Tuesday, November 20, 2018

For a side project.

I need scans of some opposition booklets published in the 1950s. Please share if you have them. Among those I need are:

Oswald J. Smith: The Errors of Jehovah's Witnesses

Dorothy M. Brown: A Challenge to Jehovah's Witnesses

R. W. Maynard: Are Jehovah's Witnesses in Error

Midnight Cry Crusade: Witnessing to Jehovah's Witnesses

I'm told these are all four page tracts.

Then I need:

W. J. Schnell: The Jehovah's Witnesses preach another gospel.

I know there's some curiosity about my 'side project.' It's about the Knorr era. Please help if you can.

Also, anything at all from the 1940s and 50s will help. I don't need the common Watchtower publications. I have all those. But I can use letters, private correspondence, newspaper articles, almost anything else. If you enrolled in the Theocratic Ministry School in the 1940-50 era, your personal recollections would be helpful.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Nathan Knorr's parents

(with grateful thanks to Bernhard)

Saturday, November 17, 2018

C. R. Cutting

C. R. Cutting, an evangelist, wrote an anti-Witness tract in the late 1950s claiming to have been one of Jehovah's Witnesses. I have that tract. For a separate project I need some sort of biography for this man. I think his first name was Charles, but cannot prove that. He may have been Charles R. Cutting, III. I'm not certain.

I can't find anything. Can you?

Bruce's answer to a recent email ...

We have had several offers to translate our books into Italian, Spanish, French. They all lack a detailed proposal. Write up a detailed proposal that explains how you intend to publish the Polish translation, royalties to me, and format. Then I'll consider it. I'm pleased you like our book. Thanks for contacting me.

B. W. Schulz

Friday, November 16, 2018

More on the Knorr family

It was interesting to see the marriage certificate for Nathan H’s parents. As to whether his father was Donal or Donald, most entries on Ancestry and also the Find a Grave site say the latter. The census returns for 1880 and 1910 also read Donald, but of course the enumerator could easily have misheard. I would agree with Rachael that we should try and go with original documentation. On Nathan’s sister’s birth certificate he is Donell, which is another variation. It is interesting that the “issue” is generally fudged. On the marriage certificate he is D Ellsworth Knorr. In trade directories he is D Ellsworth Knorr, and his death certificate reads the same. Maybe the query rumbled on during his lifetime, a bit like Malcom (or was it Malcolm?) Rutherford.

There are quite comprehensive details of the Knorr family on Ancestry. D Ellsworth Knorr was the son of Aaron Herb Knorr. His grandfather was Samuel Knorr. The line is traced back to Hans Knauer born 1720 in Airfeld, Bavaria. D’s mother was Mary Margaret Schmidt (1835-1900). I have no real opportunity of checking the accuracy of all the connections, but the details of siblings for various generations are very comprehensive and suggest that others have done their homework.

D married Estella Bloss as shown in Rachael’s last post and they had three children.

In addition to Nathan Homer Knorr, they had:

Daughter Isabel Estella Knorr, 20 June 1906 – 2 June 1999.

Robert Ellsworth Knorr, born 19 September 1903, died March 1972, married Alma Fry and had one son, also named Robert E Knorr (1932-2015).

Nathan married Audrey Mock (1921-2014) in 1953. After Nathan’s death she married Glen Hyde (1922-1988) c. 1978.

Photographs of Nathan’s parents and also a photo from his high school yearbook are on Ancestry. Also photographs of Audrey Mock and her parents. I’m not reproducing them here because I’m unsure of copyright issues.

Nathan Knorr's parents

Jerome suggested that his father's name was Donald instead of the Donal as written by N. H. Knorr on an immigration document. Donal is the name that appears on US government records. Donald is used elsewhere. At this point I believe Donal is accurate, solely because of how it appears on official records.   Herewith is Nathan's parent's marriage certificate.

And I found Nathan's sisters obituary:

The Morning Call | June 5, 1999
Isabel Estella Knorr, 92, of 29th Street SW, Allentown, died Wednesday, June 2, in Sacred Heart Hospital. She was a receptionist for the former A&B Meat Packing Co., Allentown, for many years before retiring in 1968. Born in Bethlehem, she was a daughter of the late D. Ellsworth and Estella B. (Bloss) Knorr. She was a member of Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses, Parkway Congregation, Macungie. Survivors: Nieces and nephews. Memorial services: 7 p.m. Friday in Kingdom Hall.

and this:

FOR THE RECORD - (Published Wednesday, March 24, 1999) A headline Sunday gave an incorrect year of actress Sarah Bernhardt's Lehigh Valley performance. It was in 1910.
Bernhardt's private train, "The Bernhardt Special," made up of two Pullman cars, a day coach and four baggage cars, arrived from Rochester, N.Y., at the Lehigh Valley Railroad Station at 10 a.m. While her touring company headed up the hill to the Hotel Allen, the actress remained in her car, waving to the crowd along the rail siding near Gordon Street.

That afternoon, Bernhardt donned her full-length coat of Russian sable, pinned on two faded silk roses and climbed into an automobile for a tour of the Lehigh Valley. Later, she told The Morning Call she had seen "many fine homes and fine people." From her train she had observed cement mills. "And I hear you make silk and have a big fair, too."

One of Bernhardt's stops in Allentown was at the Pergola movie theater at 903 Hamilton St., where the PP&L building is today. Its owner, James Bowen, recently had installed a new color movie process and Bernhardt expressed an interest in seeing it. Theater manager D. Ellsworth Knorr, who escorted Bernhardt to her seat, was still in awe when he told Morning Call Sunday editor John Y. Kohl about it 51 years later.

Bernhardt's performance that evening at the Lyric consisted of scenes from three of her best-known works, "L'Aiglon," a drama based around an attempted rescue of the young son of Napoleon Bonaparte (Bernhardt played the male lead); a tragic melodrama "La Dame aux Camelias," better known as Camille, and "Joan of Arc," a play based on the life of France's patron saint.

