Thursday, May 31, 2012

We need ...

First names for three early Watch Tower evangelists, Sisters Cox, Wier, and Harper, all active in Kentucky in the 1890s.

Information needed

We need biographical information for the D. Widner mentioned in the April 1883 issue of Zion's Watch Tower.

We need biographical information and a photo for W. V. Feltwell, an Episcopalian minister. He's mentioned in several issues of ZWT.

We need biographical information and a photo of William Evert Parsons of West Virginia. He is found on page 643 or the WT reprints. Parsons was pastor of the Church of the Reformation in West Virginia.

Sunday, May 27, 2012


Do not send me invitations to social networking sites. I do not accept them. If you wish to contact me you may post a comment here or email me directly. I do not have a facebook, skype, twitter, towoo or other account. I don't want one. Please don't spam my email with invitations.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Need to see ...

Any report, including notes by anyone attending, personal letters or any thing at all that describes the annual meeting of the Watch Tower Society in 1942.

Friday, May 18, 2012

We need ...

We need a clear recording of F. W. Franz's remarks on his personal history made the District Convention in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1978. Anyone?

Monday, May 14, 2012

Just a note ...

We have not placed this material here for you to appropriate as your own without credit. Please credit us if you use what you find here. Also be aware that much of this material has been updated, and there are some details that are not accurate. We no longer post long sections of research on this public blog. Our updated and on-going research is on our private, invitation only blog.

Wish List Continued

Our Wish List

There are several major items that we would like to see. They’re all expensive or involve travel we can’t afford.

1. We would like the Storrs archive at the NY Public Library microfilmed. That’s about 300 dollars. We don’t have that money. We’re not certain what is in the archive. Someone visiting NY City could make copies fairly cheaply.

2. Also in NY City at Columbia University is a run of Our Rest magazine. They also have some really important tracts. This requires a personal visit, and you can’t just walk in the door. Anyone in the New York City area or who will visit there who wants to help should email me.

3. We have located in the Washington D. C. area a run of A. D. Jones’ magazine. We do not know if it is helpful or not. Microfilm costs approach 370 dollars. Ideally someone in the D. C. area could view these and copy out the more helpful items. Again, email me if you plan on being in D. C. or live in that area.

4. At the Library of Congress is an archive of early Liberian missionary papers. Some of these relate to the Rev. Seton who wrote to Russell in the 1880s. There are more letters in an archive in Texas. We do not know the worth of these items.

5. There is a large archive of letters and documents in Washington D. C. relating to the arrest and prosecution of Rutherford and others in1918.

6. At the NY Public Library is a political booklet by A. D. Jones. We would like a really good duplication, especially if his photo is attached.

Most of the polemical material listed in the previous post is available through interlibrary loan. We simply cannot afford the fees at this time. If you have any of these or are curious enough to send for photocopies, please share with us.

Also on our wish list are any letters by early Bible Students no matter how irrelevant they may otherwise seem. We’ve made all sorts of connections off what seem to be very slight clues.

Looking way ahead to other things, we would like Watchtower Society letters from the 1940s. We also would like personal letters written by Witnesses during that time.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

We need to see these ....

J. A. Maynard: Russellism, 1928.

Carlyle Boynton Haynes: Russellism: Or the Coming of a False Christ. No date.

Joseph Kyle: Russellism: A Review of the Teachings of the Watch Tower and Bible Society, no date.

Alva J. McClain: Russellism: Its Claims, Methods and Doctrines, 1931.

Karl Linsenmann: Russellism, no date

William James Dawson: Russellism, no date

Amzi C. Dixon: "Russellism" under the searchlight: the red flag of warning with reference to the movment known as "Russellism" or "Millennial Dawn", 1914.

Joseph Stump: Russellism; a Counterfeit Christianity, 1923.

L. C. H. Hopkins: The IBSA of Russellism, 1922.

Thomas Williams: Russellism Refuted, 1905.

Percy George Cross: Russellism, a Caricature of Christianity, 1913.

George Candee: Bible and Reason Versus Russellism, 1912.

Merwin Stone: Russellism, Or, The Church of St. Bunco, 1915.

George W. Sandt: Another Pious Fraud, Or, The Story of Russellism, 1914.

William Hamilton Nelson: Is Jesus Coming Soon? A Bible Study of Adventism, Russellism, Etc. 1918.

