1868  — 1951

Margaret Rae Melrose

Presbyterian missionary to Hainan Island, China.

Margaret Rae was born in Iowa. She arrived on Hainan in 1890 with her husband, John Melrose, whom she had married earlier that year; both were graduates of Lenox College, Hopkinton, Iowa. Assigned to the Nodoa, or Nada (Danxian), Melrose assisted her husband until his death in 1897, which followed by thirteen days the death of their only daughter. The new widow traveled to the United States and placed her sons, Andrew and Paul, in her sister’s care. (Paul, with his wife, would later serve the Hainan mission). Mother Melrose, as she became known, then returned to Hainan, where she served as a teacher in the girls’ school and as an itinerating missionary in Nodoa for the rest of her career. She carried a Colt. 45 revolver and demonstrated its use in target practice before retiring for the night in remote villages, where thieves often preyed on the unprepared. She retired in 1929 and moved to California, where she provided a home for her grandchildren from Hainan while they were attending high school. She died in California.


This article is reprinted from Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, Macmillan Reference USA, copyright (c) 1998 Gerald H. Anderson, by permission of The Gale Group; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan. All rights reserved.


  • Margaret Moninger, ed., The Isle of Palms: Sketches of Hainan (1919, 1980).

About the Author

Kathleen L. Lodwick

Professor of History, Pennsylvania State University, Allentown, Pennsylvania, USA