Monday, March 18, 2019

Our Princess

Rachael de Vienne
November 24, 1977 – March 18, 2018

Rachael died this evening. She complained of dizziness and a headache after dinner. She wanted a box of family memorabilia she kept in an upstairs closet. On the third step she grasped the banister, said, “oh,” and collapsed. Her two youngest daughters were with her. She said, “I love you.” And died.

This is not unexpected, though the circumstances are a surprise. I will be away from the blog for a few days.

Rachael felt especially close to a few of our blog readers, though she had no hope of ever meeting them. Among these are Roberto, Bernard, Stéphane and “German Girl.”

Another bit to transcribe - click image to view entire

Undertakings, Obligations and a Historian’s Ethics.

Undertakings, Obligations and a Historian’s Ethics.

            Several have asked about the fragments of letters I’ve posted to the blog. These are from the two repositories of Washington family papers and relate to Maria Jourdan Westmoreland-Washington. One came from the New York Public Library archive. It is posted to their web site and available to all. The others come from the Tennessee State Library and Archive. We have ‘obligations’ connected to these. The archive is open to researchers. However, the State Library retains certain legal rights, with these comes the obligation to researchers to not pass on what the library owns. You can, at fifty cents a page obtain scans. We elected to purchase only those documents that we were certain were relevant, doing so because of cost.
            I can ethically post small extracts of documents here, but eventually they must come down. The staff, especially the director of the archive, were exceptionally helpful, more helpful than most institutional libraries we’ve contacted.
            Some years ago I discussed the New York Public Library’s George Storrs archive with a member of the Watchtower Society’s editorial staff. He suggested that it was only marginally relevant. Photocopies cost three hundred dollars at the time. Relevance is determined by one’s approach. The Watchtower Society does not approach their history in the same way that an academic writer does. I did not have, and still do not have, the spare three hundred dollars, but we managed to put together a cogent and accurate picture of Storrs for Separate Identity, volume one.
            I have always found the ephemera of history helpful. A turn of phrase, a sentence, a detectable attitude leads to connections. This is true of the Washington archives I’ve mentioned above.
            Sometimes we acquire things, usually as scans or photocopies, that the owner is willing to share with us but only on the promise that we will not share it with others. It is better to see these things than refuse. Such is the case with a recent acquisition. This poses challenges. We find things that move our research forward, but I am reluctant to cite something another writer cannot see. Usually we find a path to another resource that we can cite and that conveys the same information. A sharp eye might let you see examples in volume one of Separate Identity.
            Sometimes we find an example of the same material in another archive. Then we can use it without compromising a promise. This is the case with a booklet published by M. F. Russell. We do not cite that in S. I., but if I live long enough to write the next book, On the Cusp of Fame, it will be important.
            Recent donations to our work have allowed us to see not just the Washington archives but a pile of letters and documents, newspapers and clippings, a rare booklet not available on Google books, and two books. We had as an imperfect photocopy one of the books, and I cite it in volume one of S.I. It’s recently been republished, and you can buy a copy for about forty-five dollars and postage. An original appeared on ebay. We contacted the seller and he lowered the price to match the POD reprint. We now have the book as an original from 1843, and with that we can read the entire text. We may cite it again in volume three where it becomes relevant again.
G. W. Green was a Storrs and Barbour associate.
This tract came to us through your donations. 
            Because of ‘undertakings’ between myself and the person who owns the letters and other papers, I cannot share any of it on the blog. You will see results though. And the newspapers and clippings are public domain. We purchased the originals. And they are ours to do with what we wish. The newspapers contain interesting, useful things. We’ve just started sorting and reading. But thus far we’ve found a letter from Jonas Wendell explaining his work; a letter from the pastor who followed Stetson at Edinboro, Pennsylvania, detailing internal difficulties; a short article about the nature of ‘the work’ in Chicago in the 1890s, and assorted other comments on events then current. We would not have this without the contributions you’ve made. I am thankful for your support.
            Before I forget it [I’m becoming forgetful in my old age], the papers explain a comment found in the Bible Student history of the work in Australia. A man mentioned there wrote a weekly letter back home; these were published. This will become a footnote in volume two of S. I.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

More to transcribe. Click on image to view entire.

Sorry, but my old eyes do not work as well as they once did. Can we transcribe this? Anyone? Same letter as before. The pages are mixed up.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Another I cannot fully read. Up to the challenge? Click on image to view entire

Russell Family History

 As a long time family historian and amateur genealogist it was logical for me to try and find out more about CTR’s family. A starting point was the family tree that Robert Speel (a descendant of Mabel Russell, daughter of Joseph Lytle Russell and Emma Ackley) produced many years ago. Most readers interested in this subject will already have a copy of this. It has some errors, but since the research was done in the pre-internet age, much of it holds up well, albeit incomplete.

About a year ago I homed in on Fannie Harper, Joseph Lytle’s younger sister, who never left Ireland. Through sites like Ancestry, Find My Past, Find a Grave etc. I traced the line forward but was unable to make contact with modern descendants. (This has often worked for many figures in Watch Tower history, yielding family details and the Holy Grail, photographs – but alas, not this time.) Using the Ulster Historical Society I tried to go back a further generation or two. I eventually received a 15 page report that showed how hard they’d worked to uncover so little. However, if anyone here would like a copy of this report to see if they can make more from it, please contact me back-channel.

