Ellen G. White: The Australian Years: 1891-1900 (vol. 4)


The Threat of the Walling Lawsuit

While at the Colorado camp meeting in Colorado Springs, Ellen White met with a unique experience. Her diary entry for September 12, penned on Saturday night, declares: 4BIO 17.1

Today, a lawyer came into my tent and presented me with papers made out in behalf of W. B. Walling, suing me for $25,000 damages. He charges that I have alienated from him the affections of his daughters, Addie and May.—Manuscript 34, 1891. 4BIO 17.2

The two girls were the daughters of Ellen White's niece, who in 1873 resided with her husband, Will Walling, in Colorado. When trouble developed in the family, Walling asked James and Ellen White to take and care for the children for a few months. Once relieved of their care, however, he took no steps to terminate the temporary arrangement. James and Ellen White—and Ellen alone after her husband's death—reared and educated the two girls as if they were their own. Now, some eighteen years later, when the girls were young women, the father, who was living alone, sought their return to make a home for him. They refused, choosing to stay with their Aunt Ellen, and Walling brought suit against Ellen White, claiming that she had alienated the affection of his daughters. 4BIO 17.3

Litigation continued over a period of four years until finally Ellen White, through Harmon Lindsay, an officer of the General Conference to whom she had entrusted her business affairs while in Australia, arranged for a settlement out of court. Ellen White made a cash payment to remove the nuisance lawsuit and to render unnecessary the girls’ having to appear in court to testify against their father. 4BIO 17.4