The missionary movement of the early 1800’s was very much a part of our local history, and doing the research on it has been interesting and informative. While on my search for information on the different missionaries from the Eaton area, I came across an interesting bit of information on the Reverend Dr. William Dean.
I knew of his fame but was never able to put words to it. After much searching and reading I came across a site on the Anniversary of the Hong Kong Baptist Mission which marked in 2002 their 160th year. There smack dab in the middle, was the honored story of the Reverend William Dean and his wife.
I did some more digging and have come up with a wealth of information that links him to many things in the missionary movement. In the biography of Emily Chubbuck I found out that it is Dr. Dean who baptized her when as a young women she was finally formally entered into the Baptist Faith. Dr. Dean was also the corresponding secretary as a young man for the Hamilton Literary and Theological Institution.
In an interesting letter that was sent to Dean as recording secretary was a reply by Andoniram Judson, American missionary to Burma. In the letter Judson says:
“I feel called upon to answer, for you ask my advice on several important points. There is, also, in the sentiments you express, something so congenial to my own, that I feel my heart knit to the members of your association, and instead of commonplace reply, am desirous of setting down a few items which may be profitable to you in your future course. Brief items they must be, for want of time forbids my expatiating.”
The rules basically covered rules for those contemplating the missionary life. Among them are remarks that include his telling them to come out to the missionary field for “life” not just for a limited term. He also gives them information which I still laugh over and my women readers will enjoy-please read:
“In choosing a companion for life, have particular regard to a good constitution, and not wantonly, or without good cause, bring a burden on yourselves and the mission.”
We can only assume he had what he considered “good cause” when Judson married for the third time a very unhealthy young lady by the name of Emily Chubbuck!
William Dean was born in Eaton, N.Y. on June 21 of 1807. Eaton had just become a town and early settlements were started in 1793, so his family was one of the early residents. Dean being a brilliant student went on to attend the Hamilton Literary and Theological Institution, which became Madison University then Colgate University. In 1833 he was ordained a Baptist minister and sailed for Siam to become a missionary for the Baptist Missionary Union to the Chinese in Bangkok, arriving in Thailand in 1835.
Of note* He received his confirmation just before he “Baptized Emily,” we learn this from her biography! Dr. Dean was the first pastor of the Baptist church organized there in 1837.
In the year 1842 he moved his labors to Hong Kong where he founded a Swatow-speaking Baptist church in 1843. Dean remained in Hong Kong until 1845, when he returned for a year to America. Dean returned to Hong Kong and continued working in the missionary field there until 1865.
His worked included publication of mainly translations and tracts on the Bible to the Chinese language. Many of them were translations of the New Testament in part and unbelievably some early texts were printed by local printers (in Chinese) using wooden blocks.