Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 6 (1889-1890)


Lt 91, 1890

White, W. C.; White, Mary

St. Helena, California

May 2, 1890

Previously unpublished.

My Dear Children Willie and Mary:

We left Oakland last Wednesday morning. I do not expect to be able to do justice to anything and can only write by short stages what I have on my mind. 6LtMs, Lt 91, 1890, par. 1

Your letter written to Dr. Burke made him feel very badly. He has had a very taxing winter. It has been no easy matter to keep both institutions in running order. He has not created special dissatisfaction. After working all day intensely, he had a cab standing at the door to take him at twelve o’clock at night to his patients in Napa City. He could not bear such a strain long. Yet he would not neglect his patients. 6LtMs, Lt 91, 1890, par. 2

Brother Biter came to see me in Oakland and told me that Dr. Burke would not continue to serve at the Health Retreat longer. Brother Biter said monied men at Vallejo agreed to furnish him thirty thousand dollars at once to commence building an institution at Vallejo. The present facilities at Napa are very poor. Then Elder Loughborough and Brother McClure stated that Dr. Burke made the statement to them that he would not do as he had done at the Health Retreat. He must have more control. I stated some things definitely to you in my last [letter]. If he was to have his hands tied as they had been, he could not do justice to the Health Retreat and could not do justice to himself. 6LtMs, Lt 91, 1890, par. 3

When your letter came he made his decision accordingly, as he had purposed. He said he had put confidence in yourself and your mother as the only ones with whom he could advise as reliable counselors. And when he knew his motives were so decidedly misjudged, that he seemed determined to rule or ruin, he thought if those whose confidence he appreciated thus judged him, it was no use for him to try any longer. He knew that he went into the Health Retreat with the best of motives. He had tried to do his duty in every respect, and knowing his mistakes and errors of the past, he confessed these errors and believed his sincerity must be evidenced by his course of action. To restore has been his aim and sincere purpose; to close his eyes and senses to everything in the shape of temptation that should prevent this work being done. This was not said all at once, but one and another would plead with him and then he would make some statements. 6LtMs, Lt 91, 1890, par. 4

I had a little talk with him on the cars, for he stepped onto the train at Napa City, but I could not draw anything from him. Yesterday I had a few words with him. Brother Underwood wanted I should be present at an interview with Dr. Burke, and Brethren Pratt and Atwood. They would meet at my room, which is the bay window room in my cottage. I was lying on the sofa. Brother Underwood said Sister White had something to say. I said, “Brother Burke, I think you have something to say. Speak freely.” 6LtMs, Lt 91, 1890, par. 5

He then made statements about his desire to have control, and how far. It was in those things where none but a physician could act intelligently. He stated that it was necessary that he should have a voice in the diet question—that the helpers’ table must be provided with just as good food as the patients have. He said there is need of it if we expect them to do good work, and then there will be a peaceful, satisfied feeling all around. 6LtMs, Lt 91, 1890, par. 6

If there are helpers or nurses who are fractious and distasteful to the patients, he always hears it from the patients. He says not a word to the helper unless he thinks the one can be cured, then he tells them what he will expect of them that they will help him to make the institution a success. He seldom fails to secure the desired end. If he finds the offense repeated after a kind, solid talk, he manages to have them dismissed so as to occasion no crisis. He tells his helpers that they are to have the same interest he has, and when they are having a large number of patients, he will give them wages accordingly. When the patients number but few, then their wages must be limited; and they are, he says, always satisfied and they feel the amount they receive rests largely with them. If they keep the good will of the patients, they carry a good impression with them and are an advertising medium. 6LtMs, Lt 91, 1890, par. 7

He had something to say about exacting the last five cents, as has been the practice, which he says to his certain knowledge has turned patients away disgusted, to report to others the penny-littleness. He mentioned these things as things he could not conscientiously tolerate. He knew their influence, etc. He talked and I talked. I told him if he disconnected from the institution now, it would leave the institution in a far worse condition than before he came. 6LtMs, Lt 91, 1890, par. 8

