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J. W. Matheson Rev.
Rev. J. W. Matheson and his wife settled on
Tanna, in 1858. Mr. Matheson was born at Rogers Hill, Pictou, 1832.
He enjoyed the precious privilege of a pious ancestry. He began
attending the grammar school at Durham, taught by Daniel McDonald,
afterwards Inspector of schools for Pictou County, to prepare
himself for the Seminary. After being accepted as a missionary to
the New Hebrides, he was ordained in Prince St. Church, Pictou,
November 22, 1856. Rev. James Watson, his pastor preached the
sermon; Rev. George Walker offered the ordination prayer, Rev. James
Bayne delivered the charge, and Rev. A. P. Miller addressed the
people. The winter of 1857, he spent in Philadelphia, prosecuting
Before his departure, Mr. Matheson married Mary Geddie Johnston, the
second child of James Johnston of Pictou, and born in that town,
October 1837. Her mother was a sister of the Rev. John Geddie. Mrs.
Matheson was one of the loveliest of women, of deep personal piety
and admirably fitted for mission work. Both she and her husband
entered upon their work with great earnestness. They underwent great
hardships, and encountered perils of the gravest character. They
only labored four years in the field. Mrs. Matheson died at the
early age of twenty-five, the eleventh of March, 1862, and Mr.
Matheson a few months later, at thirty years of age. Dr. Paton said
that Tanna was often described as the hardest Mission field in the
heathen world, but the light which Mr. and Mrs. Matheson kindled
there was never wholly extinguished.
The church in the Maritime Provinces, in 1872, sent forth three
young men to fill the blanks made by death and by retirement. These
were the Revs. James D. Murray, J. W. McKenzie and H. A. Robertson.
Mr. Murray was born at Durham, Pictou Co., and took his literary and
theological courses at Truro and Halifax. His first and only charge
was in Antigonish, N. S. His heart was in mission work, and he was
appointed as Dr. Geddie's successor in Aneityum. On account of his
wife's blindness, he resigned in a few years and settled in
Australia. Resigning this charge he went to Tennessee, U. S. A.,
where he was settled over a congregation for a time. Subsequently he
returned again to Australia and was called to Moruya, where he
labored with great diligence and success for sixteen years, until
his death, July 13, 1913. Mr. Murray was sixty-eight years of age
and leaves a widow and one son. He was a man of great spirit and
beloved both in the home and foreign fields.
Rev. John W. McKenzie, D. D., and his wife were for a long
time, honored missionaries in Efate. Mr. McKenzie is a native of
Green Hill. Pictou Co., the fourth of a family of ten children. His
father, Alexander McKenzie, was for many years an elder in Salem
Church, Green Hill, under the ministry of the Rev. Geo. Patterson,
D. D. From the time he was eight years old, Mr. McKenzie cherished
the thought of becoming a missionary, though he never spoke of it
until he offered himself to the Foreign Board. He was educated at
New Glasgow, Dalhousie College, and the Theological College,
Halifax. He also took a short course in Medicine. Previous to
entering on his mission work, he married Miss Amanda Bruce of
Musquodoboit, N. S. In January, 1913, Mr. McKenzie, retired after
forty years of faithful and fruitful service in the mission field.
His tactfulness has meant much to the whole mission and his saintly
character has exercised a unique influence upon Europeans as well as
Erromanga, where five missionaries were murdered, two of them
devoured by the cannibals, is now a Christian Island. Rev. H. A.
Robertson and his wife were appointed to Erromanga, the Martyr
Isle, where their efforts have been crowned with abundant success.
Mr. Robertson was born at Barney's River, Pictou, in 1841. When a
young man, he entered the employ of R. McKenzie, Pictou. His health
not being good, and having a desire to see these beautiful isles for
himself, he took passage to the South Pacific in the Dayspring,
1863. When in Melbourne, Australia, he was appointed agent for the
New Hebrides Cotton Co., of Glasgow. His work was to buy the
material from the natives and ship it to Scotland. Though accepting
the situation for only six months, he remained over four years. He
was familiar with the missionaries and deeply interested in their
work. In 1868 while still on Aneityum, the Church of Scotland, at
home, invited him to be their first missionary. He accepted the
invitation and returned to Nova Scotia where he took a course of
training in Theology and Medicine.
In 1871 he was ordained as a foreign missionary by the Kirk
Presbytery of Halifax, as their second missionary, Rev. Mr. Goodwill
being the first. On the sixth of September he married Christina
McNeill, daughter of John Dawson, Little Harbor, Pictou. They sailed
from Halifax, October 24, and landed at Aneityum, May 1, 1872. He
died May, 1914, en route home on a furlough. Rev. John Goodwill of
Antigonish, was sent out by the Kirk to the New Hebrides in 1871. He
spent some time on Santo and then resigned.
The second pioneer Pictonian in the mission field
was the Rev. John Morton, D. D. To him belongs the credit of
originating the Trinidad Mission, in the West Indies, in 1867. Mr.
Morton was born at Stellarton, Pictou Co., December 20, 1839. His
parents removed to Fraser's Mountain, near New Glasgow when he was
quite young. The family, one of that good, old Scottish type of the
Cotter's Saturday Night, the father an elder, belonged to Knox Free
Church, New Glasgow, and afterwards to United Church. He went to
Halifax in 1855, and entered the Free Church College, where he
completed his course in 1861.
In the summer of that year he was licensed and ordained to the
charge of Bridgewater, N. S., where he labored with marked success.
Some years after his settlement a throat trouble compelled a rest.
He decided to spend a few months in the tropics, and went to
Trinidad. While there he became greatly impressed with the destitute
spiritual condition of the Coolies. Returning home, he laid the
matter before the Board, and they brought it before the Synod which
met in New Glasgow, in 1867. So moved was the Synod by his appeal
that on motion of Robert Murray, it was unanimously agreed to
establish a mission in Trinidad. Mr. Morton offered his services to
the Board. He was gladly accepted, and so became the first
missionary of the Trinidad Mission. He and his family sailed for the
West Indies, December 1, 1867.
Dr. Morton was a man of singular devotion. He served his Master with
his whole heart. Next to his devotion was his remarkable tact and
good judgment which were felt not only in the Mission, but in all
the affairs of the Colony. Shortly after his ordination he married
Sarah E., daughter of the late William Silver, Halifax. Mrs. Morton
entered with her whole heart into the work of her husband, and was
for him a fitting help meet. She and her four children survive him.
One of the sons, Rev. H. H. Morton is in charge of his father's
field at Tunapuna; Rev. Arthur S. Morton, Ph.D., is substituting in
Toronto University, in Church History; Dr. William C. Morton is
assistant Professor of Anatomy in Leeds Medical University, England,
and the only daughter is married to Rev. A. W. Thomson, Pictou.
Scarcely had Mr. Morton settled down to his work, when he began
appealing for another missionary. In consequence of Mr. Morton's
appeals, steps were taken by the Board to secure a second
missionary. They sent a call addressed to the Rev. K. J. Grant of
Merigomish. This call was gladly accepted, and Mr. (now Dr.) Grant
was designated for the work, March 29, 1870. He reached Trinidad,
with his wife and family, November 22, 1870. From the very
commencement the missionaries gave special attention to the
education of the young. In 1875 John A. Macdonald, Hopewell, was
sent as a missionary teacher, serving two years. He was followed by
Mr. A. Campbell, McLennan's Brook, in 1880.
Pictonians at Home and Abroad, 1914