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Mendel C. Israel and family

Photo courtesy of Adventist Heritage Centre, Australia.

Israel, Mendel Crocker (1833–1921)

By Lester Devine

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Originally trained as a secondary history teacher, a career long Adventist educator, Lester Devine, Ed.D., has taught at elementary, secondary and higher education levels and spent more than three decades in elected educational leadership positions in two divisions of the world Church, NAD (1969-1982) and SPD (1982-2005). He completed his forty years of denominational service with a term as director of the Ellen G. White/Adventist Research Centre at Avondale University College in Australia where his life-long hobby of learning and presenting on Adventist heritage issues became his vocation. 

First Published: January 29, 2020

Mendel Crocker Israel was a pastor, evangelist, publisher, and pioneering missionary.

Mendel Crocker Israel was born in May 1833 in Freeport, Digby District, Nova Scotia, to John M. Israel and Mary E. Crocker. He had five siblings.1 Records indicate that Israel worked, initially, as a carpenter. He emigrated to Maine where, in 1856, he became a naturalized American citizen before moving to Oregon in 1858.2 There he met Lizzie Redford in 1867. She had moved with her family from Missouri to Oregon in 1864 after the death of her father in the American Civil War. Mendel and Lizzie Redford married on May 22, 1867,3 and, in time, had two daughters, Jessie and May.4

Influenced by his brother, Israel made a commitment to the Seventh-day Adventist message in 1874. He and his wife were baptized the following year by S. N. Haskell.5 Moving to California, Israel attended the Bible Institute in San Francisco conducted by James White, Uriah Smith and J. H. Waggoner. After a time in public evangelism, Israel was ordained in 1878 by James White and J. N. Loughborough.6

After seven more years of ministry in the California Conference, Israel became part of the group to first take the Seventh-day Adventist message to Australia and New Zealand. The missionaries arrived in Melbourne in mid-1885.7 They soon found Australians to be independent thinkers with secular tendencies and somewhat suspicious of organized religon.

The religious environment in New Zealand was different from Australia in that the established churches there had better acceptance with the citizens than in Australia. While the people in New Zealand were also independent in outlook, they valued education and religious principles, and the many well-used public libraries throughout the country impressed the newly-arrived American Seventh-day Adventists. Early Adventist public evangelism was effective in New Zealand, as was the work of colporteurs.8

Despite the challenging environments in both countries, evangelist Mendel Crocker Israel thrived. In Australia, he conducted evangelistic campaigns in Melbourne in 1885,9 Ballarat10 and Majorca in 1886,11 Daylesford in January 1887,12 Trenthham straight afterwards,13 North Adelaide in July 1887,14 Witchitella in October,15 and Kyneton in November 1887-February 1888.16 Israel was the president of the Melbourne branch of the International Tract Society from 1886 to 188817 and in that capacity, together with J. O. Corliss, he was responsible for the publication and printing of the fledgling magazine, Bible Echo and Signs of the Times.18 He held this responsibility, later in tandem with W. D. Curtis, until April 1889.19 Israel published a series on Bible doctrines in the Echo during this time.20 He pioneered the work in Tasmania with tent meetings at Sandy Bay commencing on February 29, 1888.21 With organization of the Church in Australia in August 1888, he became president of the Australian branch of the International Tract and Missionary Society.22

In October 1888, Israel and his family moved from Melbourne to Hobart, Tasmania, in order to grow the church in that colony.23 Six months later, though, on April 4,1889, he left Hobart for New Zealand to assist A. G. Daniells, whose work had been setback by illness.24 After visiting around North Island and attending the first session of the New Zealand conference, Israel returned to Hobart by the end of July 1889.25

In February 1890, the Israel family responded to an invitation of the General Conference to relocate to New Zealand.26 At the conference session held on March 23-31, 1890, M. C. Israel was elected as president of the New Zealand Conference, replacing A. G. Daniells.27 He was also elected president of the New Zealand Tract Society28 and the New Zealand Sabbath School Association.29 From time time to time he reported on the growth of the church in New Zealand in the Bible Echo.30 And from time to time as president he continued his habit of holding tent evangelistic meetings.31 At the conference session held in April 1892, Israel was re-elected as conference president and tract society president.32 However, a year later at the 1893 conference session , G. T. Wilson was elected to replace Israel as president,33 though the latter continued as president of the New Zealand Tract Society.34

Daughters Jessie and May were students at the newly opened Australasian Bible School in Melbourne in 1893.35 May was also listed as teaching phonography and typewriting.36

After four years in New Zealand, Israel and his wife returned to Melbourne, Australia, in January 1894.37 They remained in Victoria until it was decided that, after eleven and a half years of service in Australia and New Zealand, they would return to their homeland. They arrived on the Monowai in San Francisco on October 22, 1897, together with their daughter Jessie.38 May remained in Australia for a short time.

