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Settling in for Winter

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

November 19 found the Whites traveling to Denison to take up residence. Several families, emigrants from Michigan, had settled in the north Texas town, population 3,000, which had sprung up when the railroad came through in 1872.

James and Ellen had struck up quite a friendship with Brother J.F. Bahler some time prior. Earlier that year, Ellen had seen in vision an incident involving Brother Bahler and the several prominent families in the Dallas church, and had written severe testimonies to Kilgore and to the Rust family in defense of the blind man. (See Testimonies to the Church, Volume 4, pages 315-340.)

Bahler, although blind, was able to make his way through life quite admirably, earning about $200 per month in sales from a small biography he had written. With his earnings, the man had begun construction of a two-story home on Morgan street in southwest Denison, about six blocks west of Forest Park, where he owned several lots.

A generous soul, Bahler was a strong financial supporter of the work, and had also invited the Whites to share this home with him, his wife, 11-year-old son, baby daughter, and father-in-law. Also joining the household were a young couple, barely in their 20's, Arthur and Mary Daniells. Mary became the cook for the household while her husband traveled with Kilgore, conducting meetings across North Texas. It would be proper to assume that Arthur's occasional visits, between tent efforts, would keep the Whites informed as to the progress of the work, and would also provide opportunity for Arthur to assist and become well-acquainted with James and Ellen White.

Through the next few months the young couple would become close friends to the Whites. Twenty-three years later, A.G. Daniells would become president of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, one of the all-time most influential of leaders of the Adventist church.

Ellen, settling in for the winter, began to write to Willie and his wife, Mary, (also in their early 20's) in Battle Creek, requesting books, paper, pens, and ink as well as winter clothing and bedding, and her willow rocking chair.

James, meanwhile, was about the area, discovering the prices of various commodities, planning what he could ship to Battle Creek for a profit, later sending pecans to several friends, and making preliminary investigation concerning the establishment of a broom shop in Dallas. [NOTE: In time James would arrange for teenage W.K. Kellogg to travel to Texas to supervise the factory.] James also arranged for two young converts to travel to Battle Creek to attend college — Job Huguley of Plano and M.S. Simmons of Rockwall. And he wrote to John Harvey Kellogg at Battle Creek, requesting Kellogg's assistance in enlarging and improving Bahler's book, in response to Bahler's hospitable kindness to the Whites. [NOTE: A copy of Bahler's revised book is on file at Southwestern's Heritage Room/a>]

On Nov. 27, Ellen wrote to Willie, "Yesterday was my birthday. We were in Plano. After two o'clock a.m. we rode to Dallas in what is here called a hack, but is a lumber wagon. We had two mules hitched before it, looking like two father rabbits, and we drove 18 miles to Dallas. Stopped at Brother Miller's and warmed, then came three miles farther to Sister Coles. So much for the anniversary of my fifty-first birthday."

Later in the same letter she adds, "This morning the unhappy intelligence is brought to us that the little mules have left the pasture and are perhaps returning homeward. Nobody knows where they are at this moment."

By Dec. 3, Ellen writes from Plano, mentioning a third young man who would soon travel to Battle Creek, saying, "I wish he and Millie . . ., or some other good girl, would strike up a bargain. There are no real good girls here." Back in Denison later that day, she writes that the mules have been found. "Brother Daniells brought them to us."

Becoming a little anxious to get started with her writing, Ellen sends yet another letter to Willie's wife, adding to her list of requests for books and writing materials a request for blankets and a fur cloak from Chicago. She now asks for publications to distribute to travelers coming through in covered wagons, and she complains of smoke from prairie fires. Impatiently waiting for the close of cotton season, she shares her intention to pitch a tent in Dallas, in response to a request published in the Dallas Herald by a group of prominent leaders.

The following day, Dec. 7, she again writes to Mary in Battle Creek, canceling her order for blankets and a cloak. She has learned that there is a large debt on the church in Oakland, Calif., and comments, "I have no appetite for to purchase anything unless positively necessary . . . . My heart aches as I see the close places we are brought into in reference to the cause of God. . . . Every dollar must be used with economy."

As the year 1878 draws near to its close, Ellen becomes increasingly more stressed. Her children in Battle Creek seem unable to keep up with her requests for dry goods and supplies, and she becomes acutely aware of a great need for editorial help. Read on to observe the resolution of some of her dilemmas, and the Whites' reaction to a new set of problems brought on by a Texas ice storm.

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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.