The Death of Henry G. Appenzeller

From: The Korea Review Volume 2, 1902, June issue

The Wreck of the Kuma-gawa Maru.


On the night of the eleventh of June there occurred on the coast of Korea, about eighty-five miles south of Chemulpo, one of the most disastrous wrecks that even the dangerous coast of Korea has ever witnessed. The Kuma-gawa Maru, a small steamship belonging to the Osaka Shosen Line came in collision with the Kiso-gawa Maru of the same line and sunk in about three minutes. It is too early to give out anything as to responsibility for this catastrophe. That will be the work of a naval court which will place the responsibility, but the readers of the Review will be glad to hear the story of Mr. J. F. Bowlby, an American citizen who was on board the Kuma-gawa Maru and who narrowly escaped with his life. The first class passengers on the boat were Mr. J. F, Bowlby, Rev. H, G. Appenzeller, and two or three Japanese gentlemen. Mr. Bowlby says that about ten o'clock that night he and Mr. Appenzeller partook of a light supper of tea and biscuits and then retired to their staterooms. Mr. Bowlby retired to his berth but did not go to sleep. His stateroom was immediately opposite that of Mr. Appenzeller and he could

see the latter sitting in his stateroom reading. No whistle was blowing and the ship was apparently on her course.


Only a few minutes elapsed when without the least warning there came a terrific crash which brought Mr. Bowlby to his feet instantly and Mr. Appenzeller cried out, What's the matter? Mr. Bowlby hastily drew on his trousers and coat and vest without attempting to arrange them at all and in about ninety seconds after the collision he was making for the companion-way, with Mr. Appenzeller immediately in front of him. Behind him he saw one or two Koreans coming out of the second class cabin but he believes that they never reached the deck. As Mr. Bowlby set foot on deck he saw that things were in desperate shape. The whole forward half of the deck was already submerged atid the stern was lifted high out of the water. Mr. Appenzeller, who seemed to be laboring under great excitement, apparently made no attempt to get away from the ship but Mr. Bowlby leaped aft and climbed  




upon the rail. He knew there was no possibility of his not being drawn down by the suction and he knew that in order to save himself from being knocked about by broken rigging and other debris it was necessary to grasp some solid portion of the ship firmly and wait his chance to come up. He therefore seized hold of a rope that formed part of the rigging and as the boat settled he looked around and saw Mr. Appenzeller standing about where he was when he reached the deck, but now up to his waist in the water and groping vainly for something to take hold of. Nothing at all was said so far as our witness knows. All this had occupied only about a minute or perhaps less and then the ship went down at an angle of something like forty-five degrees. Mr. Bowlby clung desperately to his rope until he had been drawn what he believes to have been some twelve or fifteen feet and then he felt a shock which he thought to be either the ship striking bottom or the boilers bursting. As it appeared later it must have been the latter for the water was very deep at that spot. Thinking that the suction would have subsided Mr. Bowlby let go his

hold in order to rise toward the surface but he found that his right foot was entangled in a rope. He reached down and liberated his foot and then rose rapidly toward the surface. But when, as he believes, he had almost reached air he was sucked down by another eddy and it was some seconds before he could get his head above water. Mr. Bowlby has for many years been an expert swimmer or he would not have been able to keep his presence of mind under such almost desperate circumstances. When he reached the air he took two or three gasps and was then caught by another eddy and carried down again. While under water the second time he was hit severely in the back by a piece of timber but did not attempt to seize it. Upon coming to the surface again he began to swim against the current which was rapidly carrying him away from the Kiso-gawa Maru which he could dimly see but whose lights shone out quite plain, apparently a couple of hundred yards away. When the Kuma-gawa sank he had noticed that the Kiso-gawa lay almost alongside, at most not more. than thirty feet away. But the tide had carried him rapidly away. He was now on the surface swimming against the current but nearly exhausted. His hand struck a piece of




board about two feet long and eight inches wide and it helped to rest him a little. Then he found another piece about the same size. Before long a considerable piece of timber came floating down to him and he lay across it and rested quite easily but he was numb with cold and he had lost all feeling in his feet.


