Saturday, January 30, 2016

And then there is this one ...

A shoe mender/ maker in Delhi, New York. An immigrant probably, born about 1813. He arrived in America in 1839. We need a name. His letter to Russell, written in 1883 is below:

Delhi, N.Y.

DEAR BROTHER: -The time is come when a remittance is due. I enclose $15. Last year I took ten papers in the hope of interesting and doing good to some. I find some actually refuse them; others refused to be interested; and as I do not believe in forcing men, nor think it proper to cast pearls in an unseemly place, this year you may send me five copies. It would give me pleasure to increase rather than decrease the number, but when Jesus says, "Let them alone," I obey. Please send me a Variorum Bible, and, if you can, send me two more of "Food for Thinking Christians," and two more "Tabernacle Teachings," as a reserve for opportunity to do good. I know that the others I got have done good. What remains of the remittance place where you think best. I think the claim of the Swedes is good.

Perhaps you would like to know who I am or what I am. I am over seventy years of age; what the world would call a poor man, a shoemaker, or rather a shoemender. But I bless God for his goodness to me. I was brought up a Presbyterian; came to this country forty-four years ago. From conviction I became a Baptist; afterwards in 1845 or 46 George Storrs sermons were the means of a great theological revolution with me. The hand of fellowship was withdrawn from me, because I believed I had no immortality now, but rejoiced I had it as a PRIZE BEFORE ME, and also because I believed that Jesus Christ was the Son of God. The Bible then seemed to me like a new book, and I bless God it has been brighter and brighter all along.

As proof texts for the restitution of the human race, although I have no remembrance of seeing them alluded to, I would quote "Ps. 90:3\ "Thou turnest man to destruction; and sayest, Return, ye children of men," I used to look upon the word return, as to return to dust, but I was forcibly impressed by noticing that word marked by a capital R as being an emphatic word-and the reason assigned in the "following verse\ "For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night." God is not limited by years nor ages for the accomplishment for his gracious purposes.

Again, "Jeremiah 12:15-17": "And it shall come to pass, after that I have plucked them out I will return, and have compassion on them, and will bring them again every man to his heritage, and every man to his land. And it shall come to pass, if they will diligently learn the ways of, my people to swear by my name the Lord liveth; (as they taught my people to swear by Baal;) then shall they be built up in the midst of my people. But if they will not obey, I will utterly pluck up and destroy that nation, saith the Lord." By carefully reading the "preceding part of the chapter", I came to the conclusion these promises are yet in the future. "Oh, that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men." Yours in love,

Seeking the lost ...

Here's our current research challenge, or one of them at least. We need the name of the physician:

The Doctor

            We have no name for this person, though we know he was active in Georgia, handing out one of the extensively printed ‘sample copies’ of Zion’s Watch Tower. A letter to The St. Paul, Minnesota, Enterprise written by a “Mrs. W” tells the story. In 1885 the local physician was noted for his personal evangelism in behalf of the Watch Tower faith:

Like others of our town, in Georgia, I thought the physician who tried to give me the Truth was “As crazy as a March hare;” for his talk was so different from anything I had ever before heard as Scripture. Providentially, however, the old Doctor left on my table a copy of the Watch Tower – at that time a little sheet about the size of a Bible Student’s Monthly, or a little larger; and after reading one article, I began to “search the Scriptures daily whether these things were true.” From that time on I have never for one instant doubted that what I had found was indeed the Truth.[1]

[1]               Voice of the People: What our Readers Say, St. Paul, Minnesota, Enterprise, May 8, 1914.

Thursday, January 28, 2016


The Cleveland, Ohio, Directory for 1909 lists the "Millennial Dawn Mission." The only other use of that name that we can find is in India in the early 1920s. (The book that appears in is vague and it may have been in use in an earlier period.)

Can you find additional uses of that name?

Monday, January 25, 2016


We eliminated N. J. Cobb from the list of possibles for "brother cobb" mentioned in 1887

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Looking forward ...

