Discovering The Sabbath

Marian Stowell’s eyes settled on the innocuous looking slip of paper that sat on the edge of the desk. It had come in the mail that morning and was addressed to her father Lewis B. Stowell. He had opened it, glanced through it briefly and then let it slide onto the desk before wandering off to help on the farm.

The Stowell family had sold their farm just before the great disappointment in October of 1844 and had moved into the home of the Edward Andrews family. Marian liked living with the Andrews family and she and her brother Oswald had formed a close friendship with John Andrews.

Marian’s mind came back to the present and she considered the tract on the desk thoughtfully. Surely father wouldn’t mind if she peeked at it she thought, allowing her hand to snake towards it. Picking it up she read the title and a small frown wrinkled her brow. The author of the tract was a Millerite minister by the name of T.M. Preble and she recognized his name immediately but she found the subject matter a little strange. The Seventh Day Sabbath? She slid into a nearby chair and began to read through the tract slowly. Soon her brow smoothed out and the frown was replaced by wide-eyed surprise. She read and reread sections of the material over and over again before laying it down on her lap and staring unseeingly ahead of her.

If what she had just read was correct then they were all keeping the Sabbath on the wrong day. Worse still they were all in violation of the fourth commandment. Marian sank deeper into the chair as she considered her options. She was convinced that Preble was right. Everything he said in the tract was biblically accurate. Saturday was the Sabbath. Which leaves me with only one option she told herself pensively I need to keep the Sabbath holy on Saturday.

Making Changes

I also need to tell Oswald about it she told herself, grabbing the tract off her lap and standing up in a hurry. She found her brother and slipped the tract into his hands, insisting that he read it as soon as he was able to. Once Oswald was convinced they took the tract to John.

Both Marian and Oswald knew that John Andrews was extremely intelligent. His uncle  Charles was encouraging him to pursue a career in law and John was keen to take his advice. When Marian placed the tract in John’s hands and gave him a brief summary of what it said his eyes sparkled with interest. John Andrews loved anything that was intellectually stimulating. He holed himself up in a corner of the house reading and deliberating until he too was finally convinced.

“So what are we going to do about this?” he asked waving the tract in front of Marian and Oswald. “The only thing we can do,” Marian said grinning “we’re going to keep the Sabbath holy this Saturday”

“How about telling our parents?” Oswald asked.

“Sounds reasonable, they might like to keep the Sabbath with us” John agreed.

That Saturday both the Stowell and Andrews families kept their first Sabbath. A while later Lewis Stowell sent a letter and a $10 bill to a Seventh-Day Baptist minister in Hopkinton, Rhode Island. The letter contained a request for printed material about the Seventh-Day Sabbath. Soon a small parcel of Seventh-Day Baptist tracts was delivered to the Andrews home. The Andrews and Stowell families used these tracts to share the Sabbath truth with their neighbors the Stevens family and soon these three families formed a small group of Sabbath keeping Adventists in Paris Hill, Maine. John Andrews went on to marry Angeline Stevens and Uriah Smith married her sister Harriet. Years later Paris Hill, Maine would become the birthplace of the Review and Herald which was first printed in November 1850 by James White.

One of the most fascinating things about the birth of Sabbatarian Adventism in Paris Hill, Maine was the fact that it was birthed by teenagers. Marian Stowell and John Andrews were both 15 years old when they first began to keep the Sabbath. Their commitment to obeying the word of God and the depth of their spiritual convictions paved the way for not only their own families but other families to obey the truth as well.

Further Reading and Citations

  • Schawrz, R.W. and Greenleaf, F. (1979) – Light Bearers: A History of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church (Revised Edition)

  • Burt, M.D. (2011) – Adventist Pioneer Places (New York and New England)