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Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Indianapolis, Indiana, News, July 15, 1899


Acquisitions Funding.

 I need to raise an additional eighty dollars to purchase two scarce to rare booklets that I cannot find to download. Can you help?

Friday, March 17, 2023

New to my Research Library

Die Sekte der Ernsten Bibelforscher by Trarsicius. Paffrath, 1925. This is a Catholic response to German Bible Students. 

Monday, March 13, 2023

What happened to it?

 Some considerable time past I posted images of Maria Russell's sermon notebook. A seller of antiquarian diaries and ledgers had it. A faithful blog reader helped me acquire it. It now has a new home, has been de-acidified and conserved. It was part of the history display at the annual meeting.

Friday, March 10, 2023

Another postcard


Below is a nice postcard reproduction of an official issue by the British branch of the Bible Students, The headquarters address of Eversholt Street predate the more familiar Craven Terrace, and the date of the postcard being sent is February 24, 1911.

A  previous article on this blog (The Channel Islands, posted on February 24 this year) showed what can be gained historically from studying the messages sent in this way. Alas, this card was not so productive, but nonetheless, a little history was gleaned. The message side of the card is below.

The actual message provides very little actual Bible Student information, other than the use of the abbreviation “Sis” for “sister.”

The recipient was a Mrs Ferguson of 131 Elgin Road, Seven Kings (in the UK county of Esses). The 1911 census identifies this as being a Catherine Ferguson, originally from Ireland. She is 35 with four living children. These include Lily (who is eight and is mentioned on the postcard) and a son, Dugold, who is four and probably the “dear Boy” mentioned on the card. There is no husband at the address and Catherine is down as the “head.” However, when husband Colin died in 1921 the probate registers give the Elgin Road address and list Katherine Ferguson (variant spelling) as the widow. Colin left not far short of two thousand GBP in his estate. That they were reasonably well off is shown back in the 1911 census when the household included a live-in domestic servant.

And there the trail goes cold.

All we know about the sender, who obviously chose a Society postcard to send, is that she is “your loving Sister Ainslee” (or possibly “Ainstee”). Without a forename or address the search for her is pretty hopeless, although an independent Bible Student magazine in its “Gone from Us” feature did list a “Sis. J. Ainsley” of Wallsend who died in May 1948. Maybe the writer? Maybe not.

This therefore is one of those cases where the graphic on the front of the card is of the greater interest.

Thursday, March 2, 2023

Needs - Watch Tower

Hi everyone,

I need originals of the following Watch Towers:

Jan. 1, 15; Feb. 1, 15; Mar. 1, 15; April 1, 15, and May 1,  Sep. 15, 1921. 

July 1, 15, 1922.

I have usable scans. Originals are easier on my old eyes. Can you help?

Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Good Health magazine - March 1883

 This was a Seventh-day Adventists magazine. It contained the following notice of Zion's Watch Tower in its March 1883 issue:

Click the image to see it entire.

The Jewish Era: A Christian Quarterly in Behalf of Israel

 The April 1892 issue of The Jewish Era quoted these two paragraphs from the December 1891 Zion's Watch Tower:


Nothing in our understanding of the teachings of scriptures is in opposition to the idea that Great Britain, Germany and the United States may contain some of the descendants of the ten tribes which separated from the two tribes in the days of Rehoboam. It could not be claimed, however, by any one who is familiar with the racial mixture which prevails, especially in the United States, that any of these nations are of pure Israelite stock. Neither do we debate the question whether the prosperity of these nations, more than that of some other nations of the world, is due to their lineage. Perhaps this is true. What we do maintain, however, is that, so far as the Lord's “high calling” of his church is concerned, the middle wall of partition having been broken down, the Israelitish origin of an individual or a nation would gain the individual or the nation no advantage over other individuals or nations of a different race under the terms of the New Covenant. From it wall Israel,” “the natural branches,” were broken off, except a “remnant” which accepted of Christ, the mediator of the New Covenant; and that “remnant” had no pre-eminence over others because of nationality. God, through the Apostles, has preached no favors to Israel according to the flesh during the period of the selection of spiritual Israel; but he has declared that when the company of spiritual Israel is complete, his favor will return to the fleshly house.

