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Albert Read

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Read, Albert Josiah (1863–1929)

By Milton Hook


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: January 29, 2020

Albert Read was a missionary from the United States who traveled to the Pacific Islands on the first voyage of the Pitcairn and worked primarily in the Islands of Tahiti before pursuing education and work in the medical field.

Early Experience

Albert Josiah Read was born to Joshua and Lydia Read in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, on July 8, 1863.1 He attended Pawtucket High School and South Lancaster Academy in Massachusetts. He was then admitted to Brown University, Rhode Island, but left in his sophomore year.2

Read first appears in the 1890 Seventh-day Adventist yearbook as a young man with a license to preach in the New England Conference. He was living in South Lancaster and participating in the Tract and Missionary Society as a district secretary.3

During the northern school terms 1888–1890, Henrietta Osborn Warren, otherwise known as Hattie, was in charge of the primary department at South Lancaster Academy.4 Her family had suffered much loss. Her infant brother died before her own birth, and seven years later, her father died prematurely when she was only 5 years old. Her infant sister perished soon after. When Hattie was 28 years old, she and Albert married on September 14, 1890, in Acushnet, Massachusetts, where her widowed mother had remained.5 Immediately after their marriage, they made haste to California to prepare to sail on the Pitcairn to the South Seas.

Pioneering in the Pacific Islands

The Pitcairn sailed from San Francisco on October 20, 1890, with three missionary couples including the Reads, seven crew, and the captain’s wife and baby, together with a pet canary named Pit. A privileged few accompanied the vessel to the Golden Gate and returned by a tug, carrying a handful of notes that Albert and Hattie had scribbled to loved ones.6

They safely reached Pitcairn Island on November 25, 1890. For three weeks, meetings were conducted, culminating in the baptism of all adults and youth and some of the children. The ship then took them to Tahiti, arriving December 24. The missionaries sold books at Tahiti, Mo’orea, Raiatea, Taha’a, and Huahine. Nine national Tahitians began to observe Saturday. More books were sold at the islands of Rurutu, Mangaia, Rarotonga, Aitutaki, Samoa, Tonga, and Fiji as they sailed westward to Norfolk Island, where the kinsmen of the Pitcairn Islanders lived. The Reads remained with them for a few months while the Pitcairn was taken to New Zealand for a refit and the installation of auxiliary steam power in case of emergencies.7

The first time Read is listed as an ordained minister is in the 1891 yearbook.8

On the return voyage of the Pitcairn, Albert and Hattie disembarked in Tahiti on August 25, 1892, to pioneer a mission station. Capitalizing on Hattie’s teaching experience, they began a small English-speaking school, but the government closed it down, insisting all instruction should be in the French language.9 They applied themselves to learning the language and enlisted some local assistance to translate tracts such as Which Day and Why and One Hundred Bible Facts. They also organized the translation of Stephen Haskell’s Bible Readings on the Life of Christ.10

The second voyage of the Pitcairn in 1893 brought Dr. Merritt Kellogg to the South Seas. when Kellogg arrived at Tahiti, Read made a short trip to Raiatea with him in May and observed for the first time the benefits of medical missionary work. Read was deeply impressed.11 In 1895 the Reads were back in their homeland at Ann Arbor, Michigan, where Albert pursued a medical course in preparation for returning to the South Seas. A call was made for Read to pioneer mission work in New Guinea, but at the March 1895 General Conference Session, the move was rescinded to allow Read to continue his studies.12

Mixed Fortunes

Read transferred from Michigan and entered New York University, followed by Bellevue Medical College, where he received his medical degree in 1899.13 He returned to Battle Creek in time for the birth of his first child, Samuel, born May 23, 1900. Hattie was 38 years old. The birth proved to be difficult, and she suffered convulsions and then developed pneumonia. She passed away on May 28, 1900, and was interred in Oak Hill Cemetery, Battle Creek, Michigan.14 A Norwegian wet nurse was hired to nurture the infant.15

Albert married his second wife, Ella Van Louise Butler, in Battle Creek on December 11, 1901.16 Ella was born in Ohio in 1856. She, too, was a trained teacher and had been head of the business department at Union College, Nebraska, prior to training as a nurse at Battle Creek Sanitarium. Together, she and Albert served at the American Medical Missionary College, Chicago, before going to pioneer the Philadelphia Sanitarium in 1903.17 Albert was its superintendent, and Ella, its matron.18

Albert and Ella returned to the Battle Creek Sanitarium in 1905, where they took on training roles.19 Tragedy struck again when a gasoline stove exploded in their home and Ella received severe burns while extinguishing the flames. She passed away on August 15, 1910,20 and was interred alongside Hattie in Oak Hill Cemetery.21

During the First World War years, Albert was the field secretary of Dr. John Kellogg’s Race Betterment Foundation, focusing on eugenics. He was also medical director of the Southern Sociological Congress (1915–1916). Albert served eight months overseas in the American Medical Corps, returning home with the rank of major.22

During his army service, Albert met Dana Weitzel, an army nurse. They married on her birthday, Christmas Day 1920, in Detroit, Michigan. She was 37 years old; he was 57. Seven years later, in 1927, a son was born to them, named Albert James. During the time of his third marriage, Albert worked as a lecturer and diagnostician with the New York State Department of Health.23 He passed away on February 22, 1929, and was interred in North Burial Ground, Providence, Rhode Island.24 No obituary notice appeared in Seventh-day Adventist church papers.


