Friday, December 25, 2015

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.

1 comment:

roberto said...

Rachael I will try tomorrow and in the next days.
Thanks to you and Bruce for your hard work. Grazie!