Gover Cleveland Loud: Evangelized America, 1928. pages 294-296 only.

Daniel Webster Key: What is Russellism, no date.

J. G. Tasker: Dr. Loofs on Russellism, Expository Times, January-March 1922.

F. Mellows: Russellism: The Latest Blaspheme, no date, published in the UK.

Thursday, May 10, 2012


By "Jerome"

In Bible Examiner (hereafter abbreviated to BE) for October 1877, page 6, the editor George Storrs made one of his periodic pleas for support. While thanking readers for their prayers, he noted that financial help would also be welcome. His paper, he claimed, was unique. He argued “shall the only paper in America that speaks out boldly on this question be compelled to suffer and be crippled for want of funds?” There is an asterisk by the word America, and the footnote reads: “I except “The Herald of the Morning,” a paper published by Dr. Barbour, Rochester, N.Y.”

By this date, Charles Taze Russell (hereafter abbreviated as CTR) was supporting the Herald, (and if only the 1877 issues were extant to check, was probably writing for it as well).

Since the same issue of BE has Storrs debating with CTR over the date-setting properties of Three Worlds, it was obviously not Barbour’s chronological gymnastics that appealed. The doctrine or “question” that set The Herald apart from all other current publications in Storrs’ mind was Future Probation.

It is not the purpose of this article to comment on whom might be nearer the truth on the subject, as we are writing history not theology. But future probation had been a contentious issue for Christendom for centuries.

To define the concept – future probation is the belief that in the future individuals could have a testing period with the prospect of eternal life ahead of them. So their everlasting prospects were not just determined by what they did in this life, but they would benefit from a probationary period in the future after resurrection. It was usually (although not exclusively) tied in with a literal Millennial reign by Christ over a literal earth. However, just who might benefit was a bone of contention amongst those espousing the doctrine – would it include “the wicked” or just the “ignorant” like the heathen or unbaptised infants - and if “wicked” how exactly might one define the term?”

Orthodoxy in centuries past came out strongly against such a concept. If individuals did not accept Christ in this life, then that was it, there was no further chance. One example was in the official creed of the established Church of England. In 1552 Archbishop Cranmer produced the “42 Articles of Faith.” Article 42 attacked those who believed in future opportunities after death with the words: “They also are worthy of condemnation who endeavour at this time to restore the dangerous opinion that all men, be they never so ungodly, shall at length be saved, when they have suffered pain for their sins a certain time appointed by God’s justice.” While attacking a Universalist view, and perhaps a further swipe at the Roman Church’s purgatory (already attacked in article 22), it also reaffirmed that the “ungodly” – however defined – had lost out forever at death. Any other view was “a dangerous opinion.” Since the concept of Future Probation requires a location for it to happen – such as the earth during the Millennium – Article 41 of the same document obligingly condemned believers in the Millennium as heretics. However, it should be noted that ten years later in 1562 these articles ended up on the cutting room floor. The Church of England of today has to manage with just 39 Articles.

When this view was coupled with traditional teachings on hell – that all those not accepting Christ in this life were destined for eternal torment – it was perhaps unsurprising that some felt uneasy at the prospect of millions being so condemned. This was especially so if their opportunities to accept Christ in this life had been limited by geography and circumstance. Putting it in very human terms – was that fair? Those raising such questions were not accusing God of being unfair, but were aiming at the theologians who seemed to suggest that the vast majority of mankind would have been better off not being born at all.

One reaction against orthodoxy was to swing to the extreme of Universalism – the concept that eventually all would be saved. Writers such as John Murray in America promoted Universalism in the 18th century. Universal Salvation might take some time – it WOULD take some time – but ultimately that was God’s plan. Some individuals were even sufficiently magnanimous to include the Devil in these calculations. (A few associated with CTR would eventually leave the Bible Student movement to become Universalists, including John Paton and his aptly-titled Larger Hope Publishing Company).

Once interest in the Second Advent drew various people together in the first half of the nineteenth century, another dimension was added by the acceptance by many of conditional immortality. This doctrine taught that immortality was not automatic, but was conditional. Those who did not gain eternal life would gain eternal sleep. That dealt effectively with the concept of a burning hell, but also affected the concept of future probation. If the wicked – whether through intent or ignorance – were just going to sleep forever, that wasn’t so bad, was it? So while future probation was debated by the Advent Christians and Age to Come groups, the majority came out against the concept, or at least had views on salvation more exclusive than inclusive.

