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