1863-1865 Minnesota Conference President
Birth: June 24, 1816 at Brookfield, Orange Co., VT
Death: November 9, 1909 at DeLand, Volusia Co., FL
Burial: Oakdale Cemetery, DeLand, Volusia Co., FL
Married: October 15, 1836 to Olive Buzzell
ESDA Bio: Washington Morse
- Observed the moon appear to turn into blood
- A dedicated “Millerite,” experienced Great Disappointment of 1844
- Received visionary message from Ellen Harmon (later Ellen White)
- Moved to Minnesota with his family in 1857 by covered wagon
- Walked hundreds of miles through “untamed territory” to share the gospel, armed with a Bible and a prophetic chart given him by Elder James White
- Survived the Dakota War of 1862 in Minnesota
- Presided over the first marriage and the first funeral in Deerfield, Dodge Co., MN
- Minnesota delegate to first General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists
- Laboring before wages were usually paid to Seventh-day Adventist pastors, he worked as a farmer, postmaster, and Justice of the Peace
- In 1874, helped construct first MN SDA-built church at Mankato
- Labored tirelessly to the age of 93 when, at the home of his son, he rested from his labors, clinging to the promise of Revelation 14:12: “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.”
Washington Morse was born June 24, 1816, in Brookfield, Vermont. He lived to be over 93 years old, witnessing the advancing movements of the faith for well over a half of a century. He and his wife, Olive, were a part of the earliest Advent work before there was any established church. Washington observed the moon appear to turn into blood and lived through the Great Disappointment of October 22, 1844. Laboring closely with James and Ellen White from the earliest days, he received a visionary message from her when she was still Ellen Harmon.
In 1857 he, with his growing family, moved to the town of Deerfield in Steele County, Minnesota, an untamed territory, and he took up evangelistic work there. In the years 1857, 1858, and 1859, he wrote, “I walked hundreds of miles in Minnesota, visiting the widely scattered settlements, carrying my Bible, chart, and tracts, endeavoring to awaken an interest in the truths of the third angel’s message.” Histories of Steele County, Minnesota (see References below), list him as being one of the first settlers of the town of Deerfield, surviving the Indian outbreak in 1862, performing the first marriage in the town, and serving as the pastor at the first religious service which was a funeral – mention being made that, at the funeral, Washington “took the occasion to enlighten his audience as to the particular and distinctive tenets of his religious views.” Steele County histories also mention the Adventist organization in Deerfield Township that was led by Morse as being one of “two church organizations – the Adventists and the German Methodists – though neither of them have a church edifice, but hold their service in the school houses.”
When the Seventh-day Adventist Church was established and held it’s first General Conference, Washington was the first delegate from Minnesota. In 1863, he was elected as the first Seventh-day Adventist Minnesota Conference President, a role he served for two years. Residing primarily in Deerfield, Steele Co., Minnesota and Ontario, Canada, Washington often financially supported his family and his ministry with a variety of occupations including farming, serving as postmaster, and performing weddings as a Justice of the Peace. Throughout his life, he labored tirelessly to share the gospel with those around him including his children, many of whom grew up to work in a variety of ministry roles in the church. On November 9, 1909, he died at the home of his son, G. W. Morse, in DeLand, Florida, at the age of 93 years, 4 months, and 15 days. He is buried in Oakdale Cemetery in DeLand, Volusia Co., Florida beside other family members.
Kathy Joy Parke, Editor
History of Rice and Steele Counties, Minnesota (Volume 1)
By Franklyn Curtiss-Wedge, pgs. 701-702 (book) / (electronic)
Geographical and Statistical History of Steele County
From its earliest settlement to the present time.
Embracing leading incidents of pioneer life,
names of early settlers … &c
By A. H. Mitchell, pg. 73-75 (electronic)
A PIONEER GONE TO REST
(Washington Morse – Biography/Obituary)
In the providence of God the great threefold advent message that is now going to all parts of the world with such marked success was first brought to public attention by a company of people who had been eminently fitted for that work by the remarkable experience under the great advent movement of 1836-44.
As there are now only a few survivors of that company of pioneers, it seems very fitting that when one lays off the armor and goes to his last sleep, more than a mere passing mention should be made of the incident. There is much to be learned and great good to be derived by studying their lives, and especially by candid thought upon their wonderful experience under the first message.
