Thursday, December 29, 2016

Think Before you Conclude

My comments on the General Hall comment trail:
            Several issues exist in this discussion, providing me with an excuse to rant. Ready?        
            Presuming facts not in evidence is a logical fallacy. If you read the comments carefully you will see some that presume a conclusion is true because it might be true, or the writer wishes it to be true. The several arguments fall into categories of flawed logic.
            1. Argument from ignorance: This argument is called argumentum ad ignorantiam. It assumes something is true because it has not been proved false. Can you find an example in the comment trail? I see several.
            2. Argument from silence: This style of argument is called argumentum ex silentio. An argument from silence presumes a conclusion based on the absence of evidence. See an example in the comment trail?
            3. Quoting out of context: Self explanatory or should be. Emphasizing words or phrases without reference to context.
            4.  False/Single authority: Using as sole source a partisan or otherwise dubious authority to support a conclusion.
            5. "Onus probandi incumbit ei qui dicit, non ei qui negat" The burden of proof is on the person who makes the claim, not on the person denying it.
            Speculation plays an important part in historical research. It leads one into further research, sometimes uncovering important new material. But speculation, which in its very nature is guesswork, often flawed thinking, certainly never sound in itself even if proved right later, has no place in final conclusions.
            I realize that few who comment here are trained logicians. But logic is ‘second-nature’ to humans. We most often close our ears to logic’s prodding. Usually we want something to be true [or false] and we persuade ourselves that evidence supports us when it does not. Listen to the small voice of logic; be critical of your conclusions.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

General Hall

by Jerome

The book God’s Kingdom Rules discusses on page 56 the stand that Bible Students took towards warfare during WW1. While the command not to kill was paramount in their minds, they also wished to be obedient to their understanding of the “higher powers (superior authorities)” of Romans 13. On that basis, some were prepared to join the army and wear a uniform. Of course, wearing a soldiers’ uniform, carrying a weapon, but then firing to miss, would be a difficult situation to be in, but this was the basic advice CTR gave in Volume 6 of Studies in the Scriptures, The New Creation, pages 594-595:

"We would consider it not request a transference to the medical or hospital department, where our services could be used with full consent of our consciences; but even if compelled to serve in the ranks and fire our guns we need not feel compelled to shoot a fellow man."

This background may help some modern readers to understand the picture at the top of this article. This is General William Preble Hall, in full military uniform, wearing his medals. Hall was a Bible Student. The photograph is taken from a convention report for 1911; a convention where Hall was a featured speaker.

So who was this man? What was his background and connection with the Bible Students?

Hall came from a military background. He was born in 1848. He graduated from West Point in 1868 and served principally on Western Frontier duty until the Spanish-American war. He rose to the rank of Brigadier General. The following comes from the volume Who Was Who in America 1897-1942, page 507. (Spelling and abbreviations used have been preserved)

“Served principally on frontier duty until Spanish war; was in fight with Apaches at Whitestone, MT, Ariz., July 13 1873; Big Horn and Yellowstone Exped, 1876. And in action at Indian Creek, WY July 17, 1876, and combat of Slim Buttes, Dak., Sept. 9-10, `876; attacked by Indians while in command of reconnoitering party near camp on White River, CO, Oct 29, 1879, and while going rescue a brother officer was surrounded by about 35 warriors; awarded Congressional Medal of Honor for most distinguished gallantry on that occasion’ Adj. Gen Dep Puerto Rico 1899-1900. Was mem. Dept. Div. army, and distinguished marksmen teams. 1879-92, and won medals upon all these teams, shooting, carbine, and revolver. Retired June 11, 1912.”

The reference to Big Horn calls to mind the death of General Custer. From anecdotal evidence (letter from Russell Kurzen of WT headquarter staff dated Jan 23, 1995) “One day before the Battle of the Little Big Horn, Custer told Hall to scout the Indians, so he came within one day of dying with Custer and his men.” The same source said that Hall had a reputation for kindness and fairness to the Indians, often seeing to it that their needs were met out of army supplies. (Hall served as a Quartermaster at different stages of his career.)

