Jewels from Bro. Saether’s Interview (Part 1 of 6)

2 Sep

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Baylor University Institute for Oral History

In our ongoing series of the new code controversy, we came across a treasure trove of jewels. Brother George Saether was one of the old time members of the Mt. Carmel “camp”, as brother Houteff would call it. He was there from 1937 to 1961 at the dissolution of the Waco grounds. He played a very influential part in the Davidian movement.

After listening and reading the 10 interviews, we believe that unbeknownst to Daniel McGee, the Baylor interviewer, the Lord was indeed guiding him because Mr. McGee, time and again, zeroed in on the subjects that would later prove noteworthy due to today’s controversies specifically Florence Houteff and the new codes and Ben Roden and the Branch DSDA.

Thus, we’d like to report on what we found noteworthy in this invaluable series of interviews, not only for some clarifications but for the general history of the movement.

Before we begin we’d like to thank brother Jim Mentore for bringing these interviews to our attention. We were not aware of these rich and timely memoirs and have found then, as we said–invaluable for  some clarifications and points.

As we have shown before, the Word says the following —

“There is no excuse for anyone in taking the position that there is no more truth to be revealed, and that all our expositions of Scripture are without an error. The fact that certain doctrines have been held as truth for many years by our people, is not a proof that our ideas are infallible. Age will not make error into truth, and truth can afford to be fair. No true doctrine will lose anything by close investigation.” (CWE, p. 35)

Indeed! Close investigation will not hurt the Truth at all. Thus we shall closely look at what a key member of the movement had to say about Florence Houteff, M.J. Bingham and Ben Roden. We know that two living members of the original camp, sister Bonnie and brother Don, were very young when the camp was in full swing, not so with brother Saether. He was in the prime of his life and thus could relate in more clearer detail what he learned and experienced on the camp.

The first of the series of  ten interviews took place on July 12, 1973. They went on over the next two years with the last one on June 30, 1975.

Ok, let us begin with our analysis of bro. Saether’s  interview. We shall break it up into four parts, relating to Florence Houteff , M.J. Bingham, Ben Roden and a summary. All three of these people, we as present truth believers know, had extremely influential roles in the movement after the passing of brother Houteff.


SAETHER: Well, the leader of course, was Brother Houteff and his right hand
man was a man by the name of Bingham. M. J. Bingham, He was almost a cripple. Tall, about six foot three or four and just like a bean pole. He had some trouble with his legs. But, could he talk! He could out-talk about anybody you ever heard.
He was a student of words. He doted on that. When he’d talk, he’d get new words and see how many times he could use that new word in his sermon or talk. He could follow that.” (Interview no. 3, p.139)

..when he was here he was the spokesman for Brother Houteff, largely, you know, deal with the people. (Ibid, p.140)

McGEE: Do you think there was any kind of attempt on the part of
Elder Wilson to kind of control Bingham or keep him from getting too
much influence?

SAETHER: Oh, I think there was some. Of course, Bingham resented
somebody else being placed over him. Elder Wilson wasn’t here when
Brother Houteff was here. He was out in the field. He was the only
fieldworker we had. He traveled all over the United States and Canada. Then Brother Houteff left he put him in charge. 

No telling what would have happened if Bingham had been here
just by himself. But he did have a following. He was bright and
some of them followed him. I’ve forgotten all that happened, but
anyway, some of them just rebelled against Elder Wilson and they
went off in the woods here—there was a lot of woods here and you
couldn’t find anybody.

McGEE: Who were these rebels? Who was their leader? Were they rebelling
against Wilson’s leadership?

SAETHER: That’s right.

McGEE: I see. Who was their leader?

SAETHER: Bingham was the leader.  (Ibid, p.161-162)

McGEE: When the group originally came here in 1935, Brother Houteff
was not married? Did Mrs. Hermanson and her children come during
that first year?

SAETHER: They came in that same group, the original twelve.

McGEE: I see. I see. So they were members of that twelve. After
about two years Brother Houteff married—

SAETHER: Florence.  (Ibid, p.169)

McGEE: There really was no question in the minds of anyone at the
Mt. Carmel Center as to who was the leader?

SAETHER: Absolutely not. He was the leader. Bingham was the assistant
leader most of the time. But it was what Brother Houteff said that
they swore by. (Ibid, p.172)


McGEE: We might, while we’re just thinking about these people,
ask the question about those that are still living. Of course Florence
Hermanson is—she’s now remarried, Mrs. Carl Eaken, E-a-k-e-n.

SAETHER: You talked with her over the phone, did you?

McGEE: No, I got to talk with Mrs. Sophia Hermanson. I never got—

SAETHER: Sophia?

McGEE: Yes.  

SAETHER: You never got to talk to—

McGEE: No, I did not. But Florence Hermanson is living. (Interview no. 4, p.191)


SAETHER:  When we were here at Mt. Carmel, beginning in ’37 when we came,
there was a meeting every Sabbath, Friday night at sundown there was
a meeting and then usually in the afternoon the next day we had a meeting
and Brother Houteff spoke almost entirely.

Beginning in about ’47, I think, let’s see—’46, he began to
take these all down and well, I guess they had before but now it was
designed to meet the needs of the people and get it in such a shape that it could be published.

His wife was a typist and she took all these notes but wrote them
out so that—so they were publishing a book then. That’s what I was
doing in the print shop. At first I was cutting the paper and then I had charge of the
print shop for a number of years.

Here you see the first one is Timely Greetings, Texts and Addresses by V.T. Houteff, Minister of the Davidian, Seventh Day Adventists, Sabbath, August 3, 1946, Mt.
Carmel Chapel, Waco, Texas. And went on like that. (Interview no. 7, p.305 )

SAETHER: Distinctive. It was his handwriting. Of course, he wrote
a lot. Most of these things that he formulated for printing, he wrote
it first and then his wife typed it. Then she’d say she’d “tackle” it. (Ibid, p.311)

This concludes part one. We are posting relevant information in order to make a good summary for our three subjects, Florence Houteff, Ben Roden and M.J. Bingham. As mentioned we can gather good solid eye witness information on the mindset and agendas of these controversial parties.


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