Biographies > Oberlin College
George Williams and Alice Moon Williams

Photo of George Williams Photo of Alice Williams

George Louis Williams was born in Southington, Connecticut on October 4, 1858. He attended Oberlin College and the Oberlin Theological Seminary, receiving the A.B. in 1888, the B.D. in 1891 and the A.M. in 1896. During his second year of seminary, from July to December 1890, Williams served as a supply preacher in Jerauld County, South Dakota. He was ordained a Congregational minister in Oberlin on May 21, 1891, just five days before marrying his classmate Mary Alice Moon.

Alice Moon was born in Reedsburg, Ohio on May 22, 1860. At the age of two, she moved with her family to Ashland, Ohio. Educated there, she became a teacher in the Ashland public schools, where she taught until she entered Oberlin College in 1884. At Oberlin, Alice enrolled in the four-year Literary Course, completing the first year of study in 1885. After a five-year interval, she resumed her collegiate work and also studied in the Oberlin Theological Seminary for a year before her 1891 marriage to George L. Williams.

Under appointment of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, George and Alice Williams sailed for China on July 29, 1891. After one year of compulsory Chinese language study in Tianjin, they traveled to neighboring Taigu, Shanxi Province, where the American Board had established a mission in 1883. At Taigu, the Williams joined the Oberlin Band of missionaries. Included among the mission's founders, Dr. Irenaeus J. Atwood (1850-1913), Dr. Charles D. Tenney (1857-1930), and the Rev. Chauncey M. Cady (1854-1925).

During the Williams' seven years in Taigu, George provided care for opium addicts at the local opium refuge, one of several medical clinics established by the missionaries. Alice worked alongside Lydia Lord Davis (1867-1952), teaching Chinese women to read and developing close ties with several Chinese Christians. By 1900, the Christian community in and around Taigu included over one hundred baptized Christians and probationers.

In 1899, with Alice's mother in failing health and the Taigu mission facing serious financial difficulties, Alice and her three daughters returned on furlough to the United States. George Williams was to follow, but he was killed at Taigu on July 31, 1900 during the Boxer Rebellion. The Chinese Boxers killed all thirteen members of the Oberlin Band; they also destroyed the missionaries' personal property and mission buildings.

After settling in Oberlin, Ohio, in 1900, Alice Williams took up the cause of the martyred missionaries.In 1908, she was a founder with Lydia Lord Davis of the Oberlin Shansi Memorial Association (O.S.M.A.), serving as an O.S.M.A. trustee for twenty years. Through lecture tours she promoted mission work in China and found support for Chinese students to study in the United States. She opened her home to Chinese students studying at Oberlin College. Among these were H. H. Kung (1881-1967) who had been among the first pupils at the boys' school in Taigu and later became China's Finance Minister (1933-44) and Chinese business leader Fei Ch'i Hao (1879-1953) who had taught at the ABCFM mission schools in Taigu and Fenzhou.

In 1909, Mrs. Williams returned to China for three years. At Taigu, she established the Alice M. Williams School for Married Women, a day and boarding school for Chines mothers and children. Her oldest daughter, Gladys Moon Williams, eventually became principal of this school.

In 1912, after returning to Oberlin, Alice Williams served as matron of three Oberlin College dormitories. She opened her home to Chinese students studying at Oberlin College. One of these was H. H. Kung (1881-1967) who had been among the first pupils at the boys' school in Taigu and later became China's Finance Minister (1933-44). Alice Moon Williams died in Oberlin on January 13, 1952.

For more information, see: Oberlin College Archives

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Last updated: 11/06/09

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