Saturday, February 27, 2016

We're open to other guest posts ...

... but I'd like to limit the topics to events before 1918.

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Everything is subject to edit.
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More Cedar Point - 1922 from Roberto

Nearly Impossible Task

We need to determine if the "sister" "M. Thompson" baptized in 1887 (see ZWT May 1887) was Mrs. Mark Thompson of Newark, New Jersey. Adah (also spelled Ada) Wakefield, married Mark H. Thompson in 1884. Our best guess is that Mrs. M. Thompson was Adah Wakefield. But we don't really know.


Friday, February 26, 2016

More from Cedar Point 1922

from Jerome

It may or may not help with identification, but below is another shot of the platform with J F Rutherford standing. The previous panorama was obviously posed because a lot of people were looking at the camera with Rutherford just standing on the rather makeshift platform. In this picture, which is the left hand side of another panoramic view, the shot is more impromptu. Rutherford is now speaking through a primitive microphone and the audience is generally looking at him. There don't appear to be any loudspeakers hanging from the trees, so maybe the total sound was coming out of that horn on the platform. This might explain why the sister sitting in front of the orchestra (just below the platform with the movie camera) has her hand to her ear. She is either deaf or the sound is too loud for her.

You will not be able to identify anyone from the next photo, which is taken from the back of the crowd, but it gives the flavor of the occasion. They were helped by good weather.

And finally, a photograph taken earlier in the week from inside the main auditorium. It has been split into two, but these should be stitched together to make one whole. Faces in the first few rows are clearly visible.

My grateful thanks to Brian who sent me these pictures with permission to share.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016


...the Golden Age and New Era Enterprise for details of the convention, but alas, no clues as to the people on the speaker's stand for this final session. But I did find out where the picture came from.

1922 Convention

I'm posting this for one of our blog readers. He would like to identify people appearing in this panoramic photo of the Cedar Point convention. I have segmented it and made it as clear as possible. Obviously we will not be able to identify many.

Jerome will be interested in the moving picture equipment. CLICK ON THE PHOTO TO VIEW IT ENTIRE.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Samuel Tackabury

Samuel T. Tackabury

Samuel T. Tackabury was born in New York, April 12, 1832, to Irish immigrant parents. He entered the work in March 1882. He had been “a member until now of the M.E. Conference.”[1] 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.[2] He had been active in the Methodist ministry at least from the mid 1860’s,[3] resigning his charge in 1877 because of chronic ill health. Early in his Methodist Episcopal ministry, he supported himself as a “dairyman and farmer.”[4]
He returned to the ministry later and was, at the time he was introduced to Watch Tower teachings, pastor of the newly-formed Methodist Episcopal Church in Pierre, South Dakota, and serving a congregation in Ohio.[5] 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.”[6] Russell wrote that Tackabury “was engaged with us in the important, though personally obscure field of labor of Z.W.T.” By February 1883, Tackabury was back in Ohio, and answering a letter from the Townsendville, New York, Methodist Church:

Not doubting the general interest of yourself and those for whom you speak, in the welfare of a former pastor whose relations were mutually of the most amicable kind, I still suppose that it is particularly on account of my having withdrawn from the ministry and membership in the M.E. Church that you desire to hear. To those who listened to my preaching during my pastorate at Townsendville, it is unnecessary to state that I was at the time a Methodist. My notions of the teachings of Scripture were gained while yet a child. They were taught me by Methodist parents, in Methodist Sunday-schools, from Methodist pulpits.

