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


Residing Again in Beloved Battle Creek

As James and Ellen took up residence again in Battle Creek, they felt much at home. Ellen later stated, “We were both happy and free in the Lord when we came home to Battle Creek.”—Letter 3, 1869. But this contentment did not last long. Deep in the hearts of some in Battle Creek was a feeling of resentment, triggered by lingering memories of wild reports and rumors. Added to this were the steps, which were sometimes rather severe that James White had taken to pull the business interests of the Health Institute from the brink of financial disaster and to reverse the losses being sustained by the SDA Publishing Association. When because of his severe illness White could no longer head the association, J. M. Aldrich was called to the presidency. His name appeared on the masthead of the Review up to and including the issue of March 30, 1869, when without explanation it was dropped. In that issue Uriah Smith reported: 2BIO 267.2

We have been having the past week a series of very important and solemn meetings. The plainest and most searching testimonies we ever heard have been borne by Brother and Sister White and Brother Andrews, giving us new views of the sacredness of the work, the straitness of the way, the proximity of the judgment, and the exceeding carefulness with which we must prepare for its unerring decisions.—The Review and Herald, March 30, 1869. 2BIO 268.1

Through April and until the constituency meeting on May 20, George Amadon, the vice-president, was in charge. Significantly, in the same back page of the Review in which Smith reported the “very important and solemn meetings” in Battle Creek, James White inserted a note hinting an early return to Greenville. He wrote of the possible withdrawal of their Greenville farm and home from the market. He stated that “present indications strongly favor an immediate return to Montcalm County,” in which case, “we should not wish to sell at present.”—Ibid. 2BIO 268.2

Something of the situation may be seen from Ellen's letter written on April 23 to Uriah Smith and George Amadon: 2BIO 268.3

My husband labored in that [the Review] office earnestly, unselfishly, to set things in order according to the mind of the Spirit of God, which was a most striking contrast to the course pursued by Brother Aldrich, yet he [James White] was looked upon with suspicion, jealousy, and doubt.—Letter 3, 1869. 2BIO 268.4

Attempts to reverse the deteriorating situation led workers and laity to take sides. Contentions and rebellious feelings reached into the families of key personnel. Of one of these families Ellen White wrote, “I have seen no less than four evil angels controlling members of the family.”—Ibid. She opened her heart: 2BIO 268.5

We have labored and toiled and tugged. We have prayed and wept at home. We could not rest or sleep.... I wrote testimony after testimony at the expense of health, and I feared of life, hoping to arouse the consciences of the people at Battle Creek. We bore testimonies in meetings, and held private interviews out of meeting.... At length we saw that help must come from abroad if ever the frown of God would be removed from the church.—Ibid. 2BIO 268.6

Finally she became very ill. In fact, the strain was too much for both of them, and on Thursday, April 15, they started by carriage for their Greenville home, spending the weekend en route at Wright. Tuesday, April 20, they again began keeping house in Greenville. James White wrote that they were: 2BIO 269.1

quite comfortable with the few remaining things not removed to Battle Creek, and some borrowed at Brother Maynard's. This seems like home. Mrs. White is very much improved in health, and we enjoy the light labor among the strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, and grapes. 2BIO 269.2

Here the Lord has blessed us in our afflictions more than in any other place. Here we can accomplish more than in Battle Creek, especially in writing. When returning from a long, wearying tour, we could rest; but not in Battle Creek, until a great change takes place with the people. 2BIO 269.3

We erred in complying with the request of the Battle Creek church to move our headquarters to that city. Things there were not ready for us. Great mistakes had been made in the management of matters pertaining to the interests of the cause there, in our absence, without our counsel, and, in some things, against our entreaties. When those who had made the mistakes should correct them, as far as possible, and when the church should get into a place to help us in our labors, then, and not till then, could it be our duty to settle in their midst.—The Review and Herald, April 27, 1869. 2BIO 269.4

But the General Conference session was to open in Battle Creek on May 18, and they must soon be there. James sent word that they designed to spend the Sabbath, May 8, with the brethren in Battle Creek (Ibid., May 4, 1869). He noted that they were “enjoying farming life very much.” The next week he reported: 2BIO 269.5

We closed our farming the fifth, and the sixth and seventh journeyed on to meet our appointment at Battle Creek.—Ibid., May 11, 1869 2BIO 269.6