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Collection 687 Papers of Ed and Marilou McCully

Identifier: CN 687

Scope and Contents

Journal, correspondence, manuscript, audio tapes, photographs and other materials relating to the life and ministry of Ed and Marilou McCully, Plymouth Brethren Missionaries in Ecuador. The materials document Ed Mc Cully's education (including at Wheaton College), successes in oratorical competition, courtship of Marilou Hobolth, their work in Ecuador as Plymouth Brethren missionaries, his death at the hands of Waorani tribespeople, and Marilou McCully’s subsequent involvement in documenting the story of Ed’s life and faith.


  • Created: 1944-1985


Conditions Governing Access

Audio recording T22 is closed to use until January 1, 2031.

Biographical or Historical Information

Full Name: Mc Cully, Marilou G. Hobolth

Birth: April 18, 1928

Death: April 24, 2004 in Sumner, Washington State, after a long battle with cancer


Marital Status: To Theophilus Edward Ed” Mc Cully Jr. on June 29, 1951

Children: Steve (1952), Mike (1954), Matt (1956)


Moody Bible Institute, Chicago, Illinois


1952-1963 - Missionary in Ecuador with Christian Missions in Many Lands. Arrived in December 1952 with her husband and son; language study in Quito for several months; helped in evangelistic work at Shandia, 1953-1955; mission station at Arajuno (very close to Waorani territory), 1955-1956. From late-1956 on, (after an eight-month return to the United States that included several speaking engagements about the men's deaths), she managed a home for missionary children in Quito, Ecuador.

1964-circa 1985 - Bookkeeper at Auburn General Hospital, Seattle, Washington

circa 1985-circa 1990 - Worked as a bookkeeper for a cardiologist

Other significant information:

Two schools among the Quichuas in Ecuador are named for Ed and Marilou Mc Cully.

Was active in music ministry and played the piano and was music director at the Des Moines Gospel Chapel in Washington State.


Full Name: Theophilus Edward McCully, Jr.

Birth: June 1, 1927 in Des Moines, Iowa

Death: January 8, 1956 on Palm Beach, Ecuador


Parents: Theophilus Edward McCully Sr. and Lois Mc Cully

Siblings: 2 siblings

Marital Status: Married Marilou G. Hobolth on June 29, 1951

Children: Steve (1952), Mike (1954) and Matt (1956)

Conversion: At the age of seven


1945, 1946-1949 - Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois. Mc Cully was president of the senior class.

1945-1946 - Lake Forest College, Lake Forest, Illinois. Took classes while stationed at the Great Lakes Naval Base.

1946 - Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois. Took classes while stationed at the Great Lakes Naval Base.

1949-50 - Marquette University Law School, Chicago, Illinois. Dropped out to prepare to be a missionary.

1951-1952 - School of Missionary Medicine of the Bible Institute of Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California.


June 27, 1945-August 29, 1946 - Served in the United States Navy, honorably discharged

1951 - With Jim Elliot broadcast a weekly evangelistic radio broadcast, The March of Truth from Chester, Illinois; held evangelistic meetings, also often with Elliot, in the Chester area. Also spoke at churches and meetings in other parts of the Midwest.

1952-1956 - Plymouth Brethren missionary in Ecuador, serving with Christian Missions in Many Lands. Through the last months of 1955 deeply involved in assisting Nate Saint in making aerial contact with the Waorani.

January 1956 - Established a camp with Elliot, Saint, Fleming, and Roger Youderian on Palm Beach on the Curaray River for the purpose of making physical contact with the Waorani and laying the groundwork for a mission to them. After an initial friendly contact with a Waorani man and two Waorani women on January 6th, Mc Cully and the four others were attacked and killed by a party of six Waorani men on the 8th.

Other significant information:

1944, 1949 - McCully participated in won several local and national oratorical competitions.

Two schools among the Quichuas in Ecuador are named for Ed and Marilou Mc Cully.


1.10 Cubic Feet (1 Box (DC), Audio Recordings, Photographs)

Language of Materials


Arrangement of Material

[Note: In the Arrangement section, the notation “folder 2-5" means “Box 2, Folder 5"]

Series: Audio Recordings Arrangement: Chronological, with undated material at the end

Date Range: 1949-1964, undated

Volume: .6 cubic feet

Geographic Coverage: United States, Ecuador 

Type of material: Recordings of personal messages, radio programs, memorial services, talks given at Christian conference

Notes: These are recordings kept by the McCully family, most of which relate in some way to Ed McCully’s work in Ecuador and his death there with the four other men.


