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Name: CHILSON, Arthur Benton (Rev.)

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Birth Date: 16.6.1872 Le Grand, Iowa

Death Date: 14.1.1939 Kitega, Burundi

Nationality: American

First Date: 1902

Profession: Missionary with the Friends' African Industrial Mission (American), mostly in the Kisumu area. Kaimosi was HQ

Area: Mostly Kisumu area, Kaimosi

Married: In Van Buren, Indiana 6.3.1907 Anna Edna Hill b. 10.10.1881 Thorntown, Indiana, arrived in EA 1906, d. 25.12.1945 Kitega

Children: Esther Anna (Choate) (Kaimosi 1.2.1908-2001); Rachel Edna (Kaimosi 9.2.1910-1996)

Book Reference: Gillett, Weller, Kenya Diary, EAHB 1905, Red 25, Hut, North, Playne, Drumkey, Red 22, EAHB 1906, Nicholls, EAHB 1904, EAHB 1907, Anderson Church, Red Book 1912

General Information:

EAHB 1905 - With advance party of Friends' Africa Industrial Mission to Kaimosi
Kenya Diary - May 1904 - There are altogether in Kaimosi 3 American missionaries, Messrs. Hole, Blackburne and Chilson, the two former being married and having their wives with them
Drumkey 1909 - Friends' Africa Industrial Mission - Rev. Arthur B. & Mrs Chilson
Nicholls - asked the home committee to choose him a wife and send her out. The only specifications were that she should not have red hair or wear glasses. His marriage must have been a success because he lived to a great age, not dying until 1979 [this is wrong - he would have been 107- note by Nicholls]; his wife died 6 years later. Visitors to their mission were likely to be offered green corn and pumpkin pie.
Anderson Church - Arthur Chilson was one of the pioneer missionaries of the Friends' Africa Mission, and one very close to Africans - [1927 revival meetings - speaking in tongues] etc.
Red Book 1912 - A.B. Chilson - Kisumu
Ane Marie Bak Rasmussen, A History of the Quaker Movement in Africa, 1995 When Willis Hotchkiss, Arthur Chilson and Edgar Hole of the Friends Africa Industrial Mission arrived in British East Africa on 24 June 1902, they followed the newly completed railway line from Mombasa to Kisumu, where they were assisted by the District Commissioner, C.W. Hobley, in their attempts to find a suitable site for a mission station. On one of their journeys in the North Kavirondo area they arrived on to August at Kaimosi, just east of the Luyia area. At first they camped there, because both Hole and Hotchkiss had fallen ill, but they soon discovered that the place was ideally suited for the kind of industrial mission they wanted to establish. They found the falls of the Goli Goli river, which could be used for water power. There was a big forest that could supply wood for a sawmill. The land was fertile, and this would make it possible to grow crops in the mission. And the altitude, 5500 feet above sea level, made the climate well suited for the American missionaries. With the help of Mr Hobley they obtained about 1000 acres of land, and here they began to build 

Africans living around Kaimosi, which was in a kind of no-man's-land between the Tiriki and the Nandi. However, the presence of the mission station and further attempts by the British to 'pacify' the Nandi soon brought the inter-ethnic fighting to an end, and as a result many Tiriki moved into the area and settled around Kaimosi."

At the beginning the missionaries had to use a very large part of their time in establishing the industrial mission they wanted. As soon as possible a dam was built across the Goli Goli river, and a watermill was erected for sawing timber and grinding grain. Forest was cleared, crops were planted, and many houses were built. In later years the large sums of money invested at Kaimosi became an important factor in determining mission policies, leading to the concentration of the majority of Quaker institutions there." Some of their supporters at home soon began to criticize the missionaries for spending so much time on practical work instead of preaching the Gospel. But for the missionaries themselves, with their background in pioneer rural communities of the American Midwest, it was natural to set about creating a physical environment suitable to their needs, and they saw no conflict between this type of work and their wish to preach Christianity to the Africans. On the contrary, when Arthur Chilson went home on furlough in 1905 and was criticized along these lines, he ignored his critics and took a new water turbine back to Kenya with him." And a few years later, when he was constructing roads north of Kaimosi, he saw his presence at the road site and the opportunities it afforded for preaching the Gospel to the workmen as a legitimate part of his work as an evangelizing missionary, and as a means of stopping the advance of the Roman Catholics who had shown an interest in starting work in the same area."

In spending so much time on construction and other practical work the Quaker missionaries had adopted Willis Hotchkiss's plans for an industrial mission which, as described above, was intended to serve the double purpose of 'cleansing' the Africans' social conditions and enabling them to earn an income from which they could support their church." They believed, like many other missionaries, that in order for Africans to become true Christians it was necessary not only to preach the Gospel to them but also to teach them many aspects of the Western way of life."

Chilson left Kaimosi in Jan 1928 on leave and the American Friends Board of Missions  decided not to send him back, apparently because they found his evangelistic theology too revivalistic.

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