Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Jonas Wendell

What poof is there that Wendell advocated world burning?

Yes, yes, we all know I can't spell or type. ....

Saturday, February 25, 2012


This is an extract from a letter to the editor published in a Philadelphia newspaper in 1844. We need to locate the original. Can you help?

Some … were not looking for the destruction of the earth, nor for its complete physical renovation, at the present time; they looked for the introduction of the millennium by the personal coming of Christ to the earth; they think this will be the commencement of the promised restitution of all things, to be carried forward until all things shall be made new; they think that probation will close to those who have heard the gospel, but not so with the heathen and all those who have not heard of his fame; they think it will be the beginning of a new dispensation to the heathen, during which it will be emphatically true that the leaves of the tree of life will be for the healing of the nations. These were the published views of Geo. Storrs. … In these views they differed entirely from Mr. Miller and the great body of Advent believers in this country, but agreeing with the Literalists of England (Millennarians) …[1]

[1]           Wellcome, op. cit, page 382.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The marriage of Joseph Lytel Russell and Emma Ackley

by Jerome

(slightly abridged from an article on blog 2)

Before the title gives false hope, I must start by saying that this article is a story of failure. However, I am writing in case others have suggestions for further research. Also it may save others a waste of effort travelling down a path I have already furrowed.

I have tried hard to document the wedding of Joseph Lytel Russell and Emma Ackley. Is it important? I would venture Yes – others might opine No. In the late 1890s there was to be family estrangement when CTR advised his father on making his last will and testament, and provision was ultimately made for others – not just Emma. After Joseph’s death, Emma was to support Maria in her legal action against CTR, and the two women spent the rest of their lives together. So the family history side of things is of interest. Also, a key point – we know that John Paton was chosen to conduct CTR’s wedding in March 1879, so who was asked to conduct his father’s?

Most people to date (including the Ackley family history site) have assumed a wedding around 1879, speculating on whether it was before or after that for CTR. Then a crucial piece of evidence came from a recent post from Ton on this blog – the 1880 census. This was taken on June 1st, or at least was expected to reflect events on that date. On June 1st, 1880, we have Emma single, living at the same home with CTR and Maria and Joseph Lytel Russell. It is amusing to note that JLR appears to shave a few years off his age – he is now 60, rather than approaching 67.

So when was the actual wedding? A number of newspapers were published in Pittsburgh at the time, generally replete with the same notices of marriages and deaths. However, on the internet only the Pittsburgh Commercial Gazette is currently available through Google News Archives for the key period. (See: http://news.google.com/newspapers) Checking marriages (and deaths) is easy because they nearly always fell on page four of the paper, immediately under advertisements for “Cut Flowers a Speciality” – which has a certain logic about it.

There were always six issues of this paper a week – none on Sundays. It can be established that all the papers online (barring one or two pages) are complete. Where the site says the paper is missing, it is either a Sunday (when no paper was issued) or two issues have been inadvertently joined together in the copying.

Working back from the census, I easily found CTR’s wedding on March 13,1879 (reported in the March 14 issue), and then going forward the notice of the death of W H Conley’s adopted daughter on December 13, 1881. The notice of the latter from the December 15, 1881 issue reads:

Deaths – on Tuesday evening, December 13, 1881, at 10 o’clock, Emma D, adopted daughter of Wm H and Sarah Conley, aged 10 years, 2 months and 18 days. Funeral service at the residence of parents, No. 50 Freemont st, Allegheny, THIS AFTERNOON at 5.30 o’clock. Interment private.

One can speculate whether that personal tragedy propelled Conley in the direction of dealing with medical and social problems in the “here and now”, rather than waiting for “The Age to Come”. But JLR’s wedding has stubbornly refused to appear.

Each issue from the start of January 1880 has been checked – just in case there was a “misunderstanding” when the census enumerator called (highly unlikely, but covering all bases). And then each issue up to the end of December 1881 has been checked – by which time (if her grave marker is to be believed) daughter Mabel was already born. But there is nothing – absolutely nothing.

Over this two year period, there is a David Russel whose marriage notice appears on February 11, 1880, then Charles P Russell whose marriage notice appeared on October 22, 1880, and a Charles A Russell whose announcement appeared on August 18, 1881– but none of these has any apparent connection to our Russell family.

