Wednesday, December 31, 2008


I need some help locating Pittsburgh newspapers on microfilm for the years 1877-1883.

We're researching the publication of Food for Thinking Christians. The reaction to the booklet was largely negative; Russell says this. We've only located three newspaper articles from the era. We would like more. If you have any information, I would appreciate hearing from you.

I'm also researching Jesse Harper of Danville, Illinois. His book (The Millennium Age; The Restoration, The Race Restored, The Earth Restored, The Earth a Home (Entos) for All) suggests that he was familiar with Russell and with the Ransom/Atonement debates. If you have any information about him, I would appreciate it if you shared it.

We continue to need the anti-Food for Thinking Christians booklet I mentioned in an earlier post. Also, there was a distrubance with the circulation of Food in Newark in August 1881. I cannot locate any information. Anyone in New Jersey who can help?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

I'm seeking photographs of Calista B. Downing, Horace A. Randle and William Robert Fuller, the first Watch Tower missionaries in China.

Below is a revision of earlier material. This is the later section of a chapter entitled In All the Earth. Excuse the formatting problems:

A letter from Chefoo (now Yantai), China, was printed in the May 1883 issue. Miss Calista B. Downing, the missionary who wrote to Russell wasn’t the one to whom an issue of Zion’s Watch Tower was mailed. Instead, it was shown her “as a curiosity.” She read it carefully and with interest, explaining to Russell that she was “somewhat out of the orthodox ruts”:
If you will send me the paper I will try and get the subscription to you in some way--for, though a self-supporting missionary, I cannot quite call myself one of the “Lord's poor” to whom you offer the paper gratuitously, for Our Father has bountifully supplied all my needs, since I gave up my salary, three years ago. I think I can get a few subscribers among my friends in China, for I find not a few who are trying to reconcile the “mercy that endureth forever” with the final irrevocable doom of all who, since the fall, have died without a knowledge of the Redeemer of the world. We have no “Post-Office Order” arrangements here, else
I would send the subscription at once.[1]
Her name isn’t associated with the letter; as was most often the case the letter was published without signature. But, in 1900 another missionary and physician, Horace A. Randle, recalled:
There has been in China for years one solitary witness for the present truth, Miss Downing, of Chefoo. This lady was formerly a missionary of the Presbyterian Board and she chanced to meet with a stray Watch Tower, about the year 1883, in which she read an article on restitution, and at once decided to subscribe for the paper.[2]

C. B. Downing was viewed as a bit odd by other missionaries. “Amongst the missionaries of Shantung I am afraid Sister Downing was considered a queer old lady having some odd notions,” Randall wrote.
As with many of the early Watch Tower readers, finding biographical information on Miss Downing is difficult. A Miss C. D. Downing appears in the 1850 Census as a resident of Boston. That Miss Downing was born about 1825. I cannot state with certainty that she is the same as the missionary teacher in China.
Calista B. Downing graduated from the St. Johnsbury Academy in Vermont sometime near 1846. While attending the Academy she was a member of The Excelsior Club, a literary society.[3] In 1859 and 1860 she served as a missionary to the Chickasaw and Choctaw Indians.[4] The Civil War made missionary work dangerous, and she had to leave it.[5] She was a school teacher in Red Wing, Minnesota, before becoming a missionary, and as a missionary was supported with contributions from Westminster Presbyterian Church in Minneapolis.[6] She arrived in China in 1866 as part of the American Presbyterian Mission, to help found a girl’s boarding school at Chefoo which she did by the next year.
Downing participated in The General Conference of Missionaries in China, and she was a delegate to their convention held in Shanghai May 10-24, 1877. She was associated with C. W. Mateer’s mission in Tung-Chow (now Tongzhou) and assigned to the station at Chefoo. The mission at Chefoo, “the chief foreign port of the province of Shantung” was established in 1862, the year after the mission in Tunchow.[7]
She most closely associated with Hunter Corbett and his wife, and the Corbetts saw her arrival as an answer to prayer. “During the year we were permitted to welcome Miss Downing as a member of Chefoo Station, as well as to our family. In this our prayers were answered, and we hope that she will be blessed of God in winning may souls for Christ,” Corbett wrote.[8] Calista Downing and Mrs. Corbett had worked together in the Native-American mission field in the United States.[9]
China’s population lived in abject poverty and superstition was rampant. It was heart wrenching. Probably, seeing conditions in China as they were in the mid to late 19th Century had some influence on her ready acceptance of the message of the Millennial Restitution, the restoration of an Edenic earth.
Writing to the journal Woman’s Work for Woman in 1872 she recounted some of the heart-breaking and difficult situations she met: “In my visits from home to home I see many girls growing up in sin and ignorance whom I long to get, but their heathen relatives would ‘rather they starve’ than let them come to use. Many times they reject our offers to train their girls in our school, and sell them for slaves or for worse than slaves. Poor ignorant people. They will not believe we will keep our word with them, but think we want their girls ‘to take to foreign countries or to make medicine of them.’”[10]
Two years later, another letter from Miss Downing addressed the issue of child prostitution and slavery. The letter was addressed to a group that “had undertaken the support of a child in her school.” She wrote: “This little girl was a slave bought from a bad woman who had become ill and sold this child to get money to buy medicine. I do not know, nor does she, what her father’s name was. … I have another little slave girl who is very pretty. Of her parents we know nothing.”[11]
She gave up her association with the American Presbyterian mission in China by 1894. The Directory & Chronicle for China, Japan, Corea, Indo-China, Strait Settlements, ect. for that year lists her as independent.[12] She moved from being principal of the Presbyterian girl’s boarding school to the teaching staff of Temple Hill Anglo-Chinese College in Chefoo. The educational directory that lists her as on staff says: “This school is not directly under mission control. It is self supporting. The strong religious character of the school and the establishment of similar schools in the city have somewhat retarded its growth.” With a Mrs. W. C. Booth, Downing was one of two foreign teachers. There were also six Chinese instructors.[13]
Though her most obvious missionary work was loaning or giving away Watch Tower publications and discussing the message of the impending Restitution of All Things with European and American missionaries, it is certain that her message went to her students too. A contemporary publication, The Encyclopedia of Missions, said of the boy’s and girl’s boarding schools at Chefoo: “Many have been received into the church who became interested in Christianity through what they heard from the children in these schools.”[14] So while it is true as observed by Carolyn Wah, that Watch Tower missionary activity in Asia “did not start among the Asians, but among foreign missionaries,” the push of Calista B. Downing’s activity was to reach her Chinese students.[15] Even if her contemporary missionaries and teachers saw her as a bit odd, The China Mission Handbook reported that under her care, “the school has been a great blessing to our work.”[16]
Still, her primary mission field using publications was among English speaking missionaries. Writing to Maria Frances Russell in 1887 she said: “I am giving away and lending my copies of Millennial Dawn and my papers, and any time you can send me extra copies of the Watch Tower I can use them to advantage. I expect to see a good many missionaries from other parts of the country during the summer, as this is a health resort, and I shall scatter my Towers, and lend Millennial Dawns. The last bound copy I gave away before taking the wrapper off.”[17]
Still later, in 1888, she explained her work more fully:
The Dawns reached me on the 23d of September, for which many thanks. Three of the books are now in Shanghai. The good and thoroughly orthodox Methodist sister, to whom I gave one, said, "The restitution theology is very interesting, and I am glad you have found such rest and peace in believing it." I am sure she will read the book carefully, and be benefited by it. Another book has gone into a Baptist family. And the third I gave to Rev. Dr. W., who believes in the Millennial coming of Christ, and is, I think, somewhat prepared for Dawn. One book has gone to Ching-chew-fu into the Eng. Bap. Mission. The others I shall send--one to Peking, one to Amoy, one to Tang-chon, etc. The papers also arrived in due time and will soon be scattered over China. The books ordered came by last mail, received two or three days since. Since writing the above, the Concordance and Diaglott came. I cannot thank you enough for the kind letter received at the same time. I am using my Dawn, and the others and the papers are being scattered broadcast over the land. The Rev. Bp. S. (probably Right Reverend Bishop Schereschewsky, of the Protestant Episcopal Church) has a Dawn. You may be sure I lose no opportunity to tell the glad tidings.[18]

