"T'is time we all awake;
The dreadful day draws near;
Sinners, your proud presumption check,
And stop your wild career!"
No mere words can adequately express
the breathless agitation, the appalling solemnity that filled
the hearts of Prophet Miller's followers when the month of October
came in. This time, in spite of no endorsement from him, they
swept forward in solid ranks of conviction toward the new date
which was close at hand. It seemed as if the adverse attitude
of the unbelieving public was stirring a sort of desperate defiance
among the poor deluded fanatics. They WOULD believe; they KNEW
that this time there was no mistake - the Lord was surely coming!
- they would be justified! - they would be saved! - and all their
tormentors would be cast into the burning lake, they would suffer
On October 3rd Brother George Storrs wrote as follows in "The Midnight Cry":
"I take up my pen with feelings
such as I never before experienced. BEYOND A DOUBT in my mind
the TENTH DAY OF THE SEVENTH MONTH will witness the revelation
of our Lord Jesus Christ in the clouds of Heaven. We are then
within a few days of that great event. Awful moment to those
who are unprepared, but glorious to those who are ready! I feel
that I am making the last appeal I shall ever make through the
press. My heart is full. I see the ungodly and the sinner disappearing
from my view, and there now stands before my mind the PROFESSED
BELIEVERS in the Lord's near approach."
In describing these momentous last days Elder Luther Boutelle wrote:
"Such a concentration of thought;
such a oneness of faith was never before witnessed; certainly
not in modern times. All that did speak spoke the same things.
Solemn, yet joyful. Jesus coming! We to meet him! Meetings
everywhere were being held. Confessions made, wrongs righted;
sinners inquiring what they should do to be saved. Those who
were not with us were mightily affected. Some were exceedingly
frightened with awful forebodings." (Life of Elder Boutelle))
"The Midnight Cry" of October 3rd published a few words from Brother N. Southard under the heading "Confession":
"One of my besetting sins has
been a desire to please those around me, instead of inquiring
simply what would the Lord have me do, to be, and to say? I confess
this before the world, but I cannot confess that I have not thought
I was doing right in publishing the evidence of Christ's near
coming. I have not been half awake to the greatness of the subject.
May God forgive me in this thing, and grant me grace to be WIDE
AWAKE till He comes. Dear Reader, are you awake? If not, it
is high time to wake out of your sleep!"
Poor Brother Southard, he was bound
to make everything all right as far as he was concerned before
the Great Day should come, for on another page of this same issue
of "The Midnight Cry" under the heading of "Notice,"
is the following: "If any human being has a just pecuniary
claim against me, he is requested to inform me instantly."
Another brother exhorts every one of
the faith to keep their "robes unspotted," and to dwell
in love, and to be dead to the world.
Another writes: "See that you
have on the TRUE ASCENSION ROBE - the holiness without which no
man shall see the Lord!"
And still another: "We are living
now at an awful point of time! Say, Brethren! Have you done all
your duty to your relatives, your friends, and the world? Is
your all upon the altar? Are you there? - are your talents -
your property there? TIME IS ALMOST GONE!"
One contributor, filled with awe and wonder, draws attention to how the ancient prophecies were one by one being fulfilled, and has for a heading "The Potato Crop":
"How painful it is to learn
that whole crops of this valuable esculent have been destroyed
by rot. The only section from which little complaint is heard
is Maine, but even there the crop has not escaped the disease."
This is like what the Prophet Haggai speaks of: "Ye looked
for much and it came to little!" (From the New Hampshire
One exchange paper also says: "The
diseased potatoes are said to be poisonous, and to have caused
the death of hogs fed upon them." The Prophet Joel saith:
"How do the beasts groan!"
Whoever sent in this contribution further
added: "We have neither time nor room to go over the prophecy
further. This little item is added to the everlasting evidence
we had before."
Elder Himes had tried in vain to steady things by publishing the following facts in the columns of "The Midnight Cry," October 3rd:
"The impression has extensively
prevailed that this year is observed as a Jubilee by the Jews.
We have just called on Rabbi M. Isaacs, of this city, who referred
to the Jewish calendar, and stated that the anniversary of the
Jubilee would not occur for TWENTY-FIVE YEARS YET. They commence
their year in the fall, and reckon this year commencing with the
new moon, September 14th, to be the year 5605 from
Creation, and their next Jubilee would not come till the year
But it was too late; he might as well
have talked to the winds. "It will be the LORD'S JUBILEE,
not the Jew's Jubilee," the followers cried.
