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Pitcairn in full sail.

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Stringer, Rodney George (1851–1914) and Caroline “Carrie” (Sanborn) (1869–1948)

By Milton Hook

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Milton Hook, Ed.D. (Andrews University, Berrien Springs, Michigan, the United States). Hook retired in 1997 as a minister in the Greater Sydney Conference, Australia. An Australian by birth Hook has served the Church as a teacher at the elementary, academy and college levels, a missionary in Papua New Guinea, and as a local church pastor. In retirement he is a conjoint senior lecturer at Avondale College of Higher Education. He has authored Flames Over Battle Creek, Avondale: Experiment on the Dora, Desmond Ford: Reformist Theologian, Gospel Revivalist, the Seventh-day Adventist Heritage Series, and many magazine articles. He is married to Noeleen and has two sons and three grandchildren.

First Published: January 3, 2022

Rodney and Caroline Stringer were missionaries to Rurutu Island.

Early Life

Rodney George Stringer was born in Lapeer, Michigan, on November 14, 1851, to George and Catherine Voorhees (Scheunerman) Stringer. His father was a farmer in the Lapeer District. Rodney had seven siblings: Mary Cornelia (b. 1839), John H. (b. 1841), Nelson (b. 1842), Theodore Boyd (b. 1844), Charlotte (b. 1846), George (b. 1848), and Georgeana (b. 1855).1 The family became Seventh-day Adventists in the 1860s, and Rodney attended Battle Creek College during its infancy.2 He returned to farming with his father and left it relatively late in his life to marry. He was 39 years old when he married local 21 year-old Catherine “Carrie” Sanborn on March 31, 1890, at Hadley near Lapeer.3

A Significant Choice

Rodney and Carrie started married life on the family homestead, but it was not long before they decided it would be a noble work to sell their household goods and begin a self-supporting ministry in the South Seas. They prepared by attending a General Conference pre-embarkation course in Battle Creek.4 Under advice from the Foreign Mission Board, they chose to join the third voyage of the “Pitcairn,” which was scheduled to leave San Francisco in June 1894. The first leg of the journey brought them to Pitcairn Island after sailing for a month. The vessel proceeded to Tahiti and then on to Rurutu Island, a dot in the Austral Group belonging to French Polynesia. Rodney and Carrie, together with Pitcairn Islander Sara Mareta Young, disembarked at this point to pioneer a mission endeavor.5

There were three villages on the island with an estimated total population of 1,000 people. The missionaries settled at the western village, Avera, which caught the cool sea breezes. The inhabitants had accepted Christianity and worshipped in a charming little church, having no intention of changing the status quo. However, they agreeably welcomed these newcomers and were happy to receive simple medical treatments from the Stringers.6 The Pitcairn paid them a visit during the fourth voyage, 1895, and again in 1896 on the fifth voyage. During the latter visit, the ship’s captain learned that Rodney’s garden had been destroyed by rats, and feral cats had eaten his hens. Nevertheless, Rodney was in good spirits and resolved to persevere.7

After four years and no prospects of the islanders adopting a new faith, it was decided the better option involved a transfer to Pape’ete, Tahiti, where Rodney would construct a suitable church building for the small group of believers there. He completed the structure in 1899 and continued conducting their services.8

Return to America

Rodney’s failing health forced them to return to America in 1902. They chose Florida as a place where his health might be able to improve and, at the same time,, they could engage in evangelistic activities.9 The Florida Conference issued him with a license to preach, and he cared for the people in the Bartow District. Carrie served as Sabbath School secretary for the conference.10 Rodney was ordained about 1907,11 but there were ominous signs that his health was still deteriorating. He continued to carry ministerial responsibilities until 1910 when he was granted honorary credentials. He suffered with pellagra and cachexia (or “wasting disease”), gradually becoming an invalid.12 In the meantime, additional office responsibilities were given to Carrie. She became the secretary-treasurer of the Florida Conference and, at various times, she also managed their Sabbath School, Youth, and Educational portfolios.13

On Sabbath morning, March 28, 1914, Rodney passed away peacefully and was laid to rest in the Wildwood Cemetery in Bartow, Florida.14 He and Carrie had no children. Carrie continued in her role as Sabbath School secretary for the Florida Conference until 192915 and then returned to her birthplace near Lapeer, Michigan, where she passed away on April 12, 1948.16 She rests in the Mount Hope Cemetery at Lapeer.17

Sources

Cady, B[enjamin] J. “Union Conference.” Union Conference Record, July 17, 1899.

