Francis Dunlap Gamewell (1857-1950)

Francis Dunlap Gamewell, 1881

Francis Dunlap Gamewell was born in Camden, South Carolina on August 31, 1857 to John and Sarah Gamewell. The family moved to New Jersey during the Civil War, and young Gamewell was prepared for college at the academy in Hackensack. He then attended college at both Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Cornell University before choosing Dickinson College for its Methodist affiliation. He entered in 1877 and earned his bachelor of arts degree in 1881. As a student he was a member of the Alpha Delta Phi fraternity as well as the Union Philosophical Society.

Soon after graduation Gamewell traveled to China as a missionary for the Methodist Episcopal Church. Here he met Mary Porter, another missionary, and the two were married in June 1882. They began working with the West China mission in 1884. After ten years of missionary work, the couple returned to the United States. Francis Gamewell had earned his master's degree from Dickinson in 1884, and upon his return in 1887 he studied physics at Columbia University, eventually earning his doctoral degree. The Gamewells returned to China, with Francis serving as professor of physics at Peking University. During their stay in Peking, the Gamewells were witness to the rioting that eventually culminated in the Boxer Rebellion of May 1900. During the Rebellion, the British Minister, Sir Claude McDonald, appointed him chief of his staff and had him take complete charge of the defenses of the British legation that sheltered the foreign diplomatic corps and their families. The couple had planned to return to the United States due to Mary's poor health, but were delayed until August by the siege.

Soon after taking up residency in New Jersey, Francis was appointed field secretary to the Methodist Episcopal Missionary Society, and the couple planned to return to China. However, Mary's health waned once more; she never saw China again, dying in 1906. Three years later Francis married for a second time, to Mary Louise Ninde, the daughter of Methodist Episcopal Bishop William X. Ninde. He and his new wife did return to China to resume the missionary and educational services he had begun so well. His later efforts included the presidency of the American University in Peking. She was to serve for half a century in China. Northwestern University accorded Gamewell the honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity in 1926. Francis Dunlap Gamewell died in Clifton Springs, New York in 1950.

* The Encyclopedia Dickinsonia editors are very grateful to Mr. Wade T. Lovelace of Houston, Texas, a Ninde family relative, who provided important information above.

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