And now he wrote again in a futile attempt
to clear himself of responsibility for the surging wave of anticipation
that was sweeping all before it: "Our readers may have noticed,"
he asserts, "that we have spoken with some hesitation in
reference to the seventh month, though we have inserted the communications
of brethren who were fully convinced that the Lord would come
Elder Himes evidently had no recollection
of another statement he once made to the effect that an editor
was responsible for whatever appeared in the columns of his newspaper.
But for once in his life he was baffled. He did not know what
to do, or how to cope with the situation. The public was denouncing
him; on the other hand, the very men in whom he had helped to
sow the seeds of religious hysteria were now looking at him questioningly,
not understanding his attitude of aloofness. It is difficult
to know what Elder Himes expected at the time when he did his
best to wake up the sleeping brethren, but it is evident that
he had not anticipated a situation like the present one.
Brother Storrs and Brother Snow and
some of the other hallucinated brethren did not give him any time
to think things over. They hurried with breathless eagerness
to confer with poor, ailing, troubled, tired-out old Prophet Miller,
announcing their conviction that this time his prophecy was sure
of being fulfilled, and they explained first one point and then
another to him to bear out their assertions, and before he knew
it he was under the sway of their ecstatic enthusiasm, the smouldering
hope within him flared into flames, and he was swept into the
current of delusion again like a dried leaf caught in the whirling
eddies of a stream. In three days' time he succumbed wholly to
their arguments and signed an endorsement of them.
Then trembling with joy the deluded old man wrote the following hysterical effusion to the editor of "The Midnight Cry," October 12th:
"Dear Bro. Himes: "I see a glory in the seventh month which I never saw before. Although the Lord had shown me the typical meaning of the seventh month one year and a half ago, yet I did not realize the force of the types. . . Thank the Lord, O my soul! Let Bro. Snow, Bro. Storrs, and others be blessed for their instrumentality in opening my eyes! I am almost home. Glory! Glory! Glory! I see that the time is correct; yes, my brother, our time 1843 was correct. How so, say you? Did not the Lord say: 'Unto two thousand three hundred days, then shall the sanctuary be cleaned.' But when? When the seventh month comes. . . That is the typical time; then will the people and the place be sanctified. When did the twenty-three hundred days end? Last spring. Then the vision tarried. How long? Until the seventh month, and will not tarry another year, for if it should, then it would be twenty-three hundred and one years.
"But, bless the Lord! He has not deceived us. O my soul, how clear that it must tarry until the seventh month - it will not tarry beyond. I believe it, yes, I love it.
"Oh, the glory I have seen to-day. My Brother, I thank God for this light. My soul is so full I cannot write. My doubts and fears and darkness are all gone. I see that we are yet right. . . and my soul is full of joy; my heart is full of gratitude to God. Oh, how I wish I could shout; but I will shout when the King of Kings comes.
"Methinks I hear you say: 'Bro. Miller is now a fanatic!' Very well - call me what you please. I care not - Christ will come on the seventh month and bless us all. Oh, glorious hope! Then I shall see Him - and be like Him - and be with Him forever; - yes, forever and ever!
The poor old man was broken in health
and at times downhearted, but this renewal of his hopes stirred
him and enraptured his soul. He examined his chart again with
all the fervor of a blind enthusiasm. "If Christ does not
come within twenty or twenty-five days, I shall feel twice the
disappointment I did in the spring!" So he wrote according
to his biographer, Elder Bliss.
All were falling in line now. "The
Voice of Truth" of October 2nd announced Elders
Marsh, Galusha, and Peavy, who considered themselves more conservative
than some of the others, had given their full endorsement to the
belief that the tenth day of the seventh month would usher in
the end. Everything now became potent with meaning. Even the
ordinary trivial happenings assumed a new expression. But there
were reports of unusual happenings that were whispered from mouth
to mouth and these increased the agitation tenfold. Among these
was the case of Sister Mathewson. On October 10th
there are accounts of her in "The Midnight Cry," which
led the followers to believe that supernatural agencies were at
A writer signing himself C. Morley gives the following account:
"Readers are you aware that the Lord is working a wonder in these days which has no parallel in the history of the world?