Miss Downing is last listed as a missionary in 1903.[19] She at least died sometime before November 1918 when her will was probated.[20]
There is no practical way to measure the effects of Calista Downing’s preaching on the Chinese who were her principal interest. One would like to know if her adopted daughters maintained an interest in Millennial Dawn. There seems to be no record of them after Miss Downing’s death.
She succeeded in interesting at least two other missionaries, and perhaps more. William Robert Fuller, a Methodist minister, was one of these. I’ve found little in the way of early biography. One picks him up in London in 1864. He is married to Harriet Peachy, a practicing clergyman, and prominent enough to have been on the platform at the Seventh Annual Meeting of the Methodist Free Church Mission Society.[21]
The impetus toward a Free Church China mission came from J. Hudson Taylor who proposed the mission in the early 1860’s. Because of the Taiping rebellion, action was postponed until later. Fuller was sent out from the United Kingdom to Ningpo, (now Ningbo) China, by The Missionary Society of the United Methodist Free Churches in1864 as its first missionary.[22] A nearly contemporary account says:
The Committee considered that the time had come for making a beginning. It had reason to believe that ‘specially favourable circumstances’ presented themselves for opening a Mission in Ningpo, one of the treaty ports; and it resolved to send two Missionaries to Ningpo as early as possible. The Rev. J. H. Taylor kindly undertook to give instruction in the Ningpo dialect to the brethren who might be selected. The London Fourth Circuit recommended Mr. W. R. Fuller, who on inquiry, was thought suitable and designated to the work. He had the advantage of Mr. Taylor’s instructions; and he also became a medical student at the London Hospital, the managers of which kindly remitted the usual fees. NO second offer of a suitable kind seems to have been made, and in the summer of 1864, Mr. Fuller, accompanied by his wife and family, sailed for Shanghai, en rout for Ningpo. Mr. and Mrs. Fuller arrived safely at Shanghai; though they encountered a dreadful typhoon on their passage, and had to commit to the mighty deep the body of their youngest child, who died at sea. Mr. Fuller soon commenced preaching and conversation services at Nigpo, and was cheered by seeing some pleasing fruit of his labours. On account of serious illness, Mrs. Fuller, after a few months, returned to England with her children. Mr. Fuller remained to prosecute his work. … In conducting the services … Mr. Fuller did not preach. A native preacher delivered the address, Mr. Fuller reading the Scriptures and giving out the hymns.[23]

He opened a “dispensary” at Ningpo and ministered to health needs as well as spiritual needs.[24] Fuller returned to England in 1866, apparently to care for and collect his family, “but again went back to China, and for a time laboured at Ningpo, and afterwards at Chefoo” where he met Calista Downing. She placed Zion’s Watch Tower and Millennial Dawn in his hands. He quietly preached the new teachings and did not come to Russell’s notice until about 1892, some years after he espoused Watch Tower teaching. His letter to Russell dated March 2, 1891, appears as an appendix to The Time is at Hand, volume three of the Millennial Dawn series, and incidentally shows C. B. Downing to still be an active Watch Tower missionary in that year:
It is now several years since an apparently incidental conversation … led my good friend, Miss Downing to place a number of Zion’s Watch Tower in my hands. Above I say incidental—I will now correct myself and say providential; for this I most firmly believe it to have been, inasmuch as from that day to this I have been … truly blessed, comforted, enlightened and strengthened. …

Is it not wonderful to observe the ways and means which God, by his Spirit, has been employing … in bringing numbers of his people into a clearer understanding of Bible truths, cleansing the Word, as it were, from the dust of centuries, bringing out things new as well as old to the forefront for examination, clinching and dovetailing its various books so that it can be seen that not a single one can in anyway be done without, and causing the whole Scripture to shine forth in all its undimmed glory …

In my humble opinion, your works … furnish the very best commentaries and helps I have met with, on the Scriptures texts and prophecies relating to the second coming of our Lord. I read them again and again with ever increasing pleasure.[25]

Fuller followed Miss Downing’s lead in withdrawing form previous church affiliation. Little information exists to illuminate his separation form the Methodists. A short statement is found in one history of the Methodist mission to China, saying: “Eventually he retired from the ministry, and we understand, as subsequently practiced successfully as a medical man.”[26]
Fuller remained in Chefoo, supporting Calista Downing in her ministry. There is some slight evidence that Fuller wrote letters to other missionaries and circulated Watch Tower literature among them. In 1894 Fuller operated The Chefoo Dispensary and General Store and, though an English citizen, he served as American Vice-counsel in Chefoo.[27] His death date is unknown, but he appears to have died before 1900.
It is unclear if it is to Fuller or to Horace A. Randle that we should refer a comment found in May 15, 1898, issue of Zion’s Watch Tower: “A shipment of Dawns and tracts of nearly six hundred pounds goes to China, to a brother, a missionary there, who has recently become interested in the harvest message and who believes that he sees opportunities for some of the elect to be sealed in that far off land.”[28]
Horace Randle was another missionary to China converted through C. B. Downing’s work. Most of his history is more appropriate to another discussion since his interest came after the period of Watch Tower history we’re considering. He was born about 1855 in Chelsenham, Gloucester, England to William and Harriet Randle and was one of at least four children. His father is described in the 1861 Census Returns of England and Wales as a “corn dealer,” a grain wholesaler.
He was sent out by The China Inland Mission April 5, 1876, and arrived there on May 22nd of the same year. In March 1880 he married Ellen Boyd, also a missionary with The China Inland Mission.[29] She and her older sister Fanny Boyd arrived in 1878, and within eighteen months she and Horace Randle were married. Ellen was about three years his senior according to the 1871 Census.[30]
Randle worked hard and cautiously to make converts. He found opposition to their work pervasive among the ruling and intellectual classes in China, and he made only slow progress:
During the nine years of my work in China I have been permitted to baptize thirty-three converts. I tell you these numbers, not because I wish to boast; it is a very small number, but it may show you, perhaps, the average of a man’s work. … We have the opposition of the literary classes and the mandarins. This we found to be universal. The character of the people and their reverence for old-time customs is a difficulty. The very construction of the language is a serious difficulty, and makes it by no means easy to express spiritual thoughts to the people. But Confucianism I consider to be the greatest obstruction; although the opium traffic, I should say, is the saddest.[31]

In 1885 Randle was sent to the United States for medical training and he graduated with an M.D. His medical credentials are often listed as: “Horace A. Randle, M.D. (U.S.A)” and on that basis he was occasionally taken for an American. The listing was given in that form because the qualifications for an M.D. in the United States differed from those in the United Kingdom. After graduating from an American medical school he enrolled for similar education at Edinburgh, graduating from that program in 1888, and he and his family returned to China on November 16, 1888. In 1890 he moved to Chefoo.
He began preaching the Watch Tower message in the early 1890’s, making several trips to the United States to meet Russell and to preach. A brief article in the June 30, 1900, New York Times announced an address by him at the Harlem YMCA. By 1901 he was resident in England, the census of that year describing him as a “medical missionary preacher” associated with “Millennial Dawn Christians.”
Though associated through his medical work with a Baptist mission, he remained affiliated with The China Inland Mission. He formally resigned his association with them On April 20, 1894.
In the context of this history, the brief summary of his activity found in Jehovah’s Witnesses: Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom will suffice:
Horace Randle … had his interest further stimulated by an advertisement for Millennial Dawn that appeared in the London Times, and this was followed up by copies of the book itself—one from Miss Downing and another sent by his mother in England. At first, he was shocked by what he read. But once convinced that the Trinity is not a Bible teaching, he resigned from the Baptist Church and proceeded to share with other missionaries what he had learned. In 1900 he reported that he had sent out 2,324 letters and some 5,000 tracts to missionaries in China, Japan, Korea, and Siam (Thailand). At that time it was mainly to Christendom’s missionaries that the witness was being given in the Orient.[32]

Though after accepting Watch Tower theology Randle’s focus was on fellow missionaries, his primary interest was those the missionaries taught. He saw reaching missionaries as the surest way to reach native-language converts. There is no record of any result of Randle’s Millennial Dawn teaching on his previously made Chinese converts.

