Bulgaria and USA in the Miss Stone Affair: Terrorism As It Once Was

Bulgaria-US Survey » DIPLOMACY | Author: Ivan Dikov |November 29, 2010, Monday // 19:46
Bulgaria: Bulgaria and USA in the Miss Stone Affair: Terrorism As It Once Was Protestant missionary Miss Ellen Stone pictured here at her arrival back in the United States after her six-month captivity by the Bulgarian freedom-fighters.

A Lot More Than Just a Footnote in History

Can a case of terrorism be endearing? Can a story potentially start as a dramatic kidnapping and develop to have comic elements? Can two nations end up having good relations even though their formal ties started off on the wrong foot?

The answer to these questions is "yes" with respect to one of the first cases of really tangible interaction between the nations of Bulgaria and the United States of America: The Miss Stone Affair.

Much has been written about the Miss Stone Affair in Bulgaria and the United States – but the story is worth re-examining and re-telling. Perhaps the most comprehensive and lively account of this story – with the best possible title – on the American side is the book published in 2003 by American author Teresa Carpenter, "The Miss Stone Affair: America's First Modern Hostage Crisis."

Covers of the 2003 book by Pulitzer-winning, best-selling American author Teresa Carpenter, "The Miss Stone Affair: America's First Modern Hostage Crisis."

"One observation that I might contribute is that when I first came across this story in the form of a periodical abstract at the New York Public Library I had envisioned writing a monograph, based upon documents from the National Archives and Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. and the papers of the Congregationalist Missionaries at Harvard. It was original limited to the effects of the event upon/and responses by the U.S. State Department and the American press. The further I got into my research, however, the more real and compelling the players in this drama seemed and I realized that I would not be content without visiting the countries and sites where the events occurred, talking to descendants and friends of descendants and, in a manner of speaking, breathing the same air." - This is what Mrs. Carpenter told me in an email while saying that she would rather not do an interview on her research since she had presented the Miss Stone Affair thoroughly in her book.

What exactly amazing about this story, which the first international crisis with an American hostage in modern times?

For the Freedom and Unity of All Bulgarians

To tell a very long story, very short, after the medieval Bulgarian empire was conquered by the Ottoman Turks in 1396 AD, Bulgaria was formally restored as a nation-state only on March 3, 1878, as a result of the Russian-Turkish War of 1877-78, itself brought about by the bloodily crushed Bulgarian April Uprising of 1876.

Under the San Stefano peace treaty between Russia and Ottoman Turkey, Bulgaria was set up as a state on a territory of 170 000 square km encompassing the three historic and geographic regions traditionally inhabited by Bulgarians - Moesia, Thrace, and Macedonia.

Three months later, in July 1878, the Great Powers from the so called "European Concert" revised the San Stefano Treaty in the so called Berlin Congress, an outcome of their conflicting great power interests. As a result, two small autonomous Bulgarian states were set up - the Principality of Bulgaria and Eastern Roumelia (united in 1885. in Bulgaria's "National Unification").

Half of Thrace and all of Macedonia, however, both inhabited mostly by Bulgarians at the time – were left in the hands of the Ottoman Turkish Empire, with the Bulgarians and the Christians as a whole suffering from the brutal treatment of the decaying Ottoman regime.

Freedom-fighters such as Sandanski and Chernopeev sought to help unify Bulgarian-populated lands in Macedonia with those in Moesia and Thrace, after the Berlin Treaty divided liberated Bulgaria in five parts. All of the region of Macedonia, the Southwest (in red-white stripes) was made part of Bulgaria in the San Stefano Treaty, but was then left completely outside Bulgaria at the Berlin Congress three months later.

Bulgaria's entire political and social life in 1878-1944 was marked by the desire to unify all Bulgarian-populated lands in one nation state - leading the country to participate in five wars in that period.

The Bulgarians in Macedonia and Thrace did not stay idle; actually, they were the pro-active side, even more so than the free Bulgarian lands.

