Ellen G. White: The Early Elmshaven Years: 1900-1905 (vol. 5)


The Death of Mrs. Magan

Adding to the confusion and problems at the Berrien Springs meeting was the death of Mrs. Percy Magan on Thursday. 5BIO 336.4

When the conference opened, Ida Magan was very critically ill in a hospital in Kalamazoo; her husband stayed close by her side. The strain of starting a new college with little financial support to help make the enterprise go was arduous and had a bearing on the health of those involved, which included the Magans. But a much greater impact was made by a rumor that had been started soon after the 1903 General Conference session held in Oakland, California. It was reported that Ellen White had indicated that the management of the school at Berrien Springs was crooked and wrong, that there was a one-man power there that would crush everyone who did not conform. 5BIO 336.5

The rumor was repeated and sent in letters to students at Berrien Springs. 5BIO 336.6

Under the pressure of this criticism and the other tremendous burdens she was carrying, Mrs. Magan's health broke, and she had to be hospitalized. When Ellen White heard the false and devilish rumor, she wrote to Magan stoutly denying it and offering assurance of her continued sympathy and support (Letter 111, 1903). When Magan read the letter to his wife, she cried as if her heart would break, she appreciated it so greatly (P. T. Magan to EGW, July 1, 1903). 5BIO 336.7

But Mrs. Magan's condition continued to deteriorate. She contracted tuberculosis, and finally died in incredible suffering. The funeral was held on the Sabbath afternoon of the conference in Berrien Springs in what was then known as Memorial Hall. This hall had been built by a gift of $500 that Mrs. Magan had provided from her meager resources. Ellen White did not participate in the funeral, but in one of her talks she said: 5BIO 337.1

Sister Magan worked with her husband, struggling with him and praying that he might be sustained. She did not think of herself, but of him. And God did sustain them, as they walked in the light.... But it seemed to her as if some of our brethren had not a heart of flesh.... His poor wife ... was informed that Sister White had taken a stand against her husband. Oh, why did anyone ever say such a thing? Sister White never turned against Brother Magan or against Brother Sutherland. But Sister Magan was so weighted down with sorrow that she lost her reason.... Now the poor woman has gone, leaving two motherless children. All this, because of the work done by unsanctified tongues.—Manuscript 54, 1904. 5BIO 337.2

In striking words Ellen White declared that Mrs. Magan died as a martyr among her brethren. “My brethren,” she pleaded, “this work of hurting one another does not pay. May God help you to cleanse your hearts from this evil thing.”— Ibid. But so deep were feelings and so bitter were animosities that even this appeal from Ellen White failed to accomplish all it should, for now the rumors quickly changed. It was reported that Ellen White had virtually accused Elders Daniells and Prescott of being Mrs. Magan's murderers (25 WCW, p. 230). 5BIO 337.3

She admitted that Elders Prescott and Daniells had made mistakes, but they never had defied the Spirit of God and never had refused to be corrected. She then spoke in commendation of the two men for their work in Washington and said the Lord had greatly blessed them at every step. In the same letter she wrote to Brethren Magan and Sutherland concerning Daniells and his relationship to the Spirit of Prophecy: 5BIO 337.4

God has chosen Elder Daniells to bear responsibilities, and has promised to make him capable, by His grace, of doing the work entrusted to him.... 5BIO 338.1

Elder Daniells is a man who has proved the testimonies to be true. And he has proved true to the testimonies. When he has found that he has differed from them, he has been willing to acknowledge his error, and come to the light.... The Lord has given Elder Daniells reproof when he has erred, and he has shown his determination to stand on the side of truth and righteousness, and to correct his mistakes.... 5BIO 338.2

I know that Elder Daniells is the right man in the right place.—Letter 255, 1904. 5BIO 338.3