In 1938, former Sierra Leone missionaries George and Daisy Fleming visited UB churches on the West Coast. In Dayton, Wash., they met Mrs. Mary Wilson. In 1866, when she was 14 months old, Mary was left in the care of her grandmother in Indiana while her parents, Oliver and Mahala Hadley, left for Sierra Leone.
Mary hardly knew her father, because he died just a few days after returning from Africa. Nor did she know her sister Ida, who died in Sierra Leone six weeks after being born, or her infant brother, who died ten days after her father. But she had her father’s journal, written in longhand. She presented it to George Fleming because she thought the Missions department should have it.
Hadley’s first entry of 1867, written on January 3 just a few weeks after their arrival in Sierra Leone, said, “Oh, when shall I see some of these men converted? I cannot rest until I hear some of them glorify God for the salvation of their souls. The Gospel is the power of God, and I look for a manifestation of that power here.”
The journal entry for May 31, 1867, included a message for Mary. It was her second birthday.
I feel happy this morning that the Lord ever gave [Mary Elizabeth] to us. Oh that we could have her with us. I think of her more than usual since little Ida’s departure. My dear child Mary, we will roast a fowl and celebrate your birthday, though we are far away in a strange land. We may never see you again, but I hope you may read these lines if you live and know that I love you, my dear child, with a peculiar love. The Lord be merciful to you, my dear child. I have prayed that I may live with you in the everlasting Kingdom of Christ. I leave you in His hands.