After the disappointment of 1844 little companies of believers throughout New England met together from time to time to study the prophecies and compare views. As news of the visions and the significance of the Sabbath truth, being publicized and promoted by Joseph Bates, became more widely known, the need to draw together accelerated.
In April 1848 Ellen and James White received an invitation to attend a conference of Sabbathkeeping Adventists in Connecticut. They went, taking their 7-month-old Henry with them in their arms. James had received $10 for his work cutting wood. They used half of the money in preparation for the trip, and kept the other half for transportation. With all their earthly possessions only partially filling a trunk, they went to Boston, where they stayed with the Nichols family. They did not make known their penniless plight to the family, but, as they left, Mrs. Nichols handed James $5. With all but 50 cents of this they purchased tickets to Middletown, Connecticut, the closest rail point to Rocky Hill and the Albert Belden home, where the conference was to begin on Thursday night, April 20. When the meeting opened, 15 people had come together. Ellen White described what took place as the conference got under way:
Friday morning the brethren came in until we numbered about fifty. These were not all fully in the truth. Our meeting that day was very interesting. Brother Bates presented the commandments in a clear light, and their importance was urged home by powerful testimonies. The word had effect to establish those already in the truth and to awaken those who were not fully decided (1LS, p. 245).
It was this meeting in the unfinished chamber of Albert Belden's home at Rocky Hill that Ellen White later referred to as "the first conference that was ever held among Seventh-day Adventists" (MS 76, 1886). James White spoke of it as "the first under the message" (RH, Sept. 29, 1863).