Saturday, May 31, 2014

Very Sad News

"Ton," who you know from this blog and who contributed endlessly to our project has died. We are profoundly sad. We wish his family every comfort and blessing.


Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Cleansing Wave (Crimson Wave)

Quoted by Russell in the September 1880 issue of Zion's Watch Tower

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

another bit from chap 2


            The timing and nature of the Lord’s Evening Meal became an issue between the annual celebrations of 1880 and 1881. G. M. Myers faulted Russell and others for the memorial dates they advocated. We discuss this in more detail later in this chapter. Others objected too. Russell discussed this in the May 1881 Zion’s Watch Tower:

A number of letters received seem to indicate that the occasion was very generally celebrated among the scattered “twos and threes” “of this way.” We presume that it was celebrated in about twenty places. All who wrote expressed the feeling of solemnity and appropriateness, attaching to the celebration on the anniversary, rather than at any other time. One or two brethren questioned the date announced – suggesting that by the almanac it would fall on the 12th instead of the 14th of April. To these we reply that the calendars in most almanacs are arranged upon astronomical calculations and are seldom exactly in harmony with the Jewish methods, which seem to be based on the eyesight. Some almanacs publish the Jewish calendar, and we used it in ascertaining when the “14th day of the first month,” Jewish time, would come. The moon is used to symbolize The Law or Jewish nation, which reached its full at the time of Jesus' presence, but began to wane when he gave them up and died. The moon was at its full on the 14th of April and began to wane; this seems to agree with the Jewish calendars and therefore we observed that time.  

One sister wrote expressing disapproval, and asks, Why not go back to the Law in everything as well as in keeping the Passover? Our sister is in haste; we did not suggest the observance of the Passover as instituted by The Law, but the observance of “The Lord's Supper” instead of it. Nor did we suggest this as a law, believing that “Christ is the end of the Law for righteousness to every one that believeth.” (Rom. 10:4, and 7:6). But who will say that we may not celebrate the death of our Lamb on the anniversary, for, “as often as ye do this, ye do show forth the Lord's death.” 

            Most of those who transitioned from being Bible Examiner readers to Watch Tower readers were familiar with Russell’s reasoning, though not necessarily agreeing with it. 

Position of Women 

            The propriety of women preachers seems not to have been discussed by the Allegheny believers before 1876. Advent Christians allowed women preachers. Others did not. The question came to Russell in early 1881. Someone asked him to “please explain 1 Cor. 14:34. Let the women keep silence in the churches, for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but let them be under obedience as also saith the law.” Russell answered: 

It is not for us to say why, when God gives no reasons. Neither can we tell why Jesus sent none of the noble and good women who believed on him to preach, when he sent first the twelve and then the seventy before his face. However, much may be said of good accomplished by women in the temperance cause, etc., we nevertheless believe that this scripture has never been disregarded with impunity. We believe woman to be a type of the church, and man the type of Christ the head of the church, and we might draw the lesson that we, the spouse of Christ, are not to dispute or instruct in the church, but listen to the voice of our Head – give ear to his word.       

            His answer did not quiet the issue, and it was raised again in May 1881. Russell was confronted with this question: 

Bro. Russell: How do you interpret Phil. 4:3. "I entreat thee with me in the gospel...whose names are in the book of life." And Acts 1:14: "All continued with one accord in prayer and supplication with the women." And 1 Cor. 11:5: "Every woman that prayeth or prophesieth (teaches)?" 

            Russell’s reply probably disappointed Advent Christian and Life and Advent Union adherents who approved of women evangelists, but he took a more liberal position than many in that era. He said: 

We understand these scriptures to teach, that women did a work in the apostles' days which was approved and appreciated by them and by the Lord. Yet we believe that women usually spoke only at the smaller gatherings, and that when Paul said "Let the women keep silence in the [congregations,] he probably had reference to the public gatherings, at which it was the custom to have more or less of a debate. In these public debatings, Paul thought a woman's voice would be out of place, and this is the opinion of most thinking men and women to-day, though we think that it has by many been carried to an extreme, forbidding them to pray or teach on any occasion, even in more private assemblies of Christians, and this we regard as an error. 

God has arranged that the man and woman are representative of Christ and his Bride the church, and this rule by which the husband is the head of the wife is always maintained in scriptures. (Though there are exceptions to the rule in nature.) And probably this is one reason, that men have always been given the more active and public work of the ministry and women more the work of assisting and more private teaching, yet equally as acceptable to God. So Christ is the active agent in carrying out his own plan. He is the great minister of all, and we as His church do a lesser part and yet an acceptable part, well pleasing to God.

