Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 3 (1876 - 1882)

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Lt 17, 1881

White, W. C.

Rollinsville, Colorado

September 12, 1881

Portions of this letter are published in RY 161-163; 3Bio 182-183.

Dear son Willie:

We received yours and Edson’s letters yesterday. I would wish you two to examine all Father’s papers and get an insight into them and straighten up his business if you can. Maryann [Davis?], or some other woman you think will be capable, could help you much in the arrangement of his papers and expedite business. Take advantage of any help you can get that is the right kind. I wish the two horses could be sold. Keep the white one. It will be costly keeping them through the winter. If that large carriage could be sold, it would be well to sell it. Talk with Samuel Abbey and Henry Kellogg on this matter. They may help you. The less expense we can have on the place, the better. We want things brought into as snug a compass as possible without making too great haste. 3LtMs, Lt 17, 1881, par. 1

I miss Father more and more. Especially do I feel his loss while here in the mountains. I find it a very different thing being in the mountains with my husband and in the mountains without him. I am fully of the opinion that my life was so entwined or interwoven with my husband’s that it is about impossible for me to be of any great account without him. We have tested the mountains under most unfavorable circumstances. 3LtMs, Lt 17, 1881, par. 2

We came here Tuesday. Endured the journey well. Thursday night I was taken sick, similar to my sickness in Battle Creek. Kept [to] my bed five days. Sunday, Edwin, Mother Kelsey, Hannah, and the children came from Boulder, according to previous arrangement. 3LtMs, Lt 17, 1881, par. 3

This we thought would be beneficial to all, but Monday a heavy rain set in. It was cold and disagreeable. Tuesday it snowed and was cold. Wednesday was cold and cloudy, and it snowed some. In this time the little one became sick and grew worse until Friday. Edwin was sent for. He rode all night Sunday. All but little May went to Boulder. The child may live, but it looks rather dark. Mother Kelsey and Hannah have had no rest and but little snatches of sleep for one week. We all thought the prospect of the child’s life would be more favorable at Boulder than in the mountains. 3LtMs, Lt 17, 1881, par. 4

Last Friday I rode to Black Hawk. It was too much for my strength. Sabbath I was sick all day. Was some better Sunday, but felt weak all the time, and it was difficult to breathe. I am fearful the altitude is too high for me, but think I will test it a little longer. My limbs are weak. My heart labors very hard. But there, I did not mean to trouble you with complaints. 3LtMs, Lt 17, 1881, par. 5

A few days since I was pleading with the Lord for light in regard to my duty. In the night I dreamed I was in the carriage, driving, sitting at the right hand. Father was in the carriage, seated at my left hand. He was very pale but calm and composed. “Why Father,” I exclaimed, “I am so happy to have you by my side once more! I have felt that half of me was gone. Father, I saw you die; I saw you buried. Has the Lord pitied me and let you come back to me again, and we work together as we used to?” 3LtMs, Lt 17, 1881, par. 6

He looked very sad. He said, “The Lord knows what is best for you and for me. My work was very dear to me. We have made a mistake. We have responded to urgent invitations of our brethren to attend important meetings. We had not the heart to refuse. These meetings have worn us both more than we were aware. Our good brethren were gratified, but they did not realize that in these meetings we took upon us greater burdens than at our age we could safely carry. They will never know the result of this long-continued strain upon us. God would have had them bear the burdens we have carried for years. Our nervous energies have been continuously taxed, and then our brethren, misjudging our motives and not realizing our burdens, have weakened the action of the heart. I have made mistakes, the greatest of which was in allowing my sympathies for the people of God to lead me to take work upon me which others should have borne. 3LtMs, Lt 17, 1881, par. 7

“Now, Ellen, calls will be made as they have been, desiring you to attend important meetings, as has been the case in the past. But lay this matter before God and make no response to the most earnest invitations. Your life hangs as it were upon a thread. You must have quiet rest, freedom from all excitement and from all disagreeable cares. We might have done a great deal for years with our pens, on subjects the people need that we have had light upon and can present before them, which others do not have. Thus you can work when your strength returns, as it will, and you can do far more with your pen than with your voice.” 3LtMs, Lt 17, 1881, par. 8

He looked at me appealingly and said, “You will not neglect these cautions, will you, Ellen? Our people will never know under what infirmities we have labored to serve them because our lives were interwoven with the progress of the work, but God knows it all. I regret that I have felt so deeply and labored unreasonably in emergencies, regardless of the laws of life and health. The Lord did not require us to carry so heavy burdens and many of our brethren so few. We ought to have gone to the Pacific Coast before and devoted our time and energies to writing. Will you do this now? Will you, as your strength returns, take your pen and write out these things we have so long anticipated, and make haste slowly? There is important matter which the people need. Make this your first business. You will have to speak some to the people, but shun the responsibilities which have borne us down.” 3LtMs, Lt 17, 1881, par. 9

“Well,” said I, “James, you are always to stay with me now and we will work together.” Said he, “I stayed in Battle Creek too long. I ought to have gone to California more than one year ago. But I wanted to help the work and institutions at Battle Creek. I have made a mistake. Your heart is tender. You will be inclined to make the same mistakes I have made. Your life can be of use to the cause of God. Oh, those precious subjects the Lord would have had me bring before the people, precious jewels of light!” 3LtMs, Lt 17, 1881, par. 10

I awoke. But this dream seemed so real. Now you can see and understand why I feel no duty to go to Battle Creek for the purpose of shouldering the responsibilities of the General Conference. I have no duty to stand in General Conference. The Lord forbids me. That is enough. I should not dare to go East now. I did feel, while sick here, sorry that I had come here. I almost was [of] a mind to go back and occupy my good home and keep the family together. I miss my little girls so much. They were a comfort to me. But I do not dare turn my face toward Battle Creek until the Lord says go. 3LtMs, Lt 17, 1881, par. 11

I have stood through two General Conferences to the gratification of my brethren, but ran the risk of my life. What I endured through these meetings, the sufferings of mind, the anxiety, the pain of heart, I know my good brethren knew nothing about. If they did, they would not now put me to the torture and risk to bring me to the general meeting again, and at such a time, when my heart is like a raw sore, bruised and torn. No, no, no. God is too merciful to place upon me any such burden. 3LtMs, Lt 17, 1881, par. 12

I do not think it will be my duty to labor in any camp meeting this year. I see no prospect as yet of any health to do so. I cannot even engage in conversation with anyone but a few minutes at a time without nervous prostration. I have the most fearful headaches. Last Sabbath morning my sight was affected. I saw crinkling diamonds on window glass and paper. Could see but half of persons. Mary White had four eyes, two mouths. For hours this disagreeable vision continued, followed by [an] intense headache. I could not sit up all day. To tell the truth, I fear I am broken to pieces, but I will rest myself in the hands of God for a day at a time. I feel encouraged that my strength will come back, then next day I am down again. 3LtMs, Lt 17, 1881, par. 13

Now I have no disposition to make any duties for you. The Lord guide you is my prayer. The Lord teach my sons, lead them, and make them channels of light. Go where God leads. When the Lord indicates your duty to turn your face this way, come. We will greet you most heartily. Mary [White] seems to be in good health. Emma [White] is improving. We have some very precious, melting seasons in prayer. 3LtMs, Lt 17, 1881, par. 14

In love, 3LtMs, Lt 17, 1881, par. 15

Your Mother. 3LtMs, Lt 17, 1881, par. 16