Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 9 (1894)


Lt 89a, 1894

White, J. E.; White, Emma

Cooranbong North, New South Wales, Australia

August 22, 1894

Portions of this letter are published in WM 328-329; 6MR 135-136; 4Bio 153-154. +Note

Dear Son Edson and daughter Emma:

It is six o’clock a.m. Should you look in upon us now, you might at first be silent with surprise, and then smile at the appearance we presented. We are in an old fashioned hotel. As we look out of the window, we see in front of us an unfenced door yard, a large lawn of grass. Then comes the road leading through the forest trees which are close to the lawn. At the left is a white bridge crossing this. We are on the school land. 9LtMs, Lt 89a, 1894, par. 1

Brother and Sister Lawrence, under the direction of the school board, are stationed here to look after the interests of the school property. They have just purchased an additional forty acres of land adjoining the school land. It was essential to have command of the land down to the water’s edge, for if any one else had control of this land, he could, if so disposed, make it very disagreeable for the settlers on the school appropriation. 9LtMs, Lt 89a, 1894, par. 2

When Willie first came on this ground, he thought of renting this hotel for my family. The proprietors asked two pounds a week as rent; but they have now rented it for one fourth of the money, that is at half a pound a week. It would have accommodated my family very well; but the interests of the churches made it necessary for us to be in Parramatta, Sydney, or Granville, two miles from Parramatta. Every one of the members of my family are teachers in the Sabbath school. Brother and Sister Lawrence have just moved into this building, and that is the reason we are all campers here at present. 9LtMs, Lt 89a, 1894, par. 3

For weeks Willie has been needed here, but he could not be in two places at the same time. For three weeks he has been in Melbourne. They had a most important meeting there. All the Sabbathkeepers assembled together from Melbourne and suburbs, making quite a large number. They say the meeting was excellent. Friday morning Elder Daniells, Elder Rousseau, Brother Tucker, and Willie came to New South Wales. Last Monday they all came upon the grounds. When Willie came to Granville, he found me so nearly prostrated that he thought it best for me to come here and see if the change would do me any good. We left Granville yesterday morning. Our company was made up of Brother McKenzie, Emily Campbell, May Walling, and myself. I slept but two hours on Monday night, but as soon as we made our change of cars after riding six miles, I was favored with room to lie down, and slept considerably of the way. 9LtMs, Lt 89a, 1894, par. 4

Brother Lawrence met us with the school horse and a hired carriage, and drove us three miles from the station to this place. The rooms of the hotel are unfurnished, uncarpeted, and amazingly dirty, with the exception of a few that have been cleansed. This place is not to be compared with the beautiful house we have left at Granville. But it is essential that we be here at this time to settle some important questions, and a change will do me good. The climate is milder here than at Granville. Emma would like this mild climate. 9LtMs, Lt 89a, 1894, par. 5

We were glad to meet Willie at noon. I will now tell you who are the occupants of the hotel at present. Brother and Sister Lawrence, proprietors; Jimmy Gregory, to help Sister Lawrence in the house; Brother Collins, canvassing agent; Brother McKenzie, to help in surveying the land; the surveyor of the land; Brother Rousseau, Brother Tucker, W. C. White, Emily, May, and your mother. Brother Rousseau, Brother Collins, and the surveyor of the land, have been out all the forenoon tramping about the ground on foot. They were very tired, hungry men at noon. In the afternoon they rode over the ground in place of walking. 9LtMs, Lt 89a, 1894, par. 6

I am feeling some rested this morning. I had a severe time with the influenza. I have been sick for four weeks, and my heart is very feeble, and this is the great reason I am here. If I improve, I shall remain a few weeks; if I get no better, I shall remain but a few days. I shall not have much to write to you this week, for I am not cutting down my writing decidedly. All the force I have now is to be put on The Life of Christ. May Walling leaves for America in less than two weeks, to appear as a witness in the Walling suit. 9LtMs, Lt 89a, 1894, par. 7

August 23

I thank my heavenly Father that I was able to sleep until half past three o’clock. At four o’clock I was seated upon my bed, and having no stand or table for my lamp with different materials I built up a place for a lampstand in a convenient position by my side, and thus begin writing to you. Yesterday about eleven a.m., Emily and your mother started out to ride. In order to combine usefulness with pleasure, we decided to go three miles in the direction of the orange groves and procure a couple of cases of oranges. 9LtMs, Lt 89a, 1894, par. 8

The sun was shining beautifully as we set out, but before we had gone one mile, the clouds gathered, and it began to rain. We had a covered buggy and a very large horse purchased for the service of the school; but the roads were bad, and the horse moved along very much like an elephant, and yet we could not give up the idea of pushing on, for we knew it would be as bad to return as to go ahead. Emily put up the side curtains, and adjusted the oilcloth so that it covered our laps, and we went on. The roads were muddy, and the clay loaded on the wheels, and this was the manner of ride we took “for my health.” 9LtMs, Lt 89a, 1894, par. 9

