The Groveland Camp Meeting

27 August 1876

For attendance, the camp meeting held at Groveland, Massachusetts, reached an all-time high. It opened Thursday, August 24, and ran for five days. The grounds, near Haverhill, some 30 miles (50 kilometers) north of Boston, were easily reached by train and river excursion boats from both Boston and Haverhill. There were 55 tents, including the three pavilionsó45, 55, and 65 feet (14, 17, and 20 meters) in diameterópitched in the beautiful grove. The weather was so fine the meetings were held under the trees, and the three large tents were used for sleeping quarters. The women occupied one, and men the other two. Five hundred camped on the grounds. The "auditorium" swept up in a natural amphitheater from the speakers' stand, the well-cleared grove affording delightful shade.

River steamers ran twice a day from Haverhill, four miles (seven kilometers) away, and every hour on Sunday. Eighteen trains ran each day, all stopping at the campground. The Sabbath meetings were well attended, but Sunday brought its surprises. Mary Clough reported:

Sunday was a lively day on the campground. Special trains were run from the cities of Lawrence, Newburyport, Haverhill, et cetera, and at 9:00 a.m. the auditorium was filled with intelligent people to whom Elder White preached about one hour.

Still the people poured in from the towns about, and the trains came loaded with their living freight. After an intermission of thirty minutes, Mrs. White ascended the platform, amid the profound stillness of that vast multitude, and addressed the people on the subject of Christian temperance. Her original and comprehensive manner of handling this subject elicited the highest commendation of all that heard.

The morning trains were crowded, but the noon trains flooded the grove, and the two-thirty train from Lawrence brought fifteen cars literally packed with people, the platform and steps were full also, and the conductor was obliged to take the roof in order to signal the engineer. He reported that it would have taken twenty-five cars to bring all the people who were waiting at the depot to take passage for the campground (ST, Sept. 14, 1876).

Of the experience Ellen White wrote:

What a scene is before me! It is estimated that twenty thousand people are assembled in this grove. The third train, of fifteen cars, has just arrived. Every seat was filled and every foot of standing room, also the platform and the steps. A sea of human heads is already before me, and still the cars are to come. This is to me the most solemn sight I ever beheld. Hundreds in carriages are driving away because they cannot get within sound of the speaker's voice (ibid.).

All standing room throughout the entire enclosure was taken, and some, like Zacchaeus, climbed trees to get sight of the speaker. The vast throng gave good attention. Ellen White, speaking slowly with a low, well-supported voice, made them hear.

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