Thursday, July 31, 2014

Faces from the Past

Most will be familiar with this picture of the first convention away from Pittsburgh, taken in Chicago in 1893. The picture comes from the brochure Our Temple published by the Chicago Bible Students in 1914 to highlight their building for Photodrama showings.

Have a closer look at the bottom right hand corner. There you will see a young Rose Ball and her future husband Ernest Henninges.
 (Originally published on Blog 2)

Monday, July 28, 2014

By Mary Cleveland Jewell

Jewell's poems were also published on postcards and in a book and at least two booklets.

Inside the Pyramid

The photographs that accompany this article may be somewhat disappointing if you were perhaps expecting the lost sarcophagus of Cheops.
However, the pyramid in question is one very applicable to this blog – namely the monument to the Watch Tower Society positioned quite close to the grave of Charles Taze Russell in the United Cemeteries, Pittsburgh.

These photographs were taken when the monument was vandalised and one whole section prized open. The structure is made up of four triangular sides, all balancing towards each other, with a capstone on top to hold it all together. It was therefore designed to be hollow, on a concrete base of about five feet in depth. The base is level, whereas the land on which it is built is sloping – hence part of the base can be seen at certain edges of the monument.
All readers should be familiar with this pyramid monument, with its open books on all four sides. It was designed to be in the center of the plot reserved for Bethel family members and WT Society pilgrims. Future articles will provide more detail of what was intended, and how thing ultimately worked out.

As originally planned, the monument was going to hold a special cache of WT Society publications relating to the era of Pastor Russell.
This was mentioned when the idea was first mooted in the 1919 convention report. The relevant paragraph was a statement of intent: “Within the structure, incased (sic) in a block of granite, will be a sealed metal box in which is a complete set of Karatol Scripture Studies, the Memorial Tower, and one of every tract, photographs of Pastor Russell, a copy of the Society’s charter, and many other things to interest the people who at some future date may open the pyramid and find them.”

When the monument was completed and the event covered in the New Era Enterprise for February 10, 1920, the plan had not changed. The Enterprise reported:  “Within the monument is a hollowed stone which contains a copy of all the Society’s literature, photographs of the Pastor, a copy of the Society’s charter and other data which some day in the not far distant future may perchance come to light, now effectually sealed up.”
Years later, when George Swetnam wrote an article A Man and His Monument for the Pittsburgh Press in its Family Magazine section for June 25, 1967, page 7, he wrote about this cache of material: “Near the top of the hill on Cemetery Lane, between Babcock Boulevard and U.S. 19 in Ross Township, is one of the strangest monuments to be seen in all the Pittsylvania County. It is a granite pyramid, perhaps ten feet square, and it is filled with books and magazines and other papers, hermetically sealed to await the end of time.”

For a certain type of person – and I must stress that I would not include either practicing JWs or Bible Students in this – it all proved to be a temptation too far.
The monument has had its share of difficulties, for example there are marks on one side which suggest a meeting of monument and sledgehammer at one point. But once someone worked out that it really was hollow, and that the four sides leaned in towards each other, it wasn’t rocket science to then prize open one side and topple it over, to reveal the hollow area and any contents.

The monument was very quickly repaired, but not before the above photographs were taken.
Shards of stonework were found in the area, suggesting that there had indeed been a container inside it, which had been broken open and the contents stolen.
Personally, in spite of all the accounts, I had always wondered whether or not the box of publications really had been placed inside the pyramid? Maybe at the last minute someone had thought better of it? Maybe they were entombed in the concrete base built by J Adam Bohnet originally? Having now visited the site in person, and seen the photographs of the interior, and also having spoken personally with those responsible for the pyramid’s repair and resealing, I am now convinced that, yes, there was a container of publications in there, and yes, they were stolen when the pyramid was vandalized.