(The words "anecdotal" and "evidence" probably don't belong together in the last paragraph. For an interesting discussion of this disputed account see the comments - Jerome)

So how did General Hall become a Bible Student?

Hall relates his experience in a letter to ZWT for June 1, 1905. In September 1904 while attending the World’s Fair at St Louis, he had picked up two tracts published by the Watch Tower, and was moved to write off for the first volume of Millennial Dawn. He soon obtained the other volumes and his letter shows his full commitment to the message.

By 1907 CTR was highlighting Hall’s example in sharing his faith. In a convention talk “To Colporteurs and Harvest Workers” CTR singled out Hall for praise in visiting all the people he knew in Washington with Bible Student tracts. In CTR’s estimation this took more courage than fighting on the battlefield.

In 1908, Hall was one of those listed who had taken “the vow”.

By 1911 Hall was giving the address of welcome at the Mountain Lake Park, Maryland, convention, before introducing J F Rutherford as convention chairman.

It was at this convention that a world tour was announced to investigate foreign missions. CTR and six companions made the tour and reported back in a special issue of the Watch Tower for April 1912. General Hall was one of the group, and in the photograph in the Proclaimers book on page 420, he is third from the left, just behind CTR who is seated. When the tour visited the Philippines, where Hall still knew some US military personnel, he gave a talk on "The Bible and Christianity from the Standpoint of a Soldier."

In July 1912 at a convention in Washington D.C. Hall led a session which the convention report headed Lake of Hell-Fire Officially Repudiated, which presented an anti-Hell resolution for adoption.

In 1915 J F Rutherford produced his booklet Great Battle in Ecclesiastical Heavens. In the character witnesses, Hall features prominently. His testimonial to CTR (dated April 3, 1915) takes up most of page 52 in the original American printing, signed W P Hall, Brigadier General, US Army, and then Hall’s own photograph takes up the whole of page 53.

After CTR died, comments on warfare and patriotism in the book The Finished Mystery resulted in eight well-known Bible Students being arrested and sentenced to long prison terms in 1918. They were released after around nine months in 1919.

With his background, one might wonder how Hall dealt with this. However, it appears he continued as a Bible Student in loyal association with the IBSA. He died in December 1927 and his obituary was published in the Society’s Golden Age magazine for February 8, 1928, page 302. Probably written by Clayton J Woodworth, it reads:

General Hall Passes On

GENERAL William Preble Hall, retired, former Adjutant General of the United States Army, and well known to Bible Students in all parts of the world, has passed on, at the age of 79 years.

General Hall, awarded a Congressional medal of honor for distinguished gallantry in action in one of Colorado’s many Indian wars, in 1879, was also brave is his defense of the truth. He was neither afraid nor ashamed to distribute tracts in his home neighborhood, one of the most exclusive in Washington, D.C.

Though always to some extent influenced by his early military training, he nevertheless took his stand on the Lord’s side and was a meek and faithful worker in the service work, doing with his might what his hand found to do. He toured the world with Pastor C.T. Russell on the foreign mission investigation and was the chairman of the Bible Students’ convention in Scranton in 1920. He was a brother greatly beloved by all who knew him.

(end of obituary)

Hall was buried in Arlington National cemetery, Arlington County, Virginia, Section 1, Lot 653. If you check the name “William Preble Hall” on the Find a Grave site, you can see his grave marker, along with a bit more biographical information, including family details which this article has not covered. The Find a Grave article does not mention his Bible Student connections. However, Hall also gets his own article on Wikipedia. This does provide information about his religious background along with some more photographs.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

1881 - VERY temporary post

Usual stuff. You may copy for your own use. Do not share. This is work in progress. It may change. Further research may show some of it unreliable. Comments are welcome. Footnotes deleted from this version for ease of posting.

Approach to Eighteen Eighty-One

The subject we consider in this chapter is much distorted without context. America with much of the Christian world was religious. Faith was serious business. If churches differed in doctrine, sometimes hated each other condemning others to a fiery Hell – Protestants listened to the Scripture’s prophetic voice. Historians who write about this period tend to focus on extremist and Adventist movements. But interest in prophecy was not limited to fringe movements. It was a main-stream phenomenon. Baptists of various stripe, Anglicans, Presbyterians and nearly everyone else had well defined interest in prophetic fulfillment. Some Catholic writers believed Christ’s return impended. In 1881, a French priest, Charles Arminjon, published a series of lectures predicting the near return of Jesus, translated into English and published at The End of the Present World, and the Mysteries of the Future Life.