Because we believe that the spiritual Israel is nearly complete, therefore we are expecting blessings upon the Israelites who are according to the flesh, and the turning away of their blindness, anticipating that they will be the first of the restitution class to be blessed by spiritual Israel, and so “receive mercy through your mercy.” (Rom. 11 : 31.) After they have thus received mercy through the complete and glorified church of Christ, they will indeed be used as the Lord's instruments for blessing all the families of the earth, and thus the Abrahamic promises will be fulfilled unto both the seeds – both that which is according to the flesh, and that which is according to the spirit-”To the end that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham.” (Rom. 4:16.)-[Zion's Watch Tower.

From The Esoteric: A Magazine of Advanced and Practical Esoteric Thought

 February 1897 issue:

You may need to click on the image to see it entire.

Saturday, February 25, 2023

Studies in the Scriptures, Volume 3, German Edition of 1923. Paper Covers

 Part of a rather large collection of foreign-language Bible Student and Witness material. See:

Thursday, February 23, 2023

The Channel Islands


Expanded with further research from an article that first appeared on this blog in 2017.

     Many readers of this blog will be collectors of Watch Tower related postcards, official IBSA issues, the Photodrama cards, the Lardent cards and the like. While the picture side is the obvious attraction, sometimes the message side gives us historical information that we would not have had preserved otherwise. This article is about one such example.

     In 1986 the Awake magazine had an article about the Channel Islands, British owned but quite near the coast of France. It stated (Awake April 22, 1986, page 19):

“Seeds of Bible truth were sown here back in 1925 when Zephaniah and Ethel Widdell arrived from England with their bicycles to organize a regular program of Bible studies. As a direct result of their work, congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses were soon formed in both Jersey and Guernsey.”

     A postcard message now takes that history back a further fourteen years to 1911.

     But first, where did the 1925 account come from? One must remember that there was never any official attempt to document the growth of interest in places like the Channel Islands at the time. We have to rely on people looking back long after the event. In 1970 the Society sent a lengthy letter to all old-timers asking for their reminiscences. The letters sent by return will have numbered into their hundreds, possibly thousands, around the world, and formed the basis for the various histories that subsequently appeared in the Yearbooks. These covered not just countries like the United States and Britain, but everywhere. This testimony was supported by documented proof in some cases. For example, the son of one of the editors of the St Paul/New Era Enterprise was moved to send his files to the Society. However, in other cases it was simply the anecdotal memories of older people looking back. The account in the 1986 Awake may date from that 1970 initiative. No-one alive in 1970 had any memory of events before 1925 for the Channel Islands. However, the 1925 account of the Widdells arriving to organise a “regular program of Bible studies” might suggest some prior interest.

     That is why the ‘find’ of a post card from 1911 is so useful. It is reproduced in full below. Grateful thanks are due to Franco, who owned the original and made it available.

     The picture is simply a Guernsey location. The sender was A W Bowland of 4 Union Street, St Peter’s Port, Guernsey, and the date of the message was 9/11/11, which (the way the British write dates) would be November 11th, 1911. The recipient was A Weber, Tour de Garde, Convers [Canton], Berne, Suisse.

     The message transcribed, reads:

Dear Brother, Thanks for card. We have received parcels safely today. We also thank you very much for Millenial Cards. Glad to say we are still selling a good number of volumes here. With much love in the Lord. Yours in his service, A W Bowland.

     The card was sent to a very well known figure, Adolphe Weber (1863-1948). Weber became a Bible Student in America and worked as a gardener for CTR for a short while in the 1890s. He went back to Europe and was involved in the German language Watch Tower. His story can be found in a number of Yearbook histories for various European countries and also in the Proclaimers book on page 409 with his photograph.

     The writer was A W Bowland, who wrote to Weber in English. I could only find one male named Bowland (the variant Boland) in Guernsey in the 1911 census, which was taken in April 1911, living in a street quite near Union Street in St Peter Port, from whence the postcard was later sent that year. This Bowland/Boland was a labourer working in the stone industry, aged 31, with a wife and two children. However, the initials don’t match. So the writer of the card could have traveled to Guernsey after the census was taken, perhaps to specifically do colporteur work.

