CMHomeboy78

Chiang Mai Farangs - In Perspective

65 posts in this topic

An awesome education for me. I never knew.

Best wishes on your new career path as CM notable historian.

Thanks a lot...but you're talking about Dr Andrew Forbes of CPA Media, not me. His Ancient Chiang Mai series of e-books is a goldmine of information.

I've lived here for a long time, married to a girl from an old Chiang Mai family, and feel very much at home. Love the place. But I'm a graphic artist, not an historian.

Forbes is the real deal.

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Chiang Mai Farangs - In Perspective.

The Rev. Daniel McGilvary and the establishment of the first Christian mission in Northern Thailand.

McGilvary's arrival in Chiang Mai with his wife and two young children on April 3rd 1867 marked the beginning of many changes, some for the better, some for the worse. On the positive side, probably the most significant was the introduction of modern medical practices.

Before the arrival of the missionaries, Lanna people were dependent upon traditional folk medicine. This was essentially a mixture of common sense remedies, based on accumulated experience, combined with inherited lore about the healing properties of plants and minerals. But it also included certain types of ritual healing, in which prayers, charms or spells accompanied the medicine, or even formed the sole means of treatment. Magic, obviously, cannot counter infection and is no substitute for hygiene, but it may have provided as effective a therapy for psychosomatic ailments and some mental disorders as anything available today. Nevertheless, McGilvary and the medical missionaries who followed him revolutionized medical treatment in Chiang Mai.

McGilvary never had - as far as I know - any formal training as a physician, but he had served an apprenticeship of sorts with his father-in-law Dr Dan Beach Bradley, the foremost missionary doctor in Bangkok before coming to Chiang Mai.

He was also in possession of several of the latest medical textbooks of the period, quinine to treat malaria, and smallpox vaccine. He seems to have been a natural born healer of a type not uncommon in the 19th century; even though he lacked academic credentials.

McGilvary was followed by other Presbyterian missionaries who were qualified doctors. The first three being Dr C.W.Vrooman, Dr M.A.Cheek, and Dr A.M.Cary, in that order. Dr Vrooman and Dr Cary stayed only a few years.

Dr Marion Alphonso Cheek [1852-95], who arrived in 1875, was the most colorful and controversial missionary doctor in Chiang Mai's history.

McGilvary recruited Dr Cheek from his home state of North Carolina and obviously had high hopes for him. The two became brothers-in-law when Dr Cheek married one of Dr Bradley's other daughters.

After establishing his practice, Dr Cheek raised a pledge of $10,000 from the USA to build a hospital in Chiang Mai, but the mission board would not allow it. He was greatly disappointed and embittered. Meanwhile, the mission was disturbed by his business activities and attempts to have a private clinic. He quit the mission in 1885.

Cheek became a notorious cocksman, with what some described as "several wives", and others as a "harem". Subsequently, his wife left him and took their five children to live in the USA.

In addition to his medical practice he became a teak wallah, working forest concessions which he obtained through his influence with the Chiang Mai Chaos. One missionary complained in 1891 that Dr Cheek had the only steam-powered sawmill in Chiang Mai and had repeatedly directed his foreman not to saw any lumber for the mission hospital then being built. But before that he had designed and built the Sapahn Kula, the first modern bridge on the Ping River, located at the site of what was until recently the walking bridge to Wororot Market. He also built the First Presbyterian Church that still stands and is now the Chiang Mai Christian School.

He eventually ran afoul of some government officials and was barred from the logging trade.

When Dr Cheek died in 1895 the Siamese Government, acting through their Chiang Mai Resident Commissioner, confiscated his property and other assets. Damages were sought by the family under international law and eventually $250,000 was awarded Mrs.Cheek. The case was of such magnitude that it was discussed in the US Senate, and established several principals of international law.

The Rev J.J.Thomas wrote of his death, "No man has done more in a few years for our mission here, and no man has been so - I was about to say hated - but I will say pitied and discarded by his former friends and loved ones because of what they deemed a misspent and bad life, as Dr Cheek."

A definitive biography of this interesting man would be a welcome addition to Chiang Mai studies and a fascinating read.

A less flamboyant figure was Dr James W.McKean [1860-1949] who joined the Chiang Mai mission in 1888 to live and work here for the next fourty-two years.

Dr McKean is most famous for the leper hospital he founded on an island in the Ping River four miles south of the city. It grew to become one of the best known institutions of its kind in the world, where new methods of treatment were developed and a community was created to provide a home for people who had been outcast.

From treating people in wayside salas the missionaries went on to set up small clinics, and in 1877 McGilvary built the six-room Chiang Mai Hospital that eventually grew and became McCormick Hospital - named after Cyrus McCormick the philanthropist, whose wife, along with Princess Dara Rasami were among the early benefactors.

People seeking treatment came on foot from all over Lanna Thai, the Burmese Shan States, and even as far away as Yunnan. They saw Chiang Mai as a place where good medical care was available; and that reputation has continued to the present day.

In my next post I will take a look at the social and political turmoil that was provoked by the missionaries and the British teak wallahs who followed soon after them.

To be continued.....

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I like Dr Cheek.

So do I.

