Of those prominent in the work up to 1881, Paton’s name is conspicuously absent from the list of those circulating Food for Thinking Christians. He is mentioned in passing as active in Michigan and, Russell “presumed,” busy writing for the first issues of Zion’s Day Star. Paton was already surrendering to Universalism, something that had appealed to him from his youth, and he was uncomfortable with the lead Russell had taken. This is best detailed in another chapter.
Samuel T. Tackabury entered the work in March 1882. He had been “a member until now of the M.E. Conference.” Tackabury was a new convert, one of the few ministers convinced by Food for Thinking Christians and other Watch Tower publications. He forwarded his ministerial credentials along with his resignation from the Methodist Episcopal ministry and from the M. E. denomination to church authorities, and it is duly noted in The Minutes and Official Journal of the New York Conference. He had been active in the Methodist ministry at least from the mid 1860’s, resigning his charge in 1877 because of chronic ill health. Early in his Methodist Episcopal ministry, he supported himself as a “dairyman and farmer.”
He returned to the ministry later and was, at the time he was introduced to
teachings, pastor of the newly-formed Methodist
Episcopal Church in Watch Tower , and
serving a congregation in Pierre, South
Because of continued fragile health, his missionary activity was short-lived,
and he fulfilled his mission by “preaching the blessed gospel by letter and
otherwise to many of the scattered saints.”
Tackabury died Ohio August 5, 1888, of “consumption,” that is tuberculosis.
According to the 1870 Census he was born about 1832. By February 1883,
Tackabury was back in . Ohio
evangelism at the same time were two individuals
noted only by their last names: “We may also count among the public preachers
Bro. Graves, who for many years has been not only a ‘commercial traveler,’ but
a railroad train preacher
and tract distributor. He is rejoicing in the shining present truth, and has
done good in preaching it, distributing ‘Food’ during the past six months. Bro.
Boyer will, for the present, remain in Pittsburgh, where he will do some
mission work among his numerous friends and former co-laborers in the
temperance work, meantime giving much time to the study of the Word which is
able to make us wise; preparing himself thus for more public work. While in
good health he held meetings in western parts of Watch Tower .” New York State
William Boyer, an English immigrant, was born June 30, 1823, in Warrington, Lancashire, to Samuel and Jane Boyer. A brief biographical note says:
He worked in a chemical laboratory until he came to the
in 1846. He located in United States , coming out with what was then known as the “British
Temperance Emigration Society,” which soon broke up. Mr. Boyer purchased a
farm, and has followed this occupation, living in Dane County, Wis. until January 1867, when he came to Wisconsin , purchasing 245 acres of fine land …. Mr. Boyer and
all his family are members of the M. E. Church, in which he is a local deacon
and supplies the Orchard Circuit. He has held many of the township offices and
is at present one of the Trustees. He votes the republican ticket. He is one of
the substantial and reliable men of Iowa . Floyd County
Nothing is known of his conversion to
theology or of any subsequent ministry. He was,
however, involved in organizing believers in the Watch Tower into fellowships, “writing letters of introduction
wherever two or more reside in one town.” United Kingdom
He is not the same as the “gentleman” who in 1887 ran away with a fifteen year old girl from
. While it would make for an interesting story, the
facts do not fit him. Boyer served as a sergeant in Company F of the 15th
Regiment, Iowa Volunteer Infantry. He was severely wounded in the neck at
Corinth Mills, and this may account for the health issues mentioned by Russell. Reading, Pennsylvania
There is circumstantial evidence that “Bro. Graves” was John Temple Graves. If so, his association with
’s Zion was brief. By 1910 he was espousing the cause of the
American Peace Society. An article appearing in the Watch Tower June 11, 1910, New York Times
quoted Graves as saying: “I was a traveling lecturer for many years
between [sic] and Omaha … I dealt in natural gas and carried
my fixtures.” That
John Temple Graves is the “Bro. Graves” of Zion’s
Watch Tower remains speculative, but we think a good indicator is his
connection to N. H. Barbour. In 1903 Pittsburg Graves invited
Barbour to speak at a conference on the “mob spirit in .” Graves, who became a well known writer and
lecturer, was moderator at that conference. America
–Library of Congress
Photo. Temple Graves
While Russell recounted the efforts of others, he did not chronicle his own. Only one example of his personal evangelism using Food for Thinking Christians and Tabernacle Teachings exists. Russell admired Joseph Cook, a well known writer and lecturer. Cook, a Congregationalist clergyman from
held views of social issues that paralleled Russell’s, and he supported
“vicarious atonement” beliefs that were similar to Russell’s own. Russell wrote
that Cook was “justly celebrated for his able defense of the Bible and its
author, God, against the attacks of Atheists and Infidels.”
