The Noyes's Involvement
Henry Varnum Noyes first sailed to Canton (Guangzhou) in 1866 with his wife. The two started mission work with Dr. Happer, until the death of Henry's wife 19 months after their arrival. After getting the news of her sister-in-law's untimely death, Harriet Noyes received approval to be a missionary and began the journey to Guangzhou along with the Kerrs, who were returning from their furlough. Harriet immediately began to work, learning the language and becoming involved with a day school, working from the model of "Mrs. Happer's" (presumably A.L. Elliot Happer, Dr. Happer’s second wife) boarding school. This is despite the fact that Mrs. Happer's school was not a great success. Both Henry and Harriet had a passion for penetrating the interior of China with their mission work but were initially rejected in their application to work at Fat Shan (Foshan). Harriet established a school in 1872, the True Light Seminary School, and what started out as only six students, grew to 200 students by 1894.
Their sister, Martha, was a later addition to the missionary circle. She was committed to the service in 1873 and joined her sister a the True Light Seminary School. Martha married a fellow missionary, Dr. John Glasgow Kerr, in 1886 and became more involved with medical missionary work. She worked to open the Canton Hospital School and helped establish the first psychiatric hospital in all of China.
Missionary work truly became a family affair, with Henry's children, William Dean and Richard Varnum, also working as missionaries after their schooling.
Read on for more about the missionaries in this community and the work they undertook.