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G. I. Butler

Photo courtesy of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists Archives.

Butler, George Ide (1834–1918)

By Denis Fortin


Denis Fortin is professor of historical theology at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary, Andrews University, in Berrien Springs, Michigan. Since joining the seminary faculty in 1994, he has served in several administrative roles, including dean (2006-2013). Among the most recent of his many publications on Adventist history and theology are One in Christ: Biblical Concepts for a Doctrine of Church Unity (Pacific Press, 2018) and the annotated 125th anniversary edition of the Ellen G. White classic, Steps to Christ (Andrews University Press, 2017).

First Published: September 26, 2022

George Ide Butler served the church for 30 years (1865-1888; 1901-1908) as pastor and president of the Iowa, Missouri, Michigan and Florida conferences, the Southern Union Conference, and the General Conference.1

Early Life

George Ide Butler was born in Waterbury, Vermont, November 12, 1834. He was the son of Ezra Pitt Butler (1796-1875) and Sarah Grow Butler (1799-1866). His grandfather, Ezra Butler (1763-1838), was governor of Vermont from 1826 to 1828.

Before becoming Adventist, George Butler’s family had deep roots in the Baptist religious heritage of Vermont and his father was involved in the abolitionist movement. Around 1839, the family joined the Millerite movement and like thousands of others were deeply disappointed in October 1844 when Jesus did not return as prophesied. While visiting former Millerite families in 1848 or 1849, Joseph Bates called on the Butler home and convinced Sarah Butler of observing the seventh-day Sabbath. Ezra Pitt Butler was persuaded concerning this message around 1850 and soon thereafter their home began to be a meeting place for Sabbatarian Adventists in central Vermont. They later received visits from James and Ellen White, and other early pioneers.2

Joining a growing migration movement westward, the Butler family relocated to Waukon, Iowa, in 1856 where other Sabbatarian Adventist families had already moved. Waukon quickly became a center of influence paralleling Battle Creek, Michigan, attracting prominent families such as John and Angeline Andrews, both sets of their parents, their siblings, John Loughborough and his family, and the Butler family among others. But as a young man George was skeptical of their religious ideas, due in part to the fanaticism he had witnessed from people visiting his home in Vermont. At 21, he went to Wisconsin where he lived with an Indian settlement and joined a government surveying team laying out several new counties near Superior.

In the summer of 1857, George sailed down the Mississippi River to Kansas City. During a stopover in Rock Island, Illinois, he walked around the city reflecting on a text of Scripture he had read and then experienced a moment of spiritual awakening that led to his conversion.3

After working some months in the vicinity of Kansas City, he returned to Waukon. There he publicly confessed his faith in Christ to the group of Sabbatarian Adventists who had known him since his youth and he was baptized by his friend and mentor, John Andrews. Following his conversion, he opted for a more settled life and taught school for two winters near his home.

During that time, George renewed contact with Lentha Lockwood in Round Grove, Illinois. The Lockwoods had lived close to the Butlers in the nearby village of Waitsfield, Vermont, until they also migrated west in 1854 or 1855. Before this relocation, George’s older sister Aurora had married Lentha’s brother, Ransom, in 1852. George, 24, married Lentha Lockwood, 33, in March 1859.4

The new couple settled on a farm near Waukon, Iowa, where their three children were born: Annie, in 1861, and William Pitt and Hiland George, fraternal twins, in 1864. Later in life, William became a businessman in Chicago, and Hiland served as accountant and business manager for John Harvey Kellogg’s food factories in England and Battle Creek. Annie, died at the age of 13, and was buried at Mount Pleasant, Iowa.

As the locale of a number of prominent Adventist families, Waukon became a center of attention for many itinerant preachers, resulting in episodes of fanaticism. Some of these led to polemics with James and Ellen White and questioning of Ellen White’s gift of prophecy. George Butler would recall these events many times in later life and especially how a series of lectures by Merritt Cornell in late 1862 and spring of 1863 convinced him of Ellen White’s supernatural guidance for the church. Shortly after these events, Butler became involved in the leadership of the local church. In 1863, he replaced his father as elder of the Waukon church.

Early Ministry

Controversies in Iowa and in the broader church community reached a difficult moment in 1865 when both the president and the secretary of the Iowa Conference, B. F. Snook and W. H. Brinkerhoff, raised questions about the leadership of the newly-organized Seventh-day Adventist denomination based in Battle Creek. They ultimately broke away from the church. In response to these challenges, and to his great surprise, Butler was chosen president of the Iowa Conference. Having served as a local church elder for less than two years, the inexperienced Butler was thrown into church leadership in a conference sharply divided by conflicts. Despite his lack of experience, however, he succeeded in protecting the Iowa Conference from further loss of membership and two years later was ordained to the ministry by James White and Daniel Bourdeau.5

For seven successive years (1865-1872), he served as president of the Iowa Conference, and his gift of evangelism helped make Iowa one of the strongest of Seventh-day Adventist conferences in the 1870s. In 1868, Butler relocated his family to Mount Pleasant, Iowa.

First Period as President of the General Conference

In December 1871 Butler, at age 37, was asked to take the presidency of the General Conference. For many weeks, he refused to take the position since he believed Ellen White had said in her testimonies that this position belonged only to her husband, James.6 After James White pleaded with him to take on the responsibility, Butler accepted only with the understanding that White would nonetheless remain the true leader of the church.

During the two and a half years Butler served as president of the General Conference (December 1871 to August 1874), he contributed to the establishment of many local conferences and the beginning of a training school that would later become Battle Creek College. In 1874, Butler made his first visit to California, and with the able assistance of John Loughborough, raised funds for a denominational publishing house on the Pacific coast (later the Pacific Press Publishing Association). That same year, 18 years after he was baptized by John Andrews, Butler presided at the session of the General Conference when it voted to send Andrews to Europe as the church’s first official missionary.

Leadership Conflicts

Although Butler was technically the president of the General Conference, James White continued to have a large influence in many of the decisions made by the church in its councils. Butler felt totally unfit for this role and always second guessed himself, fearing that his skeptical past as an infidel youth prevented him from having a proper knowledge of God’s will in leading the Adventist denomination. Given his feeling of inadequacy, Butler often asked for White’s wishes before making any major decisions and was happy to defer to him even when White took the initiative without consulting with him. Other colleagues, however, were not that magnanimous and experienced open conflicts with White.

