Skip to main content

Collection 632 Papers of William H. Nowack

Identifier: CN 632

Scope and Contents

Prayer letters, publications, sermons notes of Nowack documenting William H. Nowack’s work as an independent Christian missionary in the United States (Tennessee) and China (Honan) over a period of four decades.


  • Created: 1903-1980

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.

Biographical Information

Full Name: William Henry Nowack

Birth: February 14, 1874, Watertown, Wisconsin

Death: March 26, 1964


Parents: Carl and Bertha Nowack

Siblings: Hattie, Carl, Louis

Marital Status: First marriage: Katherine Plantz (July 28, 1876 - November 5, 1922) on November 7, 1901; Second marriage: Alice E. Broughton (December 18, 1888 - October 6, 1990) on June 30, 1925 in China

Children: Children of William and Katherine: Alden James (1902-1903), Ruth Louise (1904-1993 ), Esther Marquerite (Nowack) Hess (1906-1991), Helen Grace (Nowack) Frame (1908-1999), Katherine (1912-1912); Children of William and Alice: Mary Pearl (Nowack) Van Ronzelen (1926-1993), Paul (1928-1932)

Conversion: At the age of eighteen


1890s - Attended Watertown Bible School

1890s - Attended summer term at Moody Bible Institute


1894? - Healed from tuberculous

1900-1905 - Ministry to neglected boys in Eastern Tennessee at Ebenezer Mission

1905-1944 - Missionary to south central Honan (now Henan) Province, China, initially affiliated with the South Chihli Mission for a year or two before becoming independent

1911-1912 - First furlough to the United States

1917-1918 - Second furlough to the United States

1927-1928 - Third furlough to the United States

1938-1939 - Fourth furlough to the United States

1944 - Left China and retired in Wisconsin

Other significant information:

William Nowack authored: Six Bible Readings (1912); My Ebenezer: a Personal Testimony to the Faithfulness of a Prayer Hearing God (c. 1946)

Daughters Ruth (1925), Helen (1930), and Mary Pearl (1948) graduated from Wheaton College

Daughters Ruth, Esther, and Helen became missionaries with China Inland Mission (CIM)

A few years after the Nowacks left Tennessee Rev. John and Leonora Wood (parents of Catherine Marshall) continued the work of Ebenezer Mission. Later Catherine's book Christy was based on her mother's teaching at the mission school.


1 Box (DC)

Language of Materials


Arrangement of Material

[Note: In the Scope & Content section, the notation “folder 1-5" means “Box 1, Folder 5"]

Series: Paper Records

Arrangement: Alphabetical

Date Range: 1903-1950, n.d.

Volume: 0.25 cubic feet, 1 Box

Geographic Coverage: China, Tennessee

Type of documents: Prayer letters, publications, sermon notes

Correspondents: None

Subjects: Evangelism, Holy Spirit, prayer

Notes: The prayer letters were published under the titles: Ebenezer Training Home, Read Hill and Del Rio, Tennessee, Ebenezer Echoes, Pi Yang (later changed to Miyang) Hsien, Honan Province, China, and Echoes from Inland China. These reports, covering over forty years, provide an insight into the ministries of the Nowacks first in Tennessee and then in China. Their ministry in China was focused on the evangelization of the Chinese, both adults and children. Prayer is a major theme in many of these newsletters. Whenever there was a particular need the Nowacks and other Christian would gather together for a special time of prayer. Notes written by Helen Nowack Frame with information about the letters are in folders 1-1, 1-2, and 1-3.

Folders 1-7 to 1-10 contain Nowack’s handwritten sermon notes written in either Chinese or English. Two notes are on the Bible books of Galatians and Revelation, one on the Holy Spirit, and another on miscellaneous topics. Four publications in this collection include a booklet by Nowack on Six Bible Readings (folder 1-6), one by D. M. [David Morrison] Panton, The Letters to the Seven Churches (folder 1-5), and two, in Chinese, with references to Raymond and Helen Nowack Frame (folder 1-4) CIM missionaries to China. Panton’s booklet contains red pencil markings throughout and writing on the back two pages by an unknown person.

