American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions
District of the Interior States
Rev. A. N. Hitchcock, District Secretary
153 La Salle Street, Chicago, DEC 19, 1900
Rev. Judson Smith D.D.,
Dear Dr. Smith:
In my letter written yesterday I failed to mention a few things which I now add since the ship did not sail as was expected. We are living in the most populous part of Aganya. This town is the capital of the island and has a population of from 5 to 6 thousand. Some of the people are well to do and some profess to be wealthy but the most of them are very poor. All are better off, materially, than the Caroline island people. A native told me that it was useless for a native to accumulate property under Spanish rule for just as soon as one had saved a little and began to prosper he became a mark for the priest whose aim seemed to be to keep the people poor. One man told me that during all the time of the Spanish occupation of the island he never knew them to contribute anything for the relief of the people such as the American government did after the cyclone.
We are disappointed to find that so few of the natives speak the Spanish language well. Many of them speak it a little but it will not be possible to do our work in that tongue. We must learn the Chomoro: this is the language of the people. Our little knowledge of the Spanish is very, very useful but a knowledge of the Chomoro is absolutely necessary if we are to reach and instruct the people.
(The Chomoros are the natives of the islands. In this word the "o"s have the long sound and the accent is on the penult. The Spanish spelled this word with two "r"s but as there seems to be no reason for this we shall spell it as above.)
There is only one book, so far as I am able to learn, published in the Chomoro language. It is a small pamphlet devoted to explaining the sacraments and begins with an exhortation to offer prayer to St. Francisco de Borja, patron of Rota, an island of this group and follows with a long prayer to him. Then [it] goes on with an explanation of the various festivals of the church. It is an eloquent comment on the work of the church here during the past years that this is the sum total of the literature given the people in their own language. A Spanish and Chomoro vocabulary has also been printed.
I must close for lack of time. Perhaps you will get a few suggestions from what I have written. Our hearts are full of joy and we are glad to be here. God has a people here and He will call them out. With love to all,
Yours very truly,
[Signed] Francis M. Price
Note 1: Aganya is Agaña.
Note 2: This letter was written from Agaña, Guam.