The obelisk appears as a memorial to James White and was erected on the White burial site during Ellen White's life. We do not know what involvement, if any, Ellen White had in the selection of the obelisk, nor do we know if Ellen White even understood the history or meaning of the symbol.
The obelisk was first used by the Egyptians to house the spirit of the Sun god Ra.2
The obelisk is a symbol used in Freemasonry. It is used by the Masons, according to one Masonic author, as a symbol to represent sex.3
In the Bible, the obelisk was used in Baal worship. In one Old Testament account, the priests of God killed the Baal worshippers on God's orders, and their obelisks were destroyed:4
"… King Jehu said to the guards and to the officers, 'Go in and slay them; let none escape'. And they smote them with the sword; and the guards before the king threw their bodies out, and went into the inner dwelling of the house of Baal. They brought out the obelisks [pillars] of the house of Baal and burned them." [2 Kings 10:26, Amplified Bible]
It is quite unsettling that a symbol of the Egyptian Sun god appears on the burial site of James and Ellen White.
1. Mrs. White's funeral was on July 24, 1915, the same date that the photograph was taken. However, according to the White Estate, she was not interred until 33 days later. On March 22, 1999, William Fagal of the Ellen G. White Estate Branch Office at Andrews University, emailed D. Fischer: "Her funeral took place on Sabbath, July 24, 1915. She was not actually interred, however, until Thursday, August 26."
2. Op. Cit. http://www.cuttingedge.org/free19.htm. H.L. Hayward, Symbolic Masonry: An Interpretation of the Three Degrees, p. 207. 'Two Pillars' Short Talk Bulletin, Sept., 1935, Vol. 13, No 9. Charles Clyde Hunt, Some Thoughts On Masonic Symbolism, p. 101.
3. Op. Cit. http://www.cuttingedge.org/free19.htm. Haywood, quoted above, p. 206-7 and Rollin C. Blackmer, The Lodge and the Craft: A Practical Explanation of the Work of Freemasonry, p. 94.
4. Unknown author, "Symbols Prove Invisible Fraternity of Freemasonry is Satanic", http://www.cuttingedge.org/free19.htm.