“Carrie (Sanborn) Stringer.” ARH, June 24, 1948.

“Carrie (Sanborn) Stringer.” Find A Grave Memorial.com, 2020. Accessed June 20, 2020. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/183348593/carrie-stringer.

Graham, John E. “From the Pitcairn.” ARH, November 17, 1896.

Heckman, W[illiam] H. “Rodney George Stringer.” Field Tidings, April 22, 1914.

“Rodney G. Stringer.” FamilySearch.org, Intellectual Reserve, 2020. Accessed June 5, 2020. https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:FP98-Z4N.

“Rodney G. Stringer.” FamilySearch.org, Intellectual Reserve, 2020. Accessed June 5, 2020. https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:NQW8-5KB.

“Rodney G. Stringer.” FamilySearch.org, Intellectual Reserve, 2020. Accessed June 5, 2020. https://www.familysearch.org/tree/pedigree/landscape/9F4X-MWS.

“Rodney George Stringer.” Find A Grave Memorial.com, 2020. Accessed June 20, 2020. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/37805083/rodney-george-stringer.

Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook. Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association. Various years. https://www.adventistyearbook.org/.

Stringer, R[odney] G., and [Carrie]. “Rurutu, South Pacific Ocean.” The Home Missionary, December 1895.

White, W[illiam] C. “Movements of the Pitcairn,” Bible Echo, December 3, 1894.

Notes

  1. “Rodney G. Stringer,” FamilySearch.org, Intellectual Reserve, 2020, accessed June 5, 2020, https://www.familysearch.org/tree/pedigree/landscape/9F4X-MWS.

  2. W[illiam] H. Heckman, “Rodney George Stringer,” Field Tidings, April 22, 1914, 3.

  3. “Rodney G. Stringer,” FamilySearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:NQW8-5KB.

  4. W[illiam] H. Heckman, ”Rodney George Stringer,” Field Tidings, April 22, 1914, 3.

  5. W[illiam] C. White, “Movements of the Pitcairn,” Bible Echo, December 3, 1894, 374.

  6. R[odney] G. and {Carrie] Stringer, “Rurutu, South Pacific Ocean,” The Home Missionary, December 1895, 259-260.

  7. John E. Graham, “From the Pitcairn,” ARH, November 17, 1896, 736.

  8. B[enjamin] J. Cady, “Union Conference,” Union Conference Record, July 17, 1899, 4-5.

  9. W[illiam] H. Heckman, “Rodney George Stringer,” Field Tidings, April 22, 1914, 3.

  10. “Florida Conference,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1904), 26-27.

  11. “Florida Conference,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1907), 28-29.

  12. “Rodney G. Stringer,” FamilySearch.org, Intellectual Reserve, 2020, accessed June 5, 2020, https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:FP98-Z4N.

  13. “Florida Conference,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1910), 74-75.

  14. “Rodney George Stringer,” Find A Grave Memorial.com, 2020, accessed June 20, 2020, https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/37805083/rodney-george-stringer.

  15. “Florida Conference,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1929), 88-89.

  16. “Carrie (Sanborn) Stringer,” ARH, June 24, 1948, 20.

  17. “Carrie (Sanborn) Stringer,” Find A Grave Memorial.com, 2020, accessed June 20, 2020, https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/183348593/carrie-stringer.

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Hook, Milton. "Stringer, Rodney George (1851–1914) and Caroline “Carrie” (Sanborn) (1869–1948)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. January 03, 2022. Accessed February 29, 2024. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=AIRY.

Hook, Milton. "Stringer, Rodney George (1851–1914) and Caroline “Carrie” (Sanborn) (1869–1948)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. January 03, 2022. Date of access February 29, 2024, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=AIRY.

Hook, Milton (2022, January 03). Stringer, Rodney George (1851–1914) and Caroline “Carrie” (Sanborn) (1869–1948). Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved February 29, 2024, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=AIRY.