Francis Arthur Allum 和祿門 (1883 - 1948) and Evaline Allum
by Debbie Cosier, 2013
Basic Biographical Data
Do you know approximately when these photos were taken?
Francis Arthur Allum (known as Arthur) was born in July, 1883, in Tamworth, Staffordshire England, and died in Warrawee, NSW, Australia, on October 8, 1948, at 65 years of age.
Parentage: Father: Francis Allum born 1831 at Tamworth, Staffordshire, Great Britain; mother: Ellen Booth Carter born 1807 at Tamworth, Staffordshire, Great Britain.
Siblings: Francis Arthur Allum was the youngest of three brothers: Harry Allum, Charles Allum, and Francis Arthur Allum. He also had a sister Nell Constance Allum.
Marriage: Arthur married Evaline (Eva) Osborne in 1906 just two weeks before they set sails to China as missionaries.
Children: Together they have six children. From the oldest to the youngest they are: Wallace, Lawrence, Elwin, Wilma, Myrtle and Dorothy.
Education: F.A. Allum was educated at Avondale College.
Summary of Service: The Allum family spent sixteen years in China (1906-1922), first in Honan and later in western China where Arthur became superintendent of the newly-established Central China Union Mission. Eventually, poor health meant that he had to return to Australia permanently. Back home, Arthur was appointed vice-president and later secretary of the Australasian Union Conference. Later still, he became president of the then Victoria-Tasmania conference, after which he moved to a farm near Port Macquarie in New South Wales in the hopes that he would be able to recover his failing health. Six years before his death, Arthur moved to Warrawee in Sydney where he continued to work evangelically, never quite giving up the hope that his health would one day allow him to return to China.
Figure 1: Portrait of F.A. Allum
Figure 2: Arthur and Evaline Allum, during their missionary days in China
Family Background and Early Years
Francis Arthur Allum 和祿門 (known as Arthur) was born in July, 1883, in Tamworth, Staffordshire England. He immigrated with his parents, Francis (Sr) and to Australia when he was very young and settled in Carlingford, a Sydney suburb, where he, his mother and sister, befriended by an Adventist lady, later decided to accept the Adventist faith in 1900. He often recounted how he gave his heart to God at the age of 14, and a mission talk about China deeply impressed him to one day become a missionary to the people there.
In 1901, he enrolled in the Avondale School for Christian Workers (later known as Avondale College) at Cooranbong, New South Wales, and spent the following five years (1901-1905) studying and working. After finishing his course, he spent a short period in evangelical tent ministry before accepting a missionary posting to China from the General Conference.
Before he could go however, he had to earn enough money to pay his passage to China (plus a bit more) and he did this as a colporteur selling books in New Zealand. As soon as he earned enough money for the fare for two, he returned home, proposed to a young woman, called Evaline Osborne, with whom he fell in love while at the Avondale School. The two were married in 1906 Does anyone know what month?. They left for China two weeks later that year.
Began Work in China (1906 - 1922)
Henan 河南 Hubei 湖北 Hankou 漢口
Chongching 重慶 Sezhuen 四川
The Allums began their missionary work in 1906 in Xinyang, Henan 河南, central China. At that time there were three churches in China with a total membership of 95. The Adventist message in central China was started by Eric and Ida Pilquist, a former British and Bible Society employee who later accepted the Adventist message.
In 1909 the Allums were relocated to Zhoujiakou, also in Henan 河南. Later, they moved further west. Eldest son Wallace, who was born in Soutron 重慶 (now Chongqing), recalled living in Shanghai, Soutron and Hankow 漢口 during his childhood.
However, Arthur was often far away from home, holding evangelistic meetings in different provinces, distributing leaflets and meeting with believers. While his family was still small he occasionally took them with him, but as the family increased in size he had to leave them at home more and more. Sometimes this was for six months of the year.
“We left our station that evening after Sabbath, taking our little Wallace with us. Many missionaries in China think it is impossible to take their children with them... but experience proved to us that the children could be a great blessing in the work. Our little one was dedicated to the Lord at his birth and we have always felt confident that he would be a blessing to us in our active missionary work,” wrote F A Allum in 1909 for the Advent Review and Sabbath Herald1.
This was a tense time for foreigners because of great political unrest caused by the decline of the ruling Qing dynasty and abdication of China’s last emperor, along with a European influx and rising resentment due to foreign occupation. Domestic rebellion led to the Boxer Uprising of 1900, which wreaked havoc on Chinese Christian converts and missionaries. Only six years after the Boxer Uprising, Arthur was careful to show that he and his family was willing to embrace Chinese culture by adopting local ways of dressing and behaving; including wearing robes and leaving his own and the boys’ hair uncut and braided into a long ‘queue’, down their backs.
