Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Richards again ...

We need to know if he shows up in The Watch Tower in the 1920s and 1930s. Anyone help?

Monday, December 28, 2015

We need to confirm birth data for this man

William E. Richards

            W. E. Richards was born in Illinois in May 1861 and joined the Methodist Episcopal Church as a youth. By the time he appears on the pages of Zion’s Watch Tower, he lived in Ohio with his wife and children. Writing to Russell in February 1892, he recalled his youthful interest in the Bible and his desire to preach: “From a child I have read the Scriptures, and all other books that I thought or hoped would make plain to my understanding the truth, as I was hungry to know and anxious to teach it.”[1] By the mid-1880s he was “

[1]               “Out of Darkness into his Marvelous Light,” Zion’s Watch Tower, March 1, 1893, page 78.

We must

We must be boring everyone.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

I wish...

St Paul Enterprise, 1917

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Another early worker

The Lady Canvasser

            A notice appeared in the Monongahela, Pennsylvania, Daily Republican of May 7, 1887, saying that, “The lady canvasser of the book ‘Millennial Dawn,’ wishes to announce to the subscribers that the book will not be delivered until the 20th of the month of May, or a little later, as the first edition of the book has been entirely exhausted. About the 20th, she will be in the city to deliver the books.” We do not know who this was. In the November 1883, Watch Tower, Russell named “sisters” Raynor and Vogel as exemplary colporteurs. Vogel’s first name appears to be Catherine. She continued in the work into the 1890s, working with a Helena Boehmer in eastern Pennsylvania.[1] Laura J. Raynor (1839-1917) was Maria Russell’s older sister and a widow. (Henry Raynor, her husband, died in 1873.) Her active ‘ministry’ seems to have been short-lived, and when Maria Russell left her husband Laura left the Watch Tower.
            There were other women evangelists. One such was Millia La Clare, a resident of Kansas. Despite his illness, she and her husband packed their two boys, aged seven and eleven, into a covered wagon “to save expenses” and canvassed the prairie. Her brief biography, written as a letter to The St. Paul, Minnesota, Enterprise tells the story:

I have put in over 33 years of faith, without doubting my God’s power to save even me, and 12 full years as a colporteur, and that in a covered wagon in summer to save expenses, for we were very poor when I got the Truth and my dear husband had been poorly and it was good for him, but very hard on me, as I often had been wet and cold, slept in wet bedding and every way, for I was so happy over my call to sacrifice, and not much experienced I often did more than reasonable service. Have laid out in rain and thunder and wind storms and went too early in spring and too late in fall; but my zeal was to help “harvest” all I could.[2]

[1]               C. T. Russell: Harvest Laborers: Pray for Them, Zion’s Watch Tower¸ September 15, 1892, page 50.
[2]               Voices of the People: Or What our Readers Say, St. Paul, Minnesota, Enterprise¸ November 12, 1918.

Bro. Marting

Minor progress on this man:

Fred W. Marting (b. 1853) received a copy of Food for Thinking Christians in the fall of 1881 and began circulating it immediately. “It was food for me,” he wrote. “I scattered it ever since.” Later in life he lived in Pittsboro, Indiana, and then Chicago, Illinois.[1]

[1]               Voices of the People: What our Readers Say, The St. Paul Enterprise, April 2, 1915.

Some of you...

I owe some of you emails. Be patient. I'm swamped.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Phillips and Bowman from earlier post

Captain John Riley Phillips, born August 24, 1839, near Meadowville, son of James and Osa (Johnson) Phillips, grandson of Jacob Phillips, great grandson of Isaac, and great-great-grandson of Moses Phillips, an Englishman who settled on the South Branch, and subsequently in Randolph County. Isaac Phillips married Miss Kittle, of Randolph, and Jacob married Sarah Bennett. Osa Johnson was a daughter of John Johnson and granddaughter of Robert Johnson, a Scotchman. The subject of this sketch had one sister, Sarah Ann, and no brother. His parents were very poor, possessed but little education, married young and settled first in the eastern part of Barbour, then a wild region. Subsequently they moved to Clover Creek, which was still wilder, and again they moved, this time to Brushy Fork in Barbour, where they made a permanent home. John Riley Phillips was a man of unusually brilliant mind. Had he been educated he would probably have gained a national reputation as a thinker and lecturer. He was an orator of unusual ability, and a careful reader of such books as came within his reach. His education was limited to the schools of the neighborhood. Among his teachers was William Furguson who made a deep impression upon the young man's mind. A literary society in that neighborhood, attended by Captain Phillips, Captain A. C. Bowman and others, was an association for good, and in point of intellectual strength its equal could be found in few rural districts anywhere.

