Historical Albion Michigan
By Frank Passic

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Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.

WAR LORDS THREATENED ALBION MISSIONARIES

Morning Star, March 8, 1998, pg. 8

A couple of months ago there was news about a church in the Lansing area whose missionary had been kidnapped in Romania. Although the story had a happy ending, it reminds us that Romania has not traditionally been a "missionary friendly" country, it seems. Those who have heard of Richard Wurmbrand and the book "God's Smuggler" will recall the persecution he suffered there under the Communists.

Through the years there have been several churches here in Albion that have sent local persons as missionaries to foreign lands. One particular Albion woman and her husband were missionaries to Romania during the 1920s and 1930s, and were faced with death by Romanian war lords in 1925. Rev. Walter Craighead (1892-1978) and his wife Hazel (Thomson) (1892-1976) were married here at the First Baptist Church in September, 1920. Hazel was the daughter of William & Mary Thomson, who operated Thomson's Greenhouse here in town at 324 W. Broadwell Avenue.

Walter received his ordination here in Albion, and was commissioned by First Baptist to Romania in November, 1920. The Craigheads served there until the outbreak of World War II in 1939. They did return to Albion on furlough on occasion, however. There is one picture that exists of the couple with members of the Russian Baptist Church on Austin Avenue here in the late 1920s.

The Craigheads were stationed in Balti, and were making plans to erect a new chapel, when "antagonism became active," according to one report. In February 1925, Rev. Craighead was presiding over a Baptist businesss meeting, when Romanian soldiers entered the hall. Rev. Craighead soon found himself in the middle of a dispute between the soldiers and their superiors, and was hailed off to military headquarters.

He was first interrograted by one captain "B" in a rude way. When that captain finished and left, an under-officer, captain "F" began to beat Rev. Craighead. Craighead recalled, "After he had beaten me he had a soldier search men and then Captain "B" returned and they both ridiculed me. The under officer (Captain "F") threatened to kill me if I should be in the country three days longer. After the beating the ordered me into another room." The officer later denied beating Rev. Craighead and Captain "B" dismissed the charges.

Following the outbreak of World War II, the Craigheads moved to Scotland for one year, and then back to the United States. They then became missionaries in Paraguay in 1947, and served until their retirement in 1957. They spent their retirement years in Dallas, Texas, and finally Midwest City, Oklahoma. Hazel died there in 1976, and Rev. Craighead died in Choctaw, Oklahoma in 1978. Both were buried in Arlington Cemetery in Midwest City. How many persons remember Walter and Hazel Craighead? From our Historical Notebook this week we present a 1925 photograph of the Craigheads.



Walter and Hazel Craighead, 1925.

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