Recently I have been concentrating on one of Joseph Lytle’s older brothers, Alexander, who lived in New York. I traced his family down to include a daughter who was a missionary for a conventional organization in Turkey for 38 years. Another daughter worshiped at the Plymouth Church in New York long before it became the Brooklyn Tabernacle. And this time I made contact with one of Alexander’s descendants (by marriage). Indirectly from her I obtained a document written by one of CTR’s cousins - although I doubt he ever met her – that supplied a huge amount of detail. (I have sent copies to Bruce and Rachael.) I am currently continuing to double-check what I can to make sure that before I go into print myself I am as accurate online as I can be in the circumstances.

Two articles are planned in due course, but here are just two tasters. First, Joseph Lytle Russell was one of thirteen children, although not all survived into adulthood. Second, the first few of the Russell family to come to America made their home in New York. Moving to Pittsburgh and Allegheny came later. This gives a new geographical focus for continued research.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

I can read most of this ...

but not all of it. Can you transcribe it? [click on the image to view entire document.]

Monday, March 11, 2019

Some more additions to research collection

Fifteen issues at a moderate price. New to us.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Temporary - A work in progress

Can you add to this story?

The Church in Mariah’s House
            There are several points in our narrative where this history would be appropriate. It appears here because it illustrates the nature of fledgling congregations and the path taken by some newly interested. We are without a real start to this account and do not know the end. It is brought to us through an article in The New York Sun. The article, written without a byline, alternates between simple reporting and snide, nearly vulgar, insulting comments. The article focuses on Maria Jourdan Washington – better known to history as Maria[h] Elizabeth Jourdan Westmoreland – describing religious meetings held in her home.
            Mariah Jourdan was born in Georgia, October 10, 1838, to Warren Jourdan and Mary Johnson-Thornton. The Thorntons and Jourdans were prominent politically, espousing ‘states rights’ in the pre-war years, and they were wealthy. Both Mariah and her sister Madeline were educated at Baptist-sponsored Southern Female College at La Grange, Georgia, and both were accomplished writers. Mariah was an expert musician as well. In 1856 she married Willis Furman Westmoreland [June 1, 1828 – June 26, 1890], a surgeon of note. He was ten years her senior, not uncommon in this era.[1] A biography says:
Loveliness of person and precocity of mind were her gifts from nature. It was a rare thing for one to pass the thoughtful little beauty without prophesying a brilliant future for her. Even in tender childhood she gave unmistakable evidences of that genius which has given to the literati those essays which have appeared from time to time in the columns of “Scott’s Monthly,” and the “Ladies’ Home Gazette,” both periodicals published in the City of Atlanta, the home of Mrs. Westmoreland.
With Maria Jourdan, music was a passion. Having been so fortunate as to have always enjoyed the tuition of skilful masters, she early became a proficient in the art, and, unlike most married ladies, she has never thrown aside her favorite amusement, but devotes much time to familiarizing herself with 'the various operas, etc., her rendition of some of which is worthy a Strakosch or a Verdi. Her touch is exquisite and thrilling, her manipulation wonderful. Nor should we fail to speak of her beautiful improvisations, which so often charm and delight the home circle. Hour after hour have we seen her under the inspiration, as it were, of Orpheus, while strain after strain of the most Witching music would be borne upon the air, ravishing the ear, melting the heart, and causing the eye to grow liquid, and the lip to quiver with emotion. On such occasions Mrs. Westmoreland is transcendently charming. The rapt look she wears; the deeply sad expression of her large, dark, and lustrous eyes; the heightening color, the classic brow, where “thought sits enthroned” – all, all combine to form a picture over which artists would delight to linger. Her manners are fascinating – not indeed free from that hauteur peculiar to high-bred Southern women; but she commands without repulsing. She is a brilliant colloquist, her conversations abounding in wit, repartee, and pleasantry.
Mrs. Westmoreland is endowed with a high order of intellect, excelling, when at college, in mathematics and the languages. She also early evinced a preference for the study of the classics, and her mind is richly stored with stories and legends – of those real and mythical personages whose marvelous deeds and glorious achievements have been sung from time immemorial.[2]
            Maria’s married life was as lively as it was in her youth. She fostered a “literary club.” The biography quoted above says:
She was also the founder of a “literary club,” whose members convened once a week at her residence on Marietta Street. On these occasions, private theatricals were performed, and poems read or delivered, each member being compelled to contribute something for the amusement and edification of the “club.” These weekly reunions were replete with interest and information, and happy they, indeed, who formed one of this charmed circle.