Captain Phillips and Captain Bowman studied law at home, intending to go to Texas to enter professional life; but their plans never matured. The Civil War came on, and they espoused the cause of the South, were the very first in the field, marched to Grafton, retreated to Philippi, fled to Beverly, joined Garnett's army; were in that general's retreat from Laurel Hill, and were separated in the route. Phillips fought through the entire war, in some of the hardest battles, in victory and defeat. He received wounds from which he never recovered, although he lived till October 24, 1894. On March 7, 1867, he was married to Elizabeth E. Parks, and had one child, May.

Not Satisfactory ...

Here's an excerpt from a new chapter. This is not making me happy. Not at all. We need to identify these people. If you want to help, this is a good way. Put first names to the last names in this section .... This is rough draft.

New Workers

            It is impossible to name everyone who showed interest or who became an adherent. There are, however, interesting comments that lead us to some sound conclusions. Many of the names we run across are those of Age-to-Come/One Faith believers. Russell said some of his readers had been Second Adventists. Edward Payson Woodward, whom we met in Nelson Barbour: The Millennium’s Forgotten Prophet as chairman of the Worchester Conference and found in sympathy with Barbour, wrote that several of his “personal friends … accepted Mr. Russell as their Leader and spiritual Guide.” He too read Millennial Dawn (later Studies in the Scriptures), but rejected it.[1] Many more came from mainline Churches. New workers entered the field almost with the first issue of Zion’s Watch Tower, but we are left with scant documentation. Despite our best and persistent efforts we cannot identify most of them.

“Brother and Sister McCormack”

Apparently well-known to Watch Tower readers, the McCormacks are mentioned once. In July 1882, Russell noted that they were moving to Chicago:

The Chicago friends will be glad to know that Bro. McCormack is about to remove there. Chicago is a good field, and our Brother and his wife remove there in the hope of being used by the Master for the blessing of the household of faith, by disseminating the truth. When he calls on you, receive him well –he is a brother in Christ. Let meetings be commenced at once, and the Lord bless you.[2]

            Though we lose sight of the McCormacks afterward, we don’t lose sight of the work in Chicago. Street witnessing with Food for Thinking Christians produced fruitage. Someone wrote to Russell in 1884 expressing his gratitude for the booklet. He believed it reformed him:

Having picked up one of your little books on the street, called “Food for Thinking Christians,” and “Why Evil was Permitted,” I became deeply interested in it. It seems very good for thinking sinners as well as Christians. I am a reformed man now, having been down in the gutter many a time through intoxicating drink, though I have not tasted any now for over a year, may God help me to keep from it. Having just read the little book, I see that you will send others, and by so doing you will oblige me. I would like to lead a better life, and become a Christian. I cannot see fully into the reality of religion, but may the Lord open my heart and eyes to the great love he has for them that fear him. I will try to make good use of anything you send.[3]

            A few months previously, Russell printed a letter from a newly interested person who reported that he and his wife were dissatisfied with denominational teachings. They wanted to circulate tracts:

You will permit me, though a stranger, to say that I have received knowledge for both head and heart that years of searching had failed to accomplish, and so with the hope of seeing others freed from sectarian darkness, I, too, will be glad to be counted among those who are helping to distribute the meat in due season. I know whom I trust now, thanks be to God. The “Food”, came just when I had lost hold, because there was nothing to hold me in the churches – for I searched Baptist, Methodist, Free Methodist, Congregational and Presbyterian denominations till I became satisfied that the Lord had something better for me to find: Then “Food” came – it seemed accidentally – but now I see it was providentially. Let me heartily thank you – or rather thank God for giving you the ability to open the way to the light. Great is the surrounding darkness and we are desirous to have others see their way clearly. If you can send us some reading matter, we can drop it into good soil. A dear old child of God left our house in great sorrow and perplexity of mind last Sunday evening. He has been a deacon in the Baptist church for thirty years. Said he, “O, I have studied these matters until I just find, that the more I give my mind to these things the less I know; and now I just know nothing and have made up my mind to let it go, for God will bring it out all right; and what can I do but wait Gods own good time. When we get over there, we will see face to face.” I endeavored to persuade him to expect the mystery to be explained. Said he: “O bring me anything. I want the best the Lord gives. I know God is love and I hate this “Hell doctrine!” The minister in a little church here is in a quandary: he is a thinking man, only he is in the “iron bedstead.” Please send reading matter, if possible, – these two at least feel their need.[4]