It is in this context that Butler wrote a tract on Leadership in 1873 in which he offered a biblical model of church leadership intended to support his conviction that only James White could be the president of the Seventh-day Adventist people. The tract articulated church leadership as Butler had experienced it under White. The model built a typology from the Old Testament leadership of Moses and supported a highly centralized form of governance, centered on one man (James White), and inviting humble submission of others to this leader. In a way the pamphlet had the desired effect and a semblance of reconciliation between James White and John Andrews, Joseph Waggoner and Uriah Smith happened.7

Within a few months, however, James White rejected the pamphlet’s theology of leadership and Ellen White rebuked Butler severely in 1875 for this approach to leadership and management, and also claimed it did not truly relieve her husband from the burdens of administration. While the concepts contained in the Leadership tract were first adopted by the General Conference in 1873 and then subsequently revoked at James White’s request in 1877, Butler remained convinced that they were an adequate biblical model to validate White’s overbearing and at times dictatorial leadership personality. In this model, other colleagues had also found a way to minimize their conflicts with James White without abdicating their right to personal judgment and freedom of thought.8

But following James and Ellen White’s public rebuke in 1875, Butler refused for a few years to have any leadership responsibilities that would bring him in contact with James White. He returned to Iowa where he served again as pastor, evangelist, and president (1876-1877). During this period, he also raised churches in Missouri and Kansas. As his broken relationship with James White was slowly repaired, Butler became more involved in supervising local fields in the Midwest and was named to the executive committee of the General Conference in 1879, a position similar to vice-president today.9

Second Period as President of the General Conference

By the time of the General Conference session in October 1880, Ellen White had convinced her husband to again step aside from the leadership of the General Conference and both she and James endorsed Butler to succeed him. A very different man this time accepted this nomination and role. Butler had matured as a person and as church administrator. At 46, he was much more confident in his knowledge of the church and of his expertise as a churchman. Gone were the feelings of inadequacy because of his youthful period as an infidel. His substantial involvement in church affairs all over the United States had given him valuable experience shared by few others. Given James White’s poor health and the hesitant support White received from colleagues, Butler was likely the most qualified person to replace him and give him period of rest from the heavy demands of administration.

But the collegiality with James White was short lived. Within a few months, the two men were again at odds over the management of the church. The major conflict this time centered on the activities of the Tract and Missionary Society10 and its relationship to the Review and Herald publishing house. White was upset with Butler and Stephen Haskell’s new management plan of the Society and its impact on revenues for the Review. Behind the scenes, White was so incensed with Butler that he sought Dudley Canright’s help to oust Butler from the General Conference leadership role or at least reduce his influence in the denomination. A public argument between White, Butler and Haskell occurred during the Iowa camp meeting in June 1881 forcing them to resolve their disagreement before more damage occurred.11 Further major conflicts, however, were averted because James White died on August 6, 1881, leaving Butler as the primary church leader for the next seven years.12

Arguably the most difficult challenge George Butler faced in the early years of his second period in the presidency was the leadership crisis at Battle Creek College. Interpersonal conflicts at the college led to the sudden resignation of its principal, Sydney Brownsberger, in 1881. Following James White’s death and in the absence of George Butler, the college board selected Alexander McLearn, a recent convert who knew very little about Seventh-day Adventist educational philosophy. The 1881-1882 school year was marred by unrest and dissension among the personnel, ending with McLearn’s resignation. An investigation committee and the threat of a lawsuit forced Butler to step in and recommend the temporary closing of the college for the following school year. The school reopened in September 1883 under the leadership of Wolcott Littlejohn.13

An International Church

By the early 1880s, the Seventh-day Adventist Church had become an international denomination. However, with the premature death of John Andrews in October 1883, the church in Europe desperately needed support and advice. From February to May 1884, Butler visited many European countries to study the conditions and needs of the various fields and develop plans to encourage growth and stability. His reports in the Review and Herald spoke of many gatherings of church members and the establishment of three publishing houses located in Basel, Switzerland; Christiania, Norway; and Great Grimsby, England.14

After Butler's return from Europe, many administrative burdens fell upon his shoulders. Added to his duties as president of the General Conference, he was for a time president of the Michigan Conference (1886-1888), president of the Review and Herald Publishing Association (1881-1889), chairman of the Battle Creek College board, and a member of the Battle Creek Sanitarium board as well as many other boards. In these capacities, he exerted a profound influence on the building up and extension of many institutions in the interest of the denomination.

Given the demands of the position of president in a rapidly expanding denomination, it became obvious that one person could not carry all the burdens of administration and leadership. The governance structure adopted by Seventh-day Adventists in 1863 was a hybrid system with some similarities to the Methodist episcopal model. While congregations were semi-autonomous within a conference, the conference president exercised a supervising role over all the activities of the region (like the Methodist bishop). Correspondingly, the president of the General Conference provided oversight over all the conferences and institutions.15 The constant pressures of travel to annual camp meetings and regional meetings, the countless committees and business sessions of conferences and boards of various associations, the numerous sermons he preached each year, and the large number of letters to read and respond to, along with Butler’s desire for efficiency and commitment to duty, undermined his health. Although he repeatedly asked to be relieved from the presidency after 1885, he was routinely reelected each year, with Ellen White’s encouragement. As had happened with James White, Butler, along with his health problems, experienced a burnout that progressively worsened from 1886 to 1888. By December 1888, many colleagues despaired he would not live much longer.16

The Controversy Over the Law in Galatians

It is in this overall context of administrative burdens and declining health that George Butler faced what he considered to be the most dangerous doctrinal controversy yet faced by the church. When in 1886, Ellet J. Waggoner and Alonzo T. Jones, co-editors of the Signs of the Times in California, began to publish their views on the meaning of the law in Galatians 3:24 and its relationship to salvation, Butler and other colleagues became very defensive of the view that James White and other pioneers had advocated for decades.

Between 1854 and 1857, Sabbatarian Adventists had debated the relationship of obedience to the Ten Commandments and salvation and reached the conclusion that the “added law” given through a mediator discussed in Galatians 3:19-24 referred to the Old Testament ceremonial laws given to Moses. A crucial distinction was made between the eternal and immutable Ten Commandments and the temporary ceremonial laws. Contrary to the position advocated by E. J. Waggoner’s father, Joseph H. Waggoner, a consensus was established that the law in Galatians 3 was only the ceremonial law. It was this clear distinction that had convinced Butler’s staunch Baptist father to accept Joseph Bates’ teachings about the seventh-day Sabbath of the Ten Commandments.17 For the next three decades Adventists taught that the law in Galatians was the ceremonial law.

