Grant, Asahel

Grant, Asahel M.D., an American missionary, was born in Marshall, N.Y., August 17, 1807. He early commenced the study of medicine, and at the age of twenty he married and settled in Braintrim, on the Susquehanna; but, losing his wife four years after, he removed to Utica, where he acquired a large and lucrative practice as a physician. The meeting of the American board at this place in 1834 wrought an entire change in his destiny. His attention was strongly directed to foreign missions, and, after carefully considering the subject, he made an offer of his services to Dr. Anderson. Having expressed a preference for the mission contemplated among the Nestorians, he was directed to join Dr. Perkins who was already on his way to Persia. Accompanied by his second wife, he sailed from Boston May 11, 1835, and on the 27th of October they arrived at Oroomiah, their future home. "The district of Oroomiah is in the western part of Azerbijan, the ancient Atropatane, and forms the frontier line of Persia in the direction of the Turkish empire. The scenery is unrivalled even beneath a Persian sky." — To the missionary the seen wasendeared by the most sacred associations. "In the city of Omomiab, and amid the three hundred villages of the plain, there still lingered the scattered remnant of a once illustrious church — a church which had disputed with Rome herself the spiritual dominion of half the world." SEE NESTORIANS. When they were first visited by American missionaries, the vast jurisdiction which head once comprehended twenty- five metropolitan provinces had shrunk to a petty-sect, hardly able to maintain itself against Mohammedan oppression. The checkered history of the Nestorians had made a deep impression on the mind of Dr. Grant; and being, moreover, buoyed up with the belief that the Nestorians were treasured up for final restoration as remnants of the lost tribes of Israel, he entered upon his work with the utmost zeal. Dr. Perkins was already in the field, and Mr. Merrick had joined him at Constantinople. Together they commenced the work of establishing the mission. Dr. Grant's character as a physician secured the favor of the Persian governor, and the Nestorian bishops and priests gave him a hearty welcome. A school was at once commenced, and the work soon extended in every direction. (For details, SEE NESTORIANS.) In 1839 Dr. Grant visited the almost inaccessible region in which the Nestorian patriarch, Mar Shimon, resided. On the sides of the rugged hills of Koordistan, and within their deep ravines, dwelt the "Waldenses of the East — the Protestants of Asia." Among those hills were thousands who had preserved, with few corruptions, an apostolic faith. The difficulties in the way of missionary labor among them were numerous and formidable; but Mr. Grant was not to be deterred, and finally received an invitation from the patriarch, with the promise of a guard through the Koord villages. His fame as a physician had been carried to the mountain districts, and, indeed, his professional character not only gave him many opportunities of doing good, but often saved his life. Dr. Grant remained among them five weeks, gaining all the information he could, and, soon after, his wife's death and the failure of his own health compelled his return to America (1840). In consequence of his report, the board decided at once to establish a mission among the mountains. Being appointed to that work, he returned to his labors in April 1841. In company with the patriarch, Mar Shimon, he now made an extensive tour through the different villages and districts (1842). A school was opened at Ashita in April 1843, and Mr. and Mrs. Laurie took charge of the station. Soon after, Dr. Grant ascertained that the barbarous Mohammed, pacha of Mosul, was forming an alliance with the Koords against the Nestorians, who had always before maintained their independence. Dr. Grant was convinced that this independence was now at an end, and tried to persuade them to make terms with the Turks. This the infatuated Nestorians refused to do; but Dr. Grant did not relinquish his hopes of sustaining.the mission; and, though abandoned by all his native assistants, when hostilities commenced he hastened with Mr. Stocking to the Persian emir, and gained the promise of his protection. They then proceeded to the patriarch, but all their efforts were unavailing to induce him to unite with the Persians against the Turks and Koords. The infatuated patriarch had entered into correspondence with Mohammed of Mosul. The wily Turk deceived him with promises, and the unsuspecting Nestorians allowed the enemy to close against them without resistance. At last the storm burst, and there ensued such a massacre as has few parallels in history. The bodies filled the valleys and choked the mountain streams. All the efforts of Dr. Grant to avert the catastrophe were useless, though for some time the protection of the emir was observed, and the missionary buildings were left undisturbed. Soon, however, they too were destroyed, and the missionaries fled for their lives. After Dr. Grant reached Mosul, ' all his energies were devoted to the work of relieving the wretched fugitives who crowded the city." In the spring he looked forward to a return home, but early in April his health began to fail, and on the 25th he died at Mosul. Dr. Grant published The Nestorians, or the Lost Tribes, with Sketches of Travel in Assyria, Armenia, Media, and Mesopotamia (Lond. 1841; Bost. 1843, 2d ed.). — See Lothrop, Memoir of Asahel Grant, M.D. (N.Y. 1847, 18mo); Laurie, Grant and the Mountain Nestorians (Bost. 1853; 3d ed. 1856, 12mo); Diman, in New Englander, August 1853, art. 7; Newcomb, Cyclop. of Missions, page 561 sq.

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