Mildred and Merrill Isely married in June 1920 and departed in October of that year for Turkey to begin service there as missionaries for the Congregational Church. After eight months of language study in Constantinople, they were assigned to the American Board Mission in Gaziantep. Merrill worked initially in education, and then became increasingly involved in the operation of the Azariah Smith Memorial (American) Hospital in Gaziantep. In 1937 he became the hospital's business manager. Mildred educated the Missionary's children and was also a dietician and surgical nurse at the hospital. At the time of their arrival, Gaziantep was called Aintab, or Aintep. They retired from service in Turkey in 1962.
Their grandson, David Mattox, has written about their service in a paper entitled American Missionaries In Turkey.
Their son Bill has also written about their work and life there.
Here is his description of the Isely children's experience of growing up in Turkey (as perceived by his sister Caroline) and of Bill and Carol's adventurous return to America in 1941 when their parents sent them to Kansas because of the outbreak of WW II.
1. Early Days
2. Girl's School at Aintep and Year in USA
3. On to Jerusalem and Cairo
4. Down the East Coast of Africa
5. The Homeward Stretch
Bill has also written
A Trip to Sidon, and, Modernizing Aintep.
Merrill & Mildred's daughter, Mary Francis also wrote in 1993 about the family's experience in Turkey.
The Isely home at the College site in Gaziantep about a km from the American Hospital compound.
Stone building at the College site. Here is a full sized version.
The American Hospital compound in Gaziantep. From right to left are: 1. The Hospital, 2. windmill (which pumped water from the aquaduct below it), 3. The Doctor's house, 4. the edge of the girls school.
Mr. Holdock, the German power plant engineer, giving rides to the missionary children on his motorcycle. Here is a full sized version. From left to right are Bill Isely, Edward Dewey, Mary Frances Isely, Holdock, and two Pence children (Mr. Holdock regularly ate Sunday dinner with the Pences) This photo was taken at the College site. At the top of the photo, the American Hospital compound is visible, with the girls school on the left (where the Iselys lived after the College site was sold), the hospital in the center, and a Turkish hospital on the right. On the far left can be seen remnants of a castle from the era of the crusades (for which the aquaduct was built).
Merrill dining with friends in Turkey. Here is a full sized version. Merrill met regularly with this group to tell them of the life of Jesus. It was illegal at that time in Muslim Turkey to advocate Christianity, but Merrill's group aspired to be "Jesusists" rather than Christians.