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Letters From Addie

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Chapter 14: Addie's Final Year, 1921

During the years that Addie was at home, she stayed in touch with the corresponding secretary of the mission board. She wrote of her desire to return to Mexico and continue her work at the Madero Institute. She wrote of fixing up the former art room as a sewing room where they could teach girls how to sew and make their own clothing. She wrote:

The art room - which will be splendid - it has three big windows and will make us a fine room with a little cleaning up and white washing. It is the first room on the corner coming this way from the Cathedral.1

Addie also suggested that they fix up another room as the music room. She wrote:

The missionary girls will or should know enough of music to play the organ in the churches.2

In several letters to the Foreign Mission Board, Addie repeated her dreams and desires for improving and expanding the program of the Madero Institute. Finally, on June 18, 1921, she received a reply from the corresponding secretary. Dr. Willingham wrote that the Board had just appointed fifty-two new missionaries. However, because of the lingering unsettled conditions in Mexico, no one had applied to go to that country. He reminded Addie that the Madero Institute was still in the hands of the government. Therefore, it was difficult to make plans for use of the Institute. He continued by saying that there was even talk of selling the Institute. Dr. Willingham wrote:
Plans for school work are somewhat indefinite, along the lines of endeavor in which you are specially interested, and I am at a loss to know just what to say to you. I really can't predict whether there will be work open to you along the special lines of your interest any time soon or not.3
After receiving Dr. Willingham's letter, Addie realized that her days as a missionary to Mexico had come to an end, and she graciously offered her retirement. On or around June 11, 1921, Addie picked up a piece of paper bearing the Salado Baptist Association letterhead, turned it over, and penned a draft resignation letter. A few days later, she wrote the final draft. Addie's resignation letter was dated June 29, 1921. The Foreign Mission Board regretfully accepted the resignation of Miss Addie Barton on July 22, 1921.4

96-51-466-475
(103) 96-51-468
Addie's draft retirement letter written on back of Salado Baptist Association letter.

I believe anyway it best and advisable and according to the will of the Lord who guides all the way to resign and remain at home with my brother who will be left alone. Hoping this will meet with your approval I remain as ever your grateful friend and sister co-laborer. I am now 63 years of age and I now realize it would only be a few years at home that I would be able to do active service indeed would not be able to do much now as my health I have never been strong since my mother's death.

Addie's actual retirement letter is given below.

Salado, Texas
June 29th 1921

Dr. T.B. Ray
Richmond

Dear Dr. Ray,

Your letter of June 18th received. Many thanks as it showed me more clearly the will of the Lord, for which will I had been earnestly entreating the Lord to make manifest to me as the Lord has not yet opened a place for me in Mexico, and as he has opened a place for me here at home to live with and care for my brother in the old home thus making him and me a mutual help. I take it that the Lord is leading me to do this work.

The old Homestead a large rural home is left here since our Mother's death to my brother's and my care. I believe it advisable and the will of the Lord who guides and leads us all the way that I resign and remain at home with my brother at the old home.

Praying that this may meet your approval and praying God's richest blessing upon you I am

Your Friend & Sister
Addie Barton

Three months after her resignation, Addie "fell on sleep" at her home. Her funeral service was held at her home, the warm and comfortable house of her childhood on Main Street near Salado Creek. Dr. M. T. Andrews, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Temple, conducted the service. Pallbearers were the officers of her home church.5 After a simple service, attended by family and dearest friends; Addie's body was carried to the Salado Cemetery and laid to rest in the Barton Family plot next to her sister, Emma.

The day after the service, Rev. Andrews sent the following notification to the Foreign Mission Board.

Telegram reporting Addie Barton's death
From the collection of the Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives.

Shortly after Addie's death, the Baptist Standard printed a tribute of appreciation written by one of Addie's fellow missionaries. Dr. J. G. Chastain, who had labored with Addie on the mission field, paid homage to Addie and her noble work by writing the following.

Miss Barton's remarkable success as a missionary was due to her well-rounded character, some of whose strong points were: Superior native endowment, culture, piety, perseverance and an ardent love for soul winning... Besides her class room work she found time for women's meetings, house-to-house visiting and other church work. She loved the people and made it easy for them to love her. Oh, how the children loved Miss Addie Barton. Her religious fervor, her sunshiny nature and her smile made her an angel of mercy to needy people...

She loved Mexico and the Mexican people better than she did her own life. In her final delirium almost her last word was "Mexico." Her sister, bending over to catch her imperfect accents, heard her say, "Why don't you go on to Mexico?" Then she went to sleep.

Her life was a great success. We do not often meet with her kind. She is gone from us, but she still lives through her labors here, and through those whom she taught and trained for the Master.6

Several members of the Barton family are buried in the Salado Cemetery. Within the family plot, the first grave is that of Addie's father, Dr. Barton. Mrs. Barton is next to her husband. Little Eva lies next to her mother. Emma is next, and then Addie. The three-line inscription on Addie's gravestone bears testimony to her life and work. Those lines simply say,

Louisa Adeline (Addie) Barton
August 23, 1858 - October 26, 1921
Missionary to Mexico, 1884 - 1921

In a day when young single women seldom left the comfort and safety of their father's house, Addie Barton traveled by train to a raw country to begin a work in a pioneer mission field. She did not dream of fame and glory but of finding peace. She lived a simple life, faithfully fulfilling her missionary calling. Addie followed her heart to Mexico and therein found her peace.

THE END

By Charlene Ochsner Carson
Page last updated: December 27, 2018

Footnotes:

  1Letter from Addie Barton, Saltillo, Mexico, July 5, 1910 to Mrs. Taylor. From the Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives collection, Nashville, Tennessee.
  2Ibid.
  3Letter from Dr. Willingham, Corresponding Secretary, Foreign Mission Board, Richmond, Virginia to Miss Addie Barton, Salado, Texas, June 18, 1921. From the Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives collection, Nashville, Tennessee.
  4Minutes of the Foreign Mission Board Meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention, Accession Number 561, July 22, 1921, Richmond, Virginia.
  5"Missionary Dies at Salado Home." Temple Daily Telegram, October 27, 1921.
  6Chastain, J. G., "Miss Addie Barton, An Appreciation." Baptist Standard, December 22, 1921, Baptist Standard Publishing Co., 711 Slaughter Building, Dallas, Texas, p.30.

Previous page: Chapter 13: Letters from Friends
Next page: Acknowledgements
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