Gash Thornton Letters
- From Wyoming, not yet Thornton- Three Letters
1930 - On Ship and First Months in Japan-
1930 - Getting Settled - Eighteen Letters
1931 - Preparing for Motherhood - Nine Letters
1931 - Twins are Born - Seven Letters
1931 - June through December - Twins are Born - Seven
Sunday, June 8
Dearest Alice, Ralph and Mama:
Just want to write you a few lines this afternoon and let you know that the
package came. We were praying that, D.V., there would be no duty charged on
it, and there wasn’t – thanks to our Lord. I came home from the hospital
Friday afternoon and the package was here when we arrived. How nice everything
in it is! I want to especially thank you for the many things you sent, Alice, and you, Mama, for those lovely nightgowns.
I wrote Mother Thornton to thank the different ladies for us, but I’d like
you two to do the same thing. I just don’t feel “up” to writing to each one.
We have enough now, I feel, even if twins come, and feel very, very thankful
to the Lord.
My condition improved greatly and so I was allowed to come home. However,
I have to watch my diet carefully and keep in touch with the doctor. I feel
not at all like myself, but the Lord will undertake. I suppose it’s natural
to get under the weather at this stage of the game.
Just got Helen’s wedding invitation today – wish I knew whether or not I
am going to be able to go or not. She and Aunt Effe were so busy last week
that they didn’t get to the hospital, so I haven’t seen them since a week
ago Friday, when they came up for supper.
It’s very hot and sultry but the wind is coming up and it looks like a storm
is coming. Our river is almost dry, due to the fact that the farmers have
flooded their rice fields in preparation for transplanting. The mosquitoes
have come, so we’re using our net nightly.
I pray that you are all well. I’ve not written Elsie and Perc or Chas. and
Madeleine for a long time. I hope they’ll forgive me. Please remember me with
a kiss to Elsie and Perc. Also, when you write, to the folks in Louisville,
We’ve ordered some strawberries for jam so tomorrow will try to get them
This letter is terrible but forgive me for my dullness.
Much, much love,
Note: Watson started letter, Mary wrote middle and Watson
ended the letter. First Watson:
No. 813 Sanda
Hyogo Ken, Japan
June 13, 1931
I take pen in hand to inscribe an abbreviated epistle concerning the happenings
of the past few hours (about 30 or so).
It’s all over but the shouting (on the part of the twins).
Yes, yesterday morning the Lord gave us two little girls – Ruth and Alice,
and we’re very, very thankful. I’ll try and tell you just how things happened
– please excuse the pencil. Thursday afternoon I felt pretty blue and cried
considerably so when Watson left for the P.M. meeting in Aino, I dressed and
went to see the new Kirita baby. When I got home, I darned socks until Watson
returned and then went to bed about 10:30. I woke at 2 A.M. due to the fact
that I was passing considerable water but felt no pain at all. We didn’t understand
just what the matter was and neither did Yanagidasan, so we prayed about it
and went to bed. At 5 o’clock I started having regular cramps and so asked
Yanagidasan if she thought it could be labor pains but because there was no
change in the position of the baby, she didn’t think it was any thing special.
Well, we had some more prayer and decided that if by 7 o’clock I kept on with
the pain, we would take the 7:39 train to Osaka – for the hospital. Well, by 7 I was beginning to feel quite
badly so Watson went to a doctor here in town, who advised getting a midwife
and if she thought it wise, to go to Osaka in a taxi and if not she would take charge
of things here. Well, by 8:10 when Watson got back to the house I was marching
around almost having a fit and when the midwife arrived at 8:30 she said “No,
you can’t go to Osaka as the baby will be born soon” so she told me to get
in bed and at 9:23 the first baby was born and at 9:49 the second. Watson
sat in the bed with me and held up my back and gave me orders. Yamishirosan
came and flew across town buying hot water bottles, cotton, gauze, etc. A
woman (female) women’s doctor came about 9:30 and supervised the 2nd
baby and the afterbirth. By 11:30 the midwife had bathed the twins, dressed
them, got me all fixed up and the room straightened – and now we’re all well
and happy! We have a nurse here to take care of the babies and Yanagidasan
does her work with Watson’s supervision. The Lord has been most gracious.
