John Lindsey, an early convert to Sabbatarian Adventism, evangelized in the American Midwest during the 1850s and, after the death of his wife Esther, engaged in joint evangelistic ministry with his second wife, Sarah, in Pennsylvania and New York, during the 1860s and 1870s.
Itinerant Ministry in the Midwest
John Lindsey was born about 1821 in Brampton near Toronto, Canada.1 Though differing sources raise uncertainty about the date of their marriage, John and his wife Esther Beynon Lindsey had a daughter, Mary Ellen, born December 11, 1849.2
Both John and Esther had been among the Millerites who experienced the Great Disappointment in 1844. In 1850, when Joseph Bates’ itinerant ministry took him to Canada, John and Esther found his message convincing and united with the scattered flock of seventh-day Sabbath observing Adventists at a point when they numbered only a few hundred.3
In 1853 Lindsey joined Roswell Cottrell for a tour among believers in Mariposa, Roach, Whitby, St. Catharines and Mill Grove, Ontario.4 That summer, at Eaton, he attended a gathering of scattered believers in Ontario to hear Alfred Hutchins, another itinerant Adventist preacher.5
In 1856 John reported that he and Esther were in Waukon, Iowa, ministering to a company of 23 Sabbath-keepers.6 Six months later he wrote that they were nurturing a small group west of Chicago at Round Grove, Illinois.7 In 1858 Lindsey used Round Grove as his headquarters from which to tour northwards into Wisconsin, pioneering regions where there were very few of his faith.8 By 1859 he had established himself at Monroe, Wisconsin, and used that base to enter Minnesota.9 However, Esther was suffering with tuberculosis and finally passed away at Monroe on November 12, 1860, aged 42.10
Ministry in Pennsylvania and New York
After his wife’s death Lindsey returned east with his children and nurtured the church members at Ulysses, Pennsylvania.11 Around 1862 he married Sarah Hallock, a member of the Ulysses church and daughter of farmer Noah Hallock and his wife Hannah.12 Sarah, who was approximately ten years younger than John, had begun to grapple with whether she was called to preach prior to their marriage. A daughter, Kate, who was born into their household about 1863, grew up to be a schoolteacher. Lindsey continued in his career as a jeweller and watchmaker13 to support his family while providing leadership in the church at Ulysses.
In the late 1860s the Lindseys turned increasingly to lay preaching tours in the Southern Tier area of northern Pennsylvania and southern New York. “We feel like spending our time and strength in the harvest-field,” John wrote, “feeling that what is done for the salvation of our fellow-men must be done quickly.”14 As lay members they were at liberty to nominate the type of ministry they believed their time and talents would allow. The year 1871 was especially busy, with meetings in Pennsylvania at the Kibbeville school house and at Knoxville and Lawrenceville.15 These were interspersed with meetings across the border in New York state at Farmington, Hornby, Catlin and Beaver Dams.16 In 1875 they conducted a series of public meetings in Friendship, New York.17 The following year they chose nearby Wellsville in which to hold their evangelistic effort.18
Sarah was the more prominent preacher in their joint ministry, as described in the separate article on Sarah A. Hallock Lindsey. See the ESDA biographical article about her, linked in Related Content, for more on her pathbreaking ministry. John was active in the New York and Pennsylvania Tract and Missionary Society and is listed from time to time in the 1870s as director of a district within the conference.19 In September 1870 both Lindseys took part in interdenominational meetings with the Seventh Day Baptists initiated by the General Conference.20
About 1878 John began to experience symptoms of a serious illness. It proved to be liver cancer, claiming his life on October 11, 1881, at Wellsville, New York. John Lindsey was “among the pioneers of our cause” and “universally respected” both in the church and the community, wrote Buel L. Whitney, New York Conference president, in an obituary notice published in the Review and Herald.21
Campbell, Michael W. "Photograph Discovered of Pioneer Adventist Woman." Adventist Review, June 27, 2022. Accessed November 3, 2022. https://adventistreview.org/commentary/photograph-discovered-of-pioneer-adventist-woman-minister/.
Cottrell, R. F. “Letters.” ARH, March 3, 1853.
Fuller, N. “Report for Review.” ARH, March 2, 1869.
Fuller, N. “Report of Meetings.” ARH, August 4, 1868.
Hallock, Sarah A. “A Query.” ARH, January 12, 1860.
Hallock, Sarah A. “Letters.” ARH, December 31, 1857.
Hutchins, A. S. “Letters.” ARH, July 7, 1873.
“John Lindsay[sic].” FamilySearch. Accessed October 21, 2021. https://www.familysearch.org/tree/pedigree/landscape/L2P5-51H.
“John Lindsey.” FamilySearch. Accessed October 21, 2021. https://www.familysearch.org/tree/pedigree/landscape/MPQX-QM5.
Kinne, P. Z. “Annual Meeting of the N.Y. and Pa. Tract and Missionary Society.” ARH, September 9, 1873.
Kinne, P. Z. “Eleventh Annual Report of the N.Y. and Pa. State Conference.” ARH, September 10, 1872.
Lindsey, J. “Communications.” ARH, September 25, 1856.
Lindsey, J. “Communications.” ARH, March 12, 1857.
Lindsey, John. “Letters.” ARH, March 18, 1858.
