Tuesday, December 31, 2013

From Bruciolis and Roberto

A personal post

by "Jerome"

Blogs are funny things, and there is no accounting for what appeals to readers out there.
I am very pleased to have been granted an outlet for writing on Society history on this blog for nearly four years now – plus more on the restricted blog - although I corresponded with Bruce for some time before that, and contributed to other forums in the past.
This post is really a personal one, but also raises a question that puzzles me. In the scheme of things, there is a list for blog administrators of the most accessed posts of all time. It lists the top nine (why nine and not ten I have no idea). Six of mine have made it, which is very gratifying, although that is probably because I generally write articles rather than requests for information. The latter are staple fare for this blog, and will be far more useful for the overall project, but by their very nature, tend to date quickly.
In the given list, first by a long way is a post from Bruce entitled Millennial Dawn from 22 April 2008. This was a very early post that discussed the amount of assistance Maria may or may not have given CTR in writing Millennial Dawn: The Plan of the Ages. No doubt this material has been incorporated into later re-writes, and will see the proper light of day in Volume 2 of the project.
Then two of my articles come second and third. For several years, the second highest was Guest Post - Review of Charles Taze Russell – His Life and Times – The Man, The Millennium and The Message. This was published on 18 February 2010.
This was my very first post on this blog, sent originally to Bruce and posted by him. I had read Zydek’s book, found him to be very readable and very sympathetic to CTR, but – alas - with many details incorrect. One only wishes the author had checked with a few more “historians” before going to press – it would have been quite easy to rectify the more obvious errors, based on hearsay statements and “folk tales” rather than primary sources. It was a shame, because the overall ambience of the book was fine by me. However, on reading subsequent comments, it appears my friendly criticism did not go down too well with all readers. Readers today can still access this article if they wade back through the blog to 18 February 2010 or just punch the relevant search terms into Google or similar.
But in recent months, another article has been gaining on this in overall readership, and this week forged ahead to second place. This was an article entitled The Emphatic Diaglott and the Watch Tower Society and first published on 20 November 2011.  The article was later expanded as a result of further research, and the more recent version can be found on 23 July 2013.
If this post encourages anyone to read back, the more recent version will give a fuller picture.
But I do find it hard to understand how this article became so widely read – and is still being read. Is there some link from a site other than Society-related?
At the time, I viewed it as a “fringe” article – when I was at a loose end research-wise, and could find nothing more direct to write about. It was prompted by the discovery of who really was the anonymous donor of the Diaglott plates to the WT Society – an acquisition that no doubt annoyed the Church of God/One Faith movement no end at the time. However, anybody who reads through the transcription of the 1907 hearing between CTR and Maria would discover that information. I have come to the conclusion that while many people have copies of historical documents, far fewer take the time to actually read them. I am sure there is much key information out there already in our collections just waiting for someone to actually read the bits that matter today.
So, on a personal level I guess it is keep reading, searching and keep writing, and hopefully we will all soon have the promised volume one from Bruce and Rachael to add to our essential reading list.


Saturday, December 28, 2013

Can you help?

This notice appeared in the June 1879 Herald of the Morning:

Can we document this meeting from newspaper reports?

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

When the Talkies Came to Hucknall – Philip Torkard

Republished by permission of the author ....

A night out at the cinema is still considered a treat today, but in 1915, when film making was in its infancy it would be the highlight of everyone's week - if you could afford it! This particular evening, as the audience began to settle in their seats there was an air of expectation. For the past week there had been an advertising campaign with posters, leaflets and a promotion in the Dispatch for what they were about to see.

As the lights began to dim and a hush descended on all those seated, the unmis­takable sound of the projector beginning to turn and a flickering picture appeared on the screen: a white-haired man in a frock coat appears, and, without a note in hand, he begins to speak; there were no auto cues back then. This is no ordinary silent movie. It is something special, both technically and in the message it conveys. Who is this man? He is Charles Taze Russell. What is the production? It is the Photo-Drama of Creation.

The audience did not know it but history was in the making and they were about to witness it! Everyone was used to watching silent films at the local picture houses, such as the “Scala” picture house on Annesley Road or the ”Empire” on Vine Terrace. And, no doubt, were not surprised to see a sign asking Ladies to remove their hats so as not to block the view of others!

So what made the Photo-Drama of Crea­tion a special and historic presentation? Pictorial slides and motion pictures were synchronized with phonograph records of talks and music. There had been various experiments with colour and sound movies, but years would pass before they would be commercially successful. Not until 1922 did an all-colour, feature-length motion picture make an appearance. And film audiences in general had to wait until 1927 to hear both dialogue and music combined in the commercial movie, yet the Photo-Drama of Creation was not without the colour, the spoken word and the music. It was years ahead of its time, and millions saw it free of charge!




An immense amount of work and effort had gone into its production. Over 2 miles of film was used. Choice musical recordings as well as 96 phonograph-record talks were prepared for the Photo-Drama. Stereopti­con slides were made of fine art pictures illustrating world history. It was also neces­sary to make hundreds of new paintings and sketches. Some of the colour slides and films were painstakingly hand painted. And this was done repeatedly, for before the age of quick means of copying was available much work by hand was required in producing 20 four-part sets. This made it possible to show a portion of the Photo-Drama in 80 differ­ent cities on any given day!

