About William Foy
William Ellis Foy (c.
1818-1893), a black American in his early twenties, received several dramatic
visions in 1842, several years prior to those received by Hazen Foss and Ellen
Harmon. The first one (January 18) lasted two and one-half hours, and the
second one (February 4), twelve and one-half hours! His physical condition
during the visions resembled Daniel’s trancelike state.
Sometime before October 22, 1844, Ellen Harmon heard Foy speak in
Beethoven Hall in Portland, Maine. A few weeks later, shortly after her first
vision in December 1844, Foy was present in a meeting held near Cape Elizabeth,
Maine, during which she spoke of her first vision. The following is an
interview that Ellen White had with her assistant D.E. Robinson in 1906 as to her recollections on her interactions
with William Foy.
Ellen White Interview with Dores E. Robinson
We used to have some very powerful meetings. But it is not all out there, and I don't know as there is any need of putting it out.
Elder Stockman was preaching, and he was dying with the consumption. He talked as though inspired by the Holy Spirit, feeble as he was. I always sat on the front seat next to the stand, and as I heard a noise like a groan I saw that Elder Brown was as white as human flesh could be, and he was falling out of his chair. I suppose my interested look to him called the attention of Stockman, and he looked around, and he [Brown] was ready to fall on the floor. He [Stockman] turned around, and said, "Excuse me," and took him in his arms, and laid him down on the lounge. He was one that did not believe in these things, and he had a taste of it right there. The power of the truth came upon him so.
(That was one instance I saw that Marian [Davis] had not put in. There is but an item now and then; I do not know as that is essential. I was going to call the attention to it. That is, I think, as well as it could be written. We had a great deal of this, but we never can tell it.)
Then another time, there was Foy that had had visions. He had had four visions. He was in a large congregation, very large. He fell right to the floor. I do not know what they were doing in there, whether they were listening to preaching or not. But at any rate he fell to the floor. I do not know how long he was [down]--about three quarters of a hour, I think-- and he had all these [visions] before I had them. They were written out and published, and it is queer that I cannot find them in any of my books. But we have moved so many times. He had four.
Question: Did you ever have an interview with him?
I had an interview with him. He wanted to see me, and I talked with him a little. They had appointed for me to speak that night, and I did not know that he was there. I did not know at first that he was there. While I was talking I heard a shout, and he is a great, tall man, and the roof was rather low, and he jumped right up and down, and oh, he praised the Lord, praised the Lord. It was just what he had seen, just what he had seen. But they extolled him so I think it hurt him, and I do not know what became of him.
His wife was so anxious. She sat looking at him, so that it disturbed him. "Now," said he, "you must not get where you can look at me when I am speaking." He had on an episcopalian robe. His wife sat by the side of me. She kept moving about and putting her head behind me. What does she keep moving about so for? We found out when he came to his wife. "I did as you told me to," said she. "I hid myself. I did as you told me to." (So that he should not see her face.) She would be so anxious, repeating the words right after him with her lips. After the meeting was ended, and he came to look her up, she said to him, "I hid myself. You didn't see me." He was a very tall man, slightly colored. But it was remarkable [the] testimonies that he bore.
I always sat right close by the stand. I know what I sat there for now. It hurt me to breathe, and with the breaths all around me I knew I could breathe easier right by the stand, so I always took my station.
Question: Then you attended the lectures that Mr. Foy gave?
He came to give it right to the hall, in the great hall where we attended, Beethoven Hall. That was quite a little time after the visions. It was in Portland, Maine. We went over to Cape Elizabeth to hear him lecture. Father always took me with him when we went, and he would be going in a sleigh, and he would invite me to get in, and I would ride with them. That was before I got any way acquainted with him.
Question: Where did you see him first?
It was there, at Beethoven Hall. They lived near the bridge where we went over to Cape Elizabeth, the family did.
Source: Manuscript 131, 1906, pp. 4-6