Sunday, March 26, 2017

Adolphe Weber

Below are some scans sent in by Franco. In order, they are:

Portrait of Adolphe Weber
Postcard with Weber’s stamp
Weber’s copy of the book Deliverance (1926)
Close up of Weber’s signature from same
Letter about Weber’s background - born 1863, died 1947.

See also editorial comment after pictures

Editorial comment

For any who do not know Weber’s story, he came into contact with Zion’s Watch Tower while working as a gardener for CTR in Pittsburgh. He went back to Europe in the late 1890s to spread the message, and remained loyal to the Watchtower Society throughout his life. He died in 1947. For a fuller history of his life see the history of the work in France in the Yearbook for 1980.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Research on the wild side ...

            This is really fringe material, but we do need to know. I’m turning to our readers who are probably better at this particular research than we are. We have two lines of research, one fairly urgent, the other important later.
            There is slight evidence that the Russells [or just C. T.] had a son who died in infancy. Yes, I know, it seems improbable given the amount of research put into their life. But we need to confirm or deny this.
            The Internet repeats suggestions that Rutherford had a mistress or two. The ‘evidence’ never seems to reach the threshold of established fact. We need to know.
            We need solid research, even if it only concludes there is no evidence. On the supposed Russell child, we’d need to find a grave or death records that match. He would have died in 1880 or 1881. He might not be buried with the rest of the family. The name may only be “baby boy Russell.”
            I have several reasons for turning this over to our readers. I have a strong point of view on both of these issues. I’d rather the research proceed without a PoV clouding it. We do not have easy access to Allegheny County records, many of which perished in a fire. On the other hand, I do not want to turn this into the wild speculations found on controversialist sites.

Are you up to the challenge?

From Bruce:

We can dismiss the 'hairpin' story out of hand. There is no first hand confirmation of that story which is alternately set in Buffalo NY and in one of the Carolinas but with no firsthand documentation. If a hotel maid [supposedly also a Bible Student] found a woman's hairpin in his bed, there is a simpler explanation. Rutherford was experiencing hair loss. Quack remedies involved soaking your hair in an elixir or emulsion and wearing a cap. My grandfather, Rutherford's contemporary, used Lucky Tiger hair restorer in the vain hope that he could rescue his hair. [When it's gone, it's gone. Believe me, I know.] The cap was secured with "women's hairpins."

Jesus used the phrase 'eye is evil' for greed and evil supposition. If this happened at all, we can point to an evil supposition. Apparently no-one bothered to ask Rutherford about it. [Assuming it happened] But some were willing to believe an evil report when a simple explanation would do. 

This is similar to the photo that supposedly shows a drunk Rutherford that really shows a group of Witnesses sitting by a root beer dispenser common in the 1920s -1940s. They were used to make homemade root beer, using Hires Extract, and then to dispense it.

History is not sourced from "evil reports," but from provable events.

However, I second Rachael's request for additional research by our blog readers.

Friday, March 24, 2017

We need ...

We need the exact Watch Tower by date where Rutherford first condemns "Character Development." Anyone?

Last Year of Herald of the Morning

To answer Chris G.s question ...

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Your opinion, thoughts, comments?

Please read the article entitled "Lay up Treasures for Yourself," found in the February 1881 Watch Tower. We are interested in your assessments.

F. L. Alexandre Freytag

from Franco

Alexandre Freytag was appointed by CTR as branch manager in Geneva, Switzerland. It did not end well. You will note that the caption to his photograph calls him “the faithful and prudent servant”.

Quoting from the 1980 Yearbook on the history of Bible Students/Witnesses in France:


Starting with the April 1919 issue, Freytag printed his name on the second page of each French Watch Tower, no longer as “manager” (gérant responsible  in French language), of the Geneva office,

but as “editor” (rédacteur in French language) of the Watch Tower.

As the official French edition of the Watch Tower represented less and less the English edition, some brothers in Switzerland took it upon themselves to publish a more accurate translation of the English-language Watch Tower. Thus there were for a time two French editions of the Watch Tower circulating among the brothers!
In August 1919, Freytag transferred a part of the Society’s literature stock and other property to his own address. Knowing that in January the Paris Congregation had informed Pittsburgh of what was going on, and that on March 25, 1919, Brother Rutherford had been released from prison, Freytag doubtless realized that the Society would certainly soon take action against him. So he began stowing away the property that he intended to keep for himself.
(above taken from 1980 Yearbook 1980 page 49 - The History of the Work in France)

Below is Freytag’s last Watch Tower.

