As they walked that early-morning hour, on Wednesday, August 16, they stopped for milk at Brother Lunt's home, and then stepped into the corn patch. Admiring the full ears, James plucked one and started to pull back the husk. Ellen, by his side, heard a strange noise. Looking up, she saw the face of her husband flushed, and then she saw his right arm drop to his side, helpless. He attempted to raise his arm but could not. He staggered, but did not fall. He was unable to speak. Ellen helped him into the Lunt home. Indistinctly James uttered the word "Pray," and repeated it. Ellen reported later:
We dropped to our knees and cried to God, who had ever been to us a present help in time of trouble. He soon uttered words of praise and gratitude to God, that he could use his arm. His hand was partially restored, but not fully (ibid.).
Physicians were called, but they had little to offer, either as to what might be done for him or encouragement that he would survive.
Two days later, Friday, August 18, James White was carried on a couch to his own home. The next Tuesday, as the Review and Herald came from the press, it carried a notice that Elder White had been stricken by "a partial shock of paralysis."