Taking the Advent Christians first, their official histories had some tart comments to make on the doctrine. Isaac C. Welcome in “History of the Second Advent Message” (1874), pages 515, 613, laid into George Storrs’ view of “probation after the Advent” as erratic and radical and “very detrimental to the progress of truth and sound doctrine.” The doctrine was “nearly analogous to Universalism.” Albert C. Johnson in “Advent Christian History” (1918), pages 242-243, described 19th century advocates as a kind of fifth column –  “(they were) finally distracted and disorganized by the advocates of future probation theories, who worked their way into the conference quietly until they gained control” – the conference had “been perverted by the age-to-come teachings.”

As suggested by the last quote, Age to Come groups were more sympathetic towards the idea. The first prerequisite for the unsaved to return for their “chance” was somewhere for them to return to, and the Age to Come focus was already on human life for a thousand years. But their paper The Restitution was happy to publish such articles as J.F. Wilcox’s ‘A Major Proposition and its Results’ in July 28, 1875, which categorically pronounced that “the who have not had God’s revealed word, but who...sinned without law, shall never be raised from the natural brute beasts they utterly perish in their own corruption.” An article promoting future probation, ‘The Progressive Age’ by Elder J. Parry, was denied publication, so Storrs published it instead in his BE for July 1874. By October 3, 1877, Elder John Foore was writing to The Restitution that he would like the paper “much better if it could be opened for the advanced views such as the blessing of all nations and all kindreds in the age to come.” The request apparently fell on deaf ears.

With other columns denied him, Storrs believed BE to be the primary voice for this doctrine, and fended off critics from all sides. When opponents dubbed the position “second chance” – it was met with the retort that for millions who died in ignorance this was their first chance. When critics then came back with “better chance” – it was met with the riposte, how could that be when now the chance was to be part of the bride of Christ?

Others settled on “fair chance.” As it happened, Storrs didn’t like that description any more than the others (BE October 1875, page 5), but it was more correct – you could say, more fair - in describing his theology

When opposers accused Future Probationists of being closet Universalists – Storrs standard response was that while he did not believe in universal salvation, he did believe in universal opportunity.

And yet Storrs’ position was not quite the same as others believing the doctrine. He defined his position as The Ages to Come. While it sounded like the Age to Come belief in a literal thousand years for humans on earth (and probation for nations then living), Storrs embellished it considerably. He spoke of Ages because he did not believe probation would happen for the dead during the Millennium, but rather after the Millennium in what he called “a succession of ages” or Ages to Come. (BE October 1874, editorial ‘The Ages to Come’). He accepted that not everyone would come back, and had broken with the Life and Advent Union over his belief that wicked dead would not be resurrected; nonetheless, the number would still be sufficient to require potential Ages (plural). And some who came back could still lose out – albeit a minority.

A key scripture for Storrs was Revelation 20 v.5: “But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished.” In his article ‘Due Time’ (BE August 1876) Storrs used this to reason that their resurrection and probation had to take place after the Millennium. Others might interpret this as referring to beneficiaries only coming to full life after passing their test at the end of the thousand years. Those opposed to the concept in its various shapes and forms, might dismiss the verse as an interpolation.

Storrs was a major influence on CTR. CTR chose the BE columns for his first known literary efforts, and in ZWT for May 1,1890, singled out Storrs (along with George Stetson) for special mention before recounting how his understanding of the ransom and restitution developed – to encompass far more than he had previously thought. The original May 1, 1890 issue, page 4, has CTR explaining how “in 1873 I came to examine the subject of restitution from the standpoint of the ransom price given by our Lord Jesus for Adam, and consequently for all lost in Adam, it settled the matter of restitution completely, and gave fullest assurance that ALL must come forth from Adamic death and be brought to a clear knowledge of the truth and to fullest opportunity of everlasting life in Christ.”

When CTR reprinted the article in A Conspiracy Exposed and Harvest Siftings – a special ZWT of 1894, he made several revisions to this paragraph (as found on page 96), including changing the date from 1873 to 1872. All future printings including those from June 15, 1906 (reprints 3821) stick to this revision.

