The Ellen G. White Letters and Manuscripts: Volume 1


FARNSWORTH, John P. (1834-1918) and (first wife) Frances Jennette (c. 1834-1868) and (second wife) Laura L. (c. 1846-1870) and (third wife) Amelia M. (1843-1930)

John Farnsworth was the eldest son of William Farnsworth, from Washington, New Hampshire, who was among the very first Adventists to keep the seventh-day Sabbath. In 1864 John married Frances Jennette Stevens, originally from Paris, Maine, a sister-in-law to prominent church leaders Uriah Smith and John Nevins Andrews. 1EGWLM 825.4

John Farnsworth came to Iowa in the early 1860s, engaging in farming, and later owning grocery businesses in Waukon and Radcliff. By 1887 Farnsworth had moved to Kansas and in 1892 to Longmont, Colorado, where he spent his final years. He was an active church member, serving several times as a district leader for the Tract and Missionary Society in Iowa, Kansas, and Colorado. 1EGWLM 825.5

Frances Stevens came to Waukon, Iowa, with her parents in 1856. The Stevens family, as well as some other Sabbatarian families that moved to Waukon about the same time, was skeptical of the visions of Ellen White and generally disapproving of the leadership of James White (see, for example, Lt 8, 1860 [June 11]). John Farnsworth, writing to Ellen White from Waukon in 1862, notes that “if you said VISION to some … you would feel and see a repulsation [sic] very soon.” It is possible that Farnsworth had been influenced by the Waukon Adventists. He admits in the same letter to “the unbelief I had in the Testimony the Lord has given you” although heartily declaring his subsequent change of heart on the matter. 1EGWLM 825.6

The only extant letter from Ellen White to J. P. Farnsworth was written 10 months after Frances’ death at age 34. Regarding his plans for remarriage, Ellen White urged great caution because of his overbearing ways, through which the life of his first wife had been “sacrificed.” 1EGWLM 826.1

See: Obituary: “John P. Farnsworth,” Review, Jan. 16, 1919, p. 31; obituary: “Frances Jennette Farnsworth,” Review, Feb. 25, 1868, p. 174; obituary: “Laura L. Farnsworth,” Review, Jan. 3, 1871, p. 23; obituary: “Amelia Farnsworth,” Review, May 22, 1930, p. 28; J. P. Farnsworth to E. G. White, Jan. 9, 1862; History of Washington, New Hampshire, From 1768 to 1886, p. 398; 1880 U.S. Federal Census, “J. P. Farnsworth,” Iowa, Allamakee County, Waukon, p. 8; search term “J. P. Farnsworth” in Review and Herald online collection,; Ellen G. White, Lt 21, 1868 (Oct. 7). 1EGWLM 826.2