In 1893, several Bulgarian revolutionaries founded in Thessaloniki, the most important Ottoman city in Europe outside Istanbul, the VMORO (Internal Macedonian-Adrianople Revolutionary Organization; initially called "Bulgarian Macedonian-Adrianople Revolutionary Committee"; the "Bulgarian" ethnonym was dropped later to attract the other ethnicities to the cause).

The revolutionaries organized a secret network in the Ottoman provinces backed by cells in the free Bulgarian lands. A constant issue for them was the lack of money to fund their fight for freedom. In the summer of 1901 some of the leaders of the organization – Gotse Delchev, Yane Sandanski and Hristo Chernopeev – got together to discuss the money issue and considered kidnapping important people for ransom as a good option. One of their ideas was to kidnap the Bulgarian king Ferdinand himself.

American Missionary Miss Stone: Wrong Place at the Wrong Time. Or the Other Way around

One of the major revolutionary leaders of a band of Bulgarian rebels in the region of Pirin Macedonia, or "voivoda," Yane Sandanski decided to kidnap the Thessaloniki inspector of the American missionaries in the Ottoman Empire, Dr. John House. He wanted to kill two birds with one kidnapping - both to get a large ransom, and to attract international attention to the plight and the liberation fight of the Macedonian Bulgarians.

American Protestant missionaries actually played a pretty big role in Bulgaria's National Revival in the 19th century – a role absolutely unknown to Bulgarians today because the Soviet-engineered communist regime in 1944/8-1989 wiped out any school texts on the subject (or mentioned something vaguely about colonization attempts by the American imperialists.)

When Sandanski and Chernopeev went to the town of Bansko, which then was on Ottoman Turkish territory, to figure out how to lure John House there, they found out that another important missionary – Miss Ellen Stone – happened to be in town. She was transferred to Thessaloniki in 1898.

Miss Ellen Maria Stone, an American Protestant missionary, arrived to Bulgaria shortly after Bulgaria's Liberation in 1878. In 1901, she was 55, not married, and she spoke very good Bulgarian.

Sandanski and Chernopeev, together with nine other men, were joined by another voivoda, Krastyo Asenov, with five other men. Together they laid an ambush for two days in a nearby pass, Predela. They were dressed as Turks so as to avoid the wrath of the Ottoman authorities and irregular troops upon the civilian Bulgarians once they make the hit.

On September 3, 1901, at about 5 pm, the rebels ambushed the convoy of Miss Stone who was with 12 other Protestants, taking all of them captives.

The Bulgarian revolutionaries who abducted Miss Stone: Yane Sandanski (sitting, middle), Krastyo Asenov (standing), Hristo Chernopeev (sitting, right), with their associate Sava Mihaylov (sitting, left).

Miss Stone's Stockholm Syndrome

Sandanski decided that the elderly Miss Stone will need help during the captivity so the rebels also took hostage Katerina Tsilka, a young Bulgarian Protestant married to Georgi Tsilka, an ethnic Albanian Protestant pastor, who was also in the convoy. All other captives with the exception of Miss Stone and Tsilka were released a few hours later.

Shortly after that, however, Sandanski revealed to Miss Stone that the kidnappers are Bulgarians – first, because the rebels did not speak Turkish, and second, that was supposed to to calm her down.

Miss Stone had lived among the Bulgarians in the Ottoman Empire and was well aware of their struggle for freedom. It is probably not a big surprise that she started to identify – and rather ardently – with the goals of her captors – or what psychologists described in the second half of the 20th century as "Stockholm Syndrome"

There are still legends and funny stories in Bulgarian popular culture today, probably a bit exaggerated, about the kidnapping of Miss Stone by the Bulgarian Macedonian rebels, and how the mighty lady literally took control of the detachment, and started making the rugged, hardened freedom-fighters shave and clip their nails, and nearly converted them to Protestantism. At one point one got to wonder who had kidnapped whom.

But the fact of the matter that Miss Stone did start to identify strongly with the freedom cause of the rebels was later confirmed by her enormous advocacy efforts for the Bulgarian cause in Macedonia back in the United States after she was released.