At the bottom of page 2, Freytag put in this announcement:


The Watchtower Bible & Tract Society, having taken our name, and publishing a newspaper that is titled the same as ours, now we prefer, to avoid confusion, to publish our newspaper under the name: "The Angel of the Eternal, the Kingdom Messenger of God"

Editorial note
Ultimately the Society took Freytag  to court on three occasions to finally recover the property he had taken (see 1987 Yearbook page 127, History of the Work in Switzerland). The movement Freytag formed  still exists in places like France (1980 Yearbook page 51) and Germany (1974 Yearbook page 85)

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Temporary Post ... VERY Temporary

This is in rough draft the first few paragraphs of current work. Tentative title for this chapter is Evangelical Voice. Usual rules. Do not copy elsewhere, though you may copy for your own use. It will change. Do not rely on this in this form. Do not share it with others. It will come down in a day or two.

We're posting it for comments. Your comments are valuable feedback. When there are no comments I doubt we've done well.

Evangelical Voice

            The Barbourite movement was narrowly focused, drawing almost entirely from non-Seventh-day Adventists, Age-to-Come believers and other Millinarians. Barbour saw those without a millannialist point of view as worldly and lost. He saw himself as God’s appointed voice for the Last Days. Paton’s believed he was divinely appointed, and he saw “advances” in spiritual insight as God’s special revelation to him. Both published tracts, Paton many more than Barbour who relied on the Herald of the Morning to further his ideology. The focus of both was narrow, and they didn’t seek a wider voice.       

remainder of this post is deleted.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Bible Companion Jan 1915

Suggestive Hints

Suggestive Hints to New Colporteurs made its first appearance in 1887. We have a much later edition, but we need to see the first edition. If you have one, or one much earlier than the 1912 edition, please scan it and send it to us.

Wrong title given above: This is what we're seeking:

R967 : page 1
Any one desirous of engaging in the
spread of the truth can find grand opportunities
and plenty of them, selling paper-bound
DAWN, VOL. I. The present price,
25 cents, brings it within the reach of all.
We state again that ten cents per copy is
allowed for expenses out of the Tract
Fund. According to your zeal, faith and
talents united, will be your success. Take
your sample book and make a trial before
ordering books. For particulars of how
to succeed in selling DAWN, write to us
for a copy of our Hints to MILLENNIAL
DAWN Canvassers, just printed. It will
be sent free by mail.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

The seal ...

From about 1870 to well into the 20th Century, envelope and advertising seals were commonly used in Germany. These copied official government seals used on correspondence. So it's not surprising to find that the Watch Tower society used them too. Here is an example found on the front end paper of Der Krieg von Harmagedon.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Arthur Pennock

The 10:30 Bible study of Watch Tower. Millennial Dawn and Old Theology readers will be conducted by Arthur Pennock of Taylor. Any one is welcome. -- June 6, 1908, Wilkes-Barre Times Leader, the Evening News from Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania · Page 4

We need basic biography for Pennock. Anyone?

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Your observations wanted ...

Please read the article "To Communicate Forget Not" found in the August 1880 ZWT and give us your observations.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Readers in the UK ...

This is found in the University of Manchester Library. We need a scan or photocopy. Acquiring it from the USA is very expensive. If you live near Manchester or visit there, would you acquire this for us:

"Millennial dawn" : a word of warning, etc.



Available at Special Collections (Main Library) Christian Brethren Printed Collection (11323 )

There are a number of journal articles and booklets at the Manchester U. Library we'd like to see. Contact me if you're up to volunteering. 

We seldom ....

We seldom post anything very personal. But I was sorting old family photos and found this. Herewith is 'the old guy' when he wasn't so old.

Are you a good detective? We need help tracing this to its source

From the Restitution Herald of April 26, 1938

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Katherine Hankey

I posted a hymn she wrote and that met Russell's approval a ways back. Really two related hymns ... Based on her long poem, An Old, Old Story. Russell published the long poem entire as Old Theology Quarterly No. 7. This is often wrongly attributed to Maria Russell.