Israel resumed ministry in the California Conference, serving in the Stockton, Red Bluff, and Oakland communities. He retired to live in Oakdale, California, in 1905. There, M. C. Israel spent the last sixteen years of his life, losing his wife, Lizzie, in 1916 and his younger daughter May in 1921.39

Mendel Crocker Israel died on December 28, 1921, at his home in Oakdale, California, loved and respected by all who knew him.40

Sources

“Among the recommendations...” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, January 15, 1890.

“Brethren W. D. Curtis...” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, April 15, 1889.

Corliss, J. O. and M. C. Israel. “Labour in the Suburbs of Melbourne.” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, January 1886.

Daniells, A. G. “Napier, New Zealand.” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, June 3, 1889.

“Elder M. C. Israel...” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, February 1, 1890.

“For a short time...” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, November 1887.

“From a private letter...” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, January 1, 1894.

Israel, M. C. “Ballarat and Adelaide.” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, August 1887.

Israel, M. C. “Ballarat and Majorca.” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, October 1886.

Israel, M. C. “Daylesford.” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times.” February 1887.

Israel. M. C. “Daylesford, Trentham, and Ballarat.” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, June 1887.

Israel, M. C. “Hobart and Bismark.” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, August 15, 1889.

Israel, M. C. “Hobart and Port Esperance.” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, February 15, 1889.

Israel, M. C. “Meeting of the Australian Tract Society.” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, February 15, 1890.

Israel, M. C. “New Zealand.” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, June 17, 1889.

Israel, M. C. “New Zealand.” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, November 1, 1891.

Israel, M. C. “New Zealand.” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, January 1, 1892.

Israel, M. C. “New Zealand Conference of S. D. Adventists.” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, May 15, 1892.

Israel, M. C. “The Second Coming of Christ.” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, March 1887.

Israel, M. C. “The Work at Ballarat.” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, September 1886.

Israel, M. C. “Witchitella.” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, December 1887.

Israel , M. C. and Jane Fraser. “Tract and Missionary Society.” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, August 1886.

Israel, M. C. and W. L. H. Baker. “Hobart, Tasmania.” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, June 1888.

Israel, M. C. and W. L. H. Baker. “Kyneton.” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, March 1888.

Jackson, L. Fraser. “The Spread of a Religious Innovation: Examples in New Zealand 1885-1916.” In Adventist History in the South Pacific 1885-1918, edited by Arthur J. Ferch, 105-110. Warburton, Victoria: Signs Publishing Company, 1986.

“Labourers Returned to America.” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, January 4, 1897.

“Melbourne Branch of the International Tract and Missionary Society.” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, May 1886.

“Mendel Crocker Israel obituary.” Australasian Record, April 3, 1922.

“New Zealand Conference Proceedings.” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, May 15, 1890.

“New Zealand Sabbath School Association.” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, June 15, 1890.

“New Zealand Tract Society.” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, May 15, 1890.

“Notes from Here and There: The Colonies.” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, January 1888.

“Organization in Australia.” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, October 1888.

“Printed and published by M. C. Israel...” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, April 15, 1889.

“Printed and published by J. O. Corlis and M. C. Israel...” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, August 1886.

“Reports from our workers...” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, June 1886.

Santee, Clarence. “Lizzie Redford Israel obituary.” Pacific Union Recorder, May 11, 1916.

Simpson, Andrew. “The New Zealand Conference.” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, May 15, 1893.

“Tent meetings in Hobart, Tasmania...” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, April 1888..

“The editor of the Echo...” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, February 1887.

“The New Zealand Tract Society.” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, May 15, 1893.

White, W. C. “The Bible School.” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, July 1, 1893.

Notes

  1. Mendel Crocker Israel — Family Search/Family Tree, myheritage.com.

  2. “Mendel Crocker Israel obituary,” Australasian Record, April 3, 1922, 2.