In the 1880s, when E. J. Waggoner began to teach views similar to what his father had taught 30 years earlier, Butler and Uriah Smith, editor of the Review and Herald, were quick to point out that Ellen White had had a vision on the subject in 1854 and had written to Joseph Waggoner that the law in Galatians was the ceremonial law rather than the moral law. Now, however, when asked to produce this document, Ellen White was unable to find it.18

The conflict became more prominent, at least from Ellen White’s perspective, when Butler published in 1886 a small book defending the traditional position. Butler felt that since Ellen White could not find the testimony that had condemned Joseph Waggoner’s view, he needed therefore to produce an honest response to E. J. Waggoner. The book was published in time for the 1886 General Conference session and distributed only to delegates.19

Another twist to the story came about with two letters Ellen White wrote to the two sides of this debate in the winter and spring of 1887. First, in a letter to Waggoner and Jones in February 1887, she recalled that she had written to Joseph Waggoner that she was shown “that his position in regard to the law was incorrect,” but that she could not recall exactly what was incorrect about it. One thing was clear to her, however: the various positions on the law in Galatians were not vital points, and they should not be made an issue.20 Two months later, in a letter to Butler and Smith, she again referred to the lost letter to Joseph Waggoner and pointed out that the counsel may not have been on doctrine at all. “It may be that it was a caution not to make his ideas prominent at that time, for there was great danger of disunion.” In any case, since Butler had written a book arguing his view of the matter, she pointed out, it was only fair that Waggoner should be given the opportunity to express his views.21

Butler and Smith, however, disagreed with that recollection, claiming that Ellen White had seen in vision that Joseph Waggoner had been wrong theologically and that she had said as much again in her letter of February 1887 to Ellet Waggoner and Jones. Hence, in their view, this issue was posing a threat not only to the traditional Adventist teachings on the immutability of the Ten Commandments and the cherished doctrine of the seventh-day Sabbath with its importance in eschatological events, but also to Ellen White’s own prophetic ministry. Her reliability was undermined if she changed her mind on theological issues. As far as giving Ellet Waggoner a chance to express his view, Butler felt betrayed as Waggoner had already done this through the pages of the Signs of the Times for a few years now and Butler’s own book had had only a small distribution. Was Ellen White taking side with error in this controversy?

The intense discussion reached its climax at the General Conference session of 1888 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in the absence of George Butler who remained in Battle Creek suffering from nervous exhaustion. Before the session began, he had written to Ellen White and others giving hints that he should not be reelected to the presidency. He was too exhausted to continue in this role and feared that the pressures of the office would destroy him. As the debates over these theological issues continued during the session, and reports reached him that Ellen White was taking a determined position contrary to his, Butler stated clearly that he would not accept reelection. Instead, Ole A. Olsen, at the time leader of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Scandinavia, and a former associate of Butler, was elected. Since it would take many months for Olsen to move to Battle Creek, William C. White took over as interim president.

In the months following the session, Ellen White joined Waggoner and Jones in presenting to the Adventist membership their perspective on the law and the gospel. Ellen White eventually understood the law in Galatians to refer to both the ceremonial and moral law; the former as a “schoolmaster to bring sinful human agents to a consideration of Christ the Foundation of the whole Jewish economy” and the latter as the law that “reveals sin to us, and causes us to feel our need of Christ and to flee unto Him for pardon and peace.”22 Although the struggle did not end quickly, Waggoner’s point of view on the law in Galatians eventually prevailed in Adventism and facilitated a better understanding of righteousness by faith.

While Butler came to admit that this new emphasis on Christ’s righteousness had been very good for the church, he never changed his mind on the identity of the law in Galatians. He also always believed that some conspiracy between Waggoner, Jones and W. C. White had transpired in California in the summer months of 1888 to push their agenda in Minneapolis and to win Ellen White over to their side. In personal correspondence with colleagues, but never in public, he continued to express belief that Ellen White had been unduly influenced by her son to side with Waggoner and Jones. To him this remained a difficult matter to understand since he believed she was truly a messenger of the Lord yet one who could make serious mistakes.23

Retirement to Florida

Shortly after the Minneapolis conference, Irving and Altana Keck, farmers in Bowling Green, in central Florida, heard of Butler’s illness through an Adventist family member. Though strangers to Butler, and not themselves Adventists, the Kecks invited the Butlers to spend the winter months with their family at no expense. Both surprised and relieved, the Butlers accepted the invitation and traveled to Florida in mid-December 1888. This little village would become Butler’s primary residence until his death in 1918.

Butler was relieved to leave Battle Creek. He had been terribly upset by the controversy over the law in Galatians and the position taken by Ellen White. Rather than continuing to fight over this, and knowing it could bring about his death, he preferred to leave everything behind. In some ways, that had been his way of coping with an intransigent James White in 1875; now he did the same with Ellen White. Frank Belden, Ellen White’s nephew who had his own issues with the leadership of the church in the early 1900s, recalled in 1907 that Butler had left Battle Creek because he could not agree with Ellen White.24

After a few months of living with the Kecks, Butler baptized the family and decided to buy a piece of land nearby. They built a home and planted an orchard of orange trees. By the spring of 1890, the Butlers were comfortably settled in their new home and the farm work had greatly helped George slowly heal from his nervous breakdown and regain his physical strength.

But tragedy struck the family when Lentha suffered a stroke on March 14, 1890, permanently paralyzing her entire right side.25 She remained an invalid for the rest of her life with George patiently caring for her needs for more than a decade while still developing his farm. Given Lentha’s physical condition, it was impossible for George to leave her alone. While he would have loved to engage in soul-winning ministry again, he understood their limitations and resigned himself to stay at home. Instead, he devoted his energy to writing dozens of articles for the Review and Herald, some of them long series on biblical characters (Joseph, Elijah, and Elisha) or Bible prophecies.