            He believed his approach to doctrine was molded long before he “was capable of forming ... intelligent opinions concerning even the general scope of Scripture teaching” for himself. He “unquestioningly accepted the opinions of others” and made them his own. But, in an oddly-worded  confession, he said: “I am now disposed to believe, however, that it was with some degree of mental reservation that I accepted some of the doctrines of orthodoxy. How else could I, while professing to believe in endless torment for the unrepentant, associate with them, accept their many kindnesses, and speak to them from the pulpit on themes often tending to divert their attention from, rather than attract it toward, so horrible a fate.” Yet, he faithfully discharged his duties and “walked up to the degree of light” he possessed.
            Two years after leaving Townsandville, he wrote, “there fell into my hands, providentially as it seems to me, a publication which was the means of a decided change in my understanding of much of God's Word; a change, however, which led me to much more exalted views of the character of God, and served to harmonize many passages in his Word, which before appeared either unmeaning or contradictory.” That publication was Food for Thinking Christians.
            As a Methodist he rejected Second Probation doctrine. “Though it is nowhere stated in Scripture that there is not for any a probation after this life,” he explained, “it is preached and enforced much more vigorously than many things which the Bible does affirm.” He now saw that as unscriptural, false, and he presented a series of Bible verses to support a much wider salvation than Methodism allowed. By rejecting future probation – “after the dead shall have heard the voice of the Son of God and come forth, as illustrated in the case of Lazarus” – and other Bible teachings, “the nominal Church has been thrown into confusion and led into many errors.” This “largely contributed” to the “rapid increase of infidelity, both within and without her own pale.” The Church’s condition testified to his point:

What is the spiritual condition of the Church to-day? Where are the wonderful revivals of former years? Alas, they exist only in name, or are the result of the efforts of a few professional revivalists. The barriers that formerly separated between the Church and the world are mostly swept away, and the man of fair worldly prospects, with whom she refuses to share all her privileges, must fall below the world's standard of morality. These, dear brethren, are some of the causes which led me to sever a connection, which I once so highly prized, and to accept doctrines which, though they may bring reproach and obloquy, I believe to rest on the foundation of the Prophets and Apostles, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone. Commending you to God, who is able to make all grace abound toward you, and trusting that this letter may lead you to a more careful study of His Word, which only is able to make you wise unto salvation, and to trust less in human creeds and traditions.”

He returned to New York State in April 1883, preaching in areas where he had family and where he was pastor of Methodist congregations. Russell announced this in the Watch Tower: “Bro Tackabury will travel some through western New York, holding meetings commencing this month.” He contributed articles to Zion’s Watch Tower. Among them is an article entitled “One Soweth and Another Reapeth.” It is a short ramble on order in creation and in the ministry, without a clear point. He seems to have meant that a clear understanding of “God’s plan” should focus evangelism into right paths.[7] Not all of his articles were vague – Far from it. An article appearing in the June 1884 issue is concise and pointed. Entitled “Let Not Your Hearts be Troubled,” it addressed issues of pure belief and faithfulness.
His articles reflected his Methodist ‘holiness’ background coupled with Watch Tower doctrine. This is especially so of an article entitled “Life Through Death” appearing in the December 1885, issue. In it we see Russell’s emphasis on the “narrow way to life” doctrine and rejection of Christendom’s lack of ‘regeneration,’ being “made new” in Christ:

The natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned (1 Cor. 2:14). Many such, however, have undertaken to interpret “the things of the Spirit of God” – and have thus become blind guides, leading multitudes into error, and filling their minds with gross darkness.

In this way those powerful organizations known as churches have been established, and by their opposition to the truth, and those who hold the truth, have become anti-Christ. (Adversaries of the true Church – the anointed body of Christ.) The same spirit which in our day has become so formidable, manifested itself in Apostolic times (1 John 2:18), and has been alive during the entire history of the Gospel Church.

This accounts, in part at least, for the fact that the nominal church is so largely composed of the unrenewed, and that the many forms of worldliness which are so pleasing to the “natural man” are not only permitted, but declared to be in harmony with the Divine will. The renewed mind, however, readily distinguishes between the ways of “this present evil world” and the “path of life.”

The one is a narrow way with a strait entrance, and requires the most assiduous effort to tread therein; the other is a broad way with a wide approach, and many who presumably desire the way of life, find themselves drifting with the multitude in its seductive paths.[8]

He did not name the “many forms of worldliness which are so pleasing to the ‘natural man,’ but they’re commonly named elsewhere in Zion’s Watch Tower. Dancing, card playing, the theater, and similar entertainments were seen as corrupting.
Tackabury died August 5, 1888, of “consumption,” that is tuberculosis.[9] During his last illness, he received letters of encouragement and consolation. A comment by J. B. Adamson is preserved in the Watch Tower: “How often Brother Tackabury must, now that he is himself helpless, look back joyfully upon the record of his faithfulness.”[10] We lack access to other sympathetic expressions, but at Russell’s request, Tackabury addressed the body of believers through an open letter printed in the March 1888 paper:

It has been my privilege to enjoy Christian fellowship with some of you by personal association, and I believe that to all of you I am united by that tie (love) that binds together the children of God everywhere, in one family. I am comforted with the thought that many of you with whom I have personal acquaintance, show your sympathy and interest by making inquiry after my welfare.

