Mary Scranton was born on December 9, 1832 in Belchertown, Massachusetts. Scranton’s grandfather, John Scranton had two sons, one of whom settled in Connecticut. The other settled in the state of Massachusetts.
The Scranton family was highly devoted to the Methodist Church, and both Scranton and her only son, William B. Scranton, were passionate in missionary work.
Scranton came to Korea in the spring of 1855, at the age of 52, as the first representative of the Women’s Foreign Missionary Society of Korea. She came with her son and his wife, Louisa and their first daughter, Augusta. A year later, Scranton founded the educational institute that became today’s Ewha, the Ewha Haktang.
Meanwhile, William Scranton worked as one of the earliest medical missionaries in Korea, and helped establish the Boguyeokwan, the predecessor of the Ewha Womans University Medical Center in 1887.
After his mother’s death in 1908, William Scranton became entangled in a fight between Korean church members and a pro-Japanese foreign missionary, named Harris.
Unable to remain neutral, Scranton gave up missionary work in Korea and move to China, then to Japan, to continue working as a doctor.
Scranton ended his life in Kobe, Japan on March 23, 1922. Although it was known that he had four daughters, who later traveled to Europe with their mother, this was when Ewha lost touch with the Scrantons.
This year however, an ESL teacher from Connecticut named Ellen Swanson was able to put the school back in contact with its founder’s descendents. On October 6, Ewha announced that they have finally found the 4th and the 5th generation descendents of Mary Scranton.
“Among the four daughters of William Scranton, three married British men, the other married an American. Thus, we ended up in very different countries,” said Ben Paton
There were some efforts to keep in touch among older family members. But, said Thomas Davies, “Due to the diverse locations of the family, it was hard for us to meet each other before today.”
“What I remember of my husband’s mother was that she kept small tablets with messages written on them hanging on the walls of her house. These were messages for Christmas for her sisters who lived in Korea and Japan. They sent them to each other instead of Christmas cards,” said Andrea Paton.
Paul Addington, also recalled his grandmother who had photos of her sisters at her house.
A number of the Scrantons living today turned out be educators, just like their ancestor who came to Korea and started a school for the underprivileged.
“Once, my mother taught a disabled student at her own house, just like Mary Scranton who began teaching with a single student at Ewha Haktang,” said Sally Gale. “It seems like the teaching gene was passed down,” added Addington.
Although she is a distant relative, Mary Scranton’s philosophy live on in the younger generations of her family. “My ancestor was moved by faith and left everything behind at the age of 52 to face a new adventure. She embraced a young girl and this caused a ripple effect. Her love came with action. As the father of my own children, I was inspired and I will follow her true footsteps,” said Ben Paton.
During the October 6 chapel service at the Ewha auditorium, Ben and Andrea Paton mentioned that their eight-month-old daughter Julia Paton may even want to come to study at Ewha in the future.
Kevin Gale added, “My family and I would like to bring our children back to Korea and constantly let them know about the great messages of Mary Scranton.”