Russell published without attribution as did the American Tract Society. It was widely known, and neither the Watch Tower nor ATS saw a need to append a name.

Old Theology Quarterly No. 7
You will notice that Russell altered wording as he did with many hymns and poems.

Taking the story further back

from Franco

Above is a postcard dated November 9, 1911, sent from St Peter Port, the English capital of the Island of Guernsey in front of the French coast.

The sender is named Bocolaud (ed. note - checking the U’s and the N’s that may well be Bowland) and the recipient is Adolphe Weber, Tour de Garde, Convers [Canton], Berne, Suisse.

The writer had been circulating copies of the volumes (Studies) in Guernsey.

In 1986 the "Awake" magazine had an article about the Channel Islands. It stated:

Seeds of Bible truth were sown here back in 1925 when Zephaniah and Ethel Widdell arrived from England with their bicycles to organize a regular program of Bible studies. As a direct result of their work, congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses were soon formed in both Jersey and Guernsey.

This is not exactly so, because according to the postcard "Seeds of Bible truth" in Guernsey island were already sown in 1911, if not before…

Editorial notes from Jerome

This is of interest, not just because Weber was a very well-known figure in the continental Bible Student community, but also because it takes a little bit of history back a further 14 years from what has previously been known. The postcard shows there was a Bible Student presence of some sort back in 1911, and probably before that. It speaks of "still selling a good number of volumes," which could well be pre-1911. And it is noted that the writer used English rather than French when writing to Weber.

I could only find one male named Bowland (the variant Boland) in Guernsey in the 1911 census, which was taken in April 1911, living in a street quite near Union Street in St Peter Port, from whence the postcard was later sent that year. This Bowland/Boland is a labourer working in the stone industry, aged 31, with a wife and two children. Of course, there is no guarantee that this is the right person, and the initials don’t seem to match. There is no-one with a name approaching anything like Bocolaud.

As for the Awake magazine (Awake April 22, 1986, page 19) detailing the start of “seeds of truth” for 1925, one must remember that there was never any official attempt to document the growth of interest in places like the Channel Islands at the time. We have to rely on people looking back long after the event. In 1970 the Society sent a lengthy letter to all old-timers asking for their reminiscences. The letters sent by return will have numbered into their hundreds, possibly thousands, around the world, and formed the basis for the various histories that subsequently appeared in the Yearbooks. These covered not just countries like the United States and Britain, but everywhere. This testimony was supported by documented proof in some cases. For example, the son of one of the editors of the St Paul/New Era Enterprise was moved to send his files to the Society. However, in many cases it was simply the anecdotal memories of older people looking back. The account in the 1986 Awake may well date from that 1970 initiative. No-one alive in 1970 or thereabouts had any memory of events before 1925 for the Channel Islands. So the “find” of a post card sent to a well-known figure like Weber is significant as far as Channel Island history is concerned. It shows that even the smallest piece of ephemera is worth checking in the search for completeness.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Where I insult all my British friends and acquaintances and everyone else ...

            Since Separate Identity was published in 2014, we’ve had two complaints about the writing style, both from UK residents. Both reject our style as un-academic. What they mean is that we do not write as they do in the United Kingdom. We don’t. We’re not British; we don’t pad our writing with euphemisms, circumlocutions, misused prepositions, and we don’t use passive voice.
            Passive voice is endemic in British writing. It allows one to escape responsibility for opinions, observations and conclusions. It defers responsibility to authors cited or to a non-existent ‘other.’
            British academics avoid any blunt statement. They wouldn’t call ‘a spade a spade’ if their life depended on it. Americans are usually plain-spoken. If something is wrong, we usually say so with little quibble.
            Bruce, my writing partner, has a complex ancestry. But he is American, on the conservative side, a teacher with significant peer recognition. He is separated by a century and a half from the last immigrant family. His family’s presence in America started in 1607. I share some of his ancestry. But I’m separated by a generation from Austria, and I am a dual US-Austrian citizen. I am, despite the duality, an American. As does Bruce, I write like an American. And I find British academic writing stultifying. Say what you mean. Drop the extraneous words you use to pad your writing. Get to the point. And take responsibility for your thoughts.
            Both of those who complained about our style are bound to the circumlocution that characterizes British writers. Frankly, if you experienced the hand of an American editor, you would not come off well. [I’ve read your stuff.] One of those who complained about our writing style is caught up in the arguments about the value of popular [public] history and academic history. Both fill important slots. It’s a meaningless argument, only meant to preserve history as the field of assistant professors. [The life of an adjunct professor is not an easy one. I know.] But having academic credentials does not elevate one to a special position in life. Besides I’d set my BA x 2, MA x 2 and PhD against yours any day.
            Another difference between American and British writers is the kind of analysis each brings to their writing. Brits are more likely to quote every available opinion, sensible or not, to make some sort of indifferent, indirect analysis. Facts can be manipulated. But for British writers, facts are ephemeral things, hardly real. Most American writers do not see evidence in that light. British writers like to pretend that academic competition does not exist. Dear heart, it does both there and here. It’s intense, sometimes nasty.
            Amazon ranks books by sales. I think it is telling that Separate Identity outsells the books of both of those who complained. It ranks about two million places ahead of both. I think that says something about its content and worth.
            I repeat, take responsibility for your work and opinions. Use direct sentences. Avoid passive voice. Be plain. Don't be an academic snob.