One of the astounding features was the use of time lapse photography, where viewers could watch as lilies opened in just a few seconds before their eyes. The presentation of the "Photo-Drama of Creation' had been produced by the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania under the direction of Charles Taze Russell, the found­er of the Bible Student movement. The film presented Russell's beliefs about God's plan from the creation of the earth through to the fulfillment of the Bible prayer, “Thy Kingdom Come.”

The Photo-Drama was mammoth in scale, lasting over 8 hours and designed to be watched in four 2 hour sessions over consec­utive days, what we might consider to be a mini docu-drama series.

Production began in 1912, and the presen­tation was introduced to audiences in the United States in 1914. It is estimated that the cost of production then was around $300,000 (now $ 6,922,000) By the end of its first year of release around eight million people in North America had seen it. In Britain, within 6 months of it first being shown, over 1.25 million people in 98 towns and cities had also seen the presen­tation. At showings in London there were overflow crowds at the Opera House and at the Royal Albert Hall, plus many more saw it across Europe, Australia and New Zea­land; no mean feat in a world being torn apart by the Great War.

What of the man that had pioneered its production? “Pastor” Charles Russell was no stranger to people back in 1914. He had become well known as a bible preach­er challenging religious beliefs of his day and saying almost 40 years in advance that 1914, would be a marked year in hu­man history. When World War I broke out in 1914, “The World,” then a leading news‑paper in New York City, stated in its maga­zine section: “The terrific war outbreak in Europe has fulfilled an extraordinary proph­ecy. ... ‘Look out for 1914! ’ has been the cry of the hundreds of travelling evange­lists, who, representing this strange creed [associated with Russell], have gone up and down the country enunciating the doc­trine that ‘the Kingdom of God is at hand.’”—“The World Magazine,” August 30, 1914.

(“Pastor” Russell sermons had also appeared in over 4000 newspapers around the world, including the Hucknall Dispatch. He was also known locally as the preacher who had corresponded with Aaron Riley, the first headmaster of Butler’s Hill school (see Aaron Riley, A Voice in the Wilderness, HT-Times December 2012).

The Dispatch of January 28 1915 had an article explaining in part the reason for the production. It stated: ‘The entertainment is part of a world-wide campaign to arouse an apathetic race to things religious. The instruction is non-sectarian. The endless story begins with the cosmic nebulae of pre-solar eras and dwells upon the salient events of biblical history from the Garden of Eden to Paradise restored. The progress of ancient and modern civilization down to this year of grace A.D 1915 is traced, and by the light of prophecy the glories ofg the future are pictured.

A lecture is given with each exhibition by a wonderful talking machine accurately geared to accompany the progress of the story on the screen. The apparatus sings and talks with such aptness to the varying scenes and figures that one might fancy it a human lecturer of unusual vocal gifts.

The teaching which the Photo-drama is designed to disseminate is that the Bible account of creation as well as its other records are not contradicted by modern science, but that in fact science proves the truth of the book’.

Like many of the other presentations around the world some may have come just out of curiosity, others because it was free, but doubtless many were impressed with what they witnessed, but whether it had the desired affect to awaken spiritual inter­est the record does not say.

It is quite probable that the turbulent times in which they lived soon eclipsed the mem­ory of that event as they came to know of the horrors of the western front and later for the world to be struck with the even worse devastation of the “Spanish Influen­za” which quickly followed on the heels of the Great War.

However, some who heard the message that Russell brought by means of the PhotoDrama of Creation may have been given the hope of a brighter future.

Regardless of the effect that the drama may have had, those who had the privilege of seeing the Photo-Drama of Creation witnessed the dawn of a new age in mass entertainment, one which we today take for granted!



Hucknall Dispatch January 28th 1915

http://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r 1 /lp-e/2001042?q =photo+drama http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Photo-Drama_of_Creation http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pastor_Russell
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a7cF0nw5S-g http://www.youtube.com/user/photodramaofcreation http://pastorrussell.blogspot.co.uk/2010/06/ 1914a-significant-year-in-bible.html

Monday, December 23, 2013

Emeline Barbour

This is what we have. Can you help us improve it:

Emeline Bigelow-Jobes

            Emeline Bigelow was born in September 1831 somewhere in New York. We know nothing about her early life. She married Samuel Jobes sometime in 1860 or 1861, probably in Monroe County, New York. Jobes was the son of Samuel Jobes and Aurellia Hastings. Emeline and Samuel moved to New London, Ohio, shortly after their marriage. There are two Samuel Jobes listed as privates in Ohio regiments. We can connect neither of them to Emeline, but it is likely that Emeline’s husband saw Civil War service. Her first husband died, according to a family genealogy, sometime before 1870. We cannot confirm a death date. We find Emeline living in Honeoye Falls, New York, in 1877. A newspaper report (dated October 1877) of her second marriage suggests that the move had been recent.