And from another newspaper article:

The Pergola had been built about 1907 as a combination penny arcade, bowling alley and billiard parlor. By 1910 the penny arcade had been transformed to a 50-seat movie theater. Admission was a nickel, a reserved seat cost 10 cents, and the average length of a film was an hour.

Before long the movie business grew so popular the Pergola's bowling and billiard table space was transformed into an even bigger theater. The arcade space was renovated into the lobby. Added at the same time was an organ that was played along with the silent movies to provide mood music or move the film's action along. According to Kohl was the first organ put into an Allentown theater.

Among the most popular films at the Pergola were westerns. As films were shown continuously on Saturday boys would often spend hours there. The Pergola's manager, D. Ellsworth Knorr, received telephone calls from worried mothers looking for their children. The cliffhanger serials, which debuted in the decade of 1910-1919, were very popular.

A typical bill of fare at The Pergola in fall 1913 included a two-reeler, "Broken Threads United," said to be "a stirring melodrama of country and city life with excellent character portrayals," and four shorter films.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Reposted from 2009

Because of the actions of someone using the State of Idaho IP address we will no longer post large segments of work in progress. I really wish the bad actors would go away. The next step, if this continues, is to abandon this blog. Other issues mean it is time to restate:



The Rules

Calling me at home to "discuss" my book is a no-no. This blog exists as a forum for you to ask your questions and make your comments. I will not engage with you over the phone; I will not debate the merits of your theology or mine via the phone either. You most certainly may not call me or Miss de Vienne. There is nothing you have to say that can't be said in an email or blog post.

If you have comments or questions, you may post them here or use the email given on this blog. We will not respond to questions about our personal life. Our religious beliefs are not the subject of this forum. Watchtower history is. That this blog is named "truth history" should give you enough of a clue as to where I stand on most issues.

You will not find your chances of engaging me in dialogue improved by using as a reference the name of a person whom I neither trust nor respect. It is very unwise to name drop. You may not like my reaction if you do.

I don't know how I can make my position clearer. I am only interested in an accurate presentation of Watch Tower history. Our research and writing forwards no agenda except a clear and accurate presentation of history as it can be known.

As heartless as it may sound, I'm not interested in your beliefs, complaints, or theological speculations. Both Rachael and I have our own. We share them in other contexts. This blog is about history -- accurately presented, well researched history. We are not interested in polemics and we're not interested in your theological views. All are welcome here as long as they behave. Consider it our “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

Unfortunately, I am not able to provide copies of the references we used, except on a very limited basis. I am - to put it bluntly - old. I'm in declining health, and I have limited funds. I do not have enough money to return long distance calls, and I find calls to my home to be rude and intrusive. As a young man, my long term goal was to grow up to be a cranky old man. I finally made it. I’m not going to spoil it by taking your uninvited telephone calls.

To recapitulate (because some people just don't get it the first dozen times): 1. Do not call my house. 2. Do not call Rachael's house. 3. If you have comments or questions, post them on this blog. 4. Do not presume that I agree with you. I probably don't. 5. If it isn't about 'truth history,' I don't want to hear it. 6. We're not a resource for your unfounded, poorly researched, ill considered polemics. Don’t ask. That’s not why we're here.

My resources and stamina are limited. I usually cannot make photocopies, even if you offer to pay. I tell my students that they must do their own research. If I make my students do that, guess what I’m going to tell you. ...

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Donal Ellsworth Knorr and Estella [Bloss] Knorr

We need more information than we have.

Donal Ellsworth Knorr [Alternate spelling is Elsworth] was born April 10, 1872. We do not know his father's name, though an online genealogy suggests his father's name was Aaron.  His mother's name was Mary, maiden name may have been Smith. In 1900 Donal was living with his mother and an aunt. His mother was born in February 1835. In 1900 Donal was a laundryman. The 1940 US Census lists his occupation as movie theater manager. He died April 9, 1964. In 1940 he and his family were living in Allentown PA.

Estella [also spelled Estela] Bloss Knorr was born May 11, 1882. She died November 1973. We know that she and her son Robert traveled to Bermuda in September 1923, presumably for a vacation, though we do not really know why. An online genealogy spells Bloss as Blose and says her parents names were John Blose and Selinda Ann Horn. We haven't been able to verify that to our satisfaction.

Donal and Estella had at least three children: 1. A daughter named Isabell [also spelled Isabel] Estella Knorr. She was born about 1907. She died June 2,1999. 2. Robert E. Knorr, born about 1904. 3. Nathan Homer Knorr.

If you can add to this story, please do so through the contact function at the side of the blog. You can, though I discourage it, use a fake email if you wish to be anonymous. Or you may email me directly at rm de vienne [at] yahoo [dot] com. Jerome, please use my other email if you have anything.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018


This blog will not disappear. What we used to call blog 2, long disused will. If you have access and wish to save anything there, do it now.

We are starting a new blog, and for a while that's where my focus will be. It will not replace this blog but will focus on our books. In time we will republish some historical material too. Ultimately we will have a regular web page as well. That's something for the distant future - maybe sometime next year.

If you use the Contact Form, be patient. I'll answer serious queries as I can. Blog Admins caln still leave comments on posts. Everyone else must use the Contact Form.

Posting by blog admins is now open, per Bruce. 

Blog comments are suspended ...

Except for the four blog admins, the comment function on this blog is disabled. If you wish to contact us, use the contact form.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Our near future ...

In time - soon I hope - we will replace the comment function with a 'contact us' button. We get few meaningful comments. Moderating comments is a royal pain, and while as princess of something or other I may be used to royal pains, I do not like them. There are other reasons to suspend the comment function permanently. I have no obligation to explain them. Those who wish to comment can do so through the comment button. I do not have a date for the transition, but I will update you as the need arises.

Faithful commenters have our thanks. Those who read but have not commented are welcome here, but the absence of comments indicates that they will not 'suffer' from that functionality's demise. Those who have something to contribute can do so through the contact us button. 

Per Bruce, this blog is in stasis until we make a final decision on its future. Blog editors please note. No more posts until you hear otherwise. 

