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


Chapter 24—(1872-1873) James and Ellen White Discover California

James and Ellen received a most hearty reception when they arrived in California on Wednesday evening, September 25, 1872. At the end of the rail line in Oakland they were met by brethren Conkrite and Stockton, who ushered them to the San Francisco Ferry and on to the Rowland home. Mrs. Rowland was a well-to-do Scottish woman on the verge of taking her stand for the Adventist message. It was midnight when they reached this home. Ellen White wrote, “We met and were introduced to twenty brethren and sisters who greeted us as cordially as we were ever greeted in our lives. These friends had waited at the house of Sister Rowland until twelve o'clock at night to receive us. We did not get to rest until a still later hour.”—Letter 16, 1872. Declared Ellen White in a letter to Edson and Emma: 2BIO 356.1

We rested on the first easy bed we had seen for months. We enjoyed it much. Sister Rowland has welcomed us to her house for one year if we will accept it. She has a good home, well furnished.—Ibid. 2BIO 356.2

In the morning their hostess took them out onto the streets of San Francisco to see the gardens. It seemed to them as if it were midsummer. 2BIO 356.3

Flowers of every type and hue grew in luxuriance and abundance everywhere. Fuchsias grow in open grounds, out of doors, summer and winter; roses of every variety were trailing above trees or latticework in a natural, homelike manner. Many flowers I could not name, having never seen them before.—Ibid. 2BIO 356.4

James and Ellen White had their eyes on Santa Rosa and looked forward to meeting J. N. Loughborough and his wife, who resided there, and to attend the camp meeting. They made the thirty-seven-mile ferry trip across the bay and up the Petaluma River to the city of Petaluma, then a fifteen-mile train trip to Santa Rosa. This was a route they would often travel as they moved about in northern California. They were cordially received at the Loughborough home in Santa Rosa, and attended the Sabbath morning service in the house of worship. James spoke on the reasons of Adventist faith, and Ellen followed for another fifteen minutes. Then nearly all the congregation crowded onto the platform to shake hands with them (Letter 17, 1872). Arrangements had been made for them to stay in the Loughborough home. Ellen describes it and the family: 2BIO 357.1

We are in Brother Loughborough's large house. It is very convenient; has large bedrooms and good chambers for a story-and-a-half house. We are heartily welcome here. Brother Loughborough says the house is ours. We may do what we please with it. 2BIO 357.2

Their two children are, it appears to me, the best children, the most quiet and peaceable, I ever saw. The mother controls them in a quiet way, without noise, severity, or bluster. 2BIO 357.3

The two [John and Mary, his second wife] seem very happy together. We think we shall enjoy our visit to California, but it is like July here now, and the change is so great from the mountain air that we hardly know what to do with ourselves.—Ibid. 2BIO 357.4

In the market they found fruit of every variety, “fresh figs in abundance, apricots, grapes, pears, peaches, and tomatoes. Sweet potatoes are the same price as Irish. They say strawberries are in market, and green peas and string beans. Muskmelons are large as great pumpkins.”—Ibid. Her conclusion was that they would enjoy the country very much. 2BIO 357.5

The camp meeting was to be held in a grove at Windsor, a town ten miles south, situated between Santa Rosa and Petaluma. James and Ellen White, together with Lucinda Hall and Willie, were on the grounds for the opening meetings, Thursday, October 3. James wrote: 2BIO 357.6

We are now writing in a tent upon the California campground, near Windsor, Sonoma County, fifth-day, October 3, at the close of the afternoon service. The location is good, and the weather is fine. It is as warm as August in Michigan, very much warmer than at any point since we crossed the plains the first of July. 2BIO 358.1

Notwithstanding the brief notice of this meeting, there are, at this early stage of the meeting, thirty-three tents upon the ground, besides the large congregation tent, and the provision stand. 2BIO 358.2

Three tents are marked, San Francisco; two, Green Valley; one, Sebastopol; four, Bloomfield; one, Mendocino County; three, Windsor; six, Healdsburg; nine, Santa Rosa; two, Petaluma; two, Woodland.... We spoke in the morning upon the subject of the waiting, watching time, in answer to the question, Where are we? ...Mrs. White spoke in the afternoon, and Elder Cornell spoke in the evening. More next week.—The Review and Herald, October 15, 1872. 2BIO 358.3

The next week he reported that the camp meeting closed well; those who attended were well pleased and encouraged. Twice as many persons had camped on the ground as were expected. James added: 2BIO 358.4

Elder Loughborough is an able manager. The order was excellent, and much admired, and complimented, by those who visited the ground.—Ibid., October 22, 1872 2BIO 358.5

As to ministerial labor, James reported: “Elder Cornell preached twice, Elder Loughborough once, Mrs. White five times, but with difficulty in consequence of a severe cold, and we gave ten discourses, beside speaking to many points in social meetings.” Exuberantly, he added: 2BIO 358.6

Our company, Mrs. White, Willie, Sister Hall, and the writer have been glad every moment since we met a cordial reception at the end of our long journey to San Francisco, that we were in California. The camp meeting has not by any means changed our feelings upon the subject. And nothing but stern duty will ever call us from this country. 2BIO 358.7

We like the people of California, and the country, and think it will be favorable to our health.... We now have strong hopes of recovering health, strength, and courage in the Lord, such as enjoyed two years since.—Ibid. 2BIO 359.1

White hastened to inform the readers of the Review that his “general interest in the cause” was increasing, and he hoped soon to be able to complete a couple of books, Bible Adventism and Bible Hygiene. 2BIO 359.2

After the camp meeting Loughborough and Cornell had to get the large tent back to Woodland, some fifty or sixty miles east of Santa Rosa as the crow would fly over the mountains, but more than twice that far by surface transportation. James and Ellen White were eager to spend some time in San Francisco, having merely passed through the city. So they all went to San Francisco together by train and by ferry on Thursday morning, October 10. On Friday Loughborough and Cornell took the tent by train to Woodland. 2BIO 359.3