Russell also published an extract from Cook’s Monday Lectures: Fifth Series
in the September 1880 issue of Zion’s Watch Tower.
Cook returned from a widely publicized “around the world” tour in November
1882, lecturing in various places. Russell sought him out, probably sometime in
1884, gifting him with the two booklets. Boston
Russell extracted from another publication a short paragraph suggesting that Cook accepted some form of “second probation,” republishing the comment in The
article said: “Rev. Joseph Cook, in one of his lectures, declared that no
living man knows anything about the theory of probation, and expressed an
opinion that the charitable view of the question was, that probation after
death would be granted those who failed to accept the gospel in this life.”
This misrepresented Cook, but it was probably what prompted Russell to seek a
meeting with him. Johnson believed that a strongly worded sermon rejecting the
second probation doctrine of Dr. August Dorner, a German theologian, was really
directed against Russell. Johnson also claimed that Cook prevented Russell from
lecturing at “the conventions of many churches.” A review of Cook’s Occident
does not reveal any mention of Russell, though Dorner’s theology is in this one
area similar to Russell’s. While we cannot disprove Johnson’s claims, our
research does not sustain them. Watch
P. S. L. Johnson elaborates an entire conversation between Russell and Cook that we find difficult to credit. The basic story is that Russell presented Cook with the booklets and Cook promised to read them. Johnson claimed that Cook had previously read other material from Russell, and it is very probable that Russell sent him tracts and sample copies of
Cook believed Russell to be under-educated and did not endorse Russell’s
doctrine. All the other matter presented by Johnson seems to be contrived to
fit his hyper-allegorical, prophetic view of Watch Tower history. Watch
By January 1886, Maria Russell could report that “at present there are about three hundred colporteurs at work in the vineyard earnestly laboring for the good of their fellow beings and for the ‘well done’ of the Master, disseminating these publications.” She wondered why more hadn’t taken up the work “We should each ask himself,” she wrote, “What am I doing to herald the blessed gospel which did so much for my own heart? How am I manifesting to God my appreciation of his grace?”
Newspaper reporters sought out Russell for interviews. Many of the articles were short and of no lasting interest. Some few give us a fair picture of Russell and his message. The New Philadelphia, Ohio, Democrat ran an interview with Russell that’s of particular interest. Russell pointed to growing labor unrest as a sign that the “time of trouble” was upon them. He mentioned no specific event, but there was no need. 1882 saw endless unrest in the mine fields of the west and
. In its Cumberland May 2, 1884, issue The New York Times
reported on no less than seven strikes, one that included threats of violence;
so there was no need for Russell to pinpoint one specific event. The article, except the last paragraph, was
Rather a new construction is put upon the signs of the times by Mr. C. T. Russell, of
, who is a leader of what he calls the “Christians,”
and who do not belong to any denomination and are not Second Adventists. He
says we are now in the thirty-seven years that will precede the reign of
universal peace, but that until 1915 disaster and revolution are to be
“What evidences are there that we are in these years of trouble that precede the millennium?” he was asked
“Look at the condition of affairs all over the world. Labor and capital are massing themselves, nations are trembling and the whole outlook tends to strengthen our position. God moves by natural means, and this uprising of labor against capital is the result of the diffusion of knowledge among the masses causing them to rise against oppression of all kinds, political and social.”
“This thirty-seven years, then, will be filled with trouble such as the world has never known?” said a reporter.
“Yes, sir. This period is the day of the Lord, we think in which society shall be disintegrated, and kingdoms and governments, as such, pass away.”
He thinks the Nihilists and Communists are forerunners of the storm, and that Church and State will go down in the “maelstrom.” His predictions of revolutions he bases on Scripture reading, as follows:
“Do you consider the present aspect of affairs between labor and capital indicative of great trouble in the future?” was asked.
“There will be more trouble, and there will be eventually a terrible struggle for supremacy with all the dire results consequent upon such a struggle, and I think the scriptures predict it. Among other passages read James V. 1-5”
The article quoted James 5:1-5 in full, but ended with the observation: “And thus the cranks do multiply, and the people imagine a vain thing, seek, in the supernatural, the explanation of social disturbances, which arise from purely economic causes.”