            This seems effusive, but given her known history, it appears accurate. We can trace some of her travels and know something of her subsequent history. The American Civil War interrupted her home life. She gave birth to her first child, a daughter, on December 20, 1860, the day South Carolina seceded, and in honor of that they named her Carolina. Her husband joined the Confederate medical corps, eventually being promoted to the rank of general by Jefferson Davis.
            Maria “was devoted to the cause of the South, and toiled unremittingly, through heat and cold, rain and sunshine, during those terrible years of blood and carnage from which we have but emerged,” wrote her biographer. She wrote two plays, A Soldier’s Wife and The Soldier’s Trials, both performed in the Atlanta Athenaeum. “The proceeds, which were munificent, were donated to the destitute wives and children of those brave Atlantians who were battling so manfully for our cause on the historic soil of the ‘Old Dominion.’” [The Old Dominion is Virginia.] Her biographer wrote that:
The first evening the play of ‘The Soldier’s Wife’ was presented, the Athenaeum was crowded almost to suffocation: the order and decorum observed on that occasion was wonderful, and bespoke at once the high regard and appreciation which the Atlanta public felt for the dramatic neophyte. The emotion evinced by that vast audience was deep and unfeigned; and every eye shed a tear and every bosom heaved a sigh over the stricken wife who had abandoned herself to sorrow, in the hourly expectation of the news of the condemnation of her husband, who had deserted the army, and fled to his home and little ones to preserve them from starvation. The play was a decided success, and the youthful follower of Aeschylus left the Athenaeum amid the congratulations of many sincere and loving friends.
            The war challenged, as it did for many women, Maria’s view of women’s rights and responsibilities. In Southern culture as in most of the United States, “respectable women” did not become actors. The Civil War changed that, and Maria with other ‘respectable’ women acted in her plays. Her view of women’s responsibilities and rights would evolve, and we will consider that in not many paragraphs.
            Writing plays to fund relief work was not her only act in support of the Southern cause. She and a Madeline V. Bryan, crafted “the first public symbol of Confederate authority in Atlanta,” a flag for the Customs House.[3] Maria called together prominent women, her social peers, on April 17, 1861, five days after the first shots were fired at Fort Sumter. They organized into a soldiers’ aid society, their first task being to scrape lint for bandages. Since the Confederate government did not furnish uniforms, they turned to making shirts, pants and socks for soldiers. They named themselves The Ladies’ Soldier’s Relief Society, drawing “many young women of high social standing” including Mary Clayton whom some of our American readers will remember form their history reading.[4] Contributions in money and “in kind” came to “the Ladies,” and Maria duly reported them in detail.[5] When General Sherman approached Atlanta, Maria, in late term pregnancy, fled.
Post-War: 1866-1879
            In addition to novel writing, Maria wrote a series of articles for The Atlanta Constitution using the fictional persona of Aunt Tabitha, “dispensing advice to a younger female relative.” Her articles often dealt with women’s issues. She condemned fornication, rampant in post-war Georgia. She advocated educating women. She advocated the admission of women to the University of Georgia, though to no avail. Women were not admitted until 1918. Maria said that “women’s economic advancement would occur when they gained access to education.” The Southern press saw her as a radical ‘women’s rights’ advocate, but she was not. She suggested that “women were not yet ready to become voters,” but she saw the day when suffrage would come as near.[6] In July 1872 she addressed the graduating class of the Southern Female College at LaGrange, her alma mater. The Christian Index, a religious paper published in Atlanta, reported: “Mrs. Maria J. Westmoreland ... read a splendid essay.  Subject, ‘What shall our Women do?’  It was filled with good sense, sound reasoning, and practical advice.”[7]
            Maria turned to novel writing producing Hear-Hungry, published by G. W. Carleton & Co. of New York. Maria traveled to New York to consult with her publishers. Wendy Venet, in her stellar book, says she was accompanied by her husband.[8]  Her stay was short, but she returned to New York in the fall of 1873, planning to stay the winter. She brought her two children with her, but her husband remained in Atlanta.