            In Honeoye Falls, she lived with or near her brother-in-law, Daniel Y. Jobes. She met and married Nelson Barbour. The New London, Ohio, Record reported that the marriage took place September 27, 1877 at the home of her brother in law, Daniel Y. Jobes, in Honeoye Falls, New York. The services were performed by a Rev. Mr. Eddy. While we do not know his first name, we know that Eddy was a Methodist Episcopal clergyman.

Update: We now know her parents' names. Rev. Eddy is Charles M. Eddy.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Emeline B. Jobes

We need biography for Emeline (sometimes spelled Emiline) B. Jobes who lived in Huron County, Ohio in the 1870s. Jobes is her married name. We do not know her maiden name, though we desire to know it. 

Emeline married N. H. Barbour in September 1877. Can you help?

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Pittsburgh Press, June 8, 1905

We need as much biographical information as we can get on Mary Turner and her husband.
Can you help?

Monday, December 16, 2013


Several helped with the touch-up to the roller skate ad. Here is one of the cleaned up versions:

One of our constant (but shy) helpers found this:

Click the image to view.

And just to tatalize you, he also sent something that no-one knows about at all. If they do, they're keeping mum. I'm not posting it yet because I want to find an original. And experience shows that if we mention something here originals get bought up before we can raise the money. Now ... aren't you curious?

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Bad boys at Charter Internet

My internet is not working right. Charter Internet is mostly broken at the moment. I'm trying to upload chapter two for one of our regular readers. You'll have to wait. Charter's upload speed this weekend is right at 0.

From one of our most faithful and talented helpers ...

A long-time blog reader feeds us a steady stream of research. Sometimes we already have what he sends, but often we don’t. He sends even the most minor details. Sometimes it’s a newspaper paragraph only a sentence or two long. Details matter. They can be story altering. He recently sent two newspaper articles about Payton Bowman, one of the key figures in Russell’s early ministry. We had copies of Bowman’s records found in a Methodist archive. The two short mentions of Bowman that Ton sent opened up new detail. We re-wrote the section on Bowman. Here is his essay.

The frustration and fun of research, by a fiend of the blog

In these Internet days doing research is made easier. Many data are made digitally available, like newspapers, genealogical data, photos and many many more. Google has digitized many books, and made them available on the net. Original Watchtower publications are scanned and made available by collectors.

OCR is the family of programs that is used to read phographed pages. If OCR was not used, you would have to read all those newspaper pages. But OCR is not perfect, though it gets better all the time.

Like the advertisement for skates by Russell’s uncle. It is not hard to find, but you have to use multiple searches like Birney & Co, Birney and Co, Burney and co, Thomas Birney, Birny, Th Birney, T Birney. That's the way to avoid all mistakes made by OCR.

Human indexing, like on the website Familysearch.com is also possible, but not perfect too.

The answer to the question: Who married first: Charles and Maria or Joseph and Emma? would have been answered a long time ago, if not the name "JL Russel" (sic) as it appeared in the census had been indexed as "Russel JL Russel."

Also the research can be hindered by multiple people having the same name. In Russells days there was also a Charles T Russell of Connecticut in Liverpool as an envy extraordinary. And a stemer of the same name. The magazine Zion's Say Star by A.D.Jones changed its name to Day Star. And ooooops in those days a horse with that name appears in the papers hundreds of times. Is there a reference to the Day Star we are looking for? The horse was more successful the the magazine......

So if you try to help the owners of this blog (what I encourage), be aware of the numerous possibilities of mistyping and other stumble-bocks.

If you have a bit of feeling for doing research you may be able to find many things for a blog like this. And if what you find is helpful it is real fun.

Of course it can be frustrating. No marriage of Joseph and Emma is on the net yet. Many historical websites want to be paid (which can pay itself out when they deliver a lot of the searched for material. Google stopped its newspaper collection, and it is not avilable any more (if someone knows how, please let me know).

But many are free. See

http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov ,

http://cdnc.ucr.edu/cgi-bin/cdnc?a=p&p=home ,

http://fultonhistory.com/Fulton.html ,

http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/search?adv=y ,


for many free (and paid) historical newspaper sites

Please if you have a little time, do some research. I am sure Rachael and Bruce are willing to make a new entry next to this one where they will mention the items and persons they would like to know more about. Nothing more fun than a book in which you find that footnote to your discovery (without your name of course) which you can show your family and friends, telling them "I found this. Good, eh".

Friday, December 13, 2013

Needs and progress

We are maybe two weeks away from finishing the rough draft of chapter 8, the last chapter of volume one of the new book. It will need proof reading and revision. We have an afterward to write, and I haven’t written my introduction. Bruce is revising his.      We’re now looking ahead to volume two. It’s about half finished. We will need access to several items for it to represent “best research.” We have located a number of issues of Jones’ Day Star. The microfilm cost is over three hundred dollars. We don’t have that. Because they’re the last issues, we are not certain of relevance. If any of you live in the Washington, D.C., we could use your help. We need someone to turn the pages of the bound volume looking for relevant items.  

