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


Chapter 23—(1872) A Surprise Vacation in the Rocky Mountains

Early Sunday morning, June 23, 1872, Ellen White wrote from her hideaway home in Washington, Iowa, to her longstanding friend in Greenville, Michigan, Mrs. Maynard: “We leave today for California. My husband and myself need rest.... Next Sabbath we expect, if the Lord prospers us, to be in Santa Rosa.”—Letter 1, 1872. The Whites did not reach California, however, until Friday afternoon, September 27, fourteen weeks later. 2BIO 341.1

They had planned to attend most of the western camp meetings (Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota), and then join J.N. Loughborough in California for a camp meeting to be held in late September. But when the Iowa meeting closed, they saw that to carry out their plan in their state of health, the strain would be greater than they could bear. After a few days’ rest, they decided to go at once, thinking to arrive in California in late June. They had to have some rest. 2BIO 341.2

With travel plans flexible, they started out, taking with them 17-year-old Willie, who had now joined them in Iowa, and Mrs. Lucinda Hall. Lucinda, 33 years of age and the daughter of Ira Abbey, was a widow; she had been Ellen's closest friend for twenty years. They stopped briefly at Civil Bend, Missouri, where the church needed help, and there decided to make another stop at Ottawa, Kansas, where Ellen White's oldest sister, Caroline Clough, lived. They arrived at the Clough home Tuesday, July 2, thinking to remain for two days. It had been twenty-five years since the two sisters had been together, and the reunion was a happy one. In a letter to Edson, Ellen described her sister, fifteen years her senior: 2BIO 341.3

She is an understanding, intelligent woman, living, I think up to the best light she has had. She is a powerful singer. This is as much her talent as speaking is mine. I think I never heard a voice that would thrill the soul like hers.—Letter 10, 1872. 2BIO 342.1

The home is described as a small, comfortable dwelling on a large prairie, some six miles from Ottawa. The Cloughs insisted that they stay for a few days, and the pleasant visit stretched through two weeks less one day (The Review and Herald, September 3, 1872). When Caroline was assured that their stay would extend over the second weekend, she mounted her horse and rode eighteen miles, visiting three communities, each in a different direction, and invited people to hear Ellen speak. Three times on Sunday—once in the morning and twice in the afternoon, Ellen spoke in grove meetings. Before they left Ottawa, James White stated that 2BIO 342.2

Brother and Sister Clough informed us that they had four children in Colorado Territory, and expressed a strong desire that we should visit them. We decided to stop at Denver and spend a day or two with their daughter, Mrs. Walling.—Ibid.

When the party arrived in Denver a city of twelve thousand, (WCW, in The Youth's Instructor, December, 1872), Willie was sent out to find the Walling home. He soon returned to the station in a carriage with Mr. Walling. At the Walling home, the White party met two of Ellen's nieces, Mrs. Walling and Miss Mary L. Clough. She described Mr. Walling as “very free and kind,” and engaged in a large profitable, lumbering business. Being quite well-to-do (Letter 25, 1872), he spared no expense to please and entertain them. His lumber mills were some forty miles west, at the edge of the Rocky Mountains, but he had his home in Denver so that the children might have the benefit of a school. Instead of staying a couple of days, the Whites accepted an invitation to remain for a while. Ellen had an opportunity to get to her writing. In a letter to Edson penned July 23, she mentioned a point of particular interest: 2BIO 342.3

Yesterday I wrote all day trying to get off the matter in reference to schools. I am going to write in regard to the Health Institute as soon as I can have clearness of head to write.—Letter 30, 1872. 2BIO 342.4

When they left Michigan, a denominational school had been started in Battle Creek, a project in which James and Ellen White were deeply interested. During the past few weeks they had conversed a good deal about the new enterprise. They had read reports and George Butler's articles in the Review about the school. 2BIO 343.1

At this time Ellen wrote the familiar sentence “It is the nicest work ever assumed by men and women to deal with youthful minds.” These were the opening words of the chapter “Proper Education,” now found in Testimonies, volume 3, page 131. Needing material for her department in the Health Reformer, she wrote and submitted what is now found in Testimonies, volume 3, pages 131-138, for publication in the September, 1872, issue. There are slight verbal differences in the Reformer article, written for the general public, and the Testimony chapter, prepared especially for the church. 2BIO 343.2

She followed this in the Health Reformer with six installments of modest size, appearing in December, 1872, and in the issues of April, May, June, July, and September, 1873. She wrote these with the general public clearly in mind, at times quoting material, properly credited, from other journals. As she filled out the article “Proper Education” for Testimonies, volume 3, pages 138-160, she set forth counsel directed particularly to the church and urged: 2BIO 343.3

Time is too short now to accomplish that which might have been done in past generations; but we can do much, even in these last days, to correct the existing evils in the education of youth. And because time is short, we should be in earnest and work zealously to give the young that education which is consistent with our faith.—Testimonies for the Church, 3:158, 159. 2BIO 343.4