Tuesday, March 31, 2015

First few paragraphs. Rough Draft only ...

Conley, Faith Cure and Money


            While the prophetic failures of 1881 precipitated division, they were not the prime cause. Paton’s deflection centered on declining influence and a return to his universalist belief. From the beginning, he and Russell were separated by their beliefs, and separation was inevitable. Jones sought in rejection of key portions of the Bible an excuse for behaviors few Christians would accept. William Conley’s slow, painful withdrawl from Watch Tower association dates to the same year, but there is no evidence to suggest it was related to failed prophetic expectations. Russell connected it to status and finance:


The nearest we ever came to asking money from any convinced us that such a course is wholly contrary to the Lord's will. That instance was in 1881, when over a million copies of “Food for Thinking Christians” were published and circulated. We then remembered a Brother, who was well-to-do, and who had repeatedly shown a deep interest in the cause, and who had said to us, “Brother R____, whenever you see something good, something specially calculated to spread the light and needing money, something in which you intend to invest, let me know of it – count me in on all such enterprises;” and we merely laid the matter before him, explaining the plan and the amount of money that could be used, without making any direct request. The Brother gave liberally, yet apparently the offering brought him only a partial blessing. And, perhaps from fear that we would call further opportunities to his notice, and from a lack of full appreciation of our motives in the matter or of the light in which we regarded it (as a favor toward him to let him know of the opportunity), that Brother has gone backward and lost much of his former interest. How much the above circumstance had to do with his decline of interest we know not, but it doubly strengthened and guarded us on a point on which we were already well settled, namely, that no direct and personal appeals should be made to any in our Lord's name. All the gold and silver is his. He neither begged nor commissioned any to beg for him.[1]


            This is an obvious reference to Conley. We should note that Russell continues to call him ‘brother’ in 1890, revealing a continuing relastionship he did not have with Barbour, Paton or Jones. But as a brother, Conley had taken a step backwards. Russell saw Conley’s four thousand dollar donation to the tract work as liberal and speculated that fear of further calls on his wealth caused Conley to withdraw.      

Evidence suggests that Russell mistook the nature of Conley’s “deep interest.” Conley supported many religious causes, including those whose beliefs differed from his own. He gave room in his home for Paton to lecture, but in 1894 he wrote to Russell saying: “As to myself, you an rely on one thing; viz.; All report stating that I deny the ransom are aboslutely false. The no-ransom people may talk, but they ‘have nothing in me.’”[2] Conley advertised in Jones Day Star, but we think it was recoup money owed to Conley & Ritter, rather than as support for Jones’ later views. The Conleys supported alternative religious movements in various ways out of a sense of ‘doing good.’

Russell is correct when he suggests that Conley did not appreciate his motives. Conley was a religious gad fly. He did not share many of Russell’s beliefs. He was not committed to an urgent last days’ message. While Russell was divesting himself of commercial interests, Conley was cultivating his. The Allegheny belivers were diverse, and Conley’s last religious belief suggests he retained his millennialist Lutheran beliefs throughout the years he associated with Russell.[3] What united them was a belief in the nearness of final judgment. They were not united in most basic doctrine, and when they were their emphasis was different. Much of Conley’s drift away from Zion’s Watch Tower is due to this shift in emphasis.


Faith Cure


            The faith cure movement as expressed in this era come to America from Germany and Switzerland, but it took on a distinctivly American flavor. Russell encountered it at least by 1878 when me met Jenny Smith at the New York City Prophetic Conference. As you will recall from volume one of this work, Smith believed herself cured by faith. Russell was interested, if not in her personally, at least in her claims. Other Watch Tower associates were interested too, and the topic was discussed in The Watch Tower.

[1]              C. T. Russell: Where Does the Money Come From? Zion’s Watch Tower, January 1890, page 2.
[2]              W. H. Conley to Russell found in the July 11, 1894, issue of Zion’s Watch Tower, page 176.
[3]              This is a good place to review volume one, pages -.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Who Was That Masked Man?

by Jerome

Diary of A J Eychaner, reproduced by kind permission of Jan Stilson

First my apologies for the reference to The Lone Ranger. It gives away my age somewhat. But it’s a way of raising an important question on identity in a given situation.