In 1893, with the help of Stephen Haskell, Butler came to terms with the good influence the message of Christ’s righteousness had exerted on the church since 1888.26 In June 1893, Butler wrote a personal statement in the Review explaining his actions of the last few years and his determination to remain faithful to the Seventh-day Adventist faith.27 This statement was a turning point. Feeling the strong urge to engage in ministry once again, and with Lentha’s consent, he held a first series of evangelistic meetings in his village of Bowling Green, and then joined with other ministers in Asheville and Waynesville, North Carolina, in the summer and fall of 1894.28 In late January 1895, they began another series in Bartow, Florida.29 This would be his last effort. The strain on Lentha who had to live in poor accommodations while at times feeling despondent at being a heavy load on George, became so obvious to other ministers that they convinced him to return home where he could care for Lentha in better conditions. A reluctant yet submissive George agreed. Lentha was his priority.

For the next five years, George Butler returned to being a simple farmer and contributed even less to the life of the church than he had in the first five years after his departure from Battle Creek. There is no report of any activities in that period. There are no devotional or theological articles in the Review. He truly disappeared from the life of the church.

Painful Sorrows

The Butlers’ routine life on their Florida farm was disturbed a year later, in early July 1897, when they heard of the passing of Lentha’s brother, Ransom Lockwood, who was also the husband of George’s older sister Aurora. Following Ransom’s death, Aurora accepted George’s invitation to come live with them in Florida. Aurora’s presence provided some relief to George in caring for Lentha, a presence he gladly appreciated.

For the next year or so the Butlers went through life with comparatively little to disturb their activities, until news reached them that Aurora and George’s younger sister, Martha Bourdeau, had died from tuberculosis.30

Butler had barely time to adjust to the loss of his sister when Lentha’s health declined rapidly and she died on Friday, November 15, 1901. George and Lentha had been married for 42 years. The funeral was held two days later with the assistance of Arthur Daniells, recently elected chairperson of the Executive Committee of the General Conference, and long-time friend, Robert Kilgore. Although her health had been precarious for years, her death was nonetheless another sad experience in George’s life.31

Within a few weeks, yet another death darkened the Butler home. On January 17, 1902, George’s sister, Aurora, died suddenly after coming back from a trip to Nashville, Tennessee.32 Within about five months, George had lost his spouse, Lentha, and two sisters, Martha and Aurora. Later, in the summer of 1902, his brother-in-law, John Whipple, husband of his older sister Sarah, also died in Battle Creek.33

President of the Southern Union Conference

One week after Lentha Butler died, the annual session of the Florida Conference was held at Fort Ogden in conjunction with the annual camp meeting. No one was surprised when, in his absence, George Butler was elected president of the conference. And everyone rightly expected he would accept this new responsibility. He felt the call of duty strongly and dedicated the next six years to serving the church.34

He had barely accepted this responsibility in Florida, when, a few weeks later, he was elected president of the Southern Union Conference at its first session, held in January 1902 in Nashville, Tennessee. Not a man to shrug from responsibilities, Butler served as president of both conferences for almost three years, until October 1904. He would continue as Southern Union president until January 1908. The response to the news that George Butler had returned to church leadership was overwhelmingly positive. There were few men with his vast experience in the denomination and few church members remained who had been part of the Millerite movement and the early beginning of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Between December 1901 and January 1908, Butler shouldered many responsibilities and faced difficult challenges as he oversaw and developed institutions in the conferences of the Southern Union. If seasoned church leaders and friends were glad of Butler’s return to church leadership, it was in part because many knew of the challenges the Seventh-day Adventist work faced in the southern states and few leaders had the experience and wisdom to tackle them responsibly. He had lived in Florida for 12 years and had done some evangelism in North Carolina and Florida. He was acquainted with southern culture and its peculiarities, and the perplexing racial segregation.

During his years of leadership, Butler was able to see the strengthening of the Southern Publishing Association in Nashville and the establishment of sanitariums in Nashville, Graysville, and Madison in Tennessee, and in Atlanta, Georgia. Tensions between various church leaders in the South caused many headaches for Butler. Among the more perplexing issues he faced was the need to establish and strengthen institutions for the former slaves and their descendants. He played an essential role in developing the physical infrastructures and securing financial support of the school for colored youth in Huntsville, Alabama (today Oakwood University).

The Kellogg Crisis

Within a few weeks of George Butler’s election as president of the Southern Union Conference, the Battle Creek Sanitarium burned. To help raise funds to rebuild the sanitarium, John Harvey Kellogg published a book on health principles, The Living Temple. Even before its publication, the book raised concerns among church leaders who saw a form of pantheism in many of its passages.

It is in this context that George Butler and John Kellogg entertained a long correspondence with one another. They exchanged more than 150 letters.35 Butler and Kellogg were not strangers, as Butler’s son, Hiland had married Kellogg’s younger sister, Clara. In many ways, Kellogg came to see Butler as a spiritual mentor. At first, they discussed extensively Kellogg’s views on God and his presence in nature. Kellogg, not being a theologian, had not been precise in the statements he inserted in his book. But he defended himself in stating that he had been speaking about these concepts for years at camp meetings and pastors’ meetings. Even Ellen White and W. W. Prescott, he claimed, taught concepts similar to his. The Butler-Kellogg letters suggest that Kellogg was not a pantheist but taught a doctrine of immanent theism while still believing in a personal God in the heavenly sanctuary. Although Butler chided Kellogg for his lack of theological precision, he came to the conclusion that he was not a pantheist and should not be accused of being one.36 But the controversy did not die out. Even after Kellogg revised the book under a new title, The Miracle of Life, removing from it all the problematic statements and replacing them with statements from Ellen White’s recent book Education, the accusation of pantheism persisted.

The correspondence between Kellogg and Butler shows that the persistent accusations of heresy and lack of resolution to the controversy soured Kellogg’s relationship toward church leaders, in particular A. G. Daniells, W. W. Prescott, and W. C. White. Butler wrote many letters to Daniells and Kellogg attempting to mend their relationship, but to no avail. Although Kellogg asked Butler to tell him what to do to mend his relationship with church leaders, the distrust between Kellogg and these three church leaders was too deep and too persistent to be mended.

By 1905, Kellogg had consistently refused to change the bylaws of the Battle Creek Sanitarium charter to place it under the direct supervision and control of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. His refusal to comply with this church request further fractured his relationship with General Conference leadership. In the end, while he asserted that the sanitarium would remain a true Seventh-day Adventist institution, he nonetheless also took steps to brand it as a non-denominational healthcare facility. This move further alienated him from church leadership. In the end, Butler refused to defend Kellogg’s actions when it came to the new branding scheme. By the spring of 1906, their long correspondence ended.

