Thursday, November 25, 2021

The Chicago City Temple and the Photodrama

Following on from meeting places being called Tabernacles (e.g. Brooklyn Tabernacle, London Tabernacle) it was easy to see why some large halls would be called Temples in the Bible Student world. So there was the New York City Temple, where the Photodrama of Creation was shown in New York. However, probably the most famous of all was the Chicago City Temple (formerly the old Globe Theater), which again was used for the Photodrama.

The Chicago class produced a special brochure entitled Our Temple, which is highly collectable today. It shows how the Photodrama presentation worked, and as a bonus had a photograph from the first Bible Student convention held in Chicago in1893. It also contained numerous portrait photographs of men and women who were involved in the Photodrama work; in many cases these are the only photographs that have survived of some of these individuals. If you visited the Chicago Temple you would likely have been given a tour by Albert Franz, whose photograph is in the brochure.

Albert Edward Franz (1889-1940)

As a link with more recent times, his younger brother, Fred Franz, was president of the Watchtower Sociery from 1977-1992.

The Temple was only used by Bible Students for a short time. The Chicago class grew to about 600 in 1914. They first hired the Auditorium Theater in Chicago to show the Photodrama in April-May of that year, while looking for a more permanent location. They then obtained a lease on the Old Globe Theater (which was origionally built to exhibit the Panorama of the Battle of Gettysburg) and after much work redecorating opened for business as the Temple later in 1914. There is an article in the St Paul Enterprise for October 16, 1914, showing it to be up and running then. As well as a theater it included a book room, library, dining room, and accommodation for the workers. The address was 700 South Wabash Avenue, near 7th Street.

However, an internet search shows that this building became the Strand Theater in May 1915, so it wasn’t used by the Bible Students for very long at all. When a new film for Bible Students called “Restitution” came to town in 1918, they were back in the Auditorium Theater. The former Chicago Temple was demolished in 1921.

In that window of operation the Temple sold postcards, and one is reproduced below from Tom’s collection. It was mailed on November 13, 1914.

The writing on the reverse gives no clue that the writer or recipient was ever an active Bible Student. The message from “Auntie Emma” refers to the weather and a funeral of someone both parties knew, but there is none of the usual scriptural references you would expect in a Bible Student message of that nature. The recipient, Isabelle Youle (1892-1971), appears to have never married. When she died her obituary in the Eau Claire (Wisconsin) Leader Telegram for May 8, 1971, said she was born in Chicago and that “she was active in Christ Church, Order of the Eastern Star, White Shrine, Order of the Amarenth, of which she was past Royal Matron and present secretary.”

Whatever connection with the Bible Student movement there may have been with this particular postcard is sadly lost in time.

Monday, November 15, 2021

Families in Bethel

The Story of the MacMillan family

The post that follows this shows how many children at one time lived with their parents at the Society’s hedquarters. This was particularly true after the move to Brooklyn in 1909 and the establishment of Bethel.

One such family was that of Alexander Hugh MacMillan (1877-1966). He is known today for his 1957 autobiographical work Faith on the March. However, although the book covers his conversion and many key historical facts of Watch Tower history, much of his personal life is omitted. He does mention in his book (on page 43) that he was married in 1902. For the record, his wife was Mary Goodwin (1873-?). The marriage took place on October 6, 1902, when he was 26 and she was 29. She supported him as a Bible Student and full-time worker for the Watch Tower Society.

Picture of Alexander and Mary taken from

Who’s Who in the Bible Student Movement.

Alexander and Mary were to have two children, and in the census returns for the Brooklyn Bethel taken in April 1910, the whole family are living there. Alexander is listed as Minister, Bible Society. The head of the whole household is given as Charles Taze Russell. The MacMillan’s first son was Albert Edmund Cole MacMillan who was born on December 11, 1907. In the 1910 census he is 2 years old. Their second son, Charles Goodwin MacMillan (shortened to just Goodwin in the census return) was one month old. Charles Goodwin was born on March 28, 1910, but died of tubercular meningitis on February 3, 1912.