[1] View from the Tower, Zion’s Watch Tower, May 1883, page 1.
[2] Randal, Horace A: Present Truth in the Far East, Zion’s Watch Tower, May 1, 1900, page 150.
[3] Fairbanks, Edward T.: The Town of St. Johnsbury VT: A Review of One Hundred Twenty-Five Years to the Anniverasry Pageant 1912, Cowles Press, St. Johnsbury, Vermont, 1914, page 238.
[4] Historical Sketches of the Missions Under the Care of the Board of Foreign Missions of the Presbyterian Church, Women’s Foreign Missionary Society, Philadelphia, 1881, pages 33-34.
[5] Smith, Harold Frederick & Charles Hodge Corbett: Hunter Corbett And His Family, College Press, Claremont, California, 1965, page 47 identifies this as the reason she left her missionary work among native Americans.
[6] School teacher: Rasmussen, C. A.: History of Red Wing, Minnesota, 1933, page 217. Church support: Fifth Annual Report of the Woman’s Presbyterian Missions of the North-West, Chicago, 1876, page 92.
[7] Records of the General Conference of the Protestant Missionaries of China, Held at Shanghai, May 10-24, 1877, Presbyterian Mission Press, Shanghai, 1878, pages 2, 5. Survey of Missions of the Board, The Foreign Missionary of the Presbyterian Church, January 1871, page 203.
[8] Corbett, Hunter: Review of a Year’s Work at Chefoo, China, The Home and Foreign Record of the Presbyterian Church in the United States, March 1867, page 59.
[9] Smith, Fredrick F. and Charles Hodge Corbett: Hunter Corbett and His Family, College Press, Claremont, California, 1966, pages 166, 185.
[10] Woman’s Work for Woman, September 1872, as quoted in Margaret E. Burton: The Education of Women in China, Fleming H. Revell Company, pages 45-46.
[11] Woman’s Work for Woman, January 1874, as quoted in Margaret E. Burton: The Education of Women in China, Fleming H. Revell Company, pages 50-51.
[12] Hong Kong, The Daily Press, 1894 edition, page 100.
[13] Nathaniel Gist Gee: The Educational Directory for China, Second Issue, Education Association of China, 1905, page 22.
[14] Bliss, Edwin Munsel, editor: The Encyclopedia of Missions, Funk and Wagnalls Company, New York, 1891, Volume 2, page 252.
[15] Wah, Carolyn R.: Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Empire of the Sun: A Clash of Faith and Religion During World War II, Journal of Church and State, January 1, 2002. The article contains several errors of fact. She identifies William T. Ellis, a noted opponent of Russell’s, as a Watch Tower representative. She dates missionary activity outside the United States to “as early as 1892,” at least eleven years after it began.
[16] The China Mission Handbook: First Issue, American Presbyterian Mission Press, Shanghai, 1896, page 199.
[17] C.B.D.: A China Missionary Writes, Zion’s Watch Tower, October 1887, page 2.
[18] C.B.D.: The Truth in China, Zion’s Watch Tower, Febrary 1888, page 2.
[19] Protestant Missionaries in China, The Gospel in All Lands, February 1903, page 87.
[20] The China Monthly Review, Volume 6: pages 422, 503
[21] Marriage: The John Henry Hinton Photographs, Edmonton Art Gallery, 1977, page 7. Meeting: London District Missionary Activity, The United Methodist Free Churches’ Magazine, June 1864, page 385.
[22] United Methodist Free Church Missionary Society, The Christian Witness and Church Members’ Magazine, Volume 21, 1864, page 272
[23] Kirsop, Joseph: Historic Sketches of Free Methodism, Andrew Crombie, London, 1885, pages 104-106.
[24] Samuel Couling, editor: The Encyclopaedia Sinica, Oxford University Press, 1917, page 583.
[25] Letter from W. R. Fuller to C. T. Russell found in an Appendix The Time is at Hand, Millennial Dawn, Volume 3, Special Issue of Zion’s Watch Tower representing Vol. 12, No. 6, June 1891, pages 377-380.
[26] Kirsop, Historic Sketches of Free Methodism, page 106.
[27] The Directory & chronicle for China, Japan, Corea, Indo-China, Straits Settlements, Malay States, Siam, Netherlands India, Borneo, the Philippines, &c. ; with which are incorporated "The China directory" and "The Hongkong directory and Hong list for the Far East" for 1894, Daily Press, Hong Kong, 1894, pages 97-98.
[28] Views from the Watch Tower, Zion’s Watch Tower, May 15, 1898, page 150.
[29] All the unreferenced statements in the biographical sketch of Randle are derived from a research summary prepared by David Hails, an archivist with OMF International, and included in an email sent to B. W. Schulz on November 11, 2008. OMF International is the successor to The China Inland Mission.
[30] The Boyd family is noted in Census Returns of England and Wales, 1871. Kew, Surrey, England: The National Archives of the UK: Public Record Office, 1871. Fanny was six years older than her sister Ellen. “In 1878 I went out to China with a younger sister, now Mrs. Randle, and we worked together for the first eighteen months or so at Gank-k’ing …. After my sister was married we went to Kiu-chau.”—Fanny Boyd in J. Hudson Taylor, editor: China’s Millions¸ Morgan and Scott, London, 1886, page 95.
[31] Horace A. Randle in China’s Millions, pages 94-95.
[32] Jehovah’s Witnesses: Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom, Watchtower Society, Brooklyn, New York, 1993, page 418.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Original

Russell reproduced a chart showing world population broken down by religion. Here is the original.

Monday, October 27, 2008

From Atlanta Constitution 18 Aug 1887

Russell initially tried to place Millennial Dawn in bookstores. Here's an add from an Atlanta bookstore. The well known Bill Arp review was also in The Atlanta, Georgia, Constitution. It's found in the July 24, 1887 issue.


Our blog seems to have generated very limited interest and almost no discussion. Rachael deVienne and I are considering taking it down. If there is interest out there, we need to know it.

Personally, I think our time is better spent elsewhere. We need to hear from those interested. Without sufficient interest (we'll know it when we see it) this blog is going away or going into hibernation.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Rough Draft - Partial - For Comments

Urgently in Favorable Season

Russell and his associates reacted to Barbour’s assaults by seeking to persuade and unify the small groups that had been sympathetic to The Herald of the Morning. Paton traveled extensively while Russell remained in Allegheny preparing for the release of Zion’s Watch Tower, but as soon as the new magazine was up and running Russell arranged preaching tours of his own.

The first issue of The Watch Tower included the announcement of a new hymnal, Songs of the Bride, edited by William I. Mann, and an advertisement for Russell’s booklet, Object and Manner of Our Lord’s Return. The lack of other publications meant that their new magazine was their primary voice.

The basis for their unity was a broad agreement on the nature and time of Christ’s return and a semblance of agreement on the Ransom. Differences in viewpoints would reveal that their unity on Ransom doctrine was more of a united opposition to Barbour’s views than an actual theological agreement. Russell was aware of some differences and inserted an announcement on the first page of Zion’s Watch Tower disclaiming responsibility for the views expressed by contributors: “In no case will the Editor be responsible for all sentiments expressed by correspondents, nor is he to be understood as indorsing every expression in articles selected from other periodicals.”[1]

In the second issue, Russell noted that he had sent out six thousand copies of the July and August issues and invited subscriptions. He noted that he couldn’t continue sending free copies because:

First, it is expensive, and second, we have no desire to waste truth by sending where it is not desired and would not be appreciated. We would like therefore to hear from all who want the paper regularly before the tenth day of August, that we may know what number of copies to publish for September.

The price is very low in order to suit the purses of the majority of the interested ones, among whom are “not many rich,” (for “God hath chosen the poor of this world, rich in faith, heirs of the kingdom.”) and unless a good large list of subscribers are had, fifty cents will fall far short of paying for printing, &c.

Do not suppose these remarks to be an appeal for money. No, “Zion’s Watch Tower” has, we believe Jehovah for its backer, and while this is the case it will never beg nor petition men for support. When He who says: “All the gold and silver of the mountains are mine,” fails to provide necessary funds, we will understand it to be time to suspend the publication.

Do not put off until to-morrow what you can do to-day. If you want the September No. take your pen at once. Remember that the paper is as free to you if too poor to send the fifty cents as though you could afford it and paid for it, but we cannot know your circumstances --You must write also.[2]

Recently anti-Russell polemicists have insisted that Russell stole The Herald of the Morning subscription list from Barbour. While the names on that list were probably included among the six thousand to whom The Watch Tower was sent, seeing Russell as a thief is ludicrous. Though Barbour later denied it, Russell was part owner of The Herald. There is no clearer indication of this than the statement found in the earlier issues that The Herald was published jointly by Russell and Barbour. On researcher suggests that the Russell’s very close friend George Storrs may have made the names on his subscription list available.[3] While this may seem likely, Russell never explains how the list was developed.

