George Boardman was born in Livermore, Maine, on Feb. 8, 1801. His father was a Baptist pastor there. On Feb. 16, 1825, he was ordained in North Yarmouth, Maine. On July 4, he married Sarah Hall. Then on Jul. 16, 1825, he sailed with his wife for Calcutta, arriving December 2, for missionary work.
After learning the Burman language, he planted a mission in Mauhnain in May 1827, which became the headquarters for Baptist missionary work in Burmah. In April 1828, they moved to Tavoy to do missionary work. This town had over 9000 people. It was a main stronghold for the heathen religion of the area, filled with temples and shrines. There were almost 1000 pagodas there.
As soon as he had finished his hut, George thrust himself completely in the work. He soon had two people who were saved. A widespread interest in this “new” religion was generated.
In the course of events, they purchased the freedom of a slave, who lived with them, and soon came to know the Lord as His Savior. His name was Ko Thah-byu, a Karen. These people's name means “wild men.” They live in the forests and mountains of Burmah, Siam and some sections of China. George and Ko worked together to particularly reach these people for Christ, and were able to see a multitude of them come to the Lord.
George was never very strong, and the severe hardships of missionary life took its toll on his life. He was begged to come to a village of the Karens to baptize the latest converts. In spite of his feebleness, he determined to respond. He was carried on a cot that the Karens carried and accompanied by his wife and a new couple, the Masons, that had just arrived to do missionary work. For three days they slowly progressed over the rough terrain of valleys and hills in Burmah. Finally, at the end of the day, they arrived at the hut that had been built for him, right beside a stream at the foot of the mountainside on which their villages were spread. There were over 100 gathered already to welcome him. Over half of them were awaiting baptism. They placed his cot beside the stream, and he witnessed the first baptisms in that stream, and knew his work was finished.
The next day the missionaries started out to get him back to Tavoy, so he could die in his own home, but before the second day of journey was over, on Feb. 11, 1831, he had passed away. He was burried in what had been a Buddhist grave, and had done much in just 30 years of life!
Some quotes he left for us to ponder are:
“Let us not say, Every man is the architect of his own fortune; but let us say, Every man is the architect of his own character."
"Sow an act ... reap a habit; Sow a habit ... reap a character; Sow a character ... reap a destiny."
His wife, Sarah Hall, in those 6 years, had endured great deprivation, discouragements, difficulties and the loss of two children. Now she was left in this strange land alone. On Aug. 18, of that year she had a boy: George Dana “the younger.” She decided to remain and continue the work. Four years later, Adoniram Judson married her and for nearly 10 years served with him as an invaluable aid in missionary work in Burmah. Finally, with her health failing, her husband and children boarded ship to go to their homeland. It was when they were near the Isle of France that she grew worse and died at sea, Sep. 3, 1845.
George the younger went on the voyage from India to America alone at the age of 6. He later become a Baptist pastor in South Carolina, Rochester, New York and Philadelphia. In Philadelphia he is remembered for having taken the church through every verse in the New Testament on Wednesday nights, and taking 18 years. He then began to do the same with the Old Testament. He also served as the president of the American Baptist Missionary Union.
William Cathcart, The Baptist Encyclopedia, p. 109. Text and Drawing.
Encyclopedia Britannica, New York: 1911, Vol. 4, Page 95.
The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography. New York: James T. White & Company, 1893.
Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1887-1889.