  3. Oregon, County Marriage Records (1867), Mendel Crocker Israel, Ancestry.com, accessed November 12, 2019, https://www.ancestry.com.

  4. “Mendel Crocker Israel obituary.”

  5. Clarence Santee, “Lizzie Redford Israel obituary,” Pacific Union Recorder, May 11, 1916, 7.

  6. “Mendel Crocker Israel obituary.”

  7. Ibid.

  8. L. Fraser Jackson, “The Spread of a Religious Innovation: Examples in New Zealand 1885-1916,” in Adventist History in the South Pacific 1885-1918, ed. Arthur J. Ferch (Warburton, Victoria: Signs Publishing Company, 1986), 105-110.

  9. J. O. Corliss and M. C. Israel, “Labour in the Suburbs of Melbourne,” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, January 1886, 11.

  10. “Reports from our workers...,” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, June 1886, 96; M. C. Israel, “The Work at Ballarat,” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, September 1886, 139.

  11. M. C. Israel, “Ballarat and Majorca,” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, October 1886, 160.

  12. “The editor of the Echo...,” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, February 1887, 32; M. C. Israel, “Daylesford,” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times,” February 1887, 32.

  13. M. C. Israel. “Daylesford, Trentham, and Ballarat,” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, June 1887, 91.

  14. M. C. Israel, “Ballarat and Adelaide,” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, August 1887, 128.

  15. “For a short time...,” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, November 1887, 176; M. C. Israel, “Witchitella,” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, December 1887, 187.

  16. “Notes from Here and There: The Colonies,” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, January 1888, 12; M. C. Israel and W. L. H. Baker, “Kyneton,” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, March 1888, 44.

  17. “Melbourne Branch of the International Tract and Missionary Society,” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, May 1886, 80.

  18. M. C. Israel and Jane Fraser, “Tract and Missionary Society,” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, August 1886, 16; “Printed and published by J. O. Corlis and M. C. Israel...,” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, August 1886, 16.

  19. “Printed and published by M. C. Israel...,” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, April 1, 1889, 112.

  20. For example, see M. C. Israel, “The Second Coming of Christ,” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, March 1887, 46-47.

  21. “Tent meetings in Hobart, Tasmania...,” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, April 1888, 64; M. C. Israel and W. L. H. Baker, “Hobart, Tasmania,” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, June 1888, 92.

  22. “Organization in Australia,” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, October 1888, 152.

  23. M. C. Israel, “Hobart and Port Esperance,” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, February 15, 1889, 60.

  24. “Brethren W. D. Curtis...,” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, April 15, 1889, 128; A. G. Daniells, “Napier, New Zealand,” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, June 3, 1889, 172; M. C. Israel, “New Zealand,” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, June 17, 1889, 188.

  25. M. C. Israel, “Hobart and Bismark,” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, August 15, 1889, 252.

  26. “Among the recommendations...,” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, January 15, 1890, 32; “Elder M. C. Israel...,” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, February 1, 1890, 48.

  27. “New Zealand Conference Proceedings,” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, May 15, 1890, 156.

  28. “New Zealand Tract Society,” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, May 15, 1890, 157.

  29. “New Zealand Sabbath School Association,” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, June 15, 1890, 188.

  30. M. C. Israel, “New Zealand,” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, November 1, 1891, 332.

  31. M. C. Israel, “New Zealand,” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, January 1, 1892, 12.

  32. M. C. Israel, “New Zealand Conference of S. D. Adventists,” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, May 15, 1892, 156.

  33. Andrew Simpson, “The New Zealand Conference,” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, May 15, 1893, 156.

  34. “The New Zealand Tract Society,” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, May 15, 1893, 156-157.

  35. W. C. White, “The Bible School,” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, July 1, 1893, 224.

  36. Ibid.

  37. “From a private letter...,” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, January 1, 1894, 8.

  38. “Labourers Returned to America,” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, January 4, 1897, 5.

  39. “Mendel Crocker Israel obituary.” 3.

  40. Ibid.

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Devine, Lester. "Israel, Mendel Crocker (1833–1921)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. January 29, 2020. Accessed May 24, 2024. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=99K2.

Devine, Lester. "Israel, Mendel Crocker (1833–1921)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. January 29, 2020. Date of access May 24, 2024, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=99K2.

Devine, Lester (2020, January 29). Israel, Mendel Crocker (1833–1921). Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved May 24, 2024, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=99K2.