New mini-exhibit in the Daycroft Visitors Library

August 07, 2017

Just in time for the many visitors who flocked to the Boston area from far-flung locations to attend the June 2017 Annual Meeting of The Mother Church, a small new exhibit was prepared for Longyear Museum’s Daycroft Visitors Library. Prompted by a recent donation to the historical collection, the exhibit offers a brief look into the inspiring lifework of early Christian Scientist Ella Peck Sweet, student of Mary Baker Eddy.

The exhibit includes two photographs of Mrs. Sweet, a bound collection of Christian Science pamphlets from the early 1900s belonging to her, and her privately-published memoir, An Account of Pioneer Experiences in Christian Science.[1] Also included is a recently-donated 52nd edition (published in 1891) of Mary Baker Eddy’s Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, 1891. An inscription from Mrs. Sweet is inside:

To Vincent and Dora –
       Faithfully and Lovingly Thine,
              E. P. Sweet
Colorado Springs –
       June 10th, ‘91

Ella Peck Sweet’s contribution to the early Christian Science movement had a profound effect on its growth in Colorado in the late 1800s.

Ella Peck Sweet, C.S.D.Mrs. Sweet grew up in Ohio and Illinois with a strong Christian background, often praying by her mother’s side, but suffered chronic poor health. She married, and in 1880 traveled west to Denver, Colorado, with her husband and daughter, hoping to find relief. After a few years, though, she fell into a mental depression so severe that she felt her only hope was death.[2] It was in this state that Christian Science found her, in what she has described as the “darkest chapter” of her life, which was “just to precede the dawn.”[3]

Another Colorado woman, Mary Melissa Hall, who had recently been healed of a serious foot injury and partial blindness, returned to Denver from Chicago with her daughter Minnie[4] and copies of Science and Health. Inspired by the healing as well as by what they had learned in a class with Bradford Sherman, one of Mrs. Eddy’s students, they were prepared to heal others, and Minnie offered help to Ella. Not thinking much about it, Ella agreed to be treated, and was healed in just a few hours. From then on, Science and Health was her constant companion. A few months later she, too, attended a class with Bradford Sherman and began the healing work.

To say that her own return to health was a life-changing experience would be true for both Mrs. Sweet and the many individuals she helped through her practice of Christian Science. In 1887, she attended Mrs. Eddy’s Normal class in Boston, where she made a lasting impression on her teacher. This resulted in Ella becoming a teacher herself, and in being called in 1904 to serve as a metaphysical worker at Pleasant View, Mrs. Eddy’s home in Concord, New Hampshire.

Ella was influential in the growth of Christian Science in the Colorado communities of Salida, Buena Vista, Fairplay, Cañon City, and Pueblo; and she assisted in starting a church in Colorado Springs when she lived there, later traveling a distance of seventy-five miles from her home in Denver to continue serving as First Reader.

The exhibit, ELLA PECK SWEET, C.S.D.: Christian Science Pioneer in Colorado, will be in place in the Daycroft Visitors Library for months to come, and copies of her memoir, An Account of Pioneer Experiences in Christian Science, along with the article she wrote for The Christian Science Journal, July 1897, “A ‘Bundle of Ailments’ Destroyed,” are available for reading.

[1] Ella Peck Sweet, C.S.D., An Account of Pioneer Experiences in Christian Science (Privately printed, 1919). Longyear Museum collection. A copy of this reminiscence is available to be read in the Longyear Museum Daycroft Visitors Library, or borrowed through Interlibrary loan (call for details).

Ella P. Sweet, “A ‘Bundle of Ailments’ Destroyed,” The Christian Science Journal 15 (July 1897):221-222.

Ella Peck Sweet, C.S.D., An Account of Pioneer Experiences in Christian Science, 6, 7.

More information on Mary Melissa Hall, C.S., and Minnie B. Hall Murphy DeSoto, C.S.D., can be found in Pioneers in Christian Science, published by Longyear Museum, 1993.
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