Thursday, November 8, 2018

For another project

I need Watchtower letters, printed, personal or anything else dated between 1940 and 1960 with an emphasis on the 1942-1953 period. Even if they seem inconsequential, please send them along ...

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Among today's visitors

Page Views:
28 (11 this visit)
Exit Time:
6 Nov 2018 10:53:02
Visit Length:
13 mins 29 secs
IE 11.0
Total Visits:2
Location:Emmen, Drenthe, Netherlands
IP Address:Wachttoren-, Bijbel En Traktaatgenootschap Kerkgen (
Referring URL: truthhistory.blogspot.com/2018/10/tentative-chapter-end-food-for-thinking.html
Entry Page: Watch Tower History: September 2018
Exit Page: Watch Tower History: May 2018

Comments are now open

I'm still really sick. Be good. Do not stress me. Just do not.

But comments are open again.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Blog comments are temporarily suspended

I am back in the hospital and expect to remain here for at least a week. Until I am discharged blog comments are turned off.

The reason for this is continuing abuse by posters. We've posted our rules and expectations frequently enough that in most cases the abuse is deliberate. We've had a Watchtower opponent try to repeat old calumnies. A Witness tried to foster his religion with false claims. This is a history site. We have no room for polemics. We had several companies and individuals try to sell their products or services through blog posts that try to seem relevant but are not. And we had a Russellite link to his discussion board with a thinly disguised comment on Jerome's post below.

While I am in the hospital I will not be able to monitor this blog to the degree I usually do. I'm tired of trolls and rule breakers. And I will consider extending the ban on comments after I am discharged. Most of those who visit this blog do not leave comments. That's disappointing but up to them. Most of those who do leave comments are helpful and interested. We have no room for the rest. IF YOU CAN'T RESPECT OUR RULES, DO NOT COME HERE.

Rachael has given me the O.K. to put this extra note up for while she is temporarily off the scene and unable to act as moderator. If you have something really relevant to the project that you want to say, then you can send it to me back-channel. Comments that say “well done” are nice, but we are really looking for material that adds details or questions that seek relevant information. And that keep firmly within the guidelines stated above. Thanks.
 - Jerome

Saturday, November 3, 2018

William Morris Wright and Charles Piazzi Smyth

by Jerome

William Morris Wright (1848-1906) was one of many Bible Students well-known in his day, but now largely forgotten by readers. He is remembered, if at all, for correspondence found in Volume 3 of Millennial Dawn, Thy Kingdom Come, which has prompted this article. Many letters from him appear in ZWT from 1887. He worked in insurance and had the Allegheny Bible House as his base for the last few years of his life. He was a director of the Watch Tower Society from September 19, 1901 to his death on April 3, 1906 (thanks Bernhard).

Wright had a particular interest in pyramidology and when he learned that CTR was devoting a chapter of Volume 3 of Millennial Dawn to this subject, he asked permission to copy the manuscript pre-publication, to send to Charles Piazzi Smyth. Smyth, the former Astronomer Royal of Scotland, was one of the leading proponents of pyramidology. CTR agreed and Wright typed out the manuscript. Smyth received it and responded positively. CTR was so pleased with the response that an edited version of Smyth’s letter appeared in Volume 3 when published in 1891.

By one of those strange moments of serendipity, Smyth’s original letter has recently been rediscovered. A correspondent, Brad S., purchased it along with Wright’s copy of Smyth’s seminal work on the Great Pyramid. The book has Wright’s own name in the front. It is assumed that the collection originally came from one of Wright’s descendants, but as yet it has not been possible to trace the trail back.

Smyth’s original letter to Wright dated December 21, 1890, was on one piece of paper, folded in two, making a total four pages. The original envelope (to the insurance company where Wright worked) is reproduced below, followed by the complete original letter.

If you enlarge these photographs and examine them carefully you can see that the original letter has some subsequent notations on it. Some just extend what is written for the typesetter, for example ‘1st ass. pass.’ becomes ‘first ascending passage’ and another hand has added England at the top. ZWT readers might not recognise the address CLOVA, RIPON (also printed on the back of Smyth’s envelope above) as being in Britain. CLOVA was the name of Smyth’s house in RIPON in the West Riding of Yorkshire. Some are rough alterations and deletions made by Smyth himself as he scribbled away in those pre-word processor days. But the main one was a large cross on page two. This was an edit made in the ZWT office before the letter was published. (Wright was often in Pittsburgh where CTR was based – so either man could have made that decision and written on the original letter).  I am therefore copying the text of the entire letter below. Where a line is through the text, this appears to be Smyth’s own edits. Where the text is in red, this is what Smyth wrote originally that was then deleted before the letter saw publication. The remainder is exactly as was reproduced in Thy Kingdom Come on page 312 in most editions. It doesn’t add a lot to our understanding but is interesting now that the handwritten original has come to light after nearly 130 years. It makes you long for what else may still be out there – somewhere - to be re-discovered.