Washington Morse, the subject of this sketch, was one of those pioneers — one who wore the “prophetic scar” for sixty-five years, but who now rests from his labors, awaiting the glad summons, “Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust.”
Father was born in Brookfield, Vt., June 24, 1816, and died at the home of his son, G. W. Morse, DeLand, Fla., Nov. 9, 1909, at the age of 93 years, 4 months, and 15 days. Oct. 15, 1836, he was married to Miss Olive Buzzell, and together they walked life’s journey for nearly sixty-five years, she dying in 1901, at Muskoka, Canada. To them were born twelve children, seven of whom are still living. At the age of fifteen years father was converted and united with the Methodist Church. Later on he became a class leader in that church, and was very active in that capacity.
Early in the rise of the great advent movement of 1836-44 father and mother accepted the expositions of prophecy as presented by William Miller and his co-laborers, and identified themselves with it. Father was more or less closely connected with those great leaders in the proclamation of the advent message, and put all his earthly possessions into that cause. With them he labored for many months with no thought or expectation of financial remuneration. Their faith was unwavering that Christ would come Oct. 22, 1844, and when that date was reached, father and mother, with many others, were gathered at the home of a Brother Cushman, at Tunbridge, Vt., to watch for the appearance of the Saviour in the clouds of heaven. That was a most thrilling experience, and one that has been related by father many hundreds of times, very greatly to the edification of his hearers, and, we believe, to the glory of God.
To learn more about the Cushman home where Morse waited for Jesus, click here.
With the bitter disappointment that came to them by the “passing of the time” without the realization of their hopes, our dear parents entered a cloud of deepest gloom. But they held fast their confidence in God and his Word, and believed that somehow and sometime all would be made plain. And so, when a few years later light came to them regarding the further work that God had for his people before the Saviour would come, they gladly embraced it. As they clearly saw the explanation of the strange experience through which they had passed, they praised God for it, and never afterward felt otherwise. To the end of their lives they were both unswerving, faithful believers in what is generally known as the third angel’s message, with all that is signified by that term.
In the winter of 1852 Elder James White sent to father a prophetic chart with an earnest exhortation that he engage in public labor in preaching the message. As this was in harmony with what he believed to be the call of God, he started out, not only without means to defray expenses, but with no thought or prospect of financial remuneration. His first meeting was held at East Randolph, Vt. Continuing his labors in that part of the State, the Lord gave him many precious souls for his hire. In the summer of that year he was duly ordained to the gospel ministry. To the extent of his opportunities, while supporting his family of several children, he labored in that State until the autumn of 1856, when he removed with his family to Illinois, locating, temporarily, about thirty miles south of Chicago. During the winter, while laboring to earn the wherewithal to support his family, he also did what he could to spread the message, God adding the seal of approval to his work, to which there are numbers who can now testify with joy.
In the spring of 1857 father arranged with the gentleman for whom he had been working, to remove himself and family to the then Territory of Minnesota. They went in pioneer emigrant wagons, and located in Steele County. So far as information has ever been secured, there were only two other families of like faith in the Territory at that time. Ordinarily, the prospect that was then before our parents would be considered as desperately dark and discouraging. In a new and strange country, with a family of eight children — most of whom were too young to do work of any kind — absolutely no financial capital, provisions of all kinds exceedingly high in price, it is evident that they must have been wonderfully sustained by a merciful Heavenly Father. The struggles with poverty and hardship were many, and at times very severe. But the Lord blessed with health and strength and brought them all safely through.
Almost from the first of his location in that new country, father was active in presenting the glorious themes of present truth to his neighbors far and near. In fact, he traveled to many distant points in the State to hold meetings. Many, very many, were the long and weary journeys that he made on foot, with his Bible and chart, to tell the people the glad news of a soon-coming Saviour. For a number of years he was practically the only one who was publicly proclaiming the message in Minnesota. In nearly all localities where he labored, honest souls accepted the light of truth and became steadfast believers, many of whom remain to this day.
Later on other ministers – Elders Wm. S. Ingraham, J. N. Andrews, John Bostwick, and Stephen Pierce, and others – went to that field, with all of whom father labored to a considerable extent. Upon the organization of a conference in that field, father was chosen as its president, a position that he held for several years. His labors were nearly always given gratuitously, and at reasonable figures amounted to many thousands of dollars during the first ten years of his residence in Minnesota. Up to the year 1861 he received only thirty dollars from the conference as compensation for labor.