And it must be noted that out of the whole two year run there are twelve issues where the notice of marriages is completely illegible. The dates are:

April 6, 1880
November 22, 1880
December 13, 1880
June 28, 1881 (whole of page 4 missing)
July 8, 14, and 27, 1881
August 2, 4, 12 and 13, 1881
October 12, 1881

This is recorded here, because when other Pittsburgh papers can be consulted, these dates can be quickly checked, just in case by some quirk of researcher’s nightmare Joseph and Emma just happened to be married on one of those dates.

I can think of no reason why their marriage should be secret. True, there was a great disparity in their ages, but it was not uncommon for widowers to marry much younger women, and younger women to willingly accept this in the interests of stability and financial security. Joseph and new family are featured in the pages of Zion’s Watch Tower on occasion in letters. The wills and the funerals are public property – why not the wedding?

And I can think of no reason why their marriage should take place elsewhere. Both were long time residents of Allegheny and Pittsburgh, and that is where their families lived.

Genealogical sites throw up various Joseph Russells and Emma Ackleys – with variant spellings – but to quote from Kipling, so far – never the twain shall meet.

So for me it is white flag time. I have drawn a blank. I am open to suggestions how one might proceed further.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


1. Russell was never an Adventist. He did not believe, accept or see as meritorious, Adventist teaching.

2. When Russell met him, Storrs had long withdrawn from Millerite Adventism. He left it amidst great controversy and animosity in 1844.

3. Even while a member of the Life and Advent Union, Storrs did not teach standard Adventist doctrine.

4. Stetson, though a member of the Ohio Advent Christian Conference, was an Age-to-Come believer. By the time Russell met him he was contributing articles to The Restitution, a One Faith (NOT Adventist) journal, and advocating doctrines contrary to main stream Adventism. One Faith belief was not a form of Adventism. They rejected that notion entirely.

5. The sole contribution Adventist contacts made to Russell's faith was an understanding of the state of the dead and the trinity. Both of these views are traceable to Storrs.

6. By late 1872 Russell was reading Age to Come material, not Adventist material. He was well known in One Faith circles, and his acquaintances were men like H. V. Reed, Thomas Wilson, and other contributors to The Restitution.

7. Emphasis on Russell's contacts with Adventists is overblown. No doctrine taught by him is traceable to Adventism. Almost every doctrine he taught is a One Faith or other Age to Come doctrine, usually in opposition to Adventism. This even includes his chronological views. By the time he received them Barbour et. al. had left Adventism. Barbour became a partisan of Mark Allen, an Age to Come advocate. Barbour's chronology is traceable to British Literalist writers, none of whom were Adventists.

8. Pointing to Adventist influences as the most important influences is wrong. There are thousands of pages of Age to Come, particularly One Faith, material that has lain unexplored. Before one points to Adventist antecedents one should read that material. It gives a very, very different picture.

9. While Russell saw the 1843 movement as within God's plan, he saw Adventists as "seriously out of the way." Name ONE doctrine that Russell got from an Adventist - someone who was still teaching Millerite doctrine.

10. Russell saw the 1843/4 movement as within God's plan not because of its doctrines, but because of its place in Barbourite chronology, which pinned the midnight cry to 1859 as a mid-point between Miller and Barbour's set-time.

11. Do not buy into the Russell was a secret Adventist theory. (I admit to thinking another word than 'theory.') He wasn't. From 1871 to 1876 he was a One Faith believer, associating with a One Faith congregation, having a recognized One Faith pastor. His doctrine was a compound of Storrs "ages to come" and "fair chance" doctrines and standard Age to Come belief. It was not Adventist in any respect.

12. Russell self-identified as a Millennarian. That is a term One Faithers applied to themselves. Adventists did not use it.

Monday, February 20, 2012

The new book ...