It's never too early to plan ahead. After bunches of emails, phone calls, and face to face, Bruce and I think we should divide book three in our history series into books three and four. As we see it now, book three will cover the years from the publication of Plan of the Ages to 1912, ending with the Missionary Tour and report.

We aren't near done with volume 2 of S. I., but it's time to put material together. You can help. We need someone to scour the newspaper archives (such as; the Library of Congress Newspaper archive, etc.) for Russell's Newspaper sermons and, more importantly, for comments on his newspaper ministry. Also search Google Books.

Instead of sending articles piecemeal, or sending entire newspaper pages, open the .pdf versions of the articles, cut and paste them into a Word document (or Word Perfect), include name and date of newspaper; include title of article. When you accumulate significant material, send it via google documents or dropbox.

This will help me stay organized. (Bruce seems to thrive on chaos; I throw up my hands in dismay.)

Other than the two famous debates (1903, 1908) there were other proposed debates and some actual debates between Watch Tower adherents and others. We need to document this as above. Again, poast it all into one document and send it that way.

Jerome has his hands full. So I need other volunteers for this. This is not a rush assignment. Book three is only in the planning stages.

We will need "country histories" too. Most of the Yearbook histories omit significant detail. You are interested in the history of your country? Research it in depth for the period 1885-1915. We want newspaper clippings, magazine articles, extracts from books. If in a foreign language, please translate them for us. I can translate German, but not well. (It gives me a headache. Save me the headache.)


Saturday, January 23, 2016

This is what ...

This is what happens when we get help solving mysteries:

            Macon Carter van Hook was born in North Carolina sometime in December 1843 to Southern-born parents who after living in Ohio for a period, immigrated to North Carolina. Though attached to the South by birth and parentage, he served as a sergeant in Company K of the 6th Iowa Volunteer Infantry, applying for a pension in July 1865, as an invalid soldier. Russell mentions his work in 1887 and we hear nothing more of him until 1894 when a letter from him appears in Zion’s Watch Tower. Sometime before 1887, he and his family moved to Columbus, Ohio. The 1910 Census shows him as retired, but he continued to present Bible lectures in Ohio. Our last notice of him seems to be an advertisement for a lecture entitled What Happens After Death, given in Portsmouth, Ohio, in January 1914. He died in Columbus, Ohio, April 27, 1917

and this: 

Van Hook, Macon C.  (Veteran.)  Age 18.  Residence Oskaloosa, nativity North Carolina.  Enlisted July 12, 1861.  Mustered July 18, 1861.   Re-enlisted and re-mustered Jan. 26, 1864.  Wounded severely in side May 13, 1864, Resaca, Ga.  Promoted Fifth Corporal Jan. 1, 1865; Fifth Sergeant March 1, 1865.  Mustered out July 2, 1865. 

Thanks to Miquel we now have this:

We don’t know who “Brother” van der Ahe was. The most likely candidates are two Pittsburgh residents living and working near the Russell’s Fifth Avenue store. The Pittsburgh directories spell the name as Vandera. Thurston’s 1869 Directory lists William, a salesman, and Louis, a shoemaker. There is no firm identification of Van der Ahe.
            Macon Carter van Hook was born in North Carolina December 8, 1843 to Southern-born parents who after living in Ohio for a period, immigrated to North Carolina. Though attached to the South by birth and parentage, he served as a sergeant in Company K of the 6th Iowa Volunteer Infantry, enlisting at Oskaloosa July 12, 1861, when he was eighteen and reenlisting in January 1864. He was severely in the right side at Resaca, Georgia on May 13, 1864. He applied for a pension in July 1865, as an invalid soldier and was granted four dollars a month.
            Russell mentions his work in 1887 and we hear nothing more of him until 1894, when a letter from him appears in Zion’s Watch Tower. In 1883 he and his family lived in Miamisburg, Ohio. Sometime before 1887, he and his family moved to Columbus, Ohio. The 1896-1897 R. L. Polk directory for Columbus says he was employed as an “agent.” The 1910 Census shows him as retired, but he continued to present Bible lectures in Ohio. Our last notice of him seems to be an advertisement for a lecture entitled What Happens After Death, given in Portsmouth, Ohio, in January 1914. He died in Columbus, Ohio, April 27, 1917.[1]

[1]              Residence in Miamisburg, wound, and pension details: List of Pensioners on the Roll: January 1, 1883, Government Printing Office, Washinton, D. C., page 233.