At the head of this article is a most interesting historical document. It is two pages from the diary of A J Eychaner from 1895. As a later hand has indicated with comments and highlighter, Eychaner talks of C T Russell speaking at a conference at Marshalltown, held over August 15-25, 1895. This was the Church of God’s Iowa State Conference for that year. Andrew James Eychaner (1842-1936) was a long time preacher for the Church of God – a combination of congregations that used such names as Abrahamic Faith/One Faith/Age to Come. They were eventually united as the Church of God General Conference in 1921.

Charles Taze Russell (hereafter referred to as CTR) had connections with this group in the early days. Because they would often fellowship with Advent Christians on a local level (before the latter body became an official denomination) this has muddied the waters somewhat about the little fellowship CTR first met with at Quincy Hall in Allegheny. The Church of God’s main paper, The Restitution, advertised Barbour’s Three Worlds book, and CTR’s first independent work, Object and Manner of Our Lord’s Return, was given away with this paper in 1877. These connections are discussed at length in Separate Identity Volume 1, and also past articles on this blog such as Charles Taze Russell and the Restitution, and 1874-75 Allegheny-Pittsburgh – Adventist or Age to Come?

It would appear from the diary above that, although ZWT was well-established by 1895 and the Watch Tower movement was achieving its “separate identity”, CTR still appeared on a Church of God platform. This matter was discussed on the closed blog about four years ago, when the accuracy of the diary entries was questioned. (For any who are gluttons for punishment and want all the references and do not have access to the closed blog, by all means feel free to contact me back-channel).

But reviewing the basics of the argument, there appeared to be conflicting evidence for whether it really was our Charles Russell who appeared on the same platform as A J Eychaner.

There were two main reasons for raising questions.

First, when The Restitution advertised the conference, it billed a C W Russell as the supporting speaker, and he too was a Charles. Charles W Russell was a regular assistant to Eychaner at this time. He moved to Iowa from Chicago and received his teaching certificate in July 1894. Over the next year, his name was regularly linked with Eychaner’s in tent work. Years later, in 1912 he was still preaching for the Church of God.

So it would be logical for C W Russell to appear at the Marshalltown conference. People would be expecting him, not CTR. Hence he is clearly billed in The Restitution for August 7, 1895, which gives the complete conference program with speakers.

Second, relations between our CTR and the Church of God had soured considerably by this time. CTR’s writings had attracted severe criticism as Restitution readers were warned about him. Some of the choice epithets he’d already garnered by this time included  “blinded by his own invention,” “abominable trickery,” “want of faith,” “lead away from God,” “deceive,” “false prophet,” “fraud,” “folly” and “poison.” The fact that ZWT adherents had targeted Church of God believers with tract work (see The Restitution for December 5, 1894 for example) left the latter singularly unimpressed. Which at least raises the question - would CTR really have been invited to share a Church of God platform for over a week? And had he done so, would he really (as the diary relates) have accepted a dollar for expenses?

Having raised these questions, I believe that had CTR been invited, he would have accepted. He was keen to share his beliefs wherever he could. He would get involved in well-publicized debates with clergy of the day – although a debate with two clearly defined opposing viewpoints was a little different to being invited as a guest speaker. But with strong attacks on his theology in The Restitution, would such an invitation still be given at this late date? And assuming it had been, how would that be received when news got out? Restitution readers were more than capable of complaining when anything less than the truth as they saw it was preached to them. But in extant copies of the paper, there is silence.

And yet one cannot escape the fact that the diary clearly states it was C T Russell who attended and spoke. And a diary has to be a primary source – of more probative value than a newspaper.

When I wrote on this subject four years ago I was – I admit – a tad dogmatic. When deciding to re-use this material for a new article, I decided it was more reasonable to now leave the question open. So really, this article was to be a cautionary tale on how historians are often faced with conflicting information. It still is. We don’t have literal observers to talk to. And even if we had, you would probably still have to deal with conflicting accounts given in all honesty by eyewitnesses. So a researcher has to make a judgment. And however much one might argue as above, you cannot get away from it – Andrew Eychaner sat down in the closing decade of the 19th century, dipped his pen in the ink, and wrote down C T Russell. Three times. The diary is a primary source.