Clova, Ripon, England, Dec. 21, 1890

Wm. M. Wright, Esq.,
     Dear Sir: I have been rather longer than I could have wished in looking over the invaluable MS. so-called of your friend, C. T. Russell of Allegheny, Pa., but I have now completed a pretty careful examination, word by word. And that was the least I could do, when you so kindly took the pains to send it with such care between boards by registered parcel, with every page flat, and indited by the typewriter in place of the hand.
     At first I could only find slips of the said typewriter, a letter here or a letter there, so glaringly a mistake that it seemed a needless meddling on my part to take any notice of it. Yet exactly such little things often escape an author’s eye and enter into a very solemn book greatly to the prejudice of some particular part of it, as see on p. 4 line 5 ab imo a very terrible case of the perversion of the most cherished and sacred part of the meaning of the book and all its objects, by the introduction of the little word “of” where doubtless the author had with his own hand written “by”.
     Other little things I have noted in pencil but as I progressed through the pages, the powers, the specialties and the originalities of the Author came out magnificently; and there were not a few passages I should have been glad to take a copy of for quotation, with name, in the next possible edition of my own Pyramid book. But of course I did nothing of that sort, and shall wait with perfect patience and in most thankful mood of mind for when the author of Scripture Studies shall choose his own time for publishing. So I merely remark here that he is both good and new in much that he says on the chronology of various parts of the Pyramid,
especially the First Ascending Passage and its granite plug; on the Grand Gallery, as illustrating the Lord’s life; on the parallelisms between the King’s Chamber and its granite, against the Tabernacle and its gold; and generally on the confirmations or close agreements between Scripture and the Great Pyramid, well commented on in p. (15) 2.
     In the meanwhile, it seems that I am indebted to you for your kind gift of long ago of the first two volumes of Scripture Studies. I did not at the time get further than the first half of the first volume, finding the matter, as I thought, not quite so original and new as I had expected. But after having profited, as I hope, so much by a thorough reading of this advanced pyramid chapter of the third volume, I must take up the first two volumes again, de novo.
     The parcel will go back between its boards, registered. I remain, with many thanks,
     Yours respectfully,
     C. Piazzi Smyth

As noted in the letter, Smyth returned CTR’s manuscript. He made a few notes on it and CTR commented in Thy Kingdom Come on page 311 in most editions: “We thank Bro. Wright and Prof. Smyth for their kindness, and have followed the corrections indicated; which, however, only three in all, we were pleased to note were not of special importance. Only one of the criticisms was upon measurements, and it showed a variance of only one inch, which we gladly corrected.”

Smyth and Wright continued to write to each other. Two shorter letters from Smyth to Wright have survived from 1893. They refer to a serious accident Wright suffered. He was badly injured in a railroad accident in 1893 and in those pre-X ray days was never diagnosed or treated properly. He remained in considerable pain for the rest of his life.

Smyth died in 1900 and fittingly a pyramid monument was erected in the graveyard of St John’s Church, Sharow, near Ripon.

Photo credit Julia & Keld

Wright became one of the original trustees of the Rosemont Mount Hope and Evergreen United Cemeteries (as was CTR) established in Pittsburgh in April 1905. Sadly he was one of the first to require its services when he died on April 3, 1906. His funeral from the Bible House chapel was mentioned in ZWT for April 15, 1906 (reprints p. 3765).

His obelisk is just up the hill above the main Society plot where CTR is buried.

This photograph is looking up the hill to where the lesser known Watch Tower cemetery area is located. A closer look shows the Wright name and gives his dates.

The next photograph is looking at the monument from the other side, now looking down the hill.

Wright’s name is on the other side in this picture. You can see that this monument is alongside one of the narrow roads through the cemetery. Just out of shot to the right of this picture further down the hill is the Society’s section of graves with of course its own pyramid.

There is only one name on Wright’s obelisk. It was obviously intended for the whole family, but they would live elsewhere and were buried over a hundred and twenty miles away in Erie Cemetery, Pennsylvania. To confuse researchers there is a memorial stone for William there as well. However, his death certificate clearly shows United Cemeteries as his final resting place.

(When researching this article I contacted Bernhard to confirm Wright’s dates as a Watch Tower director. Bernhard sent so much biographical material on Wright that it deserves its own article, which hopefully will appear on this blog before not too long).

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Books you should read - No. 2

These books, though they vary between flawed and boring, give you background to Russell era beliefs. As always, read with your mind turned on.

L. E. Froom: Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, 4 vols. Slanted to give SDA belief a historic background it does not truly have, but it is complete enough to lead you to further research. Almost all of those Froom points to as prophetic expositors would have rejected SDA belief out of hand.

L. E. Froom: Conditionalist Faith of our Fathers, 2 vols.

Peters: Theocratic Kingdom, 3 vols. This is a lengthy theological discourse by a millennialist Lutheran. Its value lies in its many references to other writers, including Russell et. al., and to magazines and books that have disappeared or are nearly impossible to find. This is a primary source for the earliest Russell era. Conley and A. D. Jones financially supported Peters' research.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

A tiny fragment

Corrected Quotation

Right now this is part of chapter one, vol. 2. Separate Identity. This may change. It may become a chapter of its own. What ever happens, this will give you a taste of our research:

            Russell identified Barbour’s Atonement Doctrine as Unitarian, and it was held by Unitarians. He was not inaccurate. But its origin rests further back in history than the American Unitarian movement. Johann Christian Konrad von Hofmann, a German Lutheran, suggested something similar. In his Der Schriftbeweis, published first between 1852 and 1855, he abandoned traditional Lutheran and Trinity-based Substitution theory, replacing it with a view with which Barbour would have agreed. Claude Welsh, using rather over blown language, describes Hofmann’s theory:

For Hofmann, Christ appeared as man on earth as the historical activation of the eternal inner-divine will of love to restore the fellowship with God broken by sin. He did this not so much by an act of dying as by a human form of being and willing and doing that throughout (and thus also unto death) was characterized by obedience to the divine call. Thus the love and fidelity of Jesus to the father, reflecting the inner-divine love of Son to Father, mediates a new relation of God and man, and those who receive this divine act in faith become participants in the new humanity of which Christ is the head.[1]

            Put in simpler terms, Hofmann saw Christ as redeeming man by example. This is Barbourite doctrine. We have no evidence that Barbour read Hofmann’s work. Hofmann’s ideas came to him through American and British intermediaries. The idea persisted well after the 1870s and 1880s. Horatio Woodburn Southworth [Born 1839], an Anglican layman, published a small book entitled The First Millennial Faith in 1893. It and a predecessor book were meant to “combat the ‘satisfaction theory,’” the belief that mankind and God were reconciled by Christ’s death. He advocated Barbour’s redemption by example theory, though we have no evidence that they read each other’s work. Southworth’s book is primarily a series of quotations from ‘church fathers’ none of which say what he suggests they do.

[1]               C. Welsh: Protestant Thought in the Nineteenth Century¸ Yale University Press, 1972, Volume One, page 225.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Books you should read, though take with a 'grain of salt."