A Bulgarian revolutionary band (or "cheta") roaming the mountains in the region of Macedonia at the beginning of the 20th century would look something like that. This is what the freedom-fighters who kidnapped Miss Stone looked like. This particular photo shows a gathering of some of the leaders, or voivodas, of the Ilinden-Preobrazhenie Uprising of 1903 before its outbreak. Hristo Chernopeev, one of the captors of Miss Stone, is right in the middle of the photo, lying down.

Terrorism with a Human Face?

The kidnappers' plan, however, suffered major drawbacks from the very beginning. First, on the second day after the kidnapping, the voivoda, Sandanski, broke his leg, and the band had to cross the border into Bulgaria so that he can see a doctor.

What is more, it turned out that Katerina Tsilka, the young woman kidnapped to look after Miss Stone, was in her fifth month of pregnancy.

The revolutionaries emerged to be determined to provide the best living conditions and care that were possible in their situation to the two hostages so they started to make preparations for the birth of the child, having Miss Stone and Tsilka knit clothes for the baby to be born, with the aid of the housewives in the houses where they stayed in different villages as this entire time the small detachment kept moving from village to village in the mountains to avoid being caught.

"You will look after that woman as if she was a princess! She should not be hungry or thirsty for even a single moment!" the leader Sandanski ordered to the rebels.

There they were – the captors some about a dozen Bulgarian rebels, the elderly American Protestant Miss Stone, the pregnant young woman Katerian Tsilka – moving from village to village wandering around the mountains in the geographic region of Pirin Macedonia while demanding the ransom.

Katerina Tsilka, Miss Ellen Stone and the baby Elena shortly after their release by the Sandanski band.

A True Thanksgiving Story

The Miss Stone Affair, apart from everything else, does have a Thanksgiving flavor to it. One day the rebels noticed that Miss Stone was especially sad. They asked her what happened, and Tsilka told them about this day was a special holiday for the Americans on which they would be with their family and would eat turkey.

"When they learned this was an American holiday, in order to cheer up the saddened American woman, the rebels procured for her a fat turkey and together they made a meal," wrote the Bulgarian commercial representative in Thessaloniki to the Bulgarian Foreign Minister at the time, Stoyan Danev, in his report about the situation.

"I found it touching when I learned, during my research, that Miss Stone's captors, realizing that Thanksgiving was a special holiday, observed it by killing and cooking her a turkey," Ms. Carpenter emphasized in her email to me.

When America Still Couldn't Flex Its Muscles

Around 1900 the USA was still an emerging young colossus, which had little influence in European affairs despite the American presence in the Ottoman Empire. According to some American accounts from later history periods, the case with the abduction of Miss Stone represented the weakness and failure of the United States to protect its citizens in that part of the world. Such a judgment is probably a bit harsh, however.

It took the Bulgarian captors of Miss Stone nearly two months to manage to get in touch with American representatives in order to demand a ransom.

For one thing, the kidnapping coincided with the assassination of American President William McKinley (shot on September 5, 1901, died eight days later). Sandanski kept Miss Stone and Tsilka informed the hostages about the news around McKinley's assassination.

The revolutionaries promptly explained to Miss Stone their objectives and made her write a letter to a close person outlining their demands. They asked for 25 000 gold Turkish lira, or approximately USD 110 000 at the time, a colossal sum.

The initial letter was not properly delivered as it did not make it to any American representatives but did cause the Ottoman and the Bulgarian authorities to start chasing Sandanski's band of rebels.

At the same time, the Supreme Macedonian-Adrianople Committee, a rival revolutionary organization based in Sofia (internal division turning into a bloody war is a nice Bulgarian tradition!), also started pursuing Sandanski with its troops in order to retake the hostages and capture them ransom itself.

At one point, Sandanski's small VMORO band clashed with another purely Bulgarian detachment of 80 men sent by the Supreme Committee, and barely got away.

