On This Day in UB History: September 4 (The Hazzards)

Rev. B. O. and Margaret Hazzard

Rev. B. O. Hazzard was born around 1872, and felt God calling him to Africa. He originally served in the Congo, but repeated malaria attacks forced him to return to America. There, he met and married Margaret Muirhead, a Scottish-born woman whose parents had immigrated in 1880 and started a farm in Ohio. They were married on August 15, 1900, in Portage, Ohio.

Both B. O. and Margaret felt God calling them to missionary service. They ended up going with the United Brethren in Christ, sailing from New York on September 31 (just six weeks after their wedding) and arriving in Sierra Leone on November 14. His job was to build a girls’ home at the Danville station in Gbangbaia for the Women’s Missionary Association–what would eventually become the Minnie Mull School for Girls. Margaret would care for the children residing there.

Mission director Daniel Flickinger wrote, “Mr. Hazzard did well in managing business matters and in holding meetings and getting the people aroused to a sense of duty. Some were converted and brought into the service of the Master through his labors.”

Margaret became paralyzed in July 1901 and, a few weeks later, was taken to Freetown. Since the hospital couldn’t treat her, Rev. Hazzard put her on a steamship bound for England. They had been married just 11 months. It was the last time they would see each other.

Margaret arrived in Liverpool on September 4 and was soon diagnosed with berri berri, which affects the nerves. She began nearly two years of hospitalization. Meanwhile Rev. Hazzard kept working. The school was ready for occupancy in December 1901. The plan was for him to eventually travel to Scotland to be reunited with his wife. But that never happened. He was stricken with blackwater fever, and died in Gbangbaia in July 1902.

According to George Fleming, Margaret spent a total of 21 months hospitalized, until the spring of 1903, followed by six months of continued recuperation with relatives in Scotland. Of the little we know of Margaret after that, it doesn’t include Sierra Leone. She apparently returned to Ohio and, in 1930, at age 56, married a Missouri farmer named Thomas Grubb. It appears that she died in Ohio on August 12, 1957, and was buried in Cuyahoga County, Ohio; census data lists her husband, Thomas Grubb, as a carpenter in building construction.

Although the Hazzards’ time in Sierra Leone was very short, it lives on through the Minnie Mull School, which over the years has touched the lives of thousands of Sierra Leonean girls.

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