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


Delay Added to Delay

Thus the matter lay for several months. Ellen White herself felt that the Buena Vista property should be secured. Instruction was given her in vision concerning certain contingencies; yet she seemed to approach the matter with caution and a little uncertainty. She encouraged her brethren, however, to move on sound lines in acquiring the property. 6BIO 181.4

At the camp meeting in Fresno in late September, a special session of the constituency was held to consider, among other things, the matter of the college. The advantages and disadvantages of various sites were reviewed, and it was decided to accept whatever site might be chosen as long as the committee followed its best judgment and would be counseled by the Spirit of Prophecy. 6BIO 182.1

Almost immediately definite steps were taken to purchase the Buena Vista property. The agreement was that 2,900 acres would be purchased for $35,000 and the Healdsburg College properties. Only one thing remained—the owners must produce a proper abstract and clear title (36 WCW, p. 725). 6BIO 182.2

But delay followed delay, and although Ellen White entertained some anxiety about securing the property, she wrote on December 12, “I have not one question or doubt in regard to the purchase of the Sonoma property.”—Letter 344, 1908. The next day, writing to an old friend, she said, “I am so thankful that we are to have this place for our school.”—Letter 356, 1908. 6BIO 182.3

But as the year 1908 came to a close, matters were still in an unsettled condition. “We have been waiting for the abstract to be made out,” wrote Ellen White on December 29, “but there is a delay as important papers were destroyed at the time of the San Francisco earthquake.”—Letter 4, 1909. 6BIO 182.4

This was the state of the matter when time came for the regular session of the California Conference, held February 3-10, 1909, in Oakland. At a meeting of the constituency on February 6, Ellen White spoke of the school matter, reporting that she had visited several sites, Buena Vista among them, the one with “most precious advantages.” There “was abundance of land for cultivation, and the water advantages were very valuable. All through the mountains there were little valleys where families might locate and have a few acres of land for garden or orchard.”—Manuscript 9, 1909. 6BIO 182.5

She stated again that the property “corresponds to representations made to me as an ideal location for our school more perfectly than anything else I have seen.... I have wished that we might come quickly into possession of the property. But,” she added, “there was some advantage in delay, because we now have more time to raise the money to pay for the place.”— Ibid. (Italics supplied.) 6BIO 182.6

In the meantime, feverish speculation in land surrounding the Buena Vista property began to develop and became so acute that on April 6, the California Conference Association took an action, published in the Pacific Union Recorder, April 8, 1909: 6BIO 182.7

That we hereby disapprove of the entire speculative course of all such of our brethren as are involved in such transactions, and that we recommend that all profits accruing from any deals heretofore made be turned over to the college treasury. 6BIO 183.1

The knowledge that Ellen White favored securing the Buena Vista estate added fuel to the fire, and some sizable tracts of land were purchased by Adventists confident of gaining large and quick returns on their investment. 6BIO 183.2

When the transcript for the property finally was available, it was found that there were twenty-two defects in the title, some serious. The owner, in spite of his earlier promises, refused to do anything about it. Ellen White, when her counsel was sought, declared: “Tell them to put us in possession of the place, or to hand us back our money.”—Manuscript 65, 1909. 6BIO 183.3

While she was in the midst of the General Conference session in Washington in May, 1909, the deposit on the Buena Vista property was returned. 6BIO 183.4

“Then we knew not just what to do,” she said, “although in the dreams of the night the assurance was given that we must not become discouraged; if we could not obtain the Buena Vista place, there would be a more advantageous place for our school.”—Letter 187, 1909. 6BIO 183.5