Lindsey, John. “Letters.” ARH, March 18, 1862.
Lindsey, John. “Enoch Norman Carter.” ARH, October 27, 1859.
Lindsey, John. “Letters.” ARH, March 2, 1852.
Lindsey, John. “Letters.” ARH, March 18, 1862.
Lindsey, John. “Meetings in Steuben Co., N.Y.” ARH, June 15, 1869.
Lindsey, John and S. A. H. Lindsey. “Report of Meetings.” ARH, February 22 and December 6, 1870.
Lindsey, John and S. A. H. Lindsey. “Appointments.” ARH, September 30, 1875.
Lindsey, John and S. A. H. Lindsey. “Appointments.” ARH, June 1, 1876.
Lindsey, John and S. A. H. Lindsey. “Pennsylvania.” ARH, May 9, 1871.
Lindsey, John and S. A. H. Lindsey. “Report of Meetings.” ARH, June 20, 1871.
Saunders, E. B. “Report of the N.Y. and Pa. Conference.” ARH, October 12, 1869.
Strayer, Brian. “Sarah A. Hallock Lindsey.” Anderson Seventh-day Adventist Church, 2020. Accessed July 4, 2021. https://www.andersonsdachurch.com/sermon/sarah-a-hallock-lindsey-our-first-sda-licenced-female-preacher-and-some-of-her-female-contemporary-preachers/.
United States Census, 1860 and 1880. Accessed October 21, 2021 through FamilySearch, www.familysearch.org
White, James. “Esther Lindsey.” ARH, November 27, 1860.
Whitney, B. L. “John Lindsey.” ARH, December 20, 1881.
Whitney, B. L. “New York and Pennsylvania Conference.” ARH, December 5, 1878.
“John Lindsey,” FamilySearch, accessed October 21, 2021, https://www.familysearch.org/tree/person/details/MPQX-QM5.↩
Michael Campbell's Adventist Review article "Photograph Discovered of Pioneer Adventist Woman" cites sources that differ from the original version of this article with regard to John and Esther's marriage and family. The Lindsey Family Tree at Ancestry.com identifies a Methodist Church record as documentation for an 1846 marriage of John Lindsey and Esther Beynon in Melbourne, Quebec, Canada (then Canada East). However, while this date and locale harmonize with other evidence, the bride of the record in the original document is Esther Chamberlain, not Beynon (accessed October 27, 2022, https://www.ancestrylibrary.com?imageviewver/collections/1091/images/d1p_31890480?pld=13385627). On the other hand, the family tree for John Lindsey at FamilySearch.org attaches public record of a marriage in Ontario, Canada, between John Lindsay and Esther Benyon on December 5, 1850. The name Esther Benyon appears on the original document in this instance. The spelling variation — “a" rather than "e" in John's last name is commonplace. If this is the authentic marriage record of the John and Esther Lindsey in this article, then the couple also had a son, John Thomas Benyon Lindsey, born 1853 (see "John Lindsay," FamilySearch, accessed October 21, 2021, https://www.familysearch.org?tree?person?details?L2P5-51H). However, other records, including the Review and Herald obituary of Esther Lindsey cited below, indicate that their daughter, Ellen, was the couple's only child.↩
B. L. Whitney, “John Lindsey,” ARH, December 20, 1881, 397.↩
R. F. Cottrell, “Letters,” ARH, March 3, 1853, 167.↩
A. S. Hutchins, “Letters,” ARH, July 7, 1853, 31.↩
John Lindsey, “Communications,” ARH, September 25, 1856, 168.↩
John Lindsey, “Communications,” ARH, March 12, 1857, 151.↩
John Lindsey, “Letters,” ARH, March 18, 1858, 143.↩
John Lindsey, “Enoch Norman Carter,” ARH, October 27, 1859, 188.↩
James White, “Esther Lindsey,” ARH, November 27, 1860, 15.↩
John Lindsey, “Letters,” ARH, March 18, 1862, 127.↩
United States Census, 1860, FamilySearch, database with images, Sarah A. Hallock in entry for Noar[sic] H. Hallock, accessed July 1, 2021, https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MXT8-JST.↩
United States Census, 1880, database with images, FamilySearch, John Lindsey, Wellsville, Allegany, New York, United States; accessed July 1, 2021, https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MZZM-QLH.↩
John Lindsey, “Meetings in Steuben Co., N.Y.” ARH, June 15, 1869, 200.↩
John Lindsey and S.A.H. Lindsey, “Pennsylvania,” ARH, May 9, 1871, 166.↩
John Lindsey and S.A.H. Lindsey, “Report of Meetings,” ARH, June 20, 1871, 6.↩
John Lindsey and S.A.H. Lindsey, “Appointments,” ARH, September 30, 1875, 104.↩
John Lindsey and S.A.H. Lindsey, “Appointments,” ARH, June 1, 1876, 176.↩
See, for example, P.Z. Kinne, “Annual Meeting of the N.Y. and Pa. Tract and Missionary Society,” ARH, September 9, 1873, 102.↩
John Lindsey and S.A.H. Lindsey, “Report of Meetings,” ARH, December 6, 1870, 198.↩
B.L. Whitney, “John Lindsey,” ARH, December 20, 1881, 397.↩