The year previous to the Whites' first visit to Dansville had been full of anxious days in which they had learned firsthand of the value of the light they were receiving on the care of their bodies and the treatment of the sick. First, in the winter of 1863, was a battle with the dreaded diphtheria. Helplessly physicians and parents reached out for means of combating the disease. The Review of January 13, 1863, reprinted an item, taken from an Illinois paper, under the title "The Diphtheria Scourge in Western Illinois." A portion read:
The diphtheria has been raging throughout the country to an alarming extent, and seems, to a great extent, to baffle the skill of physicians. It is confined almost exclusively to children, and when once under headway, death is almost certain to be the result. It will pass through whole towns, missing scarcely a family, and in some instances whole families of children have been swept away by it.