Henry Arjen Bilkert was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan, on June 24, 1892. He received his AB from Hope College in 1914, degrees from New Brunswick Theological Seminary in 1914 and 1916, and a degree from Western Theological Seminary in 1917. He was licensed and ordained by the Classis of Michigan in 1917. He served as a missionary, with his wife Anna, to Arabia from 1917-1929 before being killed by a Bedouin bandit on January 21, 1929, near Basrah, Mesopotamia. His wife, Anna Monteith Bilkert, returned to Kalamazoo, Michigan, with their four children in May 1929. She later returned to Bahrain with her second husband, Dr. Paul Harrison, in 1941 and returning in 1949 and settled down in Berea, Kentucky, to work at the small hospital there. They stayed there until 1952 when they returned to Bahrain for a two-year stint to replace Jerry and Rose Nykerk who had returned to the United States while they recovered from tuberculosis. In 1954, Paul and Anna Harrison settled at Penney Farms in Florida to head up the staff of medical personnel at the clinic there that cared for the retirement home occupants. At Penney Farms, Anna Harrison wrote a book about Dr. Paul Harrison’s life in the Arabian Mission called A Tool in His Hand. This book was published in 1958. She went on to write Pearls Are Made in 1950 (reprinted in 1958) for use in Reformed Church education and Sunday school classes. In the fall of 1962, Paul Harrison passed away after a brief illness and Anna stayed on at Penney Farms. On December 25, 1963, she remarried Paul Johnson, a close friend of Paul Harrison. They remained at Penney Farms during the winter months and summered in Bay View, Michigan, until Paul’s death in November 1975 from cancer. Anna passed away naturally on March 31, 1987, also at Penney Farms. She is buried between Paul Harrison and Paul Johnson at Penney Farms. The collection includes Henry Bilkert's copy of the Abcarius' English-Arabic Dictionary , photocopy and digital photographs of the Bilkert family scrapbook, clippings on the family’s activities home and abroad, memorial service speeches for Henry A. Bilkert by John Van Ess and C. S. G. Mylrea, Board of Foreign Missions correspondence to Henry A. Bilkert, correspondence from Bilkert, writings of Margaret Bilkert Lemmer (The Life of Anna M. Johnson, 1894-1987, n. d. and Memoirs of a Missionary Child, n. d.), and the books written by Anna M. Harrison (A Tool in His Hand, 1958, and Pearls Are Made, 1958).
Repository citation: Western Theological Seminary, "W05-1295. Bilkert Family. Papers, 1892-1987. 0.50 linear ft." (2012). Collection Registers and Abstracts. Paper 109.
May 29, 2012.