This is a poor solution. Most of you won’t really know what’s relevant unless it has Russell or Paton’s name on it. But many other things are relevant. Best solution would be for us to buy the microfilm and read it through ourselves. This is simply not possible.

We have a continuing need for letters by or to Russell no matter how irrelevant they may seem.

One of our blog readers asked for a list of what we need. I think the most pressing things right now are opposition booklets from 1910 and before. Most of these are on the “icky” side, but some contain relevant comments. Email me first. If we have something, it would waste your time to scan and send it.

H. B. Rice’s Last Trump is important. We know of no copies. If you can locate one let me know.

We have copies of a few of J. H. Paton’s letters. They’re not very relevant. One comes from a major university. I’d tell you which, but I honestly can’t remember at the moment. Harvard, I think. We found it in an archive of someone else’s papers. All it tells us is that he wrote to that individual. It’s two short sentences long. But it’s important to us to know that he exchanged letters with someone. It fills in missing bits of the picture.

Mr. Schulz has written a letter re-requesting permission to publish two photos. This is a follow up to an email that went unanswered. If you have photos that you think may be helpful and want to share them (with permission to publish if we want), send them as an email attachment.

Another important issue is Watch Tower readers’ expectations for 1881. This was part of a larger speculation about that year driven by a widely believed but fake Mother Shipton prophecy and by something in one of Smyth’s pyramid books. We will need newspaper articles about prophetic expectations for that year, including comments on the great yellow day.

Watch Tower teaching entered several countries in the period before 1887. The Year Book histories are often wrong when they present “earliest date” information. We need someone to carefully read through the early issues of Zion’s Watch Tower for references to lands other than the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada. References up to 1900 are relevant. We also need references to early-days congregations, preferably that consider the years before 1900.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Thanks to Ton! Super illustration. We'll use it in the book ...

But I need help removing the red highlight from Thomas Birney's name ... [click on the image to view.]

Those of you who don't have access to the private blog might not know what this is about. Here is an extract (with footnotes) from chapter one:

Russell pursued business interests up to his death. Some of them were successful and some not. Sometimes the failures were spectacular. But for all the considerable record left by these ventures, no fraud exists. The worst that one can find is apparently evasive testimony during the Russell divorce trial, and even that is open to debate. More telling are Russell’s comments that go to motive. While Russell sought to “do good” with money, he found the opportunities limited: “Those who have money … will not find very much opportunity so far as the world is concerned. Even if we had millions of dollars the spirit of a sound mind should govern us in its expenditure. To give money to encourage anybody in wastefulness, slothfulness and idleness would be to misuse it, and not to do good.” He found by observation, or maybe experience, that wealthy people “cannot do even for [their] own families all that [they] would wish to do.” It is unclear if he meant his own relations or was speaking generally, though he concludes with “we could never do sufficient for them.” Many were made newly poor in the post Civil War depression. Knowing how to handle requests for money from family or friends was difficult. “Before we became Christians at all, we may have been under-balanced, or over balanced,” he wrote. “We may not have known how to deal properly with our families or our friends. Out of kindness and sympathy we may have been inclined to give them money, or to yield to their wishes in a way that was injurious to them; or we may have been too severe and unyielding.”[1] He may have been thinking of his Uncle Thomas Birney’s bankruptcy. Birney & Co., Thomas’s wholesale hardware store, was closed by the sheriff in January 1886 “on executions aggregating $25,000.” Some sources give an unpaid indebtedness of ninety-five thousand dollars.[2]  Whatever happened over his uncle’s bankruptcy, Russell was charitable, usually in quiet ways. During his 1907 court appearance questioning from the opposition attorney elicited this.[3] 

[1]               C. T. Russell: The Importance of Attaining Balance of Mind, The Watch Tower, March 1, 1914, page 77.
[2]               Birney had unwisely furnished roller skates to skating rinks on credit. Skating was a fad, and he saw dollar signs. Payment was not forth-coming and he could not maintain his business. Russell would not have had enough money to save the Birney business. We don’t even know if his uncle sought assistance. See Pith of the News, New York Herald-Tribune, January 7, 1886; Bankrupt by Roller Rinks, Pennsylvania Patriot, January 7, 1886.
[3]               Russell v. Russell Transcript of Record (1907), page 24: R: I usually gave my money away. Atty: You never gave it away, Mr. Russell, until after your wife left you? R: Yes, sir, lots of it.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Our thanks to those who helped

The collection of pamphlets mentioned below arrived in today’s mail. I’m very please, and I can see that these are indeed important to our research.  Some of the titles in this collection are:

Elements of Prophetical Interpretation. By the Rev. J. W. Brooks.

The Destinies of the British Empire, and the Duties of British Christians at the present Crisis. By William Thorp. From the Second London Edition.

Essays on the Advent and Kingdom of Christ, and the Events connected therewith. By the Rev. J. W. Brooks. Part II.

