Wilbur Salisbury

Photo courtesy of Milton Hook.

Salisbury, Wilbur Dixon (1861–1946)

By Milton Hook

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Milton Hook, Ed.D. (Andrews University, Berrien Springs, Michigan, the United States). Hook retired in 1997 as a minister in the Greater Sydney Conference, Australia. An Australian by birth Hook has served the Church as a teacher at the elementary, academy and college levels, a missionary in Papua New Guinea, and as a local church pastor. In retirement he is a conjoint senior lecturer at Avondale College of Higher Education. He has authored Flames Over Battle Creek, Avondale: Experiment on the Dora, Desmond Ford: Reformist Theologian, Gospel Revivalist, the Seventh-day Adventist Heritage Series, and many magazine articles. He is married to Noeleen and has two sons and three grandchildren.

First Published: October 7, 2020

Wilbur Dixon Salisbury is best known for skillful management of the expanding Adventist publishing work in Australia, where he served from 1893 to 1909.

Early Life

Wilbur was born on January 28, 1861, in Adams City, New York, located just under 80 kilometres (50 miles) south of the Canadian border, near the eastern shores of Lake Ontario.1 His father, Burleigh Russell Salisbury, was a merchant.2 Wilbur hardly remembered his real mother, Mary (Dixon) Salisbury, for she passed away when he was only six years old.3 Burleigh Salisbury remarried and moved his family to Battle Creek, Michigan where, according to the 1880 census, he became a beekeeper.4

Burleigh was baptized by James White in 1868 and along with his family became part of the Battle Creek church.5 Wilbur and his younger brother, Homer (1870-1915), thus grew up in a thoroughly Adventist environment.

A Career in Publishing

Wilbur came to the attention of Uriah Smith of the Review and Herald Publishing Association who enlisted him at age 17 for training in the publishing work.6 When Wilbur was 22 he married 21-year-old Francis Isabella “Bella” Ford in Oakland County, Michigan, on October 2, 1883.7 Their only child, Clara Irene, was born in 1887. Sadly, she contracted cholera and died at Battle Creek on August 16, 1889.8

After starting out in the pressroom of the Review and Herald plant in Battle Creek, Wilbur moved to Pacific Press in Oakland, California in 1885.9 Heavier work responsibilities were placed on Salisbury in 1890 when he was called to manage the printing department of the Adventist publishing concern in Great Britain. Established at Great Grimsby in 1884 mainly to publish the 16-page periodical Present Truth, the publishing house was moved to London in 1887. When Salisbury arrived in May 1890 plans were in place to expand the establishment with financial support from Pacific Press. In fact, the London publishing house became a branch of Pacific Press. The printing plant was in Paternoster Row and the business office on Holloway Road, North London.10

Salisbury implemented the upgrade that came under the new arrangement with Pacific Press. A new steam power press had just been acquired that facilitated publication of tracts, pamphlets, and small books in addition to periodicals.11 Salisbury must have acquitted himself well in London for in 1893 he was called to a new and larger responsibility as manager of the Echo Publishing Company (EPC) in Melbourne, Australia, in 1893.12

Wilbur Salisbury’s seventeen years in the Australian publishing work proved to be his most significant legacy to the denomination. Under his management the EPC plant expanded rapidly with a third floor added to the premises and a large three-storey building added at the rear. New equipment was installed. Printing contracts came from the commercial sector of Melbourne in addition to the increasing denominational work involving periodicals and books. The staff increased from a handful to almost one hundred. It was remarkable that the burgeoning business took place during a nation-wide depression that witnessed bank failures and prevalent unemployment.13

The printing establishment was so successful that a rural property was found at Warburton to the east of Melbourne where further expansion was possible. The complex move of the plant took place in 1906 under Salisbury’s direction, all the time maintaining the volume of printing contracts.14 It was a masterful exercise in skillful management. The enterprise, renamed the Signs Publishing Company, continued to be directed by Salisbury until 1909 when he and Bella returned to America, leaving it in a financially stable position.15

In America Once Again

On return to their homeland Salisbury was assigned to the Washington Sanitarium as its president, treasurer and business manager.16 After approximately two years, however, health difficulties prompted the Salisburys to move to California. Wilbur managed Loma Linda Sanitarium from 1912 to 191317 before turning farming as a complete break from sedentary office work. Retirement years were spent in Monrovia at the foot of the San Gabriel Mountains near Los Angeles.

Wilbur Dixon Salisbury passed away in the Glendale Sanitarium and Hospital on November 23, 1946, at age 85. He had been admitted the previous day with a stricture and perforation of the oesophagus.18 He was laid to rest in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Glendale).19 No record could be found of Bella’s later death and burial.

Sources

“Burleigh Salisbury obituary.” ARH, June 12, 1897.

District of California. Death Certificates. Government of the District of California Department of Public Health, Sacramento, California.