In the spring of 1862 father went as a delegate to a general gathering that convened at Battle Creek, Mich., May 18-26. That was practically the first General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. The following year he was also a delegate to another General Conference at the same place. Those were two very interesting and important occasions, and there are now but few persons living who were delegates to those gatherings.
Although not engaged publicly in ministerial labors to any great extent subsequent to 1865, father never ceased his activity nor slackened his zeal in behalf of the cause that he loved dearer than his life. In 1874 he bore heavy burdens in the construction of the first Seventh-day Adventist church building that was erected in Minnesota. This was at Mankato.
In 1896 father and mother removed from Minnesota to Canada, so as to be near some of their children who were connected with the work in that field. Stopping for a short time with the under-signed at Toronto, they then went on to Peterborough, where a daughter, Mrs. H. I. Farnum, lived. During the eleven years – 1897 to 1908 – father was for most of the time quite active in the missionary canvassing work, and placed many thousands of copies of periodicals, tracts, pamphlets, and books in the homes of the people of Peterborough and its vicinity. It was really quite remarkable that a man of his age should be able to accomplish so much. The Lord greatly blessed him in his work, and watered the precious seed that he scattered. For about eight years he did a great amount of missionary correspondence, averaging some two hundred letters each year.
In July, 1908, he came to our home in Florida. As a matter of fact, one chief reason of our getting a home here was on father’s account. He came with the full expectation of remaining here the rest of his natural life. This genial climate was very favorable for his health, and he greatly enjoyed it. While attending the camp-meeting at Orlando, October 21-30, he contracted a cold that resulted in peritonitis. Upon his arrival home it was evident that he could live but a few days. The ablest medical counsel of the place was employed, and all was done for him that could be suggested, but without avail so far as his recovery was concerned. He fully realized that his end was near, and so expressed himself many times, and always with an earnest desire for it to come speedily. Many times he would pray, “O Lord, come and take a poor sufferer home.” A few days before the end came, he repeated 2 Tim. 4:7, 8: “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day.” A day or two later he called us to his bedside, and requested that I Cor. 15:51-57 be read and prayers offered. The occasion was a very precious one as we talked with him of the glories of the resurrection morning, and the loved ones who would meet there. He especially requested us to tell all the children to be sure to meet him on that glad day. His hope was without a cloud, and he had no fear of death. He felt sure that he would go to sleep before morning, and requested us to kiss him “good-by.” But death did not come until several days after that, though at no time was he able to converse as he did then, and we realized that it was providential that he improved that occasion as he did. He never murmured or complained of his sufferings, although they were very severe and trying at times. Many times he expressed the deepest gratitude for the care that was being given to him by his children and the many friends and neighbors who were extremely kind.
A few hours before he passed away, he repeated Rev. 14:12: “Here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” When asked if the Saviour was precious to him, and if he was being given his sustaining grace, he answered very emphatically, “O, yes!” Just before the end came, he reached out his hands to be taken up. His request was granted, and in a very few moments he passed to the last, long, dreamless sleep in the arms of his son, with not a struggle as he “crossed the bar.”
A goodly company of sympathizing friends and neighbors gathered on the day of the funeral. The service was conducted by Rev. U. M. Tabor, pastor of the Methodist Episcopal church (South) of DeLand, with whom father had formed a pleasant acquaintance during the summer. He gave a very appropriate and comforting discourse, taking as his text the words before quoted, 2 Tim. 4:7, 8.
And so we laid father to rest, comforted with the blessed assurance that his life is hid with Christ in God, and that we shall meet him, with many other loved ones, on the immortal shore.
G. W. MORSE, LIZZIE J. MORSE.
Review and Herald, December 23, 1909
(Washington Morse – 1901 Reflections)
[BEFORE the passing of the anniversary of the tenth day of the seventh month, October 22, our aged brother, Washington Morse, wrote us from Pittsfield, Vt., Oct. 7, 1901. His words, considering his age and his past experience in the work, will be of interest to all our readers; and we trust that some of the zeal manifested in-his late experiences may start anew the flame in many hearts to engage anew in this good work. – ED.]