But this was future probation. Without going into details, this was Storrs’ basic message in BE. Storrs had restarted BE in late 1871, after breaking with the Life and Advent Union. We do not know if CTR received Storrs journal then, because the first two years of the revived BE are unavailable. It was a weekly newspaper and may not have survived. But from October 1873 it became a monthly which could be bound into volumes. These have survived, and the Russells are readers from the start. However, they obviously would know of Storrs from his previous reputation. The Russell names are also found in the letters received columns of The Advent Christian Times and the World’s Crisis in the early 1870s – and the Crisis is certainly known to have publicised Storrs’ views by vigorously attacking them at the time.

CTR would claim in ZWT May 1, 1890, page 4, that he brought this concept to Nelson Barbour. “When we first met, he had much to learn from me on the fullness of restitution based upon the sufficiency of the ransom given for all.”
All this helps to explain why in October 1877 Storrs would single out “The Herald of the Morning, a paper published by Dr. Barbour, Rochester, N.Y.” as the only journal he believed to be supportive.

Barbour had already submitted an article endorsing future probation to BE, which was published in September 1876. In ‘The Work of Redemption Progressive: or Ages Employed in Accomplishing It’ Barbour stated “there is much positive prove that there is to be probation in the world to come, for all who have not been brought to the knowledge of the truth in this world, and committed the unpardonable sin.”

While the article was sympathetic of Storrs’ views in principle, it was a little short on specifics. And looking closer at the details, there would be a key difference between Storrs’ views and those of Barbour and Russell. As noted above, Storrs taught Ages to Come, and looked beyond the Millennium for future probation to be worked out. In contrast, both Barbour and Russell would favor a more traditional view – that the Millennium was the judgment “day” and that a thousand years would be sufficient.

In Barbour’s Three Worlds (1877) for example, we read on pages 10 and 66: “There is much positive prove that there is to be probation in the millennial age, or world to come, for all who have not been brought to the knowledge of the truth in this world, and committed the unpardonable sin...It follows that probation must end with the thousand years.”

When CTR began publishing under his own name, he presented the same view. From Object and Manner of Our Lord’s Return (1877), page 26: In (their day of trial, when they are on probation for eternal life) their “day of judgment” (not a 24-hour day, but the millennial or judgment age) they will fare better than the Jews — have fewer stripes.” He elaborated further in Food for Thinking Christians (1881), page 95: It is their judgment day—one thousand years. During all that time, God’s truth, as a two-edged sword, will be quietly, but surely as now, doing a separating work...The great mass of mankind will learn God’s ways, and delight to walk therein. These he calls his sheep—followers, and during the age they are gradually gathered to his right hand.”

Looking at CTR’s theology overall, this was his main message, a legacy from Storrs, in spirit if not in detail. Yes, the second presence of Christ was a key theme with its chronological framework. Yes, “putting the hose on hell” with conditional immortality was a key platform. Yes, there would be issues like clashes with orthodoxy over the trinity. Nonetheless, in CTR’s mind at the time, future probation – summed up by his slogan “A Ransom for All” was what he believed to be the key message of the Bible. And he made sure as many as possible knew it.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Where we're heading

This is raw material from what will be chapter six or seven. This chapter focuses on new congregations, new workers and the character of the early fellowships. The two men we profile below appear only once in Zion's Watch Tower, but they're representative of many who read the magazine and who carefully considered its contents. We lack detail. That's an constant issue. The story is in the detail. We can't tell you what we do not know.

Please read the following. If you have details to add, please do so. Comments are welcome.

Amon Hipsher and Lorenzo Jackson Baldwin

Amon Hipsher was a resident of Ames, Story County, Iowa. Born in Pennsylvania about 1820, he was a successful and wealthy farmer.[1] Hipsher was active in Church of God (One Faith) conferences. He was elected conference president in December 1874.[2] At a subsequent conference someone objected to him being placed in sole charge of future arrangements, describing the arrangement as Hipsher acting as a “little pope.” This seems to have been an objection only to the arrangement, not a comment on his personality. He declined re-election for the next year at the December 1875 conference. By 1884 the conference was renamed The Christian Conference of Iowa, and Hipsher was elected vice president.[3]

We know little of his religious background prior to 1874 beyond the fact that he subscribed to The Heretic Detector, an anti-Universalist magazine published in Middleburg, Ohio.[4] He lived in areas reached by Stetson and his closest associates, and there is an obvious connection on that level. He was one of the first readers of Zion’s Watch Tower, and in the March 1881 issue Russell addressed a question sent in by him, writing, “Bro. A. Hipsher, for answer to your question: see ‘Unpardonable Sin,’ page 3.”