            Her original intention, a bow to Southern prejudice, was to publish anonymously.[9] Maria’s first novel, Heart Hungry, tells us much about her views of religious practice. The heroin is Maud Livingstone, an oppressed orphan. Her foster parents mistreat her out of guilt. Her foster mother, wrote Maria, “was a living representative of a certain class, who are saints in public, and vipers in private life, and with much external religion, her woman’s unwomanly heart entertained no spark of sympathy for this motherless girl.” Oppressed Maud dealt with dark thoughts, vanquishing them “by the consciousness of the sin of indulging them, and taking up her cross again.” Toward the novel’s conclusion Maria wrote: “should it not be the duty of every good and true citizen to put down all such attempts, since religion is the foundation of virtue and the strongest support of society; the friend of the helpless; the sacred guardian of the marriage rite; the faithful sentinel upon the light-house, that, descrying danger, gives the alarm, and then throws its protecting arms around the weary and the doubtful?” In time, Maria would question the efficacy of religion as usually practiced, but in 1872, this was her firm belief. A second novel followed in short order, and the first was dramatized.
            When in New York City, Maria lectured at the Union League Club. The New York Home Journal reported: “Mrs. Maria Jourdan Westmoreland, the Southern authoress, made a successful debut as a lecturer before a cultivated and fashionable audience.” Her subject was “Shots at Social Myths.” She was, reported the Home Journal, “equally severe upon both sexes, firing whole broadsides of satire and sarcasm at the ‘moral’ of men and the insincerity and gossiping tendencies of women.” Her lecture was “well received ... its keen hits and brilliant points being warmly applauded.” The Home Journal described Maria as a woman of culture and extensive reading, adding: “In presence, manner and personal appearance she possesses all the elements of popularity. When so many plain-looking lecturers appear in public, it is refreshing to see one who is endowed with beauty and wit.”[10]
            The lecture was also reported in             The New York Post which described her audience as “eminently intellectual” and in obvious sympathy with Maria. It reported that she made pointed comments on the Cuban situation: “The lecture included several sharp and timely hits ... at indisputable realities ... especially to Burriel and the problem of the ever-faithful isle.”[11] The “isle” was Cuba and Burriel a devious, rather stupid Spanish General. On October 31, 1873, the United States flagged Virginius was captured by the Spanish warship Tornado and brought to Santiago de Cuba. Included among its crew were Cuban revolutionaries, but there were also Americans, Europeans, Africans and British citizens. Some of the prisoners were only thirteen. The crew were tried before a Spanish naval court and sentenced to death as “pirate prisoners.” On November 4th, General Juan N. Burriel ordered the execution of the four insurgent generals captured on board the Virginius. Three days later, thirty-seven more members of the crew, including Joseph Fry, the American captain were killed. General Burriel stopped the executions when the H. M. S. Niobe arrived, sent to stop the execution of British citizens.
Advertisement for Maria’s Lecture.
New York Herald, November 23, 1873 – Triple Sheet Edition.
            Late in 1873, Maria addressed a Women’s Conference held in New York City. The Southern press reproduced an extract from the New York Herald:
Mrs. Maria Jourdan Westmoreland came to the platform, and looking like Titian’s high-born dames, said, in a sweet and low, but distinct voice, that there was a great necessity for close union between the women of the North and the South. She hoped that lecturers would be sent through the South in order to awaken the ladies of that section to immediate action. Mrs. Westmoreland further stated that she would gladly give any lecturers letters of introduction to the first people of the South in order to further the common object. Mrs. Westmoreland spoke on the condition of the Southern women; she said she knew them well enough to know that if the papers of this Congress had been read in the South, it would so rouse them that they would not be quiet until they had the ballot
            Reaction from the Southern press was immediate and negative. The Nashville, Tennessee, Union and American said in response that “Southern people will readily encourage ladies in their efforts to achieve fame in the genial walks of literature, but they have no patience with ‘crowing hens.’” The Union and American writer – the report lacks a byline – quoted The Augusta Chronicle and Sentinel as saying:
It need hardly be said that Mrs. Westmoreland, in expressing the views with which she is credited above, does not represent the women of the South. In one section of the Union, at least, women are contented to be women – they have no desire to drag their dainty skirts through the filthy mire of politics; no ambition to figure among roughs and rowdies at the polls. They have a higher and more noble mission to perform. They run not after strange goads, but worship at the altars of the fireside and the family circle. We would advise the Women’s Rights women to stay at home and not undertake missionary work in the South. Even Mrs. Westmoreland’s letters will not open to them the doors of Southern people – and their lectures will not pay the gas bills and hall rent.[12]
            The Lynchburg, Virginia, Republican commented:
In assuming the breeches, [the writer means men’s pants] we are sure Mrs. Westmoreland speaks only for herself, for we think she greatly mistakes the sentiment of the Southern woman if she supposes that they are “heart hungry” as herself for the ballot, and that they are ready to rush into a revolution to secure it in order that they may exhibit their prowess in a scuffles at the polls on election day with their dusky fellow citizens, Mrs. Dinah Johnson and Mrs. Phillis Brown.