Butler’s friendship with Kellogg and his decision to advocate for him in the early years of the controversy brought him under sharp suspicion. People came to doubt Butler’s loyalty to the church since he advocated so much for a better understanding of Kellogg’s views and policies. But in the end, after he refused to go along with Kellogg’s course of rebranding and controlling the sanitarium, Butler regained favor and the rumors that he would be replaced as president of the Southern Union for his lack of loyalty died out.37

A Lonely Man

For six years, Butler labored untiringly in the Southern Union, from North Carolina to Louisiana and from Kentucky to Florida, along with many other trips to Washington, D.C., California, and elsewhere. Many times he wrote to his friends of how lonely he felt as an “old pilgrim” on this earth.

If Butler was a lonely widower, it is not because he had wanted it that way. During the first meeting of the Southern Union Conference in Nashville, Tennessee, in January 1902, Butler had been accompanied by his sister Aurora Lockwood. (It is during the return trip to Bowling Green that Aurora fell ill and died suddenly.) During this visit in Nashville, Aurora got acquainted with Lorena Waite, sister of Altana Keck, George Butler’s grateful neighbor in Bowling Green. After hearing of Aurora’s sudden death, Lorena wrote to George to express her sympathy and thus began an intriguing friendship between them. Within a few months, George had proposed to Lorena, who lived in Atlanta, and she accepted. Lorena was half George’s age.

The news of their engagement incensed Irving and Altana Keck who thought the idea ludicrous and too rushed. Hearing of the situation, Ellen White sought to reason with Irving Keck and asked him to relent in his opposition to the marriage. He refused and succeeded in alienating Lorena who then backed away from her promise to George. Butler was devastated by the turn of events. Not only did he lose a good friend in Lorena but also lost the confidence of his good neighbors who refused any attempt at reconciliation for well over a year. The situation became even more complex as Irving Keck served as the treasurer of the Southern Union Conference and avoided some church meetings when Butler was present. Seeing no way out of this difficult situation, Butler waited patiently until his relationship with the Kecks could be restored. But he never was able to renew a friendship with Lorena Waite who remained very bitter at her brother-in-law for ruining her life.38

Butler remained a lonely widower for the next five years until he met Elizabeth Work Grainger, widow of William C. Grainger, former president of Healdsburg College and pioneering missionary to Japan where he died in 1899. Butler met Elizabeth during a trip to California and, after corresponding for a couple years, decided to get married. Born in 1845, she was nine years younger than George. To all appearances, since the correspondence between them had remained private, the decision to marry Elizabeth was sudden and totally unexpected even by close friends and family members. A small family gathering with friends in Nashville in early October 1907 was very surprised when Butler introduced Elizabeth as his fiancée. They were married that evening by his nephew, Frank Washburn.39

Final Retirement

Once he retired from the presidency of the Southern Union Conference in January 1908, George and Elizabeth Butler, and her young son, Albert, returned to Bowling Green, Florida, where they cultivated their farm and attempted to make a living from it. Although advanced in age, Butler continued to be physically active on the farm until the last few months of his life.

The Butlers lived together in Florida until September 1916, when Elizabeth was compelled to seek a cooler climate and went to live with relatives in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and then in the north Pacific. While caring for her dying daughter Gertrude in 1910, Elizabeth also likely contracted tuberculosis but treatments and good care helped her heal from the disease. For a year and a half, she and George lived apart. Yet, their marriage was a happy one, each often praising the other in their letters to personal friends.

During the last ten years of his life, Butler held no official responsibility, but continued to preach, write articles for periodicals, and attend some church councils and camp meetings. He attended the General Conference sessions of 1909, 1913, and 1918.

Ever the person to defend his understanding of the Adventist faith, Butler, in 1910, took a personal interest in opposing the new interpretation of the “daily” of Daniel 8, until Ellen White told him to drop the subject.40 Then, in 1911, he wrote a series of articles in response to A. F. Ballenger’s view of Christ’s ministry in the heavenly sanctuary.41 His heart was still dedicated to the precious message he had supported all his life and he often bemoaned that he could not do more evangelism in his old age. In the last years before he died, he wished to sell his farm so that he and Elizabeth could relocate to Fort Myers, Florida, and plant a church in that city.42

George and Elizabeth attended the General Conference session in San Francisco in April 1918 and remained in California at the home of friends in Healdsburg. Suffering from cancer, George’s health progressively declined during that summer, and he died in Healdsburg on July 25, 1918, at the age of 83. A large funeral was held in Oakland, California, and he was buried beside his wife Lentha and sister Aurora in the Bowling Green cemetery.43

Elizabeth survived George for almost a decade. She returned to their home in Bowling Green until 1920 and then moved to Modesto, California, to live with her daughter Margery Burden. She died on December 30, 1927, at the age of 82 and was buried in the Modesto cemetery.44

A Legacy

George Butler’s legacy has been difficult to ascertain given the pejorative adjectives used to describe him and his views of the movement on righteousness by faith in 1888 and his opposition to E. J. Waggoner’s ideas on the law in Galatians.45 But beyond this troubling part of Adventist history and of his life, George Butler demonstrated remarkable attributes as a church leader. Although misunderstood, and admittedly too stubborn at times, he was an honest and exceptional church leader.

His Yankee upbringing guaranteed that George Butler would be a man of his word and true to duty. This attribute marked all his life. Convinced in his early adulthood of the truthfulness of the Seventh-day Adventist message, he remained a faithful believer in spite of ideological conflicts with some colleagues. The same attribute characterized his church leadership and management style. Butler was a consistent and dependable leader, one who accepted responsibilities and shared the burdens of the church. Perhaps his personality made him too “rugged” or inflexible at times, but always in his mind he acted for the benefit of the church. Above all Butler was a churchman who believed in the integrity of the Seventh-day Adventist movement and its eschatological role in Christian history. He was humbled many times by the responsibilities his colleagues asked him to shoulder, and he was rarely able to say no to a call to duty.

More nuanced and more complicated, however, was Butler’s relationship with James and Ellen White. From early on, Butler came to accept and believe that God had called James White to be the leader of the Seventh-day Adventist people and that Ellen White had been endowed with the spiritual gift of prophecy. He never changed his mind on these convictions, but he certainly had misgivings about how to understand and relate to these two colleagues. Butler’s relationship with James White was marked by periods of alienation as Butler found it difficult to relate to James’ often overbearing and dictatorial ways. When publicly shamed by James for being an incompetent church leader, Butler preferred to remove himself from the conflict rather than openly challenge White. One thing Butler could not do was to submit indiscriminately to White’s wishes when he thought White was wrong or misguided. Butler preferred to remain true to himself and risk losing the esteem of a friend.

