This Month In Focus

The Scudder Family and Ida's Call

Ida Sophia Scudder’s story- and therefore CMC’s- begins with her surname, a name, which at one point in her life, she would have readily disowned.

Her grandfather, Rev. Dr. John Scudder was born in New Jersey in September 1793, the second of twelve children. He trained in Princeton and New York, and ran a successful practice in New York. He was known for his skill and kindness, aspects that drew a large number of patients to him. A devout Christian, Rev. Dr. John was challenged by Christ’s command to ‘preach the Gospel and heal the sick.’ The eternal question, ‘Who will go- send me’ struck at the heart of the young Dr. Scudder and he was wont to disobey it. He became thoroughly committed to serving God through the medical missions of the American Board and later of the Dutch Reformed Board. While his wife, Harriet Scudder supported him in this venture, he was disowned by his father, Joseph Scudder.

In June 1819, Rev. Dr. John, then 26 years of age, boarded the ship Indus, along with his wife, Harriet and young daughter, Maria. The journey from Boston to the then Calcutta took four long months. Once they arrived in Calcutta, they went to Serampore to meet Dr. William Carey. Unfortunately, their little daughter, Maria contracted dysentery and died. Still burdened with grief, Rev. Dr. John and Harriet Scudder set out to Sri Lanka, then called Ceylon and reached Jaffna, where they established their first dispensary. It was not easy, those early days- a new place, culture, language, circumstances and situations, and the loss of two more children. But their faith did not falter, as they leaned on God to lead them through the dark nights.