With the second issue, Russell explained that the magazine’s sub-title, Herald of Christ’s Presence, explained their message. Christ was present and had been since 1874 and they were in the Harvest Age: “We think we have good solid reasons -- not imaginations -- not dreams nor visions, but Bible evidences (known to the majority of our readers) that we are now “in the days of the Son;” that “the day of the Lord” has come, and Jesus, a spiritual body, is present, harvesting the Gospel age.”[4]

Russell’s long-time friend George Washington Stetson died on October 9, 1879, after a prolonged illness. Stetson’s dying request was that Russell give the funeral oration, and, though other ministers participated, Russell was the principal speaker. An unintended consequence was enlarging the sphere of those who heard his message. Because none of the churches were large enough, the funeral services were held at Normal Hall on the grounds of what was then Edinboro State Teachers College: “About twelve hundred persons attended the funeral services, thus giving evidence of the high esteem in which our brother was held,” Russell wrote.[5] By comparison, the Second Adventist congregation at Edinboro numbered about one hundred in 1873.[6]

The funeral brought Russell to the attention of Second Adventists. A brief notice appeared in The World’s Crisis of October 11, 1879, saying that “words of comfort were spoken by Bro. C.T. Russell, of Pittsburgh, Pa.” This reminded readers that Russell was still actively preaching his message.

Albert Delmont Jones left Russell’s employ in November 1879 to expand his preaching activity and to pursue business interests elsewhere. An announcement to that effect appears in that month’s Watch Tower:

We lose this month one of our special contributors. Bro. A. D. Jones felt a strong desire for some time to give more of his time to preaching the glad tidings. He started out this month, going wherever the Lord may open the way. God will bless him in his endeavor to bless others. May he be used to the glory of our Lord.
Our brother has other [business] calls upon whatever spare time he may have, and asks to be excused as a regular correspondent; so what is the people’s gain is the Watch Tower’s loss. We hope, however, for occasional brief articles from his pen.[7]
The same issue contained a request of spare copies of the October 1879 magazine. Russell sought about fifty copies to fill a shortage caused by new subscriptions. Also found in the November issue was the statement that “Almost all the brethren whose names appear on our list as regular contributors, the editor, and three others who do not write for Zion’s Watch Tower, but who are in sympathy and accord with its teachings, are preaching the good news wherever the Lord of the Harvest opens the way.”[8] Requests for preaching services could be made directly to the Watch Tower office or to the individual speakers.

Reader response to the request for extra copies of the October issue encouraged him. Many of the copies received were heavily marked and well studied. Russell was pleased with this:

Very many of the papers returned were liberally underscored etc., and gave evidence of interest and careful and prayerful reading which was very interesting and pleasant for the editor to notice. Although not laboring for the “praise of men” nor “seeking praise one of another;” yet every such indication of your interest in the work we have so deeply at heart, gives us fresh strength and joy.

The kind words received from many of you during the past six months have been duly appreciated also. Although we have not been able to answer you, they have afforded your editor pleasure and comfort, and that was doubtless your object. We seldom publish letters, of correspondents, because firstly, we have no room to spare, and secondly, they generally contain personal allusion to the writers too complimentary to admit of publication.

Russell quoted from two letters. The first explained how deeply they treasured The Watch Tower. The writer, a sister V. N. J. from Springfield, Massachusetts, said, “I read them over and over, lend them, but never give them away for they are as choice to me as gold dust. As I read, I mark and comment for my own benefit.” The second correspondent recounted that a friend had given her copies to read, and she had subscribed. This represents the most typical form of Watch Tower evangelism in the era. Interestingly, the last writer said, “As I am 83 years old and unable to canvas I have secured the services of a young lady to do so for me.”[9]

Paton proposed a preaching tour in the Midwest. He scheduled a two month trip through parts of Indiana, Illinois and Iowa, strongholds of the Second Adventist movement.[10] The trip was delayed while Paton prepared a book stating their commonly held beliefs. When announcing the delay, Russell explained that the planned work would “be a careful exposition of our views regarding fulfilled prophecy; our hopes of present and future; as well as the scriptural evidences of the presence of the Son of Man, and that we are now in “the day of the Lord,” &c.”[11]

In March 1880, Russell again offered the last few hundred copies of Object and Manner of Our Lord’s Return. They were made available at sixty cents a dozen, thirty cents for six, or free to those who couldn’t afford them and would “use them judiciously.” And another small announcement was included saying that “Invitations to hold meetings may be addressed either to the editor (mentioning whom you wish to have), or direct to the brethren.”[12]

Seeking Unity Among Scattered Believers

Russell proposed a major preaching tour eastward from Pittsburgh. He wanted it to effect unity among scattered believers. In many places subscribers were “totally unacquainted with each other” and thus lost “the sympathy and comfort which our Father designed should come to them by ‘The assembling of themselves together as the manner of some is.’” Russell hoped that “The proposed meetings … might conduce to personal acquaintance.”[13]

His itinerary was fixed in time to announce it in the June Watch Tower. [14] Included were Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, where Henry Elias Hoke, Sr. hosted the meetings. Hoke is profiled in an earlier chapter. No report of this meeting survives, but there we enduring interest in Chambersburg, and the group would receive a subsequent visit by Benjamin W. Keith in 1882.[15] Reading, Pennsylvania, was next on the itinerary. Meetings were hosted by a J. B. Kine, about whom nothing is known.


Amos Hunt hosted the meeting at Lynn, Massachusetts. Almost nothing is known about him. He was a shoemaker and worked in a factory at Lynn, not surprisingly since Lynn was a center of American shoe manufacturing. He was born in New Brunswick, Canada, about 1836 to Roswell Hunt and his wife the former Fanny Stiles, and was the only boy among their six children. He and his wife Lizzie later moved to Anoka, Minnesota, where he contracted “consumption.” He traveled to California for his health, dying in a San Francisco hospital from the tuberculosis on June 22, 1889. When he first met Russell and his degree of interest are unknown.[16]

Lynn was by the standards of the day a large city with a population of about twenty-five thousand. [17] There was long standing Adventist interest in Lynn, though in 1891 there was only one small Second Adventist church there.[18]

The meeting at Lynn was probably typical of them all. What sparse record remains gives us with some insight into Russell’s manner of shepherding the congregations. The meetings were long, almost continuous, part sermon and partly give and take. Questions were entertained, and their import analyzed. Some of the discussion at Lynn focused on “the number of the beast.” Russell was asked what it was, and he confessed that he was dissatisfied with the available answers. Writing about a year later, he said:

I spoke on the subject of this same chapter to the name-less little company of “this way,” in Lynn, Mass., and concluded my remarks by telling them that I had never seen a satisfactory explanation of the 666. And, though I thought I had given a correct analysis of the symbols of the chapter, yet I could not claim it to be wisdom, since I could not interpret the number. I suggested, however, that if oursbe the correct understanding of the time in which we are living—the “harvest” of the age--and if our general application of these symbols be correct, the number should soon be understood. I urged examination on the subject by all, for the Lord is sometimes pleased to give wisdom through the weakest of his children. “Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings thou hast ordained praise.”[19]

About three months later Russell received a letter from “one of the thinking brethren of that place, saying that he thought he had the key.” Russell accepted the explanation offered and it made its way into print. The suggestion was that the number denoted giving support to religious organizations, and that the beast was the Catholic Church, and its image was the Evangelical Alliance. This fit with Russell’s belief that they were “called out,” separated, fine wheat-like Christians without any organization but Christ’s:

Among those who thus openly mark themselves in their forehead (by their creeds) are Episcopalians, Methodists, Presbyterians and others. But others give a seeming support (mark in their hand) to the general principal by organizing under various sectarian names. After these are blended in the IMAGE, (and no one would be admitted to membership in the Evangelical Alliance, unless he be a member of some such sect), they all are collectively known as the “Protestant Churches,” ….

If we for instance were to organize, though we protest more than all others against the errors of Rome, and also against the errors of the Image and second BEAST, yet be would not be reckoned one of the “Protestant churches,” because we would not be recognized as orthodox--They would not count our organization a church.

Should you inquire for our meetings and ask--Is that a protestant church which meets here? The answer would come--Oh, no; they are not Evangelical. They have
no creed to mark them, so that the Alliance can decide whether they are an Evangelical Protestant Church or not.

