Connecting to the Past when Samuel Asked, ‘Who Was Mabel J. Scudder?’ 

Find the Answer in This True 130-Year-old Love Story from India,  

by ©Margery Boyden, Scudder Association Foundation Historian, 

On the Scudder Association’s Foundation’s 2019 bicentennial excursion to India, Samuel approached James Taylor with his prized possession, a Bible that is at least 125 years old. “Who was Mabel J. Scudder?” he asked. On the flyleaf was written, “Mr. Gopalsamy Mudalier from Mabel J. Scudder, Christmas 1893.” To answer his query, we checked the Scudder Association Foundation database, and, to our surprise, there was no Mabel J. Scudder and no Mabel who would have been in India in 1893. If Scudder was not Mabel’s maiden name, then who was her Scudder husband? We deduced he must have been one of the missionary Scudders to India, but all “of them” already had wives accounted for in the database. After much searching online, finally, an annual report by the Board of Foreign Missions returned a hit with the name Mrs. Mabel J. Scudder, just below Ezekiel Carman Scudder, Jr. They were missionaries in the Arcot Mission in India from 1889. The database showed E. C., Jr. with a wife Maria E. “Minnie” Pitcher but no wife Mabel. Wife Minnie died in 1883 in India in childbirth, a year after she married and became a missionary with her husband. Their infant did not survive. With Minnie’s early death, a second marriage was likely. To find out who Mabel J. Scudder was, the first step would be to learn more about Ezekiel Carman Scudder, Jr.

Ezekiel C. Scudder, Jr. Early AdultMost sources state Rev. E. C., Jr. was born at Vellore, India, June 25, 1856, son of Rev. Ezekiel C. Scudder, D. D. and a grandson of Rev. John Scudder, M. D., the pioneer medical missionary to Ceylon and India in 1819. E. C. Scudder, Jr., also called Carman, was born a year after his grandfather Rev. John Scudder, M. D., died. Though Carman did not know this first missionary in his family, his grandfather’s remarkable legacy was a light to Carman’s entire life.

Carman graduated in 1882 from the New Brunswick Theological Seminary and was licensed and ordained by the Classis of Hudson,[1] the year he married Maria E. (Minnie) Pitcher at Upper Red Hook, New York where his father was minister. Minnie and Carman soon left for India as missionaries for the Reformed Church in America. Her brother, Rev. Phillip W. Pitcher was also a missionary for RCA in Amoy Mission in China.[2] After her death, Minnie was buried at the Government Cemetery in Vellore with this epitaph to tell her story:

Minnie, wife of Reverend E. C. Scudder, Jr., aged 24 years, June 21, 1883. Arrived at Madras from America, December 30th, 1882. Died at Arni, a wife, a mother, a missionary and a Saint within 1 year.[3]

Alone, Carman continued to serve in the field until 1887 when he wrote to the Mission Board to poignantly state the difficulties of serving in India as a male missionary without a wife. He said he was taking a leave to return home to the U.S. to find one. From his own experiences in India, and his family’s, Carman had no pretense about selling the idea to any prospective bride that life in India would be a romantic adventure. So where would Carman go to look for a wife? He had married Minnie in Upper Red Hook, Dutchess County, New York where his father was serving as pastor. To his regret, E. C. Scudder, Sr. was no longer in India, having to finish his career in America. His biographical data in A Thousand Years in Thy Sight answers why. Originally, Ezekiel, Sr. had arrived in India in 1855, three years before the English Parliament established the Government of India with all power vested in the British Crown. His son E. C., Jr. was born the next year at Vellore. Ezekiel, Sr. was known for his being “happy hearted” and for his “village touring” in India, 1855–1876.[4]

For thirteen years Ezekiel [Sr.] made trips through the countryside suffering sunstroke and recurring attacks of dysentery. [He writes] ‘Although the worst of the season has passed, the thermometer still ranges between 96º by day and 92º by night. Were the heat the only evil we experienced, we should regard it fortunate, but the failure of rain intensifies the heart. The land looks like a desert waste….’ It was wearing him down; it was sapping the vitality of his wife and three of their children. Although the withdrawal of any member of the mission made it more difficult for the others to carry on, he had to leave. In 1868, he and his family sailed for America where they stayed for three years while he completed the medical course begun long ago, for, like his brother Henry, in his trips to the villages he realized the great need for medical care throughout all of India but especially in the outlying districts.