Some of you are interested in the antecedents and backgrounds to Russell's beliefs. These books will help you. That I'm listing them does not mean that I endorse them in every respect.

1. William Sims Bainbridge: The Sociology of Religious Movements.  A bit dated and often based on secondary sources. However, a good overview.

2. Claud Welsh: Protestant Thought in the Nineteenth Century. Obtuse, occasionally turgid. Welsh presumes you know things you probably do not. This really isn't a history of Protestant thought; it is a history of rationalist thought. However, Russell reacted to and opposed this. So the background is useful. Take this with a grain of salt and a bit of doubt. The author approves of rationalism. It's essentially an an anti-traditionalist book. Read it anyway.

3. David D. Hall: World's of Wonder; Days of Judgment: Popular Religious Belief in Early New England. Useful.

4. Connors and Gow: Anglo-American Millennialism, from Milton to the Millerites, Useful but sometimes misdirected. Read it anyway.

More later ... maybe.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Blog vists

We appreciate blog visits. They show us that there is some interest in our work. Unfortunately we get visits from people who want to express stupidity, spam or otherwise disrupt the blog. Google/Blogger is wise to the ways of the world, and few of these get through.

Generally, visits from Russia, Korea, Japan, any Muslim country, China are not expressions of interest but attempts to spam or disrupt. Few of these succeed because blogger blocks them. We appreciate this.

To the most recent spammers: If you manage to leave a comment with a link to your web page, know that I will take it down almost immediately. You're wasting your time.

To our Korean, Japanese and Chinese visitors: None of you are here out of interest. None of your posts make it to the blog. They're stopped at the door by blogger. You are wasting my time and irritating me. Stop it. [Not that I expect you will.]

This is a history forum, not a religious discussion board. Most of those who visit it have their own firm beliefs. We do too. Most of our faithful readers know that Dr. Schulz is a Witnesss and I am not and never have been one. We do not discuss our individual theologies on this blog. You cannot either. You may discuss history. We expect that many of our readers know the basic elements of Watchtower belief and history. Some do not. Be willing to learn. I will disallow stupidity. If you insist on promoting a discredited view of Watchtower history,  your comments will be blocked. Do not be rude to blog administrators or anyone else. I won't allow it.

I do not care what your religion is. I do not care about your life style. [As long as you leave me, my daughters and my goats alone.] I do care that you are civil on this blog. If you disagree with any of our writers including myself, it is okay to say so. But you must support your argument with references to original - not secondary - sources. I am never angered by better research. Our work thrives on it. I even invite you to write a well-documented refutation, and I will publish it here. But if you're rude, I will not be a happy princess, and figuratively I will say, "off with his head!" [Yes I read Lewis Carrol.]

I can't end the spammers, but I do report each one to blogger. I will block comments from the terminally rude and stupid.

Now, we also expect that you will do some research of your own before you ask a question. We expect you to assume some personal responsibility. As a teacher, we both learned long ago that students, adults and children, will use an instructor/lecturer as their personal encyclopedias. We're not anyone's encyclopedia. We are, however, willing to discuss issues especially as they relate to our research.

A few paragraphs from my Intro Essay.

Unrevised rough draft. Comments, please. And thanks to those who commented on the previous post.

            I do not have space to fully examine the millenarian antecedents of Russell’s belief system. So what follows doesn’t even qualify as a survey; it is the briefest of ‘tastes’ – a short essay on millennial thought up to the Russell era. In this short profile, I will take you no further back than the 16th Century. I will focus on British and American millenarianism. There were similar systems in most of Europe, but Russell’s acquaintance with them was slight. He came to German millenarianism through Seiss, whose references to it are few and indistinct. There were French, Swiss, Polish, Bohemian and Italian believers, but we think Russell knew next to nothing about them.
            Before I proceed I should note that Russell’s prophetic views are not the only one of his doctrines that have roots in the colonial era. His rejection of the Trinity connects directly to the Colonial era and early Republic era belief of non-Trinitarian congregational churches in New England. The belief, characteristic of Watch Tower adherents, that Bible reading was obligatory and that it was meant to be understood by the average reader extends backward to Seventeenth Century Separatist and Puritan England. So too does Russell era Watch Tower belief that the proper form of church governance is congregationalism. Conditional immortality doctrine, the belief that immortality is a gift from God, not an inherent right, finds its origins in an ancient past, and as it came to Russell in the reformation era.
            The belief that God directly intervenes in the life of Christians came to America with the earliest European settlers. It was as strongly held in Russell’s day as it was among the Jamestown colonists (1607), the Pilgrim Separatists (1620) and the Puritans who followed. We see it in Russell’s supposition that his meeting with Wendell was only “seemingly” an accident. We see it in this volume and in the pages of Zion’s Watch Tower when new adherents see a Watch Tower tract or an issue of the paper falling into their hands as an act of divine providence. Both in Brittan and in the American colonies, the belief that ‘marvels’ portended divine messages was strong. A strayed horse, a comet, a cloud’s shape all were messages from God. Tall tales of marvels were persuasive political and religious arguments. Rationalism started to prevail in the last third of the Seventeen Century, but the belief persisted and persists still. We see it in the pages of modern Watchtower publications when an adherent is convinced that God guided them into the light of truth. (And in fact, we cannot gainsay God’s guidance or his answers to prayers without repudiating the New Testament.) In Russell’s experience we see it in his narration of his fall on the snow which he attached to a moral lesson. That events have meaning was the belief of our colonial era ancestors. Colonial era Almanacs were willing to credit astrology even while promoting religion. These found their counterpart in A. D. Jones and Russell’s willingness to credit astrology even while – in Russell’s case – seeing it as a tool of Satan. The tension between Separatist and Puritan seeking holiness and the Church of England’s position as the state church expecting all to submit to its ritual, dedicated to Christ or not, spilled into the 19th Century. Puritan insistence that the church was for the holy only –  committed, obedient Christians – is the background to Russell’s criticism of compromised churches that he saw as mere social clubs. Ultimately this derived from New Testament doctrine. Christians are to be holy as God is holy. (I Peter 1:16) There is, Paul writes, no room within Christian ecclesias for unrepentant, unregenerate sinners. This tension expressed itself in Watch Tower belief and in Plymouth Brethren belief and in that of conservative churches and non-conformist chapels in the United Kingdom.
            While Russell’s connection to his Anglo-American heritage is largely ignored by writers, these connections are of less moment than the millennial heritage from which his belief system truly came. Historians differ in details. Some postulate an era when millennialism died out, only to be reborn in America in the era of the newly-born Republic. Some say it died out in England after the Restoration, thrown into disfavor by its political connections to the Puritan revolution. Neither of these claims is true. Confusing the sermons, lectures and books of academics and philosophers for the belief of John Plowman or Mary Housemaid, those who sat in church pews and who ultimately represent Christian belief, is a mistake. I agree that any historian of religion must grasp the intellectual arguments and philosophies promoted by those who thought themselves Christendom’s guiding lights. But it was belief systems held in common that drove events and movements. 


