Ellen G. White's will and debts
By Robert K. Sanders
The Conference Connection published by the Indiana Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, dated October 1995, Vol. 4, Issue 4, on the back page, made an appeal to its members, saying, "A Christian will is the duty of every believer." They quote Ellen White as an example for Christians as follows:
"In disposing of your property by will, be sure that you do not forget God’s cause. You are his agents, holding His property; and His claims should have your first consideration. Your wife and children, of course, should not be left destitute; provision should be made for them if they are needy. But do not, simply because it is customary, bring into your will a long line of relatives who are not needy. Let it ever be kept in mind that the present selfish system of disposing of property is not God’s plan, but man’s device. Christians should be reformers and break up this present system, giving and entirely new aspect to the formation of wills. Let the idea be ever present that it is the Lord’s property which you are handling. The will of God in this matter is law." Testimonies to the Church, vol. 4, pp. 482,483.
Ellen G. White’s will is dated February 9, 1912. In her will there is a discrepancy between what she wrote as, "the will of God in this matter is law," and how in her own will she did not follow what she claimed as God’s law for Christians. This is again shows her hypocrisy.
IN THE NAME OF GOD, AMEN.
I, Ellen G. White (widow) a resident of Sanitarium, Napa County, California, of the age of eighty-four (84) years, and being at the date hereof of sound and disposing mind and memory, and not acting under duress, menace, fraud or undue influence of any person whomsoever, do make, publish and declare my last will and testament, in the manner following, that is to say:
FIRST: I direct that my body shall be interred with appropriate religious services of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, without undue ceremony or ostentation.
SECOND: I desire and direct that as soon as possible, payment shall be made of the expenses of my last sickness and funeral, and in order that no property belonging to my estate shall be disposed of or sold at a sacrifice, I earnestly request all my creditors to waive and relinquish their claims against my estate and accept payment thereof under the provisions, which I am hereinafter making, for the liquidation of their claims through the handling of my properties by trustees.
THIRD: I hereby give, devise and bequeath to my son, James Edson White, now residing at Marshall, Michigan, the sum of Three Thousand Dollars ($3,000).
FOURTH: I hereby give and bequeath to my son, William C. White, now residing at Sanitarium, California, all my right, title and interest in the copyrights and book plates in all languages of the books entitled: "The Coming King" and "Past, Present and Future", also all manuscripts (and right to publish the same) pertaining to the following books:
- "Life Sketches of Elder James White and Ellen G. White."
- "Life Incidents of Elder James White."
- "Spiritual Gifts. Volumes 1-4."
- "Facts of Faith."
- "How to Live."
- "Appeal to Youth."
- "Experience and Views of Ellen G. White."
- "Experience of Ellen G. White in connection with the Health Reform Movement among Seventh-day Adventists."
- "Story of Mrs. White’s European Travels."
- "Story of Mrs. White’s Australian Travels."
- "Mrs. White’s Letters to Mothers and Children."
- "Youth’s Life of Christ."
- "The Southern Work."
- "Christian Education."
- "Special Testimonies on Education."
- "Bible Sanctification."
Also, my personal library, and all manuscripts, letters, diaries and writings not otherwise herein devised.
FIFTH: I hereby give, devise and bequest to William C. White, Clarence C. Crisler, Charles H. Jones, Arthur G. Daniells and Frank W. Wilcox all the real property of which I may die seized or possessed, all my live stock and farm tools, and implements, all notes and accounts due to me and also all my right, title and interest in the copyrights and book plates in all languages of the following publications:
- "Desire of Ages."
- "Patriarchs and Prophets."
- "The Acts of the Apostles."
- "Great Controversy."
- "Early Writings."
- "Testimonies to the Church" Volumes 1-9 inclusive.
- "Gospel Workers."
- "Christian Temperance and Bible Hygiene."
- "Christ’s Object Lessons."
- "Ministry of Healing."
- "Steps to Christ."
- "Mount of Blessings."
- "Christ our Savior."