On his return to India in 1870, Ezekiel [Sr.] continued his trips from Arni into the hinterland, this time as a physician as well as preacher. To this second generation of Scudders medicine was still regarded as the handmaid of religion.[5]

In 1871, Ezekiel C., Sr. replaced his brother William as head of the boy’s Seminary at Vellore which required the family to move from Arni. Vellore afforded his wife, Sarah Ruth (Tracy) Scudder, a little social life with the wife of the Seminary’s pastor-teacher and three English women, the wives of government officers. “However, she was not to have much time for any social life, for soon after their arrival in Vellore an epidemic of cholera broke out and several of the seminary boys caught it.  It was difficult to find anyone to help care for them and Dr. and Mrs. Scudder nursed them night and day with practically no assistance.” They carried on until Ezekiel’s “head troubles” and dengue fever finally required that they request a release due to health and “the necessity of establishing a home in America for his children and his nieces and nephews.” To Scudders, education was essential. Disappointed to leave India, Ezekiel C., Sr., with an extraordinary grace and affection for his missionary brothers’ families, he welcomed many nieces and nephews into his home when old enough to be sent to America for formal schooling.

[Ezekiel Carmen, Sr.’s] home became a home for all Scudders of the third generation and their friends, as informal as a summer camp and as hospitable—in the memory of many, the happiest time in their childhood.[6]

With his extended family, young Carman participated in a remarkable demonstration of brotherly love and family solidarity in both India and at Upper Red Hook, love both for family and for those they served in India. Family ties were so tight that the original Rev. John Scudder had named his sixth son, Ezekiel Carman Scudder, (Sr.), after the first husband of Rev. John’s sister-in-law, Catherine Waterbury. Catherine’s husband was Ezekiel Carman, a ship’s captain who died 1828, the year Ezekiel C., Sr. was born. Catherine had married 2) in 1835, Rev. Miron Winslow, Rev. John Scudder’s colleague who had sailed with him on their first missionary voyage to India in 1819.[7] Catherine died at Madras after childbirth, two years after her marriage to Rev. Winslow.

Carman’s father, and all of his father’s siblings who survived to sufficient age, were not only born in India but as adults served missions in India. Could Carman find another wife who would sacrifice for others as all the Scudder missionaries had and love the Indian people as they did? Some might wonder if Scudders loved missionary service more than their own children who often spent years apart from parents, or than family members who suffered or died from extremity. These Scudders sacrificed and served because they loved. Therefore their love increased and multiplied. The fruit of their efforts continues to inspire charity and promote family loyalty even today. C. S. Lewis’s treatise on love explains aspects of divinely inspired love that produce such extraordinary commitment.[i]

Where did Mabel and Carmen’s love story begin, so different from media’s self-centered portrayals? Their marriage record shows E. C. Scudder, Jr. married Mable Jones in San Antonio, Texas. This record reveals what Mabel “J” stands for but provokes to ask: Why was Carman in San Antonio?

 
Marriage Record, E. C. Scudder, Jr. to Mabel Jones

Marriage Record, E. C. Scudder, Jr. to Mabel Jones [8]

“Executing” the Marriage License was E. C. Scudder [Sr.], Pastor of the Madison Square Presbyterian Church, San Antonio, Texas, where E. C., Sr. had accepted a call in 1885.[9] In 1889, he was both father of the groom and pastor of the church where the couple married and Mabel Jones was a member. Though this record did not further identify her, Carman had again found a wife in his father’s congregation who was willing to spend her life in India and support him in his ministry. Carman would prove to be a most devoted husband. Carman and Mabel would demonstrate willingness to go “the extra mile” for each other, even when faced with serious challenges that might have sent others home. Instead, they would die in India with their boots on and be remembered for their love for each other and their devotion to a cause greater than themselves. When they arrived in India in December 1889 that made 7 missionaries in the Mission’s depleted ranks to cover a huge section of India; and less than the 8 missionaries that had been there in 1869. Illness had forced other willing missionaries to leave to serve at home.