Herewith is a power point presentation on British academic writing. Note that it advises use of Passive Voice. It makes them feel good. No competent American writer would use passive voice. The reasons given for using it in this video are, frankly, idiotic.

Two Hymns that strongly impressed Russell

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Several things ...

Several things:

Someone from University of California at Long Beach visits regularly. I suspect they’re looking for something specific. If you are that person, let me know how I can help.

German Girl: Thanks for your offer to translate. We’re having a scarce German booklet scanned. I do need help translating it. My German is very poor. Email me directly, and when it’s scanned I will send it to you. [r m de vienne @ yahoo dot com]

We still need von Zech family papers belonging to his German relatives if they are relevant to Otto’s evangelism. I haven’t a clue how to look for those.

Watch Tower presence in Germany before 1903 is impossible to document in a meaningful way. Yet, we know it existed. Anyone? The same is true of Norway and France. There was at least one Barbourite in France in the 1870s. We can’t follow that up, or we haven’t with any success.

We are very dissatisfied with our history of the earliest work in Canada. Most significant documentation is from the late 1890s, outside the scope of Separate Identity. Can you add to our understanding of the work in the 1880s?

We need scans of any letters, postcards or memoranda signed by Russell, no matter how brief or mundane they may seem.

Letters between Bible Students sent in the Russell era would help. Have one? Please scan it.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

To answer an email question ...

Two people have asked through email if I recommend Zydek's biography of Russell, Charles Taze Russell: His life and time: The man, the millennium and the message. I wouldn't try to stop any one from buying it. Some of our readers have. Jerome reviewed it when published.

It is inaccurate, poorly researched, flawed and not worth the money you spend on it. But it's your money. Buy it if you wish.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

A letter to our readers ...

            A huge amount of work stands behind this blog. Though there is a donation button here, we get about twenty dollars per year on average. We fund this research out of the sale of our books and out of our own pocket. Original research is expensive. In the past four months we’ve spent more than good sense would permit. Off the blog we get support for which we are truly grateful. One long time blog reader purchased material for us. Others have done the same in years past. We appreciate this.
            I did not write this to ask for donations. While we have monthly expenditures, we’re usually capable of handling them on our own. And we get unexpected help. A university librarian found our work important. She scanned a booklet from their library, the only surviving copy, and waved their fees. So instead of costing us the forty-five dollars we expected, it cost us nothing but politeness. And the booklet is useful. We will quote from it, though probably not in volume two. Certainly we will in volume 3. We’ve already added a paragraph to a ‘finished’ chapter.
            The work that our contributors and Bruce and I put into writing our books and posting on this blog merits something more than a parasitical use of our work. We live in an age when people do not feel responsible for the use they make of other’s work. This is wrong. Blog statistics tell us that we get something under 100 return visits a day. And we get new visitors who may read one article and not return, their curiosity satisfied. Of the regularly reoccurring visitors, fewer than ten comment on anything like a regular basis. Visitors to this blog reap the work of others. It satisfies your curiosity; it interests you; some use it as resource material for their own work.
            But you do not comment. One of our contributors excuses that by saying comments or not, we’re generating interest in the subject. However, the original purpose of this blog was to further our research. One way for you to do that is to comment. Comments, like reviews, need not be elaborate. And I realize that most readers do not understand Watch Tower history, or any aspect of religious history, at much depth. But a simple, “oh, how interesting” would do. As it is, you’re eating from our plate of cookies and drinking our milk without a simple ‘thank you.’
            The ideal comment is one that informs or leads us to something new. Sometimes a question from a reader does that for us. I feel very unappreciated. I’d have left this project a long time ago, except Bruce is dependent on my help given his health issues. No-one knows this subject as well as he does.
            This letter to our readers will not improve anything but my disposition. And that is doubtful. But it is my belief that we owe something to those who produce important work. Apparently most of those who read this blog [And Roberto’s forum posts] do not believe they owe anything to anyone.

