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1857 - 1948

Miss Bertha Ahrens was a retired missionary with many years service among the Choctaw Freedmen in the Indian Territory and at other points in Oklahoma.
Miss Ahren's was a colorful life and one filled with unselfish service to others. She was born February 26, 1857 in Berlin, Germany. The family came to America when she was eight years of age, locating near Belleville, Illinois. Early in the 1870's, they bought a place near Sigourney, Iowa and engaged in fruit and bee raising until the father's death in 1892. Miss Ahrens and her brother, Otto, who was born in this country, attended rural schools of Sigourney, where they first learned the English language. There she attended the Presbyterian Church and under the pastorate of Reverend S. G. Hair, became a member at the age of 17 years. She had been a continuous member of that church for 74 years, placing her membership there during the pastorate of Reverend Alton O. Kaul.
Under the guidance of Reverend Hair, she became interested in religious work, concentrating on mission service. She was led to offer herself as a missionary and was sent to Oxford Female Seminary, now Oxford College, Oxford, Ohio. Later she went to Chicago for a year's training in Bible school and mission work at the Moody Fifth Avenue Church.
In 1885, while visiting a friend at What Cheer, Iowa, she heard a lecture by a white man from Tennessee in behalf of the colored people. She was so moved by his appeal that she then dedicated her life to working in the interest of these underprivileged people.
She received her call for active service in December 1885 and was commissioned by the Presbyterian Board of Freedmen in the Indian Territory. She served the next 30 years in the isolated districts of southeastern Oklahoma. Later she was principal at Bethesday Mission near Wynnewood.
On June 7, 1917, a tornado demolished the Mission and Miss Ahrens suffered injuries which impaired her health until the day of her death. She recovered partially at Wesley Hospital, Oklahoma City and on July 13, 1917, she came to Chandler to visit in the Wolcott home. She lived alone here for four years and then was invited to become a resident in the Wolcott home, where she died.
Her work in the field of religion did not cease with the termination of her career as missionary. Until almost her last year she continued to be active. She was author of several religious pamphlets and at one time wrote a series of Sunday school lessons which appeared in several newspapers including the Republican.
Her entire life was an inspiration. She was a capable interpreter and practical expositor of the Bible; a true missionary who, by her faithfulness and devotion to duty, won the confidence and esteem of all who came in contact with her and her work.
She died three days past her ninety-first birthday and is buried at Oak Park Cemetery, Chandler, Oklahoma.
© Lincoln County Oklahoma History
Pages 456, 457.

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