To a large extent the same scenario occurred in Butler’s relationship with Ellen White. Also convinced early in his adulthood of her genuine gift of prophetic guidance, Butler never doubted that she was a messenger of God to the Seventh-day Adventist people. But he also knew she was an imperfect human being. That imperfection, he believed, could affect her prophetic ministry and appear in some of her written testimonies. Her memory could sometimes fail to recall events accurately and Butler was convinced that her testimonies could be influenced by others. A few times in his relationship with Ellen White, Butler could not determine how to relate to what she had written to him. This happened in 1875 and again during the 1886-1888 crisis and subsequent years. While Ellen White described Butler as a man in need of conversion, Butler refused to accept this judgment of his relationship with God. Although he readily admitted being an imperfect man and church leader in need of God’s grace, he never doubted that God loved him, saved him, and gave him some guidance in his leadership role. He believed he had always been true to God. Hence, he could not accept Ellen White’s point of view that he needed to be converted if he were to be saved in God’s kingdom.46 What Ellen White meant by conversion, however, was submission to her statements about Butler’s spiritual condition. The two colleagues understood conversion to mean different things. In the end, Butler and Ellen White shared a similar love for the church and a common cause, and were able to put their differences aside. But until the very end of her life, evidently showing some uncertainty about what she thought of him, Butler seemed intent on demonstrating to her that he had always upheld her ministry.47

With these perceptions in mind, we may better understand why Butler wrote a number of articles on the meaning of the gift of prophecy, especially a series on inspiration in 1884.48 Butler wrote this series to present a biblical-theological study of the principles of revelation and inspiration as seen in the various modes of God’s communication to biblical writers, each receiving in various ways the information they wrote in their books of the Bible. In all these various ways the Holy Spirit was involved, but the intensity of the Spirit’s actions on the minds of the writers appeared to vary. To explain this, Butler used the expression “degrees of inspiration.” But he also used the word “manners” and “methods” synonymously with “degrees.” In his usage, all three terms referred to the variety of ways or methods the Holy Spirit used to guide and inspire biblical writers.

In part, the series attempted indirectly to make sense of Ellen White’s own writings and the various modes or ways in which God revealed himself to her. Butler had no ill intention in writing his articles—they represented his best attempt at constructing a model of revelation and inspiration arising out of the evidence seen in Scripture. He hoped that this model would help people better understand Ellen White’s own inspiration and the variety of documents she produced. His work had been both a biblical-theological study and an apologetic defense of her work. But Ellen White came to categorically condemn his articles.49

That Ellen White characterized this series of articles as “uninspired” could not circumvent Butler’s belief that his model of inspiration set forth, as best he could, what he perceived as happening in her ministry. That model explains how he struggled with the testimonies she wrote him and could not understand. And he knew some other colleagues felt the same. But what also must be said is that Butler never challenged Ellen White’s gift and testimonies in public. Such misgivings he kept to himself and a few close friends. How historians and theologians have related to Butler’s views on inspiration has hinged largely on Ellen White’s condemnation of his views. Yet at least three of Ellen White’s manuscripts written a few years after Butler’s series show some intriguing statements apparently endorsing many of his ideas, thus confirming important aspects of his understanding of her inspiration.50

So why did she condemn Butler’s ideas so strongly? One reason that seems to stand out more than others is her repeated plea that church members who believe in the genuineness of her prophetic ministry ought to accept her testimonies in all humility and with a submissive spirit. Butler’s nuancing of the various modes of revelation and concomitant degrees or levels of intensity of inspiration threatened the unmitigated and humble acceptance of all her messages. The possibility of differentiating between what is inspired or not inspired, or more or less inspired, could lead to the possibility of more or less accepting her God-inspired testimonies, God’s gift to the church in preparation for the second coming of Christ. The spiritual dangers of Butler’s model were real to Ellen White. For Butler, however, and for some other colleagues, the human factors seen in her life and in her writings caused them to wonder at times to what extent they ought to accept that which to them seemed more human than divine. Butler’s concerns are no less relevant today given all the information we have about her life, the use of many authors in the redaction of her books, and the help she had from her assistants in the preparation of her manuscripts, letters, and books.

In contrast to this analysis, it should be stated that George Butler was also influential in the reverse response to Ellen White’s writings, a more absolutist view of inspiration associated with evangelical fundamentalism where the inspiration of a prophet is infallible and inerrant in all details. During his entire career Butler tried to navigate this tension between “degrees of inspiration” and a kind of absolutist view. On the one hand, at times he questioned some of her testimonies and tried to come up with principles of inspiration to make sense of what he understood and perceived. Yet, as he dealt with the controversy over the law in Galatians and “the daily” of Daniel, he relied heavily on one or two statements she made decades earlier and used these statements as absolute and unchangeable theological pronouncements of her authority.

The paradox of Butler’s relationship with Ellen White’s writings is noticeable and important. In the years before the beginning of fundamentalism in the United States, Butler faced many challenges as president of the Southern Union Conference. Ellen White had called the church’s work in the South as “the hardest field” and Butler used this statement to plead for more funds from the General Conference. When A. G. Daniells and others were not forthcoming with more financial help, Butler used Ellen White’s testimonies in which she encouraged various aspects of the work in the South to insinuate that the General Conference leadership did not honestly believe in her testimonies. Such a strong-armed technique worked and funds came. But at the same time, Butler played into an absolutist view of her writings that he had tried to moderate while president of the General Conference. His friend, Stephen Haskell may have helped him in this movement toward absolutism for Haskell was one of the first Seventh-day Adventists to advocate for inerrancy in the inspiration of a prophet.

Thus setting aside all hesitations he may have had in the past regarding Ellen White’s less than perfect ministry, Butler’s last series of articles in the Review and Herald in 1916 focused on the gift of prophecy in the remnant church and unhesitatingly uplifted her work of prophetic guidance in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. An older George Butler perhaps wanted this series as his last word and influence on the denomination.51 But his approach to Ellen White’s testimonies was not lost on his nephew, Judson Washburn, who became a strong advocate of the infallibility and inerrancy of all of Ellen White’s writings in the years following the 1919 Bible Conference. Washburn went on to accuse A. G. Daniells and other church leaders of being unfaithful to Ellen White’s writings because they had acknowledged that her writings contained some inaccurate statements. Washburn’s rigid, judgmental and hyper-fundamentalist use of her writings became a standard approach to her writings for many decades.52 And if this approach to Ellen White’s writings is still being felt in the church today, it is in a small way also a legacy of George Butler.