The 1910s was a tumultuous decade for the MacMillans. It included the death of a child, the death of Charles Taze Russell, the appointment of a new president, Joseph Franklyn Rutherford, and then the arrest of key officals on charges of sedition in 1918. Alexander was one of those convicted and sentenced to twenty years imprisonment. The men were freed in 1919 and all charges then dropped.

By the 1920 census Alexander, Mary and Albert Edmund were back in the Brooklyn Bethel with J F Rutherford as the head of the household. Here is an extract from the census return. Albert Edmund was now 12. Alexander is listed as Minister, Religious Pub(lishing) House.

Travelling forward to the 1940 census, Albert Edmund is no longer with them (at some point he married Dorothy, born 1908, died 1969) and Alexander and Mary now live in West Virginia. Alexander’s occupation is now Regional Director for the Watch Tower Society.

According to his life story in The Watchtower for 1966 Alexander went back to live in Bethel in 1948. It may be that Mary had died. He was to work extensively at the Society’s radio station WBBR and then write his famous book.

When he died, the newspapers gave Albert Edmund as his main surviving relative.

Albert Edmund did not stay with the religion of his parents. He died in 1971 and was buried next to his wife in the Long Island National Cemetery. 

The Brooklyn Bethel family in 1910 and 1913

This article could be subtitled: Did they have a crèche?

A review of the 1910 Brooklyn census reveals the names of those then living in the newly established Brooklyn Bethel. What is unusual by modern-day standards is how many children were living there.

There were fifteen married couples living there, and nearly double that number who were single people. But the married couples included a number of children.

For example, the Brenneisen’s (Edward and Grace) had two children, Susan aged 10 and Ralph aged 7. The MacMillans (Alexander and Mary) had two children, Albert aged 2, and Goodwin aged one month. It might explain why MacMillan disappears from view at times in the Society’s history – he could have been outside Bethel handling family responsibilities for while.

The Sturgeons, (Menta and Florence) had a son, Gordon, aged 11. The Parkepiles (Don and Blanche) had a daughter, Mildred, aged 11. The Horths (Frank and Lilian) had a daughter, Marie, aged 15. And the Keuhn’s (J G and Ottile) had a daughter, Mildred, aged 16, as well as four adult children living there.   

In a supplemental census a few days later, the names of Joseph and Mary Rutherford, with son Malcom aged 17 were added.

We could well ask, did they have a crèche?

Moving forward two and one half years we find that the Bethel family still had a number of children living there.

The occasion was the trial in January 1913 of Charles T. Russell vs. Brooklyn Daily Eagle (commonly called the “miracle wheat” trial). In the trial witness Menta Sturgeon was asked to name all those who were currently part of the Bethel family, either living in or working there regularly. He was asked first in direct examination, when he outlined mainly the married couples and families there, and then in cross examination when he added those who were single. I am providing the full list here. They have been alphabetised according to surname. Sometimes Sturgeon gives a first name or initial, but often he does not. Of course, this is not as accurate as a census return; it is all down to his memory on the witness stand, so there may be omissions.

