This week’s post is on target in terms of the publication date but a few days early regarding the subject matter. However, I wanted to celebrate the 186th anniversary of the birth of Judson Dwight Collins on February 12, 1823 in Rose, Wayne County, New York.
Collins graduated in the first class from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor in 1845. He was an instructor at the Wesleyan Seminary at Albion (now Albion College) from 1845-1846. While an instructor at Albion, Collins taught courses in Latin, Greek, chemistry, botany, and rhetoric. He also served as a Sunday school teacher for the local Methodist church and conducted research in anatomy and Hebrew.
Collins is most important to Albion College and to the Methodist Church because he was the first Methodist missionary to China, along with Dr. Rev. Moses C. White in the spring of 1847. Unfortunately, Collins’ short tenure in China was fraught with many obstacles, including his inability to learn the language, the strong Chinese sentiment against foreigners, and finally an illness that required him to return home to Michigan in 1851. He later died at his parents home in May of 1852, never having regained his health.
In honor of Collins and his mission, a stone monument on the quad was inscribed with his name, as well as that of the first principal of the Seminary, Charles F. Stockwell, and first president of Albion College, Clark T. Hinman. Upon the north side of the square obelisk was inscribed,
In memory of Judson D. Collins, A.M., First Missionary of the Methodist Episcopal Church to the Empire of China. Died May 25th, 1852. ‘Go ye into the world and preach the Gospel to every creature.’ -Christ-
In his 1852 address to the University of Michigan’s Union Missionary Society of Inquiry, Rev. C.T. Hinman praised Collins’ missionary spirit, calling him a “martyr for China and for man.” In the 1930s, Alumni Secretary W.B. Buck attempted to find out what had happened to the obelisk. His final impression was the monument had been removed either by choice because “it suggested a cemetery rather than a campus” or that it had been vandalized and broken and had to be removed. It was believed that the names of Stockwell, Collins, and Hinman were transferred to a wall in the Chapel (now Dickie Hall).
In 2001, an exhibit was held by Special Collections, in conjunction with International Week, that highlighted Albion’s Methodist connection to China and Judson Collins’ role in it. Some of the materials from that exhibit are still available online at <http://www.albion.edu/library/specialcollections/Exhibits/collins_exhibit1.asp>.
Below are additional materials regarding Collins and the monument to him that were not included in the 2001 exhibit or the online overview. Click on the thumbnail for a larger view of the image or a pdf file. You will need Adobe Reader to view the pdfs.
To view past issues of “A Day in the Life,” please go to <http://www.albion.edu/library/specialcollections/histories/adayinthelife/>.