We passed several clusters of trees loaded with their golden fruit, but we were looking for the orange orchards and did not stop to notice the small clusters of trees. After traveling about five miles, we inquired where the orange groves were, and found that the straggling trees or the clusters of four or five, were the “orange groves.” Thus much experience we had gained. We had seen quite a number of orange lemons. The trees bear the appearance of the Osage orange hedges. The orange lemon has a very rough surface, but when the skin is removed, the flavor is excellent. 9LtMs, Lt 89a, 1894, par. 10

We learned that we had passed by all the fruit, so that we had nothing to do but to return. We inquired for oranges at one place and were informed that the owner of the fruit was not at home, and that no one else could get the fruit or dispose of it, for he always attended to that himself. So we were disappointed in getting our fruit. We purchased half a box of the lemon oranges at four cents per dozen. I call them superior; and then we returned home without our two cases of oranges. 9LtMs, Lt 89a, 1894, par. 11

The oranges are excellent here, and are about eighty cents per bushel in American money. In Parramatta in the markets on Tuesdays and Fridays, the fruit growers sell their fruit at auction sale. We purchased oranges at nine pence a bushel last market day; that is about eighteen cents in American money; but the fruit is not first class. The cheapness of <all the products of> farms and orchards will explain why there is so much poverty in this country. Farmers do not receive enough for their produce to pay their expenses in raising it. Cauliflower is bought for a mere song. We have purchased large bags full for eight and ten cents. We purchase a large amount and feed it to the cow and horses. 9LtMs, Lt 89a, 1894, par. 12

The people need to be educated as to how to raise fruit and grains. If we had several experienced farmers who would come to this country and work up the land and demonstrate what the land would yield, they would be doing grand missionary work for the people. <At Melbourne,> your uncle, Stephen Belden, ploughed a piece of land, and worked the soil thoroughly, and raised a most profitable crop of sweet corn for the school. Every one told him not to undertake it, but he was determined to show them what could be done. He will come on the school land here and carry out the same plan. 9LtMs, Lt 89a, 1894, par. 13

There are farmers here who have an abundance of land, and at great expense they have set out various kinds of fruit trees. If the crop brings as little as this year’s crop has brought, they do not get a return for the means invested in cultivation, let alone anything on which to exist! If they should plant corn and grain they would find a ready sale, but they think that what has been done must be done. Their ideas are stereotyped. We intended to cultivate land, and show them how it can be done. 9LtMs, Lt 89a, 1894, par. 14

We are now pressing juice from the oranges and canning the same. We have pressed out the juice from the lemons also, in order that we may furnish palatable drink for hot weather. 9LtMs, Lt 89a, 1894, par. 15

Poverty is so wide spread in the Colonies that starvation is staring many in the face, and the strangest part of the matter is that the farmers seem so perfectly helpless to devise plans by which to turn their time and money to account. Many of the farms have been mortgaged, and when the allotted time has expired, and they could not pay their indebtedness, their farms were sold and they have been turned out with their large families into the world. They can get no work on the farms about them, for other farmers are so short of money that they cannot even get suitable food and clothing, let alone hire men to help them with their work. 9LtMs, Lt 89a, 1894, par. 16

We purchase wood of our brethren who are farmers, and we try to give their sons and daughters employment, but we need a large charitable fund upon which to draw to keep families from starvation. Those who need our help are not of the tramp order, but are men who have earned in prosperous times as high as twenty and forty dollars per week. They invested their large earnings in erecting buildings, and partially paid the expenses thus incurred; but when the bank crisis came, their work ceased, and although they offered their services for five dollars per week, they could obtain no work. I divided my household stores of provisions with families of this sort, sometimes going eleven miles to relieve their necessities. 9LtMs, Lt 89a, 1894, par. 17

The financial situation of the country makes canvassing very unpromising. Great Controversy and Patriarchs and Prophets sell very slow, and yet they are the most salable of any books in the field. But I can see that all this terrible want may be relieved, and entirely averted, if the people can be educated, and the blessing of God can rest upon them. We are working with all the powers that God has given us to change the mold that has been given to our people in these Colonies. We see great changes for the better. If some of our intelligent American farmers would educate the people so that they could work their land and bring produce into the market for home consumption, and for regions beyond, so that money might be brought back into the country, they would do a good missionary work. They would find work for thousands that are crowding into our large cities, seeking office work or trying to pick up a few odd jobs that would barely enable them to exist. 9LtMs, Lt 89a, 1894, par. 18

I could relate incidents that come to our knowledge that would show up the poverty of the country. Suffering and death has occurred that perhaps might have been prevented had we known the circumstance in time. We live economically in every way and make a study of how every penny is to be laid out. We have no meat or butter on our table. We make over and over our clothing, patching and enlarging garments in order to make them wear a little longer, so that we can supply with clothing those who are more needy. One of our brethren in Ormondville, who is an intelligent carpenter, could not go forward in baptism because he had not a change of clothing. When he was able to get a cheap suit, he was the most grateful man I ever saw, because he could then go forward in the ordinance of baptism. 9LtMs, Lt 89a, 1894, par. 19