DEAR BRETHREN AND SISTERS: As we are nearing the fifty-seventh anniversary of the ending of the prophetic periods, Oct. 22, 1844, I feel impressed to acknowledge God’s great goodness to me during the year past. While I have been called to mourn the loss of my dear companion, with whom I had lived and taken sweet counsel for sixty-four years, God, in His great mercy, has spared my life and raised me up from the depths of sorrow to see as never before what a glorious truth He has committed to His remnant people.
The first day of March I took my last lingering look at the grave of my dear wife, and started to carry out her wishes for me to again take my place to labor in the missionary field. As I began to move out among those whom I had left two years ago, I felt that a great change had come over the people. The truth contained in the books they bought years ago is taking deep root in many minds, and many questions are asked. I found ears to hear, and doors open in many households, and received urgent requests to visit the churches. I was urged to attend the church that I left fifty-six years ago, and as I took my place to speak to them, I was made very free. God gave me a testimony that was well received. For several Sundays I was there, and at every meeting I was made happy in talking to that people, and other churches in like manner; and when the time came that I was to leave that field, Peterboro, Ontario, many expressed their sorrow that I was going away.
The last day of July I left Canada for old Vermont, my native State, having been absent forty-five years. I have found great liberty in laboring not only among my dear brethren in the present truth, but with the Methodists, Congregationalists, and others. I have visited Barre, Chelsea, Williamstown, Northfield, Roxbury, Randolph, Brookfield. The last-named place is the town where I was born, eighty-five years ago. I visited the house of my birthplace. This was the house my father built ninety-three years ago. Many long-forgotten memories were brought to my mind.
At Williamstown, I, with many others, left my work in July, 1844, to go out to give the mid-night cry (see Matthew 25), and traveled from town to town. Here was where we hung up our scythes and sickles, and left our crops to stand to preach to the people. And as we went from place to place, and passed fields where crops stood un-harvested, we knew what that meant. In those days, there were tollgates from Burlington to Barton, Vt.; but they were all opened for those preaching the Judgment Hour Message, as far as my memory serves.
I am happy to say that many are the blessings I have received since coming to Vermont. I find many open doors to preach the present truth. I am permitted to preach in the Methodist churches in different places. I came to Pittsfield one week ago, and attended meeting the night I came. I was made happy that night and the next night. The meeting was given into my hands, and at the close of the services the elder wished me to preach on Sunday or in the evening. I did so. My text was Dan. 8:14 I had great liberty, and the congregation seemed chained to their seats. The pastor in charge took my hand, and said, “God bless you, my brother.” This he did at three different times.
My dear brethren, the sanctuary is the key-note of our message. Before I went to the meeting I had a discourse laid out in my mind; but after I came into the church, it all left my mind, and the sanctuary was brought before me in power, and I never had such freedom in speaking on that subject before. The same great love that I used to feel under the first message filled my heart as I presented the truth concerning the sanctuary and the judgment.
In Williamstown I attended an association meeting held in the Congregational church, where there were several ministers. After listening to several mournful reports, I was moved to speak, and God gave me a testimony in very deed. Judging from the “amens”, it was well received; and many were the hearty greetings I received.
I find my hands more than full. Many are the letters I receive, saying, “Come back and labor with us,” or, “Do not fail to come and visit our church.” And as I leave those where I stop, I hear it said with weeping, “Pray for me, and pray for my husband.” O my brethren, we are not half awake to the wants of the people. Cut loose, cut loose from the entanglements of this poor world, which is soon to be destroyed, soon to be in its chaotic state again. Jer. 4: 23.
In Dan. 12:13 a blessing is pronounced upon those who wait and come to the end of the thirteen hundred and thirty-five days. This period began in A. D. 508, and ended in 1843, and the blessing has reference to the increase of knowledge, and marks the full beginning of a work which is to continue unbroken till the Lord comes. The three messages of Rev. 14:6-12 constitute this work. These messages are inseparable, and altogether form the last threefold message. The essential work of these messages is told in plain language. It is a warning of the judgment hour, the fall of Babylon, and the worship of the Beast and his Image. Now, how can any one receive the blessings here pronounced under this light without understanding the messages in their fullest extent? The thing which the angels desired to look into is the unfolding of God’s word since the time of the blessing promised in 1843. My brethren, to us is committed this solemn and yet glorious work of giving the people this light, and shall we let the fleeting, transitory things of earth turn us aside from so sacred a work? Now it is said to us there is no longer delay. If we have delayed this message, let us no longer do so. ” Say not ye there are yet four months, and then cometh the harvest ? Behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.”