Last Words

Milton Wilcox and William White in their obituary wrote a remarkable summary of this man:

A strong, loyal-souled standard bearer has gone from us, but his work lives after him. He was a forceful preacher, a clear, virile writer, and an efficient and able executive. He was a steadfast friend, a strong but generous opponent. Behind the iron will beat a kind and loving heart, repentant under mistakes and sins, tender in sympathy, strong in its love for God and humanity. Elder Butler ever carried with him a deep sense of human unworthiness and the holiness of God.53

Today, the Seventh-day Adventist Church owes much to this pioneer leader.


Burton, Kevin. “Centralized for Protection: George I. Butler and His Philosophy of One-Person Leadership.” M.A. thesis, Andrews University, 2015.

Butler, George I. “Death of Another Pioneer in Reform.” ARH, December 9, 1875.

Butler, George I. “Inspiration.” ARH, January 8 to June 3, 1884.

Butler, George I. The Law in the Book of Galatians: Is it the moral law, or does it refer to that system of laws peculiarly Jewish? Battle Creek, MI: Review and Herald Publishing House, 1886.

Butler, Geo. I. Leadership. Battle Creek: Steam Press of the Seventh-day Adventist Publishing Association, 1875.

Butler, George I. “Personal.” ARH, June 13, 1893.

Butler, George I. “Unpleasant Themes.” ARH, September 12, 1882.

Butler, George I. and U. Smith. “Business Proceedings of the Twelfth Annual Meeting of the S. D. A. General Conference.” ARH, November 25, 1873.

Campbell, Michael W. “Butler, George Ide.” In Denis Fortin and Jerry Moon, eds., The Ellen G. White Encyclopedia, 331-333. Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald, 2013.

Kaiser, Denis. Trust and Doubt: Perceptions of Divine Inspiration in Seventh-day Adventist History. St. Peter am Hart, Austria: Seminar Schloss Bogenhofen, 2019.

Knight, George R. Angry Saints: Tensions and Possibilities in the Adventist Struggle Over Righteousness by Faith. Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald, 1989.

Vande Vere, Emmett K. Rugged Heart: The Story of George I. Butler. Nashville, TN: Southern Publishing Association, 1979.

White, James and Uriah Smith. “Proceedings of the Fourteenth Annual Session of the S. D. Adventist General Conference,” ARH, August 26, 1875.

Wilcox, M. C. and W. C. White, “George Ide Butler: A Sketch of His Life,” ARH, August 29, 1918.

Archival and Manuscript Collections:

Ellen G. White Estate Correspondence, (EGWE).

Ellen G. White Letters and Manuscripts. Ellen G. White Writings, (EGWW).

General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists Archives, Silver Spring, MD. Presidential Correspondence (GCA).

John Harvey Kellogg Special Collection. Collection 00013, Boxes 1-4, Michigan State University Archives and Historical Collections, East Lansing, Michigan (JHK-MSU).


  1. In addition to sources cited below, this article is based on the research for the author’s biography, George I. Butler: An Honest but Misunderstood Church Leader forthcoming in 2024 from Pacific Press in the Adventist Pioneer biography series. A short biography of Butler can be found in Michael W. Campbell, “Butler, George Ide,” in Denis Fortin and Jerry Moon, eds., The Ellen G. White Encyclopedia (Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald, 2013), 331-333.

  2. The obituaries for Governor Ezra Butler and his son Ezra Pitt Butler provide important information about their lives. X. B. Y., “Gov. Butler of Vermont,” Burlington Free Press, August 17, 1838, 1; George I. Butler, “Death of Another Pioneer in Reform,” ARH, December 9, 1875, 183.

  3. M. C. Wilcox and W. C. White, “George Ide Butler: A Sketch of His Life,” ARH, August 29, 1918, 14.

  4. Wilcox and White, “George Ide Butler,” 14.

  5. Ibid.

  6. Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 3, 85, 89.

  7. Kevin Burton provides a helpful and detailed study of the Leadership pamphlet in “Centralized for Protection: George I. Butler and His Philosophy of One-Person Leadership” (M.A. thesis, Andrews University, 2015).

  8. See Ellen G. White, “Leadership,” Testimonies for the Church, vol. 3, 492-509; George I. Butler and U. Smith, “Business Proceedings of the Twelfth Annual Meeting of the S. D. A. General Conference,” ARH, November 25, 1873, 190; James White and Uriah Smith, “Proceedings of the Fourteenth Annual Session of the S. D. Adventist General Conference,” ARH, August 26, 1875, 59. Even at the end of his life, Butler still maintained that the pamphlet had been written to find some biblical validation for James White’s overbearing leadership style. George I. Butler to Clarence C. Crisler, September 25, 1914, EGWE.

  9. James White and U. Smith, “General Conference of S. D. Adventists,” ARH, November 20, 1879, 161.

  10. Gerald Wheeler, “International Tract and Missionary Society,” Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists, January 29, 2020, accessed June 15, 2022,

  11. James White to D. M. Canright, May 24, 1881, EGWE; Ellen G. White to William C. White and Mary K. White, (letter 5a) June 14, 1881, EGWW.

  12. J. H. Kellogg, “Fallen at His Post,” ARH, August 9, 1881, 104-105.

  13. George I. Butler, “Unpleasant Themes,” ARH, September 12, 1882, 586-587; Emmett K. Vande Vere, The Wisdom Seekers (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald, 1971), 48-52.

  14. Butler wrote many reports of the countries he visited in the Review and Herald between March 18 and June 17, 1884.

  15. See Barry Oliver, “Denominational Organization, 1860–1863,” Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists, January 29, 2020, accessed June 15, 2022,

  16. Butler recalled that in November and December 1888, he suffered from daily bouts of fever of 102° F (38.9° C) and sometimes up to 105° F (40.5° C). George I. Butler to J. H. Kellogg, June 9, 1904, JHK-MSU; O. A. Olsen to William C. White, December 20, 1888, EGWE.