Tell me ...

L. A. Allen wrote an article entitled Straight Gate for the June 1880, ZWT. You can find this online. We want to know your impression of this article.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017


When you leave a comment, make certain you're leaving it on the appropriate post. Some recent comments were appended to posts for which they had no relevance. The evident intent was to comment on a post above or below the one where the comment was inteneded.

We need to identify ....

We need to identify a "Mr. McClure of Scotland" who sometime before the fall of 1910 wrote against Russell and "Millennial Dawn."

We need the exact source of this:

Monday, March 6, 2017

Franz Zürcher

Although relating to events a little more recent than the general focus of this blog, this is an account that many may find of interest. Thanks are due to “Franco” who kindly sent the scans used in this short article.

Franz Zürcher (1891-1978) worked at the Bible Students/Jehovah’s Witnesses Central European Office in Switzerland for nearly 55 years. He started in 1923, although his first couple of years were spent taking the Photodrama of Creation film out to Belgium, Alsace-Lorraine, along with locations in Switzerland. For many years he was the Branch Servant in Switzerland. In the 1930s he was the editor of the German edition of The Golden Age magazine. In 1943 he was sentenced to gaol [ie: jail] for his activities.

He is known for writing a book published by the Society, which apparently was never officially translated into English. Crusade Against Christianity was first published in German in 1938, and then translated into French and Polish in 1939. It detailed the persecution of the witnesses under the Nazi regime, and some of the material appeared in the English edition of Golden Age.

Here are some covers of the three language editions.

First published in German in 1938. The publisher was Europe-Verlag, Zurich-New York.

Translated into French and Polish (both 1939)

The French translation was also published by Europe-Verlag, Zurich-New York. However, you will note that the Polish translation added Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, Berne.

Franz Zürcher remained an active witness in the Berne Bethel until the end of his life, and is one of the comparatively few witnesses to have an obituary in the Watchtower magazine. See Watchtower for August 1, 1978, page 31.

Friday, March 3, 2017

First few paragraphs in rough draft - Current research

Evangelical Voice

            The Barbourite movement was narrowly focused, drawing almost entirely from non-Seventh-day Adventists, Age-to-Come believers and other Millinarians. Barbour saw those without a millannialist point of 

This post was deleted.

Anyone near Santa Clarita, California?

We have located the booklet by Tucker noted in an earlier post in a library in Santa Clarita, California. If you live close and are willing to photocopy it for us, please let me know.

We no longer need this.

A return visitor ...

Oops! Or - What's in a Name?

The Welsh language humorous magazine Papur Pawb started in 1893, and was published weekly from Carnarfon in North Wales until 1917, and then was relaunched in the 1920s. One would hardly think this could be confused with a religious tract posing such questions as Where Are the Dead? But such was the perception in Wales; so an announcement was necessary in the Yr Herald Cymraeg (Welsh Herald) newspaper for April 21, 1914.

When the Watch Tower Society started publishing its new monthly tract series from Brooklyn in 1909, they hit upon two titles, People’s Pulpit and Everybody’s Paper. The tracts soon also came to be known as Bible Students’ Monthly, and ultimately most early issues were reprinted under that masthead.

