Ellen G. White: The Progressive Years: 1862-1876 (vol. 2)


The Almost Fatal Accident of Seneca King

The highly respected Adventist farmer Seneca King lived not far from the little White farm in Greenville. James White, through a note on the back page of the March 17 Review, informed the Battle Creek church of a tragic accident that almost cost King his life. The note opened: 2BIO 223.4

Our dear Brother Seneca King, as I write, lies upon my lounge with a badly fractured skull and cut face. His horses ran away with him.—The Review and Herald, March 17, 1868. 2BIO 223.5

Word of the accident had reached the White home a few hours before, as a neighbor hurried to call a physician to attend to the unconscious man, found lying by the roadside. Taking Brother and Sister Strong with him, White drove the team to the place where King lay. He describes the accident: 2BIO 223.6

He had just become conscious where he was, and what the matter was. We wrapped his head in cloths, and his body in blankets, and brought him here.... To see the hole in his head, and know that the skull is pressed upon the brain, gives one the idea that he is fatally injured. But he is sensible, and quite comfortable. I will write tomorrow. Will you, as a church, remember him before the Lord?—Ibid. 2BIO 223.7

In her diary that day Ellen White went more into detail: 2BIO 224.1

Wednesday, March 11, 1868.

Arose at half past four. Wrote eight pages, but have severe headache. Lay down to rest about eleven o'clock. Something woke me. My husband said, “I have bad news. Brother King has been thrown from his carriage and hurt badly.” Dinner was ready. Brother Strong ran to the woods for our horses. A man brought us the news on his way for the doctor. We had no appetite to eat.

Took comfortables and blankets and rode as fast as we could to the place of the accident. We found Brother King in a terrible condition, covered with blood, his head terribly mangled. Could not determine the extent of the injuries until he was more thoroughly examined. He had just become conscious. 2BIO 224.2

We proposed taking him to our house. We wished to move him before reaction took place. We bundled him up, put him in the sleigh, and Brother Strong supported him. We came as fast as we could. The physician had not yet arrived. Brother Strong started carefully washing his wounds and cutting away the hair. There was a bad gash over the eye, but the most terrible wound was on the forepart of his head above the left eye. There the first skull was broken through. The wound was four inches long. 2BIO 224.3

Physician Martin worked over him some time. Feared to touch the worst wound. Sent for an older doctor. His partner did not come till dark. Then a severe process of probing and picking out small pieces of broken bone commenced. Brother King frequently exclaimed, “It seems as though you would take my life.” 2BIO 224.4

This over, he was put to bed and seemed more comfortable. The doctor charged us to give him entire rest, to avoid all excitement. He is far from being out of danger. With care, he may recover from all this. His system is in a good condition to rally if the skull is not in a condition to depress the brain.—Manuscript 14, 1868. 2BIO 224.5

The next morning she recorded in her diary that King rested well through the night, and James White added to his note to the Review: 2BIO 224.6

Brother King seems to be doing well. Rested well last night. Surgeon thinks the inner layer of his skull not broken.—Ibid., March 17, 1868 2BIO 225.1

During King's recovery, Thomas Wilson, living nearby, became dangerously ill with erysipelas. A telegraphic message sent to Battle Creek brought Dr. Lay to Greenville for the weekend. The time he was at the White home afforded an opportunity for a profitable and pleasant visit in which the interests of the Health Institute were discussed. 2BIO 225.2

Mr. and Mrs. Strong were staying in the White home at this time, and Strong became King's nurse. Also in the home was the youthful John Corliss, whose help was highly esteemed. He was to become a strong worker in the cause of God. For nearly three weeks King was tenderly cared for, and then on March 29 he was able to return to his home, family, and farm. Within a very few years he was an influential man in the cause, his counsel being much appreciated, especially by James White. 2BIO 225.3