            An unnamed but persistent worker sent a brief note in April 1886, enclosing a subscription payment. The note makes it clear that he had been working in the poorer neighborhoods: “It is encouraging to know that among the lowly houses there are ears to hear.” When printing the note, Russell omitted the signature.[5]

The Lady Canvasser

            A notice appeared in the Monongahela, Pennsylvania, Daily Republican of May 7, 1887, saying that, “The lady canvasser of the book ‘Millennial Dawn,’ wishes to announce to the subscribers that the book will not be delivered until the 20th of the month of May, or a little later, as the first edition of the book has been entirely exhausted. About the 20th, she will be in the city to deliver the books.” We do not know who this was. In the November 1883, Watch Tower, Russell named “sisters” Raynor and Vogel as exemplary colporteurs. Vogel’s first name appears to be Catherine. She continued in the work into the 1890s, working with a Helena Boehmer in eastern Pennsylvania.[6] Laura J. Raynor (1839-1917) was Maria Russell’s older sister and a widow. (Henry Raynor, her husband, died in 1873.) Her active ‘ministry’ seems to have been short-lived.


           Also active in late 1883 were “Brothers” Van der Ahe, Cain, Grable, and Hughes. We know almost nothing about them, not even their first names. In 1887, Russell mentions “Brothers” Marting, van Hook, Gillis, Myers, Bryan, Cobb, Blundin, Hickey, and Bowman.
Blundin and Hickey we profile in more appropriate places. M. C. Van Hook was active in the American Midwest. He filled in for Josephus Perry Martin while Martin preached near Miamisburg, Ohio. He was still active in 1892, working with Samuel Leigh and William H. Deming in southern Ohio and northern Kentucky. Russell described them as “earnest and faithful and are blessed and a blessing wherever they go.”[7] He was working in Indiana in 1894. We lose sight of him afterward. And we do not know his full name.[8]

Myers is an unknown. Several Myers appear in latter issues of the Watch Tower. None of them seem to have been active in this period. Marting and Cobb are also unknowns. There are two possibilities for “Brother Cobb.” A poem by N. B. Cobb appeared in the June 1881, Watch Tower, and a brief note praising The Plan of the Ages was signed by a J. Cobb. It appears in the October 1886 issue.[9] We have but on sample of Cobb’s work, preserved in a letter to Russell printed in the June 1888 Tower. Sent from D. M. Lee, a Baptist minister in Reynolds County, Missouri, it records Cobb’s work with sample issues of Zion’s Watch Tower:

Please indulge me, a little. I had a copy of “zion's watch tower” (Oct. 1886) handed me the other day by Mr. Cobb. I am wonderfully well pleased with it. It has brought certain strange things to my eyes, that I have been for years desiring to look into. I have toiled many long years as a minister under the Baptist banner. The more I study the Scriptures, and the better I understand Baptist Theology and discipline, the less I esteem them.

For years I have fought the palpable, absurd and inconsistent doctrine of eternal punishment. I am now 71 years old and unable to work; but thank God, I can talk yet, if I can't work; and when I speak, I wish to speak the truth; but feel confident I cannot do it under my confused conditions. I need a kind hand to lead me out. If you please send me the tower, I will use it to the best of my ability, and will undertake to pay you for it during the year.[10]

We have three possible identities for Bowman. Adam C. Bowman, once a captain in the 19th Virginia Cavalry and a lawyer, circulated The Plan of the Ages, but his activity seems to have been mostly limited to Barbour County, West Virginia. He handed a copy to J. R. Phillips, a Confederate veteran.[11] Phillips took up the message, writing to Russell in 1887:

I have talked much about the millennial dawn with persons of intelligence, since I began its reading. Some priest-ridden persons reject it, but I find its ideas a joy to many. I traveled for fifteen miles across my county, a few days since, with a gentleman, and shortly after joining him I remarked, I have been lately reading the millennial dawn, the most wonderful book of our day. I gave him its outline and he eagerly continued the conversation through our three hours ride. The next day I luckily had another friend to make a part of the return ride with. I mentioned the book as before, and the gentleman soon became interested, and we discussed it up to our parting. He then invited me to go to his community and lecture upon the subject, which I promised to do, when I thoroughly investigated the whole subject. I thank you a thousand times for having placed this book in my hands and will be glad to have the second volume on any terms.[12]

                Phillips remained interested at least to 1891. After reading Millennial Dawn – Volume 2, he wrote to Russell expressing his gratitude. He was wounded in the Battle of the Wilderness and crippled for life, he said. “I returned to my home that had been ruined, at the close of the war, and found myself a cripple for life with a life-struggle before me. I felt that my lot was a hard one, but I determined to honor God and keep up a resolute will. Sometimes dark and threatening clouds gathered about me, almost despair settled over my mind and fears almost paralyzed my hopes for the future.” Reading The Plan of the Ages changed that. “I read it, and poverty vanished into the marvelous light of a bright and glorious hope,” he wrote. After reading both volumes he believed he could read his Bible with understanding. He wanted to visit Russell during on of the Passover conventions to shake his hand and thank him.[13]
                Another possibility is a J. T. Bowman who held meetings in Joplin, Missouri. He comes into the record too late to be the “Brother Bowman” active in 1886. The most probable of the Bowmans is Payton Green Bowman [continues]

[1]               E. P. Woodward: Later-Day Delusions, No. 7: Another Gospel; An Exposure of the System Known as Russellism, Safeguard and Armory, July 1914, page 2.
[2]               C. T. Russell: View from the Tower, Zion’s Watch Tower,  July 1882, page 1.
[3]               Interesting Letters, Zion’s Watch Tower, March 1884, page 1.
[4]               Extracts from Interesting Letters, Zion’s Watch Tower, November 1883, page 2.
[5]               Extracts from Interesting Letters, Zion’s Watch Tower, April 1886, page 2. [Not in reprints.]
[6]               C. T. Russell: Harvest Laborers: Pray for Them, Zion’s Watch Tower¸ September 15, 1892, page 50.
[7]              For Deming see volume 1, page 52. We profile Blundin in chapter – . Quotation is from ZWT of February 15, 1892, page 50.
[8]               Voice of the Church, Zion’s Watch Tower EXTRA, June 11, 1894, page 190. [Not in reprints.]
[9]               On page 8 of that issue. [Not in reprints.]
[10]             Extracts from Interesting Letters, Zion’s Watch Tower, June 1888, page 2.
[11]             There are three J. R. Philips listed among Virginia veterans. Two were privates in Cavalry units. One was a Captain serving in the 31st Virginia Volunteers. Captain John R. Phillips fits the biographical details found in Zion’s Watch Tower. (See J. D. Cook: A History of the Thirty-First Virginia Regiment of Volunteers, C. S. A., Masters Thesis, West Virginia University, 1955, pages 7-8.
[12]             More Good News, Zion’s Watch Tower, October 1887, page 8. [Not in reprints.]
[13]             Extracts from Interesting Letters, Zion’s Watch Tower, February 1891, page 30.

We think ...

After talking it out with Mr. Schulz, we think the lawyer mentioned in a previous post was Adam C. Bowman of West Virginia, a lawyer in coal country and a Watch Tower adherent in the correct period. There is no firm proof. It's only a surmise. We would like to locate his photo.

Laura J. Raynor

From the Pittsburgh Press in 1917.

Maria’s older sister was a keen supporter of ZWT theology for a number of years, although you would not know it from her obituary.

A recent post on this blog has a Sister Raynor sharing in colporteur work in 1887. Laura had been widowed some years before in 1873. Harry Raynor had been under 40 years old at the time, leaving her with three children, Howard M Raynor (c.1867-1946), Selina Raynor, who never married (c.1865-1948), and Maria Raynor (c.1873-after 1941). Maria Raynor married S Frank McKee and she is named as May Raynor McKee on his death certificate in 1941. The whole family and offshoots stayed in the general Pittsburgh area.