So when it was decided to publish tracts in Welsh (as advertised in Watch Tower November 15, 1911) they had several choices of name. They apparently settled on Papyr Pawb, which literally means the paper for all - e.g. Everybody’s Paper. Even though they used the old Welsh spelling of “Papyr” rather than the more modern “Papur” (as used by the North Wales comic) it was enough for someone to complain - hence the apology.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Tabernacle Shadows - In Welsh

Images courtesy of the Mike Castro collection

A few weeks ago I put out a special request for anyone out there who had ever heard of a Welsh edition of Tabernacle Shadows. I had a vague memory of seeing one several decades ago, but had never had it confirmed since. I reasoned that, if it existed at all, it probably originated in America, with all the Welsh immigrants, including people like William Hickey of Tredegar, South Wales, who was in CTR’s group back in the mid-1870s.

Well, I was right, and I was wrong. First, I was right, the book does exist. It is 144 pages, and was published in both hardback and paperback. The hardback cover is shown at the head of this article, and grateful thanks are due to the Mike Castro Collection for providing the images. But in another aspect, I was wrong, as shown by the title page below.

Image courtesy of the Mike Castro Collection

As noted above, I assumed that the book, if it existed, originated in America. But the title page clearly shows the publisher to be Watch Tower, with an address in Eversholt Street, London. This dates the book to between 1903 and 1914, when IBSA became the publisher’s imprint from Craven Terrace, London. The printers were Hazel, Watson and Viney, a well-known British company that also printed British editions of Studies. The copy pictured was originally purchased on eBay from the UK.

Armed with the correct Welsh name I found that the National Library of Wales at Aberystwyth has a copy. Their index states that it is translated into Welsh from English, and they give an estimated date of 1913, which is when it first appeared on their shelves and in their catalog. Quaintly they ascribe the authorship to one Charles Theodore Russell. I have a reader’s ticket to this library, but my last visit was to examine ancient Welsh Bibles, while Mrs J was hunting up Welsh folk songs. I never thought to check Watch Tower history. The next time I visit I will examine the volume, and maybe even get them to adjust the author’s middle name!

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Walter Leon Tucker

We need a good scan [or photocopies] of his What is Russellism? Commonly Called Millennial Dawn. It was published in 1910. Anyone?

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Saturday, February 25, 2017

A bit of our research collection

Zion's Watch Tower original volumes: 1896, 1899, 1903, 1910, 1911, 1912.

The social graces in the Internet Age

            This blog has seen a pleasing readership increase. I appreciate those who share their finds, and I appreciate those who comment. Recently a constant reader sent newspaper extracts focusing on the early work in the UK. Many were past the era we’re researching ... but they named congregations. Important to current work? Yes.
            Congregations in the USA and UK called themselves by diverse names. We consider the search for a usable name in one of the ‘nearly done’ chapters that will appear in volume 2. So the ephemeral facts in a few very short articles add to our understanding. This is good. Thanks. Never think what you have is unimportant or that we already know what you know.
            As a reminder, this blog focuses on the Russell era, and our current research focus is on the decades up to 1890 or so. That doesn’t mean we are uninterested in later material. We are not posting about the Rutherford era at this time. But if you have something, send it along. Assuming we don’t drop dead before, eventually we’ll move on to Rutherford and associates. [We have books outlined to the transition to Governing Body governance. Most will never be written simply because it will take more years than we have to do that. Bruce is old, and I won’t continue the project without him. His balance and guidance are essential.]
            We are suspending work on a chapter about events and predictions for 1881. This is temporary. It is a key chapter. But we have more research to do. While we wait on some documentation, we’re shifting to the development of individual evangelism. This is a constant theme in Watchtower Society treatments of this era, though as they tell it, the story is disconnected from contemporary practice and events. This chapter only exists as notes. We start writing it next week.
            What can you do? Read the appropriate issues of Zion’s Watch Tower, Herald of the Morning, Spirit of the Word, etc. If you see a comment that makes you think about Watch Tower evangelism in new ways, tell us about it. Use the comment trail for this post or email me.
            We only have four years of Spirit of the Word. What do you have? We have a few pages of The Millennarian. What do you have? Many years of Paton’s World’s Hope have gone missing. What do you have?
            Many who visit this blog for the first time are casual readers. Because our readership has grown, our place in google search results has risen. That brings many new readers, most of whom stay briefly and move on. Some return. Some use material found here for their own projects. That’s okay. This blog is meant as a resource for others. But ... no competent researcher will use a blog post as a source unless it contains original, contemporary material. Dig further. Get to the source of a comment. It is your responsibility to do so.
            If you use this blog, visit on a regular basis, are entertained or informed by it, you have some social responsibilities. If I invited you to dinner, poured my best rum or coffee or wine, fed you my best food, you’d say thank-you, or everyone would think you a boor. The internet age gives many the feeling of anonymity. They forego civility. But the obligation to be civil hasn’t gone away. “Well done” or “You informed me” or similar comments are your way of saying thanks for the feast. If you can add to our research, even better.
            Currently, most of our readers are first-timers brought here by Google search. I don’t expect anything from them, though I wish they would stay and read more. Some do. I like that. We have some that have visited for years, maybe a thousand or more times, who I know have never left a comment. You could remedy that if you are one of them.

