SAVIOUR OF ARMENIAN ORPHANS
1. Stella was born in Albia, Iowa in 1875. She graduated from the University of Nebraska with a BA in 1892 and taught high school in Lincoln for 6 years.
2. In 1901 she became a missionary, and moved to Talas, Turkey to become the the Girls’ School Principal, supervising 125 pupils and 14 teachers.
3. Stella missed the Young Turk Revolution. She was home on a 1-year furlough in 1908. When she returned, the Ottoman Empire was changing — for the worse.
4. During the Balkan Wars, Stella and her colleagues in Talas continued their schools, church and hospital, but also provided aid for soldiers’ families.
5. In 1915 she appealed to the governor to stop arresting and torturing local Armenian men. He refused. She visited many of the 600 men in the Cesarea prison.
6. When the deportations started she tried to travel with her students to the desert, but was forbidden to do so. She gave them food, money and her blessing.
7. When the United States entered the Great War in 1917, she and her colleagues were deported themselves. Stella studied at the University of Chicago, waiting for the word to return to Talas.
8. In 1919 she was on the first ship to go to Turkey to provide humanitarian aid. In their old district, the Talas team found 88,000 needy people, including 4,000 Armenian orphans. Stella became Director of Orphanages to care for them.
9. For 3 years, during the war between Greece and Turkey, she arranged for their care, and sent many to relatives in other countries. But when the Turkish Nationalists won the war, and “invited” all Christians to leave Turkey, within a month, Stella and her colleagues personally took the 3,000 remaining Armenian orphans to safety in Beirut and Athens.
10. To learn details about Stella Loughridge and her equally remarkable colleagues, read Grit and Grace in a World Gone Mad: Humanitarianism in Talas, Turkey 1908-1923 by Wendy Elliott (published in the Fall 2018). See http://wendyelliott.ca for more information.