I have nothing but good cheer to report. My health is excellent. Last week after a hard day’s work, I started at five o’clock and walked six miles, and talked until nine in the evening with much of God’s blessing. God has bidden you all to remember the men of gray hairs. And He has said that you should consider it a sacred duty to care for them. Especially I ask your prayers.
Review and Herald, November 26, 1901
THE FORMER DAYS
(Washington Morse – 1903 Reflections)
FOR fifty-one years I have taken this most valuable paper [the REVIEW], and I have learned to love it dearly. Fifty-one years ago this month I was with the little company at Ballston Spa, N. Y., where steps were taken to purchase a hand press to print the REVIEW and tracts. At this meeting about seven hundred dollars was raised, and put into the hands of Elder James White, to purchase the press, and locate the office at Rochester, N. Y. The history of the work since then was given in the REVIEW of Jan. 6, 1903.
I with thousands of others experienced the great disappointment of Oct. 22, 1844. No one but those who had that experience can ever know our heartfelt sorrow. Our experience was like that of the disciples of Christ after his crucifixion. But we read, ” Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward. . . . For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry.” We were the people to whom those words were spoken. The burden of that message was time; that was what all our great men rose up against; that was just what stirred the world; and that is the basis of these messages, as by these prophetic periods we are able to show just when the judgment began. Never did the truths of the first angel’s message shine so clearly to the world as now. O my dear brethren, with such a flood of light as we have, can we doubt that this work is heaven-born? – No, we can not doubt. There is no longer delay. I have no if’s in my faith. There is no uncertainty about this great work. God has led out a people to give these warning messages to this last generation, and some who are now living will witness the glorious appearing of Christ in the clouds of heaven. The time has come when we must show by our works that we are preparing for the hour of temptation just before us. See Rev. 11:1-10.
Sixty years ago this present winter I witnessed the night when the moon seemed turned to blood. Beginning at 10 P. M. everything on earth looked as red as blood. Elder Wm. Miller was giving a course of lectures in the village of Pittsford, Vt. He had finished his lecture, and had gone to his boarding-place, when he was suddenly called out into the street to witness the moon and the earth draped in blood. Presently a young lady who had attended his lectures night after night, but was a great scoffer, came up to Brother Miller; wringing her hands in anguish, she said, ” Mr. Miller, will you pray for me?” He exclaimed, “Madam, Christ is not coming down the vaulted skies tonight. But you may know how you will feel when he does come, unless you repent.” She gave her heart to God that night. My dear brethren and sisters, the day is just before us when our cases will come up in the court of heaven, and unless we are free from sin, we shall be eternally lost. Then we shall have no time to repent.
Now we can look back over the events which have occurred in the history of these messages, and as we compare them with the prophecies, we see that they exactly correspond. In 1844 all who came out and accepted the time message were greatly blessed. It was like – yes, it far exceeded – our happy conversion from sin to holiness, and we knew that God set his seal to the preaching of time. The mystery of God is to be finished in our day. In Rev. 10:7 it is said, “But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished.” This angel began to sound in 1844 when the judgment began (see Dan. 7: 9, 10), and already we have passed fifty-eight years under its sounding.
As I read of the destruction of our publishing house, I could but say to myself, What do these things mean? May the Lord help us all to learn the lesson that he designed to teach us in this great calamity.
Review and Herald, March 10, 1903
“WHAT HATH GOD WROUGHT!”
(G. W. Morse recollection of first Review)
… When the publication of this invaluable journal was begun in the year 1850, my parents (Washington and Olive Morse) were living at Corinth, Vt., and I was three years old. Later they removed to Royalton, Windsor County, and in the month of March, 1852, father attended a conference of a few of the advent believers at Ballston Spa, N. Y.