Carman’s vision of his missionary service was a departure from many of his kin. He was passionate about native church self-sufficiency. He said, “A thirty-five year old baby ought to begin to walk.” He opened Arni Industrial School that he believed would “curtail expenses by adding to the income of the Mission.” He worked “to train the teachers, catechists and pastors—to ply some trade…[to] supplement their income…to produce a class of self-reliant, self-respecting and self-supporting Christians.”[10] Besides teaching and preaching, Carman modeled to all what it meant to be a Christian: to love God and fellowmen in the manner his Master did. Carman and Mabel found joy by serving together in a greater cause than themselves.

One of the assignments of the missionary wives, like Mabel, was to oversee the zenana work. Zenana is a word unfamiliar to most Americans, but was deeply entrenched in the social customs of India. It is a term for “the part of a house for the seclusion of women.”[11] The female missionary force trained and supported “Bible women” who were Christian natives.

Mabel’s description of zenana, written in 1897, reveals her thoughts and concerns:

A Bible Woman in India[12]

A Bible Woman in India[12]

‘There is very little to tell about the zenana work, but that little tells of advance in methods of work as well as in the number of houses visited. The Bible woman visits regularly nine houses more than last year and makes many calls at new houses where the women do not care to learn anything, but are willing to talk for a little while to an interesting Christian woman. In time they may become learners. In the regular houses there is less fancy work taught than last year and several girls are learning to read. In a number of houses nothing is taught, but Bible and other good stories are told, and fall into ears glad to listen. The Bible woman has tried to follow, in this way, the course of lessons taught in the Sunday-schools of the Arni field. These lessons have all been taken from the life and teachings of Christ, and we hope that many women have learned during the year to think a little about Him whom we adore. If I had nothing to do but zenana work, I could easily gain entrance into fifty homes within a month, but many other duties demand my time and attention, and I can do very little of this work’.[13]

Mabel quickly learned to speak Tamil. Not content with mere fluency, she studied its literature, especially poetry, and then studied Telugu, “the loveliest language in India, and the source of incomparable pleasure to those who can master its intricacies.”[14] Despite their time and energy being stretched thin to cover many duties and the rigors of life in India, the couple was happy and things seemed to be going well. That is, except no children blessed their union.

This was a great disappointment to them both, but especially to Carman who was passionately fond of children and always had his schoolboys in and out of the house. He and his wife decided to adopt legally an Indian child. They took a boy into their home and treated him as their son, to be trained for Christian leadership…he justified the choice, becoming…a successful physician who practiced for many years in South India, although…never…[in] mission service.[15]

Sometime in 1900, the unthinkable happened! Mabel contracted the dreaded spinal meningitis, leaving her “partially paralyzed for the rest of her life.” This is where their true love story begins to be taken to an even higher level of love and service. After recuperation and their return to India in 1904, “Her husband was thenceforth her most loyal and faithful servant, waiting on her hand and foot. No one was ever allowed to do anything for her that he could possibly do himself. To the Indians, unused as they were to seeing a man wait on a woman, such devotion was so incredible as to win their reluctant admiration.”[16]

Some in her predicament might have considered her difficulty was reason to leave India permanently but they returned in 1904, to fulfill Carman’s assignment as Chairman over the Mission’s huge Madras region. Mabel began to travel widely with him on his evangelistic tours. With Mabel’s disabilities, impaired mobility and inability to do some tasks of self-care, they needed an ingenious solution. They outfitted a big cart, and in this they lived as they traveled from village to village during her last years. The people called it ‘Carman’s Ark.’[17] Mabel preserved the details when she wrote “Missionary Housekeeping on Wheels:”

‘I must tell you something about our work. My husband has the oversight of some sixty or more villages scattered far and wide over a large district around the centers Vellore, Katpadi, Chittoor, Gudiyatum, etc. As the instruction and care of these villages are his chief work, we of course spend much of our time in camp. In most of the places a white woman seldom goes and so one is a great curiosity. Formerly it was quite difficult for me to reach the far away places, but for a year past we have solved the problem of transportation and temporary home!…on two wheels, [it] has a top covering, and is fitted up inside somewhat like a ship’s cabin. It has sleeping arrangements for two people, a table which folds up out of the way when not in use, a closet for food supplies, books, etc., and lockers under the cot, shelf for clothing. Outside it has a sort of canvas arrangement that forms a bath tent, and reception verandah. It is drawn by a pair of bullocks or oxen and we travel at the rate of two and one-half miles an hour!