District of Michigan. Calhoun County. 1880 United States Census. Digital images. FamilySearch.org, Intellectual Reserve, 2020. Retrieved from https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MW9B-8RT.

“Financial Standing of Organizations and Institutions in the Australasian Field, June 30, 1908.” Union Conference Record, September 7, 1908.

Gage, W[illiam] C. “Clara Irene Salisbury.” ARH, September 10, 1889.

New York State Census, 1865. Jefferson County. Digital images. FamilySearch.org, Intellectual Reserve, 2020. Accessed April 4, 2020, https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QVNV-W8G1.

“Report of Elder W.C. White, Foreign Missionary Secretary.” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook. Battle Creek, Mich.: Review and Herald Publishing Company, 1891.

Salisbury, W[ilbur] D. “First Annual Report of the Signs Publishing Association, Limited.” Union Conference Record, October 1, 1906.

Salisbury, W[ilbur] D. “The History and Progress of the Echo Publishing Company, Limited.” Union Conference Record, July 19, 1899.

Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia. 2nd rev. edition. Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1996. S.v. “Salisbury, Wilbur Dixon.”

Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook. Battle Creek, Mich.: Review and Herald Publishing Company, 1889-1893.

Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook. Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1904-1911.

“Wilbur Dixon Salisbury.” FamilySearch.org, Intellectual Reserve, 2020. Retrieved from https://www.familysearch.org/tree/pedigree/landscape/93VF-DQQ.

“Wilber Dixon Salisbury.” FamilySearch.org, Intellectual Reserve, 2020. Retrieved from https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:FCVN-C9S.

“Wilber D. Salisbury.” Find A Grave Memorial no. 85509690. Accessed December 1, 2020, https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/85509690/wilber-d-salisbury.

“Wilbur D[ixon] Salisbury obituary.” Pacific Union Recorder, January 8, 1947.

Notes

  1. District of California, Certificate of Death no.14336 (1946), Government of the District of California Department of Public Health, Sacramento, California.

  2. 1865 New York State Census, Jefferson County, digital image, Salisbury, Burleigh R., FamilySearch.org, accessed April 4, 2020, https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QVNV-W8G1.

  3. “Wilbur Dixon Salisbury,” FamilySearch.org, Intellectual Reserve, 2020, accessed April 4, 2020, https://www.familysearch.org/tree/pedigree/landscape/93VF-DQQ.

  4. 1880 United States Census, Calhoun County, Michigan, digital image, Salisbury, Burleigh R., FamilySearch.org, accessed April 4, 2020, https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MW9B-8RT.

  5. “Burleigh Salisbury obituary,” ARH, June 12, 1897, 15.

  6. “Wilbur Dixon Salisbury obituary,” Pacific Union Recorder, January 8, 1947, 6.

  7. “Wilbur Dixon Salisbury,” FamilySearch.org, Intellectual Reserve, 2020, accessed April 4, 2020, https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:FCVN-C9S.

  8. “Clara Irene Salisbury,” ARH, September 10, 1889, 575.

  9. Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia, 2nd rev. edition (1996), s.v. “Salisbury, Wilbur Dixon.”

  10. “Foreign Publishing Houses,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Battle Creek, Mich.: Review and Herald Publishing Company, 1889), 112; “Report of Elder W.C. White, Foreign Missionary Secretary,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Battle Creek, Mich.: Review and Herald Publishing Company, 1891), 75.

  11. “Report of Elder W.C. White, Foreign Missionary Secretary.”

  12. “Wilbur Dixon Salisbury obituary.”

  13. W[ilbur] D. Salisbury, “The History and Progress of the Echo Publishing Company, Limited,” Union Conference Record, July 19, 1899, 5-8.

  14. W[ilbur] D. Salisbury, “First Annual Report of the Signs Publishing Association, Limited,” Union Conference Record, October 1, 1906, 18-20.

  15. “Financial Standing of Organizations and Institutions in the Australasian Field, June 30, 1908,” Union Conference Record, September 7, 1908, 37.

  16. “Washington Sanitarium,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1911), 185-186.

  17. “Wilbur Dixon Salisbury obituary”; SDA Encyclopedia (1996), “Salisbury, Wilbur Dixon.”

  18. District of California, Certificate of Death no. 14336 (1946), Government of the District of California Department of Public Health, Sacramento, California.

  19. “Wilber D. Salisbury,” Find A Grave Memorial no. 85509690, accessed December 1, 2020, https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/85509690/wilber-d-salisbury.

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Hook, Milton. "Salisbury, Wilbur Dixon (1861–1946)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. October 07, 2020. Accessed May 20, 2022. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=7A3G.

Hook, Milton. "Salisbury, Wilbur Dixon (1861–1946)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. October 07, 2020. Date of access May 20, 2022, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=7A3G.

Hook, Milton (2020, October 07). Salisbury, Wilbur Dixon (1861–1946). Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved May 20, 2022, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=7A3G.