In June, 1849, the way was opened for us to make our home for a time at Rocky Hill, Connecticut. Here, on the 28th of July, our second child, James Edson, was born.
While we were living at this place, my husband was impressed that it was his duty to write and publish the present truth. He was greatly encouraged and blessed as he decided
thus to do. But again he would be in doubt and perplexity, as he was penniless. There were brethren who had means, but they chose to keep it. He at length gave up in discouragement, and decided to look for a field of grass to mow. As he left the house, a burden was rolled upon me, and I fainted. Prayer was offered for me, and I was blessed, and taken off in vision. I saw that the Lord had blessed and strengthened my husband to labor in the field one year before; that he had made a right use of the means there earned; and that he would have a hundredfold in his life, and, if faithful, a rich reward in the kingdom of God; but that the Lord would not now give him strength to labor in the field, for He had another work for him; that he must walk out by faith, and write and publish the present truth. He immediately commenced to write, and when he came to some difficult passage, we would call upon the Lord to give us the true meaning of His word.
About the same time he began to publish a small sheet entitled, The Present Truth . The office of publication was at Middletown, eight miles from Rocky Hill, and he often walked this distance and back again, although he was then lame. When he brought the first number from the printing office, we all bowed around it, asking the Lord, with humble hearts and many tears, to let His blessing rest upon the feeble efforts of His servant. He then directed the papers to all he thought would read them, and carried them to the post office in a carpetbag. Every number was taken from Middletown to Rocky Hill, and always before preparing them for the post office, we spread them before the Lord, and with earnest prayers mingled with tears, entreated that His blessing might attend the silent messengers. Very soon letters came bringing means to publish the paper, and the good news of many souls embracing the truth.
With the beginning of this work of publishing, we did not cease our labors in preaching the truth, but traveled from
place to place, proclaiming the doctrines which had brought so great light and joy to us, encouraging the believers, correcting errors, and setting things in order in the church. In order to carry forward the publishing enterprise, and at the same time continue our labors in different parts of the field, the paper was from time to time moved to different places.
In 1850 it was issued at Paris, Maine. Here it was enlarged, and its name changed to that which it now bears, The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald . The friends of the cause were few in numbers and poor in worldly wealth, and we were still compelled to struggle with poverty and great discouragement. Excessive labor, care, and anxiety, a lack of proper and nourishing food, and exposure to cold in our long winter journeys, were too much for my husband, and he sank under the burden. He became so weak that he could scarcely walk to the printing office. Our faith was tried to the utmost. We had willingly endured privation, toil, and suffering; yet our motives were misinterpreted, and we were regarded with distrust and jealousy. Few of those for whose good we had suffered, seemed to appreciate our efforts. We were too much troubled to sleep or rest. The hours in which we should have been refreshed with sleep, were often spent in answering long communications occasioned by envy; and many hours while others were sleeping we spent in agonizing tears, and mourning before the Lord. At length my husband said: "Wife, it is of no use to try to struggle on any longer. These things are crushing me, and will soon carry me to the grave. I cannot go any farther. I have written a note for the paper stating that I shall publish no more." As he stepped out of the door to carry it to the printing office, I fainted. He came back and prayed for me; his prayer was answered, and I was relieved.
The next morning, while at family prayer, I was taken off in vision, and was shown concerning these matters. I saw that my husband must not give up the paper; for such a step
was just what Satan was trying to drive him to take, and he was working through agents to do this. I was shown that we must continue to publish, and that the Lord would sustain us; that those who had been guilty of casting upon us such burdens would have to see the extent of their cruel course, and come back confessing their injustice, or the frown of God would be upon them; that it was not against us merely that they had spoken and acted, but against Him who had called us to fill the place He wished us to occupy; and that all their suspicion, jealousy, and secret influence was faithfully chronicled in heaven, and would not be blotted out until everyone who had taken a part in it should see the extent of his wrong course, and retrace every step.
The second volume of the Review was published at Saratoga Springs, New York. In April, 1852, we moved to Rochester, New York. At every step we were obliged to move out by faith. We were still crippled by poverty, and compelled to exercise the most rigid economy and self-denial. I will give a brief extract from a letter to Brother Howland's family, dated April 16, 1852: "We are just getting settled in Rochester. We have rented an old house for one hundred and seventy-five dollars a year. We have the press in the house. Were it not for this, we should have to pay fifty dollars a year for office room. You would smile could you look in upon us and see our furniture. We have bought two old bedsteads for twenty-five cents each. My husband brought me home six old chairs, no two of them alike, for which he paid one dollar, and soon he presented me with four more old chairs without seating, for which he paid sixty-two cents. The frames are strong, and I have been seating them with drilling. Butter is so high that we do not purchase it, neither can we afford potatoes. We use sauce in the place of butter, and turnips for potatoes. Our first meals were taken on a fireboard placed upon two empty flour barrels. We are
willing to endure privations if the work of God can be advanced. We believe the Lord's hand was in our coming to this place. There is a large field for labor, and but few laborers. Last Sabbath our meeting was excellent. The Lord refreshed us with His presence."