The babies are 8-month ones but as far as we know, perfectly healthy. The
first one weighed 4 lb. 7 oz. and the second 4 lb. 9 oz. At birth the 2nd
one’s color was bad at first but is all right now. Also, as it came out feet
first, one foot was a bit off-color and that also is O.K. now. Everyone seems
surprised at how “lively” I am – have had to take no medicine and am eating
regularly. Here in Japan they don’t give anesthetics during the process
but I got along very nicely without any. The sanbasan (?) didn’t tell
me that there were to be twins, but let Watson know by holding up one finger
after the first baby was born. She was afraid to tell me because the Japanese
don’t like twins. But Watson told her that I wanted them, so she “prepared
me” and in a few minutes the second one was born. I had a kimono sash of Watson’s
tied on the back of the bed and I used that as a trip to pull on. He was awfully
brave – almost fainted after Ruth was born…now Watson writes...(here
Mary had to stop so I’ll carry on again it being 4 days later and time for
this letter to be on its way) but he prayed and the Lord heard him in his
distress and saved him out of all his troubles. Yes, the Lord heard my prayer
and my faintness passed away like the morning mists. Aren’t I poetical? But
I’m a papa now, twice over; and they are the cutest babies at times. At other
times they have the ugliest little wrinkled faces.
Later in the afternoon.
To get this letter mailed. I will just say, “Goodbye”. Lots of love to all.
We are doing nicely. Will write more later. Mother Thornton will enjoy reading
this letter as it is more detailed than the one I wrote the folks.
Their names are Ruth Esther and Alice Jane, to be called by their first names
only. You might get the letter from my folks – it has more details.
Sanda Hyogo Ken
August 23, 1931
I know it’s a bit early, but what do little girls wear when they reach the
crawling stage? Could you send me a pattern that I (perhaps) could use for
colored dresses? (Perhaps like those you made for Ralph Page.)
I’m ashamed of myself for neglecting writing to you all but I am busy.
Your long letter came yesterday in which you said you had seen Aunt Effe.
Hope Mary Scott’s doll got there O.K. I’m nursing Ruth, so excuse it if my
handwriting gets a bit queer.)
It’s very hot today, gets up to 90 and as there is little or no breeze it’s
quite uncomfortable. Of course we’ve not had it as bad as you. We’re so thankful
that, in spite of the heat, the babies are gaining steadily.
Paul wrote us to come down sometime this week and we’re planning to go. We
four and two elderly ladies are going (D.V.) to the ocean for a swim to a
beach near Kobe. It will be the first
swim this year, except for a dip in our river! My bathing suit is going but
I guess it will do me, considering how little swimming I do. Have to buy a
cap, though. Think I’ll have my hair thinned out by a barber – it’s so difficult
to get a cap on (Ruth is kicking!)
Yesterday morning our old landlord sent us gifts by his daughter and two
boys. He sent a beautiful white silk coat, cap and bib for one baby, each
boy carried a young (live) chicken. The latter we have in a small bird cage
downstairs but Watson would like to buy a few more and raise them. We now
have 2 babies, 2 birds and 2 chickens. Of course I want a dog too, but then,
There is so little to write about. I hate to write such short letters – don’t
seem worth 10 sen!
Our problem now is – what about baby buggies? One isn’t big enough and two
is rather expensive. Mrs. Gibbon sent us $5 with which we are going to buy
one at least. I suppose we’ll end up with a Japanese one, altho’ they’re funny-looking
(I’m finished nursing Alice now
so will try to write better.) By the way, I’d like to know Alice’s schedule for nursing and feeding – when,
how and what. We don’t get help from the Jap. because they nurse their babies
for 2 or 3 years. We don’t want to go to Osaka again – it’s an expense, a long way, etc.
Of course we can use only Klim or canned milk, of which the former is the
better! When is the best time to start feeding other things, etc. I’ve been
surprised at how we’ve gotten no advice whatsoever from anybody at home about
the babies! Rather unusual.
Now will close – much cooler today.
Mother Thornton’s birthday is Sep. 22, maybe you could remember it some way.
Sanda, Hyogo Ken
September 25, 1931
Dearest Elsie & Perc:
It’s been an awfully long time since I’ve written to you but we both have
thought of you lots and remembered you in prayers. I hope you’re both well
and happy in Him. Remember the old hymn we used to sing so much?
“I am happy in Him, I am happy in Him.
My soul will delight; He fills day and night,
And I am happy in Him.”
That is certainly my testimony. How good the Lord has been to me! He’s given
me these two darling little babies, given me a good husband and allowed me
to go the mission field as one of his servants. It makes me feel bad when
I realize how little I deserve His goodness and how little, or in fact nothing,
I’ve returned to Him. But I can honestly say that I love Him and desire
to serve Him acceptably.