     If that was the case, there was a British Bible Student Alfred Whittome Bowland, who was born in 1884 in Cambridgeshire. In the April 1911 census he is lodging with a family named Beavor in Middlesex, one of whom, Ernie Beavor, would have a long history with the Watch Tower Society. Alfred lists his occupation in 1911 as ‘Colporteur Bible and Tract.’ Later in 1916, while living at St Austell, Cornwall, he was a conscientious objector, listing himself as colporteur for a ‘Bible Tract Society’ and adding that he was an IBSA member. In 1938 he wrote a letter to The Watchtower (June 1st issue) headed LORD IS USING PHONOGRAPH TO HIS PRAISE where he wrote “it has been a happy privilege to be twenty-seven years in the full-time service” – which would go back to 1911. He was currently working in the “special business house service.” The next year, in the UK 1939 census register, A W Bowland and wife Gertrude are listed as evangelists, but now in Northumberland. This same A W Bowland died in Swindon at the end of 1967 or early 1968 (death registered in the first quarter of 1968).

     On a personal note, I knew Ernie Beavor in the early 1970s when he stayed at my parents’ home, and also when A W Bowland died in Swindon I was “pioneering” in the next congregation. Unfortunately, I wasn’t researching this particular article at the time…

     So what does the postcard show? It takes the work in the Channel Islands back another fourteen years from the time the Widdells worked the area on bicycle. The Bible Students’ evangelising work was happening there way back in 1911. Since the card states: “we are still selling a good number of volumes here” perhaps even earlier. It may be that several Cornish colporteurs could have had ‘working’ holidays in the Channel Islands.

     This all illustrates that even the smallest piece of ephemera is well worth checking in the search for a more complete picture.

     With grateful thanks for Franco who supplied the postcard, Bernhard who provided the lead for Alfred W Bowland, and Gary who provided further research on World War 1 conscientious objectors. Truly a team effort.

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

We need a clear scan of this

 ... or page by page photos if it is too fragile to scan.

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

A clergyman's view of Russellism - 1919

 Your observations are welcome:

            I find this in my reading of Church History that every heresy has had its origin in a desire for something the Church was not supplying at the hour. Men began to worship the Virgin Mary, tender and loving, because the Church of the day was altogether dwelling upon the sterner attributes of God and on the Sovereignty of Christ. Men hungered for a heart on which they could recline in their trouble, and be soothed to rest. They wanted, in a word, the knowledge of the compassionate Father that we have found; but, the Church failing to give that message, men turned wistfully to the worship of the gentle mother of our Lord. All the terrible perversion of Christianity which centres in her worship could have been prevented if the leaders of those days had only asked themselves, “Why are our people turning in this direction?” They would have found that they possessed a hunger which the Church teaching of the day was not supplying, though they had the satisfaction that was meet; and had they begun to emphasise all the tender facts embraced in the Truth of the Fatherhood of God the worship of the Virgin would have ceased. Every heresy has arisen in response to a clamant need, and has survived until the Church has recognised its costly error and amended its teaching. So, as Newman said, heresy is “the grotesque foreshadow of true statements which are to come.”

            Here, then, are three movements which are capturing some of our own people and thousands of those who ought to be with us. In what lies their appeal? Why, for instance, do people flock to Russellism? In my opinion, chiefly because the teaching of its founder was so compact of Scripture. His Studies in the Scriptures are masterpieces of mosaic work in texts, and give the impression to the ordinary reader that that doctrine must be sound which is textually supported so plentifully. Of course, texts are misused, torn from their context, treated as of the same value whether they come from the records of “the times of men's ignorance or from the New Testament; but there they are, arranged in serried battalions and making a mighty impression. Russellism gains adherents from Bible-loving folk because it uses the Bible; uses it in a perverted way, but uses it. We are losing them because we do not use the Bible. Expository preaching seems to be one of the lost arts. Topical preaching is the fashion now, and seldom is the teaching of the pulpit backed home by the Word. Yet the people love the Bible, and have an ingrained trust in its teaching. Why cannot we put it back in its own place? Modern thought, we are told, has made the Book a new and more valuable one than ever. Why cannot the people share in this new appreciation of its values? The vogue of Russellism calls to us to be once again men of the Book. When we use it folk will not stray to those who misuse it.

            Russellism appeals, again, because it gives a teaching with regard to the Future that is free from the horrors associated with the mediæval idea of hell. It wins and holds men, because they feel that its picture of the Future is more in keeping with our present conception of God than was the old. Our pulpit is silent on the matter. We never hear of hell to-day. Sometimes we hear of the heaven that awaits the good, but never a definite word as to the fate of the sinful. People want that information to-day more than ever. Many of our untimely dead have been lads who have never given a sign of any religious leanings. Their dear ones are troubled about them. Where are they? What is their state? Spiritualism professes to tell them, and to its halls they flock to hear that there is no reason for anxiety. Russellism tells them that there is no need to worry. They are at rest, whatever they were, and will have a second chance, even if they have been grossly wicked. Is it true that most Christian teachers have been driven by their knowledge of men and God to believe that there is hope in the Hereafter for all but the incorrigibly bad-if such there be and that for all others there is the hope of progress to the perfect good at last? If that is so, we never hear a whisper of it from our pulpits, though it is spoken in our homes to people sorrowing over their lost dear ones. If we have the message of comfort, why do we leave it to be declared by the exponents of that destroying superstition, Spiritualism, and by the Russellite teachers, whose message is so infinitely dangerous, because they make sin apparently so harmless?

