Angel Protects the Whites on Train trip

The Whites protected by an Angel in train wreck.

Ellen G. White: The Early Years: 1827-1862 (vol. 1) pp 294-296



That same night James and Ellen White were to leave for Wisconsin, taking the train at Jackson at eight o'clock. Tuesday afternoon was spent at the Palmer home. Several times James White spoke about the anticipated trip. He said, “I feel strangely in regard to starting on this trip; but Ellen, we have an appointment out, and we must go.” A little later he declared, “With my feelings, if I had not an appointment, I should not go tonight.”— Ibid. Before the Whites left for the station, all united in a season of prayer for God's special protection of the workers. Getting up from his knees, James expressed his faith that the Lord would care for them and keep them. Loughborough accompanied them to the station, and he later described what took place: At eight o'clock I went aboard the train with them, to assist in getting on their parcels. We went into one car with high back seats, called in those days a “sleeping car.” Sister White said, “James, I can't stay in this car; I must get out of here.” I helped them in getting a seat in the middle of the next car. Sister White sat down with her parcel in her lap, but said, “I don't feel at home on this train.” The bell then rang, and I bade them “goodbye.” On leaving the train, I went to Brother Smith's in west Jackson to tarry for the night. What was the surprise of Brother Smith's family, about ten o'clock, to hear Brother White, whom we supposed was well on toward Chicago, knocking for admittance! He said the train had run off the track three miles west of Jackson; that most of the train, with the engine, was a total wreck; but while a number had been killed, he and Sister White had escaped uninjured. Brother Dodge went with Brother White and brought Sister White in the carriage to Brother Smith's.—Ibid. Ellen White described the accident:

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 one end. I heard most agonizing groans. 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 injured, and our large trunk of books was safe. 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. We hastily left the car; and my husband took me in his arms, and, wading in the water, carried me across a swampy piece of land to the main road. Four were killed or mortally wounded.... Many were much injured. We walked one-half mile to a dwelling, where I remained while my husband rode to Jackson with a messenger sent for physicians.—Life Sketches of James White and Ellen G. White (1880), 308.

The cause of the accident was reported in the Jackson Patriot of Wednesday, May 24: The passenger train going west last evening at nine o'clock met with a severe accident at the second crossing, three miles west of the village. The train at this point came in contact with an ox lying on the track, and the locomotive [without a cowcatcher], tender, baggage car, and two second-class passenger cars were thrown off the track, and the forward end of one of the first-class cars badly stove in. The baggage car, locomotive, tender, and one second-class car are a perfect wreck. The engineer, Henry Cluck, the fireman, Woodbury Fuller, were instantly killed, the locomotive and tender falling upon them.... Doctor Gorham was promptly at the scene of suffering, doing all in his power. Loughborough and Dodge went early Wednesday morning to the scene of the wreck. In an article in the Review Loughborough described what they found: As we viewed the wreck, and then the car in which Brother and Sister White were riding at the time of the accident, standing quietly by itself, some fifteen rods away from the wreck, we felt to say in our hearts, God heard prayer, and sent His angel to uncouple that car that His servants might escape unharmed. More especially did we so decide when the brakeman said he did not uncouple the car, and that no one was on the platform when it was done, and that it was just as much a mystery to the trainmen how it was done as it was to us. There was no link nor bolt broken, but the bolt, with its chain, laid quietly on the platform of the unwrecked car.—JNL, in The Review and Herald, January 27, 1885. Of this Ellen White wrote, “I have been shown that an angel was sent to preserve us.”—Life Sketches of James White and Ellen G. White (1880), 308. The next afternoon, the tracks having been cleared, the Whites took the train for Wisconsin. The first appointment was for the weekend of May 26 to 28 at Koskonong; the following weekend they were at Rosendale. James White gave a word picture of the Koskonong meeting—the first conference held in Wisconsin: A goodly number of brethren came in from the region round about, some thirty miles. The meeting was one of interest, and we trust much profit. We were happy to meet Brethren Phelps and Waggoner at this place. They have labored extremely hard in the cause; have traveled many hundred miles on foot to get the truth before the people, and the Lord has blessed their labors, and raised up many friends of the cause.—The Review and Herald, July 4, 1854.