Gilded Age Collections

Collection ID: GA-36
Location: GA-36

(Description ID: 594296)

Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library & Museums

Reverend Franklin Ohlinger


Biographical Sketch
Scope and Content

The papers of Reverend Franklin Ohlinger were donated by his daughter Constance Ohlinger in several deposits between the years 1969 and 1972.  Additional information on the Ohlinger family may be found in the Hayes Presidential Center’s Franklin Ohlinger Biographical File.  Further papers of Franklin Ohlinger can be found at the Yale University Divinity School Library in New Haven, Connecticut.  The Gustavus Ohlinger Papers (1821-1987) can be found at the Carlson Library at the University of Toledo in Toledo, Ohio.

Biographical Sketch
Franklin Ohlinger was born November 29, 1845 in Sandusky County, Ohio to David and Hannah (Miller) Ohlinger.  He was the sixth of seven children.  David Ohlinger was probably the first schoolteacher in Rice Township, where the family farm was located. He grew up listening to and learning English, French, and German. At the outbreak of the Civil War, his father and older brothers, George, Benjamin, and Allen enlisted in Ohio regiments.  Franklin remained at home, tending the family farm and caring for his mother. 

With the return of his family at war’s end, Franklin left home to attend German-Wallace College (now Baldwin-Wallace College) in Berea, Ohio.  After two years of study, he graduated and began preaching.  He spent a year in Michigan and two years in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. While there, he heard a sermon calling for more missionaries.  Within the year he was sent by the American Board of Missions to Foochow, China, an important port city that lies between China and Taiwan.

Ohlinger believed the best way to reach the Chinese people was through education.  Throughout his time in China he founded schools and the Anglo-Chinese College in Foochow.  He also began multiple publications, including the Zion’s Herald, later titled the Chinese Christian Advocate.   Ohlinger used these same principles during the seven years he was in Seoul, Korea.  A pioneer in translation and publishing for the Methodist Church, he is most noted for founding the Trilingual Press, which was the first Christian press in Korea.  The press published works in English, Chinese, and Korean.  He started the first publishing house in Korea and the Korean Religious Tract Society, and edited the Korean Repository. Later as an independent missionary he returned to China to teach languages in universities. Ohlinger also did extensive translation work.

Franklin Ohlinger married Bertha Schwienfurth, who was born in Saginaw, Michigan on July 4, 1856.  Her father, John Schwienfurth, was pastor of Saginaw’s Methodist Episcopal Church, the first church Franklin would pastor.  Bertha received much of her education in the public schools of Toledo, Ohio, however, she moved with her family to various pastorates throughout Michigan and Ohio.  Franklin met Bertha during his furlough in 1876.  At the time she was a teacher in Dayton, Ohio, where her father was pastor of a church.  The couple was married by Bertha’s father on April 27, 1876.  That October they began working together in Foochow. 

They had four children, two sons and two daughters, Gustavus (1877-1972), David Birchard (1880-1893), Wilhelmina (Willa) (1884-1893), and Constance (1901-1987).  David and Willa passed away while the family was in Korea. They were the first white children buried in Korea.  Gustavus was an accomplished lawyer who participated in post-Russo-Japanese War negotiations and served in both World Wars and at the United Nations.  His papers can be found at the Carlson Library at the University of Toledo.  Constance followed a career in music, studying in Paris and Vienna.  She served as the Director of Music at Berry College in Georgia and Berea College in Kentucky.  She was recognized as an Outstanding Educator by the Outstanding Educators of America National Organization

After retirement due to poor health, Reverend Ohlinger moved to Toledo, Ohio.  He lectured throughout the Midwest about the Chinese culture and his missionary experience. He also contributed articles to English and German publications.  He passed away at Scarlet Oaks Sanitarium Cincinnati, Ohio on January 6, 1919.  After years of travel and lecturing, Bertha Ohlinger died on May 25, 1934.  She was laid to rest with her husband at Woodlawn Cemetery in Toledo, Ohio. 