Meanwhile he was aware of cries for help from the direction of the wreck and knew that boats were out picking up survivors but he did not call out as yet. Soon he became aware that a life-boat was floating bottom upwards near him. A large part of the bottom was ripped off but it afforded a much better chance than the timber he was on; so with his little remaining strength he dragged himself up on the overturned boat and lay across it on his stomach. Tangled in some wreckage that was attached to his boat was the body of a Korean, evidently dead, with his head hanging down in the water and only his back showing. Before long one of the rescue boats from the Kiso-gawa came by but seeing that Mr. Bowlby was safe for the moment they left him in order to help others in worse condition. At last however they came to him and took him off the boat. He collapsed, and was taken to the Kiso-gawa Maru in a very exhausted condition. They put him to bed covered him with many thicknesses of blankets and poured hot sake into him. Of course, he saw very little of the other survivors and not being able to speak Japanese had very little opportunity to gain information. He had been in the water fully three quarters of an hour and it was morning before he was really in condition to do any clear thinking, owing to the physical exhaustion and the nervous strain.


The Kiso-gawa tried to anchor but could not do so because of the depth of the water. So she kept steaming about in the vicinity of the wreck trying to find other survivors, until one o'clock p.m. of the next day, when she turned her prow toward Chemulpo. Mr. Bowlby lost all his effects including a considerable sum of money in U.S. gold but when he arrived in Chemulpo and the news was telegraphed to the American mines in Un-san where Mr. Bowlby had been working for some years a purse of six hundred yen was made up among his friends with the generosity characteristic of the mining fraternity. This sum was telegraphed to him and on




the sixteenth he sailed on the Genkai Maru bound for America where his wife and family await him. His watch which he had on at the time of the disaster stopped at half past ten, so the wreck must have occurred a few moments before that. On the whole it seems to have been a remarkable exhibition of coolness, nerve and physical endurance, and Mr. Bowlby and his family are to be heartily congratulated upon his escape.


Memoir of Rev. Henry G. Appenzeller.


Rev. Henry G. Appenzeller, one of the two founders of the Mission of the Methodist Episcopal Church in Korea was born at Souderton, Pennsylvania, February 6th. 1858. His parents were German Lutherans and at the age of 20 he entered Franklin and Marshall college of the Reformed Church located at Lancaster. He graduated from this institution in 1882. Having previously joined the Methodist Episcopal Church, while in College he was licensed to preach and served very acceptably a small mission in connection with the First  




church of Lancaster. In the fall of 1882 he entered Drew Theological Seminary and pursued the regular 3 years course. During the first part of his course he preached at Bolton and afterwards at Green Village, the best appointment open to Drew students. In December 1884 he married Miss Ella J. Dodge; the same month he was appointed by Bishop Fowler to go as a missionary to Korea. In January he passed his final examinations at the Seminary and with his newly married wife started for their new field of labor. In May while in Japan he was graduated from the Seminary.


In San Francisco he was ordained deacon and elder in the Methodist ministry by Bishop Fowler.


On Easter Sunday April 5,1885 he and his wife arrived at Chemulpo. At this time on account of the political disturbances and the contest going on between the Japanese and Chinese it was considered unsafe for them to stay so they reluctantly returned to Japan but in a short time the difficulties having been settled came back to Korea,


By the month of August Dr. Scranton and Mr. Appenzeller had each purchased a native house and lot. Dr. Scranton began medical work on his own compound and also assisted in the work in the Government Hospital established in April by Dr. H. N. Allen of the Presbyterian Church. Two Koreans came to him desiring to study medicine and he told them that they must have a knowledge of English to do so. They applied to Mr. Appenzeller and he began to teach them English. In August he had four pupils enrolled. In 1886 the school had a recognized standing and was formally named by the king Pai Chai Hak Dang (Hall for Training Useful Men.) It had its first Session June 8, 1886.


In 1887 Mr. Appenzeller erected the brick building now occupied by the school, the first of its kind ever erected in the country. Thus Mr. Appenzeller was the first educator to come to Korea,


*In February Bishop Fowler wrote to Dr. Maclay, superintendent of the Japan Mission, appointing him superintendent of Korea and Rev. Appenzeller as assistant superintendent under his direction. In 1887 upon the return of Dr. Maclay to America Mr. Appenzeller became





On Sunday afternoon July 24, 1887, Mr. Appenzeller baptized one of the first Koreans who professed conversion to Christianity, and on October 2 a second Korean convert was baptized. Shortly afterwards the sacrament of the Lord's Supper was administered. Thus began the evangelistic work of the Methodist Episcopal Mission. In the spring of that year Mr. Appenzeller nmde the first journey ever undertaken by a missionary to Pyeng-yang. After a few days' stay there he was called back by the American Minister by order of the Government. In 1887 with Rev. H, G. Underwood of the Presbyterian Mission he started again for the far north but before reaching the Chinesr border they were called back by the American Minister.