Miss Alexander

Miss Allen

Mrs Ambler

Mr and Mrs Bain and son

Mr and Mrs William T Baker and son

Miss Bebout

Miss Bourquin

Mr and Mrs Brenneisen and child

Mr and Mrs A Burgess

Mr Cohen

Mrs Cole

Mr and Mrs Cook and two daughters

Miss Darlington

Mr Davidson

Mr John DeCecca

Mr and Mrs F Detweiler

Mr Dockey

Miss Douglas

Mr Drey

Mr Edwards

Mr Emmerly

Mr Ferris

Miss Fitch

Mr Gaylord

Miss Gillet

Mr and Mrs Glendon and son

Miss Hamilton

Mrs Hartsell

Mr Heck

Mr Holmes

Mr and Mrs Isaac Hoskins

Miss Edith Hoskins

Miss Elizabeth Hoskins

Mr Howells

Mr Hudgings

Mrs James

Mr Jansen

Mr and Mrs H F Keene

Mr and Mrs John Keene and three daughters

Mr Knox

Mr and Mrs A H Macmillan and one child

Mr Mayer

Mr and Mrs McGregory and daughter

Mr William Miller

Mr and Mrs Mockridge

Mr Myers

Mrs Nation

Mr and Mrs Nicholson

Miss Niland

Miss Blanche Noble

Miss Virginia Noble

Mr W Obert

Mr John Perry

Mr and Mrs Peterson

Mr Plaenker

Mr and Mrs Raymond and daughter

Mr and Mrs Ritchie

Mr and Mrs Robinson

Mr and Mrs Rockwell

Pastor Russell

Mr and Mrs Schuler

Mr Seary

Mr Shearer

Mr Stamball

Mr Stevenson

Mr and Mrs M Sturgeon and son

Miss Taft

Mr Thompson

Miss Tomlins

Mr Totten

Mrs Wakefeld

Mr and Mrs A G Wakefield

It is interesting to note how many families still lived there. Where the children were of adult age they appear to be listed separately as working there in their own right. But those listed as sons and daughters and uncategorised children may well have been minors.


Monday, November 8, 2021

S. S. Thomas

I need basic biography including first name for S. S. Thomas, a lawyer active in 1890 in New Jersey and New York. I have no detail beyond the name. Anyone?

Friday, November 5, 2021

How's your Latin?

Please find Bullinger's  De Scriptura Sanctae praestantia, dignitate, excellentissimaqu authoritate on

Scroll to pages 68-70. Translate them for me if you can. Please and thank you.

Thursday, November 4, 2021

Comment moderation


Because of a bad actor who will not go away, I've turned on comment moderation. That means your comments will not show up until approved. Jose, of bad reputation here, continues to comment knowing his posts will be deleted as soon as one of the blog editors sees them. Apparently he thinks they'll be up long enough to be read by someone. I've removed his ability to post at all through comment moderation.

Sadly, that means a delay before your comments appear. For that I am sorry. But now, not even the blog admins will see Jose's comments, just his posting name, and his comments will be trashed. He's not the first bad boy to visit this blog. He won't be the last. 

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Final resting places

Graveyard memorials are an interesting adjunct to genealogy and history. They often tell us about attitudes towards death and also fame, going right back to the pyramids of Egypt. It is notable in the 19th century with the attempts of Victorians (in the UK at least) to outdo their dead rivals in the cemetery with spectacle. It’s been said that the attitude in 19th century Britain was – if you can’t take it with you, you can at least show the rabble you once had it.

With that in mind, it is interesting to note the grave markers of the first six presidents of the Watch Tower Society.

William Henry Conley

Conley was a wealthy industrialist who became first Watch Tower president in 1881. By 1884 he had left regular association with Charles Taze Russell to go on a different religious journey. But his memorial is typical of wealthy men who made their name.

Photograph by the author

In fairness to Conley, his actual grave marker was quite standard, alongside almost identical ones for his wife and adopted daughter. But the family memorial for his name is quite striking, even today.

Charles Taze Russell

CTR was the first president of the incorporated Society in 1884, and founder of the magazine now known as The Watchtower (originally Zion’s Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence). He gave instructions for a simple funeral at the Society’s own plot in United Cemeteries, Ross Township, Pittsburgh. His first marker pictured in the 1919 convention report was very simple, but something more elaborate was installed in 1920. Even so, it was a fairly modest affair, when compared with other markers of the time, including in the same series of cemeteries.

Photograph by the author

It should be noted that the pyramid installed near the grave marker, was not for CTR but for the whole Bethel family along with colporteurs of the day. Like a war memorial it was originally intended to commemorate the names of 196 people. In practice only nine names were ever engraved on it before the idea was abandoned. The structure was taken down in 2021.