And ... here is an illustration from vol 2 Separate Identity ... Sunderlin registered at Gillig's when in England:

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Temporary Post - Food for .. in the UK

Usual rules. You may take a copy for your own use. Do not share it off the blog without permission. This is rough draft and may change. Never rely on a temporary post. This is a rough draft chapter from Separate Identity 2.
In All the Earth: The United Kingdom

The first concentrated international missionary activity was in the United Kingdom. It is impossible to gage interest in Britain before the publication of Food for Thinking Christians. Previous to its publication the only letters appearing in Zion’s Watch Tower were doctrinal, and few names and few or no locations were noted. There were Bible Examiner readers in Scotland at least by 1850; a letter from William Glen Montcrieff, a noted Scot Conditionalist, appeared in the May 1850 issue. Letters from other British Conditionalists appeared too. There had been some notice of the work in The Rainbow. A British clergyman and Barbourite, Elias H. Tuckett, wrote three articles for Rainbow. There may have been some small residual interest from that.[1] Barbour mailed his Coming of the Lord tract to the British journal The Christadelphian, which reviewed it negatively.[2] Later The Rainbow reviewed The Three Words, though somewhat negatively. The book saw a very limited circulation in England.[3] There is also some indication that Paton mailed material to his relatives in Scotland, but this seems to have born little to no fruitage. Yet, a prominent adherent in Newark, New Jersey, claimed adherents in England and elsewhere. “We have,” he said, “members all over America, England, Australia, I think, and probably in Germany.”[4]
Russell asked John Corbin Sunderlin and later Joseph Jacob Bender (June 21, 1838 - February 10, 1905) to travel to the United Kingdom to publish Food for Thinking Christians and to direct a massive circulation campaign. Sunderlin had prior experience as an itinerate photographer and may have been chosen on that basis. Less is known of J. J. Bender. Historians including Watch Tower writers have never profiled him. Bender was a traveling sales agent for and later owner of a chemical company.[5] In most city directory listings he is noted by the initials “J. J.” but his first name is given in J. F. Diffenbacher’s Directory of Pittsburgh and Allegheny Cities for 1881-1882 and his middle name is found in family papers. Bender published The Standard Class-Book for Sunday-School Teacher’s Minutes in 1871, which was favorably reviewed by The Sunday School Journal that year.[6] In May 1886 he and a partner purchased The Bookmart, a magazine published in Pittsburgh devoted to book and autography collecting.[7]

Sunderlin was in Britain by July 11, 1881, when he registered with Gillig’s American Exchange in London, “a familiar and popular resort with Americans in the English metropolis.”[8] He received his mail and made currency exchanges at Gillig’s. It appears that the British edition of Food for Thinking Christians saw publication before the American edition but this is uncertain. Sunderlin arranged with William Cate, a London printer, to publish the booklet.[9] 

The remainder of this post has been deleted.

Maybe this one ...

Unless there's something better ...

Bernard sent this photo of 101 Fifth Avenue, Pittsburgh, the Watch Tower's first office. Unless we get something better, this is it. The Watch Tower office is the smaller building with the peaked roof.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Yet another possible front cover illustration

Another possible cover photo - Federal Street, Allegheny

We are considering these two illustrations but would like something better

Front Cover Illustration

We are considering front cover illustrations for Separate Identity, volume 2. Of those we've found, few are worth considering. Do you have a suggestion?

I resent this ...

I see I must explain my posting name, "Sha'el, Princess of Pixies." Because, I suppose, some people cannot separate a rather silly blogger name from what I write.

I chose this name just before my novel, Pixie Warrior, was published. Pixie Warrior's main character is a  young pixie named Sha'el. It turned into a cross over book, attracting adults and young adults, and sat on the several bestseller lists. eg: http://wardancingpixie.blogspot.com/2009/12/it-was-best-seller.html

I've never seen the need to change my posting name. I do not intend to change it. Making jest because of it will not endear me to you.

That said, if you wish to address me by my hereditary title, "Your serene highness," I'll laugh with you. I am, as I have explained before, the American born daughter of an Austrian mother and a German-American father. But while I value my heritage, my abilities and education are my own work, and I owe nothing to anyone for them.

If all you see is my silly posting name, you do not see ME.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Obviously Time to Restate the Rules

New comment on an earlier article and my reply. If you have questions or comments, make them here.

Blogger Unknown said...
Imagine this: Now the Watchtower gives the Emphatic Diaglott away for free with no subscription to any other publication. In fact, the Watchtower is the largest printing corporation in the world and they don't charge for any literature nor do they allow advertising. The Watchtower prints the largest circulated magazines in the world at over 60 million copies monthly. Looks like the holy spirit really backs the Watchtower. Try to come up with another company that gives bibles away for free. The Jehovah's Witnesses really are God's chosen people.
October 23, 2018 at 5:46 AM
Blogger Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...
Dear Unknown,

This is a history blog. It does not exist for any other purpose. Your comment may be your sincere belief, but it is out of place here. And in point of fact there are a number of organizations that give away free copies of the Bible.

