124, Mount Hope Avenue in Rochester, New York was home to about 20 Adventist workers who served in various capacities at the Review and Herald office located there. They were young, vibrant and passionately dedicated to the cause of Sabbatarian Adventism.
Their commitment to mission, however, took a toll on their physical well being and many of them succumbed to illness. Mortality rates in the 19th century were high largely due to poor nutrition, insufficient information with regards to health and sanitation among the general population and the lack of effective medications such as antibiotics. Tuberculosis was one of the main killers, followed by pneumonia, cholera and typhoid.
The young people who lived and worked at 124, Mount Hope Avenue were not immune to these diseases. If anything they were probably more susceptible to them given the fact that they were prone to overwork and lived on a meagre nutrition-poor diet.
Both James and Ellen White struggled with Tuberculosis and James White was struck with Cholera. They beat both diseases but others were not as lucky.
Perhaps one of the most heartbreaking cases of illness and death was that of Angeline Andrews. She died at the age of 48, just two years before her husband left the United States as a missionary for Europe. Angeline’s death deeply affected her husband John and he relocated from Rochester to South Lancaster, Massachusetts for a while to cope with the loss and continue his work. When he was called to Europe he took his young children Mary and Charles with him.
The Andrews family didn’t have much money and when they got to Europe their living conditions weren’t the most sanitary either. They lived almost entirely on cabbage soup and potatoes so that they could save as much money as they could to put back into mission work. The result was that Mary Andrews contracted tuberculosis. John Andrews took her with him to Battle Creek where Dr John Kellogg examined her. He informed her father that there was nothing that could be done for her. Mary Andrews died of tuberculosis shortly after. Her father had refused to leave her bedside while she was ill though Dr Kellogg had warned him that his proximity to her would put him in danger of contracting the disease himself.
J.N Andrews contracted Tuberculosis from Mary and died shortly after at the age of 54. He was buried in Basel Switzerland while Mary and Angeline Andrews were buried in Mount Hope Cemetery in Rochester.
Nathaniel and Anna White came to Mount Hope Avenue shortly after the Review office moved there. Nathaniel had contracted Tuberculosis and Anna cared for him during his illness. He died in 1853 and Anna, who contracted the disease from him died shortly thereafter. Annie Smith, who was a close friend of Anna’s contracted the disease from her and died in July of 1854.
Many of the Adventist graves in Mount Hope Cemetery are those of young people, gone too soon. Young people who took their faith seriously and were committed to the mission of taking the three angels messages to all the world in a single generation. Start-ups are never easy. It takes a lot more sacrifice, commitment and effort to build a startup than it does to keep an institutionalised organisation running. May we look at our own lives and evaluate where we need to make a deeper commitment in order to ensure the work of God moves forward to completion.