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Ellen White
and the Dallas Dignitaries

library pictures
By Mary Ann Hadley
Published: March 28, 2011

It seems that James and Ellen White spent Nov. 26 through Dec. 3, 1878, in and around Dallas. According to the Review and Herald, April 3, 1879, the couple held temperance meetings in Dallas on Dec. 1 and 2.

Those temperance meetings (on the subjects of religious and moral reform) were somehow brought to the attention of the top dignitaries of Dallas, who, probably anxious to promote anything that might enhance their city, extended two invitations to the Whites. The first invitation was in the form of a request that the Whites return to hold a series of meetings in their city. The second would never happen — the establishment of a sanitarium like the one in Battle Creek

On Dec. 4, 1878, Ellen writes to Willie and Mary, "Brother Kilgore who is having a discussion at Plano has clipped notices from the Dallas Herald, headed "A Call upon Elder James White to Lecture."

"To the Editor of the Dallas Herald," the undersigned citizens of Dallas city would esteem it a favor if your journal would extend to Elder James White and his most accomplished wife, an invitation to lecture in this city. The attendance may not be large, since this is our busiest cotton season, but we have no doubt that an appreciative audience will be present at any appointment that might be made." Respectfully, James B. Simpson, A.H. Sheppard, Thomas Field, W.L. Cabbell, G. Beaumont and others." None of these names are Sabbath keepers.

Ellen continues to quote, "The Herald directs attention to the card Messrs.. Simpson, Swink, Holland, Cabell and others, suggesting that an invitation be extended to Elder James White and lady to lecture in Dallas. We cordially comply with their request, and express the hope that even in these busy times an hour may be spared in listening to what the distinguished lecturers may say. It is to be hoped, also that Elder White may be induced to build a sanitarium in Dallas similar to that one in Michigan which has attracted such world wide interest."

Ellen continues her letter, suggesting that perhaps as soon as February they might pitch the "cotton meeting house" in accordance with the Dallas request, and "give all who desire an opportunity to hear."

According to Ellen, the theatre, "a very desirable place for meetings," was made available free of charge. She adds, "We shall study duty. We feel that such a public invitation should be respected."

Then three days later, Ellen again writes, this time just to Mary: "We found out who the men were who signed their names in the Herald soliciting our labor in Dallas. Mayor, first banker, lawyer, ex-representation to Congress, present representation to Congress, physician and many others. We shall go in February when the tent can be pitched and a crowd got out to hear."

James White referred to the Herald's invitation on Dec. 19 in a letter to Willie. He says, "The temperance people are urging us to go to Dallas. They heard us, and the Mayor . . .etc. . . signed a card inviting us to the City to work and published it in the Dallas Herald. I think we have claims on the very best help we can get."

February correspondence by the Whites gives no indication of the meetings transpiring in Dallas that month. Interestingly, Ellen writes to Willie and Mary, "Weather is getting rather warm. Much wind. Have either Northern or Southern. It is very dry. We would welcome rain. The ground needs it very much. . . . A little water treatment would be of great benefit to us both at this season of the year. Not that we are sick, but we have plenty of flesh that will bear considerable washing."

On March 8 James writes from Grand Prairie to Edson and Emma in California, "We came down to Dallas Thursday (March 6) and yesterday, Friday, we came here. . . . We spend Sabbath and first day, 8 and 9 in Dallas . . . Then three days later James again writes Edson, "Your mother is having a perfect opening here. The tent is crowded." He also adds, "Today, March 11, I had a good swim in a lake two miles from Dallas. Mercury 98."

A more detailed account of the Dallas meetings was reported by R. M. Kilgore in the April 3, 1879, Review and Herald, which reads, "The first week in March the tent was pitched, and the lectures commenced Sunday, the 9th, with a good audience at 3 p.m., and in the evening the tent was filled with interested hearers. They remained over the following Sunday, speaking, when the weather would permit, during the week. A heavy rain storm and a severe 'norther' greatly disturbed the meetings, and paralyzed the interest. But the truth was presented in its usual force, and good must result from the effort. Many seemed highly pleased with what they heard, and expressed regret that Bro. And Sr. White could not stay longer. . . . Wednesday, the 19th, we left Dallas . . . . "

As for the sanitarium the Dallas dignitaries wanted built, unfortunately, the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex would wait almost 100 years for Huguley Memorial Medical Center to be built, with only a few small sanitariums in this area during the very end of the 1800s and the first two or three decades of the 20th century. Perhaps we've missed some grand opportunities.

Read on for a consideration of the broom shop James White established in Texas, and learn a little about the teenager who tried to keep it from sinking — young W.K. Kellogg, soon to become famous as Battle Creek's corn flake magnate.

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About this Article Series

The complete story of the Whites' Texas sojourn had never before been published before this series of articles appeared in the Keene Star newspaper (Dec 2003-Apr 2004). The series touches on the highlights, and presents little known facts about the Whites' stay in Texas.