To prompt more interest a tract usually referenced as The Minister’s Daughter was issued as a supplement to the June 1882 issue of
’s Zion . It reprinted John Greenleaf Whittier’s poem. On the
reverse was a message entitled “True and Righteous Are Thy Ways, ‘Lord God
Almighty.’” Watch Tower
Because of their much wider circulation the Bible Students Tracts and Food for Thinking Christians filled a place that Day Dawn failed to fill. Paton’s book circulated in very small number, mostly among those already interested or within the Second Adventist community. The tracts and later booklet based on them, Food for Thinking Christians, circulated widely among those not previously exposed to Watch Tower teaching. It drew interest from outside the Second Adventist community.
A few decades later Harris Franklin Rall, professor of Systematic Theology at Garrett Biblical Institute, Evanston, Illinois, presented an analysis of Watch Tower teachings. Without commenting directly on either Food or the tracts, he suggested that it was rooted in First Century Christianity or at least in an attempt to reclaim primitive Christianity. His review was somewhat critical, because he felt Christianity had evolved beyond its Chiliastic roots:
A different influence was that working outside the great churches and appearing in the smaller separatist groups. These were the modern successors of the more radical circles of the Reformation period. In the first half of the nineteenth century there appeared in
the Irvingites and Plymouth Brethren, in this country
the Adventists under Miller. Other movements appeared [including] Millennial
Dawnism … Common to them all is the thought of a millennial kingdom to be
established upon earth in some special manner. Certain other elements
constantly recur, though not always present in any one instance: a verbal theory
of inspiration, a frequent recourse to type and allegory, … and the sharp
criticism of the established churches and opposition to them. The emphasis upon
a biblical and legalistic literalism is often joined with an attempt to
reproduce primitive Christianity. … In
its fundamental point of view as a theology and as a program of salvation,
modern premillennialism represents Jewish apocalypticism. It despairs of this
age and looks to some sudden and unexpected deed of omnipotence to overthrow
the old, and establish a new world. It has the same extreme emphasis upon
divine sovereignty and the same fatalistic conception of world history. … England
It is important, as we turn to a detailed study of modern premillennialism, that we shall not only recognize how it is connected with the past, but also the peculiar character which it has to-day. The change that has taken place will appear if we contrast this modern movement with the chiliastic hopes that were held in many parts of the church in the first two centuries. The early Christians lived in a hostile world, governed by forces that were always frankly pagan and sometimes threatened their very existence. They saw no hope for deliverance except by the destruction of the whole world-order. They believed that the age was near its end. In the midst of this darkness they felt that the Lord would speedily return and deliver them. They had no plans for the future because they did not expect any future. …
Modern premillennialism faces a radically changed situation. It has to deal with the fact that nineteen centuries have passed, that several score generations have come and gone since that early day. It cannot ignore the fact that there is such a thing as a long Christian history for which some sort of meaning must be found. And unless it turns again to discredited calculations and fixing of dates, it must realize that there may still be long centuries and even millennia ahead of us here in this earth. The time is past when it can merely quote a passage and voice a hope. And so modern chiliasm differs radically from the simple and unreflective hope of that early day. It is no mere expectation of the speedy second coming of Christ. It is no mere teaching as to the order of certain events. It has of necessity become an elaborate system of doctrine, a complete outline of theology. It is an interpretation of Christianity claiming to give alone its true meaning. In Judaism and early Christianity these hopes were expressed with a certain freedom, marked with feeling and imagination, with no suggestion of logic and system. Modern premillennialism has become scholastic system, with rigid forms of thought and endless elaboration of doctrine.
