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


Chapter 27—(1874) Progressive Steps in Evangelism in the Far West

When James and Ellen White left Battle Creek for California on December 18, 1873, he was president of the Publishing Association, editor of the Review and Herald, and nominally pastor of the Battle Creek church—and in his heart inseparably linked with the institutions there. He had a very special interest in the developing denominational school that was meeting temporarily in rooms in the newly constructed Review and Herald third building. He was able to sit in with just one class of the new term before leaving the city. Uriah Smith had been restored to the editorial staff of the Review and actually was managing the paper. 2BIO 401.1

Across the continent at Santa Rosa in northern California, Lucinda Hall had set up housekeeping for the White family in a commodious rented home. The two nieces, Addie and May Walling, were with her. She was expecting James and Ellen White to come in late November. They finally arrived in San Francisco on Sunday evening, December 28, and were met the next day by J. N. Loughborough, president of the California Conference, now living at Woodland. Loughborough accompanied them to Santa Rosa, where he had called the officers of the California Conference to meet for a two-day council. 2BIO 401.2

Isaac and Adelia Van Horn had traveled west with the Whites, and they joined the worker-group meeting in Santa Rosa. Everyone rejoiced in the reports of the victories won in Battle Creek. The whole experience brought great relief and freedom to James. Then the group broke up, the workers returning to their fields of labor. Van Horn accompanied Loughborough to Napa, where the evangelistic work carried on largely by Canright was being bound off. James and Ellen set about getting settled. Then Sabbath came, the first of the new year; Ellen spoke to the believers in Santa Rosa, and again Sunday afternoon (Manuscript 2, 1874). 2BIO 401.3

A matter of early concern was transportation. For $220 James purchased a team of small, sound horses—a mare 4 years old, and her mother, 8. They purchased a used but “nice looking” covered carriage for $150 (Letter 4, 1874). Writing to Willie on Tuesday, January 13, Ellen reported that they were at work on “our Reformer articles and I have my article about ready for the Instructor” (ibid.). 2BIO 402.1

Ten days later she wrote again to Willie, a letter that she addressed “My Dear Son Clarence.” Apparently in respect to Willie's approaching manhood, the parents decided to use his middle name, thinking it would add a bit of dignity. Most of the letters addressed to him through February and March were written to “Clarence.” But as the pressure of work increased, Ellen dropped back to the familiar “Willie,” and Willie it was for the rest of his life. 2BIO 402.2

In her letter of January 23, Ellen reported some inflammation in her eyes that made it impossible for her to read by candlelight. By being very careful she was able to get off her articles for the Reformer, Instructor, and the True Missionary. She added: 2BIO 402.3

Yesterday I brought out from my boxes the article upon the temptation of Christ, and looked it over. I set Brother and Sister Van Horn to copying it for publication, so you see we have made a little progress in the direction of my next volume.—Letter 5, 1874. 2BIO 402.4

Edited and enlarged, the manuscript made eleven articles, published in the Signs and then in the Review in 1874 and 1875. 2BIO 402.5

M. E. Cornell, since arriving in California in late 1871, pursued a hobby of gathering rock specimens. He spent a few days in the White home getting them ready to send to the Health Institute in Battle Creek. His report to the Review gives us another glimpse of the White home in Santa Rosa: 2BIO 402.6

I spent three days very pleasantly and profitably at the home of Brother and Sister White. I was greatly encouraged by their courage, and I rejoiced to find them in such good health and spirits. I was glad also to meet Sister Van Horn and Sister Hall. It seemed almost like being back in old Michigan, to see so many of the old hands in the cause. 2BIO 402.7

They all seemed to do what they could do to make this lone pilgrim feel at home with them, and they succeeded well. 2BIO 403.1

I noticed that all these were workers! There is not a drone in that hive. The very height of their ambition and pleasure seemed to be in doing what they could to advance the cause of present truth. Their zeal for God made me feel that I could do a little more in the good cause. From this on, I want to feel at the close of each day that I have done what I could.—The Review and Herald, March 10, 1874. 2BIO 403.2

A month earlier Loughborough, in a report to the Review, had written of what James and Ellen White were doing: 2BIO 403.3

We esteem it a great privilege to have in our midst Brother and Sister White, who during the rainy season are vigorously prosecuting their writings, and are even now giving us good counsel and aid in the work here; and when spring opens, and they have the opportunity of speaking to our people in different places, as the providence of God may indicate, they are prepared to greatly help our people.—Ibid., February 24, 1874 2BIO 403.4

Loughborough described well the situation in Santa Rosa for the first quarter of 1874. The Whites were but little in the field, and they concentrated on their writing. When the quarterly meeting [A gathering of believers from a given area for worship, exhortation, and the advancement of the cause, usually opening on a friday afternoon and extending through sunday, and convened once in three months.] was held in Santa Rosa over the weekend of February 6 to 8, James White threw himself heartily into the work. Writing to Willie, who was staying in the Brownsberger home in Battle Creek and attending classes, Ellen explained: 2BIO 403.5

Our quarterly meeting has closed. I was unable to attend the meeting, but there was little need. Brethren Canright, Loughborough, Van Horn, and your father were present and as the brethren had not heard Canright and Van Horn, we were anxious that they should take the time. Your father spoke twice. We had thirty at dinner, lodged eighteen and fed them straight through. The meeting passed off very pleasantly. Many things were discussed and settled. Brethren Van Horn and Canright go together to Oregon, week after next. 2BIO 403.6

Brethren Loughborough and Cornell will work together here on this coast this season, and your father and I will strike in here and there, following up the labor in new places. 2BIO 404.1

I do not think we will attend the eastern camp meetings this coming season. It is of no use to make child's play of coming to California and running back again.—Letter 10, 1874. 2BIO 404.2