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Caleb Frank Gates

Excerpt from: The Codex (1899)
Caleb Frank Gates, '77, D.D., LL.D.
President of Euphrates College

     IN the autumn of 1871 two brothers came to Beloit from Geneva, Illinois. They lived with the E. J. Smith's throughout their course and graduated with the class of 1877. The elder, William S. Gates, is now a physician in Chicago, never failing in loyalty to his Alma Mater. The younger, Caleb Frank Gates, or popularly "Frank," has recently been brought under the gaze of the whole civilized world.

     He came from one of those rare homes where every influence calls the boy to manliness, to lofty ideals, and to Christian consecration. He would be particularly jealous that his parents should be more honored than himself, as having made him what he is; and surely the world has had few saints or men to put higher on its walls than Caleb Foote Gates, the father of "Will" and "Frank."

     Coming to Beloit at thirteen, graduating at nineteen, Frank Gates played here the part that by tradition falls to "the youngest man in the class"; he was quick, bright, mirthful, able to be a good scholar with little work, but much more disposed to learn by watching the world go by. He who seeks to find in the student the coming man, looking back over these boyhood days, sees Frank as the center of a good many striking scenes; for example, a spelling match between college and high-school, the proceeds to go to the gymnasium fund, and Frank the last one down, retired after long standing by an unheard-of scientific word, selected as a finishing stroke; a miscellaneous entertainment given at the opera house by the class of '7, including a little play in which appeared a queenly "lady," who was after much puzzling recognized as the smooth-faced Frank; the presentation of a carriage to Mr. Pfeffer's new baby, Will Gates propelling the carriage and baby about the streets, the class harnesed in front of the vechile, and Frank making a merry speech of presentation when they had trundled the baby back to its home. The College has never seen a more exuberant class than '77, and the youngest of them was very near the center of all its irrepressible life. It was this and the old college athletics that were felt when on his mission-field he produced a profound impression by hurling a stone across a river, a feat that none of the bystanders could match.

     Frank Gates doubtless felt when he left college that he had not yet struck the deep and mastering principles on which it was worth while to live. The deepening of his purposes, the development of his energy, and his industry, his consecration of himself to the ministry, and to missionary service, may be said to have had their immediate occasion in the sufferings and death of his brother Edward. From his long watching by that bedside he came forth changed from boy to man. His theological course was taken strenously; he was one of the two who stood at the front of their class.

     The American Board for Foreign Missions sent him to Mardin, in Asia Minor. The presidency of Euphrates College became vacant, he was felt to be the man for the place. He took office when the Armenian massacres were preparing. The storm soon broke, and the college seemed the center of it all. The walls of his house were struck by bullets, a shell burst near him, a Turk twice took deliberate aim at him and fired, the college buildings were set on fire with a loss of $88,000, his own home was plundered and wrecked, murder and outrage ran riot on every side. When the storm center moved to other points he went out on errands of mercy among the wounded, the homeless, the fatherless, the widowed, the outraged. So calm was he, and untiring and fearless, that he compelled deference from even the butchers of his pupils; so wise was he that large sums were entrusted to him for relief work by people on both hemispheres; so highly was he esteemed by British consuls and other subjects of the Queen that the great University of Edinburgh hastened to confer upon him an honorary degree.

     President Gates would be the last to seek recognition or fame for anything that he has done, and he would especially emphasie as his chief support in his work his faith on God. The missionaries have for that a discipline that does not always come to us at home. His wife and his children are not with him, -- the wife that once stepped between him and a Turkish rifle; in such times they should not be with him; but in such times neither can he feel that it is right for him to leave his post to be with them. As President Christie, of '71, and of St. Paul's Institute at Tarsus, says with equal truth of his own field, -- sometimes nothing has stood between thousands of poor, trembling Armenian Christians and complete extermination but a single American missionary.

     The College, -- old Beloit, breeder of men, mother of missionaries, is proud of such sons as these, and it will not fail to stand by them in their work.

 

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