And that would have been how the article ended.


But then quite remarkably, after nearly 120 years, in a moment of serendipity, further evidence has come to light. Eychaner wrote a report on what he had accomplished in the year 1895-96. It may even have been intended for publication in The Restitution – but sadly that file is incomplete. But his original handwritten report has survived. No doubt he used his personal diary notes as source material at some points. And below is reproduced the relevant page from this report in Andrew Eychaner’s own hand.

Report of A J Eychaner, used courtesy of Jan Stilson from material donated by Lois Cline, great niece of A J Eychaner

A transcript reads:

As your evangelist for the past year I submit to you the following report of work done, money received and amounts paid out in necessary expenses.

From Aug 15 to 25 I was with you in the conference at Marshalltown. I came on the 14th and brother Prinner arrived on the 15th. We found much to do in order that the conference might have a pleasant meeting. There was a lot to secure, water to arrange for with the city and ground to clean, tents to set up, and other necessary things to do. On Friday Aug 16 Brethren began to arrive and the meeting began at 8 o’cl. by brother C W Russell preaching the introductory sermon. During the meeting I helped along as I could in preaching 5 sermons and taking part in social meetings, Bible readings and business meetings. I think it was the best time we...    (last line indistinct)

So no matter what he wrote in his diary, when it came to an official report, we are back with C W Russell.

A J Eychaner’s account paints an entertaining and rather touching picture of those days. He didn’t just preach, he organised water, he put up tents, he dealt with the wind and the rain, he coped with local thieves who stole from his tent, and straight after the conference in question he mentions C W Russell again:

On Thurs Sep 5 I went to Lanark to assist in the conference of the State of Illinois, and again left C.W. Russell in charge of the tent. That eve there came up a severe storm and altho Bro Russell did all he could yet the wind damaged the tent considerable. I spoke six times at Lanark and preached one funeral discourse at Union church, returning to Laurens (?) and the tent Mond Sep 7, after an absence of only 4 days. Spoke on the life eternal through Jesus. That night thieves entered my tent and stole two chairs.

Later the conference made provision to fund this same Brother Russell for evangelistic services for the next six months.

So what do we have here? Three different sources and a conflict of information.

To review:

First, from The Restitution for August 7, 1895, page 2. This was the advertisement to get readers to attend. It was obviously the same conference that Eychaner described in his diary, even though there were some changes between the planning and the reality. (It appears that some billed speakers didn’t show, and those who were there had to fill in for them). Note that the first day of sermons was to be Friday August 16th, and C W Russell was billed to give a sermon.

However, when Eychaner wrote his diary, it now became C T Russell giving the sermon on Friday, August 16th.

But later when he wrote up his full official report, it reverted to C W Russell giving the opening sermon on Friday, August 16th.

CWR to CTR and then back to CWR again. What explanation can there be for this discrepancy?

I can only think of two possibilities. The first is deliberate misdirection. CWR was advertised, but CTR switched places with him. Then A J Eychaner put in his official report that it was CWR. And hoped that no-one would blow the whistle on the substitution.

Personally, I would find that hard to believe, if for no other reason that Eychaner was an honorable man. He might have been a bit of maverick at times, but that very point means that if he’d wanted to do something controversial, he would have stuck to his guns. He wouldn’t have falsified records to cover it up.

The other possibility is what we might call, for want of a better expression, a Freudian slip. The name of CTR wasn’t foreign to Eychaner – he had previously written about him in The Restitution.

We have all made such slips. Where I live there is someone who we shall call Debbie Richards. A relative of mine must have been influenced by Singing in the Rain, because the first time he met her he called her Debbie Reynolds. And for the last dozen years of his life, he couldn’t shake this – his synapses insisted that she was Debbie Reynolds – I mean Richards – and that was it. Had he written a diary, I am sure the error would have been there.

