Saturday, September 02, 2017

This Week in Texas Methodist History  September 3

Annie Williams and Rebecca Toland Sail for Mission Field, Sept. 6, 1881

On September 6, 1881, Annie Williams (1860-1926) and Rebecca Toland (1859-1947)sailed from Galveston to Mexico to begin their lives of service in missions.  They were the first two missionaries sent from the Woman’s Foreign Missionary Society of the Texas Conference. 
The MEC began formal missionary efforts in 1819, but it was not until the late 19th century that women organized the societies that recruited and supported missionaries.  The missionaries sent by the women’s organizations were destined to have a major influence all around the world. 
Williams and Toland both attended Chappell Hill Female College, and volunteered for missions in Mexico.  They went first to Conception and the home of Rev. Joseph Norwood.  After about a week they decided that Toland should  go to Laredo and work in the Laredo Seminary (later Holding Institute) and for Williams to live with the Norwoods and study Spanish. 

In only two weeks (Sept. 19) Williams opened a school with 7 students enrolled.  She built the enrollment up to about 20 pupils and after Rev. and Mrs. Norwood moved on, was in charge of the Sunday School.  In the fall of 1882 she followed Toland to Laredo and joined the faculty of Laredo Seminary.  In 1883 she married Rev. J. F. Corbin, and they became a missionary couple who served in Mexico.  They stayed there until the Mexican Revolution when they moved to Los Angeles, California.  She died there in 1926.

Toland worked at Laredo Seminary until 1890 when she transferred to the new school in San Luis Potosi.  She stayed there for 12 years and after the Spanish American War moved to Matanzas, Cuba.   She served there 23 years and became the first of the Texas Conference missionaries to be designated emerita.  Her total service---from 1881 to 1926--stands as one of the longest terms of service of her generation of missionaries.

She eventually moved to in Santiago, Cuba, and taught in the school named for her sister, Dr. Irene Toland, who had died in Cuba while caring for yellow fever patients. 
*Annie Williams was a granddaughter of the famous Samuel May Williams. 


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