Later he made a trip alone as far north as We-ju, which was very difficult. Between 1888 and 1890 he traveled through six of the eight provinces, touching at Hai-ju, Kong-ju and Fusan, covering 1800 miles. From the time of his appointment until 1892 Mr. Appenzeller was superintendeot of the Methodist Mission; for a large part of that time he also served as treasurer of the Mission which position he continued to fill until 1900. 

His policy on educational lines was a very broad one, and his plans included the education of the youth of the Empire under Christian instruction and control. He believed that the Christian Church ought to be at the helm of the educational system and in this way by precept and example inculcate principles of morality and nobility. At the same time he saw the possibilities in such a position for Christianizing the youth. To that end he planned and worked for the aggrandizement of Pai Chai Hak Dang. 

Yet not alone in educational work ware Mr. Appenzeller's many gifts applied. He was devoted to the evangalization of this people. He founded and cared for the First Methodist Episcopal Church in Chong Dong, Seoul, during the years of his service, seeking with all his power to make it a mighty evangelistic agency for the young. When his congregation had grown beyond the capacity of the place of meeting he decided to build a church at once beautiful, substantial and serviceable. He therefore adopted that style of architecture that is everywhere associated wth the Christian




church and erected the first protestant foreign church building in Korea.


Being one of the pioneer missionaries and a man of diversified talents Mr. Appenzeller was active in the founding of nearly all of the organizations that exist among the foreign community. Feeling the need in a heathen land of drawing away occasionally from all heathen environments and in union with others of his own race, in his own tongue worshiping the Deity he took a large part in founding the Union Church and gladly opened the chapel of Pai Chai School for the services. Several times he was elected pastor and conscientiously fulfilled the duties of that position.


In the fore front of missionary enterprise stands the Bible. When the first missionaries arrived they found that Rev. John Ross, in Moukden, had translated the New Testament into Korean. They soon found however that this was very imperfect and that they must have a better translation.

They then formed the Permanent Executive Bible Committee and from the first for a number of years Mr. Appenzeller was a member of this Committee. The purpose of the committee was to supervise the translation and publication of the scriptures. They elected from among the missionaries certain ones for the work of translation. Mr. Appenzeller was among the number first chosen and has held his position on the Board of Translators ever since. It was work in which he took great pleasure and was careful to attend every session he possibly could. In fact it was in going to the performance of this duty that he lost his life on the ill-fated Kuma-gawa.


Next to the Bible as an evangelistic agency comes religious literature. For the preparation and publication of books and tracts the Korean Religious Tract Society was founded and Mr. Appenzeller was elected President. This position he filled for a number of years and until very

recently. In addition to this he was for a long time the custodian of the Sunday School Union and Tract Society of the Methodist Episcopal Mission. In these societies he did considerable work himself in translation and publication of tracts. He started and for four years edited and published the church weekly of the Methodist Mission called the Korean Christian Advocate, carrying it on successfully in the midst




of his other many duties. Prior to the organization of these societies, that is in the fall of 1888, having experienced considerable difficulty in the matter of printing the works that had been translated and also seeking a legitimate enterprise whereby employment might be given to boys who desired to earn their support while pursuing their studies at Pai Chai, at the request of Mr. Appenzeller, Mr. Ohlinger opened the printing establishment now called the Methodist Publishing House. Shortly afterwards Mr. Appenzeller began the Pai Chai Bindery as an adjunct to the school. As publications multiplied a book depository was needed and Mr. Appenzeller having purchased property in a very favorable location at Chong No opened the Chong No Bookstore; at this place a large number of books and tracts are sold each year. 

Although devoting his energies primarily to a host of missionary enterprises Mr. Appenzeller found time to engage in work of a secular nature for the good of the foreign community. He was one of the leading spirits among the group of influential foreigners whose counsel and example resulted in the widening of the narrow streets of the city and the building of good roads. In all such works his influence as a Christian missionary was felt  after the widening of the road through Peking pass, at the ceremonies in connection with the completion of the Independence Arch, he was very much pleased at the invitation extended him to offer prayer in public acknowledgment of gratitude to God, and thus put the stamp of Christian progress on what had been accomplished.


