Edwin Elisha Bliss

Born: April 12, 1817 in Westminster or Putney, Vermont, United States
Died: December 20, 1892
Occupation: Missionary

Source Citation: Dictionary of American Biography and Genealogy of the Bliss Family in America.

Edwin Elisha Bliss (Apr. 12, 1817 - Dec. 20, 1892), a missionary, was born in Putney, Vt., the son of Harvey and Abigail (Grout) Bliss. He was one of eight children, and one of three who became missionaries. A sister, Emma (Mrs. Van Lennep) went to Turkey, and a brother, Isaac Grout, to Turkey and Egypt. Edwin's early education was finished at the High School in Springfield, Mass., where his parents then dwelt. Thence he went to Amherst College, graduating in 1837. For two years following graduation he taught in Amherst Academy, and then entered Andover Seminary, from which he received his diploma in 1842. On Feb. 26, 1843 he married Isabella Holmes Porter, of Portland, Me. His ordination had taken place on Feb. 8, 1843, and on Mar. 1 he and Mrs. Bliss sailed from Boston on the bark Emma Isadora with a notable company bound for Smyrna.

After arrival in the East the Blisses proceeded to Trebizond instead of to Kurdistan and the Nestorian Mission, for they learned of trouble in the Kurdish mountains and could secure from the government (Turkey) only permissive passports and not protective firmans. They never, in fact, went into Kurdistan. Instead, they were "permanently connected with the Mission to the Armenians," and labored from 1843 to 1851 at Trebizond and from 1851 to 1856 at a new station opened by Bliss at Marsovan. At both stations the evangelical work suffered severe persecution at the hands of the orthodox Armenians. In February 1856 Bliss was transferred from Marsovan to Constantinople to give his time to literary work, and for thirty-six years he labored quietly and effectively in the department of publication. He edited the Avedaper ("Messenger") from 1865 to 1892, a newspaper which had become in 1855 a weekly issued in three forms: Turkish in Armenian characters, Turkish in Greek characters, and Armenian in Armenian. It had 1,500 subscribers and some ten thousand readers throughout Turkey, and was a fruitful agent of inspiration to Christian workers, and of social and religious reformation. Its editor declared one of its important offices to be the exposure of "the shameless misstatements" made in other papers about the work of the American Board. Bliss edited, also, a monthly children's paper issued in the three forms mentioned above. In addition to this editorial work he wrote pamphlets and tracts, "helps in Bible study, narratives of Christian life and experience." He was the author of a Bible Handbook (in Armenian), and frequent articles in the Missionary Herald. He visited the United States four times on various errands, including the quest of health. While located at Marsovan he had contracted malaria from which he was never thereafter free. Before his death he had been for sometime in feeble health and unable to work.

#00001 Thomas Bliss and Margaret Hulins of England and Springfield, MA
#00014 Samuel Bliss and Mary Leonard of Springfield, MA
#00059 Ebenezer Bliss and Mary Gaylord of Springfield, MA
#00153 Jedediah Bliss and Miriam Hitchcock of Springfield, MA
#00450 Zenas Bliss and Mary Babcock of Springfield, MA
#01258 Harvey Bliss and Abigail Grout of Springfield, MA
#02799 Edwin Elisha Bliss and Isabella Holmes Porter