An historian who has examined the original diary in the archives of Atlanta Bible College has commented that the ink seems to indicate that it probably wasn’t a diary written day by day, but rather this whole page was likely written out in one go – maybe from other notes. So one slip writing CTR could easily be repeated on the same page.

If readers can suggest further possibilities, then please do so in the comment trail.

So in conclusion - does it really matter? We know there were links between CTR and the Age to Come movement in the early days. We know they became strained as CTR’s theology developed and ultimately were broken. The Restitution even promoted a book by W H Wilson (nephew of Benjamin) entitled Cunningly Devised Fables of Russellism.

It is just a matter of timing.

Perhaps the main point is the original intent of this article – which is that you cannot even automatically rely on a diary. Normally it would have trumped a current newspaper account hands down. But some readers may feel that a carefully thought-out report in the same hand can then trump a diary. We are all human, we all make mistakes. We don’t expect people to pore over our words and rough notes as if they were Holy Writ over a century later. 

Caveat lector – let the reader beware.

Personal comments by Jan Stilson, Church of God historian and author

The question of whether or not C.T. Russell was a guest preacher at the Iowa Church of God Conference in August, 1895, seems to have been settled once and for all when papers furnished to me, a Church of God historian and author (J. Turner Stilson. Biographical Encyclopedia: Chronicling the History of the Church of God Abrahamic Faith ISBN 0-615-46561-6), finally came to light.

An elderly local member, a great niece of A.J. Eychaner, had donated a box of historic papers prior to her death in 2014. With my husband’s illness and other pressing matters, I had set them aside for later review. As the question of Elder Eychaner’s mysterious diary entries re-emerged, I sat down one day to review the issue. Something had fallen out of a file folder next to the chair. In reaching for it I realized it was a hand written report of Eychaner to the Iowa Church of God Conference amazingly dated 1895-96. In these pages Eychaner several times had clearly written the name of Bro. C.W. Russell (of Chicago) who had been hired as evangelist for 6 mos.

How Eychaner managed to write “C.T. Russell” in his diary and “C.W. Russell” in his report, remains a mystery. Perhaps we can chalk it up to a lapse of memory, a “senior moment”, or some other lapse on Eychaner’s part. Jerome has said that discovery of the conclusive evidence at this particular time was “serendipity”, but perhaps it was more than that. Perhaps the Lord himself wanted this question settled, and made it so. The matter of unusual or conflicting facts is a major problem for historians working from scant or scattered documents. Even editors in The Restitution and The Restitution Herald, the Church of God’s succeeding title, could not agree on spelling of pastor’s and reader’s names from issue to issue. One might see “Uncle John Foor” in one issue and “Foore” in the next. And if John Foore named his son John Foore, well, the problems of determining which generation was being discussed were often serious. So, such an error on Eychaner’s part can perhaps be forgiven by historians. It certainly has made for an interesting dialogue. Thank you to all scholars for pursuing the matter. – Jan Stilson, Oregon, IL.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Conley again ...

We're trying to follow W. H. Conley's path into faith cure. We can document his attendance at two faith cure meetings in the early 1880s and one in the 1890s. We don't need more documentation on That issue for the 1890s, but we need much for documentation for his adventures in faith healing in the 1880s. I've looked everywhere I know to look. Anyone else?

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

A disappointment

As one or two associates may know, I have been trying to obtain the 1886 year of AD Jones’ Day Star from the Library of Congress. Visitors to the library have previously been daunted by the surviving volume being off site, and by the time it could be retrieved they were on a plane to somewhere else.
The result of correspondence to and fro since last December resulted in the volume being looked at closely, and the following was the gist of the final message:
There is no possibility of microfilming pages so large. However, they could be digitized at 300 dpi, with a page-turner, and loaded up onto the Library of Congress site, but at the moment, there is a huge queue of material waiting for this treatment, plus a big gap in the budget, so digitizing fragile materials is proceeding very slowly apace. In the meantime these volumes are boxed in an acid-free box, and, apart from being looked at for the query they are stored flat in a map cabinet and are in cold storage.
The message ended:
You could try writing again in about three or four years.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Chart of the Ages

This is a canvas chart of the ages, printed for 'chart talks.' We have to sell it to help pay medical bills. So I'm posting this photo so you can see it before it goes away.
28 x 19 inches

Sunday, March 8, 2015

We need to know ...