"In an obscure town in Connecticut
a woman now lives who has been sick ten years and given up by
skilful physicians to die. SHE SAYS SHE DIED, and since then
she has lived more than three times forty days and nights WITHOUT
FOOD. This is a miracle which of itself should startle the world.
It is a miracle wrought in these last days to confirm a message
- a message of merciful warning that TIME IS SHORT. You may talk
about superstition, but he must be madly unbelieving who does
not see and feel that the finger of God is in this thing. If
you can look at this matter with unconcern, you have reason to
tremble for yourself."
George A Stirling, an Elder, gives a more detailed account:
"I last week went to South Coventry, where in a very retired spot of this wilderness world I beheld this wonder. For a long time she had been so weak as to be unable to bear the least noise, so much so that IT WAS NECESSARY TO WALK IN THE ADJOINING KITCHEN WITH SHOES OFF.
"Her dying sensations and pains commenced in her feet. When the pain reached the region of her heart, she broke into VERY LOUD singing, and sang for FIVE HORUS; since which the noise has not affected her any more than one in the soundest health. This is a fact. This is supernatural. This is miraculous. It is the power of God QUICKENING A DYING BODY. Where is there a person in soundest health that can sing with perfect ease for five hours, loud enough to be heard in the whole of a large two-story house? She did it - yet not she, but God in her. This is the first fact.
"The second is, that she continues to this day in the same state, WITHOUT THE USE OF ANY FOOD, testifying to all that 'time is short.' It is not simply a fact of forty days and nights, but it is a fact, even now, of over one hundred and twenty days and nights. She drinks half a cup of weak tea (cup of common size) twice a day, with the usual quantity of sugar and milk. At first an attempt was made to have her eat nutritious food, her friends not suspecting the mighty change that had come upon her.
"Where is there an individual who would be willing to attempt for all the wealth of the Indies to live half these number of days, taking only their usual quantity of tea, which she affirms she takes only for the moisture it contains, having no appetite for food?. . . .
"The third fact is, that, during this long period of abstinence, there has been no perceptible change in the appearance of the quantity of flesh upon her frame; she in the beginning having become very poor, continues only so to the present, the expression of her eyes being sweet, placid, and heavenly.
"The fourth fact is this, that when her family became convinced of her miraculous state, and it was 'noised abroad,' there was a mighty gathering of the people, insomuch that they thronged the house from morning until night, sometimes two hundred a day. With these she had power to converse upon her change and warn them often from early morning till late at night; then she would spend much, if not all of the remainder of the night in singing, as she said, with angels, who encompassed roundabout her bed, whose shining bodies it was given her to behold and admire.
"These four facts are perfectly sufficient to prove her supernatural state. . . .
"A Baptist clergyman of the
place has, for the satisfaction of others, given a public statement
to the above, but DREW NO CONCLUSION FROM IT! O my God, the professed
ministers, who say they are watching upon the walls, draw no conclusion
from the most marvelous providences, than suits the Devil! O
watchman, brother watchman, what of the night? This sister says
first, THAT SHE DIED; second, that before her death her spirit
was caught up and conducted by angels to the gate of heaven. .
. The period of this absence was but for a moment at the close
of which she died, in which state she continued about the space
of half an hour, at the end of which she came to, having lost
the memory of all things but that of her friends. Her mind being
restored, she burst into tears, because, she said, 'I have got
back to this wicked world.' She is perfect meekness, making no
difference as to persons, but speaks equally to all high, low,
rich and poor, in the spirit of a little child. Humbleness and
wisdom seem to mark her course, so much so that all seems in perfect
accordance with the idea if her message coming from a divine source.
Glory be to God - I believe it! - I KNOW it! - I will heed it
by the HUMBLING, quickening grace of God, and be ready on the
tenth day of the seventh month of the present year (Jewish) when
the great trumpet of Jubilee will CERTAINLY SOUND!. . ."
Whether it was Prophet Miller's sudden endorsement of the seventh-month theory, or whether it was that he was unable to retain any sort of equilibrium in the midst of so much hysterical hallucination, cannot be stated, but the following item which appeared in "The Midnight Cry" of October 10th records the Reverend Joshua V. Himes as a supporter now of the tenth day of the seventh month expectation:
"Brother Himes lectured Friday
afternoon and evening at Chrystic Street, exhibiting the evidence
of the Lord's coming on the tenth day of the seventh month, giving
an account of the blessed effects of the doctrine."