Ordinarily, I'd take your comment down as a violation of our rules. Instead, I'm using it as an occasion to restate our prime rule: This is a history blog. Comments should be relevant to Watchtower history. People of many faiths, academics, and other writers visit this site. All are welcome to post comments relevant to the history articles we post. None are welcome to advertise their faith or engage in a polemic. This blog exists only to present our research and articles by others that represent well-documented historical exposition. Polemical comments are never welcome.
October 23, 2018 at 10:11 AM

I should add that the Watchtower is not the largest printing corporation in the World. That's centered in China.


Dear Unknown,

I took down your temper tantrum, and I will not allow any further comments from you. I think you represent your religion accurately, and it is people such as yourself that convinced me it could not possibly be 'truth.' You do not act as a Christian should; you do not know your own religion; and you're factually incorrect in your statements.

I've informed the blog admins to delete any comment from yourself. 

Saturday, October 20, 2018

It's mine to write - Live with it.

My preface as outline draft.

Preface One – By R. M. de Vienne

            It’s taken longer to write this volume of Separate Identity than we anticipated, but as with the two previous books, few of our expectations have stood up under the light of better research. We believed that a second volume would complete our research. It has not done so. There will be, assuming we live long enough to complete it, a third and final volume.
            This volume differs in format from its predecessor. The first volume follows a loose chronological order. Because of its narrow focus primarily on the years 1879 to 1882, this volume is a series of essays each focusing on an aspect of Watch Tower transition into a separate, identifiable belief system. There is a looser chronological order here; and the chapters occasionally overlap each other in subject matter. As before we elected to present this history in as much detail as we can, hoping thereby to take our readers into the spirit of the times. Omission seems to us to be misdirection.
            Volume 3 will focus on the fragmentation that followed 1881. It is partially written, but much hard research remains. And as always, we’re hampered by lack of resources. We have few issues of key magazines. We do not have anything like a complete run of A. P. Adams’ Spirit of the Word. We miss key years of J. H. Paton’s The World’s Hope. A paper published in California exists as a few clippings pasted into a scrapbook. A booklet written by Barbour seems to have been lost. We do not have any of the first issues of Jones’ Day Star. We appreciate help locating things like these.
           Now, let me tell you about volume two. This volume examines the continuing controversy between Russell and Barbour. One writer suggested that it was short lived. It lasted until Barbour’s death in 1905. We tell you the story up to 1882. It is more complex than most writers appreciate, and its complexity explains the development of key Watch Tower doctrines, at least one of which persists until today.
            We tell you about the Watch Tower’s principals struggle to preserve the body of believers, to transition Barbourite believers into Watch Tower adherents. We tell you about their earliest missionary journeys, drawing much of this from sources not referenced by anyone else. We introduce you to people mentioned only once or twice in Zion’s Watch Tower but who played an important role in its earliest years. We tell you about the nature of the earliest congregations and fellowships and how they were formed. Again, we draw on first hand experiences not found  in any history of the movement. We tell you about the reaffirmation of old doctrines and the discussions behind that.
            The movement attracted clergy to its ranks. We discuss this in some detail, naming names, telling the story as we could uncover it of several clergy turned Watch Tower believers. In 1881 Russell and a few others organized and provided initial financing for the work. We provide details not found elsewhere, and we correct a widely-spread error. We tell you about the start of the publishing ministry and the development of the Priesthood of All Believers doctrine among Watch Tower adherents. A key event was the printing and circulation of Food for Thinking Christians. Though the Watchtower Society declined to share a key document, offering no explanation as to why a document from 1881-1882 should be kept secret, we offer our readers a full discussion of this small book’s circulation and its effects on readership. With the circulation of Food new workers entered the field. The Watchtower society has ignored these, especially John B. Adamson, in its histories. We do not know why, but we think the reasons multifarious. Adamson and some others among the earliest missionaries left the Watch Tower movement. Watchtower writers tend to ignore the contributions of those who deflected from the movement. It is probably safe to say that much of this history is unknown to Watchtower researchers. It’s not their focus, and they’ve left it unexplored.
            An important part of this era’s story is the spread of Watch Tower doctrine to various ethnic groups within the United States and to other lands. So we tell you about work among foreign language groups in the United States. The Zechs and a Norwegian sea captain are part of this story. We tell you about the early work in Canada, the United Kingdom, China, and other lands. We discuss at length the history of a man mentioned with favor in Jehovah’s Witnesses: Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom. His story is far different from what the author of that book presumed. We tell you about the early work in Liberia. [This history appeared first as B. W. Schulz: “Watch Tower Faith in Liberia: A Conflict of Faith and Authority,” Nssuka Journal of History, University of Nigeria, Volume 4, 2017, page 31ff.] Other lands come into this picture. Almost none of this has been published anywhere except in the original documents.
          Eighteen eighty-one was a key year in Watch Tower history. Most of those who mention that year’s events misstate them. We do our best to correct the misdirection and misstatement common among recent writers. We think we provide a more complete picture of the Watch Tower’s earliest years, a more balanced picture than found elsewhere.
          Read Mr. Schulz’ Introductory Essay. It clarifies issues that confuse some writers. It puts Russell and the Watch Tower movement in a historical perspective often misstated or ignored by recent writers. A later chapter takes up attempts by historians and sociologists to place the Watch Tower movement within one of the current theoretical frameworks. We suggest that they ignore key elements of the Watch Tower belief system so that their theories are questionable.