            Issues surrounding women’s rights and responsibilities would persist, fueled by the woman’s suffrage movement, and by Russell’s distorted view of marriage. Russell believed the phrase “and the two will become one flesh” meant that the woman’s personality was subsumed into her husband’s. While we consider this issue in chapter [#], most of this discussion is more appropriate to the third book in this series. All we need notice now is that this issue persisted; that it was aggravated by a less than Biblical view of women and by attitudes common in the era. Even Russell noted this, though we think unintentionally, when he wrote: “This is the opinion of most thinking men and women to-day, though we think that it has by many been carried to an extreme” Russell’s comment reveals a conflicted view of authority. Thinking men and women among his contemporaries were persuasive authority when they agreed with him. They were not when they held a contrary opinion. 


            George Storrs believed the Anglo-Israelite theory. We discussed it in volume one, which you should review. Despite a modern denial by a one-time Abrahamic Faith writer, the belief that the “lost tribes” of Israel were Anglo-Saxon peoples was pervasive among One Faith/Age-to-Come believers, so it isn’t surprising that the issue came Russell’s way. Citing verses from Galatians and Romans, Russell observed: “Abraham was the father of two seeds, the children of the flesh [twelve tribes of Israel] and the children of promise, [faith], of which two seeds Ishmael and Isaac were types.” The promises belong only to the spiritual seed, “the children of promise.” So it didn’t matter if the English, the Germans, and Americans were somewhere under the skin Israelites: 

We know not whether the people of these United States and of England are the natural, fleshly descendants of Israel or not. It could make no difference as regards the spiritual “prize of our high calling in Christ Jesus.” If they are, and were made to know it, the effect of those earthly promises would probably be to blind them to the spiritual prize as it did the others, 1800 years ago. If they are of the natural seed, they will receive grand blessings in the coming age, after the spiritual seed has been exalted to glory and power; as it is written. “They shall obtain mercy (God's promised blessings) through your mercy” (through the spiritual seed.) – Rom. 11:31.

Still working ...

I posted rough draft material from what will be (unless the outline changes) chapter two in the next volume. Here's a bit of update. This concerns Russell's vist to Berwick PA.

            Letters published in the Berwick area newspapers give us some insight into what interest was found there. In volume one, we presented Russell’s views on the state of the Christian church. He saw the church as divided into two classes – true, committed Christians and “the merely nominal Christian who is such because it is essential to respectability … but who is restive, even under the modified restraint which the church exacts, and desires to bring the church down to the level of a “social club’ composed of the respectable of society.” Russell framed this into a prophetic scheme, but the same observation distressed other committed Christians.

            While there was a secularization of religion in this era, there was another shift that Russell and others found as disturbing. Russell’s theology was based on Redemption doctrines. Redemption doctrine is belief in Adamic sin and consequent depravity of the human race. Darwinian evolution suggested to many that men were progressing. That human efforts were improving the race pervaded religious and secular thought. Proliferating invention, new and novel ideas (many of which would be discredited within a decade or so), gave many the impression that humanity was improving. They confused inventiveness and cleverness for improvement. This left Russell and others with conflicted attitudes. Watch Tower adherents looked for signs that the millennium had begun. Inventions provided those. They rejected the idea of progress without remission of sins, but many sought it outside of or within religious and quasi-religious movements. This manifested in a number of ways, among them Christian Socialism, the labor movement, Christian utopian and social service organizations. Conservative religious rejected the “social gospel” as contrary to the “divine plan.”

            Residents of Berwick noted the secularization of religion and were as distressed as was Russell. The Columbia County Democrat printed a letter addressing the issue in its September 24, 1864, issue. The writer, noted only as “William,” objected to the politicization of religion in the Methodist Church. During the Civil War this was, as we noted in volume one, also an issue for Pittsburgh residents.  William visited the Methodist congregation “hoping to hear the word of god expounded according to the laws laid down in the Holy Bible.” Instead, “to the utter shame and disgrace of the Christian community,” he heard a political “stump-speech, too offensive to be uttered in the house of God.” It was “still more outrageous” that the minister expressed his political opinions on the Sabbath, “which should be devoted to the praise of God, and not to political affairs.” The hymn was a patriotic song, not a religious one.

            Though he expressed it as religious outrage, the issue for William was his contrary political belief. He was a Copperhead. He wanted Lincoln out of office and McClellan elected. The minister was a Republican. William called the minister a “political negro head.” While William came at the problem of secularization from a different perspective than Russell’s, his letter tells us that secularization was an issue in Berwick.