To know that my dear brethren and sisters thus kindly think of me alleviates my sufferings and enables me the more cheerfully to endure affliction. It is now more than two years since I was attacked with a difficulty of the throat and lungs, and though I was quite thorough in its treatment, none of the remedies used gave more than temporary relief; and from the first, my physicians held out but little hope for my recovery. ...

During the whole of my sickness the Lord has been present to sustain me, and I have been enabled at all times to say from the heart, “Thy will, not mine, be done.” At times the thought of being “forever with the Lord,” makes me long for the end of the warfare and the union with Jesus our head, and all the “elect” – members of his body.

How glorious thus to be permitted to enter on the work for which he has called and is perfecting his Church! On the other hand, when I know that error is being preached so persistently from almost every pulpit in this land, and throughout Christendom, and that great efforts are being made to spread these errors among the heathen nations, I long for strength to raise my voice for the truth. But the decree has gone forth that the darkness of error shall give place to the light of truth, and whoever may fail, the work will go on till all God's promises shall be fulfilled.[11]

About a month before he died, his wife wrote to Russell, reporting on his condition and hoping for a return letter of encouragement:

Mr. Tackabury has regained strength to quite an extent, being able to walk about the house and sit up most of the day. His lungs show great power of resistance to the advance of the disease, much to the surprise of all, but he is scarcely more than a skeleton. He wishes me to remember him to you and Sister Russell with much love.

We feasted on the contents of the last tower. Mr. T. said he thought it one of the best he had ever read. We find many things in the Bible that we would like to hear you talk about. Almost every reading reveals something new, something that throws light on the grand plan which God has designed for a lost world's recovery.

How it all increases our love and gratitude to our heavenly Father! Write us whenever you can spare time from your numerous duties.[12]

            He remained active through his final illness. Not long after his death, his wife wrote to Maria Russell telling of his persistent, death-bed evangelism: “As people knew that we were professedly Christians, although of a peculiar sort, of course, it was Christian people who called to minister to our needs, and therefore, it was to them that Mr. T. had access, when he was able to talk, and he improved every opportunity. It also seemed usually Baptist people who came in, and we often remarked to one another that they seemed more willing to listen.”[13]
            Russell announced his death through the August 1888 Watch Tower:

After a protracted illness Brother Tackabury died Sunday morning, Aug. 5th, of consumption of the lungs. The last three months were a season of painful waiting and longing for the grim enemy, death, to finish his consecrated sacrifice. Though inclined, at times, to wonder why our Lord did not sooner permit the executioner (Satan, Heb. 2:14,) to snap the last cord, he was far from desiring to dictate in the matter, and accepted the weeks and months of weakness and pain as among the “all things” which he knew were being overruled for his good according to God's promise. Such experiences may be permitted as tests of faith to develop our trust in God; or, they may be profitable to us as giving experiences which will the better enable us to sympathize with the poor dying world in general, many of whom experience similar afflictions, without the supporting grace and strength of the everlasting arms, which carry us through victoriously.

During health it was his chief pleasure to tell the glad tidings of great joy which shall be unto all people,--that the sins of the world had been fully atoned for by the blood of the Lamb of God, and that in consequence “times of restitution of all things” (Acts 3:19-21) shall come, when, at his second advent, the great King of kings shall take the dominion of the world out of the hands of “the prince of this world.” And when confined to his room, and bed, and only able to converse in low tones, the same gospel of restitution was his theme; interspersed with explanations concerning the future work of the Church, the Bride, the Body of Christ, after the union of all the members with the Head, in glory and power, as the Royal Priesthood; to both rule and teach, and thus to “bless, all the families of the earth.”