            This was reprinted with approval in The Alexandria, Virginia, Gazette and Virginia Advertiser of October 29, 1873 under the heading Petty Coat on the Rostrum. The Savannah Advertiser said: “Mrs. Westmoreland, a Southern woman herself, ought to have a better knowledge of the sentiments of her own sex in the South. If Mrs. Westmoreland herself should undertake a canvass of the South under the banner of Mesdames Stanton and Livermore, she would fail to win over to her cause a sufficient number of women to start even a first class sewing society.”[13]
            There is strong indication that Maria’s speech was misrepresented by a hostile press. An April 1874 press report said: “Mrs. Maria J. Westmoreland has finished a lecture which she calls the ‘Daughters of Eve,’ in which she very properly takes the ground that woman’s widest field lies within the sacred precincts of home.”[14] It is possible that she held both to the viewpoints reported in the press. There is some indication she did. But we think the northern newspapers quoted in the south exaggerated Maria’s speech. The best indication that the press misrepresented her speech is found in The New York Daily Graphic: “Mrs. Westmoreland is ‘defended’ by an enthusiastic Savannahan, who declares she said nothing about the rights of the ballot in the recent Convention.”[15]
            Maria responded through an open letter to the Southern press. Unfortunately it survives, as far as our research shows, in a brief quotation:
I did not say I hoped lecturers would be sent through the South. I said that I hoped they would go, and with letters of introduction which I would gladly give them. I knew they would have a happy and perhaps a lucrative time, and I knew that a few women at least would be delighted to know that women were accomplishing so much ... Why are these attacks constantly made upon me, and by my own people? Is it because they hate me personally? It cannot be for anything I ever did to them, for my house, heart and well-wishes have ever belonged to my people, and an unkind word from them is always answered by my tears. Is it kind, is it liberal or charitable for them to try to draw down a woman who is trying honestly and by hard labor to support herself and two children?[16]
            The newspaper that quoted this suggested that she should have sought better association than the Women’s Conference and was paying just consequences for failing to do so. The criticisms are all from men, many of whom resented Reconstruction and sought to preserve pre-war culture.
            In mid-December 1872 she was engaged to lecture by the Fraternals, a newly-formed society whose goal was help for indigent women, of whom there were many in New York City. The New York Sun described them as “chivalrous order of gentlemen,” saying: “It had been found by investigation that there is not in New York a place where a moneyless woman who preserves the respect of the world, can go for lodging except to the free but uncomfortable shelter of a police station; although there are numerous benevolent houses of refuge, to enter which would stamp her with infamy. Mr. Dooly mentioned the case of a woman who had walked the streets all night as the best thing to be done.”[17] Their goal was to found comfortable housing throughout the city. Maria was drawn to this type of work, and agreed to lecture to help raise funds. The Kingston, New York, Daily Freeman noticed her impending lecture. It would be accompanied by illustrations, and “she allows any gentleman in the audience to come up on stage and learn how the thing is done.” The writer snidely observed that Maria was “rather ancient” (she was thirty-eight) “and not a very comely piece of anatomy – indeed rather angular – she don’t illustrate much.”[18] The accuracy of this report is uncertain. What is certain is that the editor of the Freeman was as illiterate as he was rude. The Daily Graphic held a differing opinion:  “Mrs. Westmoreland is a very handsome woman, and – is it impertinent to say? – probably has a large acquaintance with her theme.”[19]
Maria’s portrait
Maria Westmoreland in 1873.
            Her audience was “fashionable and appreciative ... [and] seemed to keenly enjoy the racy and piquant witticism of the lecturer.” The New York, Daily Graphic, just quoted, added that “her selection of a subject last evening was a ‘happy thought.’ All men appreciate ‘kisses’ from rosy lips, whether given or talked about, especially when the theme is handled with a rare blending of delicacy, wit and sentiment.[20]
            Favorable impressions of Maria’s lecture resulted in invitations to repeat it in Boston and Washington, D.C. In February 1874, Maria took her “Kisses” lecture to Willard Hall in Washington, D.C. The Washington, D.C., Star declared that Maria’s lecture would be the “literary event of the week.” It came at an appropriate time, St. Valentine’s Day. “Judging from the number of tickets disposed of, the fair authoress will be greeted by a brilliant and fashionable audience.[21] A newspaper article described her as “a beautiful representative of the ‘Sunny South.’” It said that the “attractive character” of her subject resulted in a “large and cultivated audience.” After a short concert, she was introduced by Henry Stuart Foote, former governor of Mississippi, “who read a letter from the Hon. Alex. H. Stephens regretting his inability to attend on account of sickness.”[22]
            Maria returned to her Georgia home sometime near August 1874, the New York Daily Graphic announcing that “Mrs. Maria J. Westmoreland is occupied at her home in Georgia writing a psychological novel, which is likely to excite a profound sensation.”[23] She delivered her “Kisses” lecture to an Atlanta audience the press described as “large and distinguished.” One report tells us that she planned a summer tour of resort areas.[24] In 1880 her publisher reissued her second novel, Clifford Troup¸ with a new title, Drifted Together, and issued anonymously.[25]
The Eighties
            Maria fades from newspaper notice in the 1880s. Venet’s take on this was:
She largely faded from view by the end of the 1870s. Although the two novels went through several editions, critics panned them, and speaking engagements appear to have dried up. Her marriage may have collapsed, for Maria did not attend her daughter’s Atlanta wedding in 1882, and she is not buried next to Willis, who died a much-respected member of Atlanta’s medical community in 1890.[26]
            Maria’s marriage deteriorated. If we re-read her open letter to the Southern press, we find her asking: “Is it kind, is it liberal or charitable for them to try to draw down a woman who is trying honestly and by hard labor to support herself and two children?”[27] When her husband, Willis Westmoreland, returned to Georgia after their joint visit to New York City, he stopped supporting her and their children. Willis, though respected as a physician, was volatile, ready to threaten a duel, and just as ready to run off to Arkansas to avoid it.[28]  He deteriorated mentally to the point of commitment to the State Insane Asylum at Milledgeville, Georgia, where he died June 26, 1890. At some point the children returned to their father’s care. Maria and Willis lived separately, and then divorced. By the 1880s, we find her living in West Virginia and married into the Washington family. In 1882 she married William Lewis Washington [1844-1902], a man of some wealth and a colonel in the Confederate Army.
