While working on a new book named “The History You Never Knew” the past few days, I came across much information that has actually never come to light in regular history books. Many of the young folk in Eaton actually tried to become missionaries to exotic lands many were successful. It seems the lure of Burma and Siam was a firm and large part of the missionary movement here in the early 1800’s.
Everyone remembers stories of Eaton’s Emily Chubbuck, the writer who wrote under the pen name “Fanny Forrester,” who married Adoniram Judson and went off to Burma, but what about Andrew Bigelow Morse???
The Reverend Andrew Bigelow Morse was the son of Ellis Morse and grandson of Joseph Morse. In 1849, at the early age of nineteen, Mr. Morse was graduated from Hamilton College in Clinton, where his ranking as student admitted him into the scholarship roll of Phi Beta Kappa.
After two years’ experience as principal of a Young Men’s Classical Institute in Albany, N.Y., he entered the Princeton Theological seminary, where he was graduated in 1864. After another two years, part of which was spent in post-graduate work in New York and a part in the service of the church, he and his young wife, commissioned by the Presbyterian board of foreign missions, started for Siam. This was the goal of their ardent ambitions and consecrations.
Once in the field, he threw himself whole-heartedly into the work, but within two years Andrew’s health was shattered and he was ordered home. He continued working for several years on a literary work of permanent value.
Because of his poor health during the Civil War, he was exempt from military service and debarred from the Christian commission. So instead, he spent three years at Washington in the Treasury Department, ministering often in hospital and barracks. In Washington he served in the somewhat famous “Treasury Guard” of which he frequently spoke with a smile.
It is here he also became acquainted with many men who afterward became famous. Among these was the one whom he always mentioned with a great admiration and reverence – the distinguished martyr President Lincoln.
Andrew takes his place of honor with the other young men of Eaton who also went to Siam (Burma) and China, Jonathan Wade and William Dean. **Newspaper stories filled with letters sent back to Eaton from Siam still exist in the Old Town of Eaton Museum today.