His fervency of spirit, his patience, his strong confidence, and his explanations of Scripture, backed by an honorable, upright life in his community, seem to have made a favorable impression, so that when the Editor preached his funeral sermon, to an intelligent congregation, of about one hundred and fifty of his towns-people, gave close attention for nearly two hours. His desire was, that his death might accomplish as good results, to the glory of God, as his life. We trust it may be so, and have already heard good reports that the truth is making progress there.[14]

[1]               View from the Tower, Zion’s Watch Tower, March 1882, page 1.
[2]               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 Syracuse, New York, Journal, May 3, 1866, page 5.
[3]               Elliot G. Storke. History of Cayuga County, New York,  lists him as active in the ministry in 1864.
[4]               Hamilton Child. Gazetteer and Business Directory of Onondaga County, N. Y., for 1868-9.
[5]               His health issues are mentioned in Central New York Conference reports in the late 1870’s Pastor in Pierre, South Dakota: Hughes County History, Compiled and Arranged in the Office of County- Superintendent of Schools, Hughes County, South Dakota, 1937, page 115.  
[6]               A Word from Brother Tackabury, Zion’s Watch Tower, March 1888, page 1.
[7]               S. T. Tackabury: “One Soweth and Another Reapeth,” Zion’s Watch Tower¸ June 1884, pages 5-6.
[8]               S. T. Tackabury: Life Thorough Death, Zion’s Watch Tower, December 1885, page 6.
[9]               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 Ohio. That marriage is noted in A Centennial and Biographical Record of Seneca County, Ohio, The Lewis Publishing Co, Chicago, 1902, page 439.
[10]             Extracts from Interesting Letters, Zion’s Watch Tower, October 1887, page 2. [Not in Reprints.]
[11]             A Word from Brother Tackabury, Zion’w Watch Tower, March 1888, page 1.
[12]             Extracts from Interesting Letters, Zion’s Watch Tower, October 1887, page 2. [Not in Reprints.] The letter is dated September 20, 1887.
[13]             Mrs. S. T. Tackabury: Let Your Light Shine, Zion’s Watch Tower, January 1889, page 8. [Not in Reprints.]
[14]             C. T. Russell: Brother Tackabury’s Death, Zion’s Watch Tower, August 1888, page 1.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Minor updates

A state archive holds a letter written by S. T. Tackabury. We're arranging to get a scan, but have low expectations for the letter.

A search by another of a pertinent YMCA archive shows that Adamson probably played a far smaller part in a revival than he suggested to Watch Tower readers. We'll use this result with caution because we didn't make the search ourselves. But even a negative result adds to the story.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Thomas Hickey - Early Bible Student

by Jerome

The 1922 Cedar Point, Ohio, convention of the IBSA is a remembered historical event for several reasons. But a little known one that can now be added is that a member of CTR’s early Bible class from the mid-1870s was there, and was interviewed in the New Era Enterprise newspaper about those early days. His name was Thomas Hickey and in 1922 he was billed as “the only one now living who was a member of Pastor Charles T. Russell’s first little class in Allegheny”.

The above report is found in the New Era Enterprise for December 26, 1922, page 2. We will transcribe the account a little bit later, but first, some background information about Thomas Hickey.

He was born on November 11, 1844, in Tredegar in South Wales, UK. In the 1851 census returns for Tredegar, his father (unnamed) is noted as immigrated, leaving a wife, Joanna Hickey, to support three young children as a dressmaker.

Tredegar was a boom town in the 19th century linked to expanding iron works with their tram road and then steam links down the valley to the aptly-named Newport. But horrendous sanitary conditions and cholera epidemics made it a place to leave if you could. Your religion was probably one of several competing varieties of Baptist or Methodist non-conformism.

According to the Wales-Pennsylvania project, at one point one-third of the population of Pennsylvania was Welsh, and even today there are 200,000 people of Welsh ancestry in the State.  From the original Welsh Quakers moving to Pennsylvania, there were soon floods of industrial workers from Wales - slate quarrymen from the North, and from the South coal miners and iron workers, whose skills would be welcomed in industrial centers like Pittsburgh. At the time Hickey lived in Pittsburgh there was a large Welsh St David’s Society there, which still flourishes today.