Among those who were at that meeting I recall having heard my father mention the names of Joseph Bates, Hiram Edson, S. W. Rhodes, Wm. S. Ingraham, J. N. Andrews, arid Frederick Wheeler. The principal object of that meeting was to consider the purchase of a printing press and other equipment for use in the continued production of the REVIEW AND HERALD, also other publications on present truth. The conference decided to proceed at once to raise the necessary amount of money to do that, which was $600.
This was the origin of the first printing plant owned and operated by Seventh-day Adventists, and occurred nine years previous to the organization of the General Conference of the denomination.
Very naturally, the REVIEW AND HERALD was always, after its publication was begun, a very welcome visitor at the home of my parents. At the commencement of the advent movement my parents established the custom of having the publications that were devoted to that movement read aloud in the family, each member who was old enough to read taking part in that beautiful custom. During all the years of my life, the good old REVIEW has been my much-loved companion. It has been a faithful, efficient, and trustworthy pastor.
Among other important reasons for my love of the REVIEW Is the fact that it was held in very high esteem by my dear and faithful parents up to the time of their death. They were among those who passed through the 1843-44 advent movement, thereby receiving the “prophetic scar” that Elder Littlejohn used to talk about with so much interest. They rest in their graves in sure hope of a part in the first resurrection.
As I reflect upon the truly marvelous progress that the work of the advent message has made in my lifetime, and of the present world-wide extent that has been reached, I can truly exclaim, “What hath God wrought!”
In consideration of the dangers and liabilities that beset our pathway through the world at the present time, and of the sure prospect for those dangers and liabilities to increase in the future, I consider it a matter of very great importance that every believer in the message have the benefits of the special instruction that is given in the REVIEW AND HERALD. It is exceedingly risky for one to miss the warning messages that are given from week to week, and these risks will continue to increase to the end. Believers in the advent movement cannot afford to be without the REVIEW, or some other equally reliable and timely means of information regarding these important matters.
G. W. MORSE., DeLand, Fla.
Review and Herald, April 28, 1927
WHEN STRONG CONFERENCES WERE THEMSELVES MISSION FIELDS
(Washington Morse – recollections of those who remembered his ministry)
OUT in the North Pacific Union one meets many veteran believers from the Midwest. At the Oregon camp meeting last summer, Mrs. Gay, of the book tent, ventured to call a meeting of former Minnesota people for a few minutes one day. About a hundred and forty on the campground responded. I talked with some who remembered the days when W. B. Hill, Washington Morse, W. S. Ingraham, and others were pioneering the Minnesota country, to be followed by D. P. Curtis, Harrison Grant, C. Lee (in Swedish work), and others.
Until ripe old age, as some of us know, Washington Morse, earnest lay worker to his last days, delighted to tell of early experiences. He had been a preacher in the 1844 movement, in New Hampshire. In “Life Sketches” Mrs. White tells of a visit she made to his home in the summer of 1845, giving him a message of kind reproof because he had allowed his disappointment when Christ did not appear in October, 1844, to bring darkness and discouragement to his mind. She urged that he should have rejoiced rather, in the fact that there was still “a great work yet to be done upon the earth, in bringing sinners to repentance and salvation.” As the Sabbath light came soon after, he was one to accept it. Later, James White gave him a prophetic chart, and urged him to preach the message.
It was in 1855 that he settled in Minnesota, not then a State but a Territory. “In the years 1857, 1858, and 1859, he wrote, “I walked hundreds of miles in Minnesota, visiting the widely scattered settlements, carrying my Bible, chart, and tracts, endeavoring to awaken an interest in the truths of the third angel’s message.” Now, with much still to be done in old Minnesota, the believers there are sacrificing to supply money and workers for faraway pioneer fields, where still the laborers must sometimes walk long miles from place to place.
Here is one story of those early Minnesota days as told by Washington Morse. In 1860 William S. Ingraham had come from Wisconsin with a tent:
“In moving the tent to High Forest, Elder Ingraham lost his Bible near Pleasant Grove. It was found by a lady, who, observing that it contained a great many marginal notes, written with pen, and many texts underscored, became interested in its study. The result was that the finder of the Bible, with several others, came quite a distance to attend our tent meeting at High Forest, and about twenty in their vicinity became firm and consistent believers in the doctrines that were preached.” Review, Nov. 6, 1888.