‘Let me describe a tour…Sometimes we go only a few miles, sometimes we travel all night, but at all events there comes a stopping time in a thick shady grove and then all is excitement. First of all the braces are fixed so as to keep the ark firm, the canvas ‘kanats’ are pulled down from the top where, during the journey they have served as protection from the sun, the bamboo poles are united from the sides and in an incredibly short time the tent-like structure before and behind with the coach in the middle is ready for use. The cook boy gets out his utensils, and makes his fireplace of three stones, and soon the kettle is ready for the tea or for the more substantial rice and curry. Then my good man goes off to the villages with the teacher or catechist to see the people. If it is near, I go too, but if it is some distance I stay in the ark…Soon the children from the school come and I examine them in the Bible lesons [sic] and have them sing and say Bible verses. By this time the Christian women come to have a little talk or meeting, and then the non-Christian women having heard that a…white woman has come in a wonderful cart, come shyly along, stand at a distance for a while and finally are persuaded to come near and see the wonders of our camp. This quickly gives opportunity for little talks on higher themes and often ends in an invitation given me to visit them in their homes which I do as much as possible. The ark is really quite like home to me and I feel that I am possibly helping some of my poor sisters to better things. The work…finished…we are off for the next place.’[18]

The year before her death, the couple appears in a group photograph from an Arcot Mission celebration in 1917 providing the only image of Mabel that was found.

Mabel Jones Scudder, 1917[xx]  

Mabel Jones Scudder, 1917[19]

It was E. C. Scudder [Jr.]’s 1917 “Application for Registration—Native Citizen” record from India that finally supplied the clue to Mabel J. Scudder’s full identity.[20] On this application Carman stated, “I am married to Mabel Jones Scudder, who was born at Philadelphia, U.S.A. on 24 August, 1867, now residing at Ranipet.” U.S. Federal Census records in Philadelphia revealed Mabel was the daughter of Barton H. Jones and Emily Hergesheimer.[21] After her father’s death in 1886, records confirm that Mabel’s family moved to San Antonio, Texas, just in time for Mabel to meet Carman

Ezekiel Carman Scudder, Jr., 1917

Ezekiel Carman Scudder, Jr., 1917

On April 16, 1918, Mabel Scudder died at Ranipet by a bursting blood vessel while having an epileptic seizure.[22] Mabel’s body was re-interred by Minnie’s grave in the Government Cemetery, Vellore, on August 12, 1919. Carman died December 2, 1919 at Ranipet and buried at Vellore by his wives, uncle Jared Waterbury Scudder and aunt Julia.[23] One tribute reveals:

“Carman’s strength, born of his selfless devotion to his beloved invalid, was gone. He lost interest in himself…and, although he was not physically ill, his life ran down life like an unwound watch and he died the next year.

“In Carman, the Scudder graces of gentleness and courteous consideration for others were especially evident. Yet not even Dr. Jared was more persistent in his purpose not firmer in his convictions than Carman. Small wonder that he is remembered today for what he was rather than for what he did…” [24]

Thank you Samuel for asking your question so we did not lose memory of two great people.

Thank you for sharing why this Bible is important to you and how this Bible affected your life.


[i] In the English language, the word love is used to describe widely varying meanings. In The Four Loves, C. S. Lewis invites his readers to consider 4 distinct types of love by using Greek words that better distinguish nuances. He distinguishes between “Gift love” and “Need love”, with “Gift love” often seen as the higher road “The meanings of love are complex and worthy of deep consideration .”

Storge—empathy bond, “fondness of familiarity,” as in natural affection in families.
Philia—friend bond, strong, brotherly love; common values, interests, activities.
Eros—in Lewis’s view, as in “loving or being in love with someone in particular.” Lewis refers to a more
animalistic or self-centered, selfishly motivated drive as “Venus,” distorted, as explained below.
Agape—unconditional, unselfish, God’s love; its basis is derived in a love for God that infuses a person
with a godly charity for one’s fellow men and women, often described as Christian love. This
level of love reaps joy in sacrifice and service. It is indescribably soul satisfying and priceless.

