Advent Pioneers Biographical Sketches and Pictures




March 2, 1809 — 1868
APBP 18.1

A clue to the important role played by Mrs. Preston in early Adventist history may be gained by looking at the inscription on the headstone of her grave: “Rachel Preston was used of God in bringing the truth of the Sabbath to the Adventist Church at Washington, New Hampshire; which became the first Seventh-day Adventist Church in America.” APBP 18.2

Rachel Preston was a Seventh Day Baptist when she came to Washington. Her daughter Rachel Delight Oakes, became the wife of Cyrus Farnsworth who, with his brother William, were the first Sabbathkeepers among the Washington Adventists. APBP 18.3

In 1837 Rachel Harris Oakes and her daughter joined the Seventh Day Baptist church in Vernon, Vermont. Evidently her husband, Emory, died there although there isn’t any account of it. In 1843 Rachel Oakes and her daughter, Delight, moved to Washington, New Hampshire. Delight taught school, and her mother lived with her and became the instrument in God’s hands in bringing the Sabbath light to that company of Adventists. The Adventists, in turn, brought to her the blessed hope of the second advent. In Washington she met Nathan T. Preston whom she married. They lived there and at Milford for many years and finally returned to Vernon, Vermont, where she died and was buried. APBP 18.4

See: Footprints of the Pioneers, pp.29-39; Captains of the Host, pp.107-109 APBP 18.5

A Story About Rachel Oakes Preston

Let us go back to the little church in Washington, New Hampshire, the first church of Sabbath-keeping Adventists. Arthur Spalding will tell you about an experience that led a number of honest souls to begin the observance of the Sabbath. APBP 18.6

“Communion service was being held in the Washington, New Hampshire, Christian church, one Sunday in the winter of 1844. The presiding elder was Frederick Wheeler, a Methodist and Adventist minister of Hillsboro, whose circuit included this church. Among the communicants he noticed a middle-aged lady sitting in the Daniel Farnsworth pew, who kept her bright eyes upon him during the service, and seemed almost to start to her feet when he declared, ‘All who confess communion with Christ in such a service as this should be ready to obey God and keep His commandments in all things.’ He wondered about that lady. APBP 18.7

“Visiting in the family later, the minister met Mrs. Rachel Oakes, mother of young Rachel Delight Oakes, the school teacher. Direct in speech as in gaze, she said to him, ‘You remember, Elder Wheeler, that you said everyone who confesses Christ should obey all the commandments of God?’ APBP 18.8

“‘Yes.’ APBP 18.9

“‘I came near getting up in the meeting right then, and saying something.’ APBP 18.10

“‘I thought so. What did you have in mind to say?’ APBP 18.11

“‘I wanted to tell you that you had better set the communion table back and put the cloth over it, until you begin to keep the commandments of God,’ said Rachel Oakes. APBP 19.1

“Elder Wheeler sat back astonished. He felt, a little weakly, that he was grateful this direct-action person had had the Christian grace to wait for a private interview. He, not keeping the commandments of God? Wherein was he disobeying? Oh, yes! He had heard of this Seventh Day Baptist sister who had recently come here to live, and of her decided views on the obligation of Christians to keep Saturday for Sunday. It was the literal fourth commandment she was now preaching to him. APBP 19.2

“And it was an effective sermon. Frederick Wheeler went away thinking. He kept on thinking and studying, and not many weeks later he kept his first Sabbath and preached a sermon about it on that same day.” — Captains of the Host, pp.107-108. APBP 19.3

And that’s the way the Washington, New Hampshire, Adventists first heard about the true Sabbath of the Lord. APBP 19.4