- "Testimonies for Sabbath-school Workers."
- "Manual for Canvassers."
- "Special Testimonies."
Also my general manuscript file and all indexes pertaining thereto; also my office furniture and office library.
Together with all and singular, the tenements, hereditaments and appurtenances thereunto belonging, or in anywise appertaining, in trust nevertheless for the uses and purposes hereinafter contained.
TO HAVE AND TO HOLD, the said real and personal property unto said trustees, and their successors, upon the trust to enter into and upon and take possession of the said real estate and said personal property, to collect and receive the rents, issues and profits thereof to manage and control said real and personal property, and to rent and lease the same, or any part thereof, to sell parts or portions of said real and personal property, excepting the book copyrights, for the purpose of re-investing the same in other real or personal property to be held upon the same trust, and after paying all taxes, assessments, charges and encumbrances thereon and the expenses of repairing, administrating, preserving and protecting the said real property and of handling said personal property, and publishing and selling said books and manuscripts and conducting the business thereof, to distribute, pay over and apply the net proceeds from the rents and profits of said real property and from the business of publishing and selling said books and property in the manner following, that is to say:
(a) To pay over to my son James Edson White, annually, during his natural life ten (10) percent of the net proceeds of said properties for his sole use and benefit, and upon his death, to Emma L. White, his wife, during her natural life should she survive him.
(b) To pay over to my son William C. White, annually, for his sole use and benefit ten (10) per cent of the net proceeds of said properties during his natural life, and upon his death, to Ethel M. White, his wife, during her natural life should she survive him.
(c) To pay over annually to William C. White, Ethel M. White and Dores E. Robinson as Trustees five (5) per cent of the net proceeds of the said properties to be devoted to the education of my grandchildren, great grandchildren and other worthy individuals.
(d) The said Trustees shall use the remainder of said net proceeds for the following purposes:
1. For the payment of creditors with accruing interest upon the principal indebtedness to the extent of which my creditors have agreed to relinquish their claims against my estate; such payments from said net proceeds to continue until all remaining indebtedness with interest has been fully paid.
2. If the entire remainder of said net proceeds from my said properties is more than sufficient to pay my said debts, with interest, in the manner in which my creditor shall agree to receive payment of their respective claims, then my said Trustees shall use the overplus for the improvement of the books and manuscripts held in trust by them, as herein provided; for the securing and printing of new translations thereof; for the printing of compilations from my manuscripts; for general missionary work of the Seventh-day Adventist denomination; for the support of mission schools, under the negro department, of the Seventh-day Adventist General Conference; for the support of mission schools for the illiterate whites in the Southern States,. provided, however, that the said Trustees are hereby empowered and directed to sell my said property or so much thereof as may be necessary to pay the following sums: To my granddaughter, Ella May Robinson, now residing at Sanitarium, California, the sum of Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00); to my granddaughter, Mabel E. Workman, now residing at Loma Linda, California, the sum of Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00); to my faithful friend and helper, Sara McEnterfer, now resident at Sanitarium, California, the sum of Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00); to May Walling, now residing at Sanitarium, California, the sum of Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00); and to my faithful friend and helper, Clarence C. Crisler, the sum of Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00).
SIXTH: After the death of both James Edson White and his wife, my said Trustees are hereby empowered and directed to apply the amount prescribed in Subdivision (a) of paragraph FIFTH toward the discharge of any legal claims against the estate of James Edson White, and then after the full discharge of such claims, the said amount mentioned in Subdivision (a) shall be applied to the maintenance of the mission schools for negros now conducted by the negro department of the Seventh-day Adventist General Conference.
SEVENTH: After the death of both William C. White and his wife, my said Trustees are hereby empowered and directed to pay over to their surviving children, or grandchildren, if any, the respective amounts prescribed in Subdivision (b) of paragraph FIFTH of this will; and if there be no children or grandchildren of my said son, then said respective amounts shall be devoted and used for the purposes set forth in Subdivision (d) of said paragraph FIFTH of this will.
