

December 19, 2008

Review and Herald, February 3, 1891, page 16



An excerpt from

Pioneer Stories of the Second Advent Message by A. W. Spalding, XXVII, The Pitcairn

“In 1876 James White and John Loughborough, hearing of this island, sent a package of papers and tracts to the people, but they did not know whether they would reach them or not, for very seldom did a ship pass by Pitcairn Island. They did reach them, however, and this was the first that Pitcairn heard of Seventh-day Adventists. The people read the papers, and for awhile they almost decided to keep the Sabbath; but since there was no one to teach them further, they dropped the matter at last.

“Ten years afterwards John I. Tay determined that he would go to Pitcairn and carry the message to the islanders. He landed there one day in October, 1886, and stayed about six weeks. By this time the people all had Bibles, and Mr. Tay studied with them, from the Bible, the truths of the Coming of the Lord, the Sabbath, and all the rest. And before he left, every one, man, woman, and child, was keeping the Sabbath and looking for Jesus to come.

“John Tay went to other islands in the Pacific Ocean to carry the message. But he found it so hard to get to many of them, where ships did not call very often, that he came home to America, to ask for a ship of our own. At first the brethren did not think of building one. Instead they sent A. J. Cudney in a small ship which they bought and named the “Phoebe Chapman.” With a missionary crew of five men, Cudney started out in this ship to go to Pitcairn. Mr. Tay had gone down to Tahiti to wait for Mr. Cudney to pick him up, when they would go together to Pitcairn, and afterwards to other islands.

“The “Phoebe Chapman” sailed from Honolulu, in the Hawaiian Islands, July 31, 1888, and should have reached Tahiti in a few weeks. But nothing more was ever heard from her or the people in her. No doubt they perished in some great storm. God knew His reasons, though we do not, why Mr. Cudney and his brother missionaries should not reach their field of labor. He laid them away to rest in the bosom of old ocean, until that day when the sea shall give up her dead to receive their reward. And were they not martyrs for Jesus, as much as any who have died for Him, though they perished not under the spears or the axes of savage men, nor languished in dungeons and chains, but gave up their lives to the storm-king of the waters?

“When John Tay saw that it was of no more use to wait for the “Phoebe Chapman,” he came back to America and urged that a boat be built. And this was the time when the Sabbath schools were set to work to get the money for its building. Five months it was in building, and then, launched on the blue waters of San Francisco Bay, it lay ready for its mission to the islands of the sea. It was named the “Pitcairn.” E. H. Gates and his wife, A. J. Read and his wife, and John I. Tay and his wife went with the ship. Captain Marsh was over the crew.”


A Century of Miracles by Don Neufeld
Review and Herald, September 12, 1974, page 11

“Not Without Sacrifices

“The expansive missionary work has not been without sacrifices. Perhaps few Seventh-day Advent- ists living today have heard of the Phoebe Chapman. This was a schooner purchased by Adventists in Honolulu, Hawaii, for $1,000, and outfitted for another $1,000, and which left Honolulu, July, 1888, bound for Pitcairn Island via Tahiti. The purpose of the journey was to take SDA publications to Pitcairn and other islands of the South Pacific at which commercial ships seldom called. The vessel was lost at sea with all hands, which included missionary A. J. Cudney and a crew of five.

“Shortly after this tragedy the church acquired the vessel Pitcairn (1889) and used it to transport mis- sionaries to the islands of the South Pacific.”


The Phoebe Chapman’s Name Sake

California’s first tent campaign by Mary Colby Monteith

Review and Herald, February 28, 1980, page 13

“… When my mother, Phoebe Chapman, visited her Vermont relatives, she met Hiram Colby, a distant cousin, to whom she said Yes when he proposed marriage. So again the Chapman-Colby family lines converged.

Ellen White became a very real person to me. I remember when mother took me to the front after a meeting in southern California, where Ellen White had spoken. As mother introduced us, her friend put her hand on my shoulder, saying, “So this is Phoebe Chapman’s little girl.”

As I read those letters again, now yellow with age, that were written to my grandmother after the loss of her husband and mother, the message comes through just as it did almost 100 years ago: We should not sorrow as those who have no hope. Whatever our trials and sor- rows, we have a Comforter. The only change is that we are now that much nearer the return of our Saviour, when all tears shall be wiped away.

When the Petaluma farm was sold, Mary Chapman bought a home in Oakland, near her son Edwin, where she lived with Phoebe and Lucy, and could continue friendship with church leaders, including Ellen White.

Letters tell another story

Elliott Chapman, the third son, was a printer by trade. He married Cora Peoples, whose family was among those to join the little Petaluma church in its early days. Elliott and Cora sailed to Tahiti on the second trip of the Pitcairn, where Elliott was soon busy printing tracts and pamphlets for Tahiti and the surrounding islands. An- other stack of faded letters in my possession tells of those early days in the South Pacific.

Phoebe was a beautiful, popular young woman in Adventist social circles in Oakland. A man who desired to win her favor informed her that he had named the first Adventist missionary vessel for the South Seas the Phoebe Chapman. But Phoebe, with a toss of her pretty head, replied, “I hope it sinks!” All her life my mother regretted those foolish words, avoiding any mention of that ill-fated ship, which was lost at sea with never a word as to the passengers and crew… ”