So Hickey followed a well-trodden path to reach Pittsburgh. He was married to Gwendolyn Bowen with one child, John, when they made the decision to leave Wales and travel to the States in the 1860s. He ultimately had seven children, but all the others, barring one, were born in the States. The exception was his fourth, daughter Anna, who was born around 1874 back in Wales, so - assuming the census enumerator got it right - they must have made a trip back to the old country.

In the 1870 census Thomas is now in Pittsburgh as a puddler in a roll mill. (A puddler was a specialized furnace worker, who converted pig iron into wrought iron.) In the 1880 Pittsburgh census he is still listed as a puddler, with wife Gwennie, and the seven children.

And between those two dates he attended early meetings with Charles Taze Russell.

The account in full from the Enterprise reads as follows:

Among the thousand attending the convention is the venerable Thomas Hickey, of Newcastle, Pa. He is the only one now living who was a member of Pastor Charles T. Russell’s first little class in Allegheny.

He relates that the first convention held was in a building on Federal St., Allegheny, when less than a hundred were present. This was about 1875. The first testimony meeting was held in 1876 in the home of Brother Russell, when six consecrated hearts were present. This gives an amazing contrast when compared with this great convention of over 12,000, with many, many times that number at home all over the world.

In listening to Mr Hickey relating his experiences, it can be seen that this movement grew, not by any organized effort, but simply and spontaneously by a gathering together of consecrated Christians to study their Bibles as their hearts yearned to do.

“Charlie would give them little talks,” he said, “and after awhile he began to go around and speak here and there. When they started to call him Elder Russell, the question arose as to what would be the proper title for their minister. When they asked Brother Russell, he answered simply, ‘We will just go on without any name, for are all one in Christ Jesus.’”

Mr Hickey said he never expected to attend such a convention as this one, and considers it the greatest privilege of his life.
(end of quote)

We have to accept that this is anecdotal evidence from an old man about events nearly fifty years before. We don’t know how good his memory was, or how accurately he was reported by the Enterprise writer, but it gives us a flavour of those early times.

A search in the early ZWTs provides a number of references to a “Brother Hickey” but these all appear to be Samuel I Hickey, a former Presbyterian minister, who had quite a high profile in those early days. So all we have - unless other researchers can find out more - is the Enterprise interview, and also Thomas’ obituary in his local paper.

The above obituary from the New Castle News, January 14, 1927, firmly identifies Thomas as an active member of the International Bible Students Association. It states that he moved to New Castle 22 years before, which would be around 1904, and his final employment status was as a boiler maker.

There is a Thomas Hickey in New Castle trade directories for the 1890s, and this Thomas is described as working in the Vulcan Iron co., so there may be an error in the obituary dates and this is him. Or maybe the 1890s feature some other Thomas Hickey. It was not an uncommon name.

Thomas was certainly well-known enough in his New Castle community to warrant the 1927 obituary, which also detailed two fraternal societies he belonged to, one of which was back in Pittsburgh.

One wonders how many of his surviving five children, fifteen grandchildren and seventeen great-grandchildren continued in the same religious persuasion.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Ernest - By G. P.