Though Rall is critical, he saw “Millennial Dawnism” as an attempt to return to Christian (and Jewish) roots. He accurately describes the
movement as a rejection of the world in favor of a
clearly defined relationship to God and as a protest against the laxity and
deflection of contemporary churches. Watch Tower
The claim to “truth” disturbed Rall and others for several reasons. Any claim to advanced understanding of “truth” calls into question those who do not hold the same views. No one likes to be questioned, though probing beliefs is an essential to solid faith. Finding themselves defined as lacking led many to an uncritical rejection of
theology. It was a rare critique that addressed Watch Tower belief in a solidly Biblical way. The few criticisms
that did address issues in that way probably number less than a dozen. Of those
critical of Food for Thinking Christians,
none address its doctrines with a clearly presented Biblical refutation. Watch Tower
Also, the claim to advanced light turned into a cudgel in the hands of the unkind and stupid and led to severe and un-analytic rejection of
teachings. The two most dramatic examples come from
the years immediately following those we’re considering. Briefly told, a number
of pugnacious Watch Tower evangelists caused harm to the movement by their
aggressive behavior. One got himself arrested for a disturbance outside a Watch Tower church and another disrupted a religious assembly to
hand out protest tracts not produced by the Pittsburgh . Watch Tower
One Twentieth Century writer suggests that Food for Thinking Christians is Russell’s most important book. In that it was the first wide-spread dissemination of
teachings, this is true. Criticisms such are Rall’s
and those of more modern anti-sect writers ignore or diminish the significance
of the long history of Historicist interpretation of prophecy. A more thorough
going Biblical discussion would have benefited all parties. It simply did not
occur in any meaningful way. Watch Tower
What did occur was an increase of resignations from former church affiliation on the part of newly converted
adherents. Russell printed one such letter in the
December 1881, Watch Tower . Written by a woman to her congregation of sixteen
years, it was a plain statement of the essentials of Watch Tower teaching: Watch Tower
Believing that we are in the harvest of the Gospel Age as spoken of in Matt. 13:30, when the reapers are separating the wheat from the tares, which the Lord has permitted to grow together during the age, and also that the nominal church of all denominations is represented by the wheat and tares in the field-- in which both have been growing, and that its mixed condition of worldly-mindedness and lukewarm Christianity is displeasing in the sight of our Lord, I have … concluded to sell all that I once found dear--my reputation and my friends if need be--my time, my talents, my means, my all.
This mixed condition of truth and error, worldliness and lukewarmness, etc., I believe to be the
described in Rev. 18, in which are still some of the
Lord’s dear children. To all such he says, (vs. 4) “Come out of her my people that ye be not partakers of
her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.” Babylon
In obedience to this command, I ask to have my name taken off the list of membership of the nominal church. It is written in the Lamb’s book of life and that is enough.
In withdrawing my name I do not withdraw my affections from you, but would if I could have you all “as ripened wheat,” gathered into the barn – condition of safety, rather than bound with the bundles of tares for the burning – with the “fire of God’s jealousy.”
Let me urge you each to a deeper consecration and a more thorough searching of the Scriptures.
Others separated from their pervious church affiliation forming de facto congregations in cities where more than one shared similar beliefs. The congregation in
, dated its formation to 1881 and by implication the
publication of Food for Thinking
Christians. They called themselves “Believers in the Restitution,”
one of many names used by congregations of Albany,
New York adherents. Watch Tower
 View from the Tower, Zion’s Watch Tower, March 1882, page 1.
 The Minutes and Official Journal of the New York Conference: Fifteenth Annual Session of the Central New York Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church held at Ithaca, New York, October 11-17, 1882, pages 24, 60. Earliest mention of his ministry within the M. E. Church I could find is in The
, Journal, Syracuse, New York May 3, 1866,
 Elliot G. Storke. History of Cayuga County, New York, lists him as active in the ministry in 1864.
Child. Gazetteer and Business Directory
of Hamilton , N. Y., for 1868-9. Onondaga County
 His health issues are mentioned in Central New York Conference reports in the late 1870’s Pastor in
South Dakota History, Compiled and Arranged in the Office of Hughes County of Schools, County- Superintendent , 1937, page 115. Hughes County, South Dakota
 A Word from Brother Tackabury, Zion’s Watch Tower, March 1888, page 1.
 Brother Tackabury’s Death, Zion’s Watch Tower, August 1888, page 1. Tackabury was married twice. His first wife, Mary G. Watkins, died
May 6, 1863. The marriage and her
death are noted in The New York
Genealogical and Biographical Record, January 1913, page 84. He married
secondly Alice Force in .
That marriage is noted in A Centennial
and Biographical Record of Seneca County, Ohio, The Lewis Publishing Co,
Chicago, 1902, page 439. Ohio
 Christopher B. Coleman: Some Religious Developments in Indiana, Indiana Magazine of History, June 1909, describes a “railroad preacher” this way: The circuit rider and itinerant preacher, so necessary and useful in the early times, survives under different conditions in a less glorious service and with less effectiveness in the railroad preacher of the present, living in some central location and going to scattered congregations for preaching service on Sunday, and to funerals and weddings on week-days, stirring religious sentiment by periodic protracted meetings, but seldom vitally affecting the life of the community. – page 68.
 View from the Tower, Zion’s Watch Tower, April 1882, page 1.