At least one individual was converted to Watch Tower theology by the meetings held at Lynn. Her conversion was recounted in a dramatic fashion by Samuel I. Hickey, a former clergyman, and for a period a Watch Tower evangelist. Writing to Russell in1889, he recounted the story of an unnamed woman:

While in Boston I was told of a sister at Winchester, about seven miles from Boston and I went to see her. Some eleven years ago she was a lawless Roman Catholic rum-seller there. Her conversion (a most remarkable one) occurred in the prison, where she was confined for repeated violation of the liquor laws. When she was released, she poured to waste all of her liquors and renounced the Roman Catholic Religion. As she lived in the midst of an Irish Catholic community, her persecutions were terrible. Her children were hooted, pelted with stones, and abused in every conceivable manner. She was cursed and slandered before her face and behind her back.

They even soaped the stairs of her dwelling to cause her to fall and maim or kill herself. The priest visited her, and when he found that she was firm in her determination to serve Christ rather than the devil, he cursed her and persuaded her husband to abandon her and declared that she should never have a Catholic dollar, and said they would drive her from her home. They broke the window panes in her house, and for two years she was obliged to keep them stuffed with rags, etc., being too poor to afford to replace the glass. She united with the Baptist church and was most zealous in her missionary efforts to bring others into that “communion.” She soon ceased to have her hunger satisfied with the husks of the less popish branch of Babylon and longed for more truth, for she saw and deplored the same spirit in Protestantism as in Romanism. About nine years ago, hungering and thirsting for the Word of Life, she heard that there were a series of meetings held at Lynn. You were the preacher and she was so well fed that she eagerly inquired, where she could continue to hear you. A friend told her that she could hear you through Z.W.T. every month. Ever since that God has fed her through your paper. When she was rejected by every body, that spoke peace to her heart. All was written in such a sweet spirit. The very pages seemed illumined by the spirit of God. She cannot write at all and can not read writing. [*]

… When her boy lay dead in her house, a crowd collected opposite and cried that they wished it was the old devil that was dead, instead of the young one, or she along with it. Well, the next day after that she got the Tower. For all the sorrow she had had, it brought great joy, and she felt lifted up. She could not describe the gladness God sent her through it. The Lord anointed her eyes, and she came out of the Baptist church, and her persecutions at the hands of the Protestant religionists were harder to bear than those of the Roman Catholics--a refined cruelty. She attempted to reason with them out of the Scriptures, but was called an ignorant Irish woman and was rebuked for her insolence in presuming to teach them who had been studying the Scriptures all their lifetime. But she knew she had the truth, and counted it all joy--even her severest trials--for they brought her nearer to God, and taught her dependence upon Him. She was overjoyed at the thought that at last you should know of her and of the joy you had been the means of imparting to her.[20]

[Develop: Preaching tours 1880-1881]

Day Dawn, Or Gospel in Type and Prophecy

Paton’s book was the first connected statement of belief since the publication of Barbour’s Three Worlds, or Plan of Redemption.

In 1890 Paton recalled the circumstances behind the book’s preparation:

In the Autumn of 1879, Bro. A.D. Jones, then of Pittsburgh, urged me to write the substance of my lectures and have them published in book form. He said, ‘We need such a book, to give the people who hear these lectures the evidience in permanent form, as well as to reach many who have not the opportunity of hearing; and I am convinced that you are the one to write it. Have you not thought of writing such a book?’
I confessed that I had thought of it, having realized the need of it in my work, and having often been moved in spirit to write these things, but had never ventured even to speak of it, because, for certain reasons, it seemed impracticable.

‘Are the reasons of a financial nature? He asked.

I admitted that such was the case; that being dependant on the fruit of my labor for the support of myself and family, I had no means to invest in publishing.

‘Well,’ he said, ‘I am willing to publish such a book, paying all the expense, if you will write it.’

It seemed to be of the Lord, and after further deliberation, I decided to make the effort. I left off traveling, except to fill my regular Sunday appointments, and devoted myself five days in each week to writing for the book, and in about seven weeks, Day Dawn was ready for the press. Then followed the care of proof-reading while it
was being printed.[21]
Russell backed the publication financially, though Albert Jones was publisher. Later, Paton would insist that he did not know of Russell’s financial backing. “I never knew of any such arrangement,” he would write. “It never occurred to me that Bro. Jones needed any such help.” Before the biographical research presented in this work, Paton’s statement seemed disingenuous. Jones was a clerk in one of the J. L. Russell & Son stores. At most he was a store manager. He supported a wife and a daughter. It seemed unlikely that anyone would suppose that the money came from Jones’s pocket. Knowing that Jones came from a moneyed family and that he had significant business prospects of his own changes this picture. Paton had every reason to suppose that Jones raised the money on his own.

Though Russell advertised Day Dawn through the pages of Zion’s Watch Tower, and it was sold by Watch Tower speakers, it did not sell extremely well. Paton still had remainder copies of the first edition in 1890.

The first pre-publication announcement has already been noted. By the end of March 1880, Russell had the table of contents at hand, and wrote a brief notice encouraging advance orders:

We are pleased to know that it will soon be ready--probably about May 1st. The table of contents before us, show it to contain 28 chapters … on subjects of deepest interest to all of us. It will we doubt not supply a long felt want, viz: A book containing a connected and well expressed account, of our understanding of the prophecies their import and teaching as well as their harmony with the other teachings of God’s word. …

We cannot but be benefited and strengthened by going over the Time arguments which establish our whereabouts on the stream of time. Our foundations are so strong, the evidences so many and so weighty, that when fully comprehended, it is easier to believe than to doubt, the presence of the heavenly Bridegroom. It will strengthen and build you up in your most holy faith, we hope. Again it is a pleasure to have a book to hand to your neighbor and friend written in a simple but scholarly manner. (Though we have not seen the MSS. we have reason to expect all of this from our brother’s pen.) Bro. Paton of Almont, Mich., one of our regular contributors is the author. Bro. A. D. Jones, Pittsburgh, Pa., also a correspondent is the publisher.[22]

The first copies reached Russell in time for a notice in the June 1880 Watch Tower. He was pleased:

It is a more exhaustive and elaborate work than we had at first expected; more so by far than anything ever presented on the above topics, from our standpoint. It contains 334 pages in clear and distinct type. To give an idea of its size, we would say that it contains about three times as much matter as the “Three Worlds,” a book familiar to most of our readers, now out of print.

From the first hasty examination we should say it is a work which will do an inestimable amount of good, and to many, will be an instructor second only to the Word of God. It is written in a plain, unassuming manner, seeming to indicate that the writer had learned that “great I and little you” are no part of the Good News. Both the I and you are as far as possible dropped from notice, and the subject is made so beautifully plain and clear, that many, we believe, will bless God for having been permitted to read it.[23]

Russell encouraged every Watch Tower reader to buy a copy, offering it for fee to those who could not afford it.

Finding any sort of public review is almost impossible. The lone print comment on the book that I have thus far uncovered appears in The Kingdom and The Restoration, an anonymous book published in London in 1882. The author, writing only as “A Student of Prophecy,” believed the two witnesses of Revelation to be individuals. His belief drew forth strictures on the contrary claim made by Paton in Day Dawn and by J. P. Weethee in the March 22, 1882, issue of Restitution:

Notwithstanding the strong evidence, throughout the account of the two witnesses, of their individuality, some think it is all figurative. One writer, J. H. Paton, in his work called, “The Day Dawn,” explains the two witnesses to represent the two estaments, the Old and the New … Now if we are at liberty to interpret the word after this fashion, it seems to us that we may prove any thing we like from the word. Figures and symbols we know are sometimes used, and used very frequently in this book – The Revelation – But they are always used to represent something. And there is always consistency between figures or symbols, and the things they represent, and what is said. But what consistency is there here on the principle of these writers?[24]
A private comment made by the poet and writer David Gray to his brother made it into print some few years later with the publication of Letters, Poems and Selected Prose Writings of David Gray. Gray, not the more famous David Gray who died in 1861 but a lesser known writer who died in 1882, had a religious background that included Campbellism, and an association with John Thomas. Ultimately he believed Thomas had “got hold of some technicalities” and
was “pushing things far beyond where the spirit of revelation will sustain him.” Sometime in the early half of 1881, his brother sent his a copy of Paton’s book. In a letter to his brother dated May 18, 1881, he wrote: “I have devoted all the few spare hours I have had since you kindly sent me Mr. Patton’s [sic] book to its perusal, and have been greatly interested in it. He certainly has a great deal of truth, some of which is new to me and very valuable. But I fear he goes farther in some things than the Word, fairly read, will sustain him.”