W. A. S.
Review and Herald, December 19, 1935 (excerpt)
GEORGE WASHINGTON MORSE
(Review reflections of his ministry)
G. W. Morse was one of the veterans of the 1844 days who came on into this movement. He kept the advent hope bright in his heart until his death, in 1909. We younger ones did not hear much of him, as his strength for labor was declining fifty years ago. I saw him at a camp meeting in Eastern Canada about 1902, and have a memory of a gray-haired, gray-bearded veteran who liked nothing better than to talk of the blessed hope and the progress of the movement. We hear of him first in New Hampshire.
About the summer of 1845, Miss Ellen G. Harmon (later Mrs. James White), who was then a young girl of eighteen, was shown that it was her duty to visit New Hampshire. Fanaticism and false views of sanctification and holiness were spreading there; and it was her duty to bear messages concerning these things. But a happier lot it was to be used to help a discouraged preacher of the 1844 message. Her “Life Sketches” tells how the Lord helped her to help Washington Morse, who was perplexed that the Lord had not come:
“Although bitterly disappointed, he did not renounce his faith, as some did, calling it a fanatical delusion; but he was bewildered, and could not understand the position of God’s people on prophetic time.”—Page 77.
There a message came for him through the Spirit of prophecy that helped him into light. He never ceased to thank God for the gift of the Spirit of prophecy. His case was shown to Miss Harmon in vision. His experience was similar to that of the prophet Jonah, who had preached, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.” Then the Lord extended the time. Jonah felt that he had been humiliated before the people; but the Lord showed the prophet that what He had done was merciful in that it gave the souls in Nineveh more time. Miss Harmon was shown that Mr. Morse’s situation and reaction were similar:
“Elder Morse felt that he was a byword among his neighbors, an object of jest, and he could not be reconciled to his position. … He should have rejoiced that the world was granted a reprieve; and he should have been ready to aid in carrying forward the great work yet to be done upon the earth, in bringing sinners to repentance and salvation.”—“Life Sketches,” p. 78.
After receiving the message from Miss Harmon, Washington Morse took heart again, and soon was walking forward with our pioneers into the full light of this message.
In 1850 James White told how an Elder Burnham, a great opposer of our people, tried to keep Brother and Sister Morse from observing the Sabbath. “Finally,” said James White, this preacher told them that if they would give it up, he would agree to stand between them and the Almighty in the day of judgment. But Brother and Sister Morse have concluded to ‘keep the commandments’ for themselves, and be sure of a ‘right to the tree of life.’ . . . They think it much more safe for them than to violate the fourth commandment, and to trust Mr. Burnham for admission, and a right in the Holy City.”—Advent Review, No. 1, 1850, a special document issued at Auburn, New York.
Elder Morse’s son has told how, in 1852, James White sent his father a prophetic chart, and urged him to engage in evangelistic work. Elder Morse started out with no expectation of support. Finally he arrived in Minnesota, which at that time was not a State, but a Territory. “Many, very many, were the long and weary journeys that he made on foot,” his son said, “with his Bible and chart, to tell the people the glad news.” He was the first president of the Minnesota Conference. (REVIEW, Dec. 23, 1909.)
Washington Morse told us one story of the forms of persecution which were visited upon believers in the days of the 1844 disappointments. He wrote:
“In some localities the town officers attempted to put guardians over our brethren, and to put their children out to hard labor. This was attempted in the town where I lived. The overseer of the poor, with the ‘selectmen’ of the town, came to a house where a number of our brethren and sisters were assembled for meeting, and made known their intentions. We were all bowed in prayer. One sister, while praying, began to plead, ‘Lord, smite him!’ and continued until the officers dispersed without carrying out their threats. In a short time the overseer of the poor in question, and who had been jailer for some time, was stricken down with paralysis, and became insane. He was taken to the asylum, where he died.”— Review and Herald, Sept. 18,1888.
Thus, in those days of transition from the old 1844 movement to this definite advent movement, with its full gospel light for the judgment hour, men and women were sharing the reproach and holding on by faith, waiting for the way to be made clear. People like these were battling along into the light. They became a strength to the cause that was coming forth into view. Many went through experiences similar to these related.
Notes About Pioneer Workers and Early Experiences, No. 17
Less-Known Helpers Who Shared the Reproach
Review and Herald, May 23, 1940, 7-8