Eventually, Krastyo Asenov managed to get a ransom letter to the American missionary Edie Hasckel in Samokov, who took it to the American diplomats in Istanbul.

The talks for the release of Miss Stone were taken up by Charles Dickinson, the American consul in Istanbul, who was about to receive accreditation as the American diplomatic agent in Bulgaria. Initially, the rebels demanded the ransom by late October but the talks get stalled as the American diplomatic service refused to pay the colossal sum.

American Consul in Istanbul, Charles Dickson, got in a fight with the Bulgarian government over the Miss Stone kidnapping, which resulted in diplomatic tension between Bulgaria and the USA even before the two countries had established diplomatic relations.

The Missionary Lobby in DC and Bulgarian-American Relations

At the same time, however, the Protestant missionary lobby pressured the US government to act. What they reached was a Solomon's solution – the missionaries collected the money but the government promised to reimburse them subsequently after getting it back either from the rebels or from the respective authorities in the Balkans. Thus, the missionaries collected from donations a total of USD 66 000 – or 15 000 gold Turkish lira.

US Consul Dickinson, however, decided to haggle with Chernopeev and Asenov offering them only 10 000 Turkish lira, which they refused. At that point he broke off the talks, meanwhile also getting in a conflict with the Bulgarian government which he somehow decided to hold accountable for the kidnapping of Miss Stone.

Bulgaria's Foreign Minister, Stoyan Danev, refuted the criticism saying there was no proof the Sandanski band was on Bulgarian territory, and that the entire kidnapping was the initiative of VMORO, a sort of an early 20th-century "NGO," to put it that way.

As a result of the conflict with Dickinson, the Bulgarian government refused to grant permission for his accreditation as the American representative in Sofia. Thus, the entire episode led to a diplomatic scandal between Bulgaria and the United States, before the two countries had even established formal diplomatic relations. The case, however, did emphasize the importance of having diplomatic ties.

In December 1901, rumors that Tsilka died while giving birth and Miss Stone died of sorrow shortly after alarmed the Protestant missionaries who made the American government act more vigorously.

The negotiations were taken up by Dr. House, the person who was originally supposed to be kidnapped by Sandanski, and the treasurer of the American Council in Istanbul William Pete. The new team decided to offer to the captors all the money they had – 15 000 Turkish lira – and spread rumors this is all they could offer.

Miss Ellen Stone, a native of Massachusetts, spent more than 20 years as a Protestant missionary in Bulgaria and the Bulgarian parts of the Ottoman Empire between 1878 and 1901.

Due Date in Captivity

Meanwhile, the fate of the hostages kept making headlines on both sides of the Atlantic. The elderly Miss Stone and the young Tsilka already in her 7th-8th month of pregnancy kept moving with the revolutionaries from village to village evading the Ottoman troops, the Bulgarian police and the bands of the rival revolutionary organization.

Yet, in addition to escaping being caught, the other major concern of the Sandanski group was the due date of Tsilka.

"I asked Tsilka if she can travel, if the time had come for her to give birth. We had prepared everything two months in advance. We got cloth, and the women knit clothes and made dipers. Tsilka told me that she will give birth in one hour," recounted the voivoda Yane Sandanski some time later.

On January 3, 1902, in the village of Serbinovo, Katerina Tsilka gave birth to a healthy girl whom she named Elena, after Miss Stone. The birth of the child was celebrated with a feast by the rebels.

Yet, Turkish troops arrived only three days later, and they had to flee again. Tsilka, however, could not ride on a horse, so the rebels carried her and the baby around in a chest.

"The rebels must have been quite a picture with their guns and diapers in their backpacks, carrying around the baby, running around the mountains," one Bulgarian author sums up.

Tsilka herself had studied in the United States and took care of her newly born child according to Western medicine – her techniques made an impression on the voivoda Sandanski who remembered everything and is known to have used this knowledge years later.

The crying of the baby, however, increased the danger for the rebels. After all, Miss Stone and Tsilka were hostages. It is at this point that some of the rebels suggested that they should kill the hostages in order to avoid being caught.