In 1892 Rev. Ohlinger and Mrs. Ohlinger edited and published a monthly magazine in English which they called the Korean Repository. After their departure the need of such a publication was felt by the community and in 1895 Rev. Appenzeller and Rev. Geo. Heber Jones began to edit

and publish the Korean Repository. For four years in the midst of many other weighty duties they continued its publication. Its influence was felt throughout all the east and it came to be an authority on matters Korean.


In his social duties Mr. Appenzeller was never lax; during his seventeen years in Korea there were very few foreigners whom he did not know personally. To further cement these ties and afford a means of recreation and a re





lief from close application to duty, he advocated and assisted in the organization of the Seoul Union, an association where the foreigners and their families occasionally meet and spend an hour in mental and physical relaxation. The leading papers and magazines published in the United States are kept on file and in the summer three tennis courts are laid out.


The Korea Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society was founded in 1900. The purpose of the organization is to investigate the history, customs and life of the people of the peninsula and put such investigations into permanent form for the public. Mr. Appenzeller has for several months

served the society in the capacity of librarian.


A few years after the arrival of the first foreigners, upon the death of one of the small company great difficulty was experienced in the matter of the burial of the body. The Korean government refused permission to bury near the city, and only after much pressure was brought to bear did they consent to the burial on this side of the Han river at Yang Wha-jin. At this place a large tract of land was purchased and enclosed for a Foreigner Cemetery. In all this work Mr. Appenzeller took a large part and for a number of years was Treasurer of the Foreign Cemetery Association. It seems truly a sad comment upon the frailty of man that he who did so much to secure and carefully preserve a burial place for the foreign community should find his final resting place in the wide waste of waters : and yet we know that he would think that it is all right so long as he was right with God. For in all the rush of a busy life he always made sure of his acceptance with God. A few days before his death after having passed safely through an experience in which his life was in danger he remarked that he had no fear; that if he had been killed in that trouble it would have been all right with him for he had that morning committed himself unto God as he did every morning.


We have sketched in the barest outline the events and works in the life of a truly good and great man. In all his relations with his fellowmen he was upright and straightforward and he always aimed by a cheerful, kindly manner to brighten the lives of those with whom he came in contact,

while at the same time he had little patience with dishonesty




or shiftlessness. He was a loving husband and a kind father, seeking to bring his children up in the fear of God. To friends he was true as steel and those who met him for the first time found in him a courteous Christian gentleman.


To the public in his many works, he was a benefactor of high standing and his work in behalf of this people will go on producing its beneficial results for many years.


As a missionary he was capable, faithful and devoted to his work, and holds a high record. He was self-sacrificing almost to a fault. Among the Koreans it is said that he not only gave many years of service to them but also in the end gave his life ; for they believe that in attempting to call and arouse the Korean teacher and the little girl under his care he could not take sufficient precautions for his own safety. In all his efforts he was moved by the highest optimism and had the greatest faith in the ultimate triumph of Christ's church in the world. All the distinctive doctrines of evangelical Christianity were accepted by him. The immortality of the soul and the glorification of the Christian in union with “all those who love His appearing, were pleasing themes for thought. Often in our hearing has he given utterance in prayer to this couplet :


We meet, the grace to take Thou hast so freely given;

We meet on earth for Thy dear sake, that we may meet in heaven.'*


Perhaps we can no more fitly close this sketch than by a quotation from a funeral address delivered by him not long ago.


We stop in the rush of our every-day duties in order to lay in our Machpelah by the river one more body to await the resurrection morn. It is well that we should for we are forcibly reminded that we are strangers and pilgrims here below. There is no order in death. A few weeks ago one slipped from our midst ere many of us knew of his illness and now another one from whom we were separated and whose hearty laugh we did not hear is called hence. May we not say in the words of Job, are not my days few before I go whence I shall not return, without any order.' Without any order,” and yet in God's order. God doeth all things well and, brethren concerning them which are asleep, sorrow





not, even as others who have no hope. Jesus who died and rose again will bring them who sleep in him with him. And so shall we be ever with the Lord. And truly the last words of our lesson are for our comfort : God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.' This is the will of God and from this point God's dealings with us his children must be viewed.


Wilbur C. Swearer,