At the time of her being mentioned in 1887, Laura’s children would have been of an age to be mainly independent; Selina would have been around 21, Howard around 20, and Maria (May) around 14. They were also all listed as living in the same home as Laura’s mother, Selina Ackley, in the 1880 census.

Laura is mentioned several times in subsequent issues of ZWT. In the May 1, 1892 issue, there was a meeting at her home. In the 1894 troubles, she signed a document with her sister Maria and others supporting CTR. In the 1897 troubles between CTR and Maria, she supported Maria.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Comments ...

Comments make me happy. They also provide me with feed back. Comments on content work best, even a 'well done.' Grammar we fix later.

A brief change...

...from all this serious research...

A sad tale noted in the Bible Students' newspaper, the St Paul Enterprise, involving Miracle Wheat, a monogrammed car, and the locals diversifying from cattle rustling and horse stealing.

Alas, I do not know whether he ever got his car back.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Another ....

"Brothers Van der Ahe, Cain, Grable, Hughes, and Sisters Raynor and Vogel and others are doing remarkably well, and we trust that before next month many others will be doing as much or more."

Who ARE these people?

Update: Laura J. Raynor, Maria Russell's older sister. Sister Vogel is probably Catherine Vogel, a widow from Pittsburgh. We still have no ID for the rest.

Lawyer visiting Chicago

A lawyer's letter appears in the November 1885 Watch Tower. He tells of his ministry while in Chicago to try a case. There is no name. Can we identify him? Anyone?

Update: His last name may have been "Brown."


We need to identify the person named in this brief statement found in Zion's Watch Tower:

The Chicago friends will be glad to know that Bro. McCormack is about to remove there. Chicago is a good field, and our Brother and his wife remove there in the hope of being used by the Master for the blessing of the household of faith, by disseminating the truth. When he calls on you, receive him well--he is a brother in Christ. Let meetings be commenced at once, and the Lord bless you. [view from the tower, July 1882, page 1.]

British Newspaper Archive

Do any of you have a subscription to http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk ? If so, will you search it for us?

H. L. Gillis

H. L. Gillis of West Virginia started associating in 1885. We need a full biography. Can you help?

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

More from "Out of Babylon" - Unedited and raw

Dissension was not uncommon. It arose on several grounds. Those with similar, but ultimately opposition views attended Watch Tower meetings. Some swayed by Barbour continued to attend Watch Tower meetings because there was nowhere else to go. Paton’s adherents were increasingly small in number, often having no meetings of their own. They attended Watch Tower meetings, using them to spread Paton’s universalist ideas. We discuss it more fully elsewhere, but we note here that beginning at least in 1882, Paton prepared booklets and tracts that went out primarily to Watch Tower readers. The earliest of these known to us was a thirty-two page booklet reprinting chapter four and part of chapter five of the ‘revised’ edition of Day Dawn.[1] As long as the meetings included those with opposition beliefs, opposition literature made its way into the fellowship and colored group discussions.
            Most examples come from a somewhat later period but seem to accurately represent the problem. In Brockport, New York, someone donated a subscription to Paton’s World’s Hope and Russell’s Watch Tower to the Free Library.[2] A letter written to J. H. Paton in 1902, illustrates the situation: “Sister V. … asked me to subscribe for the Hope; and I … have never been sorry. … It has been a blessing to me and much company when alone. Z. W. T.; the Hope, and my Bible are about all I read.”[3]
            Benjamin Ford Weatherwax, a retired Methodist clergyman living in Courtland, New York took up the Watch Tower message in 1901, possibly from earlier preaching by S. O. Blunden, who preached there in 1893.[4] Weatherwax wrote to Russell expressing his faith. A follow up letter was printed in the January 1, 1902, Watch Tower. It told the story of his withdrawal from the Methodist Church:

I have had a big fight and gained a glorious victory. I send you my article prepared for the Conference. I had a hard time to get a hearing, as my name was called before I reached the seat of Conference. Had I been there then I could have had the floor; but after that it was difficult. After pressing the matter they allowed me five minutes to speak and I read rapidly until I reached the sentence, “Thy Kingdom come,” two thirds through, and there the Bishop called me to order. He said I had used up six minutes and I asked for an extension of time but could not get it. (They had enough.) So I asked our own City Editor if he would like to publish it and he consented.