We certainly have a big family now. Everyday there are 10 hungry mouths to
feed! Papa, mama, 2 babies, Yamagidasan, the puppy, the two chickens and the
two birds! The dog is the latest addition to the family. He happened on this
Several days ago Watson looked out of the window and saw some little kids
with this puppy. They had a string around his neck and they were dumping it
in the river and pulling him out, kicking him, and other such loving tricks
that Japanese kids are want to do to dogs. (It’s very queer, they don’t seem
to love dogs like American kids do.) Watson said, “Mary, do you want a puppy?
There’s one across the river” or words to that effect. My heart was stirred
(I’ve wanted a dog ever since I’ve been here) so I marched across the bridge
and tried in my poor Japanese to find out whose dog it was. They said it belonged
to a family who didn’t want it and they’re trying to get rid of it, so I picked
the poor thing up, brought it home and bathed it and now it’s ours! Awfully
cute – will grow up to be a big dog – is of the brown and white long-hairy
kind, and we’ve named him Ara. It’s a Bible name meaning “traveler” and the
same word in Japanese means “good gracious!” or “dear me!.” Both interpretations
suit him. Although a Japanese, he is learning to eat foreign food, so he’s
not much trouble. Has a lot of fleas, but then we had those before he came.
(I’ve found several among the bed clothes!)
These are quite cold, blowy days, and typically Autumn ones. In the mornings
I generally wear a sweater and in the P.M. always a coat is very acceptable.
Makes me think of school days. Seems a long time since I went to school –
not that I’d like to be back there, however.
I hope your business is prospering, Perc. Haven’t had much news from you
two so don’t know much about how things are going.
My time is so taken up that I’m away behind in my correspondence. I notice
some letters received in June that aren’t answered yet! I really like to write
but often there’s hardly anything new to write about.
Have Ethel and Allen found an apartment? I heard that they were staying at
his folks home, looking for a house. How are they? And Amy, Weston too? I
wrote to Amy once but suppose she’s too busy to answer. Please give my love
to all the girls and especially to Mr. and Mrs. Wall. You folks don’t realize,
I think, how lovely it would be to be at home for a while (at least). We’re
so far away from foreigners here. I’ve been into Kobe only 3 or 4 times since the twins were born,
and then had to stay in the house most of the time. One would love to have
some long visits with old friends….one’s family!
We enjoy Helen and Paul’s visits so much, but now that school has opened
they’ll not have much time to visit us. However, we didn’t come to Japan
to entertain, so it’s all right. Pray that we may be used to the salvation
of souls. Does that phrase sound rather hackneyed to you? Well I sincerely
It will be rather interesting, but too bad, if relations between Japan
and China become any
more war-like. The papers are full of the Manchurian trouble and the Japanese
take a keen interest in what the U.S. thinks about things. Of course, most likely,
a war wouldn’t affect us any.
Elsie, you helped in that sewing bee, didn’t you? Those dresses and things
are certainly darling and the babies have been wearing the smaller ones all
summer and are almost big enough for the others. These days, I put rather
heavy cotton shirts, diapers and light dresses on them in the daytime and
at night, flannel dresses and gauze shirts. Wish we had some pictures but
haven’t any on hand now.
This letter will reach you just shortly before your birthday, Elsie, so let
me wish you a happy one, and many, many more of them. You know that I’d like
to remember all these days with something besides good wishes, but…..
Now will close. The best of love to you both, I love you a lot, and the Lord
bless you, even as He has us.
Note: Started by Watson and completed by Mary.
Monday, Sept. 28, 1931
Dear Mother Gash,
After so long a time, I’ll try to get a few lines written to you. First of
all, the enclosed $5.00 is for you to use any way you want to. We are sorry
it is not more, but at least you will know that we do think of you and pray
My family is doing quite well. The past two weeks have been very difficult
in many respects. With the tent meetings and all, I have been very busy away
form home and when I have been at home I have been so tired I could not be
of much use. The babies have been crying quite a bit these past days and we
don’t know what to do. They seem to be suffering with colic so much. One reason
for this may be that Mary has been very upset these past few days herself.
Along with this we have been rather depressed in our spirits. No doubt Satan
was attacking us especially at the time of the tent meeting to hinder the
work. However, in spite of it all, God gave us a very blessed time and about
ten or twelve people have expressed their desire to inquire more into the
way of salvation. Of this number, three definitely and publicly confessed
their faith in Christ on the last night of the tent mission.
The babies are growing well and can follow us around the room with their
eyes and they smile and almost laugh. On the other hand they know when we
are not watching them and sometimes the moment we get out of their range of
vision they begin to cry. It is lots of fun when they both get to whooping
it up. I’m now holding Alice and
trying to keep her quiet, and Ruth is crying on the back porch.
