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


“My Writings will Constantly Speak”

As W. C. White started westward after the Battle Creek funeral, his mind turned to the care and publication of his mother's writings. It would be managed by the newly activated White Estate, under the direction of the five trustees of Ellen White's appointment: A. G. Daniells, president of the General Conference; F. M. Wilcox, editor of the Review and Herald; C. H. Jones, manager of the Pacific Press; C. C. Crisler, for fourteen years the leading secretary; and himself, who had traveled and worked with his mother for thirty-four years. 6BIO 445.6

Ellen White had written in 1907: 6BIO 445.7

Abundant light has been given to our people in these last days. Whether or not my life is spared, my writings will constantly speak, and their work will go forward as long as time shall last. My writings are kept on file in the office, and even though I should not live, these words that have been given to me by the Lord will still have life and will speak to the people.—Selected Messages 1:55.

On several occasions in her later years, she had discussed the circulation of her books with W. C. White. “My son,” she said, as he reports it: 6BIO 446.1

“While I live, I want you to do all you can to hasten the publication of my writings in the English language, and after I die, I want you to labor for their translation and publication in foreign languages. There is precious truth and light in these writings which should go to the ends of the earth.”—WCW to “Dear Friend,” October 20, 1915. 6BIO 446.2

She also had outlined tasks she hoped could be continued after her death. Among these were the preparation of the story of her work in Europe; also, in a similar way, the story of her work in Australia, with the messages regarding the location of the Avondale School. She was eager to have a book prepared on the rise of the health reform movement, together with instruction to physicians and managers (Ibid.). And there was the selecting from her writings of materials for publication overseas and the abridging of some of her larger books, which in their fullness could not be published in lands of small memberships and limited finances. All this was a challenge to the trustees and particularly to W. C. White. 6BIO 446.3

Then there was the closing up of Ellen White's financial affairs as her will was probated and her estate closed as required by law. To hasten various features of the Lord's work and to bring out her own books as rapidly as possible, she had borrowed heavily, mostly from Seventh-day Adventists who were pleased to lend her money at modest interest rates. Books of account had been kept, for this work actually had become a business, with its investments in producing books and income in author's returns from book publication. 6BIO 446.4

According to the records kept in the office, her financial interests in book rights, printing plates, and manuscripts, together with her home property, et cetera, exceeded comfortably her indebtedness, but on her death, or soon thereafter, her creditors would expect the return of their money. These business interests would call for careful attention. [See Appendix B for a statement on the closing up of the estate and the settlement with the creditors, as well as the beginning of the work of Ellen G. White Estate.] 6BIO 446.5

Sunday morning, after his return from the East, W. C. White took the eight-minute walk from his home to the Elmshaven office and residence; there he knew he would have to face new conditions. Already the staff was separating. Sara McEnterfer was in Mountain View, where she obtained employment at the Pacific Press. Maggie Hare Bree and her husband were on their way back to New Zealand. Dores Robinson was in pastoral work to the north, in Willits. Mary Steward had responded to a call from the Review and Herald to serve as a proofreader; Minnie Hawkins Crisler was now at home caring for her stepdaughter and attending to her duties there. The accountant, A. H. Mason, was still at work and would be needed until the estate was settled. 6BIO 447.1

Clarence Crisler was still in the office, closing up work on the Old Testament history. By this time it was known as “The Captivity and Restoration of Israel“: later it was published as “Prophets and Kings”. Two chapters were not quite finished. These were completed from materials in the manuscript files. Crisler's future was yet uncertain, but he would not be continuing with the work at Elmshaven. In 1916 he answered a call to China as secretary of the China Division. W. C. White would be alone, and the nature of his work was at this point in uncertainty. 6BIO 447.2

He stepped onto the porch of the Elmshaven home. It was unoccupied, and the doors locked. He unlocked the door and entered, as he had so often done. He describes his findings and sentiments: 6BIO 447.3

Everything was in perfect order, but the life of the place had gone. Going upstairs to the big east room, where for fifteen years Mother had studied and prayed and planned and written, I found it vacant. The old couch and the tables and chairs and chests of drawers were in their usual places, and the big armchair with its swing board in front was where it used to be, between the big bay window and the fireplace; but the dear mother, whose presence had made this room the most precious place in all the world to me, was not there. Then I recalled the many times I had returned from the Eastern States, and had hastened up to Mother's room, sure of a hearty welcome, and an eager listener to my reports of meetings attended and of the progress of the work in which she was so deeply interested. But now there was no one in the writing chair to listen to my report.— Ibid. 6BIO 447.4

It was the end of an era, the end of the “Elmshaven” years. 6BIO 448.1

As he stepped over to the cabinets in the northwest corner and opened the doors to the shelves that held copies of the E. G. White books and copies of her manuscripts and letters, there must have come to his mind Ellen White's words as she at times opened these doors and displayed her books and her papers: 6BIO 448.2

“Here are my writings; when I am gone they will testify for me.”—WCW Letter, July 9, 1922 (MR, p. 93). 6BIO 448.3