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


Life in the White Home

A few documents provide glimpses of family life in the White home during the war years. In 1863 they sold their cottage on Battle Creek's Wood Street and took possession of a home more adequate to their growing needs. While specific records are meager and unclear, the family was often swollen by orphans and others in need of help, particularly young people seeking an education. John O. Corliss wrote of this in 1923: 2BIO 92.4

She [Ellen White] was most careful to carry out in her own course the things she taught to others. For instance, she frequently dwelt in her public talks upon the duty of caring for widows and orphans, citing her hearers to Isaiah 58:7-10; and she exemplified her exhortations by taking the needy to her own home for shelter, food, and raiment. I well remember her having at one time, as members of her family, a boy and girl and a widow and her two daughters. I have, moreover, known her to distribute to poor people hundreds of dollars’ worth of new clothes, which she bought for that purpose.—The Review and Herald, August 30, 1923. 2BIO 92.5

Looking back in 1906 on her experience, she explained: 2BIO 93.1

After my marriage I was instructed that I must show a special interest in motherless and fatherless children, taking some under my own charge for a time, and then finding homes for them. Thus I would be giving others an example of what they could do.

Although called to travel often, and having much writing to do, I have taken children of 3 and 5 years of age, and have cared for them, educated them, and trained them for responsible positions. I have taken into my home from time to time boys from 10 to 16 years of age, giving them motherly care, and a training for service.—Ibid., July 26, 1906. 2BIO 93.2

Nor was she alone in this benevolent work. The February, 1894, Medical Missionary had this to say of her husband: 2BIO 93.3

Elder White was himself a very philanthropic man. He always lived in a large house, but there were no vacant rooms in it. Although his immediate family was small, his house was always filled with widows and their children, poor friends, poor brethren in the ministry, and those who needed a home. His heart and his pocketbook were always open, and he was ready to help those who needed help. He certainly set a most noble example to our denomination in his largeheartedness and liberality of spirit. 2BIO 93.4

It was in this atmosphere that James and Ellen White took Lucia King into their newly acquired home to be a part of their family for a year or more. James White provided a word picture: 2BIO 93.5

We were happy to hear her voice in prayer at the family altar, and her decided testimony in inquiring-meetings. She was one of the happy fifteen who were baptized Sabbath, January 3. We sent Lucia to our well-organized and disciplined school, and she seemed very happy in our family.—Ibid., May 12, 1863. 2BIO 93.6

Lucia's stay in the White home was cut short by her illness and sudden death from pneumonia, which resulted from undue exposure while visiting friends and relatives in a nearby town. 2BIO 94.1

It was shortly after this that Adelia Patten furnished a glimpse of the Sabbath in the White home, giving special attention to the children: 2BIO 94.2

For a number of years past their mother has spent much time in reading to them on the Sabbath from her large amount of choice selections on moral and religious matter, a portion of which she has recently published in a work entitled Sabbath Readings. Reading to them before they could readily read themselves gave them a love for useful reading, and they have spent many leisure hours, especially the Sabbath hours, when not at Sabbath school and meeting, in perusing good books, with which they were well supplied. 2BIO 94.3

It has been a source of satisfaction to the parents, and those connected with the family, to see the fruits of such labor manifested in the good deportment of the children.—An Appeal to the Youth, 19. 2BIO 94.4