Joseph Franklyn Rutherford

The second president of the incorporated Society was Joseph Franklyn Rutherford. Originally a grave space was reserved for him on the same site as CTR. But the headquarters were now in New York and a new graveyard was established on Staten Island. The Society bought land in 1922 and established both a farm and a radio station there. The radio station had the call letters WBBR and opened for transmission in 1924. Adjoining this property was a famous landmark, the Woodrow Road Methodist Church, with a number of graveyards surrounding it. The Society was to have its own section here. It is not known when this began, but the last interment of a Bethel worker at the old cemetery in Pittsburgh was that of Charles Buehler in 1925.

When JFR died he was buried at Staten Island.

Below is a snapshot from Google Earth taken from Woodrow Road showing part of the cemetery.

The Woodrow Road Methodist Church is on the right. On the left is a fence separating a housing development, which was where the Woodrow Road entrance to the Society’s property used to be. The radio masts for WBBR were behind the Methodist church and their own graveyard adjoined the WBBR property. The graveyard is noted for the policy of having no grave markers at all. This was used for Bethel workers until the end of the 1960s, even though they sold off the radio station in 1957. The last recorded interment was in December 1968. (See The Watchtower magazine for February 15, 1969, page 125.) So J F Rutherford has no grave marker at all. He is buried in this private cemetery area with five others who went to prison with him in 1918.

Nathan Knorr, Fred Franz and Milton Henschel

In the 1970s a new private cemetery was established at Watchtower Farms in Walkill, Ulster County, NY. It is also a private cemetery but this time on private land, and now the decision was taken to have simple grave markers flat on the ground.

Here are the markers for the next Watchtower Society presidents, Nathan Knorr, Fred Franz, and Milton Henschel.

Nathan Knorr and Fred Franz

Milton Henschel

It is an interesting progression from the memorial for William Henry Conley.

Friday, October 29, 2021

Watch Tower Conventions

I need scans [or originals] of Convention related materials from 1889 to 1942, no matter how insignificant the material may seem. Usher/attendant instructions, handbills, seating charts, maps, posters, what ever you may have. 

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Was William Conley always a Millionaire?

 Jose objected to Jerome's article on Conley suggesting that Conley was always a millionaire. As a reminder, comments should be factual. Jose's comment is not, but since others may view matters as he does, I'm posting an extract from Separate Identity volume one: 

William Henry Conley 

Other than the Russells, the only name we can positively associate with the Allegheny Study Group in this period is William H. Conley. Russell described him as “a member of the early Allegheny Bible Class.”12 Since they were closely associated in religious work, his wife would have been a member too.

Conley was born June 11, 1840, in Pittsburgh to George Washington Conley and Matilda Balsley. His father died about 1852, when Conley was twelve years old, and Conley went to work in a woolen mill in Allegheny.13 In 1855 he was apprenticed to an uncle, a printer in Blairsville, Ohio. In 1857, he moved with his uncle to Plymouth, Ohio, where he met Sara Shaffer (also spelled Shafer), two years his junior and a transplanted Pennsylvanian. They married in 1860.

Significantly, Conley associated with the Lutheran Church in Plymouth, Ohio. There is little documentation for Conley’s life there, but it is into this time that one can fit his first acquaintance with George Nathaniel Henry Peters, later the author of the massive three volume work, Theocratic Kingdom. Peter’s obituary as found in The Lutheran Observer of October 22, 1909, notes his service to the Plymouth, Ohio, church. Another source shows him serving as pastor in Plymouth during the years of Conley’s residence.

While it is possible that Russell met Peters through another, it is likely that he met him through Conley. It is also extremely likely that Conley’s interest in the Lord’s return and last-times events derived from his association with Peters. Though somewhat sympathetic toward Adventism, Peters was pre-millennialist Lutheran and would not have led Conley into Adventism.He was already committed to his great study of Christ’s return and rule, having started the research about 1854. His preaching at Plymouth must have been colored by his study. ....

