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Household of Faith

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

As stated above Ellen wrote in an upstairs 18x20 room, while James wrote below in a room the same size. The Bahler family of John F., wife Mary J., and baby daughter, Grace (born 1878), also shared their home with Arthur and Mary Daniells during the winter of 1878-79 while Mary cooked for the household.

Ellen had written, "We are very favorably situated for we have a good cook." [NOTE: Bahler's son by a previous marriage, Robert, and Mary's (a brother to Elder R.F. Cottrell), probably also lived in the home, although there is no known record of them in Texas until the 1880 census.]

Now that Marian Davis had arrived, she was given her own upstairs room. She began her work immediately, but by mid-February was having chronic health problems. James wrote to a sister in Battle Creek that Miss Davis would "doubtless go into the grave. It's only a matter of time." Interestingly, Miss Davis would live another quarter century, while James White would go to his grave in about two and a half years.

When the Whites came to Denison in November, the Bahler home was still under construction. Windows were only tacked in, one door was not yet hung and the plasterers had not yet completed their task. There was a good well in the front yard (a rarity, according to Ellen) and there was an ample yard around the house. Having a well in front would lead us to believe the home was set toward the back of the lot (Bahler owned several lots on the south side — facing north — of the Morgan Street side of "block 80." Soon after moving in, the Whites purchased solid walnut bedroom furniture, and were highly pleased with their purchase.

As stated before, Mrs. Bahler owned the house "just across the way" in which the poverty stricken Moore family of at least six lived. What we do not learn from Ellen or James' correspondence is that a baby boy was born to the Moore family in "Ellen White's home" in early 1879.

The James Cornell family of at least four, also lived nearby. Cornell was a cobbler. His brother, evangelist Merritt E. Cornell, had also lived in Denison with his wife Angie. Elder Cornell had preached a series of sermons in Dallas in the summer of 1875, bringing several converts. Shortly afterward he had left full-time ministry in an attempt to resolve personal problems in his household, and had helped his brother repair shoes. Soon sick, nearly starved, and greatly discouraged, Elder Cornell had corresponded with James and Ellen White and with their blessing had moved to Boulder, Colo., in the early fall of 1878.

Adding to the Denison Adventist menagerie, James White continuously accumulated livestock. There's the "little mules" that get out of the pasture, only to be brought back home by A.G. Daniells. There are horses — at least two ponies that are used to pull the phaeton the Whites purchased in November in preference to "Texas hacks which are really lumber wagons," [NOTE: The phaeton was the THE sports vehicle of that day. Ellen seemed to love daringly fast travel, and she especially loved to arrive at an event in the classiest vehicle available.] and, at some point, there are additional horses and cattle purchased by James. At present it is not known where James pastured his animals, but it would have been within walking distance, most likely farther southwest. He mentions an oak grove one-eighth of a mile from the house.

There was an abundance of prairie fires in those days, some set deliberately and maliciously by Yankee soldiers during reconstruction; others set deliberately by ranchers to keep down unwanted growth. Ellen was quite sensitive to the smoke. Mrs. Cornell (Roxie) had asthma. Then, to complicate all of their lives, times began to be hard, especially by January, 1879. Money became scarce. Speaking of their strict budgeting, James writes to Willie, "We are making everything reach the longest way. This is especially the case with our late calf, six months old. He ran with his mother and took all the milk. We kill him, dry him, and eat him all the way to Colorado. Thus we lay him the longest way, so as to reach from Denison to Walling's Mill (Colorado).

Obviously, James was already planning in detail his upcoming wagon train trip to Colorado. And it would turn out to be their good fortune that James had made that beef jerky. Meanwhile, the Whites were also heavily involved in some interesting forms of evangelism. Read on to learn about it.

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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.