The letter as printed is truncated, and we do not learn the particulars of Gray”s objections, but he continues: “It fact, we must always be entirely ready to stop and unload the most attractive theory when we collide with a plain statement of the Word. Our theories may easily be wrong; but the Word cannot be. Let us hold ourselves perfectly subject to it, even though that leave us to wait in great confusion and ignorance. More light will come, if our hearts be right before God.”

In a follow up letter dated August 24, 1881, Gray wrote: “I have chanced to learn a little, lately, of those people in Pittsburgh (“Zion’s Watch Tower”) with whom Mr. Patton [sic] seems to be in sympathy. I think I saw one of their tracts in your possession. I have read a little of Mr. Russell’s writing, myself – perhaps the same tract I saw you have. It is very significant that, here and there through the country, we are seeing a breaking away of earnest, hungry souls from the corruptions of the professing church. There is a movement of similar kind just now in Chicago[†] … But alas! I find the Pittsburgh Watchmen of Zion do not always seem to be content
simply with what is written. They want to know more than is revealed, and draw on their imaginations to make up the deficiency. At least that is what I am bound to think of much of their teaching (and Mr. Patton”s) as to the destiny of the unsaved dead, and various “orders” and classes of saved, and some other subjects. But, with this, they have much of the inspiring truth which has been brought out among our so-called “Plymouth” friends, and this activity of inquiry is surely better than the spiritual death we find inside churches”[25]

Day Dawn targeted those already associated with the Barbourite movement and interested “Second Adventists.” Yet, the book did a certain amount of missionary work outside that narrow group. An individual identified only as N. L. P. of Petersville, Kentucky, wrote to Paton, saying: “The first time that I saw the Lord’s will and plan clearly as revealed in the Bible was by the aid of Day Dawn published by Bro. Jones …. I had been brought up a Missionary Baptist, and among the good Methodists, sects who rely mostly on church creeds and traditions of elders, giving their hearers but a confused idea of the Scriptures.”

Ultimately Day Dawn would prove an unsatisfactory instrument. Despite repeated advertisement in The Watch Tower, the public did not take to the book. This seems to be the fault of its author and publisher. Neither of them seems to have invested the time or money necessary to get it before the public except by loaning it or selling it at small evangelical gatherings. The only advertising they relied on was that provided freely by Zion’s Watch Tower. Though in 1890

Russell would suggest that it was long out of print, in actual fact there were remainders still in Paton’s possession.

Bible Students Tracts and an Expanding Ministry

Very little other than The Watch Tower was initially offered to adherents and interested persons. A few remaining copies of Object and Manner of Our Lord’s Return were made available. The song book prepared by W. I. Mann was sent out. By January 1880 Russell was offering several Bible translations cheaply to Watch Tower readers. Included in the list were Emphatic Diaglott, in two bindings, The American Bible Union New Testament, and Tischendorf”s New Testament. At least by 1883, and maybe as early as the initial offering in 1880, a message entitled “The Emphatic Diaglott: A Friendly Criticism” signed “Editor of Zion’s Watch Tower” was pasted into each copy sold through the magazine, the main point of which was to highlight the translator’s bias in certain areas:

Like all things made and done by imperfect mortals, we think this valuable work not without its faults. It would seem to us that the authors must have held the view that Jesus had no pre-human existence, and that there is no personal devil, i.e., that when devil is said—evil principle—is meant; also that Jesus is still a man and flesh.

In commending this work to you as a whole so highly as we have done, we deem it
but a duty to draw your attention to a very slight bias which we think pervades the work in the directions named.

Day Dawn, while it addressed the need for a clear statement of their theology, did not fill the need for simple, direct and brief missionary tracts. Russell received “numerous and urgent calls for Watch Tower Tracts on various topics.” He suspended traveling for part of October 1880 to prepare them. “They will be cheap tracts for gratuitous distribution and will be furnished at a very low price to those agreeing to distribute them, or free to those so desiring them,” he explained.[26]

There was some sort of delay producing the proposed tracts, and Russell expressed his disappointment in a brief announcement in the December 1880 issue. He advised readers to expect them within a month: “We advise that you make a list of all Christian people whom you may have any hope of interesting, and send them the tracts in rotation, as numbered, so that they will get hold of the subjects in a connected manner. Make out your lists at once.”[27] When issued they appear to have been small thirty-two page tracts.[28]

The first of the tract supplements, entitled Why Will There Be a Second Advent, was duly released with the January 1881 issue of Zion’s Watch Tower.[29] It was a reprint with slight revisions of an earlier Watch Tower article of the same title. Russell outlined his plans for circulation in the announcement:

With this number we send Tract No. 1. We have arranged for quite a number of them, and you may expect one or two a month for several months. They will all be free, on condition that you order no more than you will wisely use.

We will not send more than 25 at one time. You can re-order when they are gone. This is a way in which all can “both labor and suffer reproach,” as well as give the “glad tidings” to some who have ears to hear and hearts to appreciate; “The love of God, which passeth all understanding,” revealed to us in His word. We suggest that each tract be carefully read by you before you give it to others.[30]

Supplement number two was issued with the February magazine. Russell reminded his readers that they should read it carefully before circulating it. He explained that the tract supplements were “specially designed for thinking Christians, and would be, to the natural man, foolishness.”[31] None of the tracts were designed to convert unbelievers to Christianity. They
believed they were in the Gospel Harvest when the Wheat and Weeds of Jesus’parable would be separated. They were calling to the wheat-like Christians.

The titles of tracts two and three are unknown to me. An educated guess based on the later content of the small book Food for Thinking Christians leads me to suppose the titles were How Will Christ Come? and The Day of Judgment. These are only articles of correct length, and their subject matter follows logically after tract one.

[Formation of Watch Tower Society and Wanted 1000 preachers]

Russell and his associates saw the need to organize the work and, secondarily, finance it through public donations. He turned to his father and to William Henry Conley. Conley was a long-time associate.

Conley was born June 11, 1840, in Pittsburgh to George Washington Conley and Matilda Balsley. His father died about 1852, when Conley was twelve years old, and Conley went to work in a woolen mill in Alleghany.[32] In 1855 he was apprenticed to an uncle, a printer in Blairsville, Ohio. In 1857, he moved with his uncle to Plymouth, Ohio, where he met Sara Shaffer (also spelled Shafer), two years his junior and a transplanted Pennsylvanian. They married in 1860.

Significantly, Conley associated with the Lutheran Church in Plymouth, Ohio. There is little documentation for Conley’s life in Ohio, but it is into this time that one can fit his first acquaintance with George Nathaniel Henry Peters, later the author of the massive three volume work, Theocratic Kingdom. Peter’s obituary as found in The Lutheran Observer of October 22, 1909, notes his service to the Plymouth, Ohio, church.[33] Another source shows him serving as pastor in Plymouth during the years of Conley’s residence.[34] While it is possible that Russell met Peters through another, it is likely that he met him through Conley. It is also extremely likely that Conley’s interest in the Lord’s return and last-times events derived from his association with Peters. Though sympathetic toward Adventism, Peters saw himself as a pre-millennialist rather than Adventist and would not have led Conley into Adventism.[35] However, he was already committed to his great study of Christ’s return and rule, having started the research about 1854.[36] His preaching at Plymouth must have been colored by his study.

There are three William Conleys listed among Civil War soldiers from Ohio, but none of the biographical notices of William H. Conley list Civil War service. At or toward the end of the war the Conley’s moved back to Pittsburgh where he joined a commission house, a brokerage firm. Later he became a bookkeeper for James M. Riter whose company, established in 1861, worked in sheet metal and copper. The business seems to have been prosperous though not large. Riter supplied major portions of the iron work for the Escanaba furnace in 1872.[37]

Riter died in 1873 Conley “took a half-interest in the business with Thomas B. Riter, the firm name being changed to Riter & Conley; he attended to the financial and office work while Mr. Riter attended to the outside and mechanical part.” Eventually Riter & Conley “became the most extensive of its kind in the world.” [38] That Conley focused on a major business venture that year is a strong indicator that he did not take the predictions of Jonas Wendell, Nelson Barbour and others seriously. Others who were swayed though not enough to form a positive conviction also engaged in business, and his partnership with T. B. Riter is not surety what he didn’t find the movement interesting, even somewhat persuasive.

