Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 3 (1876 - 1882)


Lt 5a, 1881

White, W. C.; White, Mary

Des Moines, Iowa

June 14, 1881

Portions of this letter are published in 3Bio 158-159; 6MR 306; 9MR 99.

Dear Children:

We are about to leave the campground. Everything is astir. The camp is breaking up and I have been lying in the tent with a severe attack of heart difficulty. I am [somewhat] relieved, and, sitting up on the bed, I am penning these lines to you. 3LtMs, Lt 5a, 1881, par. 1

It must be a little surprising to you to learn that we are attending the Iowa camp meeting. I will tell you the reason for this. 3LtMs, Lt 5a, 1881, par. 2

I have been running down ever since I was made a cripple. The lack of agreement between Elders [S. N.] Haskell, [G. I.] Butler, yourself, and Father has been a continual weight upon my spirits. I have been unable to see any chance for me to work in the cause of God anywhere. Dr. Kellogg would come to me and in the most ingenious and apparently disinterested manner obtain expressions from me in regard to matters of the cause and where I could not sustain Father, and then has made the worst use of it. Father would take things expressed in testimony and sustain his position and make it to bear against Brethren Haskell and Butler. This lack of harmony is killing me. I have to keep my own counsel and have confidence in no one. 3LtMs, Lt 5a, 1881, par. 3

I see plainly that the plans and machinery of the tract and missionary work is killing to the spirituality of our people. The prayer meetings and tract and missionary meetings cannot both be carried on, for want of time, with so many things to do. The prayer meeting Wednesday night in Battle Creek has been dropped and tract and missionary meetings take its place. Everywhere we go the religious exercises are supplanted by tract and missionary meetings. And these things I know were killing out the spirit of piety and vital godliness and our people are degenerating into a dry, sapless form. 3LtMs, Lt 5a, 1881, par. 4

Father has not preserved caution. He has seen the evils and where we were running, and [he] has expressed his fears and repudiated the plans and forms that made the work so complicated. Its simplicity was gone. While I see the evil, I also see and feel that to correct it requires time, great wisdom, and caution. 3LtMs, Lt 5a, 1881, par. 5

Another evil is that our brethren, in introducing the Signs, have about dropped the Review and Herald. We find very many families who take the Signs but do not take [the] Review and Herald. The studied silence in the Signs of recommending the brethren to take the Review and Herald is unexplainable, and this arouses the feelings of hundreds. Your father feels badly over it and takes advantage of this. 3LtMs, Lt 5a, 1881, par. 6

Our Brethren Haskell and Butler are not men of farseeing judgment or they would pursue in some things a different course than they have. They will surely kill the spiritual interest of our people as they devote so many meetings and drill so much upon tract and missionary work and neglect the religious interest of our people. I see the danger. The people are dead. Spiritual life is about extinct. Of course there are exceptions. 3LtMs, Lt 5a, 1881, par. 7

While we would have the tract and missionary work live and prosper, we would not have it monopolize every other interest. We would not have our people devoting the time in our meetings to tract and missionary work that they need to devote to seeking the Lord. We would not exclude the light which should be given for the benefit of outsiders by dwelling largely upon the tract and missionary work. Unbelievers become tired, and believers do not dare now to ask their friends to come to the two-day meetings held in our different conferences, for ministers like Brethren Miller, Kenyon, [and] Daniels, and those of this class, have run everything into tract and missionary work. These men are spiritually lifeless. Sunday, the day to reach the outsiders, is devoted to instructing the people how to do tract and missionary work, and the religious interest is very low. 3LtMs, Lt 5a, 1881, par. 8

How to cure this evil I cannot now see. Brethren Haskell and Butler have driven their tract and missionary institutes at great expense until, as I say, there is plenty of form, and there are sapless Christians. I am alarmed for our people. I became distressed, and I took the position I would not attend another camp meeting among our people. 3LtMs, Lt 5a, 1881, par. 9