Saturday, February 11, 2023

I need a clear scan of this handbill

 This was taken with a camera. I need a scan done on a flatbed scanner. Speaker and place do not matter, but I need front and back. 

I need a scan of the talk outline too.

Sunday, February 5, 2023

Bible Students as "food hoarders" - seriously?

Guest post by Gary

     According to historian Philip Jenkins, in the United States “the most controversial religious group at the start of the century was the Mormons”. However, he noted:  

     “The war fundamentally changed that hostile atmosphere, as the Mormons showed themselves resolutely patriotic and delivered impressively high recruitment rates to the forces. Old prejudices faded.” (1)

     In contrast, of course, and at precisely the same time, Bible Students were showing themselves particularly resistant to patriotism and indifferent to military support, so much so that they “were accused of having crossed the line from anti-war sentiment to actual treason.”  Jenkins noted:

     “In 1918, when federal and state authorities were deeply concerned about pro-German subversion and sabotage across the United States, much of their activity focused on suppressing one densely packed theological rant, namely The Finished Mystery.” (2)

     According to Jenkins “This work included a fierce denunciation of war and nationalism.” (3)

     Compared to allegations of being unpatriotic, subversive and treasonable, on rare occasion Bible Students of the era even found themselves vulnerable to lesser charges made, including that they were guilty of food hoarding. How could this come about?

When food became political

     Food hoarding has been beyond the means of ordinary American citizens throughout history who, living lives of subsistence, have usually lacked both the money and opportunity to stockpile.  In comparison, big business manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers have been known to occasionally hoard and deliberately drive-up prices to sell them later at considerable profit. 

     Concerned that the war would encourage unscrupulous opportunists who might be intent on making a ‘quick buck’, in August 1917 the US Government created the United States Food Administration, headed by Herbert Hoover, and gave it powers to control the production, distribution, and conservation of food. It was also responsible for preventing monopolies and hoarding and so attempted to control the importation, manufacture, storage, and distribution of foodstuffs.

     Like it or not, food became political. But whereas European nations embroiled in conflict resorted to rationing policies, this would not be tolerated by Americans unused to feeling the pinch of wartime hunger. Having joined the war in April 1917, the American plan was to increase food production while decreasing consumption. Consequently, the US Food Administration appealed to the patriotism of citizens by promoting copious news articles, lectures and posters containing slogans such as ‘God Bless the Household That Boils Potatoes with the Skins On’.  People were exhorted to plant victory gardens, to forgo wheat (which could be easily shipped abroad), to substitute fish for meat (which was expensive to produce) and to avoid wasting food. As a result, many observed Meatless Tuesdays and Wheatless Wednesdays. And, of course, the making of ‘liberty bread’ was encouraged, making use of corn, oat, and barley flour instead of wheat.

     As one commentator noted:

     “Modern warfare demands ... the armed forces in the field and the arming-and-supporting force at home: it is impossible to predict which is more important in securing ultimate victory.” (4)

     Evidently, therefore, to many the degree to which citizens adhered to these food measures was seen also as a monitor to gauge their patriotism and support for the American commitment to war. 

Poster picture: Food is Ammunition-Don't waste it. Be Patriotic

     Hoover could later report that the United States had been able to ship far more food to Europe than had been expected, and that this “could not have been accomplished without effort and sacrifice and it is a matter for further satisfaction that it has been accomplished voluntarily and individually.” (5)

     Against such sacrifices on behalf of the national goal, the idea of wealthy individuals hoarding valuable foodstuffs for personal use seems greedy to an extreme.  Consequently, is it any wonder that, using the American Protective League, citizens are known to have spied on and reported their wealthy near neighbors who were presumed to be food hoarders?

