Letter From Mrs. Fowle Recites Horrible Story of Butchery

Harrisburg Telegraph, 18 January 1917.

New York, Jan. 15. - Following closely upon news from Constantinople of the death of Miss Mary G. Fowle, one of the two Americans permitted to remain in the Turkish city of Sivas when the American hospital, school and college buildings were occupied by Germans last summer, a letter written by Mrs. Fowle, dated July 7, has just been received here.

The letter recites in detail a vivid tale of massacre in the interior of Turkey when men and women persisted in maintaining their religious beliefs and refused to change their names.

On Monday, June 26, the letter says, all the native laborers who had been working on the roads were taken into custody. On the following day more than 3,000 men were crowded into a military prison, without food or water. Later some 200 artisans and servants were released upon condition that they change their names. Pressure was brought to bear upon others and continued for ten days, until the majority of the prisoners yielded.

Prisoners brought to the military prison from villages, the letter set forth, had no changes of clothing. Miss Fowle and her only American companion, Miss Mary L. Graham, aided these unfortunates as best they could. Later the prisoners were sent to Bozanti on the German railroad.

The letter continues:

"The prisoners went off in groups of 200 to 300 per day. When the first group started off in daylight, with only a few escorts, we felt reassured. By Sunday 1,000 had gone. Early Thursday morning came reports that all who left Sivas had been massacred. We did not believe it at first. We have now seen one eyewitness who escaped and two others who had heard this news with but one intermediary. We all feel convinced now that there have been massacres.

"The men were apparently taken out two by two and delivered into the hands of villagers armed with axes, pikes, saws and other weapons. Our second account said the prisoners were stood up, bound and shot. Our informant managed to roll into a gully and escape, although he was shot at. He reported seeing half-burned arms and legs and heads in the gully as he passed through.

"Now when prisoners ask us whether to change their names or be sent off we don't dare say no."

Source: Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.


Note: Note: Miss Mary Caroline Fowle (1881-1916) was born in Caesarea (today Kayseri) in Ottoman Turkey and was a missionary for the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. She studied at Woburn Masachusettes High School and graduated from Mount Holyoke College in 1903. She spent most of the last 10 years of her life in Turkey. She was fluent in Turkish.

Bozanti or Pozanti was a prison camp situated 38 miles NW of Adana in south eastern Turkey.