This book is the story of Dr. Virgil Hart life’s work in China; to assist his fellow human from 1865 – 1901. He thought the Chinese needed modern educational training, western medical care, and Christian spiritual enlightenment.

He dedicated his life to helping the Chinese toiling against the oppression of dynastic tyranny and corrupt, opportunistic Western opium induced influences, providing them with the little comfort missionaries could along the countries interior of the Yangtze, Min and Gan River’s.

Although he contributed greatly to alleviating much suffering, in the end he saw his work destroyed multiple times by the ungrateful natives who participated in the forced expulsion of Westerner’s from Sichuan Province in the early part of the 19th century. 

These sample chapters helped to set the stage for a life-time of work.


Enclosed Sedan Chair   (NWMC) Photo
The Call / Fellow-Farers True

My great-great-grandfather Dr. Virgil C. Hart felt a calling to serve his fellow human as a young man in upstate New York, U.S.A., in 1854. After graduation from Garrett Biblical Institute in 1865, he accepted an appointment from the Methodist Episcopal Church to serve as a missionary in Foochow (Fuzhou, Fujian) China. He proposed to his sweetheart of only a few months named Adeline Gilliland, who had been told by a fortune teller that she would travel to faraway places and have five children, four of them boys, a prophecy later fulfilled. Virgil told her to only consider his proposal if she was willing to spend her life in China.

Outward Bound / the First Field

After spending a harrowing six month trip aboard a schooner, Mr. and Mrs. Hart spent a year in Foochow, Fukian learning the Chinese language.  Then they were told their first place of residence would be Kiukiang, Kiangsi (Jiujiang, Jiangxi) which had become a treaty port in 1860. Upon arrival, there were only 30 Americans and English nationals mainly involved in the customs and Consular office affairs who were occupying a concession of land by the river facing the western walls of the city.  Kiukiang was where the Methodist Missions of Central China built the first western hospital in the province that is today the #1 People’s Hospital.

Central China / On Furlough
There was a Scottish preacher who spent more time consoling a liquor bottle on Saturday night, than amongst his lowei flock and the Chinese people that came to St Paul’s Church on Sunday.  Virgil Hart was asked to relieve this tormented soul and thus he began to eagerly discharge the sermons there for the next 20 years.

The anti-foreigner sentiment was strong but there were three Chinese families that aided Virgil Hart greatly.  A day school was quickly organized and begun with 3 students that swelled to 14 after a few days of the word getting out about its existence.  This was contested by evil men who gossiped that the foreigner would whip the children and cut their eyes out, to be used as telescope lenses, so that to continue a native teacher was hired to educate the children.

Soon after arriving in Kiukiang, Mr. Hart was sought by a Chinese man who had heard about his being there and requested he make a journey inland to meet other men anxious to see him.  After a day’s travel south, they came upon a temple where many had gathered to hear the “Mu-Si” or great foreign teacher.  Virgil Hart made five journeys similar to this his first year in Kiukiang.  These journeys into the countryside were by no means easily undertaken for the Chinese road system was unlike today.  Boats were the easiest when water was available, or where the road on land was broad and fairly level, a sedan chair was the main mode of transportation offered.  As the pathway narrowed a wheel barrow became an alternative means, and when the gradient became steep, a horse was the most efficient mode of moving forward, if available.
Accompanying him were one or two coolies to carry the food, bedding and supply of books on forays.  Sleep would be found in a temple or accommodating home for the “Foreign Devil.”  Passing though hamlets was not an easy task as agitators who held a grudge against a lowei, could entice stone throwing or physical harassing of the coolies, to bring on injury.  One such instance occurred when they were ambushed while trying to cross a long bridge.  After getting away from the mob they required a convalescence stay in a temple for several days before Virgil Hart could return from the journey.

Not being easily intimidated Virgil Hart would return to the very spot upon where the altercation had taken place just to prove he could not be driven from the field, and through humor and reason gained the respect of the Chinese natives.

 The Printing Staff in Kaiting   SEE Chengdu Kaiting Link Here                                                
 Virgil Hart with his printing staff in Kaiting 

Trackers hard at work pulling a ship upstream                          Riding the rapids downstream     
Trackers hauling a ship UP the Yangtze River   Running the Rapids at the 3 Gorges.

Opium Smokers
Opium Smokers

 Wheelbarrow Transports                                     School bus?
A stylish way to transport through the dirty street. Children on their way to school

Dr. Hart with Wei Ching - Abbot of Mt. Omel
Virgil Hart with the Master Monk at Mount Omei Shan

The Yangtze at Ichang Gorge

Beginning Here