Considering the many things he built in Chiang Mai, and the high-profile role he played in events, it's surprising there is not more biographical information about him.

The missionaries didn't like him, but just about everybody else who wrote about him did.

G.J.Younghusband, the British spy who was on an intelligence gathering mission to Keng Tung was helped greatly by Dr Cheek.

In Younghusband's own words: "My further progress northwards was discouraged in every way; and if it had not been for the great kindness and energy of Dr Cheek, I should have remained months at Zimme [Chiang Mai]. The crowning blow came when I found that the whole of the saddlery down to a watering bridle had been stolen in the night. Here again Dr Cheek came to our assistance, and, fitting us out afresh, started us off on our journey."

He sounds like a good dude.

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ID: 50   Posted (edited)

OP,

In relating the travels of Schomburgk and Thomas Samuel, you mentioned the trade route from Chiang Mai to Moulmein. Do you know the route? It looks as though it might have been Chiangmai - Lampang (or Lamphun) - Tak - Mae Sot - Thaton (Myanmar) - Moulmein as roads go now.

"...According to Reginald LeMay [An Asian Arcady. Cambridge, 1926], Schomburgk "...left only a meagre account of his journey. He went as far as Raheng [Tak] by boat, and then continued the journey on elephants. He passed through Lamphun and reached Chiengmai on 11 February 1860, the whole trip occupying just under two months. From Chiengmai he went by the trade route to Moulmein. Thus becoming one of the earliest, if not the first, European to reach the Gulf of Bengal from the Gulf of Siam via Chiengmai since the ill-fated Thomas Samuel at the beginning of the 17th century."

Edited by Mapguy

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OP,

In relating the travels of Schomburgk and Thomas Samuel, you mentioned the trade route from Chiang Mai to Moulmein. Do you know the route? It looks as though it might have been Chiangmai - Lampang (or Lamphun) - Tak - Mae Sot - Thaton (Myanmar) - Moulmein as roads go now.

"...According to Reginald LeMay [An Asian Arcady. Cambridge, 1926], Schomburgk "...left only a meagre account of his journey. He went as far as Raheng [Tak] by boat, and then continued the journey on elephants. He passed through Lamphun and reached Chiengmai on 11 February 1860, the whole trip occupying just under two months. From Chiengmai he went by the trade route to Moulmein. Thus becoming one of the earliest, if not the first, European to reach the Gulf of Bengal from the Gulf of Siam via Chiengmai since the ill-fated Thomas Samuel at the beginning of the 17th century."

To the best of my knowledge the two main trade routes between Chiang Mai and Moulmein were as follows:

Chiang Mai; down the Ping River to Muang Haut, then overland to the Salween River via Mae Sariang [Maing Lon Gyi], then downriver to Moulmein.

And the longer, but possibly less arduous route of:

Chiang Mai: down the Ping River to Tak [Raheng], then overland to Moulmein via Mae Sot.

Thomas Samuel was taken to Pegu [near Rangoon/Yangon] as a war captive from Chiang Mai by the Burmese in 1613. I don't know what route the army took on their return. There were several well-travelled invasion routes that they could have taken.

Sir Robert Schomburgk travelled to Moulmein in 1860 with a large military escort provided by the Chiang Mai Chaos. But again, I don't know the route. It would be safe to assume that it was one of the two main trade routes.

Thanks for your interest.

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Did Prince Mahidol really belong to one of the "aristocratic families of Chiang Mai" ?

If so, can you tell me what the connection was?

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Did Prince Mahidol really belong to one of the "aristocratic families of Chiang Mai" ?

If so, can you tell me what the connection was?

Alert as ever... I think you've caught me out on that one.

Prince Mahidol probably didn't have any connection at all to the chaos of Chiang Mai. But I don't think I'm mistaken in linking him to The Prince Royal's College. As a matter of fact, I'm almost sure that he was the prince that the college was named after.

He was, in all probability, descended from the kings of the Chakri Dynasty.

Sorry for that bit of misinformation; and thanks for pointing it out.

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Did Prince Mahidol really belong to one of the "aristocratic families of Chiang Mai" ?

If so, can you tell me what the connection was?

Alert as ever... I think you've caught me out on that one.

Prince Mahidol probably didn't have any connection at all to the chaos of Chiang Mai. But I don't think I'm mistaken in linking him to The Prince Royal's College. As a matter of fact, I'm almost sure that he was the prince that the college was named after.

He was, in all probability, descended from the kings of the Chakri Dynasty.

Sorry for that bit of misinformation; and thanks for pointing it out.

Well he did have some connection

One of the first things he did when he returned was to set up scholarships for students in the fields of medicine, nursing, and public health. He was planning to return to Siriraj Hospital for internship. However, his princely status then became a problem as it was felt that he was too prestigious to be allowed internship. Undeterred, Mahidol chose another hospital in a more egalitarian environment – the missionary-run McCormick Hospital in Chiang Mai. He worked there, day and night, as a resident doctor. His patients fondly called him "Mho Chao Fa" ('Doctor Prince').

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahidol_Adulyadej

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Did Prince Mahidol really belong to one of the "aristocratic families of Chiang Mai" ?