At Spring Arbor Dr. Kellogg came on the grounds and distributed circulars that placed the managers of Review and Herald in a very mean light. I suppose you have one of these circulars. This, he declared, was endorsed by Haskell and Butler. He signed H. Kellogg’s name himself when H. Kellogg had told him he seriously objected to several things in the circular; but Dr. Kellogg, in a dishonest manner, put Kellogg’s name to this document, stating on the Spring Arbor campground that he gave it particular attention and endorsed the statements. These things, extreme to say the least, call forth replies which make distinctly apparent a want of harmony. I concluded, if this drawing apart by both parties were kept up, we would withdraw from the work entirely. Brother Fargo and others of our brethren saw that it was killing me and advised me to go to Colorado. 3LtMs, Lt 5a, 1881, par. 10

I went to Spring Arbor pressed for breath. I was nearly suffocated all the time—too exhausted to see anyone or talk with anyone. I did not go on the grounds to occupy our tent but stopped at Brother Weed’s house where we could be retired. Sabbath morning Father went early to the campground. I knelt with Brother Weed’s family and felt that God indited prayer. I importuned the Lord for help, for light, for strength to bear my testimony to the people of God. Light came. I went upon the grounds and spoke to a large congregation with great power and clearness. I endured the effort. Sunday I spoke in the afternoon upon temperance and was so much encouraged that I left appointment for evening and spoke in the evening. 3LtMs, Lt 5a, 1881, par. 11

Still I was firm that I could not, under the existing state of our brethren, work in the cause. Tuesday morning it came to me distinctly, “Go to Iowa; I have work for you to do.” I should as soon have thought of going to Europe, but I told your father my convictions, that I should go with him or alone. He seemed surprised and said, “We will go.” He had been feeling very much softened in his feelings and seemed to have a more clear view of his mistakes, especially when he saw I was being driven from the field of labor and my health giving way. 3LtMs, Lt 5a, 1881, par. 12

We came in company with Elder Haskell. We have labored here earnestly. Father has done well. He has had great freedom in speaking and praying. The Lord from first to last has sustained me to bear a most powerful testimony. I have spoken five times at length, commencing Friday evening, and four times from fifteen to thirty minutes. I called them forward Sabbath afternoon and about two hundred responded. We had thus far a decided move in the right direction. 3LtMs, Lt 5a, 1881, par. 13

Sunday the storm came upon us—hail, lightning, and thunder. Leroy Nicola and Father kept the tent from being blown down while about twenty men looked after the large tent. Sister Glasscox, who has been sewing for me, said she was afraid the tent would fall and rushed for the wooden buildings. They told her the wooden buildings were more perilous than the tent in the storm. She rushed into the nearest tent, and in three minutes it fell. She crept out, white as a cloth and dripping wet, and found shelter in another tent. When the storm had subsided, about half past three o’clock, I attempted to speak to the people. I had not spoken long before the rain commenced pouring down again on the tent. A stand was made for me in the center of the mammoth tent, and I had great freedom in addressing the people. 3LtMs, Lt 5a, 1881, par. 14

It was a severe tax to me. As soon as I had ceased speaking, I went to our tent and Bell Simons gave me a general bath and put me to bed for the night. But in one hour a message came for me to repair to the tent and speak to some points introduced in their business meetings upon the right of voting in favor of prohibition. I dressed and spoke to them about twenty minutes and then returned to the tent. 3LtMs, Lt 5a, 1881, par. 15