If the W. H. Conley who shared business interests with Rockefeller was 'our' W. H. Conley. Anyone?

Tuesday, March 3, 2015


It is probably not fruitful to ask, but we need the details of the ...

Faith Cure Convention, held in Pittsburgh's Third Presbyterian Church, November 24-25, 1885. A. B. Simpson attended and (we think) so did W. H. Conley.


Monday, March 2, 2015


We need help establishing a connectin between Dr. G. D. Bruce of Pittsburgh and W. H. Conley. Our sole connection so far is a stay in a Philadelphia hotel on the same date. We think there is a larger connection. Can you help?

We need to establish when Conley met A. B. Simpson.

Blog content

This is in response to a comment on Jerome’s article. 

The research mantle has not fallen on Jerome. If Bruce and I  were for some reason to end our project, we would take this blog down. Bruce remains in active control of our project. We continue to write and research, though none of the recent results are solid enough to appear here. 

Jerome follows his own interests. He is free to post what ever he wants as long as it’s relevant to early Watch Tower history.  

Presumptions are ‘iffy” and most often wrong.

Three sisters

 by Jerome

Important note: Grateful thanks are due to correspondent Bernhard who supplied some of the information below. Regrettably I am not able to give references in support of some dates, but I have no reason whatsoever to doubt the accuracy of the information.

The title “Three Sisters” may bring to mind a famous play by Anton Chekhov, likely inspired by the three Brontë sisters, Charlotte, Emily and Anne.

However, this article is going to briefly consider three who were classed as sisters within the framework of the ZWT fellowship. They all had something remarkable in common – they all served as directors of Zion’s Watch Tower Tract Society (from 1894 the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society) during the time of CTR’s presidency.

If this concept is a surprise to modern readers, there are two facts about those early days that must be recognized. First, women had a much more public role in the Society’s affairs in those days. CTR’s wife, Maria, for example was an associate editor of the Watch Tower for a number of years. (See Proclaimers book footnote, page 645).

And second, it must be realized that the role of directors in those early days was mainly figurative. In A Conspiracy Exposed (pages 55-60) CTR explained that for legal reasons they needed directors, but it was always understood that matters were so arranged to allow him (along with Maria at that time) to retain control. There was no annual meeting, and elections, such as they were, took place on the first Saturday of each New Year. Hence J B Adamson in that same document complained that as a director he never made a decision. Later, Maria in the separation hearing testimony, made a similar comment about her role as secretary-treasurer. Directors would include some of CTR’s contacts in Pittsburgh and Allegheny, and in many cases, those who were on hand by living in or at least working in the Bible House. But they didn’t “direct” – they were just names on paper. As time went on, a number of members of the Pittsburgh Bible House family (and later Brooklyn Bethel family) simply stepped in and filled gaps as directors – often for quite brief times – under the administration of CTR.

So, our three “sisters” who were directors?

The first female director, was of course, Maria Russell herself. Maria Frances Ackley was born in 1850.
She married CTR in 1879 and later that year worked with him as the fledgling ZWT magazine was launched. Her sister Emma married CTR’s father, Joseph, the following year, 1880.

In 1881 Zion’s Watch Tower Tract Society was formed with William Conley as president, Joseph L Russell as vice president and CTR as secretary-treasurer. On Monday, December 15, 1884 this society was legally incorporated in Pittsburgh. Maria became a director and an officer of the new incorporated Society – as secretary-treasurer. On paper this meant that she replaced CTR who had previously held that position, but who now became president of the new official arrangement.

Maria remained as secretary-treasurer in name until the annual meeting on January 5, 1895. Although no longer an officer, she remained on the books as a director until February 12, 1900 when she resigned. She was replaced by either Albert E Williamson or Clara Taylor (two new directors were required at this election).