I had to stop there for supper and now it is Tuesday. I don’t know much else
to write about, but Mary suggests that I tell you about the package we received
from the Ashers. It came day before yesterday and contained presents for all
of us. Mary received a pretty pink washable dress. The babies each received
a lovely baby bonnet, a sweater, a dress, two pr. of stockings and a blanket.
Marrianne sent me two books which have already proved of use to me.
The Ashers, we hear, are building out on Lynwood Avenue, right next to Edna’s new home.
Mary takes over the letter…
Now, I’ll continue this. Have just finished the 9 o’clock feeding and Watson
and the babies are resting.
The package from the Ashers was certainly nice. The little dresses are darling
– my dress is awfully nice, however, it is sleeveless and I’ll have to try
and fix it up somehow. I might as well tell you that Miss Cribb is very
opposed to sleeveless dresses and has requested that I not wear them, even
at home. If anyone ever sends me a dress will you keep that in mind? Practically
every summer dress I had when I came was without sleeves, and some that have
been given to me since then are also sleeveless, so it hasn’t been very easy
or pleasant to quit wearing them. However, the Lord has given me grace.
The lovely black silk dress that I had made last winter is still a problem.
I never did wear it, not even once, as it looked horrible. I wish I could
send it home and have you fix it, but am afraid that at your end, duty would
be required. I paid a real good sum for the material and I need the dress.
I’ll just wait and see what the Lord would have me do about it.
This is a rainy, cold, windy day – the kind of which we’ve had many here
of late. Due to these storms considerable damage has been done and even lives
lost. I am always conscious of God’s keeping power, though, and am thankful
to say that even when we feel earth quake shocks (several of which we’ve experienced
lately) I am not as frightened as I was at first.
Each month it seems the Lord enables us to buy things needed for the house.
We had a mattress made for our bed (a Japanese futon); got a baby buggy; Watson,
a nice pair of shoes and a knapsack for using in the distribution of tracts
and carrying his cornet, Bibles, etc.; a second-hand clothes wringer and a
living room set of reed furniture. The latter consists of a small settee,
2 chairs and a table. The cushion covers are quite faded, but will do for
the present. We are now planning, D.V. to have 2 baby beds made by a carpenter
here in Sanda. Watson priced 2nd hand ones in Kobe but the cheapest was 12.00 yen for one. We
can have them made for from 8 to 10 yen here (according to the quality of
the wood used). We’re not sure yet just what to do. We also want a pen like
Papa made for Ralph Page.
Helen and Paul have invited us in over this weekend, so we are planning to
go for Fri. & Saturday anyway. We haven’t been in for a month so need
to do our buying, etc. We are quite the country people, you know!
Give lots of my love to Alice and Ralph and their babies. I just wrote to
Elsie and Perc a few days ago. Soon I home to write to Mad. and Charles. I love you.
Wish we could remember you more often with our gifts. Much, much love – Mary
Sanda, Hyogo Ken
November 27, 1931
I want to write you so you’ll get this by your birthday so that you can have
my wishes for a very happy day. I do wish you much joy and many happy returns
of the day. You know how we’d love to be with you and how we pray for you
everyday. I pray especially that in the coming days you may be drawn even
closer to our Lord than you’ve ever been before and that your life may be
one of joy in service for him.
How I thank the Lord for allowing us to send you that gift just when you
needed it! We so often think and wish we could send more often. Isn’t it wonderful
the way our Father leads us to do things? Oh, Mama, if other people could
only know the joy and perfect safety I feel in letting Him take charge of
everything in my life! No one on earth is more unworthy, but His grace is
boundless and so He has accepted me as His child and He is taking care of
me. Pray that my life may constantly witness for Him.
Watson and I are constantly commenting on God’s especial goodness concerning
the babies. They are so well and good; my milk has been ample so far, and
will continue I’m sure; they take their new food and cod liver oil so nicely.
Their needs have been met in gifts from home (i.e., clothing, etc.). We have
no wisdom at all about raising them but we have asked Him to guide us step
by step and they are His to do with as He wills. They are so darling. There
are times when they seem so sweet that I can’t stand to just look at them
and I have to squeeze them tight!
Tonight I am alone as Watson is in Arima for 2 meetings. When he returns
he’ll most likely bring news of the house we’re thinking of renting. It is
best that we move from Sanda into the district that Watson is now responsible
for and Arima seems the logical place. I will of course let you know if we
We sent a Xmas package off addressed to Father Thornton so I trust you will
get your gifts O.K. I suppose you’ll be in St. Louis this year for the holidays?
I am so very sorry about Grandma and will write to her. I have been praying
for her and also all the aunts and others there in Louisville.