Some of our people say to me, “Give away your old clothes, and that will help the poor.” Should I give away the garments that I patch and enlarge, the people would not be able to see anything of which they could make use. I buy for them new, strong, durable material. I have visited the factories where they make tweed cloth, and have bought a number of remnants that perhaps have a flaw, but can be purchased cheap, and will do some good to those to whom we give. I can afford to wear the old garments until they are beyond repair. I have purchased your uncle excellent cloth for pants and vest and he is now supplied with good respectable clothing. In this way I can supply large families of children with durable garments, which the parents would not think of getting for them. 9LtMs, Lt 89a, 1894, par. 20

Last Sabbath an excellent man died in Parramatta. He left a wife and three children. His wife has taken in washing for their living. He was a stone mason, and used to earn good wages; but the stone dust was killing him, and he had to give up his work. He was the caretaker of our church and kept it in nice order, but this was the only way in which he could earn anything. He knew that the Parramatta church was heavily in debt, and as he was conscientious he proposed to resign in favor of some brethren who proposed to take the work in turn and do it for nothing. His brethren accepted his resignation without inquiring into his circumstances. The family have suffered for the necessaries of life, but they made no complaint or appeal except to God. 9LtMs, Lt 89a, 1894, par. 21

The wife and mother was first taken sick, and the husband cared for her until he himself was stricken with the influenza. The doctor was sent for, and he dosed him with brandy. Our people could do nothing, for should the patient die out of the doctor’s hand, the doctor at once would prosecute the one who had interfered with his business. Or if he had died under the hands of our brethren, or under the hands of any unauthorized person who is not in the medical line, they would suffer prosecution. But he died under the doctor’s hands, and such a death is counted all right. But the most pitiful part of the matter is that he wanted to die. He said “There is no place in the world for me, and if the Lord will only let me rest in the grave, it is all I ask.” He died happy and is at rest, but this case has cost me much suffering of mind. 9LtMs, Lt 89a, 1894, par. 22

For four weeks I have been sick with the same complaint, and at times I have thought my breath would stop. Exhaustion was upon me. I could not see how I could give up. I did wrong by writing when I felt so poorly, but I would not stop until the cases that had been opened to me had been attended to. I am still laboring under exhaustion. I came to this place so that I could not see or hear of any human suffering that I could not relieve. I shall remain here perhaps for a week or more, if I do not grow better; but I hope to improve. The night before I came, I did not sleep but two hours; but I was in no pain, and my mind was very peaceful and happy. Tuesday night I was very nervous and exhausted, but slept quite well. Last night I slept until half past three. I shall not write much for this mail. It is now six o’clock a.m. The clouds have passed away. The sun will soon shine in the heavens, and I shall enjoy the forest scenery today. 9LtMs, Lt 89a, 1894, par. 23

The Lord in His providence has favored us in giving us a very excellent house in Granville. It is two stories high and is separated from other houses. There is only one house near it, and we have large grounds on all sides. Everything is very quiet about our home; there are no carriages to make a noise in passing, for we are off the main road. Two years ago I purchased a horse for forty dollars. She was a good looking gray horse, but was very poor, and for a time it was a question as to whether or not I should give her away or what I would do with her; but kind treatment and plenty of good feed have brought her up both in flesh and spirits. She has paid her way in one year. At one conference she transported our ministers from Prahran to North Fitzroy, and thus saved the conference twenty five dollars in car fare. When I went to New Zealand, the school needed her, and she served them well. When I returned, she was in good condition. She is a perfectly safe animal, frightened at nothing, and is not up to any mean tricks. We transported her to New South Wales. She has had an attack of rheumatism, and for weeks we have been unable to use her. Your Uncle Belden went to the stockyard sale in Sydney, and from a herd of wild horses selected a horse for me for which he paid five pounds—twenty-five dollars. I paid three pounds for breaking the horse. So, I have now a three-year-old colt which I put by the side of Maggie, and so have a nice team to draw my phaeton. 9LtMs, Lt 89a, 1894, par. 24

It is six o’clock p.m. I have just returned from a trip on the water that borders the school land. They have purchased a nice little boat for the use of the school. May Walling accompanied us. Brother Lawrence, Brother Rousseau, Brother McKenzie, and your mother were in the party. We went several miles on the river to some places on its border. We tied the boat, and Brother Rousseau dug into the land to see what was the manner of its soil. We drew up at another place where there had once been a pleasant home, but it had been forsaken and left to run to ruin. Cattle had been turned into the grounds, and the lemon trees were left to ruin. We ate our dinner on the piazza. We were all hungry. After dinner the company in one boat continued their course to the lake, and the rest of the party, including myself, returned in another boat to the hotel. 9LtMs, Lt 89a, 1894, par. 25

Yesterday the American mail came in, and we read your letters with interest. This noon we read a long letter from Dr. Kellogg which was of special interest. Thank you for the pictures of the boat. I am glad to see my children’s faces, even if Edson’s is a little blurred. The boat looks very nice, and I pray that the Lord will prosper you and that His blessing will attend you. Two weeks ago I sent you a letter and a large package of manuscript by the way of the Vancouver boat. The Vancouver line makes it possible for you to receive mails oftener than you otherwise would. 9LtMs, Lt 89a, 1894, par. 26