Miss Stone Affair

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A postcard with the kidnapped Ellen Stone and Tsilka

The Miss Stone Affair (Bulgarian: Афера „Мис Стоун“, Macedonian: „Афера Мис Стон“) was the kidnapping of American Protestant missionary Ellen Maria Stone and her pregnant fellow missionary friend Katerina Stefanova–Tsilka by an Internal Macedonian-Adrianople Revolutionary Organization detachment led by the voivoda Yane Sandanski and the sub-voivodas Hristo Chernopeev and Krǎstyo Asenov on 21 August 1901. The two women were kidnapped somewhere between Bansko and Gorna Dzhumaya, then towns in the Ottoman Empire. Widely covered by the media at the time, the event has been often dubbed "America's first modern hostage crisis".

The goal of the kidnapping was to receive a heavy ransom and aid the financially struggling at the time IMARO. The detachment was pursued by the Ottoman authorities and by bands of the contending organization Supreme Macedonian Committee. Sometimes regarded as a case of the Stockholm syndrome (with the kidnappers even assisting Tsilka in giving birth to her daughter), the affair ended after intensive negotiations in early 1902, half a year after the kidnapping. IMARO was paid a ransom of 14,000 Turkish gold liras on 18 January 1902 in Bansko. The hostages were released on 2 February near Ustrumca, in present-day Macedonia.

First attempt[edit]

In 1901 one of the main problems facing the IMRO is the lack of resources for armaments. Gotse Delchev authorize Mihail Gerdzhikov to carry out a kidnapping in Macedonia, but Turkish forces are still dealing with the Thessaloniki affair and therefore this experience remains unsuccessful. Gotse Delchev makes two unsuccessful attempts to kidnap wealthy Turks and Greeks. Later it developed a plan to kidnap the son of Ivan Evstratiev Geshov Nicholas, which failed. The financial crisis is the main issue discussed at the meeting of the leadership of IMRO in Kyustendil in the summer of 1901, attended Delchev, Sandanski and Chernopeev. At this meeting Delchev argued that small robberies only tarnish the reputation of the organization and were not helpful to solving the financial problem. Sandanski offers to kidnap Prince Ferdinand I during his visit to the Rila Monastery, but this radical plan is opposed Delchev, who believes that the abduction must be done on Ottoman territory. There rises a dilemma for management and leaders as it is by using Bulgaria is unacceptable petty robberies are undesirable, and large stocks are dangerous for the organization and for the cause of liberation, but the situation with Finance requires urgent action. Chernopeev and Sandanski discuss the kidnapping of a wealthy Turk near Simitli, but the plan failed. In 1901, about Peter Yane Sandanski, Hristo Chernopeev and Sava Mihailov prepare a plan for the kidnapping of Süleyman Bey, but due to his illness this action failed. Sandanski is drawn to the idea of kidnapping a Protestant missionary of Bansko, the first indicative target is the head of mission in Thessaloniki Dr. John House.


Further reading[edit]

  • Пандев, Константин (1983). Аферата "Мис Стоун". Спомени, документи и материали (in Bulgarian). Мая Вапцарова. София: Издателство на Отечествения фронт. OCLC 10725712. 
  • Carpenter, Teresa (2003). The Miss Stone Affair: America's First Modern Hostage Crisis!. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-0-7432-0055-4. 
  • Some archive photos concerning the case.