            They were in New York City by 1887, and a letter from her to Richard Watson Gilder, the publisher of Century Magazine, seeking an appointment exists, apparently to further her literary career. A follow-up letter dated June 18, 1887, also exists showing that she had an appointment with Robert Underwood Johnson at Century Magazine. We do not know the result.[29]
            William quickly tired of Maria. In a letter written in 1890 he discussed their divorce proceedings, saying that Maria should be “placed in a lunatic asylum.” In a separate letter he wrote that Maria was “an opium eater” and not responsible for her actions. We have no basis upon which to judge this true or false and are left with merely reporting it. Letters between Maria and other members of the Washington family suggest that they held a kinder view of Maria. [30] William quickly went through two more marriages, which probably reflects more on him than any of his wives.
W. L. Washington photo here
            It is to this period we must assign her exploration of alternative religions. She wrote a biography, printed in very limited numbers and which we could not locate.[31] What remains of this story is found in the December 13, 1891, New York, New York, Sun, which reported that she “has been a member of almost every religious denomination and a disciple of all manner of strange vagaries including spiritualism, theosophy and Christian science [sic].” This is typical Sun innuendo and insult, a type of insult the Sun directed at anyone religious but out of the ordinary. Maria told the Sun reporter that she had sought the “truth of religion” for forty years which takes us back to 1851, her twelfth or thirteenth year. Serious questing usually takes place in more mature years, though it can begin quite early.
The Nineties
            After separating from W. L. Washington, about 1890, she moved from their shared quarters in the Park Avenue Hotel to a rented, older Greek Revival house at 179 McDougal Street, in the Washington Square area.[32]
            She became interested in the near return of Christ, reading Charles A. L. Totten’s prophetic speculations. Totten was a retired army officer, a British Israelite proponent, and believed Christ would return in 1899.[33] She read Russell’s Plan of the Ages. We do not know the circumstances. A group of wealthy, somewhat prominent widows and matrons resident in New York City promoted the book; principal among these was Viola Gilbert whom we profile in volume three of Separate Identity. She and Maria were social peers. It is possible, even likely, that Maria was introduced to Russell’s writings through Gilbert. We simply do not know.
            However, Maria was impressed and traveled to Allegheny to meet Russell, returning with his photo and a determination to preach. The insinuating, insulting, rather vulgar Sun reporter wrote:
Maria’s Calling Card – New York Public Library Collection.
She has been searching for the truth for forty years, and, as she says, only succeeded in gathering a flock of hungry parasites, who fattened off her substance and pretended to have all manner of faith in her. Not until a year ago did the truth come to her, and since that time she has been preparing to open a campaign for the saving of the world, which will end before many years.
The truth came to her with the aid of a certain Charles Russell – a big-eyed, unctuous-looking man, if his picture does not flatter him. Mr. Russell lives in Allegheny, Pa., and is responsible for a good deal more than this church in the house of Maria.
Mr. Russell has written some of the largest and dullest books in the world to prove that the millennium is at hand. He preceded Totten; is more voluminous and more wearisome, if possible. He is spending all his time at the propagation of his ideas about the millennium, and runs a publishing house in its interests.
Maria thinks exceeding well of Russell and is inclined to adopt his plan of the end of the world, although she is still flirting with Totten and may yet go over to him. Russell says the first trumpet sounded in 1878 or thereabouts, and that the millennium will come in 1914. He is a good deal agitated about this, but not so much agitated as is Maria.[34]
            She told the reporter that for weeks after “the truth was revealed to her she ... ran about the streets telling everybody, policemen, beggars, street walkers.” She went to the “big churches,” asking “embarrassing questions of the ministers as they descended from their handsome pulpits.” Failing to receive satisfactory answers she traveled to Allegheny, “and there got the powerful call to start a church.” She invited previous acquaintances to her meetings. The reporter described them as “the best people of New York – the worldly, be-diamond, décolleté people” of New York City.
            The Sun’s reporter was a modernist who, as did most of his ilk, responded to fervent belief with ridicule. Despite this, much detail penetrates the fog. At the time of this report, Maria was teaching what she found in The Plan of the Ages. If she was persuaded by Totten’s Anglo-Israelitism, she was not the only Watch Tower adherent to be so. Russell saw the issue as irrelevant to the times. The Sun suggested that she had “an entire [sic] new system of theology, and talks about the Presbyterians and Methodists and the rest in a most startling way – She thinks the wicked are to be instantly killed off, instead of burned or tortured with remorse. She thinks – but if you care to know all that she thinks go see her.” The public was invited to come on Fridays to discuss and debate. Maria used what she saw as a New Testament pattern, calling the group who met with her The Church in Maria’s House, and alternately, according to the reporter, The School of Christ. Probably the reporter misunderstood the phrase “school of Christ.” From The Sun’s article we pull this:
Maria is endeavoring to return to the Apostolic Church in every way. Her method of expounding the Scriptures is novel and, to one unfamiliar with any but the orthodox standards most startling. She is well educated and isby no means absurd in her talk. She can reason with adroitness and subtlety, and she has an amazing flow of language. She is quick tempered too, and, as she regards it as inspired do not hesitate to show it when her view are called into question.
            As we observed in the previous chapter, meetings could be contentious. Those held in Maria’s house were. The Thursday meetings for ‘the church’ were described this way:
If you should happen to strike the church in Maria’s house of a Thursday afternoon you will hear in all probability voices raised high in argument. There will be swinging word-blows exchanging in the shrillest tones and the most vigorous language a well-strained Anglo-Saxon vocabulary affords. This will be Maria driving home the truth as it is revealed to her. “Sometimes,” she will explain, “the Lord gives it to me to speak the truth with wonderful power. I do not spare words. I tear my adversaries in pieces. The woman who came to combat me had to her bed, and many do not get over a visit for days. Oh, the truth is mighty.