Put optimistically, we’re about half to two-thirds done. I think our new research will present many surprises. Want a taste? Here is a very, very, very rough draft extract from what will be chapter 2. It is from the end of a discussion of differences between One Faith and Adventist belief:

Tensions between Age-to-Come believers and Millerite Adventists were evident from the first. Acrimonious exchanges, partisan labels (ie. Judaizers), and a firm refusal to see any holding Age-to-Come faith as true believers characterized the two first decades of the Advent Christian Society. By the 1870s many believers gravitated to the two independent Age-to-Come bodies, the Christadelphians and the One Faith movement centered on the paper Restitution. This accelerated as the Advent Christians moved from being an association of those who believed in the near return of Christ to a denomination with a narrower doctrinal set.  In the late 1860s complaints against some Advent Christian churches were voiced in The World’s Crisis. These were two-sided. Some congregations, it was said, would not receive any evangelist who did not believe Age-to-Come doctrines, and others would not receive anyone who did.

By the very early 1870s attempts to preserve unity had failed. The Advent Christian Times, through its editor Frank Burr, maintained a constant attack on Age-to-Come belief, especially as represented by the One Faith movement. In mid 1876 Burr wrote an editorial against the movement, suggesting that there should be no “controversy.” His vision of peace was the ostracism of One Faith believers. Amos Sanford, a prominent One Faith evangelist, took up Burr’s attack, accurately assessing it as coming from a well of theological frustration:

Evidently some of the “one faith” contenders, whom he denominates “theological gladiators,” have been attacking him with the “sword of the spirit” and controverting his “advent faith.” He doesn’t seem to care so much for Himself as for his flock whom he advises to have no “controversy” with “theological gladiators,” but to patiently endure “the trying ordeal” He tells them that “the spirit of God is not a spirit of controversy or contention,.” Strange as it may appear, in the very same issue, under the head of “What Next?” the editor enters into a controversy with his brethren, Dr. H. H. Barbour and Wm. C. Thurman. The former he denounces as a “fanatical leader on definite time,” and speaks of his disappointed Brother Thurman in a manner calculated to stir up feelings of unkindness instead of brotherly love. With their controversy I have nothing to do, for the reason that it is about the “advent faith,” and not the “one faith.” But one ca not help reflecting that Adventism had its birth in 1843-4. It was begotten by its partisan leader, “Father Miller,” and brought forth by its mother, “Definite Time.” The Times has heretofore endorsed “Thurman’s Chronology,” and asserted the probability of his ’75 definite time calculation being correct. Now that time is past, and those honest, earnest believers in Adventism are smarting under the failure in their calculations of the prophetic periods, isn’t it a little unkind in friend Burr to cast the same in their teeth?[1]

One Faith believers continued to associate with Adventist congregations through the decade of the seventies because there was little organization among them and few congregations. In 1879, a Mary Bush wrote to S. A. Chaplin, Restitution’s editor, that she and “quite a number of others” were associated with Adventists “because there is nowhere else we can go.” She suggested that Age-to-Come believers who shared her situation could “do them more good by being with them than by withdrawing.” Association with Adventists was frustrating: “They held their annual conference here … . The hall was crowded. I thought what a great opportunity to present a little more gospel, but we did not get it; they have dropped definite time and do not preach quite so much fire, so I think there is some improvement.” Age-to-Come evangelists remained active among Adventists, targeting those with an ear to hear.[2]

Another letter to The Restitution published later that year summarizes the relationship between One Faith and Adventists. Abby A. Perry’s letter told of her experiences in Providence, Rhode Island:

I found among the so-called Adventists there some of the greatest opposers to the age to come, or reign of Christ on David’s throne, future, that I have ever met, but I did not shun to declare the whole counsel of God and his servants on that subject to them; but contended earnestly in public, and in private with them, for the faith once delivered to the saints.[3]

Plainly One Faith and other Age-to-Come believers did not see themselves as Adventists. Their distinctive doctrine marked them as something else. There was, until three quarters of a century later, little peace between the two bodies. The Advent Christian Church defined itself in the 1870s in ways that alienated those who believed in the nearness of Christ’s return but not in the Adventist’s world-burning, spiritualizing doctrine. This is an important fact. Those who see Russell’s connections to Second Adventists as defining him as a closet Adventist miss his vital connections to One Faith belief. To accurately understand his theology, we must recapture the sources of his belief. They are, in point of fact, not derived from Adventism but from One Faith doctrine.