Then in an issue of October 12th we find this letter:
"To our Readers - "Dear Brethren and Sisters:
"We find we have arrived at a most solemn and momentous crisis, and from the light we have, we are shut up in the conviction that the tenth day of the seventh month must usher in the glorious appearing of our great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ. We therefore find our work is now finished and that all we have to do is to go out to meet the Bridegroom and to trim our lamps accordingly. . . .
"We feel that we are now making our last appeal; that we are addressing you through these columns for the last time. In this crisis we must stand alone. If you are hanging upon our skirts, we shake them off. Your blood be upon your own heads. We ask forgiveness of God and all men for everything which may have been inconsistent with His power of glory; and we desire to lay ourselves upon the altar. Here we lay our friends and worldly interests.
"J. V. Himes"
It is interesting to note that on this
same date the "Boston Post" gives out this warning:
"The public indignation
is so great against Himes that we think it would be prudent for
him to give a general notice of his movements."
This was undoubtedly due to the fear for the sanity of those now taking part in the meetings at the Tabernacle on Howard Street, where evidences of the stress of mind under which many were laboring were only too apparent. As the date approached, frightened men and women from the outlying districts crowded into Boston from a desire to be under the roof of that strangely constructed edifice and to "go up" with the multitude collecting there. And here, as well as at every other gathering place of the faithful, these terrible words of Prophet Miller were now read, while men and women cowered in fear, and covered their faces with their hands:
"But you, O impenitent men
and women, where will you be then? When heaven shall resound
with the mighty song, and distant realms shall echo back the sound,
where, tell me where, will you be then? IN HELL! O think! IN
HELL! O dreadful word! Once more think! IN HELL! Lifting up
your eyes, being in torment. Stop sinner, think! IN HELL! Where
the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day
and night, forever and ever. I entreat you to think - IN HELL!
I know you hate the word. It sounds too harsh. There is no
music in it. You say it grates upon the ear. But think when
it grates upon the soul, the conscience, and the ear, and not
by sound only, but a dread reality when there can be no respite,
no cessation, no deliverance, no hope!. . . There was an hour
when conscience spake; but you stopped your ears and would not
hear. There was a time when reason and judgment whispered; but
you soon drowned their cry by calling aid against your own soul.
To judgment and reason you have opposed WILL and WIT, and said
'IN HELL' was only IN THE GRAVE. In this vain citadel, in this
frail house of sand, you will build, until the last seal is broken,
the last trump will sound, the last woe be pronounced, and the
last vial be poured upon the earth. Then, impenitent man or woman,
you will awake in everlasting woe!" (Ninth lecture.)
Horrible words, that struck cold terror
to the hearts of his followers!
"Sinners in scores plead for mercy,"
so said "The Midnight Cry" of October 12th,
and even the most unimaginative must feel the vibrations of fear
sweeping up through the intervening years from the deluded ones
who believed in the prophecy.
The "History of Philadelphia" (Sharp & Wescott) gives one of the most graphic descriptions of the final days, and we therefore insert it here:
"Fire was to destroy the earth in October, 1844. The excitement in Philadelphia had been growing for two or more years, and by the summer of 1844 it was indescribable. The Millerite Church was on Julianna Street, between Wood and Callowhill, and there Miller's followers met night and day, and watched the stars and sun, and prayed and warned the unrepentant that the 'Day of Judgment was at hand.'
"Many of them began to sell their houses at prices which were merely nominal. Others gave away their personal effects, shut up their business, or vacated their houses. On a store on Fifth Street, above Chestnut, was a placard which read thus:
"THIS SHOP IS CLOSED IN HONOR OF THE KING OF KINGS WHO WILL APPEAR ABOUT THE 20TH OF OCTOBER. GET READY FRIENDS TO CROWN HIM LORD OF ALL."
People laboring under the excitement went mad.
"On one occasion all the windows of a meeting-house were surrounded at night by a crowd of young fellows, and at a given signal the darkness and gloom were made lurid by flaming torches, and the air resounded with the roar of firecrackers. The Saints inside went wild with terror, for they thought the fiery whirlwind was come.