Two unlikely food hoarders 

     Two unlikely people who notoriously fell afoul of the US government’s laws on food hoarding in 1918 were Francis Smith Nash, US Navy Medical Director, and his wife Caroline Ryan Nash, who on May 29, 1918, became the first people indicted on a charge of violating Section 6 of the Food Control Act involving food hoarding at their Washington DC home. (6)  It was a serious charge and punishable, it is said, by a two-year stint in a penitentiary or a fine of $5,000.  The case attracted considerable attention since Dr. Nash and his wife were among the prominent in both naval and social circles. Caroline and her daughter Miss Caroline (sometimes spelt ‘Carolyn’) were frequently mentioned in the Society columns of the Washington press and lived and dined among the capital’s social elite, President Wilson and his wife included. (7)

     In an interview with the Washington Times published on the following day, Caroline is recorded to have said that the store of food found in the Nash home at 1723 Q street, northwest, and which was valued by the Food Administrator at $1,924:16, was only the regular order of things and the result of her usual policy of providing liberally in advance for her table.

     She maintained that the “long and honored reputation of this family should be sufficient answer to this absurd and ridiculous charge” and insisted “that we should be charged with such an unpatriotic act as deliberately hoarding food is unthinkable.” (8)

Mrs Caroline and Dr. Frances Nash

     Despite this, the authorities insisted upon pursuing hoarders regardless of their social standing. Besides, the Food Administration reasoned, if this wasn’t an example of food hoarding, what was? 

     “I had no idea I was breaking the law.” Caroline claimed. “We simply meant to provide for a rainy day. I thought that one’s duty was to provide against a rainy day, and in order to defeat the high cost of living one must buy in large quantities.” (9)

     The more Caroline spoke the more obvious it became that her household were indeed guilty, and the average American reader who lived day by day on a basic wage can have had little sympathy for the extravagant lifestyle of the wealthy Nash family.

     As Caroline spoke carelessly to the reporters, her husband Francis acted more prudently. The report stated that he declined any statement for publication, as did his attorney. Indeed, he had already appeared before Justice Stafford and given $3,000 bonds for himself and Mrs Nash. However, in justification of the actions of the Food Administrator an official statement significantly declared: 

     “The medical director has admitted his violation. He said that in 1914 he inherited a legacy. With his knowledge of probable conditions that would follow a prolonged war, he foresaw a scarcity of food. So since the outbreak of war he had been investing his own and Mrs Nash’s money in foodstuffs, storing them in his house against possible years of great food shortage.” (10)

     It was alleged that the food stored was sufficient to maintain the family of Nash for more than a year and far in excess of the requirements for thirty days, the period recognized by the national Food Administration. At the trial Dr. Nash entered a plea of “nolo contendere”, meaning that he neither admitted or disputed the charge and did not wish to make a defence.  Effectively he was neither pleading guilty or not guilty. Much was made of the fact that 80% of the food products found at Dr. Nash’s house had been purchased prior to the declaration of war with Germany and practically all of the remaining 20% had been purchased prior to the passing of the food conservation act. Even so, Dr. Nash was indicted by the grand jury for food hoarding and, as a result, he was fined $1,000. Further the hoarded foods were to be seized and sold accordingly at a public auction on July 9, 1918, with the profits used to defray the legal costs and whatever cash remained thereafter returned to Dr. Nash. Since Dr. Nash was found solely responsible for the hoard, the charges against Mrs Nash were withdrawn accordingly. (11)

The “hoarding of food supplies and the doctrine of the International Bible Students’ Association”

     By now you may be wondering what has this episode, interesting though it is, got to do with Bible Students? The Washington Evening Star later reported further details concerning the charges against the Nash family. Under the heading ‘Nash Food Hoard for War Haters’ it revealed that some of the hoard “was intended for distribution among members of the Washington branch of the International Bible Students’ Association as was learned during the investigation that led up to the seizure”.(12) Much was made of the fact that some of store was used to assist Bible Students, while nothing was said, of course, about food supplied in the lavish soirées which Caroline Nash had become famous for in the society columns of Washington press.