The Nature of the First Resurrection, and the Character and Privileges of those that shall Partake of it. A Sermon, with an Appendix, containing extracts from the Works of Bishop Newton, Mr. Mede, and other Writers. By a Spiritual Watchman. From the Fourth London Edition, with Corrections and Additions.

A Practical Guide to the Prophecies, with Reference to their Interpretation and Fulfilment, and to Personal Edification. By the Rev. Edward Bickersteth, Rector of Watton, Herts. From the Sixth London Edition, enlarged.

A Guide to the Study of Chronological Prophecy. Selected and abridged from a larger treatise by the same author, entitled “A Dissertation on the Prophetic Scriptures,” &c., &c. By M. Habershon.

A Cry from the Desert.

Thoughts on the Coming and Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ. By John Cox, Minister of the Gospel, Woolwich. From the Second London Edition, Enlarged. Same imprint, 1842.

Essays on the Coming Kingdom of God. By Philo-Basilicus. 1842.  

Books and tracts such as these formed the backbone of Russell’s prophetic beliefs. It is, as we’ve noted elsewhere, a fallacy to connect Russell’s theology to Adventism. It derived from the Literalist belief represented in these books and pamphlets.

We are waiting on a second shipment of booklets, but I expect them to be of similar significance.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Saturday, November 23, 2013

On being needy and such things

A few of you support our work by occasional contributions. You have no idea how helpful this has been. Left to himself, Bruce would never ask you for help. But I will.

We’ve located a collection of relevant – really important – booklets. These were all published in the early 1840s. We’ve been looking for these for over ten years. Usually when they are available they sell for 100-500 dollars each. So in the last ten years we’ve found one booklet by this publisher that we could afford. We have none of these.

A bookseller acquaintance told us of this lot. I’ve sold a sterling silver bowl. (I’m certain my great-great gramma doesn’t mind since she’s been dead for a long time.) Bruce sold a book signed to him by a well-known author. We’re left with $115.00 to raise in two days.

Usually when we let something go because we can’t afford it, it’s not a huge matter. This time it will be. These booklets all relate to the Millennarian movement, the source of Russell’s theology and prophetic viewpoints. We have never seen some of these, though we know they exist. Some are not listed in OCLC and are not on Worldcat.org. They’re that rare. And they are important.

It is up to you, of course, whether you can help out here or not. Time is short. Help if you can.

Contributions can be made to Bruce’s paypal. There is a contribution button on the private blog or you can use the contact email associated with this blog and I’ll direct you to the right place.

Our profoundest thanks to those who can help.

One of the pamphlets in the collection.
If you read Nelson Barbour the Millennium's Forgoten Prophet
you've met Mr. Habershon.


Now, let me update you on progress. We have an afterward left to write. It will tell readers what to expect from volume two. We are not including an index with volume one. The index will appear at the end of volume two. We are deleting an essay on sources. The footnotes speak for themselves. Those sources that are especially unreliable are noted in the main text.

We’re eighty percent done with the last chapter. We’ve changed the outline twice. Some things we planned on including in it will appear in a more logical place in volume two. This chapter tells the story of Barbour and Russell’s separation in a more coherent and cogent way than it’s been told before. We include details never presented. We spent more time than it was worth trying to track down some of H. B. Rice’s papers. I finally found the person who was supposed to have them only to discover that they did not really exist. Still, we have a very clear history of Rice and will tell you what his role in this affair was.

We tell this story chronologically, so we interrupt the ransom-atonement arguments with events as they happened. Key intervening events are the prophetic conference of 1878, the Feltwell controversy, and Rice’s entry into the discussion. We’ve spent this past week clarifying some paragraphs and discussing what we’re including in the last section.


Monday, November 18, 2013

A letter from a Photodrama operative


In the 1970s I used to do a slide and motion picture talk on the history of the Watch Tower Society – doing a balancing act with a slide projector, cassette tape recorder, and eventually cine projector, plus microphone and my own voice. It was somewhat fraught, but the Photodrama of Creation played a big part in this.
Initially my “slides” were actually photographs of the 40 plus postcards of the Photodrama that I had obtained via another hobby. Later, copies of slides became available. But some odd frames of film of CTR were in circulation – often stuck on cards as souvenir bookmarks. I managed to track down their source and in the early 1970s visited an elderly JW who had been a projectionist in 1914. I managed to retrieve from his attic a roll of film of CTR, and to cut a long story short, that piece of film now features in the reconstructed Photodrama videos available online. (The person who put it all together with extreme dedication has subsequently managed to complete the sequence, adding the bits that my source had sadly already cut off the roll for souvenirs)
My source, who had the initials HR, told tales of being imprisoned in a metal projection box at some places. Because most commercial film was nitrate stock – although surprisingly the Photodrama films weren’t – they were highly inflammable, and after some disasters with picture houses burning down, in the UK at least it was customary for the projectionist to be buried in a metal box. If the film caught fire – well, he could trust in the resurrection – but the audience could get out. HR told tales of working in his under garments, it was so hot in the box at times.
There were about half a dozen who were trained at the same time, he did the work for about six months, and met CTR in person at the London opening. (He also knew Jesse Hemery, Paul Johnson and others of that era, but that’s another story).
In 1974 I wrote him for some further information – asking about such matters as how many staff were needed for a full performance, how many films of Pastor Russell were shown, how the heralded synchronized sound was achieved (or not as the case may be), and how the Eureka Drama worked? I don’t have a copy of my original letter – these were pre-computer days – but I do have his reply, in very neat handwriting for someone who was then in his late eighties – and still travelled around by motorised bicycle (moped).
I am reproducing his reply here – and the questions I must have asked him initially will be fairly obvious.