The Importance of Being Ernest

            The 1973 Yearbook relates an event in 1910 when Pastor Russell visited the town of Otley, in Wharfedale, Yorkshire.  Apparently, as a result of reading Russell’s Plan of the Ages, three Methodist lay ministers left the church and started a Bible Study group which by 1910 had grown to a class of about 40 persons.  But who were these three ministers?
            The 1910 Convention Souvenir relates the same event with more detail, informing us that the event occurred some years earlier and giving us the names of two of the three: a Brother Ted Smith and a Brother Waterhouse, who had become elders of the Otley Ecclesia by 1910.  But when precisely did the event take place? The Leeds Mercury for 6 March 1906, carried an article entitled Millennial Dawn – A New Sect in Wharfedale – Some of its Strange Tenets. It explained that:
            The religious beliefs of a band of Otley people have just attracted attention from the fact that three of their number, who were at one time prominent local preachers on the Primitive Methodist plan, have rendered their resignations, and these have been accepted by the district meeting. 
            Apparently therefore, the event had occurred early in 1906, but who was the third man?
            Recently the writer stumbled across the war record of an IBSA conscientious objector in World War One who had been placed in the 6th Northern Company of the Non Combatant Corps.  Like many a Bible Student, the man was refused total exemption at his Military Service Tribunal but was given exemption from combatant service only. Thereafter he refused to follow orders and received court martial before being sent to Wormwood Scrubs Prison.  Eventually he took what was considered ‘work of national importance’ working under the Home Office Scheme at the Princetown Work Centre, the former Dartmoor Prison.
            The surviving WO 363 (Burnt record) for this man suggests that he was first called up on 24/06/1916 but that a delay resulted in him not being put into the Non Combatant Corps until March 1917.  It states his name was Ernest Yeoman Renton, aged 33, and his home address was Holme View, Arthington, Yorkshire.  His religion is stated as ‘Bible Students Association’ and his occupation as ‘Lay Evangelist - Bible Students' Association.’  But what would account for the delay?  At this time the War Office had consented to cancel the papers of elders who had been called to the army, pending the decision of a case referred to the High Court.  The case was decided in February 1917 but sadly failed to establish the exemption of IBSA elders as ministers of religion.  As a result, Ernest Yeoman Renton, an elder in the nearby Otley Ecclesia, was expected to take his place in the Non Combatant Corps in March 1917.
            The fact that Arthington is a small village close by Otley is unremarkable by itself.  However it just so happens, that Ernest Yeoman Renton wrote a letter to Edmund Harvey, a Quaker MP sympathetic to conscientious objectors, in late 1916, which can be seen in the Friends House Library, London.  In convincing Harvey of the genuineness of his position, Renton mentions that “these Christian principles have governed my life for the past ten years.”  If Renton took to Bible Student teachings some 10 years previous to 1916, this places him precisely at the time of the incident in question.
            A search of Ancestry details for Ernest Yeoman Renton shows him living at Arthington during the 1911 census.  It is also apparent that he married a 36 year old named … wait for it … Lucy Waterhouse.  The event took place in Morecambe, Lancashire on 17 May 1916.  The reader may not be surprised to learn that Lucy Waterhouse had formerly lived in Otley (according to the 1911 census) with her family.  She was the daughter of John George Waterhouse, a Master Baker, and appears to have worked as a shop assistant for him.     
            We cannot be 100% sure, of course, but it seems extremely likely that the three Primitive Methodist lay ministers of 1906 that became Bible Students therefore were:
            Ted Smith
            Ernest Yeoman Renton
            John George Waterhouse
            P.S.  As an aside, it also seems likely that Leonard Renton of nearby Leeds, who was a member of the Richmond 16 and became one of the eight Bible Student conscientious objectors to have faced the infamous ‘death sentence’ episode, was in some way related to Ernest Yeoman Renton.

Home Movies

by Jerome

For some time I have been working my way through a visual search of the St Paul Enterprise newspaper (later named the New Era Enterprise) for Rachael. Some of the published life stories (and obituaries) in this paper take us back as far as the 1880s, and in a few cases even link up with early letters in ZWT. As a spin-off though, there is a lot of other interesting material to be found. Although more recent than the general timeframe of this blog, I found the following item which certainly interested ME.

The Cedar Point, Ohio, convention of 1922 is an historical milestone for the Bible Students who later adopted the name Jehovah’s Witnesses. What is not generally known is that a short “home movie” was produced of the proceedings and sold commercially thereafter.

Above is an advertisement that appeared in the New Era Enterprise newspaper on October 3, 1922. According to the pitch, anyone could purchase the film for home viewing, and perhaps see if they could spot themselves amongst the audience.

The film was made to be shown for home audiences with the Kinemo equipment. We know that the first three films made for this system - basically travelogs linked to J R Rutherford’s visit to Egypt and the Holy Land - have survived, even if currently unavailable. But has anyone out there still got a reel of film about Cedar Point, Ohio, in 1922?

There is an element of good news and bad news about these kinds of film. The good news is that film produced to be shown in private homes was generally not on nitrate stock. Unless stored under very specific conditions, nitrate tends to crumble to dust, unless it goes up in flames first. But safety film, although not having the translucent properties of nitrate, can survive a lot longer.