Arthur and Evaline played very different roles during their missionary years. Wallace recalled that his mother Evaline was the family’s fortress of strength. ‘Ma’ kept the home running smoothly, and played the role of teacher and protector. She taught the children to read and write until a teacher was eventually brought out to educate the missionary children. Her attention to hygiene kept all of her children healthy in a country where child mortality was alarmingly high. Wallace told a story about a time when bandits stole all of Ma’s wedding gifts while she lay terrified in a bedroom upstairs. She was alone in the house at the time because Arthur was away for work.
Difficult Time in China
Travel for the missionaries was not easy because China’s topography slopes from west to east. Its mountainous regions account for two-thirds of the country’s total land area, and there are basins of varying sizes, hills and vast fertile plains. From space, China’s surface looks a little like a staircase descending step by step from west to east. To spread the word, travel was difficult but necessary. Accommodation during these trips was often primitive.
“By steamer, by rail, by houseboat with sail, by boat drawn along the river banks by coolies (and sometimes by ourselves), by donkey-riding, by mule-cart (without springs), by wheelbarrow, and by the oft times preferable, though not always practicable way of going on foot, we pressed on through territory representing over 131,000,000 souls,” wrote Arthur in 1910 for The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald2.
Arthur and his colleagues were driven by their desire to spread the good news and their message was no better represented than by the Chinese character for the word ‘righteousness’, Arthur regularly told audiences when he returned home. Righteousness is made up of two characters, he said. The first is the word for ‘sheep’. The second word is placed under the sheep character and is the character for the pronoun ‘I’ or ‘me’. Thus, righteousness in the Chinese language literally meant: “I under the sheep or lamb” suggesting the text “Behold the lamb of God, which taketh away… sin...” John 1:29.
Frederick Lee, colleague and personal friend of Francis Allum, recalled the extreme suffering caused by a huge flood that ruined the harvest and washed away thousands of homes, exacerbating what had been already terrible political unrest and lack of infrastructure for many years:
“Winter found hundreds of families homeless and without food. These wandered about in large companies, taking with them the few remaining fragments of home, and going from town to town and from city to city begging for help.... What little flour they could secure was mixed with the ground bark of trees and made into bread...
“A friend and I took a walk into the country one afternoon, and saw a group of these people. They were sitting on the ground in their rags, a pitiful sight indeed. Many were mere skeletons. Children were moaning and wailing. Small babies, wrapped in ragged quilts and packed in large baskets, were uttering faint cries....
“As we passed among them, several of the men surrounded us, and seizing us by the arms, demanded help. They said we must help them or they would not let us go. Not knowing how we could help these hundreds of starving people, we struggled to get away: and they, seeing that we must come back that way, finally released us and waited for our return.”3
Frederick and his friend were held up again on their return trip, this time with more force. The peasants demanded money and the two gave them what little they had. Then the peasants demanded a promise that Frederick send them more money and intercede on their behalf with the city officials so that they could enter the city and beg for food.
Eventually, the two were able to get away, but during times like these, Frederick said, families turned into beggars. As they became desperate, they began to steal. They were forced out of cities, and country roads became very unsafe. For them, this was a matter of survival.
“In the months of famine, thousands died of starvation and the famine fever, many falling by the wayside without burial. Women sometimes cast away their children, or disposed of them in some other way. One woman smothered two children back of our house.... Many times, mothers asked us to buy their children, often for as little as a dollar apiece.”3
Figure 3: Arthur and Eva Allum with their children who were born in China. Back: Wilma (in mother's arms); Front (L-R): Wallace, Elwyn, and Lawrence. Their fifth child, Myrtle, was also born in China, after this photo was taken
Figure 2: Arthur and Wallace in Chinese dress, in front of their Chinese home.
Figure 3: Eva was both mother and teacher to her sons, Wallace and Lawrence, in the mission field
Figure 4: Baptism along the Yangtze River
Figure 5: Mass baptism in the Yangtze River Gorge
Figure 6: Central China Mission Office in Shanghai
Figure 8: Crates of publications, pulled by coolies, bound for Nanking and Hankow.
Frederick recalls the terrible dilemmas they faced. When a little money became available they did their best to care for as many as possible. “But the small amount each person received seemed only to prolong his days of starvation,” he said.
“Hardly a year passes in China that does not bring its famine, more or less severe, to some part of the land. No wonder those who know the blessed hope, long for the day when King Jesus will say his people, ‘They hunger no more neither thirst anymore.’... Despite the martyrs who preceded them and the potentiality of attack, despite unstable, corrupt governments causing discontent and revolution all around them, despite the linguistic, cultural and geographic barriers to their progress, despite the heartache and sometimes overwhelming helplessness they felt about the plight of the people they were trying to serve, the missionaries to China had a single pledge and prayer: that ‘this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all generations; and then shall the end come” (Frederic Lee, Experiences in Old Cathay3).