Her subsequent history is quite easy to trace. The contemporary newspaper St Paul Enterprise in its Memorial number when CTR died gives an account of her in the funeral cortege. She later moved to Florida with her sister, Emma, and died in St Petersburg, Florida, in 1938. There is some biographical material for her on the Find a Grave site, under Maria F Ackley Russell.

The second female director was also a Vice-President of the Society for a very short time. This was Rose Ball Henninges. Early census returns list her as Rosa (rather than Rose) J Ball - but no-one seems to know what the J stood for. She and her brother, Charles, came to Pittsburgh. Charles died in March 1889 and Rose became part of the Russell household and then Bible House family. She is included in many group photographs of the day, along with a young man named Ernest Charles Henninges, whom she would marry in 1897. (He too would be a director at one point).

A young Rose Ball sitting in a group photo with her future husband Ernest Henninges in 1893.

Rose became a director on April 11, 1892. Two directors were replaced on that date, William I Mann and Joseph F Smith, so she replaced one of them. On January 7, 1893, Rose became Vice-President for a year, until the next year’s elections on January 6, 1894. After that she remained as a director until she resigned on February 12, 1900 (the same official date as for Maria Russell). As noted above, she was then replaced by either Albert E Williamson or Clara Taylor. 

A few years after her marriage to Ernest Henninges, Rose and Ernest travelled abroad to further the cause. They spent some time in Britain (you can find them in the 1901 UK census) and then Germany, before eventually travelling to Australia. They spent the rest of their lives there. A split occurred between them and CTR over the understanding of “the New Covenant” and they founded their own journal in 1909, which ran until 1953. Charles died in 1939, and Rose in 1950. She was survived by two sisters still living in America, Miss Lilian Ball of Buffalo, NY, and Mrs Daisy Mabee of Paterson, NJ.

As already mentioned in passing, the third female director was Clara Taylor. Clara became a director on February 12, 1900. On this date both Maria F Russell and Rose J Ball (now Henninges) resigned, so Clara replaced one of them. As already noted, the other replacement director appointed that day was Albert E Williamson.

Clara served as a director for less than a year. At the next election on the first Saturday of the New Year, January 5, 1901, she resigned and was replaced by William E Van Amburgh. He would become one of the longest serving directors in the Society's history. (Only Milton Henschel, Lyman Swingle and Frederick Franz would serve for longer).

Clara is featured in some group photographs of the Bible House family in the first decade of the 20th century. Below is a selection from a photograph showing the mailing room c. 1907.

Clara in the Bible House mailing room c. 1907

All we know at present about Clara Taylor comes from the separation hearing Russell v. Russell from 1906.  She was called as a witness to support the testimony of J A Bohnet, and was both examined and cross examined in the case.

Her testimony shows that she was working at Bible House in 1897 before Maria Russell left for Chicago to stay with her brother, Lemuel. CTR had been called away from home and telephoned Ernest Henninges (misspelled Hennings in the transcript) to ask if could arrange for someone to stay over at Bible House so that Maria would not be left on her own. (Most workers lodged outside the building). Clara was asked and agreed, but was then told by Henninges that she no longer needed to do this because Maria had told him via the internal speaking tube that she’d made her own arrangements.  That was the sum of her testimony. But it showed that Clara worked at Bible House in 1897 before Maria left. A passing comment indicated that she had not been there the previous year, 1896. She was also still working there in 1906. And crucially for subsequent attempts to trace her, she was addressed several times as Miss Clara Taylor. So she was single at the time.

When the headquarters moved to Brooklyn in 1909, Clara apparently didn’t go. Or at least, she is not in the census returns from 1910 onwards. Whether that was due to the New Covenant controversy, or just a matter of geography and family, is not known. She may well have married, in which case the surname Taylor would disappear, making tracing her subsequent movements somewhat problematic.

So Clara remains a bit of mystery, even though she spent around ten years working at the headquarters, and was one of the three sisters who became directors of the Society in the CTR era.

More details on the unsuccessful search can be found in the comment trail.