            Casual sexuality was also an issue. The March 6, 1871, issue of the Montour American, published in nearby Danville, Pennsylvania, editorialized: 

We know several parties who have a habit, in church, as well as elsewhere, of keeping up a continual cooing to the thorough disgust of everybody about them. If they, like Armand and Heloise, think themselves consecrated to the “artful god,” whose arrows have stuck deep in their soft hearts, they should stay home and enjoy their faith, and not parade it in public places to annoy and disturb the more high-minded.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Blog Comments

Comments on this blog should be relevant. Those that aren't will not appear.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

R. Wakefield

He is sometimes noted as R. W. in Zion's Watch Tower. We need a full biography. We think he was born about 1830. He seems to have died before 1900. He wrote to newspapers promoting his beliefs. He was an Adventist before adopting Watch Tower belief. He seems to have become an Adventist in the 1850s. He lived in Newark, New Jersey in the 1880s.

We really know nothing at all.

Making Connections

            One definition of intelligence is the ability to make connections. Someone with a higher level of intelligence makes them in  more complex, more minute ways than others do. Sometimes this definition makes me feel stupid.

            A historian’s success depends on making connections – connecting event with event, people with people and people with events. Sometimes those things sit in front of me and I don’t see them until my slow moving brain clicks.

            That happened today. The click was audible. (That might be an exaggeration, but it’s not much of one.)

            In volume one of A Separate Identity we identify a “W. W. F.” with Walter F. Fahnestock, a Pittsburgh hardware merchant. It’s a solid identification, and in its context just an interesting detail. But we peruse identities when we can. We were successful with that.

            In volume two (writing in progress) we discuss a Joseph J. Bender. He’s on the obscure side, even if we know some things about him. To retrieve an obscure fact, I reread the chapter in which he appears. And lo! Joseph J. Bender worked for Fahnestock White Lead Company. Now we know Bender’s most probable rout of entry into the Watch Tower movement.

            This illustrates why details are important, and it illustrates why sending us things you may see as of no significance is important.


            Some probable connections are beyond testing. If you read A Separate Identity, Volume 1, you will remember the newspapers saying Wendell ran off with a girl named Terry. (You remember that, right?) We see a probable connection and more reasonable explanation of events in the suggestion that this was one of the daughters of the Terry family. They hosted the 1873 assembly of those waiting for Christ that fall or winter. We’ve never found enough documentation to confirm this. One of you may be more adept at that than we’ve been.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Addenda to previous post

The previous post isn't about this blog, but the private, invitation only blog. We have no plans to shut this one down. The private blog seems to have outlived its usefulness. It would be simpler to send what we post there to the few truly interested. This blog isn't at issue.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Has anyone read ...

Has anyone read the post on the private blog? Seems to me that it's worth at least one comment.

Bruce and I expend a considerable amount of work and personal treasure to research Watch Tower history. While we know this is a "low-interest" subject, it seems to me that at least one out of all those who have reading privileges there would say something.

The private blog exists so those with more than usual interest can see more deeply into our current research and contribute at least a comment. If no-one comments, then there is no reason for it to continue. Up to you, folks.

What can you do? Try this:

1. If there is something you don't understand, ask a question. We won't know we've confused you unless you say so.

2. If you know something relevant, tell us. Don't presume we know or have something. We might, of course, but we might not. It takes little effort to tell us about something.

3. You like a bit of our research as posted on blog 2? Tell us you like it and why. It helps us to know why you might like something we wrote. We pursue areas where others make comments. Sometimes that opens up an entirely new area. Sometimes it leads to a blank wall. But better to know what interests our readers than not know.

4. Do your own research. Share it, especially if you find something new or different or see something in a new light. A recent conversation with a professor of history at a nearby university (she's part of a meet for coffee group) has led us to reassess the phrase "secularization" as it relates to late 19th Century western culture. It won't result in a huge change to volume 2, but it will make a change, and make things clearer. She's writing a book. She shared elements of her research over lemon cake and coffee. Her casual comments helped. You can do that too.

Monday, May 19, 2014

We need help identifying

W. F Carson, whose letter to Russell is in reprints page 245.

A snippet. Need help with this ...

We need additional information about these two individuals:

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 number 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.

On the private blog ...

I posted an update to our current research. If you have access to the closed blog you may want to go there now.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

We also ...

We also need the full name of the person noted in Zion's Watch Tower in January 1880 only as V. N. J. from Springfield, Massachsetts.

Seeking the impossible

I know this is asking the impossible, or the nearly impossible. We need to answer the following questions:

What was William I. Mann doing between June 1879 and September 1881?