Scope and Content
The collection consists primarily of the personal papers of Franklin Ohlinger, including family correspondence, Methods Mission Conference minutes, original notes and manuscripts, diaries, Chinese translations, documents concerning Foochow’s Anglo-Chinese College, legal documents and certificates; newspaper clippings, books, and photographs.  The collection spans the years from 1862 to1974; however, the bulk of the material dates from 1880 to1925. 

The correspondence among Ohlinger family members dates from 1862 to 1933. Among them are two letters written by Franklin Ohlinger’s brother, Benjamin, during Benjamin’s Civil War service. The collection contains correspondence in German and English. Many of the letters were written by Ohlinger during his travels in China and Korea. Also included are official minutes from mission conferences held in China and Korea; original manuscripts; diaries; translations; handwritten sermons; Ohlinger’s log that was kept during his initial voyage to China; and an autograph album containing signatures in German, Chinese, and English. Ohlinger’s typed and handwritten sermons provide evidence of his preaching rhetoric. Ohlinger’s illustrations and applications offer insights into his views on 19th century issues.  Original drafts of publications by both Franklin and Bertha can also be found.  The provide commentary on World War I and his experiences in the mission fields. A collection of 40th Anniversary Memoirs from the Anglo-Chinese College is beneficial in understanding the founding of the college and the impact of Methodist educational efforts.

Box 2 contains published works in the Chinese language prepared by the Ohlingers. These include their translations of books, articles, and hymns. Ohlinger’s preaching license, ordination certificates, teaching contract with the Chinese government, and handouts created for his lectures in the United States can also be found there. A series of news clippings contain articles about the Ohlingers’ daughter Constance, the Anglo-Chinese College student, James Ding, who later became president of the institution. .  The box also contains original copies of the Chinese Recorder and Missionary Journal, in which Ohlinger is cited.  Family photographs, a collection of photographs from China, and images of friends total fifty-eight in number. The photographs was perhaps used by Ohlinger during his lectures on China and his missionary work.

Box 3 contains books that once belonged to Franklin and Bertha Ohlinger. Books can be found in English, German, French, Chinese, Hebrew, and Latin.  Also included are a New Testament and a hymnal from their ministry in Foochow.  A complete list of the titles may be found in the inventory.

During the Ohlingers’ lifetime, the missionary work of the American Methodist Episcopal Mission Board was one of the largest and most active in China. The collection provides some documentation of the American Methodist mission work in Foochow, China and in Korea during the late 19th and early 20th century. The writings, sermons, speeches, and drafts provide a sampling of Ohlinger’s sermons and articles on missionary topics and his attitudes toward church doctrine and current events and issues. The inventory also contains a list of artifacts, nearly all Chinese, also donated by Constance Ohlinger. The artifacts have been transferred to the Museum and are available online through the Museum’s searchable objects catalog.  

