Ellen G. White: The Later Elmshaven Years: 1905-1915 (vol. 6)


Ellen White Visits the Buena Vista Property

On Wednesday morning, September 2, the day after she had gone north following her five-week stay in southern California, Ellen White, with some members of the committee on school location, visited the Buena Vista property. Writing of the experience, she reported: 6BIO 178.4

We found the Castle to contain three stories, with twelve spacious rooms on each floor, besides a basement, and a large cupola above the third story capable of being converted into good rooms.—Letter 322, 1908. 6BIO 178.5

She went up to the second floor and inspected the rooms and reported that she “had little to say. I believed that here was a property that corresponded with representations given me.”— Ibid. (Italics supplied.) 6BIO 178.6

Remembering the Loma Linda experience where she recognized the buildings when she came onto the grounds, everyone quite naturally was eager to hear whether the Lord had given Ellen White direct light that this was the site to be purchased. Earlier she had written to Elder Haskell: 6BIO 178.7

I have had three buildings presented before me which I have not seen with my natural eyes. Two of these were in the Southern field, and one in California.—Letter 240, 1908. 6BIO 179.1

On leaving the grounds she felt impressed “that this was just such a location for our school as we had been looking for” (Letter 322, 1908). As to the suitability of the property, she noted that the tract of land was large, “away from the cities, where we could have an abundance of water and wood, and a healthful climate” (Ibid.). The well-furnished house with “every convenience” was also an important factor (Letter 324, 1908). But she failed to identify the building as one shown to her. 6BIO 179.2

Back in Oakland that night, Ellen White was given instruction. Of this she wrote: 6BIO 179.3

That night in my dreams I seemed to be making plans in regard to this property. One spoke to me and said, “How were you impressed with this location?” I replied, “Favorably; but I do not see how we can purchase; we have not the means. We might lessen the price by selling the stone winery.” 6BIO 179.4

“You cannot do that,” our advisor said. “If you should do so, parties who do not regard the seventh day would be at work on the land on the Sabbath. Your only plan will be to purchase the entire property, and keep every part of it under your control. Not one foot of the land should be allowed to come under the control of those who would work it on the Sabbath day.”—Letter 322, 1908. 6BIO 179.5

The next morning Elder W. H. Covell, a member of the California Conference staff, and a man much interested in the Buena Vista property, brought a map to Sister White showing the property and adjacent lands. He began pointing out pieces of property that might be sold to lessen the total cost of the investment. But Ellen White, thinking of the vision given her only hours before, informed him, “We must have the land under our full control.”— Ibid. 6BIO 179.6

At this point an interesting factor interjected itself. The committee members could easily see that Ellen White favored securing the property, but she did not have a “Thus saith the Lord” that this particular property should be secured. Further, she perceived that responsible committees made up of qualified men of experience must make the decision based on principles involved. 6BIO 180.1

On Sunday morning, September 13, after a wakeful night, she wrote to Elder Haskell, who was now attending a camp meeting in Fresno, that she was afraid that she might be taking too great a responsibility in the matter. She declared: 6BIO 180.2

I do not feel that I want the decision of this question to rest with me. I had only a hasty view of the place at Buena Vista, and while it corresponds to a place that had been shown me, I do not want you to feel that you must secure it on that account.... 6BIO 180.3

I shall leave this matter to be settled by the committee, and if they decide unfavorably regarding this place, I shall wait patiently until something further is offered where we can be supplied with water and woodlands. What we need is mountain advantages, where we can have an abundance of pure soft water that is not poisoned by the schemes of men.—Letter 256, 1908. (Italics supplied.) 6BIO 180.4