            Despite the controversies, Maria’s mission reached some. Two students attending The Union Theological Seminary who testified that “Maria has taught them more in a few lessons than all the professors at Union have ... in the time they have been going there.” The Sun article was designed to discourage contact with Mrs. Washington, to ridicule her, but it did not succeed. Maria turned to a forum with which she was very familiar, a salon. Using as a pattern her youthful literary salons, she promoted Millennial Dawn teachings among her social peers, holding two meetings a week, one for visitors and one for those who saw themselves as part of the “little flock,” the 144,000, heaven bound congregation.  
photo here
Park Avenue Hotel – About 1900.
William and Maria Washington Took Rooms Here in 1887.
            Russell was in New York City in November 1892 “in response to the urgent solicitations
of the friends in and adjacent to” the City. He ‘preached’ in the morning at Cooper Union on the subject “In Our Days.” In the evening he spoke at Hardman Hall on “The Restitution of All Things” and again that night on “The Millennium and Its Day of Preparation.” Maria Russell accompanied him. An announcement in Zion’s Watch Tower said: “Notice is given thus publicly and in season, that readers from surrounding places may attend, if they can make it convenient.” Russell said, “Private meetings will be held elsewhere on Monday.” Russell used the phrase “in response to urgent solicitation” as a code word for the need to address troublesome issues among the brethren. We do not know what the issues was or where the private meetings were held, or how they affected Maria Washington.
            We believe, based solely on circumstantial evidence, that Maria attended the Watch Tower convention held in Chicago in 1893. Late in life Maria was described as having an angular face. A comparison of her known portrait with the large format group photo taken at the convention leads us to tentatively identify her in that group. In any event, she was in Chicago in October 1893 with a small but organized group of evangelizers. The Chicago, Illinois, Inter-Ocean reported on her work:
Mrs. Maria J. Washington and her associates in evangelistic work are meeting with great success in the neighborhood of the World’s Fair.
The meetings are largely attended and numerous conversations are reported. Services will be held at four centers in the vicinity of the exposition today, Mrs. Washington having the assistance of an energetic volunteer band of workers numbering over twenty. ....
Mrs. Washington is a lady of means who devotes all her time and energy to religious work, devoting particular attention to the rescue of the fallen and abandoned. Not many years since she occupies a very prominent place in society at the National capital. She is the widow of a gentleman who belonged to the family of the illustrious Washington. She surrendered her fashionable environments and associations to give herself up to the labors of charity among the poor and lowly. Her efforts have been most fruitful, a rare and peculiar magnetism of manner enabling her to win friends with ease. She has labored in New York and in some of the southern cities, but will make Chicago her home for some time to come.[35]
            In Chicago, as in all of America’s larger cities, women faced the problem of earning a living wage “under conditions which would make it possible for her to escape illness and prostitution.” Chicago was at the center of labor reform. Maria found congenial company with which to pursue the issue. The Inter-Ocean and other papers described her as a widow. In fact she was not, but was twice divorced. We do not know if the papers were being polite to a well-doing woman or if Maria misrepresented herself. Care for poor, abandoned, under-class women was Maria’s interest since the Civil War years. Despite Russell’s suggestion that the work of God’s people lay elsewhere, she persisted. While this was contrary to advice as found in Zion’s Watch Tower, Russell observed that others followed this path, and it did not break fellowship. His view was that because Christ was present, social issues would soon be solved by his kingdom.
            Maria returned to Atlanta early in 1894, leaving no discernable impression on Chicago. Her message remained a socially conscious one. [continue]
            The Atlanta Constitution of April 26, 1894, reported that she established a “rescue mission for the redemption and saving of fallen women.” She gave a series of public lectures on religious topics that were well attended, and, though the events were free. Her November 25th lecture was entitled “Go Sin No More,” and a special invitation was extended to “old friends specially and the public generally.” After her lecture she asked for an “offering” to support her rescue mission.[36]
            Maria may have abandoned major portions of Russellite belief. The Atlanta Constitution reported her as giving a series of lectures in DeGive’s Opera House. According to the December 2, 1894, Constitution¸ she attracted large and appreciative crowds. Her lecture for that night was “The Lord’s Second, Personal and Imminent Coming.”[37] If Christ’s return was imminent, it had not yet occurred. While noting this, we should draw conclusions cautiously. Advertisements from Russell’s own lectures and those of Watch Tower missionaries used similar language.
            In 1897, Maria wrote to E. F, Cheatham, one of the extended Washington family asking him to escort her daughter, Carolina, and a friend to the theater. Proper ladies did not go alone, even in 1897. She wrote that she was happy in new life as a missionary but barely able to pay bills. She asked for a loan. The loan was granted, and her son, W. F. Westmoreland, Jr., sent a letter of thanks for Cheatham’s kindness. Maria died in 1900 and is buried in Atlanta.[38]
            Maria represents several we know and probably many of whom we know nothing who accepted all or parts of Watch Tower belief, but rejected Russell’s call to focus on Kingdom work. An example is Keim who sought immediate remedies to human ills through “Christian Socialism,” yet remained on the fringes of Watch Tower congregations. Maria’s path was barely within what The Watch Tower advised. In 1881 Russell suggested that true Christians preach Christ, but that they also visit the sick, finance the Lord’s work, are willing to “sacrifice reputation” and suffer “the reproach of the world and a degenerate nominal church.”[39]  In this volume of Separate Identity we meet a number who continued to belong to fraternal lodges, the Grand Army of the Republic, a Union veterans’ organization, and who continued to participate in community affairs. Maria’s journey is similar. She sought immediate remediation of the poor, as far as she was able, expending her fortune in this work. She sought to rescue prostitutes, many of whom were mere children. We think Maria’s story is representative and important because of that.