There are three William Conleys listed among Civil War soldiers from Ohio, but none of the biographical notices of William H. Conley list Civil War service. At or toward the end of the war the Conleys moved back to Pittsburgh where he joined a commission house, a wholesale firm. Later he became a bookkeeper for James M. Riter, whose company, established in 1861, worked in sheet metal and copper. The business seems to have been prosperous though not large. Riter supplied major portions of the iron work for the Escanaba furnace in 1872.

James Riter died in 1873, and Conley “took a half-interest in the business with Thomas B. Riter, the firm name being changed to Riter & Conley; he attended to the financial and office work while Mr. Riter attended to the outside and mechanical part.” Eventually Riter & Conley “became the most extensive of its kind in the world.” That Conley focused on a major business venture that year is a strong indicator that he did not take the predictions of Jonas Wendell, Nelson Barbour and others seriously. Others who were swayed, though not enough to form a positive conviction, also engaged in business, and his partnership with T. B. Riter is not proof that he didn’t find the movement interesting or even somewhat persuasive.

One can find supporting footnotes in SI1. There is enough here to show that in his early years Conley was a laborer with little money. Money came later in life. The lesson is this: Put some thought into your comments; support them with a reference to original source material. Do not post silly comments.

Friday, October 22, 2021

Several things:

Jerome's article below mentions Conley's large chart. I've been looking for that for about four years. Perhaps you can find success where I cannot.

You might also note that Sarah Conley's obituary puts a better light on her relationship to the C&MA than existed in her last years. More on that in a few months.

I need scans of Watchtower Talk Outlines from the 1940s to 1957. Anyone?

AND for another project I need the writing on this envelope translated. I cannot read the old-fashioned German script. Anyone?

William Henry Conley and the Christian and Missionary Alliance

In 1914 a religious writer, Rev. G.P. Pardington, produced a book of 238 pages that has a bearing on Watch Tower related history. It was a self-congratulatory history of a movement that dated its official start from 1889, although growing out of efforts from earlier in that decade.

The Christian and Missionary Alliance was founded by Albert B Simpson (1843-1919). Simpson was originally a Presbyterian clergyman who started an independent ministry in New York in the early 1880s. He was a prolific writer of books and hymns. Several ventures including two magazines came together into the Alliance by 1889.

Pardington’s book outlined their belief system: the Alliance’s theology was pre-millennial, strongly evangelical, with a special emphasis on miraculous physical healing, which Simpson believed he had personally experienced.

The book spends some time giving the history of various supporters and workers around the globe, most of whom had died by that time. However, for those with an interest in Watch Tower history, one reference stands out – to the first president of the Watch Tower Society.

Over pages 208 and 209 – part of chapter called “Our Honored Dead” there is a eulogy to one John Conley.

The date of death (July 25, 1897) and Pittsburgh location clearly identifies this person as William Henry Conley, who readers here will know as the first president of the (unincorporated) Watch Tower Society in 1881.

Conley was an associate of CTR throughout much of the 1870s, being mentioned in George Storrs’ Bible Examiner along with the Russells. He became a wealthy industrialist and co-owner of an iron and steel business known as the Riter-Conley Company. When Zion’s Watch Tower Society first started as an unincorporated body in 1881, Conley was one of four who donated substantial sums for a tract campaign. He was president of the Society and CTR was secretary-treasurer. Yet by the time the Society was incorporated in 1884 Conley was missing and CTR was now president.

He would reappear briefly with a letter to Zion’s Watch Tower in 1894 which we will come to later.

As noted by Pardington in 1914, Conley died back in 1897. But he was sufficiently well-remembered seventeen years later to merit a paragraph in the book. Although it has to be noted that he was not sufficiently well-remembered for Pardington to get his name right!