Dear ....
Thank you for your letter. I am very pleased to have been able to contribute something towards the picture.
It is going back nearly to the “Dark Ages” to try and recall what happened.
Now to your five questions:
1.      Floor manager, operator, sister on gramophones (2 of them), 4 to 8 sisters acting as ushers, complete with torch light – dressed in black frocks, with white frilled aprons.

No. required according to size of Hall.

Sometimes the projector operator would see all 4 parts through – other times he took his part 1,2,3, or 4, to another exhibition.

There was one part shown each night.

2.      Film of Bro Russell opened each part.

The “Hallelujah Chorus” was played just preceding, and as it stopped, the film of CTR came on screen.

3.      The synchronization of the films with the talking record was achieved by the skill of the operator – one controlled the film according to the voice and movement of CTR’s hands.

As one example in part three, there was a Frenchman (I think) singing “La Rameau” which also had to be synchronized.

If you were too quick (not understanding French) he would walk off – while song was still on!!!

The variable speed of the m/c (machine) was only the skill of the operator. Machines had a “Maltese Cross” which jerked the picture down each revolution to the next.

4.      No such thing as sound track was even heard of in those days – but music was played with films.

5.      The ‘Eureka’ was an entirely different matter, and only used, as far as I know, where no electricity was available – such as country villages – I did six of them – I cannot remember now if any music was used with these.

Re: no. 1 addition – 2 gramophones were used where it was possible to get them (on loan from local shop)

Trust this information, to the best of recollection, will fill in some details.

The films gradually wore out, particularly part 3, where Jesus in coloured robe, required more light and thus heat, so the films tended to cockle, resulting in broken sprockets – most machines would not take such film – the Guilbert machine, with a little coaxing, would pass it – hence No 3 part had to have that machine, which incidentally, I got stuck on quite a bit, latterly.

I enjoyed the work, and to this day the sound of the “Hallelujah Chorus” will quicken my pulse.

I can’t think of anything else, but a question from you may jog the memory, so write if you wish too (sic)

Best wishes, I am sure your effort will be much appreciated.


Sunday, November 17, 2013

We're open to articles on the Photo Drama of Creation.

They must be relatively short, well documented, without speculation. Personally, I'd like to see articles on the  Photo Drama in Europe. There were separate Polish and German versions. I know little about them, though I've seen some of the alternative slides.

There are all sorts of things that can be said about it. Bruce - our fearless leader - knew one of those who worked on gathering the slides. Fun fact, huh? We have a few of the glass slides. But we'd like to see original, documented research. Probably under two thousand words.


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The Russells and the Allegheny Cemetery (with a nod to Rosemont)

Note about dates: Most of the dates given in this article only refer to the month and the year. There are discrepancies between published genealogies of the Russell family, as well as newspaper reports and interment registers. In most cases the difference is likely between date of death and date of interment, but it is simpler just to give month and year. At this distance, it doesn’t really matter all that much.

 Entrance to the Allegheny Cemetery
 Grave stones for Joseph L and Ann E Russell

Plan of graves in Section 7 Lot 17 in the Allegheny Cemetery, Pittsburgh, PA.
Owner: James G Russell. Size of lot: 300 (square feet). Graves: 1. Mary Russell, 2. Charles T Russell, 3. James G Russell, 4. Sarah A Russell, 5. Joseph L Russell, 6. Ann E Russell, 7. Joseph L Russell Jr., 8. Lucinda H Russell, 9. Thomas B Russell.

