Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 21 (1906)


Ms 131, 1906

Interview with Mrs. E. G. White Regarding Early Experiences


August 13, 1906

Portions of this manuscript are published in 17MR 95-97.

There is a place [in the manuscript] where it speaks of Elder Brown. He was a Baptist minister, and at the time when the message was given [by] Brother Stetson, who was a feeble man, the power of God was recognized by him, and as the truth would be presented in its power, the Holy Spirit rested upon him, and he would sit there, just as pale, and did not seem to have any strength all through the meeting. 21LtMs, Ms 131, 1906, par. 1

I do not know as we need to bring that in. Elder Brown was in a chair, and while [Stockman] was preaching the people would crowd in from the stores below. They would crowd into the hall, and they were afraid it would break down. The owner assured them that they need have no fears. It could not be. 21LtMs, Ms 131, 1906, par. 2

“You feel,” [Stockman] said, “as though you were being hit, as though we are hitting you.” Said he, “We are preaching the truth, and if you do not want to be hit, get out of our way, and let us come to the people.” They need not stand right there, listening to catch what they could to find fault with. “Clear the way, and let the truth come to the people.” 21LtMs, Ms 131, 1906, par. 3

We used to have some very powerful meetings. But it is not all out there, and I don’t know as there is any need of putting it out. 21LtMs, Ms 131, 1906, par. 4

Elder Stockman was preaching, and he was dying with the consumption. He talked as though inspired by the Holy Spirit, feeble as he was. I always sat on the front seat next to the stand, and as I heard a noise like a groan, I saw that Elder Brown was as white as human flesh could be, and he was falling out of his chair. I suppose my interested look to him called the attention of Stockman and he looked around, and [Elder Brown] was ready to fall on the floor. [Stockman] turned around, and said, “Excuse me,” and took him in his arms, and laid him down on the lounge. [Elder Brown] was one that did not believe in these things, and he had a taste of it right there. The power of the truth came upon him so. (That was one instance I saw that Marian had not put in. There is but an item now and then [that is left out], but I do not know as that is essential. I was going to call attention to it. That is, I think, as well as it could be written. We had a great deal of this, but we never can tell it.) 21LtMs, Ms 131, 1906, par. 5

And while he was there praying, the power of God came upon him, and his strength went away just as mine did, and they thought he was dead. They ran to get this thing and that thing, and [then there] came the sweetest “Glory” from his lips, and praise to God and thanksgiving. They thought that was very queer. It was a mile to where I was, so there was nothing they could get from me. 21LtMs, Ms 131, 1906, par. 6

Then Harris and Theodore went up where the Townsends were. There was a room devoted to the social meeting, and they would talk to Sister Townsend [about] why it was. It seemed as though it ought not to be like that—losing strength, etc. I knew the opposition was there; I felt it, and I prayed that the Spirit of God might come upon Harris. He was the worst one, and [I prayed] that it might come to him. And as we were praying, the Spirit of God came upon Harris, and he lost his strength, and then, of course, the rest had to keep their mouths shut. [To] Theodore, it seemed as though it was not the thing [to have happen] in a meeting. But in a meeting or two after, he lost his strength. 21LtMs, Ms 131, 1906, par. 7

And then there was Rich that opposed a great deal. He prayed, “Oh, Lord, if that is Thy Spirit, let it come upon me.” He had no more got the prayer done than he fell his whole length right on the floor. You know, some of these things put life and power into that meeting, and many souls were converted to the truth. 21LtMs, Ms 131, 1906, par. 8

Old Father Pearson stood out pretty strong, but one morning Father went down there—he always had to pass where old Deacon Pearson lived, it was about a mile from our house. Father Pearson had rheumatism, and used to rub alcohol into his limbs. ([My father] was a hatter and he had to use alcohol in his business.) Father went to leave him a bottle of alcohol, and every single member of the family had no strength in them. The power of God was upon them, and they were the ones that had had the greatest trouble about it. They prayed. Father found he could not do anything there, so he took his bottle and went to his office. 21LtMs, Ms 131, 1906, par. 9

