The Ellen G. White Letters and Manuscripts: Volume 1


CARPENTER, Caroline. See WEED, Caroline and Eber.

CASE, Hiram S. (1814-1882) and Rebecca Ann (1816-1887)

Hiram Case was one of the founders of the Messenger Party, an 1850s splinter movement from Sabbatarian Adventism. Born in New York State, Hiram and Rebecca Case moved in the 1830s to Michigan, where Hiram worked as a blacksmith and later engaged in farming. 1EGWLM 805.1

Although he gives no exact details, Case preached either for the Millerites or one of the subsequent Adventist groups in the 1840s. Not satisfied, however, with the teachings of the major Adventist groups, he readily accepted Sabbatarian Adventism when a traveling preacher, Samuel Rhodes, presented it to him in 1850. Shortly after his conversion Case began a vigorous program of itinerant preaching in several states, during which he was the first to advocate Sabbatarian Adventism in Ohio and Wisconsin. Theologically Case was among the earliest (1850) to interpret the two horns of the lamblike beast of Revelation 13 in terms of Protestantism and republicanism. 1EGWLM 805.2

Hiram Case's ministry lasted less than three years. According to Ellen White's analysis in several letters written in 1853, Case's mentor, Samuel Rhodes, had influenced him negatively, in particular by Rhodes’ harshness toward persons both within and outside the church and by his financial extravagance. Matters came to a head in June 1853, when Ellen White publicly reproved Hiram Case and his supporter, Charles P. Russell, for their callous treatment of Abigail Palmer, a member of the Jackson, Michigan, group. At the same time she appealed to Case to “make thorough work. Dig deep and confess from the bottom … and you will not be so likely to go astray again.” 1EGWLM 805.3

For a while it looked as if Case might accept the admonition and alter course. In a letter to the Review some weeks later, in August 1853, he acknowledged his failings, asking “the forgiveness of all my brethren and sisters.” The reconciliation was not to last long, however, and by early 1854 Case had lost both his ministerial office and his church membership. H. S. Case reacted by becoming a founding member of the break-off Messenger Party and joining the publishing committee of its paper, the Messenger of Truth, which focused on attacking the visions of Ellen White and the leadership of James White. 1EGWLM 805.4

Little is known about Case's religious leanings after the Messenger Party collapsed about 1857. James White, writing in 1858, described him as “run out as a preacher, and fishing on the lakes.” Any intimation in this description that Case was poverty-stricken, however, is not borne out by the census records of 1860, which show Hiram and Rebecca as farmers owning a substantial $4,000 in real estate. By 1862 they had also inherited further property after the death of Hiram's father. 1EGWLM 805.5

See: Headstone for Hiram S. Case and Rebecca A. Case, Pioneer Cemetery, Hartford, Van Buren County, Michigan, (Jan. 28, 2011); The Northwestern Reporter, Vol. 44, Containing All the Decisions of the Supreme Courts of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota (St. Paul: West Pub. Co., 1890), pp. 578, 579; 1850 U.S. Federal Census, “Hiram Case,” Michigan, Ionia County, Lyons, p. 157; 1860 U.S. Federal Census, “H. S. Case,” Michigan, Clinton County, DeWitt, p. 191; H. S. Case, “Letter From Bro. Case,” Present Truth, November 1850, p. 85; Ellen G. White, Lt 3, 1853 (June 29); Lt 6, 1853 (Aug. 3); Lt 9, 1853 (Dec. 5); Ms 1, 1853 (June 2); H. S. Case, “From Bro. Case,” Review, Aug. 28, 1853, p. 64; J. W. [James White], “A Sketch of the Rise and Progress of the Present Truth,” Review, Jan 14, 1858, p. 77. For an account of Case's separation from the Sabbatarian Adventists, seen from the eyes of the Messenger Party, see J. B. Bezzo, “H. S. Case,” Messenger of Truth, Nov. 2, 1854, pp. [2-4]. 1EGWLM 805.6