There was a great surprise I assure you, at Syracuse Conference, when I withdrew from it and gave my reasons even partially. I commenced giving out tracts-- until all were gone. When I gave one I said, “Read that carefully, when you are all alone.” I have a good many old friends in the Conference and Church (Nominal), but thanks be to God, I am the Lord's free man. Some have asked me what church I am going to unite with, and my answer is the “Church of the first born, whose names are written in heaven.”[5]

            Benjamin Ford Weatherwax (June 15, 1836 – November 8, 1903) attended Fairfield Seminary, and later Hartwick Academy. Though he farmed for a while, he “he felt a strong call to preach the gospel.” He was admitted to the ministry of the Methodist Episcopal Church becoming an itinerant preacher in New York. He retired in 1885, and returned to farming. He gave up farming in 1892, moving to Courtland, New York.[6] He was convinced by Watch Tower doctrine about 1900 and preached it. He convinced six others, and they formed the Church of the Little Flock in Courtland. By 1903, The Syracuse, New York, Post-Standard gave it a membership of “about ten.”[7] Shortly after he resigned from the Methodist ministry, the editor of The Courtland, New York, Evening Standard published his statement of faith:

                        Courtland, N. Y., October 29, [1901]

To the Editor of The Standard:

Sir – I have been asked to give a reason for the hope that is within the church of the “Little Flock.” First, our organization is of a heavenly origin rather than earthly. We belong to the “Church of the first born whose names are written in heaven.” Our people are scattered all over the earth. They are known by their Lord. …They are held together by love divine … . They are one body and one spirit … .

We hold that the church which God is electing or selecting during this gospel age is promised a spiritual or heavenly reward to be “made partakers of the divine nature,” and to share with Christ the work of blessing the world during the millennium. We understand that the millennial age is for the very purpose of causing “the knowledge of the Lord to fill the whole earth as the waters cover the sea,” and see “the true light which lighteth [sic] every man that cometh into the world,” giving all a full opportunity to come in to [sic] harmony with God.

We understand that the Bible teaches both the doctrine of election and the doctrine of free grace – the election of this church during this age and free grace for the world in general in the millennial age and in perfect harmony as shown by the Scriptures. We also under that 6,000 years of earth’s history is past according to Bible chronology and that the seventh thousand is the mellinnium [sic] of Christ’s reign – and that the present time from 1874 to 1914 is the lapping period styled in Scripture the “harvest” of the age, in which the number of the elect church will be completed, and that then the millennial age will be ushered in by a great time of trouble, anarchy, etc., mentioned repeatedly in Scripture which will level society, humble pride and prepare the way for Immanuel’s long promised Kingdome “under the whole heavens.”[8]
            All of this is standard Watch Tower doctrine of the era. As with other former clergy, Weatherwax assumed the leading position in the group. Meeting-time advertisements note him as “Elder,” a common Methodist designation. As did a few other former clergy, he continued to see himself as having special status. Based on his short article for the Cortland paper, editors of nearby journals presented him as the “founder of a new sect.” The Newburgh, New York, Register told its readers that “the Rev. B. F. Weatherwax, formerly of this city, has withdrawn from the Methodist Episcopal conference and has founded a new religious denomination.”[9] By the end of April 1902, they were meeting in the W.C.T.U. Hall. Sunday services were at 10 am, and a meeting for prayer and Bible study was on Wednesday at 7:30 pm.[10]
            Before 1890 either Russell or one of the others most prominent in the Watch Tower ministry would visit newly formed groups. George B. Raymond, a Watch Tower evangelist, visited the Cortland group twice. An announcement in the April 12, 1902, Cortland Standard said he’d address a meeting of the church in Good Templars’ Hall. No subject was given. R. E. Streeter visited The Church of the Little Flock in Cortland in July 1902 for two days. No subject was announced. He was back in December 1902, Speaking Wednesday, December 3rd on the topic “The Coming Kingdom,” and the next evening on “Restitution of All Things.”[11] Raymond returned in early May 1903, addressing the group twice. The Standard printed the congregation’s statement of belief:

There are people who believe the world is just entering the milennial [sic] reign of Christ, and that a wonderful age of progress, both material and spiritual, is about to be ushered in, preceded, however, by ten or fifteen years of intense strife and anarchy. They believe that the earth and the great bulk of humanity, both present and past, will, during the next thousand years, be restored to the perfection which 6,000 years ago was exampled in the Garden of Eden.

