McCandliss was born in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, and graduated from the Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia in 1885. Responding to an appeal for medical students to become missionaries to China, he applied to the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions and was assigned to Canton. In 1885 the Canton mission sent McCandliss, Frank P. Gilman, and C. C. Jeremiassen, a Danish seaman, to Hainan Island to open a new station. In 1888 McCandliss married Olivia Kerr, daughter of John G. Kerr, a Presbyterian missionary doctor in Canton, Kwangtung, (Guangdong). Their three children served as missionaries in China. McCandliss established a hospital at Hoihow (Haikou) on the northern coast of Hainan. He was a member of the China Medical Missionary Association and frequently represented the Hainan mission at meetings of the Presbyterian China Council, which decided policy matters. He retired from the mission in 1925 and died in Pasadena, California.
This article is reprinted from Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, Macmillan Reference USA, copyright (c) 1998 Gerald H. Anderson, by permission of The Gale Group; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan. All rights reserved.
- Kathleen L. Lodwick, “Hainan in Missionary Eyes in the Late 19th Century,” American Asian Review 9 (Summer 1991): 54-69; Margaret Moninger, ed., Isle of Palms: Sketches of Hainan (1919, 1980).