The voivoda, however, was outraged at them, and prohibited any such course of action with the following words: "If we kill them, we kill ourselves, and our cause before the people. Actually, let us all die if we must, but let's not hurt our cause."

The band managed to hide in Vlahi, Sandanski's home village, and the voivoda instructed Chernopeev and Asenov to finish the ransom talks any way they can because they "had all been fed up."

At that point, House and Pete struck a deal with them for a ransom of 14 500 lira – or USD 63 800. This happened on the ninth day after the band had hidden in Vlahi.

The head of the American Protestant Missionaries in Thessaloniki, John House, was the original target of the abduction plot. He was later instrumental in completing successfully the talks for the ranson and the release.

The Happy End

On January 31, 1902, Sandanski and Asenov met with House in Bansko. House brought the money after he withdrew it from the account of the US State Department in the Ottoman Bank branch in Thessaloniki. He was accompanied by 250 Turkish soldiers.

Sandanski brought a letter from Miss Stone, explained to House that the entire abduction was "for a good cause", and demanded that the Turkish soldiers withdraw before the ransom is delivered.

The Turkish officers refused. As a result, Sandanski and House fashioned a plan to trick them.

Apparently, House was suffering from the same Stockholm Syndrome that Miss Stone had – the American missionaries as a whole are recorded to have supported wholeheartedly the Bulgarian causes in the late 19th century and early 20th century.

Sandanski and House told the Turks they agreed to make the transfer in another town to the south but House delivered the money secretly in his pockets to other Protestants in Bansko, from where Sandanski picked it up. The two must have gone back and forth many times since the gold coins weighed a total of 105 kg.

House put bullets in the emptied chests and revealed the truth to the Turkish authorities only when they reached the supposed transfer site.

Miss Stone and Tsilka were released on February 23, 1902, near Strumitsa, after spending 173 days in captivity.

Aftermath of the First Modern Hostage Crisis in American (and Bulgarian) History

Even though the kidnapping had not been formally sanctioned by the VMORO leadership and was an initiative of Sandanski and Chernopeev, the men gave all the money to the leader of the organization Gotse Delchev who paid 2 Turkish lira to each of the members of the Sandanski group.

Another VMORO leader, Gyorche Petrov, later remarked that, unfortunately, most of the "Miss Stone money" was spent on the fratricidal war against the rival revolutionary organization, the Sofia-based Supreme Committee.

Other accounts, however, suggest that almost half of all the guns – or 7500 guns – used by VMORO's Bulgarian rebels in Macedonia the follwoing year – in the so called Ilinden-Preobrazhenie Uprising of August 1903 (which was the largest Bulgarian uprising against the Ottoman Empire not just in Macedonia but also in general in terms of the number of the participants) – were purchased with money from the ransom.

If the latter is the case, then the Miss Stone ransom money was indeed put to some good use with respect to the Bulgarian fight for freedom and national unification. Of course, unfortunately, the Ilinden-Preobrazhenie Uprising was crushed by the vast Ottoman forces, and failed to generate an international intervention for reasons of Great Power politics.

Today's Bansko is Bulgaria's most famous mountain resort; in the early 20th century, however, it is where much of the Miss Stone Affair took place - including the kidnapping and the ransom payment.

Once the hostages were released, and the perpetrators were not caught, the Turkish sultan's government was concerned that the Americans will demand the money for the ransom from it because the kidnapping took place on Ottoman territory. The Ottomans instigated a rumor that Miss Stone herself had agreed to be kidnapped, and that the plot had been engineered with the help of Tsilka's husband, Georgi Tsilka, an ethnic Albanian Protestant pastor, who was arrested briefly.

After the release, however, the US government was in a debacle. It had no legal grounds to demand the ransom money from the Bulgarian government; at the same time, demanding it from the Ottoman government would only encourage the rebels to commit more kidnappings of American missionaries.

