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Chronological History of the Branch Davidians

Profess to be Christian but are outside orthodox Christianity Chronological History of the Branch Davidians


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William Miller born.

Ellen G. Harmon (later White) is born

The Midnight Cry begins publication. On January 1, Miller commits himself to dates: "I am fully conviced that somewhere between March 21st, 1843 and March 21st, 1844, according to the Jewish mode of time computation, Christ will come."

In March, Miller states, "If this chronology is not correct, I shall despair of getting from the Bible and history a true account of the age of the world." In May, Miller writes, "I confess my error and acknowledge my disappointment." Most followers, however, do not leave the "Millerite" movement. One of Miller's adventists followers, Sumuel S. Snow, revises Miller's timetable and place Jesus' second coming at October 22, 1844. Miller eventually accepts and promotes the revised date. When the October 22 prophecy fails, the date becomes known as "The Great Disappointment." Miller retires from active leadership; the movement falls into confusion; and numerous adventist fractions break off from the movement. One faction also begins holding to the additional belief that the seventh-day Sabbath should be observed. Members of this group come to be known as "seventh-day" adventists.

Miller dies.

The name "Seventh-day Adventist" is officially adopted by the denomination.

Ellen G. White dies.

Victor Houteff, a Bulgarian immigrant, joins the Seventh-day Adventist church. c. 1929-1930
Houteff begins teaching doctrines that eventually get him expelled from the Los Angeles Seventh-day Adventist church of which he is a member. Despite his ousting from the church, Houteff continues to preach his message and gains additional followers.

c. 1930-1932
Houteff publishes his views in The Shepherd's Rod Vol. I and The Shepherd's Rod Vol. 2. He and his followers come to be known as the "Shepherd's Rod Seventh-day Adventists."

Houteff and some of his followers set up headquarters at Mr. Carmel, Texas, on the outskirts of Waco.

Houteff's group changes its name to the "Davidian Seventh-day Adventists."

The Davidians target their evangelistic efforst at the Seventh-day Adventists denomination.

Victor Houteff dies, leaving his wife, Florence, in charge. Almost immediately she gives a three-and-a-half year prophecy: God's earthly kingdom will be established on April 22, 1959. She also issues a call for all faithful Davididans to gather during the week prior to the endtime occurence. One follower, Benjamin Roden, disagrees with Florence and asserts that the establishment of God's kingdom will occur in 1960 rather than 1959.

Roden claims he is the one who should fill Victor Houteff's shoes as leader of the Davidians. Consequently, he launches a letter-writing campaign to convince Seventh-day Adventists and Davidians of his views.

Florence Houteff's prophecy fails. Numerous factions break off from the once unified body of Davidians. The largest faction is led by Benjamin Roden, who has made himself rather well-known to Davidians through his letters. He names his following, "Branch Davidians."

August 17, 1959 Vernon Wayne Howell is born.

Ben Roden starts backpedaling on his belief that the end will come in 1960. He changes his previously published chronological timelines, editing out what he predicted.

Ben Roden and his followers legally obtain Houteff's Mt. Carmel property.

Roden adds various doctrines to Houteff's teachings.

Ben's wife, Lois Roden, has a vision in which she claims to have seen the Holy Spirit. Lois reveals she learned from the vision that the Holy Spirit is female.

Ben Roden dies and Lois takes over as the head of the Branch Davidians.

1879 Howell is baptized into the Tyler Seventh-day Adventist church.

Howell joins the Branch Davidians.

Howell gets his "message" and begins his live-in relationship with Lois Roden. His authority and influence start to grow.

Twenty-four-year-old Howell weds fourteen-year-old Rachel Jones. After a heated conflict with Lois Roden's son, George, Howell is forced out of Mt. Carmel with his wife. They move to Waco.

"Branches" (members of the group) begin to forsake Lois Roden and move away from Mt. Carmel to live under Howell's leadership. Howell eventually acquires some property in Palestine, Texas, where he and his followers settle. Conflict between the Rodens and Howell continue.

January 1986
Australian Mark Breault joins the Branch Davidians.