That is not mentioned there. There is a point I want [to make.] They were praying for me after I was in despair, that the Lord would give me strength and courage to bear the message that I had to bear. It was in a front room a little larger than this. While they were praying—Father Pearson could not kneel down on account of the rheumatism—he heard a stir like hard breathing, and I had fallen on the floor, and he saw, and others saw it too, just like I saw it, like a ball of fire that struck me right over the heart. After that, I did not resist any more the light that came to me. I was willing to go, nothing but a girl as I was, seventeen years old. [Father Pearson] got up just as soon as I could see anything or hear anything or talk about anything. Said he, “I never expected to see such a sight. There was a ball of fire that came right down and struck Sister Ellen Harmon right on the heart. I saw it; I saw it.” So there were others that saw that very thing. It is mentioned in some of the books. 21LtMs, Ms 131, 1906, par. 10

Then another time, there was Foy that had had visions. He had had four visions. He was in a large congregation, very large. He fell right to the floor. I do not know what they were doing in there, whether they were listening to preaching or not. But at any rate he fell to the floor. I do not know how long it was, about three-quarters of an hour, I think, and he had all these [visions] before I had them. They were written out and published, and it is queer that I cannot find them in any of my books. But we have moved so many times. He had four. 21LtMs, Ms 131, 1906, par. 11

Question: Did you ever have an interview with him? 21LtMs, Ms 131, 1906, par. 12

I had an interview with him. He wanted to see me, and I talked with him a little. They had appointed for me to speak that night, and I did not know that he was there. I did not know at first that he was there. While I was talking I heard a shout. He is a great, tall man, and the roof was rather low, and he jumped right up and down, and Oh, he praised the Lord, praised the Lord! It was just what he had seen, just what he had seen. But they extolled him so I think it hurt him, and I do not know what became of him. 21LtMs, Ms 131, 1906, par. 13

His wife was so anxious. She sat looking at him, so that it disturbed him. “Now,” said he, “you must not get where you can look at me when I am speaking.” He had on an Episcopalian robe. His wife sat by the side of me. She kept moving about and putting her head behind me. “What does she keep moving about for?” [I wondered.] We found out when he came to his wife. “I did as you told me to,” said she. “I hid myself. I did as you told me to.” [It was] so that he should not see her face. She would be so anxious, repeating the words right after him with her lips. After the meeting was ended, and he came to look her up, she said to him, “I hid myself. You didn’t see me.” He was a very tall man, slightly colored. But it was remarkable testimonies that he bore. 21LtMs, Ms 131, 1906, par. 14

I always sat right close by the stand. I know what I sat there for now. It hurt me to breathe, and with the breaths of all around me, I knew I could breathe easier right by the stand, so I always took my station. 21LtMs, Ms 131, 1906, par. 15

Question: Then you attended the lectures that Mr. Foy gave? 21LtMs, Ms 131, 1906, par. 16

He came to give it right to the hall, in the great hall where we attended, Beethoven Hall. That was quite a little time after the visions. It was in Portland, Maine. We went over to Cape Elizabeth to hear him lecture. Father always took me with him when we went. He would be going in a sleigh, and he would invite me to get in, and I would ride with them. That was before I got any way acquainted with him. 21LtMs, Ms 131, 1906, par. 17

Question: Where did you see him first? 21LtMs, Ms 131, 1906, par. 18

It was there, at Beethoven Hall. They lived near the bridge where we went over to Cape Elizabeth, the family did. 21LtMs, Ms 131, 1906, par. 19

Joe Turner was there. (It speaks about Joseph Turner, but I do not know as we have got far enough along for that. I think that will come.) He was there. He came to me and he said,—that was the very first of my going out. He said that he would accompany me to Portsmouth, for he wanted my message to go there—either Massachusetts or New Hampshire. It was a great house, and he wanted me to go. I told him no. I had had strict instruction that there were men that would come to me and have a great burden that I should go with them to some place, but I was not to go. As for marriage, we never thought of it, because we thought the Lord would come right along, but [I was instructed] that I could trust Elder James White, he would guard me, and I was in no danger. Well, these things we should not bring out, only I wanted to bring out how this sister had two daughters that she thought a great deal of. And this Joe Turner was just as full of unholy thoughts and mischief as he could be. She whispered to me the first part of the meeting, “I wish you would talk with my daughter.” 21LtMs, Ms 131, 1906, par. 20

