The Fannie Bolton Story


Letter 106, 1895, pp. 1-6. (To J. H. Kellogg, December 20, 1895.)

I send you copies of letters written to Fannie Bolton. I have withheld them because I do not desire to make her case public. But I have had the most serious difficulty with her at last camp meeting. I am now left without anyone to prepare articles for papers or prepare books. I have felt I had little enough help, but when I was compelled to cut loose from Fannie, it was a sore trial to me. I feel somewhat discouraged about getting proper help. FBS 59.3

I was troubled about Fannie for a long time. I could not see that she had any real interest in the work. She had the most precious matter of practical godliness presented before her. She was handling subjects every day that if she fed upon them would give her spiritual food and Christian experience. But I received not the evidence that she caught the precious ideas, but rushed through them mechanically, passively, without taking them in and appropriating them to herself. The precious things became common. Poor soul, she feeds upon fiction more than upon the truth. FBS 59.4

She has a temperament that is high as the skies at one moment, and the next is deep down in proportion as she was up. FBS 59.5

But she has represented my writings as being in need of taking all to pieces and doing up in another style. If this is the case the sooner I lay down my pen the better. The power of imagination is good, but when it leads to a highflown strain that only creates emotions, I do not care for it to be mingled with my work. FBS 59.6

Well, the heart-sickening detail I cannot enter into, but enough to say that warnings were given me from the Lord of what she was doing, but I was in a position where I knew not what to do. I told Marian Davis that Fannie had no interest in the work. I had no union with her. But Marian excused her, saying, “O, Fannie is tired. When she gets rested she will do differently.” FBS 59.7

I have stood alone in my own house. I cannot expect to receive sympathy when there are those who do not and can not take in the situation. They can not discern my position and duty and mission. FBS 59.8

I have had opened before me the whole matter in figures and symbols, that Fannie Bolton was my adversary. I did not ever flatter her for her supposed zeal in different lines, or for her wonderful talent, and I could not feel in harmony with her. FBS 60.1

Soon after we arrived in Sydney from America, she sprained her ankle. I told her just what to do, to keep quiet and not to walk on it. But some with me said, “Poor Fannie, I don’t think it will hurt her,” and my advice was ignored. She was a cripple from the first of December until the next October. FBS 60.2

Then I learned through Fannie that she was in love with a young man from California whom she had met at Ann Arbor. I think it was Blakley. She acted at times as if possessed of an evil spirit, and she set in to make us all miserable. This course she repented of, I think. FBS 60.3

I received little sympathy from Fannie during my great suffering of eleven months in Preston. I then told her that I could never consent to have her a member of my family. I did not doubt she was a woman of talent, for she could talk me down any time. She was sometimes impudent and accusing. She would have made my life in my home bitterness, but for the rich blessing of the Lord. I had His presence with me day and night. I was refreshed by the waters of life. FBS 60.4

Two years ago at Brighton camp meeting she began her work again as my adversary, reporting to others all of which I cannot repeat. But she created such a state of things in her representation that you would have supposed her to be the author of the articles she prepared, and maintained that it should be acknowledged that Marian and Fannie were in copartnership with me in the publications bearing my signature. FBS 60.5

I told her again and again that I wanted not her words, but my words, and when I discovered words she had inserted of her own, in the place of the words in which I had expressed my ideas, I put my pen across it. FBS 60.6

Two years ago I discharged her after a long, painful experience. I asked her to put into writing the form of recognition she craved. But she would not do this. She claimed to be converted, changed entirely and made such humble confessions that I thought I would try her again. But she is the same, and now Satan begins to use her as he has done at the Armadale camp meeting, Melbourne. FBS 60.7

With it all there has been a lovesick sentimentalism for Caldwell. The affair had been carried on as they thought, in secrecy, but it was not thus. Those whose perceptive faculties were not dimmed know all they wished to know. Caldwell is a married man, with two children, the eldest about ten years old. He has been absent from his wife three years, and from the light the Lord has been pleased to give me, he has been anything but a patient, kind, thoughtful husband. His wife has not written him a line for the three years he has been absent. I think she hated him. She has obtained a divorce from him, but before this was done the attachment and love had been pledged to one another Fannie to Caldwell, and Caldwell to Fannie. They supposed that if they were married, they could be united in taking the supervision of my place and my writings. After the wife had obtained a divorce, then he said she was not true to him, and he was free to marry whom he would. FBS 60.8

I told Fannie Bolton that it had nearly cost me my life to connect with her, and if I had another one united with her and the two to handle, I should soon be buried. No, I am entirely separated from Fannie. Never while time lasts will another article of mine pass into her hands. She has sought to betray me, to turn traitor, to say things that leave untrue impressions upon minds. She has educated herself in theatrical methods, and can act out to life in apparent sincerity a thing that is false. FBS 60.9

Brother and Sister Prescott have done me a good service, although her pretentious acting was so deceiving. They and many others thought the woman was honest, and was really all she pretended to be. FBS 61.1

Fannie herself, notwithstanding the deception she was practicing, though she had, as she thought, deceived me for nearly one year, had the presumption to tell me that in her work of giving Bible readings, her words were inspired. She would tell how the ones she was talking with were wonderfully affected, and would turn pale. The strange part of the matter is that our own people are so ready to accept theatrical demonstrations as the inspiration of the Spirit of God. And I am more surprised, under the circumstances that they should encourage her to connect with sacred things. FBS 61.2

She has urged, and begged, and cried, for me to take her back again into my service. But I said, “No, for you make false statements in regard to your preparing the articles for papers and books, which I deny. With all apparent sincerity and honesty you state to others and to me, that you think the Lord has inspired you to change the words I have traced, and substitute your own for them. I call this a strange fire of your own kindling.” FBS 61.3

We soon heard that Fannie was in broken health, sick in bed, and had decided to return to America. Next, one week ago last Friday, she sent a telegram, that she would come to Morriset station about nine o’clock at night. FBS 61.4

My horses and carriage went for her four miles and a half. The school building took her in that night, and she has been near me here only to see to her things in the tent. She appears, I hear, almost as a nervous wreck. She consulted physicians in Melbourne, who prescribed for her to eat largely of eggs. She says she must have meat and oysters and such things in order to build up. She is now at Brother and Sister Shannon’s who have taken a small home of four rooms, which is built upon a hill where it is very difficult for a carriage to approach, but is a retired, healthful location. She is in no condition to go on the long sea voyage to America, but will remain until she has better health. FBS 61.5

Sister Shannon will have a burden on her hands. Poor soul, I pity her, but she has now a knowledge of Fannie, and has chosen to do this. I do not wish to see Fannie. I can do her no good. She will misconstrue my words, and will misstate me. She will hear with ears that will hear only what she wants to hear.... FBS 61.6

Now in regard to Edson, I presented the matter to Brother Olsen. I tried to lay before him my situation in connection with Fannie, but Fannie, I think, had considerable talk with him, as she does to every one, in representing the great difficulty in preparing the articles from my pen. He recommended that I take Fannie with me to Africa. I think for some reason Brother Olsen does not comprehend how we were situated here in this country. I am sure he was very dull of comprehension in regard to my relation to the work and in regard to Fannie’s connection with me. The way she represents matters is so misleading. She will say with such pathos, “Sister White does not understand me. My motives are misapprehended.” FBS 61.7

Jesus has told us that the fruit testifies of the character of the tree, and yet persons who do not have an intimate connection with Fannie for some time are certainly deceived, and I am misjudged. I cannot tell what I shall do. I am getting older, and my work given me of God should now be done rapidly, but where are my helpers? FBS 62.1