     The District Food Administrator, Clarence R. Wilson was quoted as having said that Dr Nash had sent six barrels of flour to “a man in Brooklyn, named Haskins, an IBSA member and that the garage to which the barrels had been sent was to a man named Selin, a Finn, also a member of the International Bible Students’ Association.”  Wilson pondered that “there may or may not be a relation between the hoarding of food supplies and the doctrine of the International Bible Students’ Association”, although he acknowledged that “whether Dr. Nash is a member of that association I do not know.” (13)

     Nash himself wisely declined to comment, while later reports appear to distance him from any Bible Student connection. His attorney, Prescott Gatley, for instance, spoke on his behalf in court saying that his client had made application to the Navy Department to be sent abroad and that he was anxious to do active service, but he had been informed he was too old.  The Washington Times commented that in this manner Gatley “made an effort to dissipate the impression that Dr. Nash may subscribe to the doctrines of the International Bible Students’ Association.” (14)

     So, was Dr. Nash ever actually a Bible Student or was he just sympathetic to their teachings and helpful to them?  On the one hand, it seems unlikely that a Bible Student would be so closely allied to the Navy. On the other, Nash’s role was that of a medical officer whose service was one of healing rather than combat, and Bible Student teaching at this time did not entirely preclude such a role. (15) Consequently, it is presently impossible to say. 

     What then of the suggestion that “there may … be a relation between the hoarding of food supplies and the doctrine of the International Bible Students’ Association”? Under what circumstances might wealthy Bible Students or their sympathisers somehow find themselves in danger of being labelled a ‘food hoarder’? 

     Coming as it did during the height of national hysteria involving Bible Students in the Spring and early Summer of 1918, there was no way Nash’s reputation could entirely survive this accusation.  But given his connection, could there possibly have been a motive other than simple avarice to explain his actions?  Was he simply planning on making a quick profit by selling his hoard at an inflated cost when opportunity arose?  Or might there have been another reason?  

Russell’s prudent foresight

     To understand why a well-off Bible Student, or even a well-to-do Watch Tower subscriber sympathetic to Bible Student teachings, might collect such a food store we must consider the words of Pastor Russell in late 1914, made long before America entered the war. Believing that the Gentile Times had recently ended, Russell reasoned that the near future would be extremely difficult for all, including Bible Students.  His Watch Tower article of November 1914, entitled ‘The Prudent Hideth Himself’ was based on Proverbs 22:3 and started:

     “Let no one suppose that it will be possible to escape the difficulties and trials of the great time of trouble, whose shadow is now clouding the earth.” (16)

     Russell encouraged readers to heed four valuable lessons which might enable the wise to ameliorate future difficulties. Firstly, application of Christ’s Golden Rule to treat others..., secondly to show mercy, compassion, sympathy and helpfulness, thirdly to display meekness, gentleness, patience and long-suffering, and finally, the “fourth lesson should be economy in everything - avoidance of waste - the realization that what he does not need, someone else does need.”

     The article warned that bonds, stocks and bank accounts may prove untrustworthy in the days to come but, in line with Proverbs 22:3, it recommended “those having dry, clean cellars, or other places suitable and well ventilated, to lay in a good stock of life’s necessities; for instance, a large supply of coal, of rice, dried peas, dried beans, rolled oats, wheat, barley, sugar, molasses, fish, etc. Have in mind the keeping qualities and nutritive values of foods - especially the fact that soups are economical and nourishing. Do not be afraid of having too much of such commodities as will keep well until the best of next summer begins, even if it were necessary to sell then, at a loss, to prevent spoiling.”

     Significantly, the article clearly explained the reason for this recommendation:

     “Think of this hoard to eat, not too selfishly, but as being a provision for any who may be in need, and who, in the Lord’s providence, may come your way - ‘that you may have to give to those who lack’ - Eph. 4:28” 

     At the same time as encouraging this prudent measure, Russell exhorted readers “not to make these purchases on credit if you do not have the money” and “not to sound a trumpet before you, telling of your provisions, intentions” but to inform only your close family of your planning. 

     Two things need be noted from this article therefore. Firstly, it was a prudent measure designed for emergency use only and not for personal profit. Secondly, its purpose was for sharing with those who might suffer need.  Retrospectively we may add that it was a recommendation made nearly two and a half years before the US declared an involvement in the war. 

     The article closed by reminding readers “that the Golden Rule is the very lowest standard that can be recognized by the Lord’s people and that it comes in advance of any kind of charity.”