What does this mean? Actually, on sober reflection, not a lot.
The cache of material was only added in 1920 when the monument was completed and sealed. It would therefore only contain material that could be obtained by conventional means at that time. Since the Society’s offices had moved to Brooklyn, then back to Pittsburgh, then back to Brooklyn in this era, and since attempts to complete the reprint volumes at this time involved pleading with the public to loan certain issues, it is unlikely that anything unique would have ended up entombed. In reality this means that any serious collector today would likely have all the material in duplicate form already. The only thing that made the material special was that it came from the pyramid. But you can’t exactly advertise that on eBay can you? You can imagine the advertisement - what will you bid for materials stolen by defacing and breaking into a cemetery monument? There are no doubt a couple of crimes there.

So someone somewhere may have a cache of materials. But nothing that couldn’t be obtained from elsewhere, with an illegal provenance – and even then, how do you prove that provenance? Of course, there may be some sad individual gloating over his hoard out there somewhere. If he is reading this, all I can suggest is that he might consider seeking medical help.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Mt. Vernon, New York, 1892

New York City.

I have been working in Mount Vernon during the past week: sold 160 DAWNS--making about 800 sold there in a little less than a month's time. Many of them, I trust, are in good hands, and will bring forth fruit to the Master's praise. I expect to deliver in Mount Vernon tomorrow and part of Tuesday, and desire to spend the remainder of the week in the interests of the meetings--calling on some of those to whom I sold the books last winter, giving out notices, etc. I have hopes that the meetings on the 27th will be quite well attended and that you will have large, intelligent and appreciative audiences. The package of Tracts has been received. They will, I think, come in very good.

Truly yours, S. D. ROGERS.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Allegheny Cemetery update

One of the problems of writing articles about historic sites from a distance is that you have to rely on photographic evidence, or statements given you by others who have actually visited the sites in question.
On both this blog and blog 2 I wrote articles about the Allegheny cemetery, where nine of CTR’s close relatives are buried, these include his parents, three siblings, and assorted uncles and aunts.

I stand by the information presented in the articles except for one point. I stated in good faith that there were only five grave markers lying flat on the ground on the site – those for CTR’s parents, two siblings, and then his Uncle Charles Tays Russell. Having finally been able to visit the site in person, I can now more accurately report that a total of eight grave markers exist. Likely many of them had been covered in part by grass and earth encroaching over them over the decades.
In the top row, next to Charles Tays Russell, are the graves of James and Sarah. James purchased the family plot originally, and his wife Sarah was the first to be buried there in 1846.

Sarah’s stone reads: Sarah, wife of Jas. G. Russell, died Dec 14, 1846. James’ stone next to her simply reads James G Russell. Both stones are much smaller than the later ones for CTR’s parents or his uncle Charles Tays.

There used to be a family tree of the Russells in circulation that made the assumption that Sarah was James’ sister. However, the grave stone plainly shows her to be his wife.
Then in the front row are the immediate family of CTR. They were buried as they died from right to left. First to die was Thomas, aged 5 years and 3 months. There is a small stone visible there. Sadly it is worn completely smooth, so it is not possible now to make out any inscription. Next are the two larger stones for Lucinda and Joseph Lytle Jr. – both very worn and indistinct now, and finally the stones for his parents. Joseph Lytle was the last to be buried here in 1897 and the site then became forgotten for nearly a century.

The only family member who appears to have never had a gravestone was Mary Russell, Joseph Lytle’s sister, who died in 1886.


One other feature of this site may be of interest and I am indebted to my Pittsburgh guide for the information. If you are on the road, facing the family plot which verges on the road, behind the site and a little to your left are two old monuments, both sadly somewhat vandalised today. One is of a pyramid shape – albeit a rather thin one. The other, behind it, is of books on which names were originally intended. A pyramid and open books for names should bring to mind the cemetery where CTR was buried in 1916 – in what became known as United Cemeteries. The monument to the WT Society (not CTR) was of course a pyramid, with open books on its sides. Installed several years after CTR’s death, it was reported that he had approved the design in 1914. If that is true, maybe the vista at his parents’ final resting place gave him the idea.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Pittsburgh Central High School as it was when M. F. Ackley attended

Maria Russell was admited in 1864 with the class starting in the 1864-1865 school year.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Research assistance

If you’re so inclined, we have several areas of real need. We need help finding some things, and for others we do not have funds to pursue them.