Ac. 1810, 1916, 2052, 2126
5 linear feet

Box 1

1.  Incoming Correspondence-Franklin Ohlinger-Civil War Letters from brother Benjamin Ohlinger,
     1862-1872 (2)
2.  Outgoing Correspondence-Bertha Ohlinger to Franklin Ohlinger, Marion, Ohio, 1886 (3)
3.  Family Correspondence-Franklin’s Trip to China from Korea, 1891 (6)
4.  Correspondence-Franklin Ohlinger-Korea, 1887-1893 (3)
5.  Incoming Correspondence-Franklin and Bertha-Postcards from son Gustavus Ohlinger,
     1894-1907 (46)
6.  Outgoing Correspondence-Franklin and Bertha Ohlinger to son Gustavus Ohlinger, 1902-1905 (6)
7.  Outgoing Correspondence-Franklin to Parents and Daughter Constance-China, 1903-1907 (2)
8.  Family Correspondence-Postcards, 1905-1919 (16)
9.  Outgoing Correspondence-Bertha Ohlinger-Korean Memories, 1927-1929 (2)
10. Letters Regarding Bertha and Gustavus-Collection Assembled by Constance, 1928-1933 (11)
11. Official Minutes-Annual Meeting of the Foochow Mission-Methodist Episcopal Church, 1872 (1)
12. Official Minutes-Foochow Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, 1877-1882, 1884, 1886,
      1887, 1894, 1895, 1898 (12)
13. Official Minutes-Foochow Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, 1900, 1904-1909 (7)
14. Official Minutes-Foochow Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, 1910-1912, 1918 (4)
15. Official Minutes- Hing-Hua Woman’s Conference-China, 1897 (1)
16. Official Minutes-Foochow Woman’s Conference, 1910 (1)
17. Notes-Franklin Ohlinger-Annual Meeting of the Korea Mission, 1893 (1)
18. Christian Literature Society of Korea-Annual Report and Outgoing Correspondence, 1939-1964 (2)
19. Franklin Ohlinger’s Notes and Manuscripts-China, 1870-1885, 1895-1912 (4)
20. Franklin Ohlinger’s Notes and Manuscripts-Korea, 1887-1893 (2)
21. Franklin Ohlinger’s Notes and Manuscripts-Toledo, Ohio, 1912-1919 (4)
22. Bertha Ohlinger’s Notes and Manuscripts-Korea, 1887-1893 (1)
23. Bertha Ohlinger’s Notes and Manuscripts-Vienna, ca. 1924 (8)
24. Gustavus Ohlinger’s Trip to China Log, 1903 (1)
25. Bertha Ohlinger’s Diary-China, 1876-1885 (1)
26. Bertha Ohlinger’s Diary-Furloughs, 1886-1887, 1904 (1)
27. Bertha Ohlinger’s Study Book, 1887-1893 (1)
28. Franklin Ohlinger’s Handwritten Sermons, 1888-1893 (8)
29. Franklin Ohlinger’s Typed Sermons, 1886-1917 (12)
30. Franklin Ohlinger’s Commonplace Book-Quotes from Readings, 1870s-1910s (1)
31. Ohlinger Family Autograph Album, 1876-1896 (1)

Box 2

1.  Franklin Ohlinger’s Chinese Hymns, 1870-1886, 1895-1912 (5)
2.  Franklin Ohlinger’s Publications-China, 1870-1886, 1895-1912 (7)
3.  Franklin Ohlinger’s Literary Translations, 1885-1907, undated (5)
4.  Franklin Ohlinger’s Literary Translations, 1908-1915 (3)
5.  Bertha Ohlinger’s Literary Translations, 1876-1886, 1985-1908 (1)
6.  Manuscripts-History of Anglo-Chinese College in Foochow, 1884-1921 (3)
7.  40th Anniversary Memoirs of Anglo-Chinese College in Foochow, 1921 (9)
8.  Franklin Ohlinger’s Preacher’s License-Michigan, 1867 (1)
9.  Franklin Ohlinger’s Documents for the Provincial College in Foochow, 1909 (3)
10.  Franklin Ohlinger’s Documents from German-Wallace College, 1870-1935 (2)
11.  Franklin Ohlinger’s Financial Documents-Record of Payment-Shanghai, 1906 (1)
12.  Franklin Ohlinger’s Certificates to the Offices of Deacon and Elder-Chicago, 1870 (2)
13.  Gustavus Ohlinger’s Baptismal Certificate-Foochow, 1877 (1)
14.  Foochow Girls’ College-Graduating Exercises, 1910 (1)
15.  Franklin Ohlinger’s Handouts-Lectures in the United States, 1913-1918 (3)
16.  Anglo-Chinese College Handouts-Foochow, ca. 1930s
17.  100th Anniversary Celebration-Tuscola Street Methodist Church, Saginaw, Michigan, 1957 (1)
18.  Newspaper Clippings Concerning Franklin and Bertha-Complied by Constance, 1870-1918 (30)
19.  Newspaper Clippings-Franklin and Family-Foochow, 1904 (1)
20.  Additional Articles Regarding Franklin and Bertha Ohlinger-Ohio, 1908-1919, 2 undated and
       Fundraising Envelope used by Franklin Ohlinger, 1910 (11)
21.  Newspaper Clippings-Bertha Ohlinger, 1913-1919 and James L. Ding, 1912-1932 (7)
22.  Newspaper Clippings-Constance Ohlinger, 1969-1973 (2)
23.  Newspaper Clippings from Shanghai Newspapers Regarding Foochow, 1904-1905 (28)
24.  The Chinese Recorder and Missionary Journal, 1870: October, 1874: January-February, 1880:
       Index, 1881: January-February; March-April; May-June; July-August; September-October;
       November- December (9)
25.  The Chinese Recorder and Missionary Journal, 1891: January; March; April; May; June; August;
       September; October; November; December (10)
26.  The Chinese Recorder and Missionary Journal, 1892: January; February; March; April; May; June;
       July; August; September; October; December; Index (12)
27.  The Chinese Recorder and Missionary Journal, 1893: January; February; March; April; May; June
       Two Copies (7)
28.  The Chinese Recorder and Missionary Journal, 1893: July; August; September; October; November;
       December (6)
29.  The Chinese Recorder and Missionary Journal, 1902: August; July; September; November, 1904: July;
       December (6)
30.  Photographs-Benjamin and Louise Ohlinger, 1906 (1)
31.  Photographs-Miller Family Residence and Reunion, ca. 1910 (2)
32.  Photographs-Franklin’s Photographs-Seoul Boys School and Colleague in Korea, 1887-1894 (2)
33.  Photographs-Rebecca McCabe Orphanage-Antan, China, 1894 (3)
34.  Photographs-Ohlinger Family Friends in China, 1892-1933 (9)
35.  Photographs-Photos and Postcards of China from the Collection of Franklin, 1897-1911 (58)
36.  Photographs-Additional Photographs and Postcards-China and Japan, late 1890s-early 1910s (12)
37.  Artwork-Souvenir Painting by Edmond G. Reuter, bought by Bertha Ohlinger during stay in Gruveres,
       Switzerland (Canton de Fribourg), ca. 1890s (1)
38.  Chinese Cultural Documents, ca. 1883- 1910 (6)
39.  Empty Envelopes with Ohlinger Addresses and Dates, 1899-1907 (19)
40.  List of Donated Items to R. B. Hayes Presidential Center from Constance Ohlinger, 1969-1973 (11)