     Seen in this context, Dr. Nash’s actions become more understandable. He had inherited a minor fortune and was likely a sympathetic Watch Tower subscriber with friends and contacts who were Bible Students. His actions, taken prior to American involvement in the war, may be seen as acting prudently in protecting his family’s interests and as being in keeping with principles expounded by Pastor Russell to show mercy, compassion, sympathy and helpfulness to others, appreciating that what he himself did not personally need, someone else, at some later point, likely would. Subsequently, it is not necessary to think of him as having hoarded food entirely for selfish pleasure. At the same time, it is understandable why he was charged with food hoarding and why, given the circumstances, he wisely made a plea of nolo contendere

     It is not known if Mrs Nash shared her husband’s interest in Bible Student teachings or indeed his IBSA associates. For a while she seems to have kept a slightly lower profile in the Washington society pages of the capital’s newspapers. Nothing more is known, thereafter, of the Nash’s connections to the Bible Students while Mrs Nash and her daughter Miss Caroline continued to live life in the public spotlight. A Washington newspaper report from December 1930 commented that they were taking their yearly winter visit to the capital having made their home in Paris, France, some years back. (17)


(1) The Great and Holy War, Philip Jenkins, 236-237

(2) Ibid, 141

(3) “Spy Mad”?  Investigating Subversion in Pennsylvania 1917-1918, 209

(4) Howard Anna Shaw, quoted in Marsha Gordon, “Onward Kitchen Soldiers: Mobilizing the Domestic during World War I” Canadian Review of American Studies 29, no.2 (1999), 61-87

(5) Hoover, July 11, 1918, report to the President

(6) The Washington Times, May 30, 1918, p1.  Also, The New York Times of the same date.

(7) See, for instance, The Washington Times, December 14, 1917, 16, which mentions Mrs Francis A. Nash as being among several guests entertained by Mrs Wilson and given boxes in a recital at the National Theatre. Mrs Nash was pictured and said to “post a prominent role in Washington society.”

(8) The Washington Times, May 30, 1918, 1 

(9) Ibid

(10) The New York Times, May 30, 1918

(11) The Washington Times, June 15, 1918

(12) The Washington Evening Star, dated June 16, 1918, p1

(13) Ibid. The “man in Brooklyn, named Haskins, an IBSA member” may have been Isaac Francis Hoskins, a former director of the Watch Tower Society, although he is known to have left Brooklyn on July 12, 1917

(14) Ibid, 2

(15) See Russell’s reply to an enquiry in Watch Tower, May 1, 1916, 142 [R5894]

(16) Watch Tower, November 1, 1914, 334-335 [R5571-5572]

(17) The Washington Times, December 18, 1930, 12 

Saturday, February 4, 2023

JFR and the 1926 hot dog

A postcard from Magdeburg from 1926. With grateful thanks to Markus who provided the image.

Friday, February 3, 2023

The Future


I do not anticipate adding to this blog any time soon. It is a rich resource for those interested in Watch Tower history. Many of my current readers have not reviewed past posts. You may find them interesting.

I am considering shutting down the blog, leaving it as is with no further posts or comments. I am open to your comments. As I see it, the blog has outlived its usefulness. There are few comments, few readers, and little interest. Some of you loved Rachael while she was blog editor; me not so much. I don't know why; she was certainly mouthier than I am.

If I continue the blog, I need to hear from the other blog editors. Do you wish to continue? And if there is a problem between us, I'd rather you make that plain than drift into silence. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Chapter One

 Apparently no one wants to comment. This is the last time I post material for your review.

A bit of SI chapter one for your comment.

Chapter One: Barbour and His Adherents


           Remainder of the post is deleted.

Friday, January 27, 2023

Nelson Barbour


I need some research assistance. Barbour's atonement beliefs probably have antecedents in the work of others. I haven't been able to trace his belief to others. This is an important point for the first chapter in SI volume 3. 

Can you help?

Friday, January 20, 2023

Three Booklets

 I traded away some really rare-ish booklets for three booklets I need for current research. They belonged to William Morris Wright, a society director. Shown below is George Hessler's Sounding of the Seventh Trumpet. This is listed in the Publications Index; it was published in Scranton, Pa, in 1888.

Not listed in the Index is The Resurrection, or an Answer to a Letter from a Non-Believer in the Resurrection of the Wicked Dead by John W. Brite of Missouri. His association with Russell was brief. He transitioned to Paton's theology. However this booklet was written during his brief association with the Watch Tower. 

The third booklet is a mystery. At first I believed this was another from Brite's pen. After reading it, I don't think that anymore. It is fairly well done and the author respects the scriptures, focusing on what they actually say. He saw the People's Church movement as attractive, but it was so varied that I can't reach any conclusions from that.

So, I need your help: Can you put an author's name to this booklet?