“Albert Josiah Read.” http://tree/person/tree/49086170/person/27787111556/facts?ssrc=.

Bahler, M. J. “Sailing of the ‘Pitcairn.’ ” ARH, November 4, 1890.

Gates, E. H. “The Polynesian Mission Field.” Home Missionary, January 1895.

Hayward, Mrs. O. M. “Mrs. A. J. Read obituary.” ARH, September 8, 1910.

Calhoun County, Michigan. 1910 United States Census. Accessed May 9, 2018.

“North Burial Ground, Rhode Island Historical Cemetery, Providence: Albert Read.” Find A Grave. June 2, 2000.

Read, A. J. “Native Missionaries of the Pacific Islands.” Home Missionary, July 1891.

———. “The Work in Tahiti.” Bible Echo, December 15, 1892.

———. “Our Island Missions.” Home Missionary, September 1893.

Read, Dan, and Karen Read. “Dr. Albert Josiah Read.” Find A Grave. February 24, 2013.

Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook. Battle Creek, Mich.: Review and Herald Publishing Company, 1888–1894.

Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook. Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1904–1906.

Stanley, Debra. “Ella Van Louise (Butler) Read.” Find A Grave. May 28, 2007.

———. “Henrietta Osborn ‘Harriet’ (Warren) Read.” Find A Grave. May 28, 2007.

T., G. C. “The General Conference.” ARH, March 12, 1895.


  1. “Albert Josiah Read,”, accessed May 1, 2018, http://tree/person/tree/49086170/person/27787111556/facts?ssrc=.

  2. Dan Read and Karen Read, “Dr. Albert Josiah Read,” Find A Grave, accessed May 20, 2018,

  3. “Workers Directory,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook 1890 (Battle Creek, Mich.: Review and Herald Publishing Company, 1890), 13, 27.

  4. E.g., “Educational Institutions,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook 1889 (Battle Creek, Mich.: Review and Herald Publishing Company, 1889), 42–43.

  5. “Albert Josiah Read,”

  6. M. J. Bahler, “Sailing of the ‘Pitcairn,’ ” ARH, November 4, 1890, 685.

  7. E. H. Gates, “The Polynesian Mission Field,” Home Missionary, January 1895, 6–10.

  8. “Workers Directory,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook 1891 (Battle Creek, Mich.: Review and Herald Publishing Company, 1891), 13.

  9. Gates, “The Polynesian Mission Field.”

  10. A. J. Read, “The Work in Tahiti,” Bible Echo, December 15, 1892, 380.

  11. A. J. Read, “Our Island Missions,” Home Missionary, September 1893, 174–176.

  12. G. C. T., “The General Conference,” ARH, March 12, 1895, 170–171.

  13. Read and Read, “Dr. Albert Josiah Read.”

  14. Debra Stanley, “Henrietta Osborn ‘Harriet’ (Warren) Read,” Find A Grave, May 28, 2007,

  15. 1910 United States Census, Calhoun County, Michigan, Battle Creek Ward 3, “Albert J. Read,”, accessed May 9, 2018,

  16. Read and Read, “Dr. Albert Josiah Read.”

  17. Mrs. O. M. Hayward, “Mrs. A. J. Read obituary,” ARH, September 8, 1910, 23.

  18. “Sanitariums,” Yearbook of the Seventh-day Adventists (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1904), 98.

  19. Read and Read, “Dr. Albert Josiah Read.”

  20. Hayward, “Mrs. A. J. Read obituary.”

  21. Debra Stanley, “Ella Van Louise (Butler) Read,” Find A Grave, May 28, 2007,

  22. Read and Read, “Dr. Albert Josiah Read.”

  23. Ibid.

  24. “North Burial Ground, Rhode Island Historical Cemetery, Providence: Albert Read,” Find A Grave, June 2, 2000,


Hook, Milton. "Read, Albert Josiah (1863–1929)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. January 29, 2020. Accessed February 29, 2024.

Hook, Milton. "Read, Albert Josiah (1863–1929)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. January 29, 2020. Date of access February 29, 2024,

Hook, Milton (2020, January 29). Read, Albert Josiah (1863–1929). Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved February 29, 2024,