Miss Lillian Chan (陳謙信)

I was skimming through my unpublished drafts today, and I noticed that although I finished my postings on the Chan family over two months ago, I never posted about the middle daughter: Lillian Chan. Oops. So here’s a short post about the final daughter of the Chan family who studied in American schools: Lily Chan.

Lillian Chan (陳謙信, pinyin Chén Qiānxìn) was born in China around 1885, before her sister Bertie, and therefore before her family moved to Vancouver, Canada for her father’s missionary work. She’s listed in two CSA directories as being a native of Kwangtung (Guangdong) province, but it is possible she was born in Hong Kong, like her sister Bertie. She lived for five or so years in China, then another ten or eleven years in Canada, then moved to Portland with the rest of the family in 1901.


Like her mother and sisters, Lily was highly involved in charity work and fundraising benefits, appearing in newspaper articles detailing the events at which she spoke (Oregon Daily Journal, 26 Aug 1906). She attended high school at Lincoln High School, from which she graduated in 1906 (Sunday Oregonian, 03 Sept 1916). She then attended the Wheaton Academy in Illinois, an evangelical Christian preparatory high school program associated with Wheaton College. She appears in the 1911 and 1912 CSA Directories as a student at Wheaton College; Wheaton College records show her attending the Academy as a special student in the 1909-1910 year (Wheaton College Catalogue, 1909-1910), and then as a student in the second, third, and fourth forms of the Academy in the 1910-1911, 1911-1912, and 1912-1913 years (Wheaton College Catalogues, 1911, 1912, 1913). She excelled in English literature there, receiving high marks (Sunday Oregonian, 3 Sept 1916).

The 1914 CSA Directory has her living back in Portland at 133 1/2 First St. and attending Behnke-Walker Business College, which is supported by the Portland City Directory of that year. One source claims she continued to have links to the Chicago area, taking summer courses at the University of Chicago for two years, although this assertion is not supported by the University of Chicago Annual Register. However, she must have maintained some sort of link to the area, because on 2 June 1915, she married a Chinese man in Cook County, Illinois.


Lily and her husband were only married for a year before Lily died on 31 August 1916 in Chicago. Her obituary lists an extremely long list of accomplishments for someone only 31 years old: attending the Chicago Methodist Mission Training College, working as an interpreter for the Chinese Christian Union School in Chicago, and attending conferences in New York (Sunday Oregonian, 03 Sept 1916). She was apparently well-known in Christian missionary circles and was a charter member of the Chinese Evangelical Church in Chicago, currently the Chinese Christian Union Church.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s