Polish adherents

In statistics from 2013, around 9,500,000 Americans declared they were of Polish descent. That is around 3% of the American population. Various factors, including Poland being a political football for so much of its history, resulted in large numbers leaving for other lands, particularly America. It was not surprising that many of Polish ancestry would accept the ZWT message in America, and would then send the news back to relatives in the Old Country.

The 1994 Yearbook covers the history of Poland and makes the point that around the year 1914 “of all the foreign-language groups of Bible Students in the United States at that time, those of Polish origin were among the largest and most active.”

They were to set up their own legal corporation in America, which later merged with the Watch Tower Society.

Franco has kindly sent some photographs of the Golden Age magazine in Polish (Zloty Wyek). He sent around a year’s worth of covers, which space doesn’t allow us to reproduce, but I have chosen four that are typical of the period. The Polish edition of Golden Age started in 1925, and these examples are from c. 1926.

Friday, February 24, 2017

J F Rutherford in Wales (1910)

From the South Wales Daily Post for June 30, 1910

With grateful thanks to correspondent "Dienw" who pointed me in the right direction. (Approximate translation of "Dienw" is "Anon")

Thursday, February 23, 2017

More Swedish literature

The 1890 American census recorded nearly 800,000 Swedish immigrants. Between 1885 and 1915 around 1.2 million from Sweden made the trip. It was not surprising that Swedish literature would soon be called for when the work of Zion’s Watch Tower began.

For the story of how Swedish immigrants took to the message, we will have to wait for the new Separate Identity volume, although relevant parts in embryonic form have fleetingly appeared on this blog. For the story of how this message was then taken back to the home country, there is the account in the Watchtower Yearbook for 1991.

So here are two examples, courtesy of Franco, for quite early Swedish Watch Tower literature.

First, Tabernacle Shadows of the Better Sacrifices, published in Swedish in 1908, and then What Say the Scriptures About Hell? Published in Swedish in 1909.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Recent visits. Nice. Few comments. Not at all nice.


We know that the Watch Tower message made it to Sweden via personal letters from America by 1882. But we have very sparse documentation, and we have no documentation from the Swedish side. Can you help?

I should add that our current research interest is in the period up to about 1890. Research shows person to person contacts between immigrants to America and family in Europe. But we have little detail. We need detail. Some scrap must be out there somewhere. Anyone?

Bible Students in Wales during the time of Charles Taze Russell

The caption reads Photo Drama of Creation - Drill Hall Merthyr - October 10th - 17th, 1915

The United Kingdom is made up of four countries, England, Scotland, Ireland (just the northern part since 1921) and Wales. When the Bible Student message came to the United Kingdom and groups of supporters formed, it appears that Wales was the last to be reached in any meaningful way.

The first mention of Wales in the pages of ZWT was in 1891. CTR visited the UK and spoke in London and Liverpool, to an audience of about 150 at both places. The report in the November 1891 ZWT mentioned the Liverpool audience included some from Wales. Geographically that would probably be individuals from North Wales. (Before communications increased, North and South Wales were almost like different countries, with a different dialect, and even today, to travel from one to the other, it is usually quicker to go through England.)

In 1900 the British Branch was established, and as reported in ZWT for May 15, 1900 this was the benefit of the friends from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

The December 15, 1904 report from the UK, written by Jesse Hemery, gave some specific information about progress in the UK including Wales. Hemery wrote that congregations in England, Scotland and Ireland had increased over the last seven years from four to forty. By his estimate that would mean only four established congregations in 1897, but now forty in 1904. None of these were in Wales, but Hemery wrote:  “You will be glad to know that Wales is now getting its share of the harvest blessing: several colporteurs have been working in South Wales”.

