On March 21, 2019, a grandson of an American Baptist missionary who made enormous contributions to anthropology and archeology visited the West China Center of Medical Sciences, Sichuan University.
Christopher Hoogendyk had heard stories of his grandfather Ge Weihan or Dr. David Crockett Graham who was the library curator of the West China Union University which was founded in 1906.
As a teenager, Hoogendyk heard Graham's stories in Chengdu from the mouth of his grandfather who taught and did academic work at the university. Graham taught comparative religions, archeology, anthropology, and ethnology.
Hoogendyk said that he was amazed at the respect his grandfather had won in the university which has become "West China Center of Medical Sciences" and merged with Sichuan University, according to Red Star News.
According to the article, "In Commemoration of Dr. Ge Weihan", Graham was born in Arkansas in March, 1884 to William Edward Graham and Elizabeth Belinda Graham (Atchley),. He was involved in the exploration of Chinese civilization and Sanxingdui, an archaeological site that dates to the 11th and 12th centuries BCE.
Graham graduated from Whitman College and later Rochester Theological Seminary. He was good at sports during his college time, which prepared for his future expeditions and field collection. During the days at Whitman College, he decided to become a missionary and made Christian Humanism the direction for his life. His mission was not just spreading the gospel, but also helping others. In 1911, he was ordained as a "minister" at the American Baptist Foreign Mission Society and joined First Baptist Church in Fairport, New York. His doctoratal dissertation concerned religion in Sichuan Province.
In September 1911, Graham and his wife Alicia Morey Graham whom he had married in 1910 sailed for Shanghai. After having studied Chinese in Shanghai and Shaoxing for a year, the couple arrived in Sichuan's southeastern Yibing where he stayed for about 20 years. In his first term in Yibing, he gradually undertook the task of evangelism and continued his study of Chinese. His five-year missionary course was then completed. He gave books, basketballs, and footballs to a local school free of charge and helped the school build a playground. He taught primary school and kept a good relationship with the local Miao people in Gong County.
Graham's family lived in West China Union University until his retirement in 1948. In 1945 a science library at the university was named after him. Along with collecting historical and natural specimens for the Smithsonian Institute for 20 years, he also preached the gospel. From 1919 to 1939 he made short and longer 14 month trips to Sichuan, Yunnan, and Tibet.
After returning to the U.S. from the university in 1948, he concentrated on writing, basing it on his material and research collected in China. His books included, The Customs and Religion of the Ch'iang published in 1958 and Folk Religion in Southwestern Sichuan released in 1961.
- Translated by Karen Luo