Foote, Paulina (1891-1968)

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Paulina Foote (1891-1968) Source:

Paulina Foote: missionary teacher in China; born 13 November 1891 to Heinrich Foote (4 December 1863, Volhynia - 2 June 1951) and Eva (Block) Foote (28 October 1865, Volhynia - 19 August 1903, Marion, Kansas, USA) in Marion, Kansas. She was the eldest living child in the family and had four younger siblings. Paulina never married, but she adopted a girl in China. She died on 8 January 1968 in CornOklahoma.

Paulina was born in the town of Marion, Marion County, Kansas, just four days after her elder sister died. She had completed a large part of her elementary education before her mother died suddenly in an accident and Paulina had to take over the care of her younger siblings. Her father soon remarried, bringing four more children into the family. The family went to live in Corn, Oklahoma, where Paulina was baptized and joined the Mennonite Brethren Church in 1909. In 1910, she began a high school upgrading course at Tabor Academy.

At the end of her second year, Foote obtained work as a teacher to finance her further studies at Tabor College in Hillsboro, Kansas. She graduated with a degree in Biblical studies from Tabor College in 1922 before receiving a Bachelor of Arts from the college in 1925. Next, she studied at the Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Kansas, where she received a Bachelor of Theology degree in May 1932.     

In 1910, Franz J. and Agnes Wiens moved to China to begin an independent Mennonite preaching and teaching mission in Shanghang. Soon, they opened a Bible institute, a boys’ and a girls’ school, and a medical mission. In 1922, three years after the Mennonite Brethren Church took over the project, Foote went to teach the children of a missionary couple. She was ordained on 12 August 1922 at the Mennonite Brethren church in Bessie, Oklahoma and left in October for China. For the next five years, she worked at the mission in Shanghang, also caring for one of three Chinese girls who had been adopted by missionaries at the station.

Over the next years, Paulina worked in teaching and preaching in various areas of China. The political situation caused many disruptions in her work, and in 1944, Paulina had to escape by cart to western China, where she worked with the West China Mennonite Brethren Mission. In 1945, she scheduled another furlough to the United States, hoping to return to China afterwards. In 1949, however, the Chinese government expelled all foreign missionaries and she was unable to return.  

Meanwhile, Foote spent more than a year looking after her parents before starting on a series of church visits in various parts of Canada and the United States. Paulina developed arthritis in 1950 and was confined to a wheelchair by 1952. She went to live at the Corn Home for the Aged in Corn, Oklahoma, where she died in 1968.    

Paulina Foote was a dedicated missionary whose work in China helped to establish the church in that country. Through all of the difficulties she experienced, Paulina trusted in God and committed herself to helping the people she encountered, both in China and in North America.


Foote, Paulina.  God’s Hand over My Nineteen Years in China. Hillsboro, Kansas: Mennonite Publishing House, 1962.

GRANDMA (The Genealogical Registry anDatabase of Mennonite Ancestry) Database, 7.02 ed. Fresno, CA: California Mennonite Historical Society, 2013: #139675.

Kroeker, Anna. "Paulina Foote (1891-1968): Missionary Biography." Western Tract Mission. Web. 21 May 2013.

Missionary Album of Missionaries Serving Under the Board of Foreign Missions, the Mennonite Brethren Conference, Inc. Hillsboro, KS: Board of Foreign Missions of the Conference of the Mennonite Brethren Church of North America, 1954.

Rempel, Valerie. "Paulina Foote: Under God’s Hand." Mennonite Brethren Historical Commission. Profiles. Web. 20 May 2013.

Wiebe, Katie Funk. Have Cart, will Travel: The Life Story of Paulina Foote, adapted from her book, God’s Hand Over My Nineteen Years in China. [Hillsboro, KS]: Board of Christian Literature, General Conference of the Mennonite Brethren Church of North America, 1974.

Author(s) Susan Huebert
Date Published June 2013

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Huebert, Susan. "Foote, Paulina (1891-1968)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. June 2013. Web. 22 Sep 2019.,_Paulina_(1891-1968)&oldid=94674.

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Huebert, Susan. (June 2013). Foote, Paulina (1891-1968). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 22 September 2019, from,_Paulina_(1891-1968)&oldid=94674.

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