So at some point the blog post index and the 'search this blog' box went missing from this blog. I don't know how to fix that. Anyone?


So we have many secondary research issues, things it would be nice to know but we can live without if we must. I'm enlisting your help with some of these.

We want to know the name of the Methodist clergyman in Americus, Kansas, in 1883.

We want to know J. B. Adamson's exact occupation.

We need to identify "brothers" M. C. van Hook, Myers and Cobb - early Watch Tower evangelists. Thanks to Miquel, we now know that M. C. van Hook is Macon C. van Hook, born in North Carolina in 1844 and later a resident of Columbus Ohio! Super stuff!

We need a reasonable biography of William Dow of Albany, New York. He supported Russell in an article appearing in The Albany Morning Express in 1895.

Because some blog readers are from Britain

Thursday, January 21, 2016


Thanks for what you sent. Hugely important things in that group.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Out of Babylon: Current Work - Temporary post

If you copy this for personal use, please don't share it off the blog.

Out of Babylon

            There is almost no record of the earliest congregations’ internal structure or of the nature of their meetings. Though meeting guidance was given as early as 1884, a standard meeting format wasn’t introduced until the 1890s, and nature of meetings varied by place. To understand them we must rely on comments made in later decades. While some of his observations were appropriate to later years, the anonymous author of the Watchtower series “The Modern History of Jehovah’s Witnesses” accurately describes affiliated congregations in the period before 1900:

Thanks for the comments, everyone! Helpful and encouraging. The rest of this post is deleted.

James E. Fitch - As we have it now.

James Edwin Fitch

            J. E. Fitch (1830-1926) was an early Washington Territory pioneer and Methodist clergyman. In the late 1850s Fitch was in Wisconsin, working in cooperation with a Baptist missionary “for the purpose of showing to the world how well Christians could agree, and to show their love for the churches; and a revival ensued whereby many were saved from the sin of the world, taken into the Churches.” About two hundred converts were added to the Methodist church during the first year (1857-1858) of Fitch’s ministry in Wisconsin.[1] In 1868 Fitch was in Iowa.[2] His ministry within the Methodist church seems to have been successful.
            In 1882 Fitch was living in North Prosser, Washington. Fitch read Food for Thinking Christians and was convinced by it. He recounted his conversion to Watch Tower doctrine in a letter to The St. Paul, Minnesota, Enterprise: “The Holy Sprit led my companion and self out of darkness into light, 36 years ago, by reading and studying that blessed little booklet, ‘Food for Thinking Christians,’ and the later restitution publications, ‘Searching the Scriptures daily whether these things were so.’ We have never doubted these precious harvest truths from that day to this.”[3] He and his wife left the Methodist Church which he later referred to as the “barren desert of Methodism.”
            We did not find a reference to Fitch in The Watch Tower, so his work within the Watch Tower movement is unclear. However, we run across him in one of the first person interviews that sometimes contribute to our research. In the late 1970s and early 1980s the elder of us interviewed surviving members of the Hazen family, long time residents of the lower Yakima River Valley. Kermit Hazen, an elder in the Pasco, Washington, congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses recalled his father’s interaction with an aged and infirm former colporteur. Though the connection is tenuous, we think this is Fitch. He lived in the right place, near Prosser, Washington. The aged colporteur’s family opposed Watch Tower teachings. Fitch’s family presents him as a Methodist. The 1900 United States Census notes Fitch as “a preacher,” hence a colporteur within Watch Tower parlance.

