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


Visit to St. Helena

What they were unable to accomplish the month before, they were now in early December able to do. Driving from Healdsburg, they reached, at about dark, the home of William Pratt, three miles north of St. Helena. Rather ecstatically James White reported in the Signs: 3BIO 77.1

Here we remained as a sort of headquarters, riding out each day over the most circuitous roads we have seen since we left Colorado. Here we find Dr. M. G. Kellogg, very busy in establishing an institution for the cure of the sick [the St. Helena Sanitarium]. The locality is well selected, and the doctor is to be associated with brethren of ability and means. The enterprise will doubtless be a grand success. 3BIO 77.2

We were able to perform this journey of thirty miles over as romantic [a] mountain road as we have seen in Vermont, Pennsylvania, Colorado, or California, with our carriage. As we stopped by the roadside and kindled fire both going and coming, it forcibly reminded us of our Michigan itinerary, when then as now, after providing the faithful horse with a good dinner we partook of our simple repast of bread and fruit.—December 20, 1877. 3BIO 77.3

Sabbath and Sunday they met with the church in St. Helena, with believers coming in from Napa, Yountville, and other places. The Baptist church was secured for the Sabbath services, held both morning and afternoon. Sunday afternoon Ellen White spoke in the theater to a general audience, with all available standing room fully occupied. The weather was delightful; they drove up Howell Mountain and were intrigued by the view of “mountains and valleys,” and were impressed with the “stately mountain pines that girt about twenty feet.” 3BIO 77.4

But in all of this neither James nor Ellen White could see the recovery they had hoped and prayed for. “Father has improved in many respects,” she wrote Willie and Mary from St. Helena, “but he is failing in flesh.” He suffered disagreeable sensations and unfavorable symptoms (Letter 40, 1877). Again the outlook was dark, and in pouring out her heart to her children she confided: 3BIO 77.5

There is no soul I can go to for counsel or for help but Jesus. L. M. [Lucinda] Hall is so thoroughly engaged she can do nothing to help me in sharing my burdens. My trouble with Mary [Clough] and her mother has told upon me severely. I am unable to write because of my hand and heart troubles. And Father is the last person in the world to whom I should go with any expectancy that he could get beyond himself sufficiently to appreciate my feelings. I must think and act all for myself. I so much long to have an interested God-fearing friend that I can talk and counsel with.—Ibid. 3BIO 78.1

Then she disclosed what she and James were considering. They remembered the blessing their Greenville farm in Michigan had been to them as he was recovering from the severe stroke that smote him down in 1865. Wrote Ellen White: 3BIO 78.2

We have been to Healdsburg and looked around for a home there. We found a very nice location [on west Dry Creek Road] two miles from Healdsburg in the mountains. There are fifteen acres of land which gives us the scenery of Colorado and the advantages of the Greenville farm Father thought so much of. I never was on a place I was so much pleased with. Madrona and manzanita and beautiful evergreens; living springs—several of them are on the place. The price is $1,400. 3BIO 78.3

We should buy ten acres more, which would carry it up to $1,600. There is only a poor little shanty on the place, but it has a good fireplace, which is all the redeeming feature of the house. We must build a plain, simple house costing about $600, barn, et cetera. 3BIO 78.4

This may look like a wild project to you, but if Father can be called away and out of thinking of himself and can enjoy work out of doors, it will be the best thing he can do and be the best investment of means we can make. We must have a place of retirement where we can step out of doors without being seen by our neighbors. We want a chance to pray in the groves and mountains. We shall have no wood to buy; [there is] plenty on the place. We think for health this location [is] above any that we can find in St. Helena. 3BIO 78.5

Willie, I am satisfied Father should not write much. He must have something to engage his mind besides what he has had. There must be a change.—Ibid. 3BIO 79.1

In his report of the visit to St. Helena, James White wrote of how he longed for retirement, and “rest from perpetual mental strain.” He longed to “walk over the mountain sides, to ride on horseback and in our carriage, and to do light work in cultivating vegetables and fruits, and spend much time in reflection and prayer among the evergreens.” He added, “God blessed us greatly at a similar home at Greenville, Michigan, and in our mountain retreat in Colorado. We hope to enjoy the same at Healdsburg.”—The Signs of the Times, December 20, 1877. 3BIO 79.2