Exceptional items: The April 1903 letter (folder 1-1) describes their ministry to the poor and neglected mountain boys of Tennessee, whom the Nowacks took into their home to live with them. In the January 1905 letter (folder 1-1) Mr. Nowack writes, I am glad to report that three of our boys, two of the new ones and one of those who came here a year ago, have professed Christ as their Saviour, and we trust that our little Dallas, tho’ only five years of age, may also experience the grace of God in his little heart before long, as he is the only one in the family at present who does not profess allegiance to the Master.

Katherine Nowack writes about her work in the January-April 1916 letter (folder 1-2), During the fall months, it was my privilege, with a Bible woman, to daily visit among the women of the city and surrounding villages. In this way, many inquirers who had dropped out during the summer were looked up, some new women brought in, and a general interest created. Since the middle of December, my time in the afternoon is devoted to the teaching of several branches in the boys’ school, the visitation work being continued by different women in the church, thus initiating them into the work, and affording them opportunities, for witnessing which might otherwise have been neglected.

Some of the blessings mentioned in the January 1910 letter (folder 1-2) are for our little Pi Yang church, and the steady growth of it members...for the general interest manifested in the preaching of the word, and the increase of those who are following on to know the Lord...for our faithful Lord to whom we can again raise our Ebenezer with the assurance the He will continue to bless, deliver, provide and guide as He has done “hitherto.”

A number of our dear boarding school boys led by Sien Keng, our cook, who we believe is a truly saved and consecrated young man, began of their accord a little Saturday night prayer meeting in the cook’s room, at which they poured out their hearts to God in prayer, confessed their faults one to another, and studied the Scriptures together. As a result of these meeting four of these boys have come to a definite decision for Christ, to which fact their lives have borne testimony every since. January-March 1919 letter (folder 1-2).

Throughout the letters there are reports about the Nowack family including birth, illness, death, and other items of interest. Some examples are: the death of their infant first born son, Alden James, (July 1903, folder 1-1), daughter Ruth’s bout with malaria (July 1909, folder 1-2), obituary for Mrs. Katherine Plantz Nowack (January 1923, folder 1-3), engagement and marriage of Mr. Nowack to Miss. Alice Broughton (January 1926, folder 1-3). Also mentioned in many letters is information about the three oldest daughters.

Some miscellaneous items include a map of the of “Piyang Hsien, Our Ebenezer Mission Field” (May-August 1915, folder 1-2), a photograph of the Nowack family with their workers (January-March 1917, folder 1-2), an article by Jonathan Goforth, “A Chinese Christian Army” (July 1921, folder 1-3), and information (see below) about the organization of the Ebenezer Mission in China from the March 1925 letter (folder 1-3):

The Ebenezer Mission is an interdenominational work begun under God’s definite guidance and blessing by Mr. & Mrs. Wm. H. Nowack in 1907, and was incorporated in 1912. The Field is located in the South-central part of Honan Province. It covers an area of a thousand square miles, having a population estimated at three-quarters of a million. Within its boundaries lies the city of Mijang, over twenty walled market town, and hundreds of villages dotting the landscape in every direction. Miyang, two hundred miles north of Hankow, and sixty miles directly west of the Peking and Hankow R. R., is the central station of the Mission. THE OBJECT of the Mission is to evangelize as speedily as possible its present field and any additional territory it may be led to occupy, with the view of establishing self-supporting churches throughout its territory. The Mission is governed by a Field Council. The Senior Missionaries on the field constitute this Council. The work is supported by the free-will offerings of God’s people. The missionaries are not supported by the receipts of the mission treasury, but directly by churches or individuals.

Accruals and Additions

The materials in this collection were given to the Billy Graham Center Archives by Helen Nowack Frame in September 1983, February and April 1984.

Accession 83-103, 84-31, 84-49

June 23, 2008

Wayne D. Weber

Collection 632 Papers of William H. Nowack
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Roman Script

Repository Details

Part of the Evangelism & Missions Archives Repository

501 College Avenue
Wheaton IL 60187 US