Then we had a praying season, and I was taken off in vision. He [Joe Turner] said, “That is of the Lord,” and he knew that that was of the Lord. And finally the words began to be spoken. They said a frown came over my face, and [I said] that he was not true, that he was not keeping the commandments of God, but was transgressing the commandments, giving attention to other women, and his wife suffering under the great strain that was upon her. “There,” said he, “I can tell that. The first part is of the Lord, and this last part, that is a kind of mesmerism.” Well, who gave the mesmerism? There was nobody there but him. Well, he carried it through in that line. 21LtMs, Ms 131, 1906, par. 21

As soon as I could get strengthened after this message, I felt terrible, because I came right out and said so and so before him. This was in Portland. The mother of this girl whispered to me and said, “Go right up and speak to my daughter.” So I went upstairs and I told her what her dangers were, to have no intercourse with him in speech, or to see him alone. He would mesmerize her if she did. 21LtMs, Ms 131, 1906, par. 22

He could take a child and set it on his hand, and so mesmerize the child that it would stay there if he took his hand away. I never saw that done, but that is what he said he could do. So I hurried upstairs, and told her, “If he has not ruined you, he will, and now, do not have a word of conversation with him, because he will mesmerize you.” It was hypnotism, but we did not know then what it was. 21LtMs, Ms 131, 1906, par. 23

[They took me in a carriage to where his wife and family had been for some time.] They had had meetings there. Sarah Jordan and her brother were with me when I first went down to Orrington. [Joe Turner] was hovering right over her all the time, and giving her mesmeric passes, and she was having these so-called visions, and it was all mesmerism, and that was what I had to tell. He did not know that I had left the house. 21LtMs, Ms 131, 1906, par. 24

I hurried right up to where his wife was, and knocked. She opened the door. This was where the meetings had been held, and where I had been staying. She looked most discouraged. She was a beautiful-looking woman. I put my arms around her back, and [she] cried like a baby. Said she, “Sister Ellen, my heart is breaking.” 21LtMs, Ms 131, 1906, par. 25

She told how her husband and this Sarah Jordan—he was all the time right with her half of the night, and sometimes all night, giving her visions—that is what he was doing apparently. Said she [Mrs. Turner], “Because I cannot receive these things, she [Sarah Jordan] tells them things to do. It is not a bit like what you have; she tells them things to do that are contrary to reason and judgment, and that she must go with Turner. Because his wife has a family on her hands, she must take the place of his wife, and go and give the message.” Then I told her that the Lord was not in it, that the Lord’s arm was around her, and [He] would give her strength, and not to be too much discouraged. 21LtMs, Ms 131, 1906, par. 26

Then I told this Sarah Jordan just what she was doing. Said I, “God is not with you nor with Turner.” 21LtMs, Ms 131, 1906, par. 27

I do not know how they came out, because right after that, I had still another affair to deal with. It was a place where we had made our home when we were in Paris, Maine, with the Stowells. Here this man came and he said he had a beautiful conveyance, and he would convey me right to different places where I wanted to go, around by Vermont, and then around by Massachusetts. “No, sir. You cannot do that.” He said the Lord had told him he must. “No,” said I, “He has not. I have had my special orders. I may trust Elder James White.” I never expected to be married. 21LtMs, Ms 131, 1906, par. 28

But he got together a party. We had two or three sleigh loads. This man wanted to get some power over me, but he did not get it because I would not ride a rod with him. You see what I had to meet when I was only 17. 21LtMs, Ms 131, 1906, par. 29