Going back to the time when William Henry and wife Sarah were very much alive, quite a picture can be built up of their high-profile involvement in this movement. The Alliance published a weekly paper originally called The Christian Alliance and Missionary Weekly. The Conleys are mentioned in its pages literally dozens of times.

A key reference is when Sarah died, a decade after her husband. Her obituary also covers some of William’s history. It is found in the Alliance Weekly for November 21, 1908.

William and Sarah’s support for the Alliance took many forms. To review, here are some sample extracts from The Christian Alliance and Missionary Weekly over the years. In addition to supporting mission work in Palestine, as noted by Partington above, William was noted for his hospitality.

As his home had earlier been made available for the Memorial celebration for the first two years of Zion’s Watch Tower, now it was available for Alliance activities. From their paper for April 13, 1894:

His hospitality extended to lavish spreads for Alliance visitors. From December 12, 1889:

Sarah Conley was very fond of music. From February 6, 1891:

And November 11, 1892:

William was not just a sideliner supporter, but as the above obituary for Sarah from 1908 shows, he also accepted office in the Alliance.

Here he is a vice-president of the International Missionary Alliance (March 21-28, 1890):

For the Pittsburgh branch of the Alliance he became the president (March 13, 1896):

This support for the Alliance was not just in administration, William also preached for the cause. Here he is presiding at a church meeting (September 11, 1896):

Some of the topics he preached on would not have sounded out of place from a ZWT evangelist, although the details may have differed. From March 5, 1895 – “Dispensational Truths” (complete with a chart):

From February 22, 1896 – “The Second Coming of Christ” – complete with another chart and William and Sarah singing:


From the same issue (February 22, 1896) – “Meat in due season”:    

After William died, the obituary for his widow Sarah showed how much she continued her support for the Alliance. She also accepted positions in the movement.

From a regional convention covering five US States in 1907 (September 7, 1907)

Returning to the time when William died, his support was so notable that a room at the Alliance’s own training school was dedicated in his honor. The Missionary Training Institute in Nyack, New York, was founded by A B Simpson back in 1882 and in due course became the official educational facility for the Alliance. A special building was constructed for the school overlooking the Hudson River in 1897. A news item from December 2, 1916 referred back to this event:

Unlike Pardington, here in 1916 the writer at least got Conley’s initials right. So, while Conley rapidly faded from ZWT view, he was extremely visible elsewhere.

His support for the Alliance was mentioned in the newspapers when reporting on his death. From The Pittsburgh Press for July 31, 1897:

So why did W H Conley part company with CTR, at least theologically?

Several possible reasons are suggested here, and it may have been a combination of factors.

The first possible issue was how religious movements in the past sometimes evolve from proclaiming a future hope to trying to deal with the “here and now.” A general example is the Salvation Army where William Booth and others wanted to evangelize the poor, but are more known today for social care. This did not happen to the Bible Student movement. When ZWT began, its focus was clearly on preaching the message, gathering in the last of the “saints,” and declaring the hope that God will provide lasting solutions to mankind’s ills. It kept to that. Whereas the Conleys obviously veered towards social care – supporting hospitals, a refuge for women, rehabilitation of prisoners, etc. This was a different focus.

The second possible issue was a personal tragedy in the Conley family.

One assumes that William and Sarah were unable to have children themselves, because they adopted a little girl called Emma. She died in 1881. That she was adopted is clearly shown by the notice of her death in the Pittsburgh Daily Post for 15 December, 1881, which drew attention to the fact.

Her grave marker has the poignant inscription “Our Pet.”

Photo by the author

This tragedy may have affected Conley’s religious focus. A main feature of the Alliance platform was Divine Healing. Simpson firmly believed he had been miraculously healed; this was a main prompt in starting the organization.  For a while it would have links with the developing Pentecostal movement. It would be too late for Emma, but a belief in Divine Healing may have attracted Conley.