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Zion's Glad Songs No. 2


On ebay:

Friday, January 13, 2023

M. L. McPhail


Nun or none


     Collecting Watch Tower literature for many includes collecting variants of publications. Sometimes changes were made due to refinements of belief, other times proof reading glitches or copyright issues played a part. Sometimes what was produced caused questions to be raised. One example of the latter is the picture found in the book Riches (1936).

     The original line drawing showed a witness preaching to an elderly gentleman. In the background is a nun who appears to be using a tuning fork on the householder (?) while discouraging the witness from his work. The only problem was that, if you looked at the picture quickly, it might appear to some that the nun was “blessing” the witness’ efforts. A quick check of the text in the book would immediately disabuse anyone of that idea, but feedback showed the advisability of changing the picture. As a result, a new picture was drawn, which replaced the nun with a phonograph.

     This meant that there were soon two editions of Riches in circulation. As a result, some wrote in. More than one copy of the standard reply has survived, but the one pictured below was sent to a John Shearrow from Alliance, Ohio. The identical address on a 1940s registration card identifies him as John Cunningham Shearrow (1890-1962) who married and had one daughter, but no further information has been gleaned.

     The letter advised any with the “nun” copy to carefully remove the page, and these could still be placed without any picture at this point. As there was no text on the reverse of the picture, this was quite easy to do.

     So collectors can find at least three versions of Riches, one with the nun, one with a page neatly cut out, and then a later printing with a replacement picture.

Friday, December 23, 2022

Two passports

Compared to America, those who search genealogical records in Britain are well blessed. Civil registration in the U.K. made the registration all births, deaths and marriages obligatory from 1837 onwards, and parish registers might take you back several hundred years before that. Not so with a “new” country like America, with its separate legislation for different States. As a result, many well known figures in Watch Tower history are not always in the official records.

However, one useful source of information is passport applications, many of which are online in genealogical sites like Ancestry. Below are passport applications for the first two presidents of the incorporated Watch Tower Society.

Charles Taze Russell

The application below was made from the Society’s Arch Street Bible House address on April 7, 1903.

It tells us the CTR was 5 feet, 10 and a half inches in height and that his hair was brown and grey. He was 52 at the time. His occupation is given as minister and editor. The affidavit on his behalf was signed by A E Williamson of the same address. Albert Edmund Williamson was a director of the Watch Tower Society between the years 1900-1908. He left association with Watch Tower over the new covenant controversy.

Joseph Franklyn Rutherford

The next application was made from 15 Hicks Street, Brooklyn in 1910 by Joseph F Rutherford.  He gives his occupation as attorney and counselor at law.  He lists as dependants on the same passport his wife, Mary M Rutherford and his son Malcom C Rutherford (here spelled Malcolm). It gives JFR’s height as 6 feet 2 inches.

JFR has given his birthdate as November 8, 1869. Years later, in 1920, when applying for another passport, because of the lack of official records, he had to provide some sort of proof for this date. It was obviously not required before, because he’d travelled extensively on the 1910 passport up the outbreak of the Great War. But now, proof of birth was required and his mother had to sign an affidavit. For those interested in such trivia, below is the document his 77 year old mother, Leonora, duly provided.

Thursday, December 15, 2022

Another for my secondary project

 Translation help is greatly appreciated. I can make out maybe four words. Serious help is needed.

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Monday, December 5, 2022

The Royal Albert Hall


The Royal Albert Hall in London was opened in 1871, named by Queen Victoria in memory of her late husband. Over the last 150 plus years it has been the venue for countless events, concerts, exhibitions, and speakers. The latter have included Winston Churchill, Albert Enstein – and Charles Taze Russell and Joseph Franklin Rutherford.

     CTR used the Albert Hall on a tour in May 1910, and later, The Photodrama of Creation, featuring him on movie film, was shown at the venue in 1914.

     J F Rutherford used the venue in 1920 to give his world famous lecture Millions Now Living Will Never Die. Here is some advertising material for that meeting.

He was back at the venue in 1926 to give, among others, the lecture World Powers are Tottering – The Remedy.

Then, shortly before the outbreak of World War 2, he was back in 1938. This time, the key talk was Face the Facts. Here is some advertising material for that meeting.

The Albert Hall was central in London and back in those days one of the few venues that could hold such a large audience.

Following the war, larger gatherings in Britain tended to use sports stadiums that could hold greater numbers than existing indoor venues.

(With thanks to Tom who provided scans of the advertising material)