FSU Pioneers - Page 5

Corinna Shattuck graduated from Framingham Normal School in 1871, completing an Advanced Course in 1873. After graduating, she devoted her entire life to missionary work in Turkey during the time of the Armenian massacres. She saved the lives of over three-hundred refugees on the night of the Oorfa Massacre, and created a school and safe haven for the survivors to educate and prepare them for a life beyond her missionary.

An orphan herself, Shattuck was born on April 22nd, 1848 and raised in Acton, MA by her grandparents. They instilled in her a strong religious conviction, one that was further fostered by a friendship with her pastor’s wife. She had been teaching for three years before deciding to devote her life to missionary work, and so she entered the Framingham Normal School at age nineteen to prepare herself. At Framingham, she corresponded with Myra Proctor, a graduate from the class of 1859 and current director of a missionary boarding school in Aintab, Turkey. Upon graduating her advanced course in 1873, Shattuck traveled to Turkey to take over Ms. Proctor’s post as director. During her time at the Aintab missionary, she learned Turkish and grew interested in the more remote regions of her new home, eventually deciding to travel to Oorfa, modern-day Urfa.

Shattuck’s health was failing, and in 1879 her supervisors thought it best to send her home to America to recuperate for a year. From her diary entries during what became a four year sojourn, it is evident that she felt restless at the thought of all the work she still had left to do in Turkey, and was anxious and ready to return from the moment she arrived in Colorado. Unbeknownst to her, she had consumption, known today as tuberculosis, and this disease would eventually take her life. However, despite her weak health and the fact that she lost a lung, Shattuck returned to Turkey in 1883 all the more rejuvenated and ready to continue her work, first teaching Bible and history at the Girls College at Marash before requesting to be reassigned to Oorfa in 1892.

The Oorfa Massacre was both politically and religiously motivated. The Armenians of Oorfa had been Christians for nearly six hundred years, which pitted them against the Muslims of the region. On the morning of December 28th, 1895, the Christian city was attacked by Muslims and Kurds, who entered people’s homes and slaughtered the men, kidnapped the women and children, and robbed the empty houses. Shattuck was protected as a foreigner, and a guard stood outside her home warning the pillagers not to come inside. Because of her protected status, three hundred Armenian refugees came tumbling over her walls, despite her servant and guard’s best efforts to keep them out. Shattuck herself could not turn the refugees away to be slaughtered, and so she hid the men in the school-room of the Protestant church for twenty-four hours until the raiders finally left the city. Her bravery saved those men, and saved hundreds of widows and orphaned children who were now all in need of food and shelter. Shattuck was able to provide them with both.

Through many years of spiritual instruction, Shattuck instilled within the one hundred orphans left in her care a love of God and the skills needed to pursue a trade after leaving the missionary school. When one of her pupils, Mary Harootoonyan, lost her sight, Shattuck was able to arrange for her to be sent to the Royal Normal College for the Blind in London, run by another Framingham alumni, Lady Sophia Campbell. Harootoonyan returned to Oorfa an educated teacher of Braille, and with her as an instructor on staff, Shattuck was able to open up the Corinna Shattuck School for the Blind in Oorfa. Harootoonyan later took over as director of the school upon Shattuck’s death in many years later.

Shattuck remained in Turkey until April of 1910, when her failing health pressed her to return to America to find an assistant. She died on May 22nd, 1910 not yet having found a replacement herself, but she peacefully passed away having spent a lifetime helping others.

The people of her Oorfa school memorialized her with a gravestone that reads: “In loving memory, by the Oorfa Armenians. The sum of $110 was provided by these humble people of Oorfa in the heart of Turkey, that they might give lasting expression of their indebtedness and love to their faithful missionary.” It was erected in Newton, Massachusetts in 1911.