Bible House Mch. 9, 1895
Hon. A. W. Terrell, U.S. Minister,
The persistence with which Mr. Cole of Bitlis has declared that the Missionaries in that city are in danger has doubtless seemed to you inexplicable. It certainly has seemed so to me. Only my knowledge of Mr. Cole and my confidence in his judgement has led me to feel that his appeals must be taken seriously. Mr. Cole is troubled with a varicose vein in the leg. To ride on horseback is horrible torture to him. His undertaking under such circumstances the dangerous and difficult journey to Moush seemed to prove in itself that there is something which we do not understand in the appeals for protection. I now have
a partial explanation of the vehemence of their appeals, which I communicate to you solely for your own information. I think that you have already done all that you can do to secure the protection of those Missionaries, until a Consul can be sent there.
Rev. M. Richardson of Erzurum has recently come here from Erzingan and is undergoing surgical treatment ^at the British Hospital in this city. He has often been to Bitlis and was there only last summer when the situation was already serious. He knows exactly how the Missionaries are situated and how they there felt as to personal safety. The point that I wish to communicate to you is set forth by him as follows: --
Bitlis River and the length of the city separates their houses from the headquarters of the authority. There is no police force anywhere near them except a small post of ten men on that side of the river. The Kurds of Bitlis are very fanatical and are insolent at all times. During the war of 1878 they attacked and looted many Christian houses by armed force. The ladies of the Mission seldom go out upon the streets without having stones thrown at them. Once when I was in Bitlis a party of us were severely stoned and we never went out but what some stones were thrown. The Kurds are all armed with Government rifles, and when they become excited against the Missionaries the plight of the Missionaries is bad indeed.
I should not suppose that the Missionaries would wish a guard stationed at their houses. It might cause a panic among all
classes of Christians in this city to have this done Still, their asking for protection can have no other meaning than the placing of a guard near their houses that I can think of."
Mr. Richardson is in hospital as I said above, but he is able to talk, and if you wished to have him further questioned on this subject he would doubtless give any further information which he has.
Yours very respectfully,