If so, can you tell me what the connection was?

Alert as ever... I think you've caught me out on that one.

Prince Mahidol probably didn't have any connection at all to the chaos of Chiang Mai. But I don't think I'm mistaken in linking him to The Prince Royal's College. As a matter of fact, I'm almost sure that he was the prince that the college was named after.

He was, in all probability, descended from the kings of the Chakri Dynasty.

Sorry for that bit of misinformation; and thanks for pointing it out.

Well he did have some connection

One of the first things he did when he returned was to set up scholarships for students in the fields of medicine, nursing, and public health. He was planning to return to Siriraj Hospital for internship. However, his princely status then became a problem as it was felt that he was too prestigious to be allowed internship. Undeterred, Mahidol chose another hospital in a more egalitarian environment – the missionary-run McCormick Hospital in Chiang Mai. He worked there, day and night, as a resident doctor. His patients fondly called him "Mho Chao Fa" ('Doctor Prince').

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahidol_Adulyadej

Thanks for your input, but I think you've misunderstood.

By "connection" I meant blood relation to the ruling families of Chiang Mai.

It's not impossible that Prince Mahidol had some collateral relationship to the Chiang Mai chaos.

Dara Rasami wasn't the first Chiang Mai Princess to be a consort of a Chakri king. There were earlier ones who could very well have been ancestors of Prince Mahidol.

I just don't know.

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Did Prince Mahidol really belong to one of the "aristocratic families of Chiang Mai" ?

If so, can you tell me what the connection was?

Alert as ever... I think you've caught me out on that one.

Prince Mahidol probably didn't have any connection at all to the chaos of Chiang Mai. But I don't think I'm mistaken in linking him to The Prince Royal's College. As a matter of fact, I'm almost sure that he was the prince that the college was named after.

He was, in all probability, descended from the kings of the Chakri Dynasty.

Sorry for that bit of misinformation; and thanks for pointing it out.

Well he did have some connection

One of the first things he did when he returned was to set up scholarships for students in the fields of medicine, nursing, and public health. He was planning to return to Siriraj Hospital for internship. However, his princely status then became a problem as it was felt that he was too prestigious to be allowed internship. Undeterred, Mahidol chose another hospital in a more egalitarian environment – the missionary-run McCormick Hospital in Chiang Mai. He worked there, day and night, as a resident doctor. His patients fondly called him "Mho Chao Fa" ('Doctor Prince').

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahidol_Adulyadej

There's a public room at McCormick that is said to house Prince Mahidol's medical equipment. I believe the statue in front of Maharaj Nakorn (Suandok) Hospital is Prince Mahidol. I had always assumed it was the King.

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Alert as ever... I think you've caught me out on that one.

Prince Mahidol probably didn't have any connection at all to the chaos of Chiang Mai. But I don't think I'm mistaken in linking him to The Prince Royal's College. As a matter of fact, I'm almost sure that he was the prince that the college was named after.

He was, in all probability, descended from the kings of the Chakri Dynasty.

Sorry for that bit of misinformation; and thanks for pointing it out.

Well he did have some connection

One of the first things he did when he returned was to set up scholarships for students in the fields of medicine, nursing, and public health. He was planning to return to Siriraj Hospital for internship. However, his princely status then became a problem as it was felt that he was too prestigious to be allowed internship. Undeterred, Mahidol chose another hospital in a more egalitarian environment – the missionary-run McCormick Hospital in Chiang Mai. He worked there, day and night, as a resident doctor. His patients fondly called him "Mho Chao Fa" ('Doctor Prince').

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahidol_Adulyadej

There's a public room at McCormick that is said to house Prince Mahidol's medical equipment. I believe the statue in front of Maharaj Nakorn (Suandok) Hospital is Prince Mahidol. I had always assumed it was the King.

some interesting history, photos, etc. in that little room up at McCormick.

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I would like to know more about the farangs especially those involved in the Borneo Co. apparently one of my relatives a David Fleming Macfie ( McFie) arrived in Siam around 1860 or so, he married so I understand a hand maiden of the Princess in 1913 , they had 4 or more children I have found some in the Chiang Mai Foreign cemetery but this only fives me dates nothing about their life and time in Siam ...... which I would find more interesting ...

so If you are to continue your story I would be very interested in following your postings

thank you

Douglas Macfie, Calgary Alberta Canada

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I would like to know more about the farangs especially those involved in the Borneo Co. apparently one of my relatives a David Fleming Macfie ( McFie) arrived in Siam around 1860 or so, he married so I understand a hand maiden of the Princess in 1913 , they had 4 or more children I have found some in the Chiang Mai Foreign cemetery but this only fives me dates nothing about their life and time in Siam ...... which I would find more interesting ...

so If you are to continue your story I would be very interested in following your postings

thank you

Douglas Macfie, Calgary Alberta Canada

3 of the children's graves are next to their parents' headstones. I believe they were sent abroad at a young age and returned when they were old. There's a book that can be bought at the cemetery that lists the headstones and as much as can be remembered about their lives in Chiang Mai. Major Roy Hudson I believe is the author.

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BANGKOK 21 July 2017 03:44
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