We’ve located a run of A. D. Jones’ paper. It’s the last year of publication, and it’s oversized. The only way to duplicate it is by expensive microfilm. The cost is over three hundred dollars. The best approach would be for someone in the Washington, D. C. area to visit the library and turn pages seeking relevant material. Then only that would need duplication, some of which could be done by hand.       

Jones tried to duplicate Russell’s mass circulation of Food for Thinking Christians. We have very little record of that. We could use more detail. We have only one issue of Day Star earlier than 1886. We need the first two years. They seem not to exist. If you have them, tell us.

We have a solid, representative collection of World’s Hope, Paton’s magazine. We would like a complete run. If you have any issues, please let us know the dates.

Early evangelism is a key part of this story. Details and biographies are helpful. Even though Separate Identity focuses on the years up to 1887, workers who entered the field after that period are important too. If you want to pursue that and pass information to us, we would appreciate it greatly. This was Ton’s last project. I am still mourning Ton and miss his daily emails.

The Watch Tower message entered Norway, Germany, and (we think) Italy far earlier than the Yearbook histories suggest. We need details. These are hard for us to find, probably easier for someone in Europe to find. Anyone? This will require patient and inventive search. The message reached Australia in 1881, Singapore in 1882 at least. We have few details. The work entered Ireland in 1881. We have one real reference from outside the Watch Tower. We’d like more detail.

The message entered Liberia in 1884. We have one original document. There are many letters in a library of congress archival file. Finding pertinent letters requires a visit. We can’t afford that. If you live in the area, and want to take on some really intense research, contact me.

Pittsburgh clergy opposed Russell. Some of this is documented in Pittsburgh papers. We do not have access. This search would take patient page turning. The papers are on microfilm. This is best done by someone in the Pittsburgh area. We can offer some research guidance.

Tracts and pamphlets written to refute Russell are rare before 1910. We can use any anti-Russell tracts published before 1920, but especially need those from his first years.

We are seeking the location of Disciples of Christ archives for West Virginia and Virginia. There does not seem to be a central repository.
Never assume we know what you know. We might, but we might not. Tell us, if you have an interesting bit of detail.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

A recent email

I don't have permission to publish this with the writer's name, but the content made me happy so I'm sharing it with you:

I have recently discovered your site on History of the Watchtower. You and your associates have a wonderful site. It evidences your commitment to discovering historical insights and understanding.
As a “church historian” I am interested in the various Adventist groups that followed in the wake of the Millerite disappointment. My main interest is in tracking some of the doctrinal beliefs that appeared in some of these groups. For example, the conditionalist understanding of the mortality of the soul as expressed by George Storrs. Although clearly not a Millerite or Adventist, Charles Russell shared some ideas with those circles as well as meetings with Storrs and others, as you document.
One of the most intriguing issues for me is brought out in the White/Russell debate of 1908 in which the subject of a first opportunity for salvation being offered during the Millennium to those living at that time as well as the resurrected dead who had had no first chance of salvation. I understand the arguments Russell presents.
But I am very much interested in knowing who else in his earlier circles advocated this understanding of a future chance for salvation, including the idea that the vast majority of the world is now blinded, until the predestined elect are gathered and prepared.
This understanding presented in such a detailed and careful way is rare in church history, but I have glimpsed it in some few “Adventist” circles; but not before Russell.
Would you be so kind as to shed some light on the origins of this teachings for Charles Russell; as to when did he come into this view and from whom or with whom was it first discussed/formulated for Russell?
I look forward to your comments, and I value your research very much; and certainly intend to purchase your book(s) soon.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Because a friend of our reserch asked ...

This is the original filing for United Cemeteries, or an extract of it showing the original trustees. Our friend asks if it were possible for a trustee to not know who was involved in the project. I think the list speaks for itself. C. T. Russell's name is on the list along with well known Bible Students. If another trustee failed to notice, he was dense and inattentive. The short answer is no.