Monday, November 30
Am so sorry this letter is so long in getting finished. We have been so unsettled
about what we were to do but now we know it is the Lord’s will for us to move.
We go either tomorrow or day after to Arima to move. There is a very nice
house there, a bit larger than the one we are in, with a much bigger garden.
It is much cleaner than our present place and most important of all, is more
convenient to the section in which Watson is to work from now on. Yakashirosan
continues at the church here in Sanda. Watson will have the meetings in Arima
and the surrounding territory in which to distribute tracts and have whatever
meetings the Lord opens up.
We were so surprised to hear of Alice and Ralph moving again. We hope you
all like the new place. Ralph must be doing well in business as we remember
those houses to be at a rather high rent. Sorry to hear of Perc having to
change positions again but “All things work together for good to those who
love the Lord; to those who are called according to His purpose.” How we do
pray for you all!
Now will stop. There is much to be done. We move tomorrow and haven’t started
Much, much love. Share this with the others, please.
1268 Arima Machi
Arima Gun, Hyogo Ken, Japan
Dec. 7, 1931
After so long a time I again will start a letter to you. You will see by
the heading that we have moved again – the fifth time in less than three years
of married life. We are getting a good start on some of you old-timers.
However, we feel that this move is for the furtherance of the Kingdom so
we have taken the step. We are now in Arima where we have been carrying on
work for some time but it is a very hard place. It is a famous hot spring
and summer resort and the people who live here are all after money while those
who come here are after a good time.
The Lord has given us a beautiful home on a river bank within two or three
minutes walk of the interurban to Kobe and Sanda. We have a large garden and fish pond with Cherry and
maple trees in abundance, for spring and fall beauty and evergreens for winter
We find that expenses up here are from 10 to 50 or 60 % higher than in Sanda
so we figure on doing much of our shopping in either Sanda or Kobe.
Upstairs we have a room 12’ x 15’ and four smaller ones about 6’ x 6’ or
6’ x 9’, which we use for my study, a guest room, the babies room and a closet.
Downstairs, there are 2 rooms 9’ x 15’ for living room and dining room, a
small room for the maid and a nice kitchen. We have running water upstairs
and down and also lavatories up and down.
Your daughter is now 23 and is getting better looking all the time. We went
for a walk yesterday afternoon and I was right proud of her, and was mighty
glad she is my wife and not someone else’s. She is keeping quite well.
The babies are growing nicely. Alice weighs almost 14 lbs. and Ruth 13 lb. several ounces. Alice
seems to take after her dad in the eating line. She eats like a pig, cries
for more, then complains of a stomachache and puts on weight to beat the band,
while Ruth is dainty and is content to follow along behind.
I want to try and knock together a chicken shed today out of old boxes, etc.
Eggs are so high that I’m thinking of buying some hens. We have two to begin
We just moved last Tuesday so the pictures have not been hung yet and there
are several things to be put to rights yet, but Mary has done wonders, and
we have never had a home look so nice before.
The Lord has been blessing the work in Dembo in a wonderful way and people
are coming at all hours of the day and even late into the night to ask the
way of Salvation. As many as 8 to ten people are dealt with in a single day.
How we long to see such a work of the Spirit in and around Arima and Sanda.
It may be God will be pleased to visit us soon, so pray for us.
Well, I have run out of talk, so I’ll close and if Mary wants to she can
add some to this.
Lots of love and good wishes for New Year.
Your affectionate son, Watson
Dearest Mama and Alice and Ralph:
I’ve just been kicking myself for not having written Alice in time for her birthday – but you know I
will have been thinking of her on the 17th. I wrote Mama – so sorry
that no other remembrances are forthcoming. To think that I am really 23!
Really time is flying, it hardly seems possible that we will celebrate our
3d anniversary in February.
Alice and Ruth are both here beside me, kicking like fury. Alice has lost both her booties and Ruth will soon
be minus hers. They are dears!
Today is rainy and I feel punk. Have had a headache and feel very tired.
I believe Satan is at work to try to make me lose my joy so I’m praying that
he’ll not succeed. What an old devil he surely is!
We are thankful for our new home. Wish you could drop in and see us. How
lovely it would be to see you all. I have 2 awfully nice families to see when
I come back to the U.S.
I’m looking forward to that time, only of course it would be much nicer to
meet you all in heaven. Don’t you long for the Lord to come, so we’ll get
out of this old world? However, I want to be faithful ‘til He comes. “What
will it be when the King comes!” I often play and sing that hymn.
Excuse the shortness – but will write again soon. Looking forward to letters
from you all. Give my dearest love to Perc and Elsie. Mary