          Before considering some important issues, we have some housekeeping issues. First, we have many to thank for their assistance:
            We have received a steady stream of queries asking if our work is sponsored by the Watchtower Society. It is not. We have corresponded with them from time to time. Lately they have ignored our letters which are, in my opinion not at all inflammatory. [We are, after all, historians, not polemicists.] I herewith reproduce our last letter to them, dated to the end of July 2018, which has to the date of publication gone unanswered. Judge for yourself. Is this letter hurtful? Accusatory? In any way? I cannot explain why it remains unanswered, except to suggest that the Watchtower wishes to control the narrative and finds a detailed history, no matter how neutral, threatening.
[Insert letter here]

Formatting and Grammar

            We have retained the spelling and grammar of those we quote, and we use quotations freely. Much of the source material upon which we’ve relied is not easily accessible or has been misrepresented by other writers. A quotation from the original helps relieve our readers of the task of finding this material. Of course, a really interested researcher will not rely on our quotations if they can find the original, nor should they. So unless you find a note attached to a quotation, presume that the italics and small capitals are as they are in the originals.
            We should note, too, that though we have quoted an author, we may not and sometimes most definitely do not agree with them. Usually this will be plain from context. Occasionally in a footnote we describe a disagreement. Without exception, polemicists from the past are a disagreeable, dishonest, and vulgar bunch. We’ve still quoted from some, but you now know our opinion in the plainest terms. And our opinion is not based on their opposition to Watch Tower theology, especially as expressed in the Russell era, but on a consistent misrepresentation of Watch Tower adherents, misquotation or out of context quotation of original source material, an unwarranted assumption of saintly character by some who are truly disreputable men.
            With volume one of this work we were able to follow a mostly chronological order. Because this volume considers a very narrow year range – mostly the years from 1879 to 1882 – this is not possible. We present you with a series of essays each of which considers an aspect of Watch Tower history. You will find some repetition of points. We’ve tried to limit this, but that it occurs is unavoidable.

My View

            Bruce’s introduction addressed the difference between Age-to-Come and Adventism and more commonly held millennial view quite nicely. I will add only one point, a quotation from Ernest Sandeen’s The Roots of Fundamentalism: British and American Millenairanism, 1800-1930. Dr. Sandeen puts to shame those who confound Adventism with mainstream millennial belief, and he does it quite politely:
[insert quotation]
            If you haven’t read B. W. Schulz’ introductory essay, please do so now. I fully agree with what he has written, and I have some thoughts to add to it. A major, in fact the major, problem with most of what is written about the Russell years is a consistent misunderstanding and misrepresentation of American and British religious history. There are probably many reasons for this, but within my experience the two most noticeable are confirmation bias and dependence on secondary sources. These are interdependent. A certain class or writers supposes that because someone with some sort of college degree wrote it, it must be true. This is evident in the tendency to track Russellism back to Adventism only on the basis of what another wrote. Few ask, “What is the evidence and where does it lead?”
            An example of over dependence on secondary sources is found in William Sims Bainbridge’s The Sociology of Religious Movements.[1] After some pages discussing W. Miller, E. G. White and C. T. Russell, Bainbridge observes: “Russell is quite different from either Miller or White. He was not given to visions, but did have a will to dominate that Miller lacked. In the absence of good biographies or access to original documents such as letters, it is hard to get the measure of the man.”
            This tells us far more about Bainbridge’s research than it does about the state of Russell- related research when he wrote. [1997]. He was dependent on Curry and Rogerson, using them in preference to the available Watchtower Society product, Jehovah’s Witnesses: Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom, apparently because they had some sort of academic standing that Watchtower writers lack. But even in 1997 neither of their works stood up under close examination. As for Bainbridge’s assertion that researchers lacked material, many thousands of pages of Russell’s writing were easily available. There is no evidence that he read any of it. The fault is not his alone. It was a common one twenty years ago and remains common today. The two most recent books by known scholars that touch on Russell and the movement he fostered suffer from lack of in-depth research into original sources, confirmation bias, and a misunderstanding of American religious history – and of British religious history. So, while they are fairly solid introductions to Watchtower history and Witness culture, they are fundamentally flawed. There is in these works a reliance on myth and superficial research. I am not the only one to confront this issue when considering Millenarian belief systems. James West Davidson noted it, writing: “Few historians even those whose province is religious history, have read the Revelation of John or the many voluminous commentaries written about it by seventeenth and eighteenth century Englishmen.” Our somewhat wider observation is that those writing on our topic have a superficial understanding of the Millenarian experience out of which Russellism came, or, for that matter, the American religious experience. Those more recent writers from the United Kingdom do not seem to understand British Millenarian belief at all.
            Despite claims that they have done so, they have not read what the principal actors in this drama wrote. They meet names of those about which they know little beyond what an online ‘encyclopedia’ may tell them and write as if they knew these characters intimately. Yet, they have not read what the principals wrote. So we read of Storrs, Wendell, Barbour and others, but find their lives, beliefs and history are misstated, taken out of context, and in some cases we find frank fabrication. Imagination replaces solid research. For a historian or sociologist to do this is to perpetrate a fraud on his readers. That they failed to read what these men wrote is self-evident. And it is without excuse. Zion’s Watch Tower; The Bible Examiner; The World’s Crisis; The Restitution; The Herald of the Morning and their American and British predecessors and contemporaries are not impossible to find. If you write about these men and the others that populate Watch Tower history but fail to read what they said, how are you an honest narrator?
            There is an abundance of material available, and some authors have read parts of it. But characteristically those who write Watchtower history don’t make vital connections. Russellism, the Watch Tower movement in the Russell era is a late 19th Century expression of a fundamental belief system that has its roots in the apostolic era. More specifically, Russell-era Watch Tower theology is an expression of Millenarian belief systems common in Europe from the 16th Century forward. Do not misconstrue this for an endorsement of Watch Tower theology as expressed in the Russell era. I am only pointing toward the ‘family’ of belief systems to which we can trace it.

[Introduce new section here]

In this short profile, I will take you no further back than the 16th Century. I will focus on British and American millenarianism. There were similar systems in most of Europe, but Russell’s acquaintance with them was slight. He came to German millenarianism through Seiss, whose references to it are few and indistinct. There were French, Swiss, Polish, Bohemian and Italian believers, but we think Russell knew next to nothing about them.
            Historians differ

[1]               Routledge, New York, 1997, page 106. Despite my criticism noted above, this is a book that should be read by anyone researching religious history.