The bad news is that the Kinemo system used one of the very first “amateur” film sizes - 17.5 mm. Basically this film size started life as 35 mm stock split down the middle, and even then, different manufacturers had different ways of organizing the sprocket holes. It was only commercially available for a short time and was soon superseded when Kodak popularised 16mm and Pathé 9.5 mm. Ultimately 8 mm became the standard amateur gauge for home viewing.

So even if someone had the film, they would have great difficulty projecting it without very ancient equipment - and probably not just any 17.5 equipment, but specific Kinemo equipment. That is assuming Kinemo equipment still existed in working order and wouldn’t automatically chew up the product and spit it out in bits.

But back to the good news - many of the classics of the silent screen have only survived to our day because someone had the forethought to produce copies for these smaller sized film stocks that had the capacity for survival. In many cases, film archives have re-photographed them frame by frame to preserve them for modern audiences.

No-one is going to say that Cedar Point, Ohio, is a classic lost film. But does ANYONE know if it is still out there? Somewhere? The Instructo Cinema Service Company of Chicago must have sold a few at the time.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

S. D. Rogers - 1887

We can attach this ad to Rogers through his letter to Russell:

Grand Rapids, Mich.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--I will tell you briefly of my
efforts here. Have been here two weeks and have been working
in the business part of the city nearly all the time. I have sold
300 DAWNS--nearly half of them being Vol. II. When here two
years ago, I sold only about 35 in the business part of the city.
The increase, I think, is owing somewhat to the interest formed
by hearing of the book; but perhaps more directly by a better
presentation of its merits. It requires considerable tact,
earnestness and experience to interest business men in a
religious work. Though if once interested the influence is apt to
be good, as they are generally at the head of practical and
representative families.
The principal object now, I think, is to find the "sheep" and
minister unto them; but in doing this, we can do good unto all,
as we have opportunity. I have not yet decided whether it will be
well to canvass the whole city again now. If the exceedingly
warm weather continues it will perhaps be better to work in
smaller towns for a while.
It is interesting to note the way in which the truth and harmony
brought out in DAWN is being circulated and found out. Being
good tidings, they who find it go and tell their own brother,
sister or friend. These likewise go and tell others, even as it was
when the Savior was first discovered among men. And how
blessed are they who are permitted to publish these things!
I greatly enjoyed the "View" in last TOWER. Truly, the Elisha
class will be more numerous than that of the Elijah. And though
the former class will be highly favored, I am striving and hoping
to be one of the overcomers. In considering the subject I have
been interested in trying to trace the import and typical meaning
of 2 Kings 2:10--where we read "If thou see me taken from thee;
but if not, it shall not be so." Will it be that the Elisha class will
need to know, or see, when the Elijah class is taken from them
in order that they may inherit a "double" portion of the spirit?
[This would seem to teach that it will be only such as keep in
fellowship with the Elijah class, such, therefore, as will know
them and realize that they are being exalted, who will constitute
the Elisha class and be inspired to fresh zeal and redoubled
earnestness in the service of the truth from a realization of the
With Christian love to you and Sister R. and others of them that
are His, I remain, Yours in service, S. D. ROGERS.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

We get many more visits

We get many more visits than a few months ago. This is good. Comments are few and far between. This is not so good. The recent visitor map:

More Adamson

Once we identified Adamson's peculiarly phrased sermon topic and paired that with the places we know he lectured, we found these advertisements:

Indianapolis 1884

Wheeling, West Virginia 1884

W. E. Richards - as it now stands

            W. E. Richards was born in Illinois in March 16, 1861, and with his family moved to Ohio sometime before 1870. As a youth he joined the Methodist Episcopal Church. By the time he appeared in the pages of Zion’s Watch Tower, he was married with 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 “quite active in the M. E. (Methodist Episcopal) church at Akron, Ohio.” His “great ambition was to become a Methodist minister.”
To pay for his education he sold his home and bought a store. Someone advised him that a store could be sold for cash more quickly than a house could, but the advice was poor, and he lost all he had. “Just as I seemed to be defeated,” he later recalled, “a man came to the store room and called my attention to a book, saying ‘it will unfold to you the deep things of God.’ He glanced at it, “and saw that it referred to earth’s dark night of sin to terminate in the morning of joy.”
            He described the Watch Tower evangelists as “some old gentleman, with a serene countenance.” Richards said that “he had learned that I was quite a Bible student, and that he had a book that would unfold some of the deep things taught in the Scriptures.” The Watch Tower evangelist seems to have handed Richards a folder advertising The Plan of the Ages. Two of those differing in content and format exist, but which he saw is irrelevant. He was intrigued and wanted to know more:

By his tactfulness he got my attention quickly, and glancing over the outline of its contents, and noting its purpose … I became very anxious to learn what it meant and began the study carefully and prayerfully. As I learned from it, I began to tell others and to loan the books to others who professed to be sanctified … .