They reject the idea of eternal torment, claiming it to be unscriptural; asserting that only those who are guilty of sinning willfully against the fullest light (information) are to be considered incorrigible; these and these only, are to be destroyed in the second death.

They believe that God has for 6,000 years been allowing man to gain a sad experience with sin, and that he will, during the next thousand years, the millennium, restrain sin, that man may see righteousness n all of its beauty, and witness the blessed results of its reign. Having had 6,000 years’ experience with sin and 1,000 years’ experience with righteousness, man will be well prepared to make a wise choice as to which he will serve, and will then be tested by loosing of Satan to deceive those who during this long period shall have failed to become well grounded in godliness, Those being thus deceived will go down into the second death from which there will be no resurrection.[12]

Despite this concise statement of Watch Tower belief, Weatherwax deviated from it that year. He encountered Barbourite doctrine and adopted Barbour’s new chronology. Barbour expected the final last-days acts to occur in 1907. Weatherwax preached that. His obituaries report that the church “members believe the world ends in 1907.” We lack details. We don’t know how he encountered Barbourite doctrine. We do not know why he found it persuasive.[13] Contrary to newspaper claims, most members of the Cortland church retained Watch Tower belief. We think that the congregation retained Weatherwax because though he deviated in doctrine, they had tremendous respect for him. Writing some months after he died, Isaac Edgecomb described him as “a man of great faith.” Edgecomb was a Methodist, and wrote this despite Weatherwax’s defection from that church.[14]
The small congregation continued, placing regular ads in the Cortland paper through 1904. They numbered thirteen in 1906, all of whom traveled to Binghampton, New York, on January 26th to hear Russell speak.[15] Cortland received two visits by traveling Watch Tower Pilgrims in 1908, and persisted at least to 1917. We do not know if the current Witness congregation is an outgrowth of the original group.

      Syracuse, New York, Herald

Randolph Elwood Streeter
George B. Raymond

[1]               Announcements: The World’s Hope¸ July 1884, page 152. The title appears to be Good News for All.
[2]               Annual Report of the Brockport Free Library, The Brockport, New York, Republic, December 1, 1887.
[3]               R.O.L to Paton, The World’s Hope, February 15, 1902, page 47.
[4]               Blunden to Russell as found in the May 1, 1892, Watch Tower, pages 133-134. [Not in Reprints.]
[5]               Interesting Letters from Friends, Zion’s Watch Tower, January 1, 1902, page 15.
[6]               C. E. Fitch: Encyclopedia of Biography of New York: A life Record of Men and Women Whose Sterling Character and Energy and Industry Have Made Them PreĆ«minent in Their Own and Many Other States, Volume 3.
[7]               Drops Dean in Hen Yard, The Syracuse, New York, Post-Standard, November 3, 1903. Founds a New Sect, Ogdensburg, New York, News¸ November 12, 1901.
[8]               B. F. Weatherwax: A Question of Belief, The Courtland, New York, Evening Standard, November 2, 1901. We do not know if the grammar errors are his or the editor’s. 
[9]               Founds a New Sect, The Newburgh, New York, Register, November 7, 1901.
[10]             Church of the Little Flock, Cortland, New York, Evening Standard, April 25, 1902.
[11]             Church of the Little Flock, Cortland, New York, Evening Standard, July 28, 1902.
[12]             Two Meetings, Cortland, New York, Evening Standard, May 9, 1903.
[13]             Drops Dead in Hen Yard, The Syracuse, New York, Post-Standard¸ November 3, 1903; The Syracuse, New York, Journal, November 9, 1903. There are possible explanations as to how Weatherwax encountered Barbourite doctrine. W. Horace Kirk, owner of a blacksmithing business and evangelist preacher, was interested in the Church of the Little Flock. He attended a “convention of the Church of the Little Flock in Binghampton, New York, in May 1904. His business partner was a Hoyt, some of whom were Adventist and Age-to-Come believers. There was through Kirk a connection to Rochester and the Fullers. Fullers were Barbourites. None of this raises to the level of sound proof.
[14]             I. Edgecomb: Some Pillars, The Cortland, New  York Evening Standard, October 14, 1904.
[15]             To Attend Lecture, The Syracuse, New York, Herald¸ January 27, 1906.