I told him that for his own sake, for the sake of the Health Retreat, I could not feel that we could let him go. I told him how M. J. Church felt, how spitefully he talked of the Health Retreat, and declared the curse of God was upon it. I told him what had been shown me years ago—and from time to time up to the present—of the location. I said, “We feel that you should be president of the board, for no other one can be as intelligent in regard to the workings of the institution. We will take hold together, pull in faith and to one purpose. This should be regarded as missionary soil. We will invite Brother Fulton to come back here to be elder of the church and look after the spiritual interest.” 6LtMs, Lt 91, 1890, par. 9

He has perfect confidence in John Fulton. Says his influence over the patients is good. He is of good repute everywhere. After all had considered the matter, in my judgment and in the minds of the brethren, this was the place to be offered Brother John Fulton. A vote was taken by the board to that effect. There is Brother Butler urging him to go to Florida, but it would not be the best place for him. I am quite sure this climate is better. 6LtMs, Lt 91, 1890, par. 10

Now Dr. Burke has some two months in which to close up his institute in Napa. He says he will work to that end. I would not have to be obliged to make another change in Health Retreat physicians for anything, although I think we could get Dr. Gibbs back, but Dr. Maxson and wife never. Brother Church is building an immense institute in Fresno. Dr. Maxson’s wife’s brother, Sanderson, married Dr. Maxson’s sister and he is studying to be a physician. Danver Church is also studying in San Francisco and they say that Riley, from the sanitarium, is coming to Fresno. I want that those who have talked dead against the institution shall see that God’s hand is uplifting it. The showing of the figures is four thousand dollars in advance of all expenses the past year, notwithstanding the wood bill was immense. 6LtMs, Lt 91, 1890, par. 11

Well, I have at different times written this and now I can write no more. I will stop where I am, but I tell you we have had a pull, and I believe it is successful. I will now stop and may think of some other point. 6LtMs, Lt 91, 1890, par. 12

The question was asked, “Where will I put my patients?” I told Dr. Burke that something must be done to secure more room. I know the horrible debt fastened upon it—a large share of it by the unwise management. Yet Sister Gotzian has fourteen thousand dollars back on her place which they promise to send her right away. If this comes, she will loan it for a term of years for light interest. Would it not be best to secure it, if Dr. Burke takes a satisfactory position, and at once erect a building which had been contemplated before the old one was remodeled? I leave this with others to decide. We can now obtain the loan of the money to put up a respectable, neat building, plain, without extravagance or adornment, with plain, substantial, sunny rooms. 6LtMs, Lt 91, 1890, par. 13

I have thought I could get this into the office before Sabbath, but the matter seems hopeless as it is nearly sundown. 6LtMs, Lt 91, 1890, par. 14

June 5

Yesterday there were about two hundred out. I did not venture to speak. I shall try to say a few words today, for the people were much disappointed yesterday. I am gaining slowly. If I could only have some appetite! It has been six weeks since I could relish food. I will send this to you and write again soon if I have strength. 6LtMs, Lt 91, 1890, par. 15

I will send this to you now and write more soon, but I tell you, Willie, I want to know just what it is best for me to do. I am convinced it is not best for me to attend the eastern meetings, and I am convinced I must have rest. 6LtMs, Lt 91, 1890, par. 16

Sara and I occupy the two front rooms above the basement. Everything is just as beautiful as it can possibly be. 6LtMs, Lt 91, 1890, par. 17

The powers that I use to exercise my voice seem to have broken down. I am so tired. I would be so glad if Mary and the children and yourself could be here now. Everything is so green and there are flowers, flowers everywhere. I am literally barricaded with flowers—roses, pinks, pansies and many others. 6LtMs, Lt 91, 1890, par. 18

May the Lord bless you is my prayer. 6LtMs, Lt 91, 1890, par. 19