"The Sunday before the final day was an eventful one. The Julianna Street Chapel was crowded. A mob of unbelievers on the pavements stoned the windows and hooted at the worshippers. The Police of Northern Liberties, and Spring Garden, and a sheriff's posse, headed by Morton McMichael, were on hand to quell the threatened disturbance. The members of the congregation repaired to their homes, and after, in many cases, leaving their doors and windows open, and giving away their furniture, set out for the suburban districts. A large number went over into New Jersey, but their chief party assembled in Isaac Yocomb's field on the Darby Road, three miles and a half from the Market Street bridge. While here a furious hurricane strengthened the faith of the Millerites and struck awful terror to the souls of the timid. It swept over the city, destroying shipping and demolishing houses. . .
"The crowd at Darby was gathered in two tents, but so great was it that the children for two days were obliged to run about the fields, exposed to the pelting of a pitiless storm, and crying for their parents. The parents, clad in their white ascension robes, were almost exhausted for want of food, slept on the cold wet ground, and prayed and hymned and groaned incessantly.
"At midnight on the 22nd,
the Bridegroom was to come, and a rain of fire was to descend
from the heavens, and the Saints were to be gathered up in a whirlwind.
There they stood on that black, tempestuous October night, shivering
with cold and fear - their faces upturned, and every eye strained
to catch a beam of the awful light piercing the clouds. The morning
broke, and with it came the end of the delusion. The assemblage
dispersed in despair, and slunk away silently and downcast to
All through the Eastern states as well
as South and West scenes similar in substance to the foregoing
took place. Everywhere bands of deluded men and women congregated
and awaited the sound of the dread trumpet call.
The writer received the following letter which brings up a picture of them in the old town of Lunenburg, in western Massachusetts:
"I spent Thanksgiving in Hollis, New Hampshire, and just by chance my eye rested on your notice in the weekly paper - the 'Hollis Homestead' - asking for information about the Millerites.
"What memories it awakened! It took me back to my childhood days, when I listened to my father's telling of what he had seen and known of that sect.
"More than once they were prepared for the Second Coming. They rose in the night, clothed themselves in white, and prayed loud and earnestly that they may be found ready for the coming of their Lord, whom they expected was to come in clouds of glory.
"Once, I remember, their
leader gathered them together and went to the hill-top, thinking
to be nearer the Lord coming from the sky attended with saints
and angels and the blowing of trumpets, to take them into the
Heavenly glory. SUCH A PICTURE! These poor mortals arrayed in
white, praying and singing and looking for the Coming, according
to the Bible tale. What a literal translation of the wonderful
story, from what we of today believe in - the daily coming of
our Lord by the still small voice, and the other ways by which
he enters our hearts and minds!"
In his "Reminiscences," Daniel M. Treadwell describes in a few words the final outcome of the prophecy at Hempstead, Long Island:
"On March 22, 1844," he
states, "the Millerites, clad in their ascension robes, gathered
on hill-tops, looking vainly for the coming of Christ from the
east. It was a pathetic company, and much of the pathetic quality
attended the delusion, in the course of which the more feeble
minds became deranged, and not a few committed suicide."
An entry in the diary of the author's grandfather, Mr. George Peabody, of Salem, Massachusetts, dated October 22, 1844, reads thus:
"This is an important day to
the Millerites, who believe that the end of all things is to take
place today. Many are so well satisfied of the fact as to neglect
their property, and others have distributed it among their neighbors.
The delusion has brought great distress upon the families of
the infatuated - and much more will result from it."
An incident which he was fond of retelling
seems worth inserting here: His home was what is now the Salem
Club House on Washington Square, and the day before the predicted
end of the world he was sitting conversing with his wife and one
of his daughters when the maid came to the door and announced
in rather a startled voice that Mr. ----- was downstairs and especially
desired to see Mr. Peabody, "and," she added mysteriously,
"he's got his Sunday best on and acts nervous!"
Mr. Peabody went downstairs, and those
left behind heard the sound of a very eager conversation coming
up from below. When Mr. Peabody returned, his face showed both
amusement and distress, for his heart was a very kindly one and
he was truly sorry for the victims of so pitiful a delusion, and
he related what had happened.
It appears that when he greeted his
visitor, the latter exclaimed, "Mr.
Peabody! - Mr. Peabody! dear sir! - listen; tomorrow the world
is coming to an end! - I've come to warn you! My wife and I believe
in the prophecy, but my son doesn't, he's obdurate. I've given
away my property to him, as we'll not need it any more. Mr. Peabody
- you and Mrs. Peabody have been kind to me - you are good people
- I hate to think of you and Mrs. Peabody and your children burning
in hell-fire - I do - truly I do!"
