Frances (Fannie) Eugenia Bolton
While Frances (Fannie) Bolton worked closely with Ellen G. White as a proofreader of White's manuscripts, a task she did off and on for several years with varying levels of discontent, she is also known for the mixed-meter music she wrote for the hymn "Not I, But Christ." The hymn, written in both 3/4 and 4/4 meter, was #230 in the 1908 Christ in Song, #271 in the 1941 Seventh-day Adventist Church Hymnal, and #570 in the1985 SDA Church Hymnal.
Bolton was also a poet whose poems were published in numerous issues of Seventh-day Adventist publications in the U.S., Great Britain, and Australia in the 1890s and the first two decades of the 20th century. She is listed most often as Fannie Bolton but also as Frances E. and Frances Eugenia. In the August 13, 1901 issue of the Review and Herald, she listed "A Message of Rest," a song with music that she had written, as available for 25c.
The daughter of a Methodist minister, Bolton was born in Canada on August 1,1859. The 1880 census for Evanston, Illinois, lists Fannie Bolton, age 19, as a Canadian who is listed with other women as "at school" and under the supervision of a matron.
She joined the SDA Church in 1885, while serving as a correspondent for a Chicago newspaper. She first started working with White in 1887, with the specific responsibility of correcting spelling and grammatical errors and preventing repetition. By temperament erratic and moody, she left after a short time to study at the University of Michigan.
Bolton later worked with White three more times, but was dismissed each time after a short while because of her persistent complaints about having to work with "faulty" manuscripts. She later expressed remorse about the trouble she had created.
In the late 1800s she claimed to have visions. She also wrote "The Battle Hymn of the Kingdom," a 44-page booklet published in 1898 by the Pacific Press Publishing Company with illustrations and words that could be sung to the tune for the "Battle Hymn of the Republic."
In 1897, John Harvey Kellogg, founder of the Battle Creek Sanitarium, wrote, "Miss Bolton looks thin and is extremely nervous and hysterical." On February 20, 1911, she was committed to the Kalamazoo State Hospital, a facility for patients with mental issues, for a year. She was again committed in October 1924 and released four months later.
Field Tidings, a publication of the Southeastern Union Conference (now Southern Union), in its April 9, 1919 issue, reported that Bolton wrote a poem, "Farewell," and was present for a farewell party for a minister who was leaving the Orlando, Florida, area because of ill health. The same magazine also lists her as a guest of the Florida Sanitarium, now Florida Hospital (Orlando) in its issue for February 2, 1921.
She died in Battle Creek, Michigan, on June 28, 1926. Her obituary in the Review and Herald on August 5, noted, "She was widely known by her writings and many a heart has been cheered by her poems."
Sources: Obituary, The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, August 5, 1926, pg. 22; August 13, 1901, pg.14; Wayne H. Hooper and Edward E. White, Companion to the Seventh-day Adventist Hymnal, 1988, Review and Herald Publishing Association, pgs. 534-35; Field Tidings, April 9, 1919, pg. 5; February 2, 1921, pg. 6; While some sources list her as being born in Chicago, Illinois, the1880 and 1920 U.S. Federal Census both list her as Canadian, Ancestry.com; Records of her commitments to the Kalamazoo State Hospital, from a report sent by R.A. Morter, M.D. to H.H. Cobban on July 25, 1945, page 122, The Fannie Bolton Story, Ellen G. White’s writings; Kellogg’s comments, Testimonies for the Church 5:73.