Letters From Addie
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Chapter 10: Converting a School in Toluca, 1903-1904
The Toluca day school was opened in 1902 under the direction of R. P. Mahon. Because of her experience in building the Madero Institute into such an outstanding school, Rev. Mahon urged Addie to join the Toluca faculty as principal.1 She was charged with the responsibility of converting the school into a girls' boarding school similar to the Madero Institute. Addie boarded the train bound for Toluca on January 22, 1903. As she rode through the night, Addie wrote a letter to Dr. Willingham, Corresponding Secretary. She wrote:
Dear Dr. Willingham,
According to your suggestion I am on my way to Toluca to help Mr. Mahon in the school. I left Saltillo this morning and hope to reach Toluca in the morning. I felt sad at leaving Saltillo where I have been so long and where I know everybody at least where I have a speaking acquaintance with everyone from the Governor of the State to the milkman on the donkey. But I gladly go to Toluca because I feel the Lord is leading me there. I hope and look for success in our school.2
While Addie was in Toluca, she received a visit from her niece, Lessi McKendree, the daughter of her sister, Sarah. Lessi subsequently wrote the following account of the mission school in Toluca.
Addie went to Toluca, eight miles North of Mexico City, at Colegio Bautista located near the Baptist Church. There had been no previous school in Toluca. The only Americans there were Dr. and Mrs. Mahon and their little boy, Addie, and Lessi McKendree, the daughter of Sarah Barton, Addie's sister. Dr. Mahon was pastor at the Baptist Church. Addie's assistants were Cuca, a young Mexican girl of splendid education and her mother, Ysidra, also a teacher.
Dr. Mahon and his wife entertained Addie until a suitable location could be found for another Girls' Mission School. All the Baptist Mission Schools were conducted in Spanish. There were 100 students including boarders and day pupils.
Life in a mission school is much like other schools but with somewhat more stress on Bible and Religious studies. There were prayers at table and prayers before school each morning, and prayers in the evening. Church and Sunday School services were held on Sundays, prayer meetings on Thursday evenings and prayers at other meetings. The girls had physical education, domestic science with the exception of cooking, for which they were not equipped since the only kitchen was busy with the preparation of meals for the students and teachers. A bracero was used, there was no American stove. Housekeeping and sewing were excelled in by the girls.3
Addie wrote glowing reports of the work at Toluca. The families of southern Mexico were very receptive to the missionaries and were eager for their daughters to attend the school. In a short time, Toluca did, indeed, become an outstanding school and it became known as "Instituto Anglo-Mexicano."4 Addie expressed deep concern, however, about the number of deaths that occurred at the school. In a letter to Dr. Willingham, dated September 6, 1904, Addie wrote:
Our hearts are sad today on account of the vacancy left by the home going of one of our finest girls. I might say in all truth the finest, the sweetest Christian Spirit among us, and was the one who had done the best work in her studies this year. Dear sweet lovely Ruth Granados was taken sick on Tuesday and died Saturday night. So another from our school has rapidly followed our beloved Brother Muller and we stand in awe and wonder who will be the next and what the Lord is trying to teach us and what He wants us to do... During the fourteen years in the schools in Saltillo we did not have a single death. In less than two years in Toluca we have buried one boy, one girl, and a teacher.5
No explanation was given for the deaths.
Upon the completion of her assignment at Toluca, Addie requested permission to go home and see her ailing mother. She arrived in Salado the day before Thanksgiving, November 24, 1904.6
After several months at home, Addie returned to Mexico, reaching Saltillo on June 1, 1905. Upon her return, Addie was placed in charge of Madero's Missionary Training Department. While Addie was in Toluca and at home in Salado, the Madero Institute had grown until it once again was able to sustain a boarding department as well as the day school program.
As director of the Missionary Training Department, Addie taught Bible, History of Christianity and Christian Doctrine. Addie also took the girls out into the city to work among the people so they could practice actual missionary work.7
By Charlene Ochsner Carson
Page last updated: December 18, 2018
Footnotes:1Fifty-Eighth Annual Report of the Foreign Mission Board, Southern Baptist Convention, Accession Number 2673, May 08, 1903, Savannah, Georgia, Record 22 of 45.
2Letter from Addie Barton, on board the train, January 22, 1903 to Dr. Willingham, Corresponding Secretary, Foreign Mission Board, Richmond, Virginia. From the Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives collection, Nashville, Tennessee.
3Cassidy McKendree Lessi. "Louisa Adeline 'Addie' Barton." Unpublished. Barton Family private collection.
4Patterson, Frank W., A Century of Baptist Work in Mexico. El Paso: Baptist Spanish Publishing House, 1979, p. 61.
5Letter from Addie Barton, Toluca, Mexico, September 6, 1904 to Dr. Willingham, Corresponding Secretary, Foreign Mission Board, Richmond, Virginia. From the Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives collection, Nashville, Tennessee.
6Letter from Addie Barton, Salado, Texas, April 7, 1905 to Dr. Willingham, Corresponding Secretary, Foreign Mission Board, Richmond, Virginia. From the Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives collection, Nashville, Tennessee.
7Sixty-First Annual Report of the Southern Baptist Foreign Mission Board, Southern Baptist Convention, Accession No. 2678, May 11, 1906, Chattanooga, Tennessee, Record 18 of 45.