There was a great religious revival in Wales in 1904-1905, the results of which were felt for many years thereafter. How much this contributed towards, or even hindered, the progress of the Bible Student message is an interesting question.

In 1906 American Benjamin Barton made a Pilgrim visit to Britain. He visited all the congregations and groups he could in Britain, and for the first time, a group in Wales was mentioned. Cardiff received a visit in the August. This then was the first documented congregation in Wales.

The 1906 report, written as usual by Hemery (in ZWT January 1, 1907), states that “considerable work has been done in Wales and Ireland, in both of which there is now a considerable and growing interest.”

In 1907 A E Williamson made a similar Pilgrim visit and his itinery (found in ZWT for June 15, 1907) included Cardiff, and also Bangor in the north of Wales.

In 1909 (WT November 15, 1909) a letter in support of the Vow was published from “we the undersigned members of the ‘Ecclesia’ in Cardiff”. It is signed by fifteen.

Things really took off in Wales after a visit by CTR in 1911. He visited Wales twice, speaking at South Wales venues in Newport, Cardiff, Swansea and Llanelli. There would normally be existing groups of Bible Students or at least committed individuals already in places to pave the way and organize events and publicity. So we can assume that along the South Wales industrial areas there were now several regular gatherings in place. Fifteen hundred attended a meeting in Cardiff at the Park Hall theater. Russell would later comment in the December 15, 1911 Watch Tower “the truth is making good progress in Wales.”

In conjunction with his visits in 1911, a South Wales newspaper, The Weekly Mail started printing Russell’s sermons each week, and this would extend the outreach of the message up the Welsh valleys, supported by the colporteurs.

So by World War 1 there is anecdotal evidence - but strong anecdotal evidence - that there were established congregations in places such as Newport, Cardiff, Pontypridd, Abersychan (Pontypool), Merthyr Tydfil, Beaufort (Ebbw Vale), and Clydach (Swansea).

What about literature in the Welsh language?

The first documented evidence of Welsh language literature is in WT November 15, 1911, which mentions free literature being available in 23 languages, including Welsh. This would be copies of Bible Students Monthly or People’s Pulpit.

This was probably produced more for an American audience. According to the Wales-Pennsylvania project, at one point one-third of the population of Pennsylvania was Welsh - people who left Wales to take their skills in coal mining, slate quarrying and iron working to industrial centers like Pittsburgh in the 19th century. Even today there are 200,000 people of Welsh ancestry in the State. So there were Welsh Bible Students in America from very early on, and no doubt some of these sowed seeds with relatives back in the old country. For one particularly example see an old article on this blog about William Hickey, who originally came from Tredegar, South Wales. He was attending meetings with CTR way back in the 1870s.

Paradoxically, the large numbers who became adherents in South Wales probably didn’t speak or read much Welsh, because genetically they were not Welsh. Vast numbers of English from Somerset, Gloucestershire and the Midlands flocked into South Wales during the Industrial Revolution, and as the iron ran low in places like Merthyr, Spanish iron and Spanish workers were imported along with it. In WT May 15, 1911, CTR even commented, “Cardiff has largely an English population. The proportion of Welsh faces, both at the public address and the address to the friends, was comparatively small.”

In 1915 the Photodrama of Creation came to South Wales. It was shown in Merthyr Tydfil in October 1915 and a surviving photograph is at the head of this article.

It is interesting that Merthyr saw the Photodrama before Cardiff did. However, for a long stretch of its history Merthyr was the largest town in Wales, with its huge iron works. Cardiff was the port at the end of the canal, and later the railway, to export the riches of the valleys.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Swedish literature

from Franco

Below are some pages from the booklet What Say the Scriptures About Hell? published in the Swedish language in 1903. (Click on the pictures to enlarge if you need more detail).

The booklet credits August Lundborg as publisher, and Fritiof Lindkvist as translator. For Lundborg's history see the history of Sweden in the 1991 Yearbook. He is also mentioned in the Proclaimers book. For Lindkvist's history see the history of Norway in the 1997 and 2012 Yearbooks.