[1]               History of Vernon County, Wisconsin: Together with Sketches of Its Towns, Union Publishing Company, Springfield, Illinois, 1884, page 406.
[2]               Minutes of the Annual Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church for 1868, New York, page 188.
[3]               Found in the March 12, 1918, issue.

The "Mailing Tracts"

We need clear scans of  tracts 7, 9, 10, 13, 14, 17, 18, 19, 20, and 21. Can you help?

Friday, January 15, 2016

James E. Fitch

Letter from Fitch in March 12, 1918 St. Paul Enterprise
He lived in Washington State at the time of writing.
We need some basic biography for him. Can you help?

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Just a reminder ...

Some of our readers feel a sense of ownership when it comes to this blog. But the blog belongs to Mr. Schulz and myself. We set the rules, enforce them and make policy.Often if you see a scold or a restatement of the rules, we will not tell you why we did that. Assume you don't know the whole story.

We do not care what religion you are; you many not break the rules. 

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Jerome or Roberto

Help me if you can. I want to block visits from S. Korea and Russia, the entire countries.

I'm asking politely. Since neither the Russian nor the Korean visitors to this blog can abide by the rules, I'm asking you to stop visiting this blog. I don't want you here. You have absolutely no ethical standards. A thief is a thief. You are not free to use our material without our consent. Stop it and go away. Be nice little boys.

In the past week ...

In the past week we've had about 100 visits from South Korea, and in the past month 150 visits, but NO comments. Why is that? Do you feel free to use our material without even a thanks? Civilized behavior demands a thank you when others further your research, does it not?

You are making me uncomfortable and suspicious. It takes effort to block an entire country. I'm asking you to state your reason for coming to this blog or to go away and stay away. If I have to block the entire country of South Korea I will. I'd rather you just respect the rules here and GO AWAY.

The material on this blog is copyrighted. You are not fee to use it without permission. Even if that's the usual practice in Korea.


Thanks for crafting the new header. Much appreciated.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

So you know

I'm swamped with end of semester stuff and planning a teacher (and para-educator) training day for staff. So you may not see much new material on the blog for two or three weeks.

We have a new reader (or readers) from Korea. If that's you, leave a comment and introduce yourself. We lost a couple of readers to a fit of temper. Shame on you. All we ask is that you keep your comments to historical matters. We respect everyone's religious views, but we do not debate them here. If that bothers you, then you do not belong here. Restating rules that have been in place here since the blog was started is not a scold.

We need Russell era controversialist booklets and articles, especially those published before 1910.

There are several Hessler family obituaries that might lead to living family. The obits suggest the family continued as Jehovah's Witnesses. Anyone volunteer to trace living family and contact them?

If you email me and don't get an immediate reply, know that I'm not ignoring you. I'm very busy. Sometimes you have to wait. If you don't hear from me in a week, resend the email.

Mr. Schulz is some better, but please do not email him. He works on our project, sleeps a lot, and his work is limited to a few hours a week. Please direct your questions and comments to me.

I was asked about blog 2, the private blog. It is inactive. 

Friday, January 8, 2016


Mr. Schulz and I invest a huge amount of money and work to further our research. We don't ask you for money. We do like comments. The same two - sometimes three - people comment. Everyone else that visits this blog avoids commenting. Even an "interesting" or "well done" is good.

Lack of comments is personally discouraging. You want this work to continue? An occasional comment helps.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Remember this?

From the chapter titled Out of Babylon (with slight revisions)

The Woodworths were not alone. Others represented pre-existing interest in Scranton. Among them was D. M. Hessler. We know little about Daniel Milburn Hessler. (1860-1917) He was a prominent citizen, owning a laundry business in Scranton with branches in New Jersey, Indiana and Pennsylvania. He appears once in the Watch Tower through a letter to Russell in February 1891, and he named a son born that year Charles Russell Hessler. Commenting on a new cover design for Zion’s Watch Tower, we find him expressing his strongly held belief:

I received January number last night and quickly noticed the new suit in which the tower is clothed. I feel sure that the improvement will be greatly appreciated by its readers. The emblem of the cross and crown is an appropriate and beautiful design to be worn by the tower. Its presence should ever encourage, sustain and comfort the household of faith. It should also be a warning or reminder; for as the cross and crown are inseparable in the design, so the two are to be inseparably associated in the experience of the overcomers. If we would wear the crown we must bear the cross.[1]

            Hessler drops out of the record with this letter. We do not know if he maintained his interest or how active he was within the Scranton congregation. By  July 1895, meetings were held in George W. Hessler’s home at 728 Green Ridge Street. Erlenmyer would have directed the Woodworths to this meeting. The one notice of it appears in the July 13, 1895, Scranton, Pennsylvania, Tribune:

The Watch Tower Bible class will meet at the residence of G. W. Hessler, 728 Green Ridge street, [sic] Sunday, July 14, at 10 a. m. The subject will be “Restitution of all things which God hath spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets since the world began,” Acts, iii 21. The leader will also explain from the “Chart of the Ages” the special call of this gospel age, “The straight gate and narrow way to life, and the few there be that find it.” Matt. Vii, 14.

            We do not know who the class “leader” was, but we do know something of George Hessler. [died May 1913] He was a cabinet maker, “well known in building circles,” and a member of the Improved Order of Heptasophs, a fraternal organization. Hessler was an inventor, holding patents for a ‘book holder’ and a toilet chair.[2] A German immigrant, he became a citizen in February 1909.[3] Later in life he invested in a Cuban gold mine and he was swindled.[4] As with Daniel Hessler, we do not know if he maintained his interest. When his daughter Hazel was married in 1905, it was by the “Reverend Stahl.”[5] This cannot be taken as evidence of later belief because in this era adherents turned to clergy for weddings. Few Watch Tower evangelists were recognized by state or county officials to perform marriages.

[1]               Extracts from Interesting Letters, Zion’s Watch Tower, February 1891, page 29.
[2]               U.S. Patents numbers 263,290 and 752,551.
[3]               Scranton Wochenblatt, February 25, 1909.
[4]               The Scranton, Pennsylvania, Truth, January 12, 1911.
[5]               The Scranton, Pennsylvania, Truth¸ June 7, 1905.

D. M. Hessler's son Charles Russell served at Bethel in the 1940s and is mentioned in the 1943 Yearbook. Can anyone help us connect with Hessler relations who are still Jehovah's Witnesses?

Benjamin Ford Weatherwax


As featured in recent chapter on this blog "Out of Babylon"

With grateful thanks to Diana via who is a vaguely distant relation. She gives permission for the photograph to be reproduced as we see fit.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Not so wild wild suspcion

The evidence is so slim as to be suspect, very suspect, but we're working on the supposition that Brother van der Ahe was Chris von (also van) der Ahe, the owner of the Browns baseball team. All we have is the possibility that he met a Watch Tower evangelist in New York. We think the possibility is strong. He had a connection to Pittsburgh, were he was well known.

We need to prove or disprove this. We're up against a brick wall. Can you do better?

We believe his interest was short lived. We believe that personal difficulties started it and ended it. But, everything is just suspicion. Help!

We probably have to give this up, as fun as it would be to have a drunken baseball club owner in the story. Our focus has switched to William Van der Ahe, aka vonderahe and vondera, etc. He appears to have been a clerk, maybe in Russell's Federal Street Store. HELP!

It's time (We think) ...

To start preparing Separate Identity, volume one, for ebook format. The first step is to make corrections to the text. Send me a list of the "literary owies" you've found in the test.

Roberto, can we ...

Can we add some sort of "Please visit our newest posts. We'd love to see your feedback." thing to the blog title?

Saturday, January 2, 2016

"Fringe" items

A sample of the kind of advertisements that started appearing in the St Paul Enterprise newspaper in 1917. If any survived they would be highly collectable today.

I rather like the "Four pages, over 2,000 yards..."