Box 3 - Books:

1.  Hymns and Tunes for Use by the Foochow Mission of the Methodist Episcopal Church (1898)
2.  Thoughts, Words, Deeds and Other Sermons (1893)
3.  Dandmörterbuch [German-Latin Dictionary] (1860)
4.  Records of the General Conference of the Protestant Missionaries of China (1890)
5.  Genesis [Hebrew Bible]
6.  Introductory Hebrew Method and Manual (1885)
7.  An Indian Priestess (1903)
8.  The Discourses and Sayings of Confucius (1898)
9.  Following the Flag (1887)
10.  A Century of Protestant Missions in China (1907)
11.  Sixty-sixth Annual Report of the Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church (1885)
12.  Records: China Centenary Missionary Conference (1907)
13.  Fremdwörterbuch (1863)
14.  Cáng Ciō Séng Sĭ [Hymns of the American Board of Mission] (1907)
15.  Sĭng Iók Cu [New Testament in Chinese, Foochow Dialect] (1900)
16.  Das erfte Blat der Bibel (1903)
17.  Les Adventures de Telélémaque (1885)

Artifacts Transferred to the Museum:

  • 1 Chinese brass dragon bell and carved wooden stand
  • 1 Chinese brass incense burner (small) with wooden tripod
  • 1 Korean brass spoon and chopsticks
  • 1 Foochow Ruler (green and gold)
  • 1 Red and gold Dragon silk wall hanging
  • 1 Red (faded) and black velvet tribute to Franklin Ohlinger (from students or colleagues)
  • 1 red satin green satin characters and green fringe, tribute to Franklin Ohlinger ca.1900 (from students or colleagues)
  • Miscellaneous Chinese Coins
  • Miscellaneous Chinese Paintings
  • 1 Flag of the State of Ohio
  • 4 American Flags including the flag the Ohlingers flew outside their home and a flag found at the hospital in Corinth, Mississippi during the Civil War when Federal troops took the city in 1862.