Stephen N. Haskell
President of the California Conference (1878-1887, 1891-1894, 1908-1911)
Stephen Nelson Haskell was born in Oakham, Mass., April 22, 1833. He became a Christian in 1848, joining the Congregational Church. Within five years (1853) he was preaching part-time for the First-day Adventists, while also making and selling soap. But later that year, after receiving a tract titled “Elihu on the Sabbath” he began to keep the seventh-day Sabbath.
In 1850, Haskell married Mary Howe. The Haskells, along with several ladies, formed the Vigilant Missionary Society in 1869, dedicated to the distribution of printed tracts. This organization expanded to the Tract and Missionary Society and is sometimes referred to as the beginning of what we know today as the Adventist Book Center.
Between 1854-1870, Haskell worked as a self-supporting preacher within the Seventh-day Adventist movement in New England. He was ordained as a minister in 1870 with James White, J. N. Andrews and J. H. Waggoner officiating. Elected that same year as president of the New England Conference, he served in that capacity for the next 17 years.
Haskell was also elected as president of the California Conference in 1878, a position he held until 1887, while at the same time continuing to serve as president of the New England Conference. During this time, in 1882 he helped organize the first European Council in Europe and also founded South Lancaster Academy (now Atlantic Union College). In 1885 he was in charge of opening the Adventist work in Australia and New Zealand, which included starting the Echo Publishing Company (now Signs Publishing Company). And amazingly, in 1885 he was also elected president of the Maine Conference while still serving as conference president in California and New England.
In June 1887, Haskell, along with three Bible workers, opened the Adventist work in London, England, organizing the first Adventist church there. In 1888-89, he went on a world tour on behalf of mission outreach, visiting numerous locations in Europe, Africa, India, China, Japan and Australia. On that trip Haskell baptized the first Seventh-day Adventists in both China and Japan.
The California Conference elected Haskell to serve again as conference president in 1891. Mary Haskell passed away in January 1894, and shortly thereafter Haskell left the presidency of the California Conference, conducting meetings in Europe and Africa. Ellen White invited Haskell to come to Australia in 1896 to teach at the newly opened Avondale School for Christian Workers (now Avondale College). It was there that he met and married Hetty Hurd in 1897.
Returning to the United States in 1899, Haskell held various Bible training schools and evangelistic series across the country. In 1901 he worked in New York City, organizing the first African-American church there. Haskell came west to the Loma Linda and San Bernardino areas in 1905. Once again, in 1908 the California Conference elected him to serve as president for a third time, a position he held until 1911 when the California Conference was divided into three different territories. Haskell now “retired” at the age of 79.
Steven Haskell had a long-lasting friendship with James and Ellen White, dating back to the late 1850s. Ellen White wrote more letters to Haskell than to any other church leader. At the Battle Creek funeral service for Ellen White in 1915, Haskell was asked to preach the sermon.
In his later years, Haskell led out in temperance work in Maine (1911), began printing books for the blind (1912) and assisted in the development of the White Memorial Hospital in Los Angeles (1916). Hetty Haskell passed away Oct. 21, 1919, in South Lancaster, Mass. He died Oct. 9, 1922, at Paradise Valley Sanitarium in National City, Calif. He was buried next to his first wife, Mary, in Napa, Calif., with A. G. Daniells, R. F. Cottrell and J. L. McElhany presiding at the service. (McElhany served as president of the California Conference from 1915-1918).
During his life, Haskell was the author of several books that continue to be reprinted: The Story of Daniel the Prophet (1901), The Story of the Seer of Patmos (1904), The Cross and Its Shadow (1914) and Bible Handbook (1919).
1. Portrait of Stephen N. Haskell
2. Haskell as a young man
3. Echo Publishing Company (now Signs Publishing Company)
4. Haskell with Hetty Hurd, whom he married in 1897
5. Haskell preaching at the funeral of Ellen G. White
6. Cover design for The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald that published Haskell's obituary in 1922
Seventh-day Adventist Enclyclopedia
The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, Vol. 99, No. 54, Dec. 14, 1922 (obituary of S. N. Haskell)
The Ellen G. White Estate, Inc. website
Adventist Heritage Ministry
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