Thomas Cosmades



Dr. Daniel Morrison Benonia Thom

(1844 Aberdeenshire, Scotland—1915 Sivas, Turkey)

    Facts on his life in Turkey


As indicated, Rev. Aipheus N. Andrus, Dr. Daniel M. B. Thom, and Miss Agnes Fenenga, three American missionaries located at Mardin, have been deported from there by the Government and have passed through Mamouret-ul-Aziz.

 The first I knew of the matter was on the afternoon of the 12th when a postal card was received by one of the missionaries here from Dr. Thom. It was dated at Diyarbakir, October 8th and said simply that they had left Mardin, and would pass through this place on their way north. I sent at once to the Vali (governor of a province) to learn the reason for these mis­sionaries coming this way, but he said he knew nothing about the matter, and didn’t even know that any were coming. I then went to see him myself. He re­peated what he had said about not knowing about the matter, but said that as far as he had anything to do with it he would be glad to extend to them any courtesy he could. I then sent a scout down the Diyarbakir road to see if by chance they were coming that day, as sufficient time had passed for them to be here.  He returned in less than half an hour saying they were coming.

 I went out and met the wagon, in which were the three above-mentioned per­sons. They said they had been ordered to leave Mardin, but knew no reason whatever for it. They had left there about the first of October after which they had been kept in Diyarbakir a week.  Then it was ordered that they be exiled to Sivas.  They had left Diyarbakir on the 9th and had reached here in four days. While talking with them, a gendarme officer came up and said it was forbid­den for anyone to talk with them, as they were prisoners and they must be taken to the gendarme office to find out what should be done with them, whether they should be put in prison for the night or sent to a hotel or al­lowed to stay at the (American) consulate. He said not even the consul had any right to talk with them unless permission was given by the chief of the gendarmerie.

 To see these respected Americans under arrest and treated in this way was far from pleasant; it was pathetic.  Rev. An­drus is seventy-two years old and has lived In Mardin forty-seven years. His wife is an invalid and old, and he was obliged to leave her.  Dr. Thom is seventy-one years old and lost his wife only five weeks ago. He has lived in this part of Turkey forty-one years.  Miss Fenenga has been here fourteen years. These three people were given twenty-four hours’ notice to leave Mardin and were sent out like prisoners.

 In view of Mr. Knapp’s fate¹ one could not help viewing the situation with alarm. When the gendarme officer re­fused to allow me to talk with them, I went at once to the vali’s house, as he had left the konak (provincial headquarters). He said he had not yet received any information about these Americans and did not even know that they had arrived.  He said as soon as he saw the papers he could tell the charge against them, and sent a man out at once to get them.  I asked that they be permitted to come to the con­sulate under my guarantee and he readily assented to that. I then returned and found they had been taken to a khan (inn). They came to the consulate for dinner, guarded by a policeman, but returned to the khan to sleep.  

 ¹ Messrs Knapp and Raynolds, traveling in the remoter parts of Eastern Turkey in 1884 were attacked and without redress, though the United States government protested.  Mr. Knapp was taken under arrest from Bitlis to Alexandretta (present day Iskenderun) and bundled out of the country with “expelled” written across his passport.

 It was too late to send a telegram that night, as they told me at the telegraph office that it would be held for the cen­sor the following morning.  As early as possible the  morning of the 13th, I sent an urgent telegram (No. 48) to the embassy in Constantinople saying that these Mardin mission­aries had been  deported and  were

here in Harput under arrest. I asked for instructions and that it be arranged for them to re­main here under the protection of the consulate. I then called Mr. An­drus to report to the chief of police. I requested that they be allowed to re­main here that day and to stay at the consulate that night. He telephoned the Vali and then said it would be all right.              

 In the afternoon, I called on the Vali again. He said he knew nothing about the charge against these Americans, but knew simply that they were to be sent to Sivas. He had told me before that he would know what the charge was as soon as the papers were delivered to him. I said I had telegraphed the embassy and there had not yet been time to receive an answer. I asked that they be allowed to remain here for a day or two until an answer could be re­ceived. He objected to this saying that they were simply passing through this vilayet (province) on their way to Sivas, to which place they had been exiled.

 I finally succeeded after much effort in getting permission for them to remain until Friday morning, but no longer. I then sent the embassy my telegram (No. 49) saying that the Vali had per­mitted them to remain here until Friday morning and asking for instructions as quickly as possible. When Friday morning arrived and there was no an­swer I decided to wait and see what might happen. Soon the chief of police sent up to learn if the missionaries had gone and if not, why they had remained. I sent him my salaams (greetings) and said no answer had been received to my telegrams. I re­quested that they be allowed to remain at the consulate under my care. He sent back word that they could remain that night. 

The policeman who had been delegated to look after them was on hand all the time, of course, and slept at the con­sulate. On Saturday morning the 16th, the chief of police sent word again in­quiring about them. I sent back word that the lady was not feeling well, which was true, and that no answer had been received from Constantinople yet. He sent word that they could stay at the consulate till the following morning, but then they must leave whether sick or well and regardless of any telegrams.  The policeman who had been here until that time said he had been ordered to leave, as they said it wasn’t necessary to watch these Americans any longer since they were in the care of the con­sulate. I think myself that there was very little risk in leaving them without a guard and that they should have done so from the beginning.

 I sent a third urgent telegram (No. 50) asking if my other telegrams had been received and saying that the Mardin missionaries must leave. It was clear that the telegram had been held up somewhere, but I do not know where. The authorities here treated me with the greatest courtesy and I can see no object in their holding up my telegrams, although I have no means of knowing the truth.

 It was impossible to get any further ex­tension of time from the local authorities, for it was already nearly five days since they had left their office. I sent to the telegraph office the last thing and no answer to my telegrams had come. I then rode out a short distance with these missionaries and reluctantly left them to proceed on their way to Sivas, escorted by three gendarmes.

 If any answer comes giving them per­mission to remain here, which I trust the embassy can arrange with the Minister of Interior, I shall send for them to come back. They all said they would like to return, if possible, rather than stay in Sivas. I know of no rea­son why these venerable and respected American missionaries should be treated with such indignity and I trust the embassy can secure a satisfactory settlement of the matter.

 I am anxiously awaiting instructions in this connection.  I should say that while they were at Mardin the authorities took money and other objects in the value of about 1,500 Turkish liras from Mr. Andrus and Dr. Thom.

 (NOTE: It is not known who wrote this letter regarding Dr. Thom’s treatment In Turkey. Information has it that the Germans during World War I requested that the Turks deport these American missionaries. Dr. Thom died a short time later on 8 December 1915 of ty­phus at the American Mission, Sivas, Turkey).




Hit Counter
People have visited this page.