[1]               W. F. Westmoreland’s biography: H. A. Kelly: A Cyclopedia of American Medical Biography, Philadelphia, 1912, volume 2, page 494ff. Mariah’s family and biography: The Living Female Writers of the South, Claxton, Remsen & Haffelfinger, Philadelphia, 1872, page 188ff; Ida Raymond: Southland Writers: Biographical and Critical Sketches of the Living Female Writers of the South, Claxton, Remsen & Haffelfinger, Philadelphia, volume 1, 1870, page 447ff.
               “Dr. Willis F. Westmoreland was born in Fayette county, [sic] Ga., June 1, 1828. He studied medicine in the Georgia Medical College, in the Jefferson Medical College, and the medical department of the University of Nashville, Tenn. He graduated at the Jefferson Medical College in 1850. He also spent three years in Europe, principally in Paris, in making himself proficient with the principles of his profession. He first settled in Fayette county, [sic] and in 1851 removed to Atlanta. His specialty is surgery. He is a member of the American Medical Association, of the Georgia Medical Association; was its president in 1873, and of the Atlanta Academy of Medicine. He was one of the original founders of the Atlanta Medical and Surgical Journal in 1855, and ever since has been a contributor to medical literature. From 1854 he has been a professor in the Atlanta Medical College.” – W. P. Reed: History of Atlanta, Georgia¸ D. Mason & Co., Syracuse, New York, 1889, page 312.
[2]               Ida Raymond, op. cit.
[3]               S. C. Clayton: Requiem for a Lost City: A Memoir of Civil War Atlanta and the Old South, Mercer University Press, Macon, Georgia, 1999, page 67.
[4]               W. H. Venet: A Changing Wind: Commerce and Conflict in Civil War Atlanta, Yale University Press, New Haven, Connecticut, 2014, page 49.
[5]               Contributions Received by the “Ladies’ Soldier’s Relief Society” for the Atlanta Hospitals, The Southern Confederacy¸ April 10, 1862.
[6]               We have drawn heavily from W. H. Venet’s excelling book, A Changing Wind: Commerce and Conflict in Civil War Atlanta, Yale University Press, New Haven, Connecticut, 2014, page 215.
[7]               T. H. Stout: Southern Female College, The Christian Index, July 11, 1872. The Index was a Baptist publication.
[8]               Venet, op. cit. page 215.
[9]               The Living Female Writers of the South, 1872, page 189.
[10]             Shots at Social Myths, New York Home Journal as reprinted in The Atlanta Constitution, December 2, 1873.
[11]             Mrs. Westmoreland’s Lecture, New York Evening Post as reprinted in The Atlanta Constitution, November 30, 1873.
[12]             A Georgia Authoress in a New Role: The Nashville, Tennessee, Union and American, November 2, 1873.
[13]             As quoted in The Nashville, Tennessee, Union and American, November 12, 1873.
[14]             Personalities, The New York Daily Graphic, April 24, 1874.
[15]             Personalities, The New York Daily Graphic,
[16]             The letter is quoted in part in: An Indignant Woman, The Nashville, Tennessee, Union and American, November 26, 1873.
[17]             Shelter for Poor Women, The New York, New York, Sun, July 15, 1873.
[18]             Current Topics, The Kingston, New York, Daily Freeman¸ December 17, 1873. Kingston is about ninety miles from New York City. Few likely to attend would have read the Freeman.
[19]             City Jottings, The New York, New York, Daily Graphic, December 12, 1873.
[20]             Miscellaneous, The New York, New York, Daily Graphic¸ December 17, 1873, Third Edition.
[21]             Society, The Washington, D.C., Star, February 14, 1874.
[22]             “Kisses,” The Washington, D.C., National Republican, February 16, 1874.
[23]             Personalities, The New York Daily Graphic¸ August 27, 1874.
[24]             Personalities, The Indianapolis, Indiana State Sentinel, July 14, 1874.
[25]             J. L. Whitney: A Modern Proteus: Or a List of Books Published Under More Than One Title, F. Leypoldt, New York, 1883, page 70.
[26]             Venet, op. cit., page 216.
[27]             The letter is quoted in part in: An Indignant Woman, The Nashville, Tennessee, Union and American, November 26, 1873.
[28]             Wounded Honor, The Springfield, Ohio, Globe-Republic¸ December 29, 1886.
[29]             New York Public Library collection.
[30]             Washington Family Papers: 1796-1962. Tennessee State Library collection.
[31]             The title as announced in The Atlanta Constitution, is The Growth of a Soul: A Testimony for Jesus in Three Parts – Part I. Old Faith. Part II. Unfaith. Part III. Faith.
[32]             While 179 is long-gone, two of its neighboring houses still stand.

[33]             Totten receives unfavorable mention in a more recent Watchtower publication. See: Do You Believe Everything You Read, Awake! November 22, 1970, page 5. In 1890 Totten started publishing Our Race: Its Origin and Destiny, a quarterly, to promote his Anglo-Israelite theories.  N. Goodrick-Clarke [Black Sun: Aryan Cults, Esoteric Nazism, and the Politics of Identity, New York University Press, 2002, page 235] suggests that Anglo-Israelitism came to America through Totten. This is, of course, false.  

[34]             The Church in the House of Maria, The New York, New York, Sun, December 13, 1891.
[35]             Their Labors Rewarded: Mrs Maria J. Washington and Associate Evangelists Meeting with Success, The Chicago, Illinois, Inter-Ocean¸ October 8, 1893.
[36]             DeGive’s Opera House, The Atlanta Constitution, November 25, 1894.
[37]             Mrs. Washington Tonight, The Atlanta Constitution¸ December 2, 1894.
[38]             Washington family papers, Tennessee State Library and Archive.
[39]             C. T. Russell: The Ekklesia, Zion’s Watch Tower¸ October 1881, page 8.