Baptist preacher and missionary, John Lake (1870-1949), devoted many decades to ministering to the Chinese people and particularly to the lepers of that country. Born in the Pleasant Lane section of Edgefield County, he was baptized at age sixteen in Edgefield and joined the Edgefield Village (First) Baptist Church. Largely educated at home, he attended the Citadel in Charleston and then returned to Edgefield where he helped to organize the Edgefield Chapter of the YMCA. In 1890 he began his career as a preacher, serving several rural churches of the Edgefield County. Inspired by the Rev. Dwight L. Moody, he committed his life to mission work and in 1904 entered the mission field in South China where he spent much of his career. Being particularly called to assist those who suffered from leprosy, he founded the Tai-Kam Leper Colony on an island in the South China Sea. This colony, for which he secured financial support from all over the world, became one of the principal colonies to serve lepers in Asia.
Lake’s first wife was Pearl Claire Hall (1879-1908). Lake’s second wife was Carrie Bostick (1871-1928), 1890 graduate of Greenville Female College (GFC) and teacher for 10 years. She left GFC in 1901 to become a missionary to China with the American Southern Baptist Mission. Bostick married Lake in 1909 and helped him establish the leper colony. She died from malarial fever in 1928 and was buried in Canton, China. Lake later married a distant cousin, Virginia Barclay Lake, in 1933 and they had two daughters, Virginia Austin and Rosa Florence Lake. The Lakes retired in November 1943.
Lake died August 28, 1949 and was buried in Edgefield, S.C. Lake’s wife Virginia died in 2000.