As cities in America grew in the 19th century, the problem of burying the dead became an issue, involving both public health and space. Town and city graveyards tended to be small, sectarian, and full. The rural cemetery or garden cemetery was a solution. It was designed to be a landscaped region that allowed the public to have parkland outside the city area, while also allowing the families of the rich to indulge in eye-catching memorial architecture. The latter seemed to work on the principle that, while you may not be able to take it with you, at least you could show the huddled masses you’d once had it! It also took the burial of the dead outside of church control.
The first rural cemetery in America was founded near Boston in 1831. Quickly others followed, including the one where most of CTR’s immediate family are buried, in Allegheny. The Allegheny model was chartered in 1844, and the grounds (originally one hundred acres of farmland) were dedicated to their new use on September 20, 1845. Other tracts of surrounding land were later purchased, so that a 1910 guide describes the cemetery as having grown to a little over 273 acres, divided into 39 sections.
Modern publications give a figure of around 300 acres, divided into 48 sections with fifteen miles of roadways. The area is carefully landscaped with well established trees, and is a haven for wildlife. Over 124,000 are buried there. Perhaps the most famous resident is Stephen Foster, the nineteenth century composer. One of the Memorials is for the child victims of the Allegheny Arsenal explosion in 1862 that is mentioned in chapter one of the current history book in progress. Forty-five of the victims were buried in Section 17 of the Allegheny cemetery with a special memorial pillar to commemorate them.
Although the cemetery location was chosen to be well outside the metropolis, inevitably the city encroached around it and then way beyond it. Today it is a very useful green space with some forestry, as well as a cemetery, in the middle of an urban area. It is located in the Lawrenceville neighbourhood of Pittsburgh, bounded by Bloomfield, Garfield and Stanton Heights. Its official address is 4734 Butler Street.
The original prospectus allowed for the purchase of individual graves or family plots. The prevailing sizes of the latter were 150, 225, 300, or 500 square feet each. A 150 square foot lot was for six graves, using wooden rough boxes only, a 225 foot lot was for eight interments and a 300 foot one ten burials.
So finally we come to the Russell family.
We know that Charles Tays Russell (CTR’s Uncle) came to Allegheny and founded a business in 1831, if his obituary is accurate. Other family members gravitated to the same area. His brother James Russell is listed in the 1840 census, and he it was who purchased the cemetery plot in the brand new Allegheny cemetery – initially one assumes due to the death of Sarah Russell. The family plot is Section 7, Plot 17.
It should be noted that the usual family tree for the Russells in circulation calls Sarah, James’ sister. There appears to be no proof of this. The burial registers for both Sarah and James make no comment on familial relationship. Had Sarah been James’ sister it would have been more logical for the patriarch, Charles Tays, to buy the family plot. But it was James who made the purchase, and it would make far more sense for him to buy the plot for a wife rather a sister; especially as he was soon to be laid to rest alongside her.
James Russell’s plans included his extended family also staying there. Forever. Literally. He purchased the 300 square foot size, designed for ten interments. As it worked out, only nine family members would eventually use the site.
Exact figures exist for the new cemetery. Although covering a large number of acres, initially the take-up was small. In the first year, 1845, from September (the first burial) to the end of the year there were only eight in total.
In 1846 there were only 29 new interments. These included Sarah Russell. One must assume that James had the pick of many potential family plots; his choice then being dictated partly by cost, but also by situation and outlook.  However, total interments were 67 that year, because there were also 38 re-burials. It was common in the early days to remove bodies from city cemeteries at the request of relatives, who wanted a more congenial final resting place for their whole family.
So by the end of 1846, a grand total of 75 burials or re-burials had taken place at the cemetery. Sarah died of consumption in the December; her burial registration number is 73.
Almost exactly one year later, in December 1847, James died. His burial registration number is 264. He was laid to rest next to Sarah in the top row of two on the plot, the one furthest from the roadway. James died of paralysis, so one assumes he suffered a fatal stroke at the age of 51. Initially wooden grave markers were the norm, but they are obviously long gone. The cemetery plan reproduced with this article suggests that there may have been more substantial grave markers for James and Sarah at one time, but if so they are also long gone.
So that made it two down, and eight places left to go in the family plot (only seven of which were eventually taken up).
By the time James died we assume that Joseph Lytle (sometimes spelled Lytel) Russell was already living in Pittsburgh, and it was his branch of the family who would use the site next. The Allegheny Cemetery charter laid down strict legal provisions for inheritance of family plots – first to children (James and Sarah do not appear to have had any) then parents, and then brothers and sisters.
In common with many in those unhealthy times, Joseph and his wife Ann Eliza were to lose three of their five children quite early on. Thomas, pictured in the January 1, 1912 WT (but not the reprints) was the first – he died of whooping cough and was buried in a row nearest the roadway in front of James and Sarah’s graves. The cemetery record states he died in August 1855 at the age of five years and three months.
Thomas B Russell had been the firstborn in 1850, and was no doubt named after his maternal uncle, Thomas Birney, who lived in Pittsburgh. He was followed by Charles Taze Russell in 1852 (both Charles and Taze being an obvious nod to his paternal uncle, Charles Tays) and then Margaret Russell in 1854. Charles and Margaret survived to adulthood of course, and were finally buried side by side, but elsewhere.
Then a young daughter named Lucinda was born. She died from scrofula (sometimes spelled scrophula), a form of tuberculosis affecting lymph nodes in the neck, in July 1858 at the age of a year and a half. Lastly, there was a young son, Joseph Lytle Jr, who died of croup at the age of six months in April 1860. The family had been living and working in Philadelphia at this point, but it was still important to the family to bring the little bodies back to the Allegheny cemetery for burial in the family plot.
For the three children, two sad little gravestones have survived, but they are very weathered and – from photographs at least - the memorial inscriptions on them are now indistinct.