Mr. Peabody tried to reassure him, and
said plainly that he did not feel that they must of necessity
come to such a direful end, but he found it impossible to pacify
him. Having a good deal of curiosity to know what plans the poor
man had made toward meeting the fateful cataclysm, the latter
assured him that as far as he and his wife were concerned everything
was ready - their white robes were waiting to be put on, and they
intended to go up on to the roof of the house and from their await
the end. Here he quoted as a justification of this decision,
"He that is upon the housetops, let him not come down,"
which he considered an intimation that the roof was where they'd
Seeing that his listener was not convinced,
he left the house sorrowfully deploring the approaching doom of
this good gentleman and that of his family.
In telling about it, Mr. Peabody used
to say, "Poor soul! Poor soul! It was pitiful!" - and
when the prophecy failed, and he found that Mr. ---- and his wife
were destitute, the son having refused to give back the property,
he kept track of them for many years and saw to it that they did
not die of want. He always maintained that apart from this delusion
Mr. ---- was a normal and perfectly sensible man, and deserved
a better fate.
A large band of Salem Millerites marched
in white robes to Gallows Hill where the witches were hanged,
and watched from that elevation for the signs of the coming end.
Mr. Henry Clair, of New Bedford, whose mother and father were followers of Prophet Miller, sent the author (in 1921) a graphic account of his experience as a child on the fateful night:
"The time was set to take place at midnight," he states. "The eventful day at last arrived. The forenoon passed away and the dinner hour arrived, but none of the elder ones ate much food. Soon after dinner the elder ones were very quiet and solemn - nothing above a whisper could be heard. The children noticed the elders go to the doors and windows and cast anxious looks at the sky, and they thought that something terrible was about to happen, and they kept hold of their mother's dress and hands.
"The supper hour arrived, but none of the elders would eat (the final hour was near at hand). After the children had eaten what their scared natures would satisfy, the members of the household gathered together for a series of prayers, and occasionally some one would go to the door or windows and see if they could see any sign of the event.
"About nine o'clock my mother's father put on his ascension robe and sat at the window so as to be all ready to ascend up. Everything was quiet, and nothing could be heard but the beating of our hearts.
"Occasionally some one would go to the window and look up at the sky, and glance at the clock to see how near the time was before the last moment had arrived. The final moment at last arrived, with no signs of the end.
"Then some of the elder ones
ventured to the door, opened it very cautiously and peeked out,
and as they saw nothing unusual going on the took fresh courage
and went out, and walked around the house and went in again, and
held a consultation about the affair, and came to the conclusion
that William Miller had made a slight mistake in the time. My
mother's father sat near the window with his ascension robe on
until three o'clock in the morning (three hours after the time
expired), then got up and went about his daily affairs."
Another account of the suspense suffered in awaiting the end is given by Mrs. Ellen G. T. Wood, of Springfield, Massachusetts.
"I have often heard my parents relate the following: My mother, whose home was in New Haven, Connecticut, was one of five sisters (all were quite young). Aside from the family was a young American girl who assisted my grandmother (in those days there was no foreign help), and the maid was made one of the family. My grandfather was quite interested, though not a follower. . .
"The night of the day appointed by the Millerites to ascend, about eight o'clock church bells began ringing; the sky was completely covered with a brilliant red, the ground was covered with snow, the outlook was fantastic and weird, and without a doubt many were inclined to have some belief in Mr. Miller.
"My grandfather, without saying much to alarm the children, proposed going out to investigate. The children were frightened, and begged their parents to take them. Thinking it best to have them all together, the family went out, children clinging to their parents.
"The maid a short time before had had a set of false teeth made, and as they bothered somewhat she would relieve her gums by taking them out, which at that time she had done, and they were laying on the kitchen table.
"For an hour, after much surprise, the redness of the sky subdued, and they returned to their home, while my grandfather ventured a short distance from his house, where he met with those who had found out the cause was a large fire about five miles from New Haven, in a suburban place called Westfield.
"The maid during this time was
quite hysterical. After the excitement was over, she said to
my grandmother: 'Mrs. G----, do you know I left my teeth on the
kitchen table! And what do you think the Lord would have said
to appear before him without teeth?'"