EIGHTH: Upon the termination of the trusts, or any of them, created and set forth in this will, from any cause whatsoever, I give, bequeath and devise all of the real and personal property mentioned in paragraph FIFTH, or so much thereof as may from any cause be released or relieved from said trust to my said son, William C. White; or if he not be living, then to his heirs at law.
NINTH: My household furniture, dishes, carpets, pictures, photographs, and clothing, I give and bequeath in equal parts to by sons, James Edson White and William C. White.
TENTH: All the rest, residue and remainder of by estate, real personal and mixed, of which I may die seized or possessed, I give, bequeath and devise to my son Willian C. White.
ELEVENTH: I hereby appoint William C. White and Charles H. Jones the Executors of this my last will and Testament, without bonds; and my Executors are hereby authorized to sell any property of my estate without order of court, and at either public or private sale, and with or without notice as the Executors may determine.
I also direct that no bond be required of any of the Trustees named or their successors.
TWELFTH: If vacancy shall occur for any reason among said Trustees, or their successors, a majority of the surviving or regaining Trustees are hereby empowered and directed to fill such vacancy by the appointment of some other fit person, and in the event that the majority does not agree with the appointment, then such vacancy shall be filled by the Executive Committee of the Seventh-day Adventist General Conference; and the new Trustee or Trustees, so appointed shall have the same power touching the trust premises and in the execution of the trusts herein contained, as the original Trustees names herein.
THIRTEENTH: I hereby revoke all former wills by me made.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and seal this 9th day of February, 1912
ELLEN G. WHITE
The foregoing instrument consisting of five pages, besides this, was at the date hereof, and by the said Ellen G. White signed, sealed and published as, and declared to be her last will and Testament, in the presence of us, who at her request, and in her presence, and in the presence of each other, have subscribed our names as witnesses thereto.
C .L. TAYLOR
Residing at Sanitarium, California.
PAUL C. MAS0N
Residing at Sanitarium, California.
Filed July 21st, 1915
N. W. Collins, Clerk.
By Elva Giauque, Deputy Clerk.
Third : Bequeath to my son James, Three thousand dollars.
Fourth: Bequeath to my son Willie, property listed in the will, as books, manuscripts, and rights to publish them.
Fifth: (a) To pay (son) James Edson White ten percent, annually, during his natural life for his sole use and benefit, and also to his wife Emma during her natural life, should she survive him in death. (b) To pay (son) William C. White ten percent, annually, during his natural life for his sole use and benefit, and also to his wife Ethel, during her natural life should she survive him in death.
(c) Five percent of net proceeds to be devoted to Ellen’s grandchildren and great grandchildren, for their education, and other worthy individuals.
Ellen left money and property to a long line of relatives, as her sons and wives, grandchildren, great grandchildren some that were not yet born. Was Ellen’s sons and daughter-in-laws needy, that she left money for their personal use during their lifetime as well as their unborn children? Ellen broke her so called, "God’s Law" by leaving a will that brought in, " the present selfish system of disposing of property" that she condemned by bringing in her long line of relatives. Was God first in her will?
EGW: "In disposing of your property by will to your relatives be sure that you do not forget God's cause.... His claims should have your first consideration.... But do not...bring into your will a long line of relatives who are not needy." Testimonies, Vol. 4:482.
EGW: "I call upon our brethren to cease their robbery of God. Some are so situated that wills must be made. But in doing this, care should be taken not to give to sons and daughters means which should flow into the treasury of God." Testimonies, Vol. 4:484.
EGW: "We should shun debt as we should shun the leprosy." Testimonies, Vol. 6:217.
EGW: "Debts must not be allowed to accumulate term after term. The very highest kind of education that could be given, is to shun the incurring of debt as you would shun disease." Testimonies, Vol. 6:211.