However, perhaps the most obvious reason for a parting of the ways was a straightforward theological divide. As ZWT commented on doctrines in its early years, there was an obvious rift in the making. The various groups that provided a background to CTR’s ministry had widely diverging views on God and Christ, but many were non-trinitarian.

In marked contrast, the organisation that Conley threw his money behind was strictly orthodox. It still exists and as the Alliance World Fellowship claims a membership of over six million today. A modern-day website lists its core beliefs. Under WHAT DO WE BELIEVE? the first statement of faith is:

“We believe that Jesus is the Christ, God incarnate.”

Elaborating further: “There is one God…existing eternally in three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.”

Those are not words you would ever find in Zion’s Watch Tower. Instead, the issue for July/August 1881 (R249) calls the trinity a “heathen dogma” and by July 1883 (R505) the doctrine was described as “totally opposed to Scripture.” This allowed no room for compromise.

Other doctrinal differences likely surfaced when Conley helped fund George Peters’ monumental work The Theocratic Kingdom published in full in 1884. CTR obviously had a preview because he reviewed it in Zion’s Watch Tower for May 1883. Conley is given a prominent dedication for financial help given at the start of the third volume. CTR’s told his readers how they could obtain the work but there was a warning. He wrote:

“We regret to have it to state, however, that he is not free from Babylon's shackles, being yet identified with the Lutheran sect – hence has been hindered from a fuller development in grace and knowledge of the word and plan of God than if he stood in the full liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free.”

Peters identified himself as “Rev” in volume one, and “Evang. Luth. Minister” in volumes 2 and 3. Conley had come from a Lutheran background and likely knew Peters from earlier days.

CTR did not exactly raise enthusiasm for the book. He concluded his comments:

“While we cannot recommend it to you more than as above, to briefly state the facts and circumstances, yet if you should conclude to order it or a prospectus of it you should address our brother and friend as above.”

CTR called Peters a “brother” and “friend” but it was hardly an endorsement of a huge project Conley had helped bankroll.

So by 1884, perhaps for a variety of reasons, there had been a parting of the ways. Many years later, when CTR reviewed his association with Conley in The Watch Tower for July 1, 1912, pp.211-213, he singled out Conley’s take on faith-healing as a problem. He also suggested that Conley had been ensnared by materialism.

As noted earlier, Conley was to reappear “out of the blue” in a letter written to Zion’s Watch Tower in 1894.

CTR had been subjected to an attack on his personal integrity including his business dealings from four former associates. He responded with a special issue of Zion’s Watch Tower dated April 25, 1894, entitled A Conspiracy Exposed and Harvest Siftings. The aftermath of this was another special Zion’s Watch Tower for June 11, 1894, which reproduced many letters of support. One came from W H Conley. CTR introduced the letter before reproducing it.

“Another brother who was a member of the early Allegheny Bible Class writes as follows:

My Dear Bro. In Christ:—
I have read carefully pages 92 to 119 of A Conspiracy Exposed and Harvest Siftings with special interest, and must say my recollection of events named by you are very much like your own; and while there are some details, in some cases, of which I know nothing, and hence cannot speak as to them, yet I do know there were such transactions as you name, and at the dates given. I am quite conversant with some of the dealings, and am surprised at the very merciful manner in which you speak of those with whom you were associated. "The servant is not greater than his Lord." "If they have done these things in a green tree, what will they do in the dry?"—"Perils among false brethren," etc., etc.
As to myself, you can rely on one thing, viz., All reports stating that I deny the ransom are absolutely false...
    W.H. Conley”

By this time however, he was fully and very publicly committed to the Missionary Alliance. There is no mention that he had once been president of the Watch Tower Society. CTR simply called him “a member of the early Allegheny Bible Class.” This avoided controversy and maybe even potential embarrassment for Conley.

Looking back on William Conley’s life of philanthropy, some subjective readers may conclude that probably the best thing he ever did with his money was that early help he gave in the start of Zion’s Watch Tower Tract Society.