What kind of relationship between Ellen G. White and Israel Dammon?
In 1845 Elder Israel Dammon, a Millerite adventist, faced charges by the State of Maine that he was a "vagabond and idle person," "a common railer or brawler," "neglecting his employment," "misspending his earnings" and did not "provide for the support" of himself or his family. His trial was reported, in abridged format, in the Piscataguis Farmer of Dover, Maine, March 7, 1845. The published record provides a fascinating contemporary account of some of the fanatical activities known to have been associated with certain ex-Millerite factions. What is of particular interest to Seventh-day Adventists is that the record mentions young Ellen Harmon (later White) as being present at one of the meetings.
It should be noted that none of the witnesses in the record of Israel Dammon's trial allege any fanatical activity by 17-year-old Ellen Harmon. But the question arises whether Ellen Harmon's attendance at meetings where fanaticism was evident should be construed as an endorsement of such behavior. We think not. When the Lord instructed Ellen Harmon to relate her first vision (received December 1844) to the Advent believers, He did not exclude the fanatics from her ministry. Ellen White refers to numerous occasions when she was directed to bear her testimony to those mistakenly caught up with fanatical ideas and practices. For example:
"In the period of disappointment after the passing of the time in 1844, fanaticism in various forms arose. Some held that the resurrection of the righteous dead had already taken place. I was sent to bear a message to those believing this, as I am now bearing a message to you [certain persons advocating strange doctrines in 1901]. They declared that they were perfected, that body, soul, and spirit were holy. They made demonstrations similar to those you have made, and confused their own minds and the minds of others by their wonderful suppositions. Yet these persons were our beloved brethren, and we were longing to help them. I went into their meetings. There was much excitement, with noise and confusion. One could not tell what was piped or what was harped. Some appeared to be in vision, and fell to the floor. Others were jumping, dancing, and shouting. They declared that as their flesh was purified, they were ready for translation. This they repeated again and again. I bore my testimony in the name of the Lord, placing His rebuke upon these manifestations" (Selected Messages, book 2, p. 34).
Ellen Harmon's association with Israel Dammon at this time may also be understood in light of the fact that while most Millerites had rejected their past experience, he was among a handful of leaders who still believed that Bible prophecy had been fulfilled in 1844--one of the few who would listen to the message of Ellen Harmon's first vision.