Eventually, the US government decided to assume the spending, and to return the money to the missionaries from the US state budget in order to preserve its diplomatic ties with both Bulgaria and the Ottoman Empire.

The issue of the Miss Stone ransom was nonetheless a thorny one as between 1908 and 1912, the Senate approved four times a draft bill to that end, which got defeated four times in the House of representatives. The law was finally passed on March 21, 1912, ten years after the "Affair".

Miss Ellen Stone is the first American citizen kidnapped for ransom in modern times. The Miss Stone Affair made headlines in the European and American press for months.

The Bulgarian kidnappers, who used outrightly terrorist methods, did achieve both of their major goals – they did get a sizable sum for arms, and they did focus international attention – especially that in America – on the plight of the Bulgarians and Christians in the Ottoman Empire. It is in this period that US State Secretary John Hay and even President Theodore Roosevelt made statements in favor of the Bulgarians and their cause.

Miss Ellen Stone returned to America as an ardent supporter of the cause for the liberation of the Macedonian Bulgarians, and is probably the first woman ever to have experienced what psychologists describe as the Stockholm Syndrome. After her release she provided no information to the Ottoman authorities to help them catch her captors.

The American "McLure's Magazine" paid her USD 44 000 (almost as much as her ransom) to publish her memoirs and to do 50 lectures around the States in 1903-1904. Katerina Tsilka's memoirs were also published there under the title "Born among Bandits".

Elena, the baby born to Katerina Tsilka in captivity, grew up and married the American consul in Tirana, George Miner. She died of tuberculosis at 24. Katerian Tsilka gave birth to one more daughter and two sons. She died in Tirana in 1952 at the age of 86.

The grave of Bulgarian revolutionary Yane Sandanski (1872-1915) is in the Rozhenski Monastery. This photo is from inside the Kordopulova House in the nearby town of Melnik. His most famous quote reads, "Living means fighting. The slave fights for freedom, the free man - for perfection."

Yane Sandanski subsequently went through several stages of his revolutionary career, including as a supporter of an independent and multinational Macedonian state around the time of the Young Turks' Revolution in 1908. By the time of the Balkan Wars of 1912-1913, and the First World War, however, he had returned to his positions for uniting the Bulgarians in Macedonia with the free Bulgarian lands. He was killed in 1915 by a rival faction in VMORO, as the organization started to break up. Earlier, as the leader of one of the warring factions, Sandanski himself ordered the assassinations of rival group leaders.

Nonetheless, he remains one of the most revered Bulgarian revolutionary heros, with numerous folklore songs dedicated to him. His most famous quote, "To live means to fight: the slave fights for freedom, the free man - for perfection", is engraved on his tomb in Southwest Bulgaria, where there also a nice town, Sandanski, named after him (as there is a town named after his fellow revolutionary Gotse Delchev). The title of the book of British author Mercia MacDermott dedicated to him, speaks for itself, For Freedom and Perfection (the life of Yan? Sandansky), Journeyman Press, 1988.

Hristo Chernopeev was killed in battle in the First World War on the Balkan front as an officer in the Bulgarian Army, also in 1915.

Krastyo Asenov was murdered by his own subordinates during the Ilinden Uprising in 1903 at the age of 26 because he chose to get married during the uprising. He was killed at his wedding because the other rebels were enraged that he chose to get married then.

Miss Stone outlived all of her captors dying in 1927 at 81. She never came back to Bulgaria after 1902 despite her pledge to donate money for a Bulgarian schools.

An estimated 26 000 Bulgarian rebels took part in the largest Bulgarian uprising against the Ottoman Empire, the Ilinden-Preobrazhenie Uprising of August 1903, on a territory in Macedonia and Thrace spanning from the Ohrid Lake to the Black Sea. The rebels were defeated by superior Ottoman forces with modern artillery, and Great Power politics prevented Bulgaria from intervening to their aid. The Uprising received public support in the United States, which is testified by a number of favorable press articles and reports in the American papers at the time.