 History of Floyd County, Iowa, Inter-State Publishing Co.,
1882, volume 2, page 795. The story of the British Temperance Emigration
Society and Boyer’s place in it can be found in William Kittle: History of the Township and Village of
Mazomanie, 1900, See
chapter one. Chicago
 Untitled Announcement, Zion’s Watch Tower, July 1882, page 1.
 William Worth Belknap: History of the Fifteenth Regiment,
Infantry, Keokuk, 1887, pages 208, 554,
 Commercial Men Get Divided Instruction, New York Times,
June 11, 1910.
 Mob Spirit in America, Chautauqua Press, 1903, page 23ff.
 Cook was born
January 26, 1838 in . He graduated from Harvard in 1865
and then studied for the ministry at Andover Theological Seminary. He moved to Ticonderoga,
in 1874, becoming famous for his Monday Lectures sponsored by the YMCA. His
lectures drew upwards of 2500 people and earned him an enviable reputation as a
speaker. He lectured through out the Boston and in United
He died in 1901. His obituary is found in the January 26, 1901, New York Times.
 C. T. Russell: Spiritualism, Zion’s Watch Tower, March 1881, page 2.
 Joseph Cook: God the Director of Forces, Zion’s Watch Tower, September 1880, page 5. The extract is from Monday Lectures: Fifth Series, London Edition, 1880, page 21.
 Untitled short article:
February 1884, page 2. Watch Tower
 P. S. L. Johnson: The Parousia Messenger,
pages 555ff, 575, 584. The Parousia Messenger – Vol. 2, Philadelphia ,
1949, page 504. Joseph Cook, Occident, With Preludes on Current Events,
Houghton, Mifflin & Co., Philadelphia ,
 M. F. Russell: Tract Fund Report, Zion’s Watch Tower, January 1886, page 2.
 Labor Troubles, The New York Times,
 Religious, The
, Democrat, New
Philadelphia, Ohio May 18, 1882.
 H. F. Rall: Modern Premillennialism and the Christian Hope, Abingdon Press, 1920, pages 101-103.
 There are two versions of Elmer Bryan’s arrest outside a church in
in 1889; one describes him as “mild mannered” and the other as pugnacious. The Pittsburgh Evening Telegram April 1, 1889, is most
favorable to New York . The Pittsburgh Dispatch, April 1 and Bryan April 6, 1889, paint the opposite
picture. The Dispatch may have been
swayed against by the social
stature of John S. Slagle, “a well-known iron manufacturer.” Bryan
accused Slagle of assault. Bryan
S. I. Hickey disrupted a meeting of The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in
out a self-published protest tract. He was ushered out of the church where the
meeting was held and driven away by police. The story is told in The Pittsburgh Dispatch, New York City May 18, 1889.
nor Hickey would remain
within the Bryan
organization. Watch Tower had a
reputation for being hyper critical of others. He married one of von Zech’s
daughters was sucked into von Zech’s complaints against Russell. Hickey had
universalist leanings and eventually pursued that doctrine. Bryan
Another aggressive Watch Tower evangelist was J. N Kleusch. In 1894 he was arrested and fined twenty-five dollars for threatening behavior. The Chicago Inter-Ocean reported: “In his missionary zeal Mr. Kleusch endeavored to force Mrs. Charles Manval to buy a tract entitled “Millennial Dawn.” When she refused to do so he began to threaten her and tell her the doom of backsliders. At this juncture, however Mr. Manval entered the house. He covered the missionary with a revolver, ordered him out of the house, and then swore out a warrant for his arrest. In the Police Court yesterday morning the missionary appeared as his own advocate and conducted his case in a novel manner. Hanging up a chart before Justice Quinn, he began to demonstrate to the court that the day of judgment was at hand. It required only a few moments for the Judge to become satisfied on this point, and he accordingly assessed the alleged missionary $25 and costs.” – See the January 16, 1894, issue.
 His Second Coming: Believers in the Restitution Say Christ Will Come again in 1914, The
, Evening Journal, Albany, New York May 28,
1900. There is no record of this group in contemporary issues of Zion’s . This article comprises the entire history of the Watch Tower
congregation before the 1890’s. In 1900 they met in the home of Fredrick
Clapham at Albany 288 First Street.
The article is vague, and it is possible that instead of the congregation being
formed that year, it was a reference to the formation of Zion’s Watch Tower
Tract Society. The actual quotation is: “The ‘Believers in the Restitution is a
society organized in 1881. It is comparatively small in this city, but in
several sections and in ,
it is flourishing. England