It appears that Russell wrote his article on unpardonable sin specifically to answer Hipsher’s questions. His approach was interesting [continue]

Lorenzo Jackson Baldwin was another Iowa resident. He was born March 2, 1823, in Vermont and died in Madison County, Iowa. He was a small-time farmer in the Mackenburgh, Iowa, area. In 1883 he wrote to S. A Chaplin, editor of The Restitution, seeking “a boy between 15 and 20 years old” to live with them for “two or three years.” He promised “to send him to school winters and pay wages for eight or nine months in the years.” Baldwin and his wife specifically asked for “a reader of The Restitution and a believer in the gospel of the kingdom.”[5]

Baldwin was also active among One Faith believers in Iowa. We find him attending a One Faith conference in September 1875 with an Elder Baldwin, apparently a relative.[6] We find him noted in the same "questions and answers" article in which we met Hipsher. He apparently asked a flood of questions. Russell’s response was: “Bro. J. Baldwin: It would require the entire space of Z.W.T. for a year or more to answer all your questions in full. We commend to you the reading of all the tracts 3 or 4 times; then read ‘day dawn.’ You need not expect to obtain all the truth on so great and grand a subject at one swallow, it is a continuous eating. You must seek. ‘He that seeketh findeth.’ ‘Then shall we know if we follow on to know the Lord.’ (Hos. 6:3.)”[7]

Based on Russell’s recommendation of Bible Students Tracts numbers one and two, we believe that Baldwin’s questions centered on issues of “second probation” and the reason for and manner of Christ’s return. These were issues that would have raised questions among Russell’s One Faith readers.

It is evident that some considerable interest came from Ohio and Iowa which were strongly Age to Come and had been one of the focus points of Barbour and Russell’s early ministry.

[1] The 1860 Census returns for Story County, Iowa, say his real estate was worth five thousand dollars and his personal property worth five hundred dollars.
[2] Conference Report, The Restitution, January 6, 1875.
[3] “Little Pope”: Report of the Conference Held Near Alden, Iowa, The Restitution, July 25, 1875. Declines Nomination: Iowa, The Restitution¸ December 20, 1875. Vice President: Iowa Conference Report, The Restitution, October 15, 1884.
[4] His subscription is noted in the November 1840 issue.
[5] Mr and Mrs. L. J. Baldwin to Editor Restitution, The Restitution, October 24, 1883.
[6] Mrs. M. V. Duggar: Iowa Conference, The Restitution, September 22, 1875.
[7] C. T. Russell: Questions of Correspondents, Zion’s Watch Tower, March 1881, page 8.

Friday, May 4, 2012

On the private blog ...

We're nearing completion of a lengthy biography of George Storrs, focusing on his separation and conflict with Millerite Adventism, his adoption of Age to Come belief and similar matters. We have corrected a generally circulated error about the influence of John T. Walsh, identified John Thomas, not Walsh, as the individual who introduced Non-resurrection of the wicked dead doctrine to Examiner readers, and documented Storrs' continued Age to Come belief while in the Life and Advent Union.

We correct standard misconceptions about the LaAU. My impression is that almost no one who's written about it since 1880 bothered to read the original material, certianly none of those who see this as Storrs' return to Adventism did so. We're writing up Storrs separation from the LaAU this week and maybe into next.

This is part three of chapter two. The full chapter consists of the life details of Wendell, Stetson, and Storrs as they relate to the Russells. This is followed by a general discussion of Russell's interactions with Adventist and Age-to-Come believers and his association with the One Faith movement.

We are accepting requests to join the private blog. Not every request will receive a positive response. We're looking for those who can contribute in some way. If you are interested, email one of us, tell us something about your self and why you're interested. If you think you can contribute to our research in someway, say that too.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Do any of you have ...

The May 23, 1844, Midnight Cry? We need to see the full text of Miller's letter re Storrs found in that issue.