The Parsons Family

The twin brothers R. Keith and P. Kenneth Parsons were born at Zhaotung in the Province of Yunnan in S.W. China in 1916. Their parents, the Rev. Harry and Mrs. Annie Parsons, went to China as missionaries of the Bible Christian (Methodist) Church in 1903 and 1905 respectively. They were colleagues and successors of the Rev. Samuel Pollard in the work among the Hua Miao people, as they were then called. The people’s own name for themselves was Ahmao. Both Mr. and Mrs. Parsons spoke Chinese and were fluent in the Ahmao language, while, in their childhood, their sons were bilingual, speaking Ahmao and English.

Both sons followed their father into the Ministry of the Methodist Church, and returned to S.W. China where they were able to renew their contacts with the Ahmao people. Alongside their missionary work, Kenneth Parsons began the compilation of an extended Ahmao – English glossary of words and phrases, while Keith Parsons began collecting old folk stories and songs, oral traditions which were fast slipping out of use in the changing circumstances of the mid-twentieth century, changes which eventually made it necessary for all missionaries to leave China.

Subsequently both brothers served in Africa and in various English appointments, and in retirement, have been able to return to their studies of the Ahmao language and culture.