I tried to persuade them to get acquainted with the message, but my books were returned unread. One said he would like to burn my books and decided I was beside myself. [ie: insane] I usually replied by asking whether I should prefer the teachings of Christ and the Apostles, or the teachings of men who could not prove what they taught from the Scriptures, and asked them why pope and preachers ignored what was taught by Christ … and teach that we did not die, in accord with Satan’s lie of Gen. 3:4, and asked them what Christ meant when he said: “marvel not at this, for the hour is coming, in which all that are in the grave shall hear his voice, and shall come forth” …. [2]

The date of his initial interest is uncertain, though it seems to have been before his marriage in 1887. Though John B. Adamson was working in Ohio in this era and the description matches his age, we do not know who the serene gentleman was. Other aged believers worked through the American Midwest. We’re left with guesswork. Richards purchased the book, and it altered his belief system. He shared his newly found beliefs. The result was disappointing:

Seeing more real gospel or glad tidings in a brief glance and all in accord with a God of love, and in accord with reason and by examining the Scriptures to see if these things were so, ... [I] found it all in accord and began to tell others about it. My own father was one of the first, and he said, ‘Be careful my boy and do not run the risk of losing your never-dying soul. I also delivered the message to fellow members of the M. E. [Methodist Episcopal] Church, but they were afraid of it; they were taught fear of life in fire.[3]

            Richards wanted to meet Russell and traveled from Ohio to Allegheny City to do so. He “called at the then small office and study room and met a comparatively young man with real black beard and a sublime face, reminding me of the face of pictures of our Lord Jesus Christ, and said to myself and other friends, that I saw the most Christ-like face I ever looked at, and I have been endeavoring to live in accord and teach such a wonderful Gospel ever since.”[4]
            While sharing the Watch Tower message with fellow Methodists and meeting rejection for it, he remained within the Methodist Church, reluctant to sever pleasant associations. He finally left Methodism in 1892, sealing with a letter what had been the case for several years. He explained to Russell:

After having been a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church for about twenty years, I have to-day sent to the pastor a letter of withdrawal. I have hesitated long to take the step, as it is a coming out from pleasant associations, and fellowship with many who are apparently perfectly honest in their belief; but it is also a coming out of Babylon or confusion. My prayer has been, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do;” and now, with an honest desire to do God's will, and to walk in the footsteps of our Lord and Master, I have taken the step. ...

I preach the truth wherever opportunity affords; and if circumstances would permit, I would gladly go out into all the world and preach the gospel to all having hearing ears; but it is not my privilege so to do. Occasionally I have the opportunity to teach it to individuals.

I ask that you will remember me at the throne of grace, that I may be led by the spirit of Christ into all truth, that I may be enabled, by his grace, to walk worthy of the gospel wherein we are called, that my will may be fully submitted to God's will and that I may soon be buried with him in baptism; and, being filled with the spirit of Christ, that I may be permitted to go forth bearing the precious seed (truths) of the Lord.[5]

            Richards remained an active evangelist, working mostly locally in Pennsylvania and Ohio through 1917. We know little about him after that. He spent his last years as a farmer, dying June 17, 1932.

[1]               “Out of Darkness into his Marvelous Light,” Zion’s Watch Tower, March 1, 1893, page 78.
[2]               Voices of the People: What our Readers Say, The St. Paul, Minnesota, Enterprise, November 20, 1917.
[3]               Letter from Richards to editor of St. Paul, Minnesota, Enterprise, March 6, 1917.
[4]               Letter from Richards to editor of St. Paul, Minnesota, Enterprise, March 6, 1917.
[5]               Letter from Richards to Russell, Zion’s Watch Tower, March 1, 1893, page 78.