Remainder of the post has been deleted.


We need every WT use of the phrases "changed condition" and "change of condition" from 1920 to 1950. If you have the searchable disks and time to find this, we would be grateful.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Recent Visitors

Click on the map for a better view.


Our request for reviews resulted in a few. Some from long time readers of this blog. And I think Sergio and Bruce posted on an older forum years ago. Thanks to all.

To meet an Amazon standard and make our book more visible, we need slightly more than 20 reviews. We have seven, all very positive and very flattering. If you haven't done so, please leave a review on Amazon.

Google books, lulu, B&N and some regional sellers take reviews too.


Useful links Herman Heinfetter

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Can You Help?

by Jerome

Rachael has several times bemoaned the fact that few have written reviews of Separate Identity, volume one. As an attempt to raise awareness of this book, as well as the current work in progress, I am joining in asking if you can possibly help the project in this way.

Over recent years, a number of people have left comments on the blog, and this has been really appreciated. If everyone who felt moved to send a comment, could also send a review to the key sites, Amazon, Lulu, etc. that would really give the project the increased recognition it needs.

In addition there are an increasing number of readers worldwide. You read what is here but may not add a comment, because quite often posts ask for specialised information and you feel you cannot help. But you still could write your own review, based on your own feelings about what you have read.

It doesn’t have to be a long review. Many reviews on these sites are quite brief, although obviously feel free to do whatever you wish. And if you wish to use a pseudonym then that is fine. This is what I have done for the three reviews I have posted on different sites.

There are several books covering this ground out there, and some have received a lot more publicity than this project. But they all have an obvious agenda, either in attack or defence, and crucially, are often riddled with inaccuracies. Repeating oft told tales from secondary sources does not suddenly make them right. What the Separate Identity authors have done is go back to primary sources where they exist, and to search out what no-one else knew did exist. And then they have attempted to be as even-handed and as objective as is possible. As someone who strives to write “neutrally” - even though like everyone else I have my own point of view on some matters - I appreciate the authors’ general approach.

So where to review? The biggest site of all has to be Amazon. Actually, Amazon is a number of sites, because different countries have their own version that publish country-specific reviews and in their own languages. So why not check yours? See what has been written - if anything. If there are reviews there, can you add another? If there are no reviews at all as yet, can you be a groundbreaker? I note that Rachael asks people to post to the American Amazon site. The problem here is that if you are using your own country-specific Amazon site, the American reviews do not show up on it, unless you are motivated to go looking for them. Using a belt and braces approach, if you write a review, why not try and post it on both.

Realistically these books are not going to be best-sellers, although I know Rachael would love them to be. Best-sellers tend to be overblown fiction or lucky school text books. Unless you are hit by an extreme fluke, if you want to make real money, get a “proper job.” But they add to knowledge in a specialised field. That should be its own reward, although covering research costs from sales is an obvious plus, and helps to fund continuing investigation.

So what about it? If you enjoyed Separate Identity and found it of value, then spend a few minutes and say so. If you have a possible comment to make on an existing review out there, then make it. I admit that I rarely read all the reviews on materials I might purchase, but I do notice the volume of reviews and the starring system that sites use.

So again - can you help?

As a“filler”, below is one of the reviews I wrote a couple of years ago. To issue the standard sort of disclaimer, the opinions expressed in this review are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the blog owners.

This is the history or rather the pre-history of the Bible Student movement associated with Charles Taze Russell. He founded a magazine (still published today) originally called Zion’s Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence. It started in 1879, and yet this first lengthy volume only takes the reader up to that year. There is a massive untold story before that year, and this is the only volume to my knowledge that really does that justice.

Schulz and de Vienne try hard to be accurate and fair to all concerned. The problem with history is that we all tend to come at it with preconceptions. Perhaps the biggest error we make – even unconsciously - is to try and graft our modern sensibilities onto those of the 19th century. Of course, people are people in any era, but only when you understand the background of the times can you appreciate some of the things they believed and did. And rather than swing between the extremes of adulation and criticism, to understand where they were coming from in all sincerity AT THE TIME.

