Murder of Rev. Charles H. Holbrook: Turkey, August 13, 1913
On August 13, 1913, Rev. Charles H. Holbrook was shot and killed at Souchier, a small Turkish village eighty miles east of Sivas and 425 miles from Constantinople. At the time of his death he was on an excursion with some American teachers belonging to the Sivas mission school. The official report at the time said that Rev. Holbrook was shot by unknown men while reposing in the garden of a local Armenian. The murderers escaped at the time, but Turkish authorities at Souchier soon arrested four persons connected with the crime, all of whom were tried and convicted on April 18, 1914.
Rev. Charles H. Holbrook was born in Salem, Massachusetts on 9 November 1880, the son of Solomon H. Holbrook and Susan E (Pulsifer). After studying at in schools in Lynn and Swampscott he entered Boston University, receiving te degree of A.B. in 1902 and A.M, in 1903. After graduation he became an instructor in the Worcester Polytechnic Institute, where for two years he taught the modern languages.
In 1904 he united with the Old South Church in Worcester, and in 1907 entered the Union Theological Seminary whence he graduated in 1910. At this time he transferred his church relationship to the Congregational church at Wellesley Hills, Massachusetts, where he was ordained on February 15, 1911. It was this church that undertook his support in the mission field.
Under the auspices of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, based in Boston, Massachusetts, he sailed for Turkey from New York on March 25, 1911. Rev. Holbrook arrived at Western Turkey Mission of Sivas, May 27, 1911, where he was station treasurer of the mission operation in this district.
Beginning in middle of the 19th Century and lasting through the tragic destruction of the Armenian people in Turkey 1915-1916, the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions recruited and financed the work of thousands Protestant Christian Missionaries to staff missions throughout Turkish Armenia. These missionaries concentrated their evangelization and humanitarian projects including schools, colleges and hospitals among the minority Christian Armenians. The missionaries, for the most part, returned home safely after their service which typically ranged from five to twenty years. It was not uncommon for some missionaries to succumb to local diseases during their service. However several missionaries met untimely, tragic deaths.