The exact date and circumstance of Russell and Conley’s first acquaintance are unknown. It appears that by 1875 they had known each other for some time, and the Conley had come to

respect and trust Russell. Testifying during his divorce proceedings, Russell claimed that he was offered the presidency of a newly formed Bank. This gives us a clue as to the latest date for their meeting. If one presumes that the bank was the Third National Bank of Allegheny, the first offices of which were just up Federal Street from the Russell’s main store and in which William Conley had an interest, then one can say that Conley knew Russell well before its founding on March 16, 1875.


Tract Supplement Number four, Why Evil Was Permitted was mailed with the May 1881 issue of The Watch Tower with the explanation that “It is a subject much thought of by all, and more than one child has asked, “Why did God make the Devil?” It is a subject which should command some attention from all thinking Christians.” Tract four was a reprint, with some revisions, of an article of the same name found in the [date] issue. Supplement number five was a reprint of the earlier article entitled “Narrow Way to Life.”

This tract we hope will be acceptable to you all. We hope that its general distribution will be productive of good results and that it may be used of the Lord as an eye salve to many to enable them to see “the exceeding riches of His grace in His loving indness toward us.” And for you, brethren, we pray that the viewing of the narrow way to life, may bless you, and that “The Father of Glory may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him (that) the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; ye may know, what is the hope of his calling; and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the Saints; and what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us.” Eph. 1:17.

We have quantities of this tract, and will try to supply all your demands. Order all you can use, and use all that you order.[39]

Tract number five was entitled The Narrow Way to Life, and was with slight revision the same as the article of the same title appearing in the DATE Watch Tower. Russell saw this matter as of primary importance and as a major advance forward in understanding Bible truth. When Russell reviewed his progress in understanding what he saw as key Bible doctrines, he included the thoughts in the article “The Narrow Way to Life”:

Next “The Narrow Way to Life” opened up before us and we saw that the life here
referred to, is immortal life--or the perfection of life; and this brought to our attention the fact that God has many different orders of beings, all of whom, when in harmony with Him are perfect, though each is perfect on his own plane of being, as for instance, perfect angels are one order and perfect men (when restored to perfection) are another order. These orders, one on the human plane and the other on the spiritual, would each be supplied with life forever from the great fountain-- God--and thus supplied enjoy ever-lasting life. But this showed us that the great prize for which we are running, is not merely continued existence, but if we are over-comers the promise is immortal life (or life in ourselves) a quality or perfection of life, said to be possessed only by Father and Son and promised only to "the little flock" who walk the narrow way—

"The way our Leader trod." "And few there be that find it." As scripture began to narrow down to the overcomers, as those upon whom the prize, for which we are running should be bestowed it had the effect on many of stirring up to greater activity that "no man take our crown" --a feeling akin to that of Paul when he said: "If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection," (the first resurrection which includes Jesus our head and all the members of His body who "live and reign with Him a thousand years"--only over-comers are to reign). Therefore we seek to walk separate from the world.[40]
This was not the first time he included “The Narrow Way to Life” among the major advancements in Bible understanding. In 1883 he wrote:

Then came--"The narrow way to Life," and we saw as never before the meaning of
Life--Immortality—and the narrowness of the way which leads to it. It is narrow; there is no room to lug along worldly hopes and ambitions; it is steep and rugged, and every step is a denial and sacrifice of the rights and comforts of the human nature. The steps in this narrow way are not merely conflicts with sin. No, that may be done anywhere by the justified only, as well as by the sanctified, and all who enter this "narrow way" have already been justified from all sin in Gods sight by the ransom price given by Jesus. On the contrary, the steps are of sacrifice: sacrificing those things to which as men they have a right.

As the steps are very difficult ones, which few would ever find, and fewer yet would care to walk in if they did find them, so it is but reasonable to infer that the prize at its further end is of wondrous value. The prize is Life --not merely existence, but Life in the superlative degree--i.e., independent of all conditions, as God has "life in himself," and not dependent on surrounding circumstances and elements. Life in this degree belongs not to angelic or human nature, but to the Divine nature only. And the fact that the narrow way which few find, leads to this Life, proves that on it is the class who seek for "glory, honor and immortality," and to whom are given "exceeding great and precious promises, that by these they might become partakers of the Divine nature." (`2 Pet. 1:4`.) With joy we saw too, that though few find this "narrow way," and few would gain that prize of life—immortality --yet these few were to be the instruments of God in the restitution of human existence to the WORLD, which, if used in harmony with Gods will, may be everlasting existence.[41]

Tract number six was by Albert Delmont Jones. Its title has been lost, but a record of controversy that followed its publication persists. Jones had already expressed positive views that 1881 would see a prophetic crisis, and he was drifting off into areas that Russell and others would see as un-Christian and unstable. Jones tract produced a strongly negative reaction, and Russell felt compelled to offer explanations through Zion’s Watch Tower:

We have a number of inquiries relative to tract No. 6, (written by Bro. A. D.
Jones) asking whether the editor’s views are in harmony with those expressed
in that tract. To which we answer that it is quite possible for different persons to have somewhat different ideas regarding the manner of the unfolding future, though they be entirely agreed with reference to the work of the past, present and future. We are for instance, not much in sympathy with the idea that the “Perihelion of the planets” is to bring “a carnival of death,” and for this reason have refrained from mentioning the harrowing details furnished by astrologists as the probable result. It may be that such a dreadful scourging is to come upon the world so soon, but from our understanding of prophecy we expect that the carnival of moral pestilence,
spiritual famine, and death will come first, upon the nominal church--the sort of “pestilence” and “arrows” referred to in Psa. 91 from which nothing will shield but the “truth.” (vs. 4.)

But while we do not expect such literal plagues, we do not venture to gainsay the astrologers and their predictions; it is possible that both astrology and scripture may be correct concerning the coming events, but our confidence and sole reliance is on the latter. To compare notes we suggest that Scripture indicates that the nominal church is to be given over to tribulation and be shown no favor from October of this year; and every thing seems ripe for just such a thing: On the other hand the astrologers began as far back as 1871 to predict what would occur in 1880 and 1881. But though the largest planet Jupiter has already reached the point of perihelion (more than nine months ago) and though Jupiter and Saturn were in conjunction six months ago, yet there is nothing except unusual rain storms thus far to justify the awful pictures drawn.[42]
Any sympathy Russell had for astrological predictions would disappear. Given his anti-Spiritualist writings, finding this much sympathy expressed is surprising. Jones was swayed by contemporary astrologers because they reflected his own views of what 1881 would bring. He borrowed heavily from them. It would be a surprise if he did not read C. A. Grimmer’s The Voice of the Stars: or the Coming Perihelia with Attendant Plagues, Storms, and Fires from 1880 to 1887, Supported by Historical Facts, published first in1879 and reprinted several times in America. Grimmer predicted that the period “from 1880 to 1887 will be one universal carnival of death.” (Page 7 in the edition I consulted.) He may have also read L. D. Broughton’s The Elements of Astrology. Broughton and others suggested that the perihelion of the major planets due near 1880 and extending to 1886 would see major disasters. He predicted “great plagues … in all their intensity.” He foresaw “droughts, epidemics, pestilence and famine” but thought the effects would be less in more civilized countries.[43] The predictions of astrologers fit exactly into Jones’ view of impending events.

The last of the Supplements was a Chart of the Ages issued with the July/August 1881 magazine. It was reproduced the next month in Food for Thinking Christians:

We present to each of our readers with this issue, a “Chart of the Ages,” (unfortunately printed June, instead of July supplement) with the suggestion
that you hang it in some convenient place where it will be often in your sight; that its diagram of the narrow way to life, may be a constant and helpful reminder to you of the way our Leader trod; that thereby you may be enabled to make your calling and election sure.

We hope too, that you will so place it, that it will be an object of interest to all who may visit you, and that you will so familiarize yourself with it as to be able to explain its teachings to them; thus each reader will be a preacher of the “narrow way to life” -- to Glory, Honor and Immortality, so soon to close; and also of the plan of God for
the world’s salvation, which is only just beginning. May God make you able ministers of his word.

The Chart should have your careful attention and study for at least one month: for this reason, and to allow needed time for other parts of the service, this paper and chart supplement will constitute the July and August issue. Therefore you may expect nothing more until September.