When she died she was in debt close to $90,000.00, nearly all of which was for borrowed money. She had borrowed money from or owed fifty-eight different persons or companies, ranging from a few hundred to over $10,000.00. The General Conference took over her entire estate and paid all of her debts, amounting in the average to $100,724.37. When James White died his estate was appraised at $22,000.00 all of which was surrendered to Mrs. White.
The appraised value of Mrs. White's estate was $65,721.87, $40,000.00 of this was for her book plates, copyrights, and her manuscripts, which the denomination published or would publish. Aside from the estimated value of royalty on her books, her estate fell short $63,230.40 of paying her debts.
Ellen White wrote, "We should shun debt as we should shun the leprosy." Testimonies, Vol. 6 p 217. Maybe Ellen left this large debt of $90,000.00 because she had a problem with her understanding of how leprosy is transmitted, when she wrote, "The eating of pork has produced scofula, leprosy, and cancerous humors." Councils on Diets and Foods, p. 393.
Dr. Wm. Van Alstine, an authority on animal diseases at Purdue University, says that "pigs cannot get leprosy and they cannot transfer leprosy to humans." Ellen was just as confused on making wills as "the law of God" as she was in the fact that leprosy cannot be transmitted to humans by eating pork. As much pork that is eaten in the world you would think there would be an epidemic of leprosy. (Perhaps pigs will be able to get leprosy when they learn to fly.) Whereever did Ellen get her false visions, certainly not from God! A good guess would be from her uninspired plagiarized sources.
I wrote a letter to the Indiana Conference Trust Department in October 23, 1995 asking;
" If Ellen White did not live up to the instruction that she claimed that she received from God, wouldn’t it be appropriate for the Indiana Conference to send its members a copy of Ellen’s will and let each of them decide how to make up their will? It seems your choices will be, 1. What Ellen preached. 2. What Ellen actually did. 3. Get your instructions from the Bible, and see that God does not have a "Law" for Christians on how to make wills."
The Indiana Conference Trust Department has not responded to my questions nor have they to my knowledge sent a copy of Ellen White’s will to its constituency. They evidently do not believe it is important for them to have a copy of her will. It is not hard to guess the reason why they would not want them to see Ellen’s will. If they would see it, they would see Ellen’s hypocrisy
Isn’t it interesting that for 2000 years, God did not give Christians a law to make a will. Then in the 1880, Ellen gave a, "law for making wills" to the members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and not to the Christians outside of Adventism. Does God make laws for just Adventists? This is what cults do—follow non-biblical laws. It appears that if Adventists break this law they would be lost. Does this law apply equally to Ellen as well as members of other faiths? If members of other faiths break "Ellen’s Law" are they sinning and will they be lost? Because Ellen did not obey the law of God dealing with wills, will she be lost? The Bible teaches that God will judge us as we judge others.
Isn’t God’s laws universal for all Christians and not just for Seventh-day Adventists? Aren’t the laws of God found only in the Bible? Can anyone find a law on wills for Christians in the Bible? This is where Seventh-day Adventism separates itself from other Christians. Adventists must uphold Ellen G. White as a prophet and her writings as if they were Scripture on any subject to hold employment in the denomination and to hold church office. This is what cults do.
Ellen has condemned herself as a "slothful servant" who "practiced robbery" by leaving her possessions to her relatives.
EGW: "It is a serious thing to embezzle the Lord's goods, to practice robbery toward God; for in so doing the perceptions become perverted and the heart hardened. How barren is the religious experience, how clouded is the understanding, of one who loves not God with pure, unselfish love, and who fails, therefore, to love his neighbor as himself. Though precious opportunities are often presented, he does not accept them, and refuses to wear the yoke of Christ, to be a laborer together with God. Those who follow their selfish, natural inclination, do not make their hearts an abiding place for Christ. They fail to bless others with means that God has lent to them in trust, in order that they may be his almoners; and instead of dispensing it to the poor, like the slothful servant they bury it in LANDS or in stocks, or GIVE IT TO THEIR RELATIVES, and the Lord receives neither interest nor principal. (Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, January 22, 1895, paragraph 1)