Despite its elements of both terrorism and comedy, perhaps the underlying theme of The Miss Stone Affair is that its characters had a sad fate.

When one thinks of the the terrorist approaches, the kidnapping and extortion employed by the VMORO fighters, one should not forget that those men sacrificed themselves, their families, their happiness in the struggle for freedom. The premature ends of their lives were a testimony to their integrity to fight for their rights and freedoms. That is, they had seen little good in order to resort to taking up arms, and to wander around the mountains of the Balkans chased by bloodthirsty Ottomans, Bulgarian gendarmes, and rival rebels.

The greatest proof of the high ideals and integrity of their cause, however, is the support they received from their victim. Miss Stone knew the Bulgarians well, and obviously, identified with their righteous struggle. Of course, if she had not been abducted, she would be a mere witness to the events and developments in the Balkan Ottoman provinces at the time. But history so happened that she became a major player taken the story of the courageous rebels who cooked her a Thanksgiving dinner all the way across America.

While the rebels led by Sandanski did achieve immediate goals, they failed to achieve much in terms of their underlying objectives – the unity of all Bulgarians in the Balkans into one nation-state. This was actually a wider failure for Bulgaria – whose dreams for national unity and prosperity collapsed in the Wars of 1912-1918. But that already is a much larger story.

All that said, "The Miss Stone Affair" remains an amazing story with amazing protagonists. Interestingly enough, it did contribute a great deal to stimulating the formal Bulgarian-American diplomatic relations – and actually hurt them much less that one would have thought – largely because in that period those Americans who had gotten in touch with Balkans were widely sympathetic to the Bulgarians and their national cause.

"I'm so glad I went the extra mile. (Or possibly the extra ten thousand.) That trip to Bulgaria was one of the highlights of my life, professional and personal... I came away from that experience feeling a very warm kinship with the Bulgarian people...," contemporary Pulitzer-prize winning, bestselling American author Teresa Carpenter told me in her email.


Another Important Footnote

The following post can be found to be made by Ms. Carpenter on the amazon.com website with respect to the comments posted there on her books, The Miss Stone Affair: America's First Modern Hostage Crisis.

Ms. Carpenter's comments speak for themselves – but those not familiar with Balkan history, apparently, representatives of the Macedonian nation formally set up in 1944, 40 years after the "Miss Stone Affair" have tried to appropriate this episode of history as belonging to their own – or, alternatively, as Ms. Carpenter suggests – to rewrite history in a way that is more favorable to Serbs and Greeks.

The research of the American author has demonstrated that in 1901 the region of Macedonia was populated mostly by Bulgarians, and the kidnappers of Miss Stone, people revered today by two nations – Bulgaria and the so called Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia – were Bulgarians.

I was really going to steer clear of politics when re-telling the Miss Stone story – but I believe this point here is worth mentioning since Ms. Carpenter decided to "set the record straight" herself.

(from http://www.amazon.com/Miss-Stone-Affair-Americas-Hostage/dp/0743258053 )

"The author speaks, June 27, 2004

By Teresa Carpenter "cafe reader" (New York,NY USA) - See all my reviews

This review is from: The Miss Stone Affair: America's First Modern Hostage Crisis (Paperback)

I am Teresa Carpenter, author of the Miss Stone Affair. I feel compelled to correct two outrageous claims made by anonymous reviewers here on Amazon concerning the identity of the kidnappers of an American missionary woman in the amazing 1901 case I chronicle. One asserts that there is "One very important error" in the book , namely that Bulgarians never lived in this part of Macedonia and that the kidnappers were not Bulgarian." The other alleges, equally absurdly, that "Bulgarians never lived on this part of the Balkan peninsula." I cannot imagine how they can write this with a straight face when Bulgarians were so clearly the dominant force in the region during the time of the Stone kidnapping in 1901. I suspect the assertions of these "reviewers" are part of a partisan attempt to rewrite history more favorably to Serbs and Greeks. The facts say otherwise, and that is probably why they do not have the courage to sign their names. Thank you for allowing me to set the record straight."

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