Click on image to view

My thanks to Jerome for providing the copy.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Thanks to

Thanks to a friend of this research, we've located the original organizing doucments for the United Cemeteries. We are in the process of raising money to acquire them. I'll keep you posted.

R. M. de Vienne

Monday, July 7, 2014

Jones' Divorce

September 2, 1889
W. T. Bown, sworn

            I live in 32nd Ward, Pittsburgh, Pa (Mount Washington) 67 years of age last January – am a Merchandise Broker. I know the Libellant in this case (Carrie M. Jones). She is my daughter. I also know the Respondent (Albert Delmont Jones). My daughter Carrie M. Bown was married to him (Respondent) the Eighth day of January, A. D. Eighteen Hundred and Seventy Eight. (1878) They were married in the Mt. Washington Baptist Church, 32nd Ward, Pittsburgh. I was present at the marriage. The Rev. W. H. McKinney performed the marriage ceremony. They first resided in Pittsburgh after their marriage for several years (some 3 or 4 years, I believe) before moving to New York. My daughter (the Libellant) is no living with me – she has been living with me for some time – it will be 3 years net May since she came to live with me. 

W. T. Bown [Signed]

Samuel E. Bown, sworn 

           I reside in the 13th ward, am 50 years of age. I am in the Coffee and Peanut Roasting business. I know the Libellant (Carrie M. Jones) and also the Respondent (Albert D. Jones) – was present at the marriage of the Libellant and Respondent. There were married in Mount Washington Baptists Church, 32nd Ward, Pittsburgh, Pa. on January Eighth, A. D. 1878 – the Rev. W. H. McKinney performed the ceremony. After their marriage the couple resided in Pittsburgh, here, for three or four years. They then removed from Pittsburgh to New York City. Carrie M Jones, the Libellant, now lives with her Father, W. T. Bown, in the 32nd Ward, Pittsburgh, Pa. She has been living with her father I think between 2 and 3 years last past.

S. E. Bown [signed]

December 21, 1889

William H. Conley, sworn 

            I reside in Allegheny City. I know Albert D. Jones, the Respondent – I should judge I have known him about 8 or 10 years – I have had dealings with him and known him in a business way. I also know Mrs. Jones, the Libellant. I have no knowledge of Mr. Jones’s keeping some other woman besides his wife. About 2 years ago last June in New York City I saw him one night about 9 o’clock walking on 5th Avenue with a woman other than his wife – did not know who the woman was. I believe I have heard that he had got into trouble with some woman and had to pay her a large sum of money to get rid of her – am not sure that I have the letter now – I burned about a bushel of letters – but I did get from him such a letter. I cannot state what the amount was but it was a large sum he had to pay – I judge that the reason for sending this letter must have been that I had written him a dunning letter as he had dealings, with us and owed us considerable money, and that would be his excuse (that he had to pay so much money on account of this woman) for not remitting to us. This letter I spoke of was received by me from him before I saw him walking with a woman as above mentioned. I think it must have been from 6 to 9 months before that.

             I had a conversation in Albert Jones’s presence with H. B. Adams and Eugene F. Smith of New York and Thomas B. Riter of Allegheny City, Penna – there were three of us together at Mr. Jones’s offices in New York City about 2 years ago. During this conversation Mr. Adams and Mr. Smith accused Mr. Jones of keeping the woman besides his wife – They called him all kinds of vile names and he did not deny the accusation. He was accused of maintaining a house and a woman other than his wife in it in the upper end of New York, and Mr. Adams (who was in the House Furnishing business then) stated in Mr. Jones’s presence that he (Adams) had furnished the house and he (Mr. Jones) admitted the whole thing. I cannot state from recollection the precise location of the house spoken of. 

W. H. Conley [signed]

Can you help us identify Annie J. Raleigh?

June 2, 1890

Delmont Jones affirmed:

            I am about 58 years old; live in Mount Washington, 32nd Ward, Pittsburgh. I know Albert D. Jones, the Respondent in this suit. He is my son. I do not know a woman named Annie Raleigh, H. A. Raleigh or Annie J. Raleigh. I have no relative of that name that I know of. I never heard of such a woman – except that day before yesterday I heard Mrs. Carrie M. Jones the Libellant mention her name. MY son has no such relative either by blood or marriage that I know of.