  17. “Letter from E. P. Butler,” ARH, December 1850, 20; E. P. Butler, “From Bro. Butler,” ARH, August 5, 1851, 6-7.

  18. Ellen G. White to E. J. Waggoner and A. T. Jones, (Letter 37) February 18, 1887, EGWW.

  19. George I. Butler, The Law in the Book of Galatians: Is it the moral law, or does it refer to that system of laws peculiarly Jewish? (Battle Creek, MI: Review and Herald Publishing House, 1886).

  20. Ellen G. White to E. J. Waggoner and A. T. Jones, (Letter 37) February 18, 1887, EGWW.

  21. Ellen G. White to George I. Butler and Uriah Smith, (Letter 13) April 5, 1887, EGWW.

  22. Ellen G. White, “The Law in Galatians,” Manuscript 87, 1900, EGWW; Ellen G. White to Uriah Smith, (Letter 96) June 6, 1896, EGWW.

  23. George I. Butler to Stephen N. Haskell, April 22, 1893, EGWE; George I. Butler to A. G. Daniells, April 22, 1902, GCA.

  24. George I. Butler to Franklin E. Belden, April 17, 1907, EGWE. Belden’s handwritten note at the end of the letter states: “Butler told me, when I asked him why he was leaving B.C. for Florida, — ‘Because I cannot agree with your Aunt Ellen’!”

  25. ARH, March 25, 1890, 192.

  26. Butler to Haskell, April 22, 1893.

  27. George I. Butler, “Personal,” ARH, June 13, 1893, 377.

  28. George I. Butler, “In the Field Once More,” ARH, October 31, 1893, 685; George I. Butler, “Report of Labor,” ARH, January 2, 1894, 10.

  29. George I. Butler, “Bartow, Fla., and Vicinity,” ARH, June 25, 1895, 410-411.

  30. “A Faithful Worker Fallen,” ARH, September 10, 1901, 598.

  31. George I. Butler, “Death of Sister Butler,” ARH, November 26, 1901, 776; George I. Butler, “The Death of My Afflicted Wife,” ARH, December 3, 1901, 790.

  32. George I. Butler, “Aurora Butler Lockwood,” ARH, January 28, 1902, 63.

  33. I. D. Van Horn, Obituary for John G. Whipple, ARH, September 30, 1902, 23.

  34. R. M. Kilgore, “Florida Camp-Meeting,” ARH, December 17, 1901, 819.

  35. Most of the correspondence between Butler and Kellogg is archived in the John Harvey Kellogg Special Collection in the Michigan State University Archives and Historical Collections, in East Lansing, Michigan (Collection 00013, Boxes 1-4). The box and folder locations of all letters from this collection referenced in this article can be found at

  36. George I. Butler to William C. White, July 27, 1905, EGWE.

  37. George I. Butler to Irving Keck, June 7, 1905, Center for Adventist Research, Andrews University.

  38. George I. Butler to William C. White, July 11, 1902, EGWE; Ellen G. White to Irving and Altana Keck, (Letter 77) May [n.d.], 1902, EGWW; Ellen G. White to Irving and Altana Keck, (Letter 78) May 23, 1902, EGWW; Butler to W. C. White, July 11, 1902; George I. Butler to William C. White, February 6, 1903, EGWE

  39. Judson S. Washburn to A. G. Daniells, October 10, 1907, GCA.

  40. George I. Butler to Ellen G. White, July 3, 1910, EGWE; Ellen G. White to “My Brethren in the Ministry,” (Letter 62) August 3, 1910, EGWW; William C. White to George I. Butler, August 29, 1910, EGWE; George I. Butler to Ellen G. White, October 19, 1910, EGWE.

  41. “Many Voices,” ARH, August 17 to September 21, 1911.

  42. George I. Butler to Clarence C. Crisler, June 1, 1914, EGWE.

  43. Wilcox and White, “George Ide Butler,” 15.

  44. A. R. Sanborn, “Elizabeth Jane Work Butler obituary,” Pacific Union Recorder, February 2, 1928, 7-8; W. C. White, “Mrs. G. I. Butler,” ARH, June 28, 1928, 22. Elizabeth’s family donated to the Loma Linda University Heritage Center a photo album that had belonged to George and Elizabeth.

  45. Emmet K. Vande Vere, Rugged Heart: The Story of George I. Butler (Nashville, TN: Southern Publishing Association, 1979) and George R. Knight, Angry Saints: Tensions and Possibilities in the Adventist Struggle Over Righteousness by Faith (Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald, 1989).

  46. These two letters are perhaps the clearest evidence of Butler’s different perception of his salvation and need of conversion in the misunderstandings he experienced with Ellen White: George I. Butler to Ellen G. White, September 24, 1892, EGWE; George I. Butler to William C. White, December 4, 1912, EGWE.

  47. His last letter to Ellen White was never read to her according to William White, but the letter shows how concerned Butler was with Ellen White’s opinion of him. George I. Butler to Ellen G. White, April 17, 1915, EGWE.

  48. George I. Butler, “Inspiration,” ARH, January 8 to June 3, 1884.

  49. Ellen G. White to R. A. Underwood, (Letter 22) January 18, 1889, EGWW; Ellen G. White, “The Discernment of Truth,” Manuscript 16, 1889. See Denis Kaiser’s study of Butler’s ideas in Trust and Doubt: Perceptions of Divine Inspiration in Seventh-day Adventist History (St. Peter am Hart, Austria: Seminar Schloss Bogenhofen, 2019).

  50. Ellen G. White, “The Guide Book,” Manuscript 16, 1888 and Manuscript 24, 1886, in Selected Messages, Book 1 (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald, 1958), 15-21; Ellen G. White, “The Nature and Influence of the Testimonies” in Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, 654-691. See also, Kaiser, Trust and Doubt, 136-147.

  51. This series appeared in the Review and Herald between June 22 and October 26, 1916.

  52. Matthew J. Lucio, “Washburn, Judson Sylvanus (1863–1955),” Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists, January 29, 2020, accessed June 15, 2022.

  53. Wilcox and White, “George Ide Butler,” 15.


Fortin, Denis. "Butler, George Ide (1834–1918)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. September 26, 2022. Accessed April 18, 2024.

Fortin, Denis. "Butler, George Ide (1834–1918)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. September 26, 2022. Date of access April 18, 2024,

Fortin, Denis (2022, September 26). Butler, George Ide (1834–1918). Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved April 18, 2024,