From time to time we went out to attend Conferences in different parts of the field. My husband preached, sold books, and labored to extend the circulation of the paper. We traveled by private conveyance, and stopped at noon to feed our horse by the roadside, and to eat our lunch. Then with paper and pencil, on the cover of our dinner box or the top of his hat, my husband wrote articles for the Review and Instructor . The Lord greatly blessed our labors, and the truth affected many hearts.
In the summer of 1853, we made our first journey to the State of Michigan. After publishing our appointments, my husband was prostrated with fever. We united in prayer for him, but though relieved, he still remained very weak. We were in great perplexity. Must we be driven from the work by bodily infirmities? Would Satan be permitted to exercise his power upon us, and contend for our usefulness and lives as long as we should remain in the world? We knew that God could limit the power of Satan. He might suffer us to be tried in the furnace, but would bring us forth purified and better fitted for His work.
Alone I poured out my soul before God in prayer that He would rebuke the disease and strengthen my husband to endure the journey. The case was urgent, and my faith firmly grasped the promises of God. I there obtained the evidence that if we should proceed on our journey to Michigan, the angel of God would go with us. When I related to my husband the exercise of my mind, he said that his own mind had been exercised in a similar manner, and we decided to go, trusting in the Lord. Every mile we traveled he
felt strengthened. The Lord sustained him. And while he was preaching the word, I felt assured that angels of God were standing by his side to sustain him in his labors.
On this journey my husband's mind was much exercised upon the subject of spiritualism, and soon after our return he engaged in writing the book entitled, Signs of the Times . He was still feeble, and could sleep but little, but the Lord was his support. When his mind was in a confused, suffering state, we would bow before God, and in our distress cry unto Him. He heard our earnest prayers, and often blessed my husband so that with refreshed spirits he went on with the work. Many times in the day did we thus go before the Lord in earnest prayer. That book was not written in his own strength.
In the winter and spring I suffered much from heart disease. It was difficult for me to breathe while lying down, and I could not sleep unless raised in nearly a sitting posture. My breath often stopped, and I often fainted. I had upon my left eyelid a swelling which appeared to be a cancer. It had been increasing gradually for more than a year, until it had become quite painful, and affected my sight. When reading or writing, I was forced to bandage the afflicted eye. I feared that it was to be destroyed by a cancer. I looked back to the days and nights spent in reading proof sheets, which had strained my eyes, and thought: "If I lose my eye and my life, they will be sacrificed to the cause of God."
About this time a celebrated physician who gave counsel free visited Rochester, and I decided to have him examine my eye. He thought the swelling would prove to be a cancer. But upon feeling my pulse, he said: "You are much diseased, and will die of apoplexy before that swelling shall break out. You are in a dangerous condition with disease of the heart." This did not startle me, for I had been aware that without speedy relief I must go down to the grave. Two other women
who had come for counsel were suffering with the same disease. The physician said that I was in a more dangerous condition than either of them, and it could not be more than three weeks before I would be afflicted with paralysis. I asked if he thought his medicine would cure me. He did not give me much encouragement. I tried the remedies which he prescribed, but received no benefit.
In about three weeks I fainted and fell to the floor, and remained nearly unconscious about thirty-six hours. It was feared that I could not live, but in answer to prayer I again revived. One week later I received a shock upon my left side. I had a strange sensation of coldness and numbness in my head, and severe pain in my temples. My tongue seemed heavy and numb; I could not speak plainly. My left arm and side were helpless. I thought I was dying, and my great anxiety was to have the evidence in my sufferings that the Lord loved me. For months I had suffered continual pain in my heart, and my spirits were constantly depressed. I had tried to serve God from principle without feeling, but I now thirsted for the salvation of God, I longed to realize His blessing not withstanding my physical suffering.
The brethren and sisters came together to make my case a special subject of prayer. My desire was granted; I received the blessing of God, and had the assurance that He loved me. But the pain continued, and I grew more feeble every hour. Again the brethren and sisters assembled to present my case to the Lord. I was so weak that I could not pray vocally. My appearance seemed to weaken the faith of those around me. Then the promises of God were arrayed before me as I had never viewed them before. It seemed to me that Satan was striving to tear me from my husband and children and lay me in the grave, and these questions were suggested to my mind: Can you believe the naked promise of God? Can you walk out by faith, let the appearance
be what it may? Faith revived. I whispered to my husband: "I believe that I shall recover." He answered: "I wish I could believe it." I retired that night without relief, yet relying with firm confidence upon the promises of God. I could not sleep, but continued my silent prayer. Just before day I fell asleep.