Delmont Jones [signed]

Saturday, July 5, 2014


We seldom become personal on this blog. I have a for fun blog where I do that, but none of us does that here. This is an exception.

Bruce would never tell you this story. I will. If he doesn't like it, he can delete the post. When I was very young I attended a meeting with Bruce and his wife (We'll call her Aunt S. here). The song I've posted below was called and the congregation sang it. B forgot his songbook. He claims a very poor memory. (as if!) But he was singing it from memory. Except his memory took him back to this songbook and these words, drawing a puzzled look from Aunt S. and me and - well - everyone around him. It was funny. Enjoy the old version.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

A sideline from history

From the Pittsburgh Press for July 29, 1921.

When the Pittsburgh Press for July 29, 1921, carried this brief news story from Chicago they missed a trick. Lemuel Hackley (sic), the attorney who was murdered in court was a native son of Allegheny. Born Lemuel Mahlon Ackley, he was actually the younger brother of Maria (Ackley) Russell, CTR’s wife.
When Maria left CTR she first went to Chicago to stay with Lemuel. He had lived in Allegheny until adulthood, working first as a reporter, before studying law and moving to Chicago in the 1880s.

He apparently did well in the law apart from getting himself murdered in court. The disgruntled police sergeant who fired the fatal shots failed to kill himself at the time, but later committed suicide by cyanide poisoning while in jail awaiting trial.

(This will probably not make it into Bruce and Rachael’s books, but I found it an interesting sideline to history).

(adapted from a brief article on blog 2)

Sacramento, California, Daily Union, September 17, 1868.

Part of a longer article, none of which is relevant to this history:

An Advent Camp Meeting

            This is the season of camp meetings, and our journals are daily filled with reports of these gatherings, which are taking place in all parts of the State. They are so much alike, as a general rule, and most of your readers are so familiar with their proceedings, that it is hardly worth while to describe them. But last week of a camp meeting a camp meeting of Adventists was in session near Springfield, which presented some features of interest. The attendance was very large – some thousands of people being present from near and far. The Adventists, you know, believe in the speedy second coming of Christ. The daily exercises at the camp meeting open with a love feast, somewhat similar in general character to the Methodist exercises of the same name. Then follow sermons, baptisms, etc. The proceedings of one day will give an idea of the whole meeting. On Friday Rev. Jonas Wendell, of Western New York, preached a sermon on Paul’s character and the Jews. He declared that where the Jews had one item of testimony in reference to the first coming of Christ, we, of the present day, have six signs of his second. Rev. George Storrs, of New York, was the next sermonizer. He is one of a small sect of Adventists who believe that only the righteous will rise from the dead, while the wicked die …

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Des Res no.2?

This was William Conley's place. Like the Russells' Cedar Avenue properties, it is also unoccupied at present, and the current owner has gutted the inside. So, alas, we will not be able to check the size of Conley's parlor that was used for the Memorial celebration when ZWT began. If anyone has an early photograph of the interior as it was in Conley's day, it might give an indication of how many attended the Memorial celebration in those early days.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Quick note

Remember the clipping from the Buffalo newspaper a few posts back? Further research shows the speaker to have been John B. Adamson. His visit there is noted in the February 1887 Watch Tower.

We need better information about Adamson than we have. Can you help?

Des Res?


These two properties are currently for sale. The owners will turn them into whatever you want for a price tag of over $400,000 per plot. Sadly, this means that the interiors have been gutted, which would have given a feel for how they were well over 100 years ago.
These are the original two houses in Cedar Avenue owned by the Russell family. Joseph L Russell and wife Emma owned the house on the left, and Charles T Russell and wife Maria owned the one on the right. Joseph L died in his property in 1897.
When Maria left CTR, she moved back into one of the houses and rented rooms out to lodgers. When CTR took the property back, Maria simply moved back in with Emma next door.

Sydney, Australia, Sunday Times - August 20, 1899