Finally, after losing her three children, mother Ann Eliza died from consumption in January 1861. Her funeral took place from the home of her brother, Thomas Birney, in Pittsburgh. Her will, written just the month before, when she was no doubt very ill, lists her husband, Joseph Lytle, as “her agent in Philadelphia.” The notice of death in the Pittsburgh Gazette for January 26, 1861 calls her the wife of Joseph L Russell (of Philadelphia, PA).

Her grave stone survives, although it is worn in places. It reads:

DIED (indistinct) 1861

There is an inscription at the bottom – probably taken from a scripture – but this writer is unable to decipher it from photographic evidence. If any reader can do better, please do try. You will find a photograph of the stone on the Find a Grave website.

After Ann Eliza’s death, the family plot remained unused for nearly fifteen years. During this time, CTR and his sister grew to adulthood, and CTR started his spiritual journey in earnest.

Then, in 1875, the oldest of the Russell brothers, the original Charles Tays died. His life story, such as we know it, is covered in an earlier article on this blog – The Other Charles T Russell. Charles Tays died of hepatitis in December 1875 and was buried in the family plot. The grave was positioned in the top row, next to James and Sarah, whose funerals had been 30 years before. Charles Tays’ grave stone is quite well preserved and again can be read on the Find a Grave site.
It reads:
DEC 28 1875

Eleven years went by before the next interment. The extended Russell family who settled in Pittsburgh included an unmarried sister, Mary Russell. When Charles Tays died, he left $3000 in a trust fund for her support. By 1886 the plan had gone awry and it was necessary to dip heavily into the capital to care for her. (The transcribed legal documents can again be seen in that earlier article – The Other Charles T Russell). She died in the September of 1886 and was buried in the top row next to her brother Charles Tays. No stone seems to have been provided.

There was only one more person who would share this final resting place, CTR’s father, Joseph Lytle. Joseph had re-married (his second wife being CTR’s wife’s sister) and they had one child, Mabel, who was to live until 1961. The family moved from Pittsburgh to Florida, but Joseph Lytle then returned to Pittsburgh shortly before his death, likely so he could die there. He was buried alongside his first wife and the three children who had died before them.

Joseph’s stone reads:
JULY 4 1813
DEC 17 1897

The inscription at the bottom reads: Blessed and holy are all they who have part in the first resurrection. They shall be Kings and Priests with God.

And that was it, as far as the Allegheny cemetery plot was concerned; a total of nine interments out of a possible ten. The years went by, it became forgotten, and grass encroached over the stones lying flat on the ground; until in fairly recent times the plot was rediscovered. The memorial inscriptions for Joseph Lytle and Charles Tays are in the best condition today, but of course they are the most recent.

So why didn’t CTR end up buried here with his family in the one remaining space?

I have no way of knowing how carefully to scale the chart of graves reproduced with this article may be, but if accurate, it might appear that squeezing in another interment could be problematical. Probably more to the point, CTR was involved in founding a new cemetery.
The Rosemont, Mount Hope and Evergreen United Cemeteries were founded on land purchased from what was called the Wiebel farm in 1905. One section, the Rosemont Cemetery, was earmarked for Bible Student use. In his will, written in 1907 CTR directed that he be buried there. By the time of his death the area was simply called the United Cemeteries.
The aim had been to have a special section of cemetery for the Bethel family as well as for those who served as travelling representatives, then called Pilgrims. A 1919 convention report details plans to erect a pyramid monument in the center of the site on which all their names would be engraved on the four sides. The special Watch Tower section was planned to contain 275 burial spaces. CTR was buried at this new location in early November 1916. Notice of the pyramid’s completion was given in the St Paul Enterprise for February 10, 1920. By that time all the other surrounding cemetery land and farmhouse had been sold off, and seven others in addition to CTR had been buried there.
As it happened, this plan was quite soon abandoned. A reunion convention of those who had left the Watch Tower society held a memorial service at CTR’s gravesite in 1929 and on examining the pyramid monument for inscriptions tartly remarked in their convention report: “either the friends have not been dying or the plan has been changed.”
The remaining graves were all sold off and were since used by people unconnected with CTR’s associates.
It is not difficult to guess why this happened. For a start, there were theological problems with a pyramid monument as the 1920s wore on, but probably it was logistics more than anything that caused the change of plan. CTR’s heart was in Allegheny. The new cemetery company was founded while he still lived there. CTR lived nearly all his life there, until the move to Brooklyn in 1909. It made sense for him to be buried there, even if not with his natural family in the Allegheny cemetery. But apart from a brief switch back to Pittsburgh when J F Rutherford and others were imprisoned, Brooklyn became the focus for the Watch Tower Society after CTR’s death. The Bethel family lived in New York. The workers and officials of the Society generally had no family ties with Pittsburgh. What was the point of the great expense of shipping bodies all the way back to Pittsburgh? So another cemetery plot on Staten Island, near the radio station WBBR, became the cemetery of choice instead.
The only historical postscript is that when CTR’s sister died in 1934 the family obviously must have had a claim on the plot next to CTR. She was buried there, with no fanfare, in November 1934. Her name in death was registered as Margaretta R Land (rather than Margaret). There is no stone to mark her final resting place.