Also the ideas of Charles Taze Russell did not exist in a vacuum, and this volume brings back to life many of the people he associated with. At the time he willingly gave them credit, but this has tended to be lost as the years have rolled by and the focus has concentrated on one man – a focus distorted by incomplete data. This book has attempted to right that situation.

In recent years there have been several books covering this ground, generally far more sympathetic than past attempts with a specific religious agenda. But for sheer minutia of research, backed up by references of the time, this book is ground breaking. Don’t take my word for it, if you have any interest in this subject or in the general ambience of those times, get it and read it for yourself. Whether your personal beliefs match or differ from these men of 150 years ago, it will complete many pieces of a jigsaw that you likely never knew existed.

Rachael adds: Another place to leave a review [hopefully a positive one] is here

Friday, December 16, 2016


Posting a review on Amazon or googlebooks or helps us. Few have done it. You don't like our books? We finance our research out of pocket and from sales. Reviews help sales.

Twenty more reviews will materially help us with Amazon. Will you do it?

Update: Remember to post your review to the USA Amazon site. Reviews posted on other sites do not show up on the main site.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

CTR's brother-in-law, Lemuel Ackley

When Maria married CTR at her mother’s residence on March 13, 1879 (service conducted by John H Paton) her younger brother, Lemuel, was likely one of the guests. Unfortunately, the modern practice of group photos for weddings was not applied to this particular wedding, so we are left with supposition. However, Lemuel was born in Allegheny in 1857 and is found in the census returns there for 1870 and 1880.

The photograph comes from the volume Chicago Biography from c. 1891. The text mentions that he had been a reporter on the Pittsburgh Dispatch and Pittsburgh Commercial Gazette from around 1879-1883. He then went to Law School in Michigan from 1883-1885, and moved to Chicago in 1887.

When Maria left CTR she first went to Chicago to stay with Lemuel.

Lemuel death made the news. He was murdered in court by a disgruntled police sergeant in 1921. The story is found in the New York Evening World for July 29, 1921. One wonders whether Maria traveled to the funeral.


Someone there likes this article. Multiple visits.

Early Italian Tract - An article by Roberto

With English language help from Rachael

In 1911 (or soon after), the Italian Watch Tower branch published a four-page tract entitled: “Dando Ascolto alle Dottrine dei Demoni” (Listening to the Doctrines of Demons). The caption under the picture reads: “Gehenna, which symbolized final destruction.”

The Tract begins this way:

The angels which kept not their first estate. Jude 6.

Today very few believe to the Bible statement that the earthly atmosphere is infested by evil spirits. And as a result of this incredulity, thousands of right-minded people are easily deceived by this evil spirits. The fog is together physical and moral. The usual method of these spirits is to arise (stir up, excite) curiosity ....”

The article’s subtitles are:
- They teach false doctrines
- Ready for these deceivers
- Seductive Spirits, fiendish doctrines
- Libidinousness of the fallen angels
- Confined angels, dark chains
- Enemies of God and men
- Jesus drove the devils out
- Scientists fall into the traps

A second and short article is entitled: “A Rare Case.” It reports of thirty-three Catholic priests of Canada that left the church. They denounce seven Catholic doctrines that conflict with the Bible. It looks like false news.

The third article is entitled: “The appeal of the Angel of Laodicea”. It is a treatment of Revelation 3:14, applied to Russell.

Can anyone tell me the original Watch Tower publication of the first article? The year seems to be 1911.

[Editor’s note: The last article would mark this tract as from after 1917. – R]

Tuesday, December 13, 2016


We need more Amazon reviews, preferably good ones. Twenty would be nice. If you liked our book, review it on Amazon, please.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016


I've found the text of a 'forgotten' debate from 1920. We need someone to transcribe it. This represents a lot of work. Anyone?

Monday, December 5, 2016

Pilgrim Visits


Many of the questions asked on this blog or sent to us through email can be answered by consulting one of the digitized libraries of Watch Tower publications.