Mr. John Whitcomb, of Lunenburg, Massachusetts, who gave an account of going to the camp-meeting at Fitchburg, also wrote to the author a short account of the last day:
"I lived in Wells, Maine, and I remember the time they were to go up. Some of them had farms, and they gave them away to any one who would take them, and some left everything, and bid friends good-bye, saying - 'We don't see you any more!'
"They came from far and near to our towns so as to be near one another when the Lord called. So the day came, and they all sat waiting - some with their robes on.
"One old lady sat almost a week with her robe on and she said she guessed the Lord had forgotten them!
"One of our neighbors said to
my mother: 'Oh, Mrs. Whitcomb, aren't you afraid to have the day
come?' Mother said, 'No, don't you care, Mrs. Cain - the world
is not coming to an end yet.'"
Mr. Frank Stevens, of Stow, Massachusetts,
gave the author the benefit of his recollections of what happened
to him in that quaint old New England village as the time of the
end approached. He had an uncle and aunt who were ardent followers
of Prophet Miller. Mr. Stevens, who was a small boy at the time,
remembers the day before the expected end when this same uncle
and aunt arrived in a buggy in a state of hysterical excitement.
They cried out to his father and mother, "Oh, Moses! Oh,
Maria! The world is coming to and end! - and they ran into the
house, and in and out of all the rooms as though they were distraught.
His father was a hard-headed Yankee
and not easily influenced, and he told them plainly what he thought
of them - in no mild language either - so they left him alone
as one hopelessly lost, and turned their attention to his mother.
She, however, refused to be moved by their assertions and exhortations
and told them they were behaving like a pair of lunatics.
Mr. Stevens said he distinctly remembered
the buggy driving into the barnyard, and his aunt, who was very
stout, getting out and running up the path to the house, calling
out and gesticulating like a madwoman; and she struck her feet
so heavily upon the ground as she ran that she trod right upon
a half-grown chicken and killed it!
While great numbers of Millerites sought the hill tops as the most fitting place to await the end, many sought the graveyards where friends were buried, so as to join them as they arose from their earthly resting places and ascend with them. The emotion caused by the expectation of seeing the dead arise resulted in demonstrations of abnormal excitement. Miss Julia M. Warner, of Philadelphia, wrote the author some of her father's recollections of this period of which the following is an extract:
"Father was on a visit to his aunt, who lived in New London, Connecticut, when the last great day was due to arrive. In the early evening, just before the actual darkness, they started for the oldest burying ground to see what would happen. They found a big crowd there evidently for the same purpose, though only a few Millerites. Father said it was great fun for little boys like himself to see grown men and women wrapped in yards and yards of white cloth or sheets, screaming, or singing, or praying, or else rolling on the grass 'same as a dog does in a fit.'
"When the appointed hour arrived
for the world to end, there was a great silence over all. The
people waited and waited. . . "
Mrs. Ellen M. Davenport, of Worcester, also contributes some of her father's recollections, of which this is one:
"My father was born and brought up in Portland, Maine, and in 1843 he was twenty-four years old and remembered the great excitement. He was present at the following graveyard meeting, though not a sympathizer. A great company of men and women made their ascension robes and marched singing through the streets to the Eastern Cemetery, where they believed the dead were to rise. One man kneeled on his first wife's grave, saying, 'Here I will stay till I meet my beloved, and ascend with her,' which so incensed his second wife that she refused ever to live with him again, and she never did. She could not forgive him! . . .
"A heavy thunder shower added to the scene and the kneeling crowd shouted, 'Come, Lord Jesus - come quickly!' and refused to rise even when drenched with rain. One woman shouted, 'I see his face!' . . .
"As night drew near, some were
obliged to go home, but many stayed all night, unwilling to believe
the truth. . . "
Another account of those meeting in graveyards for the ascension is from Mrs. George B. Ladd, of Worcester.
"My mother, eighty-six years old, vividly remembers the Millerites in Wardsboro, Vermont. She was eight years of age at the time. Her mother gathered her five or six children around her and explained the excitement. She says the day exhibited peculiar features - a red light, and something occurred like Northern lights in the heavens. Grandmother took them all to the graveyard to see the believers gather there in shrouds, shouting and crying. A woman who had died several days before was kept in her shroud without burial to meet the Lord! Grandfather, as one of the Selectmen, went there to protest.
"Mother is unusually observant and we have found her recollections of her early life invariably correct and shrewd."