March 1986
Howell takes thirteen-year-old Karen Doyle as his second "wife."

August 1986
Howell secretly takes twelve-year-old Michelle Jones (Rachel's little sister) as his third "wife."

Late 1986
Howell teaches that he is entitled to have at least 140 wives.

Early 1987
Seventeen-year-old Robyn Bunds becomes Howell's fourth "wife."

August 1987
Diana Ishikawa (pseudonym) becomes Howell's sixth wife.

November 1987
Howell and eight of his male followers are arrested for attempted murder after being involved in a shoot-out with George Roden at Mt. Carmel.

December 1987
Ishiwaka (pseudonym) becomes the first of Howell's Song of Songs "wives" to become pregnant.

April 1988
Howell and the eight others tried for attempted murder are set free. Within a few months, all the Branch Davidians move back to Mt. Carmel with Howell as their leader.

Howell continues to take more "wives."

August 5, 1989
Howell teaches the "new light" doctrine of 1989 while staying in the Pomona, California home of Donald and Jeanine Bunds. The "new light" makes Howell the rightful husband of all the women in the group, including those who are married. Husbands and wives are separated and the wives become part of Howell's army.

August-September 1989
March Breault and his wife, Elizabeth, leave the group and begin a letter-writing campaign to alert their friends to the fact that Howell is a false teacher.

Most of the Australian and New Zealand members break away from Howell.

Spring 1990
Vernon Howell changes his name to David Koresh.

c. June-August 1990
Robyn Bund leaves Koresh.

September-December 1990
Koresh's temperament increasingly becomes more volatile and his behavior irrational. He begins requiring members to watch violent war movies on a regular basis.

Several local law enforcement authorities from Texas, California and Michigan start to take serious note of Koresh and the Davidians due to reports by ex-members and numerous investigations.

Diana Ishikawa (pseudonym) breaks away from Koresh.

February 1992
David Jewll obtains custody of his eleven-year-old daughter, Kiri, who is removed from the group.

May 1992
The Waco Tribune-Herald begins an in-depth investigation into Koresh and his followers.

May-June 1992
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) launches its investigation of Koresh and the Davidians.

February 27, 1993
The Waco Tribune-Herald begins its seven-part investigative news story on Koresh and his group.

February 28, 1993
The ATF launches a massive raid on the Davidian compound. Six Davidians die and four ATF agents are killed. Numerous invididuals on both sides are injured.

March 1-April 18, 1993
Of the approximately one hundred Branch Davidians present in the compound on February 28, approximately fourteen adults and twenty-one children leave.

April 19, 1993
FBI agents attempt to end the siege by using tear gas, but the compound erupts into flames. Between seventy-five and eighty-five Davidians die in the flames, including approximately twenty-five children. Nine members survive.

April 23, 1993
The possible remains of David Koresh are pulled from the ashes on the Davidian compound.

May 2, 1993
Koresh's charred body - lying next to his top lieutenant, Steve Schneider - is officially identified using dental records. Medical examiners cite a gunshot wound to the forehead as the likely cause of Koresh's death.

May 27, 1993
Koresh is laid to rest during a small ceremony held by his mother, Bonnie. His remains are buried in an unmarked grave. Only his mother, step-father, brother, and maternal grandmother are in attendance.

July 1993-Present
A handful of Koreshians remain alive. Eleven of them will face trial on a variety of charges. They are like sheep without a shepherd and view the current situation as a time when they will be scattered. They do not expect a new leader to take over Koresh's place. Instead, they continue to wait for the day when Koresh and the rest of the Davidians will return in glory to execute judgment on the earth for what has taken place. As one faitful follower put it, "They'll be back. They'll all be back."  (1) 


The above chronology was taken from Appendix A in the book, "Prophets of the Apocalypse", by Kenneth Samples, Erwin de Castro, Richard Abanes, and Robert Lyle (Baker Books, Grand Rapids, MI, 1994).

Note: Though "Prophets of the Apocalypse" is currently out of print, you may be able to find a copy through Amazon.com's search service.

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