But we went up to Vermont, and went to New Hampshire, and went all through where there had been the strongest influence in 1843 and 1844. But these families went with us. There was one family, Brother Files and his wife in one sleigh, and Haskins and his relatives—his niece went also—and so we had a little company, so that no reports could be made that I was traveling with an unmarried man. And I had my sister’s husband’s sister with me. My sister could not go because she had to take care of my mother, who was not well. So I had a great, tall, noble-looking woman, and I have thought what a help she would be to the cause if she was alive now. But she died. My sister’s husband’s sister came and went with me wherever I went, and there would be perhaps one or two women that would go with us as we traveled. 21LtMs, Ms 131, 1906, par. 30

There Joe Turner became my enemy, and he would raid out against me. In a meeting we had in Poland, Maine, he declared that I could not have a vision where he was. We had to have our meetings in private houses. He said that he could give me a vision any time, and he could bring me out of vision. I had had a vision, and in this vision [I saw] that when I felt a human influence upon me, I was to look up and call upon God for another angel, and I should have help. 21LtMs, Ms 131, 1906, par. 31

So I went right to that meeting—that was before we were married—and he had his eyes looking right out through his fingers, and his eyes looked like snakes’ eyes, evil. I turned and looked right around, I raised both hands, and [said], “Another angel, Lord, another angel.” The Spirit and power of God came upon me, and I was taken off in vision right there. “Well, why don’t you stop it?” they said. “You said you could stop it.” He never wanted to be in a meeting where I was after that. 21LtMs, Ms 131, 1906, par. 32

Well, I had come just in time to Portland to break up one of the greatest schemes of fanaticism that could possibly be. I was 17 years old. There was so much that was going on in the name of the Spirit of the Lord, and their intimacy was just breaking the commandments of God. He [Turner] knew that I would expose them, and he did not care to be where I was after that. But it settled everybody in regard to the work of God in regard to the testimonies. They were perfectly settled. 21LtMs, Ms 131, 1906, par. 33

Father and Mother had a house in Portland, and Howell and Turner came and took possession of that house. They would have such work going on there of fanaticism that was perfectly terrible. My father locked his house, and went off to Poland, 30 miles away. Then there was [my sister] Sara left to take care of me. 21LtMs, Ms 131, 1906, par. 34

He [Turner] sent word to Sara that he wanted to find that house open, that the Lord would work for them, and they would have meetings there, and he wanted that house opened. She had the key. He would be the guest that would be there. 21LtMs, Ms 131, 1906, par. 35

“Well,” Sara said to me, “Ellen, I have no idea of being put in that man’s power. I shall lock the door, and shall go off, and we will go to the neighbors that they know nothing about.” 21LtMs, Ms 131, 1906, par. 36

He tried that over and over; he wanted to get power over my sister. But she felt by the Spirit of God that he wanted to take advantage of her—as he had of several. So that was broken up, and then the scheme was laid right open. I took it right into a congregation of the strongest of our people. I opened it right to them, and told them just what Joe Turner was doing. They thought it was the evilest thing, some of our people did, to expose him, but we did expose him. Our people would not come back until he was away. 21LtMs, Ms 131, 1906, par. 37

He came and told them all around—this will show the manner of the man—“Oh,” said he, “the Lord is coming, but old Father Harmon, his case is settled, he never will see the kingdom of heaven, never. He has locked us out.” And so he would denounce him to all the powers of hell that you could think of. There is one of the fanatics that we had to meet right there. 21LtMs, Ms 131, 1906, par. 38

Well, after we had traveled, I think it was about a year, before James White talked it over with me. Either he should have to go away and leave me to go with whomsoever I would, or we must be married. He said something had got to be done. So we were married, and have been married ever since. Although he is dead, I feel that he is the best man that ever trod shoe leather. Whatever they might say—and there have been invitations which never would move me a particle—I would not link up with any soul in my widowhood. I feel just as though I was linked and bound to just preserve the memory of my husband. Some supposed that I would marry, but they are glad that I did not. It is one of the greatest evidences to anybody that my work is of God, that I have the least kind of inclination to marry. 21LtMs, Ms 131, 1906, par. 39

Now [the manuscript] speaks of my going to New Hampshire. I want it brought out that there were about six persons that went in other sleighs. We all went in company. Foss’s sister, my sister’s husband’s sister, she was a noble girl. [Manuscript ends here.] 21LtMs, Ms 131, 1906, par. 40