We know that B. W. Keith preached fairly regularly between the same dates. Can we uncover where? Do we know what his message was?
The Berwick, Pennsylvania, believers were a mixed bunch. We can say with certainty that it was composed of Christadelphian, One Faith (ie: Restitution readers), and Zion’s Watch Tower adherents. Can we uncover more detail?

Can we find more detail about A. D. Jones’ preaching between 1878 and September 1882?

A “J. L. F.” from Montrose, Pennsylvania, wrote a poem which was published in the October 1879 issue of Zion’s Watch Tower. Can we put a name to these initials?

J. S. Lawver exhibited at the Centennial Fair in 1876. It is highly likely that he met Russell then. Can we either prove or disprove that?

Daniel Lathrop’s second wife was Sally M. Sherwood. (See the partial chapter below). Was Sally Sherwood related to Thomas Sherwood (see vol 1’s bio of Avis Hamlin)?

Thursday, May 15, 2014

"Our" J. B. Adamson?


This is an update of sorts. Separate Identity continues to sell though slowly. If you read it and liked it, you can help by leaving a review on and by recommending it to your friends.

            We’ve located the Russell v. Brooklyn Eagle transcript. Very little in it adds to our research for volume two of Separate Identity, but it is interesting. And if we write the third book in this series, it will be important. My first impression, having read it quickly, is that Russell should have won his lawsuit.

            I’ve located the A. D. Jones divorce records. We will send for those. If you wish to donate to defray the expense, there is a donation button on the private blog, or you may email me for details.

            Returning to the Eagle trial: The one thing that will show up in volume two is detail on how the earliest traveling evangelists functioned. A new name appears, though he’s not on the stage in the era covered by S. Ident. He’s a German Evangelical pastor who left the Lutheran Church to evangelize Watch Tower teaching. While he’s not a factor in the era we’re writing about, his testimony gives us details we could only surmise.

            I complain about lack of comments here. I would still like to see more, even if they’re something like, “I read this site regularly and find it helpful.” But … I spend time on other history blogs not related to our research. One is run by historians whose names you might recognize if you read American social history. It’s a very professionally done blog. They get no more comments than we do. In a back-sided way, this makes me feel better.

            But I’d still like to see more comments.

            Mr. Schulz has a short hospital stay coming up. It’s not serious. I have eye surgery toward the end of June. That’s a bit more serious. So if we grow quiet for a prolonged time, you’ll know why.

            If you’re inclined to play detective, we’re still researching the earliest evangelists. In a week or so, I’ll post a partial chapter to the private blog. It will give those who read that some insight into our current research.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Brockport, New York

Russell spoke here in 1877 and in the 1880s.

Plymouth, Indiana, Tribune, August 18, 1910

The Restitution's readers had a lively congregation in Plymouth.
Most of Cole's audience would have come from that group.

Friday, May 2, 2014


An archive of Isaac Hoskins' papers are on ebay. We can't afford this. If you bid on it and win, would you make copies for us?

Logan, Utah, Leader, December 2, 1881

Thanks to Ton!

            We have received No. 1 Vol. 1 of a paper published in New York called, Zion’s Day Star, edited by A. D. Jones. It is a monthly of eight pages containing no advertisements and devoted exclusively to the discussion of religious topics; does not claim to be the organ of any denomination, and sets the Bible up as its standard. We quote the following from its introductory remark:

            “Many no doubt will inquire who are these persons advancing these views’ and, because we are not among the noted and well known, may feel disposed to carelessly cast aside this sheet, scarcely reading what is therein contained. But ere you do so we ask your attention for a short time. First, it is not for you to ask who we are, nor should you decide either for or against the paper on account of those who are connected with it; for in and of ourselves we are nothing; but a fair question, for each reader to ask is, Are the views as here set forth true? Are they supported by God’s word? If, on examination, you find them so, then they, no us, demand your attention. 

*          *          *          *

            The truth of the scriptures is the only rule of faith by which we will be examined. It is our aim to teach the truth as free from the terms of the times; to teach it in its entirety. We are not in bondage to any creed, party or sect, but we claim to be the Lord’s fee men. We recognize one Head and Master – Jesus Christ; and all true followers of him as brethren. Therefore, we wish our teachings compared with “the law and the testimony,” and if any view presented is not in accordance with the above “there is no light in them,” and we shall consider you a friend. Acts 17 11. It will be our aim to make plain some of the “dark sayings and parables” of the word, and we doubt not that the hearts of many will be made to rejoice as they come to see the beauty and harmony of our Father’s word.”

            The subscription price is nominal being only 50 cents per year. Whatever they claim as a creed, many of the articles in the first issue are interesting and contain much truth.