The Allums returned home to Australia on the Tango Maru three times in their 16 years in China. The trips took up to three months.
Contributions to The China Mission
Francis Arthur Allum became superintendent of the newly-established Central China Union Mission during his later years in China. In his report to General Conference of SDA in 1922, F.A Allum said: “I want to tell you, to the glory of Jesus Christ, the savior I love, that whereas fifteen or sixteen years ago, when I first went to China, I could count on the fingers of my two hands the baptized Chinese believers in that land, today praise God, there are as many baptized believers in China as there are people assembled in this auditorium this afternoon. Well-nigh five thousand!”
Missionaries made a big difference to the lives of women in China. Missionary women modeled self-respect, but the changes were largely brought about by education and the Christian belief that everyone is valuable to God. The missionaries also helped increase overall literacy in China by setting up schools for children.
Other Denominational Work in Australia (1922 - 1946)
Upon return to Australia, Arthur was appointed vice-president and later secretary of the Australasian Union Conference. After that he became president of the then Victoria-Tasmania conference. Troubled by poor health, he moved to a warmer climate in New Wales where he worked as a farmer and lay-minister before resuming more evangelical activities in Warrawee, Sydney.
Retirement Years (1946-1948)
Figure 9: Traveling across China was always difficult for the missionary families
Figure 10: Trackers used bamboo ropes from the banks in a pulley system to haul the boats upstream.
Figure 11: China of the early 1900's was a land ravaged by wars and natural disasters.
Figure 12: Starving children during one of the famines.
Despite his passion for work, by 63 Arthur’s fragile health finally forced him to retire. In the last year of his life, he was bedridden, lovingly nursed by Evaline, their three daughters who were trained as nurses at the Sydney Sanitarium (now Sydney Adventist Hospital), and their three sons before finally passing away at age 65 in 1948.
In a life sketch published by the Australasian Record, A H Piper states that Arthur was remembered for his “ardent, warm, impulsive nature. His strong convictions of duty made him well-nigh indomitable…. He always saw the silver linings to the clouds of life. ‘Have faith in God’ was his unfailing answer...”8.
Figure 13: China Union Mission meeting; front row: unknown, Strickland, Hall,
Kuhn, Arthur Madden, unknown
Figure 14: China Division Workers' Meeting in 1923.
Figure 15: Arthur Allum at the Great Wall of China
1. Allum, F. A & Eva. (March 4, 1909) The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald. Retrieved from http://docs.adventistarchives.org/docs/RH/RH19090304-V86-09__B.pdf#view=fit
2. Allum, F. A (July 7, 1910). The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald. Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
3. Lee, Frederick (1920), Early Experiences in Old Cathay, in Anderson, Emma (Editor) With Our Missionaries in China, Pacific Publishing Press Association: Mountain View, California.
4. Cook, William. (2012, September 17). Singing girls, an aviatrix in furs and the delicate beauty of the Last Empress: Fascinating photos of Old China taken by the missionaries in the last years of imperial rule. Daily Mail Online ( UK), Retrieved 9/2/2013 from: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2202574/Missionary-photos-early-1900s-life-China-years-imperial-rule.html
5. Cosier, Debora (2012) Family Album of Francis Arthur Allum, Private collection, a copy is available at the Center for Chinese Adventist Heritage, Hong Kong Adventist College, Hong Kong.
6. Negal, Florence (2002), "Francis Arthur Allum" , in Chines SDA History, S. Young (editor), Chinese Union Mission of SDA: Shartin, Hong Kong, pp.701-702 (in Chinese).
5. Hickman, Kennedy. (2013). The Boxer Rebellion: China Fights Imperialism. About.com. Retrieved 9/2/2013 from http://militaryhistory.about.com/od/battleswars1900s/p/boxerreb.htm
6. Lo, Bruce W. (2013). The Roles of Two Union College Brothers, J.N & B.L. Anderson, in Facilitating The Adventist Church’s Transition to A World Movement in The Early 1900s: A first report from the Adventism in China project. Wiki-doc, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. Retrieved 6/11/2013 from www.sdahistorians.org/uploads/1/2/3/.../asdah2013_paper-lo_final.docx
7. Mitchison, Lois. (1971). Chinese Revolution. London: Bodley Head.
8. Piper, A. H. (1948). Life Sketch of Francis Arthur Allum. Australasian Record, 1 November 1948, Vol. 52, No. 44, Warburton, Victoria: Signs Publishing Company.
9. Spence, Jonathon D. (1990). The Search For Modern China. New York, USA: WW Norton & Company Ltd.
10. Waterlow, Julia. (1989). Centuries of the World – China. New York: Thomson Learning.
Submitted November 6, 2013 by Debbie Cosier (nee Hooper), granddaughter of Wallace Allum
Last updated March 4, 2014 by Bruce Lo