Ellen G. White: The Lonely Years: 1876-1891 (vol. 3)


Chapter 5—(1877) In the East Again

To commute each year between the East and the West had become, it seems, a way of life for James and Ellen White. A telegram calling James to Battle Creek to supervise the enlarging of the sanitarium triggered their leaving for the East in harmony with promises made months before (Testimonies for the Church, 4:271). They took the train on the morning of Friday, May 11, bound for Omaha and Battle Creek. 3BIO 59.1

James White described the first few hours of the trip: 3BIO 59.2

After numerous valises and lunch baskets were properly adjusted by the assistance of the porter, we found ourselves well located in a good sleeper with quiet companions in travel.... As evening came on, there were signs of recent rains on the foothills, and by bedtime the air was cool and refreshing. Slept well all night as our train moved up the ascent, around among the mountain peaks, and on through the dreaded snowsheds. Awoke in the morning feeling that we had gained a great victory over weariness.—The Signs of the Times, May 17, 1877.

Whenever they could, the Whites avoided travel on the Sabbath, but in this case they were on the cars. White gives a description of their activities: 3BIO 59.3

It was Sabbath morning, and how to spend the sacred day to the acceptance of the Lord of the Sabbath became a matter of counsel. We decided that after the morning repast from our lunch baskets of plain bread, oranges, and cherries, we would spread our adjustable table with copies of the Signs, Review, 3BIO 59.4

Reformer, and the blessed Bible. With these, full of truth and interest, to enjoy, the hours of the Sabbath passed sweetly by.—Ibid.

From Oakland to Battle Creek was a six-day trip, bringing them to their destination on Thursday, May 17. The home they owned in Battle Creek had been rented, so was not available to them. Arrangements were made for them to have a room in the Review and Herald building, and friends did what they could. It was not long until James White took his pen and wrote, “Battle Creek has never seemed more like home, so far as a pilgrim and stranger can have a home in this world.”—The Review and Herald, May 24, 1877. 3BIO 60.1

He spoke Sabbath morning to a congregation that filled to overflowing the house of worship, with five hundred persons present, and he noted that “a fourth house of worship must soon be erected, capable of comfortably seating not less than one thousand persons.” But this would have to wait until the next year and the building of the “Dime” Tabernacle. He found what he termed “our beloved Battle Creek College” in encouraging circumstances with a good enrollment. Dr. J. H. Kellogg had recently arrived to take charge of the Health Institute and it was “prospering gloriously.” Patronage had grown to the point that there were between ninety and one hundred guests and another twenty-five who came in from the community for treatment. “Dr. J. H. Kellogg,” wrote the local editor of the Review, “has the entire confidence of the patients, by whom he is justly held in high esteem.”—Ibid., June 7, 1877. The Health Reformer, James White noted, “is the ablest and most practical health journal printed” (Ibid., May 24, 1877). 3BIO 60.2

Of the Health Institute, renamed by Dr. Kellogg the “Medical and Surgical Sanitarium,” White wrote: 3BIO 60.3

When we have been urged to build during the past three or four years, we have objected on the ground that our buildings and facilities were equal to our doctors. Now that we have men of ability, refinement, and sterling sense, educated at the best medical schools on the continent, we are ready to build. Not less than $25,000 will be laid out in building the present summer.—Ibid. 3BIO 60.4

White went on to tell of how five years before he and Ellen became certain that the institute could not rise to its full measure of usefulness without thoroughly educated physicians, and plans were laid to gain the point. Young men were chosen to train to serve as physicians. As to the result: 3BIO 61.1

Dr. J. H. Kellogg has been as true as steel. Drs. Fairfield and Sprague, who are studying under him, will graduate at the highest medical school on the continent in the spring of 1878. It is a disgrace to Seventh-day Adventists to do a second-class job in anything.—Ibid. 3BIO 61.2

Before long the foundations were being laid for an institution that would measure with the skills of the newly trained physicians. 3BIO 61.3

Most earnestly James White engaged in forwarding the several interests. His activities also included “preaching, writing, and holding board meetings at the Review office, the college, and the sanitarium, nearly always working into the night” (Testimonies for the Church, 4:272). As for Ellen White, she had suffered pain in her heart for several months, and this did not leave her. As the pressures increased they thought to get away for a time, going to Colorado where they could find rest and retreat as they had occasionally done in the past. But of this she wrote: 3BIO 61.4

While [I was] planning for the journey, a voice seemed to say to me: “Put the armor on. I have work for you to do in Battle Creek.” The voice seemed so plain that I involuntarily turned to see who was speaking. I saw no one, and at the sense of the presence of God my heart was broken in tenderness before Him. When my husband entered the room, I told him the exercises of my mind. We wept and prayed together. Our arrangements had been made to leave in three days, but now all our plans were changed.”—Ibid. 3BIO 61.5