Life Sketches Manuscript



Ellen Gould Harmon was born in Gorham, Cumberland County, Maine, November 26, 1827. A few years after her birth the family moved to Portland, where most of her early life was spent. Her father, Robert Harmon, was a man of acknowledged integrity, and an earnest, devoted Christian. Her mother was also a devout Christian of amiable disposition, and of marked activity in all enterprises for the relief of the poor and afflicted. They were members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, in which they were prominent laborers for the conversion of sinners, and for the upbuilding of the cause of God. This relation they maintained for forty years. During this time they had the joy of seeing their children, eight in number, all converted and gathered into the fold of Christ. LSMS 1.1

They were in humble circumstances, but they were industrious, self-reliant, and pious. The characteristic virtues which have rendered famous the earlier homes of New England,—such as reverence for God and respect for parental authority,—were early and firmly inculcated; and the children were faithfully taught, by both precept and example, those lessons of integrity and diligence which have molded the characters of many of the world's noblest workers. Every morning and evening they had family worship, and sang the praises of God. LSMS 1.2

Both the parents possessed a large degree of physical endurance, and the children inherited this blessing, as also the activity, force of character, and executive ability, which were especially developed in the mother. LSMS 1.3

In Ellen, both mental and physical development was rapid and vigorous. While but a child, she displayed a love of study, a quick perception, and a retentive memory. She was of a buoyant, hopeful disposition, fond of society, courageous, resolute, and persevering. It was but natural that her parents should regard her with peculiar interest, and entertain high hopes for her future. But by a painful accident, the circumstances of which are related in her own language in the first chapter following, these hopes appeared to be utterly blighted. LSMS 2.1

Young as she was, Ellen felt as keenly as her parents the disappointment occasioned by this apparent ruin of the prospects of her life. Instead of being a strong, self-reliant child, with buoyancy of spirit, she became feeble, timid, and despondent. But the noble qualities of her mind and heart were not destroyed; and the prospect of being deprived of the common pleasure of life, and perhaps of life itself, turned her attention to the higher joys of heaven. Naturally sensitive, and very conscientious, she realized, to an unusual degree for one so young, her need of the grace and mercy of God to enable her to endure the trials of life, and to fit her for the world to come; and she embraced the faith of Christ with all the ardor of her nature, and very early became noted for her piety and religious devotion. LSMS 2.2

The following is the account of her religious experience as written by herself. LSMS 2.3