I awoke at sunrise perfectly free from pain. The pressure upon my heart was gone, and I was very happy. Oh, what a change! It seemed to me that an angel of God had touched me while I was sleeping. I was filled with gratitude. The praise of God was upon my lips. I awoke my husband, and related to him the wonderful work that the Lord had wrought for me. He could scarcely comprehend it at first; but when I arose and dressed and walked around the house, he could praise God with me. My afflicted eye was free from pain. In a few days the swelling disappeared, and my eyesight was fully restored. The work was complete.
Again I visited the physician, and as soon as he felt my pulse, he said: "Madam, an entire change has taken place in your system; but the two women who visited me for counsel when you were last here are dead." I stated to him that his medicine had not cured me, as I could take none of it. After I left, the doctor said to a friend of mine: "Her case is a mystery. I do not understand it."
We soon visited Michigan again, and I endured long and wearisome journeys over the rough logways, and through mud sloughs, and my strength failed not. We felt that the Lord would have us visit Wisconsin, and arranged to take the cars at Jackson at ten in the evening.
As we were preparing to take the train, we felt very solemn, and proposed a season of prayer. And as we there committed ourselves to God, we could not refrain from weeping. We went to the depot with feelings of deep solemnity. On boarding the train, we went into a forward car, which had seats with high backs, hoping that we might
sleep some that night. The car was full, and we passed back into the next, and there found seats. I did not, as usual when traveling in the night, lay off my bonnet, but held my carpetbag in my hand, as if waiting for something. We both spoke of our singular feelings.
The train had run about three miles from Jackson when its motion became very violent, jerking backward and forward, and finally stopping. I opened the window, and saw one car raised nearly upon end. I heard agonizing groans, and there was great confusion. The engine had been thrown from the track; but the car we were in was on the track, and was separated about one hundred feet from those before it. The baggage car was not much damaged, and our large trunk of books was uninjured. The second-class car was crushed, and the pieces, with the passengers, were thrown on both sides of the track. The car in which we tried to get a seat was much broken, and one end was raised upon the heap of ruins. The coupling did not break, but the car we were in was unfastened from the one before it, as if an angel had separated them. Four were killed or mortally wounded, and many were much injured. We could but feel that God had sent an angel to preserve our lives.
We returned to Jackson, and the next day took the train for Wisconsin. Our visit to that state was blessed of God. Souls were converted as the result of our efforts. The Lord strengthened me to endure the tedious journey.
August 29, 1854, another responsibility was added to our family in the birth of Willie. About this time the first number of the paper falsely called The Messenger of Truth was received. Those who slandered us through that paper had been reproved for their faults and errors. They would not bear reproof, and in a secret manner at first, afterward more openly, used their influence against us. This we could have borne, but some of those who should have stood by us were influenced by these wicked persons. Some whom we
had trusted, and who had acknowledged that our labors had been signally blessed of God, withdrew their sympathy from us, and bestowed it upon comparative strangers.
The Lord had shown me the character and final come-out of that party; that His frown was upon those connected with that paper, and His hand was against them. And although they might appear to prosper for a time, and some honest ones be deceived, yet truth would eventually triumph, and every honest soul would break away from the deception which had held him, and come out clear from the influence of those wicked men; as God's hand was against them, they must go down.
Again my husband's health became very poor. He was troubled with cough and soreness of lungs, and his nervous system was prostrated. His anxiety of mind, the burdens which he bore in Rochester, his labor in the office, sickness and deaths in the family, the lack of sympathy from those who should have shared his labors, together with his traveling and preaching, were too much for his strength, and he seemed to be fast going down to a consumptive's grave. That was a time of gloom and darkness. A few rays of light occasionally parted the heavy clouds, giving us a little hope, or we should have sunk in despair. It seemed at times that God had forsaken us.
The Messenger party framed all manner of falsehoods concerning us. These words of the psalmist were often brought forcibly to my mind: "Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity. For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb." Some of the writers of that sheet even triumphed over the feebleness of my husband, saying that God would take care of him, and remove him out of the way. When he read this as he lay sick, faith revived, and he exclaimed: "I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord, and may yet preach at their funeral."
The darkest clouds seemed to shut down over us. Wicked men professing Godliness, under the command of Satan were hurried on to forge falsehoods, and to bring the strength of their forces against us. If the cause of God had been ours alone, we might have trembled; but it was in the hands of Him who could say: "No one is able to pluck it out of My hands." We knew that Jesus lived and reigned. We could say before the Lord: The cause is Thine, and Thou knowest that it has not been our own choice, but by Thy command, that we have acted the part we have in it.