[1]               Amos Sanford: Controversy, The Restitution, June 12, 1876.
[2]               Mary Bush, Letter to S. A. Chaplin in the January 22, 1879, issue of Restitution.
[3]               Abby A. Perry, Letter to S. A. Chaplin in the April 16, 1879 issue of Restitution.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Early missionaries

A recent Watchtower article mentions the problems Russell had getting The Plan of the Ages into bookstores, retelling the story of his interaction with Fleming H. Revell. The details are found in the 1907 Convention Report and elsewhere. The article dates this to 1886. This is based on a missreading of the original source material and an apparent lack of knowledge of the 1892-5 replublication of Millennial Dawn under the Saalfield imprint. Saalfield was a job printer, publishing to order. Later the company was a major publisher of Young Adult books. Copies of Plan of the Ages with the Saalfield imprint are probably the rarest of all.

One of Russell's associates dates this event to 1895. This is without doubt the correct date.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Wedding Bell Order

Dear Bruce,
From reading the first chapter of the "Pittsburgh tour" book, I noticed that he didn't know whether father or son Russell was the first to be married to an Ackley sister.
Probably you will know it, but if not, see the webpage


and you will find the contents of the 1880 Unite States census for C. T. Russel (sic).

He is married to Marie F Russell, his father lives in his house as Russel J. L. Russel (sic). And E H Ackly, single.

So the son married definitely first, and the father after the 1880 census.


Sunday, February 5, 2012

Restatement of Rules

We don't accept invitations to pod casts, internet talk shows, youtube subscriptions, or any similar thing. Don't invite us. It's a waste of time. I don’t want to see your youtube videos. We do not want invitations to your youtube channel. We do not want to appear on your controversialist web page. We do not support Moron-ism, which seems to be the predominating religion on the Internet. Do not mail your tracts to us. If you have something you wish us to read, ask first. We do not want to receive your magazines. We have magazines of our own.

We're not here to debate doctrine. We do that aplenty in private. Our blogs are not about doctrine, except as it plays a part in historical narrative. Neither Bruce nor I welcome phone calls. Bruce is old and sick. I'm just cranky. Do not intrude on our privacy. Neither of us will accept home visits, provide interviews on tape or film, or in any way endorse your personal point of view.

Bruce has been a Witness since the very early 1950s. I am not a Witness, but I am sympathetic. Neither of us has much tolerance for nonsense, no matter from whom it may come. We are not sympathetic to unfounded conspiracy theories, badly written 'history,' on rants about non-existent scandals. Wild, unfounded speculation gives me a rash. Don’t expect me to indulge your fantasies. Sending me a photo purporting to show someone drunk when it shows a group sitting around a root beer dispenser will not endear you to me. I may pity you for congenital stupidity, but I won’t engage with you. If a religion has hurt your feelings, we don't want to know it. This blog is not about any of that. This is about accurately and fairly-expressed detailed history. Your personal experiences, while they are as valid as ours, are outside our interest.

Bruce has a very limited presence on the Internet. He has no facebook, twitter or other presence. I have a twitter account and a personal blog where I post nonsense. You are welcome to visit and post on my personal blog, but unless you are fascinated by stories generated by my daughters' antics, bits of speculative fiction, old photographs and utter nonsense from some of my teacher, writer and literary agent friends, it's probably not the place for you.

Do not take things from either of our history blogs and repost them without permission. What appears here is copyrighted. Some of what appears on the private blog belongs to others and is posted with the understanding that we won't circulate it beyond the closed posting. We expect you to cooperate.

We appreciate your curiosity about our research, and we appreciate the huge amount of help that has come from blog readers. However, writing a novel or a history book does not make us public figures.

If you have a book you wish to promote and it is on topic, send it to Bruce. We do not guarantee a favorable review. We will not endorse a book we haven't seen, and we will not pay for the privilege of reviewing your book. Unless you are convinced that your book is well-researched and accurate, you’re probably wasting your time and money to send it to us.

Write something other than the nonsense, the poorly researched, poorly documented, feculent material that passes for Watchtower history. If you can’t write something superior to Gruss, Zydek, or others of that sort, do not bother contacting us.