Friday, August 16, 2013

Update on B. F. Land.

... We're duplicating each others' work. So I'm posting a few paragraphs from Chapter 4 where Land appears in the story:

            Margaret (spelled Margareta in the 1880 Census) dated her “knowledge of the truth” to about 1874 making her about eighteen or nineteen years old. Of course, this does not mean she didn’t attend the class earlier. Her reference was to her “consecration” and baptism. By 1876 she was married to Benjamin Franklyn Land. We have not located a marriage record, but census records tell us that she had her first child, a daughter named Ada, that year. Was B. F. Land a member of the Allegheny Study Group? We think so, but we lack satisfyingly sound documentation.

            Land came from a Methodist background. His father attended that church. To distinguish themselves one of them used the name “Frank.”[1] Frankly, we don’t know which was which, though we suspect that Frank was the father. We base that on a Civil War pension application where the father is listed as “Frank.” They were both cabinet makers, working in the same shop. Thurston’s Directory for 1873-1874 only lists one of them, giving his occupation as architect. In 1875, B. F. Land is a partner in the firm Getchell & Land, carpenters and builders. This appears to be Margaret’s husband because we have him living at 80 Cedar Avenue, Allegheny in 1878, an address that matches the census records for Benjamin and Margaret. The marriage date alone is enough to suppose that B. F. Land was a member of the Bible Class, though probably a late-comer to it. We do not know how deep his interest was or how lasting.

            Additionally, we find in June 1874 Bible Examiner a request for tracts sent from B. F. Land. This is a strong indicator that he was present at Storrs’ lecture earlier that year. Also noted in that issue are letters from J. L. Russell, G. D. Clowes, and W. H. Conley. Another indicator is a brief article, apparently originally a letter to the editor, that we find in the April 21, 1875, issue of The Restitution. The article is merely a quotation from the Bible book of Revelation. Entitled “What the Spirit Saith,” it is signed Benjamin R. Land.  A poorly written copperplate R and an F are easily confused. We suspect this is from Margaret’s husband. If so, it shows him as interested in One Faith belief and anxious to encourage others.

Researchers have issued statements suggesting the number of original participants ranging from a definite “five” to “about ten.”  Names are suggested that are patently impossible. Russell gives us an indefinite “small.” Bible Classes of this sort were made up of friends who held similar interests though not necessarily to the same religion. Russell ever distinguishes between the Age-to-Come congregation and the Bible Class. We should take him at his word. They saw themselves as independent body.

[1]           Thurston’s Directory: 1870-1871, page 225.

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