But, while Lewis finds “man’s spiritual health is exactly proportional to his love for God,” he also sees, that man’s love for God…must be…a Need-love,” as in imploring forgiveness or support in trials. Any form of love can become distorted if not balanced by love for God: even love for another, for work, ideology, country, party, substance or self-indulgence can distort into “a god,” even becoming an addiction. If “natural loves…are allowed to become gods [they] do not remain love.” If we “give our human loves unconditional allegiance which we owe only to God” they destroy us. Summarized from C. S. Lewis, Four Loves, (1960), Project Gutenberg Canada eBook.

[1] The Acts and proceedings of the 114th Regular Session of the General Synod of the Reformed Church in America, (Asbury Park, N. J.: June 1920), 277.
[2] The Fifty-Eight Annual Report of the Board of Foreign Missions of the Reformed Church in America, (New York: Printed for the Board, 1890): 27.
[3] Vellore New Cemetery in Allapuram near Thorappadi, burial number 1124.
[4] Ezekiel and Village Touring, 1855–1876,” Dorothy Jealous Scudder, A Thousand Years in Thy Sight, (The Scudder Association, Vantage Press, Inc., 1984), 97–98.
[5] D. J. Scudder, 100, 102–103.
[6] D. J. Scudder, 104.
[7] Sachi Sri Kantha, “American Ambassadors in Eelam,” 27 December 2000, Tamilnation.org,
[8] Texas, County Marriage Records, 1837–1965,” FamilySearch,
[9] Ecclesiastical Record to September 1, 1885,” The Presbyterian Monthly Record, v. 36, (October 1885).
[10] “Carman (1882-1918), Industrial Beginnings towards Self-support,” Dorothy Jealous Scudder, A Thousand Years in Thy Sight, (New York: Vantage Press, 1984), 154–155.
[11] New Oxford American Dictionary, 2005–2014
[12] Source unknown.
[13] The Sixty-Fifth Annual Report of the Board of Foreign Missions of the Reformed Church in America, (Offices of the Board in the Reformed Church Building, 25 East 22nd Street, New York), for the Year Ending April 30, 1897): 35–36. Deposited at Yale University Day Missions Library.
[14] D. J. Scudder, 156.
[15] Ibid.
[16] D. J. Scudder, 156–157.
[17] D. J. Scudder, 157.
[18] The Eighty-First Annual Report of the Board of Foreign Missions of the Reformed Church in America, (Presented to the General Synod at Asbury Park, N. J., June, 1913, 58–60; see at Yale University, digital commons,
[19] Excerpt from photograph, “The Members of the Arcot Mission, 1917,” 85th Annual Report of the Board of World Missions, 1917, Reformed Church in America, (Presented to the General Synod at Asbury Park, N. J., June, 1917), between pp 48–49.
[20] Ezekiel Carman Scudder, “Application for Registration—Native Citizen,” U.S., Consular Registration Applications, 1916–1925, Madras, India office, at Ancestry.
[21] Mabel Jones in 1870 U.S. Federal Census, Philadelphia ,Pennsylvania, United States.
Household of George Hergesheimer, uncle, with her parents Barton H. Jones and Emily S. Jones.
[22] Mabel Jones Scudder, “Reports of Deaths of American Citizens Abroad, 1835–1974,” Death Reports in State Department Decimal File, 1910–1962, Box 4137:1910–1929, image at Ancestry, ancestry.com,
[23] E. C. Scudder, [Jr.], “Reports of Deaths of American Citizens Abroad,” to American Consular Service, State Department Decimal File, 1910 to 1962, Box 4137:1910–1929, generated 24 February 1920 at Madras, India, image at Ancestry, ancestry.com. Record stated his death as 2 December 1919 at 6:15 p.m. at American Mission Bungalow, Vellore, North Arcot Dt. India. Died of cardiac enlargement. To be buried at the Government Cemetery, Vellore, “alongside of grave of first and second wives and next to graves of Dr. J. W. Scudder & wife.”
[24] D. J. Scudder, 157. Italics added.

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