Friday, October 19, 2012

Our Research

We don’t post key material or chapter extracts here anymore. Because of harassment from some who believe all research into this subject is the province of a small group of men who primarily live on the American east coast but who felt free to ‘borrow’ our work without credit, we’ve moved all of our detailed research to a private, invitation only blog. This was not the only issue. You will find bits of our research on a web page that bills itself as the best short history of the Watch Tower took material from here and mixed it in with stupid, unfounded speculation and outright error.

Still, it may be worthwhile to tell those who still stop here where our research stands. We now have a significantly detailed, nearly finished (we’re waiting on a microfilm) chapter on Russell’s young years. It details his parent’s early years, his education, and his religious struggles. It contains details you will not know. It also puts the lie to most everything written by a recently published author who replaced research with imagination.

We present significant and new detail about Russell’s interactions with Adventists, age-to-come believers, Methodists and others. Almost none of this has been published before. It is drawn from original letters, contemporary magazines and the papers of the individuals involved. As with most of what you see on the internet, the commonly held picture is simply wrong. The story is in the details; we present the details.

We have a nearly 80 page chapter discussing the early Bible Study Group in Allegheny. We tell you what doctrines they accepted and why. We tell you whose books they read, who they corresponded with and what groups influenced them. You will find that the commonly held belief that they were primarily influenced by Adventists is wrong.

We have finished a detailing Russell’s entry into the Barbourite movement. This includes the most detailed biography of John Henry Paton found anywhere. Some of that is drawn from his private letters. We have one year of his diary. In this chapter we give you biographies of Benjamin Wallis Keith, and we include photos of him you will not have seen. We discuss S. H. Withington; you will probably have never heard of him. We profile L. A. Allen, one of the first Watch Tower contributors, and her father. We tell you of Lizzie Allen’s troubled life, taken from her own words. We tell you something of Avis M. Hamlin’s life. It’s almost certain you know nothing of her. Yet, she was important in the early years of Zion’s Watch Tower.

One of the most significant chapters details Russell’s early ministry with Barbour. We know where they preached, what their message was, who they met, what they said. This chapter draws on early newspaper articles, an issue of the Herald of the Morning almost no one has seen, and Russell’s own words.

We follow this with a chapter on the fruitage garnered by their ministry. Names that may appear only once or so in Zion’s Watch Tower are given biographies and put in their proper setting. These include Caleb Davies, a merchant from Cleveland, William I. Mann, an engineer and inventor, Joshua Tavender, an industrialist, J. C.Sunderlin, a Methodist minister and photographer, and others. Among the others is Arthur Adams, Methodist minister. We draw his story from pages of original archival material. This is a good place to observe that no matter how much you might want something, stealing from an archive is wrong. And if the person who stole Object and Manner of Our Lord’s Return from the archive holding these papers has a conscience at all, he will return it. In this chapter we tell in Sunderlin’s own words about his opium addiction and how he overcame it. We draw parts of his story from letters he wrote. We own some of the originals. A number of seldom seen or never seen photos show up in each of these chapters.

The next chapter considers the aftermath of their 1878 failure and the separation into two movements. We note several times from original sources the lack of doctrinal unity and explain the significance of that.

I have summarized just the first few chapters. We continue to find new material, often thanks to interested parties. We have thousands of pages of new material. It came our way through the kind efforts of one of our blog readers. We’ve just arranged to acquire about seventy pages of original letters and such by one of the first Watch Tower missionaries in China. We have a poor quality photo of him and his wife and several of his children. So we continue to work. The real history is far different than we first believed.

We still consider requests to see the invitation only blog, but we tend to limit access to those who can help in some significant way. Curiosity alone may not get you access.


TallMidget said...

All research and publication of what truthfully happened during these formative years, setting matters straight, should be welcomed by interested parties. Thank you for all those hours of investigative detective work.

It is appalling that religious documentation has been stolen from archives. This is surely contrary to anyone's beliefs.

In some archives, documents are weighed before and after they are studied; folders are closely examined when leaving reading rooms and pencil sharpeners are confiscated as their blades could be use to cut out material.

To deprive others of the opportunity of viewing original documents is a most selfish act of vandalism.

Coryton said...

Living in the UK, it's difficult to absorb that the people to whom you are referring are contemporaries of Jesse James, Wyatt Earp, Butch Cassidy et al.

I suppose there was a marked difference between city and rural life in America in those days.

And yet thousands left Britain for America in the mid 1800s. Some with true pioneering zeal endured the misery of the wagon trains to Salt Lake City.

CTR, Mormons and Adventists often visited these shores. There appears to be a religious bond (a 'Special Relationship', even) between the USA and the UK.

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...


What a perceptive observation. The roots of Russell's theology are in British Literalism. Literalism was the norm in American thought until Miller, and it was derived primarily from expositors in England and Scotland. In a secondary way it came from German prophetic students.

Pointing to Adventism as the root of Russell's belief is common, but it's historially wrong. Russell was an Age-to-Come believer. Though he met J. Wendell and counted him a friend, his primary teachers were Storrs and Stetson. Those who note this call them Adventists, but in point of fact Storrs left Adventism in 1844. Even while associated with the Life and Advent Union he was not an Adventist in the classic sense, but taught Literalist/Age to Come theology. Stetson accepted ordination from the Ohio Conference of the Advent Christian Association, but he taught Age to Come, eventually shifting entirely to that belief and writing for The Restitution and for the British Journal The Rainbow instead of the Adventist press.

Many of Russell's earlilest associates were immigrants from the UK. We detail this in several chapters.

Two American prophetic journals were totally Literalist in outlook. One of these republished something from a UK author in each issue.