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Church Pioneers


Reputed to be "the first SDA," that is, the first of the Adventists who kept the seventh-day Sabbath. He accepted the Adventist (Millerite) doctrine about 1840 and in 1844 declared himself a Sabbath keeper, among the first of a small group from among the members of the Washington, New Hampshire, Christian church who became the first Adventists to observe the seventh day as the Sabbath (see Washington, New Hampshire Church).

From the Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia, Volume 10, page 454, 1976. Review and Herald Publishing Association. Used with permission.

Cynthia Stowell Farnsworth (1829 - ?)
Second Wife of William Farnsworth
holding Nellie M.

Note: The first wife of William was Sarah Mead (1812 - 1855). She also went by the name of Sally and the believed reason was to prevent name confusion as the mother of Sarah was also named Sarah.

Children of William Farnsworth
and Sarah/Sally Mead

Married on December 2, 1830
Children of William Farnsworth
and Cynthia Stowell

Married on September 19, 1855
Lucy A. 1832 - 1835 Loretta V. 1857 - 1933
John P. 1834 - 1918 Orvil O. 1859 - 1947
Stephen M. 1836 - 1915 Lenora L. 1860 - 1873
Josephine 1838 - 1860 Benton 1861 - 1885
Lucien B. 1839 - 1862 Irvin E. 1863 - 1907
Albert 1841 - 1865 Elmer E. 1865 - 1937
George W. 1843 - 1931 Alton V. 1867 - 1961
Sarah J. 1846 - 1923 Melbourne A. 1868 - 1914
Eugene W. 1848 - 1935 Nellie M. 1870 - 1949
Augustus W. 1849 - 1937 Ernest H. 1872 - 1973
Imogene A. 1851 - 1913 Merton A. 1874 - 1951


The ninth child of William and Sarah Farnsworth

Evangelist, administrator. His father, William, was one of the "first Seventh-day Adventists," and Eugene was among the first born into an SDA family. At 19 he came under the spiritual influence of J. N. Andrews, and a short time later, when James and Ellen G. White and J. N. Andrews conducted meetings in Washington, N.H., Eugene Farnsworth was baptized in an opening cut through two feet of ice. Later, after moving to Iowa, he responded to the urging of G. I. Butler and others to enter the gospel ministry.

Licensed in 1874, he preached eloquently and vigorously to the settlers in the Middle West. In 1883 he was appointed president of the Iowa-Nebraska Conference, but continued in evangelistic work. Later he superintended the district comprising Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and South Dakota.

He was in demand as a speaker at camp meetings and general gatherings in most parts of the United States. Shortly after the establishment of Union College he became instructor in Bible, and during his first year baptized 100 of the 600 students. In 1896 he began eight years of pioneer evangelism in Australia and New Zealand, then went to London, England. Returning to America, he was for four years president of the Atlantic Union Conference, and then head of the Bible department of what is now Columbia Union College for one year (1910). In 1911 he assumed the presidency of the California Conference, and several years later retired at Angwin, California. However, he was again brought into service, and spent several years visiting churches, schools, and camp meetings in the United States and Canada.

Following an illness and healing, he became active in responding to hundreds of requests to pray for the sick, and prepared a booklet entitled Divine Healing.

From the Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia, Volume 10, page 453, 1976. Review and Herald Publishing Association. Used with permission.

FARNSWORTH, CYRUS K. (c. 1823-1899).

Younger brother of William Farnsworth; member and, it appears, a lay leader of the first group of SDA's in Washington, New Hampshire (see Washington, New Hampshire Church), in whose home many of the early SDA meetings took place. He married Delight Oakes, whose mother, Mrs. Rachel Oakes (later Preston), was instrumental in bringing the knowledge of the seventh-day Sabbath to Adventist believers of Washington.

From the Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia, Volume 10, page 453, 1976. Review and Herald Publishing Association. Used with permission. (Note: Birth date was incorrect so changed it to 1823.)




A Seventh Day Baptist who persuaded a group of Adventists to accept the Sabbath and thus to become in that sense, the first Seventh-day Adventists. Born in Vernon, Vermont, she joined the Methodist Church, then joined the Seventh Day Baptist church of Verona, Oneida County, New York. Later she moved to Washington, New Hampshire, to be near her daughter, Delight Oakes, who taught there. When Mrs. Oakes sought to introduce the Sabbath to the company of Adventists in the Christian church there, she found them so engrossed in preparation for the coming of the Lord that they paid little attention to her Seventh Day Baptist literature.

She did eventually gain as a convert Frederick Wheeler, a Methodist preacher. One Sunday while conducting the communion service for the Christian congregation, he remarked that all who confess communion with Christ in such a service as this "should be ready to obey God and keep His commandments in all things." Later Mrs. Oakes told him that she had almost risen in the service to tell him that he had better push back the communion table and put the communion cloth back over it until he was willing to keep all the commandments of God, including the fourth. The episode set Wheeler to serious thinking and earnest study, and not long after about March, 1844, as he later related he began to observe the seventh-day Sabbath. After "the passing of the time" in 1844, during a Sunday service in the Washington church, William Farnsworth stated publicly that he was convinced that the seventh day of the week was the Sabbath and that he had decided to keep it. He was immediately followed by his brother Cyrus and several others. And Mrs. Oakes, in turn, soon embraced the Adventist teachings. Thus it was that the first little Sabbatarian Adventist group came into being.

Authorities disagree as to the timing of these events; for example, as to whether the "passing of the time" referred to the spring or the autumn disappointment. For a discussion of the problem see Washington, New Hampshire, church.

Mrs. Oakes later married Nathan T. Preston and moved away. Not until the last year of her life did she find herself in harmony with what had meanwhile become the SDA Church.

From the Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia, Volume 10, page 1149, 1976. Review and Herald Publishing Association. Used with permission.



Pioneer SDA minister, reputed to be the first ordained Adventist minister to preach in favor of the seventh-day Sabbath. Not much is known of his early life or experience, except that about 1840 he was an ordained minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church and became its circuit rider in the vicinity of Washington and Hillsboro in New Hampshire. In 1842 he became acquainted with the Millerite views and thereafter was active in the propagation of the Adventist views. As later he reported, he became convinced that the seventh-day Sabbath was sacred through personal study he had undertaken some time in March, 1844, after a discussion with Mrs. Rachel Oakes (later Preston) a Seventh Day Baptist of Washington, New Hampshire. He preached and farmed in the neighborhood of his home until 1851, when he met James White, who invited him to go farther afield with his ministry. In 1857 he moved to the State of New York, and in 1861 settled on a farm near West Monroe.

From the Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia, Volume 10, page 1584, 1976. Review and Herald Publishing Association. Used with permission.