BY REPUTATION: Known as the “most honest man in town,” David Hewitt (1805-1878) was the first convert of Adventist pioneer Joseph Bates in Battle Creek. Hewitt first proposed the name “Seventh-day Adventist” during a meeting held on October 1, 1860 in the simple church structure that served the believers.James White initiated the discussions. At the time both the publishing house and the 28- by 42-foot (8.5 by 12.8 m.) meetinghouse in Battle Creek in which the conference was being held were owned by individuals—not the church members. James White owned the publishing house (it was legally in his name), and the meetinghouse was built on property owned by Stephen Belden, James’ brother-in-law. Should either man die or decide to do something else with his property, the church members who contributed to the estimated $5,000 net worth of the publishing house, or the nearly $900 invested in construction costs for the meetinghouse when built three years earlier, would lose their investments. For his part Elder White urged that a method be found for the church to take title legally to the publishing house as well as to church buildings built by local congregations. He was not at all interested in seeing the current arrangement continued. By this time church membership was approximately 3,000, and continuing to grow.2 Something obviously needed to be done.
HISTORIC RECORD: Joseph B. Frisbie noted the name of the church in his diary entry for October 1, 1860. He was one of the 25 delegates of the session, which was chaired by Joseph Bates.Admittedly, from a practical standpoint the situation was already causing confusion. The first Sabbathkeeping Adventist congregation to incorporate was in Parkville, Michigan, about 40 miles southwest of Battle Creek. They did so on May 13, 1860. Because “no name has yet been decided upon by the remnant as a body,” they chose to call themselves the “Parkville Church of Christ’s second advent.”3 Later that summer the congregation in Fairfield, Iowa, chose to organize under the name “The church of the living God.”4 It was reported that at least three other congregations in Iowa were awaiting word from the conference before also proceeding. Actually, a number of different names had been used at various times, and by various ones, to identify the small, but growing, church. Probably the most widely used was “Church of God.” Others included “The Little Remnant Scattered Abroad” (sometimes shortened to “The Little Remnant” or just “The Remnant”), “The Little Flock,” and the “Church of Jesus Christ.” J. N. Loughborough recalled that sometimes the names “The Lord’s People” and “Christians” were also used.
“No name which we can take will be appropriate but that which accords with our profession and expresses our faith and marks us a peculiar people. The name Seventh-day Adventist is a standing rebuke to the Protestant world. Here is the line of distinction between the worshipers of God and those who worship the beast and receive his mark….
“The name Seventh-day Adventist carries the true features of our faith in front, and will convict the inquiring mind. Like an arrow from the Lord’s quiver, it will wound the transgressors of God’s law, and will lead to repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.” —Testimonies, vol. 1, pp. 223, 224.The first known use in print of the name “seventh-day Adventist” is found in a letter to the editor of The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald written by S. T. Cranson of Tompkins, Michigan. His letter dated March 20, 1853, appears in the April 14, 1853, issue of the paper.7 It was David Hewitt, the first Sabbathkeeper in Battle Creek, who eventually moved,