Monday I attended [the] five o’clock meeting but found it a tract and missionary meeting, the same as I had found Sunday morning, and had to beat a retreat. The work of reformation, of seeking God, seemed to be dropped. I attended the nine o’clock meeting. It was a social meeting. After several had spoken, I felt the burden of testimony, and I spoke with great plainness and power for about one hour, and the words were felt by the people. I called them forward, and the center seats in the large tent were quickly filled. Then confessions were made one to another. The testimony I bore was in reference to their backslidings from God. Many tears were shed. The Spirit of the Lord rested upon ministers and people. It was a good season. I labored hard but with pleasure and freedom. Elder Butler’s son Hiland came forward and spoke in the meeting for the first time. The people are beginning to be alarmed in regard to their condition. 3LtMs, Lt 5a, 1881, par. 16

In the afternoon your father spoke upon baptism. Then followed the ordinance, administered by Elders Farnsworth and Washburn. Twenty-six were baptized. Then tract and missionary work with a number, while the people were wandering around until six o’clock, and it was the last day of the meeting. I requested Father to go collect the people and speak to them. He did so. Spoke well. I spoke to a crowded tent in the evening. With feebleness I went into the desk, but the Lord met me and strengthened me, and I talked till near ten o’clock, giving the most solemn message to the people. I never saw such attention. They seemed to be riveted to their seats. No sleeping ones. I felt the power of testimony as I have seldom felt it in my life. Near ten o’clock I went to my tent, and Bell Simons gave me a hand bath and rubbing. [The] tract and missionary meeting was held after that late hour. How long I cannot tell. 3LtMs, Lt 5a, 1881, par. 17

I feel weary this morning. A very wealthy man named Myer urged us to come to Hampton and speak on the subject of temperance. Hoping we might get hold upon his heart to make it liberal to the cause, we consented to go. We leave the grounds about noon. 3LtMs, Lt 5a, 1881, par. 18

Now, Willie, I have written freely and confidentially. I hope the Lord will preserve you well balanced. I hope you will not go to extremes in anything. I hope you will be firm as a rock to duty and be molded by no one’s influence except it be the Spirit of God. We are living in an important time, and I feel to the depths of my soul that perils are all around us. It becomes us to labor for harmony. Let there be no divisions among us. We must present a united front to our enemies and to our people. This pulling apart is all the work of Satan. We must close the door to Satan’s devices. We must cherish affection and love. We are growing hard, unsympathizing. The very iron is entering into the souls even of those professing the truth. It is a sad thing, but true. God is not pleased with this hard, critical, cast-iron measure among us as a people. It is time this matter came to an end and another spirit more like Christ was cherished. We need Jesus in us every moment to warm our hearts and make us kind, pitiful, and courteous. 3LtMs, Lt 5a, 1881, par. 19


Dear Willie and Mary:

Lucinda [Hall] has taken a course that has shaken my confidence in her fearfully. She came to Battle Creek. I urged and entreated her to stay with me, I needed her so much. I told her Carrie Haskins would give us both treatments at the same time, and the help she could give me in her company would be of that value to me that, while so feeble, I would give her four dollars per week and board. She answered me promptly that she could earn more than that at home. She drew off from me when the Lord alone knew how much I needed someone to speak to and advise with. 3LtMs, Lt 5a, 1881, par. 20

She next came with Lilly, six weeks ago. I was confined to my room, too weak to leave my room. I told Lucinda I was going to Colorado and invited her to go, but both Lucinda and Lilly broke out in charges against Father of dishonesty. They both united in such a tirade against him—that he paid Lucinda only two dollars a week and then let her have her just due, five hundred dollars—and then boasted everywhere that he gave her five hundred dollars. I had no courage, no strength to answer their tirade and felt oppressed as though my spirit were crushed. I was so glad when they went. When they left I kindly asked them to call again, but they have neither of them entered our doors since. I have not seen Lucinda to speak to since. 3LtMs, Lt 5a, 1881, par. 21

This has troubled me considerably. I hope on no consideration you will employ Lilly. She is a piece of deception from beginning to end. Bogus may be written on her from head to feet. Lucinda is influenced by this piece of deception. She is a fraud, a snake in the grass. Beware of her. 3LtMs, Lt 5a, 1881, par. 22