Food for Thinking Christians

Financing the Work

Russell and others poured their personal fortunes into keeping Zion’s Watch Tower afloat. In late 1881 he attempted to make the paper free to all, something the Postal regulations would disallow. Explaining his reasons, he said, “The subscription price was made so low in endeavoring to make it burdenless upon the majority of our readers who cannot well afford to spend more, that it did not pay expenses. (The paper from the first has only paid about two-thirds of its expenses--not to mention the additional cost of Supplements during the last six months.)”[44]

A major source of the money was a donation of Florida land that seems to have come from Russell and his father. A special supplement offering the land for sale was issued with the November 1884 issue of Zion’s Watch Tower. By December, eight of the plots had been sold. There were forty plots on the list “of ten acres each, on Pinellas Peninsula, Hillsboro Co., Florida, donated to this Society’s funds and offered for sale at ten dollars per acre cash; or two years” time to settlers.” The supplement seems not to exist in any library or collection, but some detail is preserved in short announcements. The land seems to have been in the Disston and Pinellas areas.[45]

Additional plots were offered for sale late in 1885:

Some who engaged plots of the land donated to “Z.W.T. Tract Society” at Pinellas
(see Supplement), finding that circumstances do not favor their going, have donated the installments paid to the Fund and returned the land for sale. Besides this, another Brother interested in the truth, has donated to the Society near the other donated lands four ten-acre plots.

Thus it comes that we have about twelve plots now for sale. Of these four have small ponds, and would require some ditching, and can therefore be had at half price.[46]

[*] He means she could read print only, and that she could neither read nor write cursive, a not uncommon problem in that era.

[†] He refers to a small group centered on the magazine Our Rest and Signs of the Times, published in Chicago. Eventually that group and those associated with The World’s Hope would loosely affiliate. (See the article Larger Hope appearing in Manford’s New Monthly Magazine, June 1890, page 372.) Barbour and Thomas Wilson, the editor of Our Rest, knew each other. Barbour recommended a booklet published by Our Rest. They parted ways acrimoniously. An alternate title for the magazine was Our Rest: Devoted to the Subject of Christ's Second Coming and the Preparation of the Church for That Event.
H. V. Reed was associate editor in 1875. His role in all of this is unclear. Reed was later associated with Restitution magazine. (See F. W. Scott: Newspapers and Periodicals of Illinois: 1814-1879, Illinois State Historical Library, Springfield, 1910, page 124.)
C. H. Jones was the publisher of Our Rest; he is known to have published other Second Adventist works. Later Wilson was publisher and editor. Wilson looked to 1881 in ways similar to Barbour and Russell. He promoted pyramidology and had some Anglo - Israelite beliefs. (See Reviews, The International Standard, July 1885, page 281.) Thomas Wilson was Benjamin Wilson’s nephew.—Paul M. Hatch: Benjamin F. Wilson and The Emphatic Diaglott, an article first published in Restitution Herald and republished in The Herald of Christ's Kingdom, July/August, 1964.
[1] See example on page one of the August 1879 issue.
[2] Do You Want “Zion’s Watch Tower”? Zion’s Watch Tower, August 1879, page 2.
[3] Email dated October 24, 2008 from A. Whitby to B. W. Schulz
[4] Russell, C. T.: How Will Christ Come? Zion’s Watch Tower, August 1879, pages 2-3.
[5] Bro. G. W. Stetson, Zion’s Watch Tower, November 1879, page 2. The claim made by one later opponent of Russell and The Watchtower that Russell overstated attendance is patently false. The basis of that claim is that the Advent Christian Church was too small to hold anywhere near 1200 people. The funeral wasn’t held in the church.
[6] Letter from Jonas Wendell to Miles Grant as printed in The World’s Crisis, April 23, 1873.
[7] Loss and Gain, Zion’s Watch Tower, December 1879, page 7 (omitted from the reprints).
[8] Request of extra October issues: A Request, Zion’s Watch Tower, December 1879, page 7 (omitted from the reprints). Announcement of preaching services: Preaching, page 8.
[9] Thank You, Zion’s Watch Tower, January 1880, page 6. (Omitted from the reprints).
[10] Preaching, Zion’s Watch Tower, January 1880, page 8. (Omitted from the reprints).
[11] Bro. Paton’s Trip West, Zion’s Watch Tower, February 1880, page 8. This announcement is not included in the later reprints.
[12] An Offer to You, Zion’s Watch Tower, March 1880, page 7; Preaching Notice, page 8.
[13] Write at Once, Zion’s Watch Tower, May 1880, page 2.
[14] The Editor’s Eastern Trip, Zion’s Watch Tower, June 1880, page 8.
[15] View From the Tower, Zion’s Watch Tower, April 1882, page 1.
[16] 1880 Census and Mary Stiles Guild: The Styles Family in America, Joel Munsell’s Sons, Albany, New York, 1892, page 203.
[17] Easton, George: Travels in America, George S. Marr & Son, Glasgow, 1871, page 36.
[18] Start, Edwin H.: The City of Lynn, The New England Magazine, June 1891, page 517.
[19] “The Name of the Beast, Or the Number of his Name”, Zion’s Watch Tower, February 1882, page 9.
[20] Letter from S. I. Hickey to C. T. Russell reprinted in the article The Power of Truth, Zion’s Watch Tower, February 1889, pages 7-8.
[21] Paton, J. H.: The Editor’s Experience as a Publisher – Supplement to The World’s Hope, World’s Hope, February 1, 1890.
[22] “Day Dawn” or the Gospel in Type and Prophecy, Zion’s Watch Tower, April 1880, page 8.
[23] “The Day Dawn, or the Gospel in Type and Prophecy,” Zion’s Watch Tower, June 1880, page 8.
[24] A Student of Prophecy: The Kingdom and the Restoration; or, A Scriptural View of the Second Coming of Christ, Elliot Stock, London, 1882, page 145.
[25] Gray, James: Letters, Poems and Selected Prose Writings of David Gray, The Courier Company, Buffalo, New York, 1888, pages 166-168.
[26] Not Until November, Zion’s Watch Tower, October 1880, page 7.
[27] The New Tracts, Zion’s Watch Tower, December 1880, page 8.
[28] The format is noted in The Tract Work, Zion’s Watch Tower, October/November 1881, page 5.
[29] Russell, C. T.: Lay up for Yourselves Treasures, Zion’s Watch Tower, February 1881, page 2.
[30] Tract Supplement No. 1, Zion’s Watch Tower, January 1881, page 8
[31] Supplement No. 2, Zion’s Watch Tower, February 1881, page 8.
[32] See the entry: Conley, William Henry, The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Supplement 1 James T. White & Company, New York, 1910, page 73. There is another George W. Conley resident in Allegheny County who died January 13, 1851. This individual was married to Margaret Lowry.
[33] The obituary is reprinted in the preface to the Kregal Press edition of Theocratic Kingdom.
[34] Engle, William H.: Pennsylvania Genealogies: Scotch-Irish and German, Lane S. Hart, Harrisburg, 1886, page 459.
[35] See Peter’s comments in Theocratic Kingdom, volume 3, page 268.
[36] Wilson, James Grant and John Fiske: Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Volume 4, D. Appleton and Company, New York, Revised Edition, 1900, page 741, says that Peters’ Theocratic Kingdom was “a work of thirty years’ labor.” From this we can derive the date for the start of his research.
[37] Appendix to Swineford's History of the Lake Superior Iron District, Being a Review of its Mines and Furnaces for 1872, Mining Journal Office, Marquette, 1872, page 68. Date Riter established firm: George H. Thurston: Pittsburgh and Allegheny in the Centennial Year, A.A. Anderson & Son, Pittsburgh, 1876, page 183. Riter is listed as a coppersmith in the 1860 Pittsburgh directory.
[38] Conley, William Henry, The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Supplement 1 James T. White & Company, New York, 1910, page 73.
[39] Tract Supplement No. 5, Zion’s Watch Tower, May 1881, page 8.
[40] “Cast not Away Therefore Your Confidence,” Zion’s Watch Tower, February 1881, page 5.
[41] View from the Tower, Zion’s Watch Tower, August 1883, page 2.
[42] Concerning Tracts, Zion’s Watch Tower, July/August 1881, page 8.
[43] Boughton, L. D.: The Elements of Astrology, Published by the Author, New York, no date. See unnumbered pages at the end of the volume. A second edition was published in 1898, and still contains this matter in an appendix entitled The Opinion of the Press.
[44] Our New Year, Zion’s Watch Tower, July/August 1881, page 1.
[45] Florida Lands, Zion’s Watch Tower, January 1885, page 8; Z.W.T. Tract Society’s Florida Land, March 1885, page 4.
[46] Z.W.T.T. Society’s Florida Lands, Zion’s Watch Tower, September 1885, page 8.