Series: Paper Records (Box List)

Arrangement: Alphabetical by folder title, titles supplied by archivist

Date Range: 1944-1985

Volume: .5 cubic feet, 1 Box

Geographic Coverage: United States, Ecuador

Type of Documents: Journal, correspondence, personal records, speech manuscripts

Correspondents: Marilou Hobolth

Notes: The paper records consist mostly of materials by Ed McCully and preserved by his family, although there are a few items by Marilou McCully and some letters to her by people other than Ed. There are a few items from Ed’s military service (folder 1-16), his education in high school and Wheaton College (folders 1-4, 1-15, 1-23), and his participation in oratorical competitions (folders 1-18, 1-19). The bulk of the series consists of the letters that he wrote to Marilou when they were courting in 1951. (Her letters to him were lost in a flood.) These are mainly concerned with their love for each other and their future plans, but Ed does refer at times to the evangelistic work he is doing with Jim Elliot in Chester, Illinois, and on his own at other places. Folder 1-21 contains an evangelistic sermon from this period. Several folders contain material directly related to the McCullys’ service in Ecuador as missionary and Ed’s death there. They are described below

Folder 1-1 contains the journal that he began upon arrival in Ecuador in 1952 and kept very sporadically thereafter. Only 44 of the 300 pages in the journal are written on, pages 1-41, 200, 298, and 299. While there are great lapses of time between entries, the entries on pages 17 through 41 are much more consistent and detailed in describing the thirteen flights Ed, Nate Saint, and Jim Elliot made over a Waorani settlement between September and December 1955.

Folder 1-11 contains a variety of letters written by or to Marilou, including: one announcing to her parents her first pregnancy; a letter from her parents comforting her after Ed’s death; a September 1956 letter to Elisabeth Elliot, Marj Saint, and Sam Saint (Nate’s brother who acted as the agent of the widows in the United States) about Marilou’s thoughts on who should write the book being planned about the death of the five missionaries (this was the book that became Through Gates of Splendor, by Elisabeth Elliot); a couple of letters to family members describing, among other things, her activities managing the home for missionary children in Quito. There is also a photocopy of a letter to her first grandchild, telling her about her grandfather, Ed.

Folder 1-12: A carbon of the letter from the McCully family, written in 1956, to be sent in response to all those writing them about Ed’s death. Attached to the letter are quotes from some of the consolation letters they had already received.

Folder 1-13: Letters exchanged between Ed and his parents when he, Marilou, and Steve sailed away to Ecuador in 1952.

Folder 1-17: Three brief notes written by Ed to Marilou from Palm Beach in January 1956. He wrote these on small sheets torn from his notebook. Apparently Nate Saint, who was flying back and forth from Palm Beach was delivering them to Marilou. Ed lets her know about items he needed delivered and briefly describes events in the camp and anticipated contacts with the Waorani.

Folder 1-20: A set of photocopies, with a table of contents, which apparently Marilou or another member of the McCully family made to be given away to those interested in Ed McCully’s life and faith. It includes copies of some of the speeches Ed gave in oratorical competition, including his award-winning one of Alexander Hamilton (a different version is in folder 1-19), a friendly 1949 letter from Jim Elliot to Ed McCully on a variety of subjects, including his encouragement to Ed to consider going to Ecuador with him as a missionary; a 1950 letter from Ed to Jim announcing his conviction that the Lord had led him to quit law school and go into full-time Christian service, although he was not sure where; the last (12/1955) prayer letter of the McCullys to their supporters; an unfinished poem by Roger Youderian. One item mentioned in the Table of Contents, an unfinished letter by T. E. McCully Sr., was not included in the materials the Archives received. There is one other item in the folder, a 1955 letter written by Ed to his Wheaton College classmates describing his life and his work in Ecuador.

Accruals and Additions

The materials in this collection were given to the Billy Graham Center Archives by Steve McCully in June 1957.

Accession 15-16

October 27, 2015

Bob Shuster

K Xiang

Collection 687 Papers of Ed and Marilou McCully
Bob Shuster
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