Saturday, May 21, 2016

J F Rutherford's First Book


I didn’t realize, until I did a search, but I have actually posted something on this several years ago - J F Rutherford’s very first book. But having lost an hour of my life actually reading it earlier today, I decided to post again.

In 1895 the Boonville Advertiser, the official paper of Cooper County, gave away a free 128 page book entitled Laws of Missouri - Business Manual. The author and compiler was one J F Rutherford of the law firm of Wright and Rutherford.

The book is not dated as such, but one of the advertisements for the Cooper Institute announced that its 26th year of operation would begin on Tuesday, September 3, 1895, so we can reasonably assume that the volume came out earlier that year.

In the main, only the right hand pages contained text, the left hand pages contained full page advertisements for the various services available in a rural area. There are thirteen law firms in the area for example, but top of the list is Wright and Rutherford, with offices in the Windsor Block. There is a glowing endorsement of Rutherford in the Publisher’s Preface:

“THE ADVERTISER has had Mr J F Rutherford, one of the leading members of the Boonville bar, to compile and arrange the laws herein. His fitness for such work is a guarantee of its usefulness to the farmers and businessmen.”

The table of contents shows the scope of legal matters that Rutherford covered.

One might note such subjects as Conveyance of Real Estate, Divorce and Alimony, Mortgages and Deeds of Trust, and Wills are covered. Knowledge in some of these areas would make J F Rutherford very useful to CTR when he became the Watch Tower’s legal counsel.

Of course, there is nothing whatsoever theological in this volume; Rutherford’s first foray into scriptural interpretation would not come until 1907 with the publication of Man’s Salvation, from a Lawyer’s Viewpoint. But still, for completionists, this is a volume to obtain. As you can tell from the grainy opening picture, alas, I do not have an original.


roberto said...

Jerome, do you remember any other lawyers of the Watch Tower Movement of those years?

jerome said...

I have never researched this, but two come to mind. Francis McGee, because he was the lawyer who advised the four directors who were replaced by J F Rutherford in 1917, and Olin Moyle who became Society's legal counsel in the 1930s but who was already a Bible Student when admitted to the Bar in 1914.

Bernhard Brabenec said...

1906: J. Mc F.Carpenter
W. M. McJunkin
1907: Joseph F. Rutherford
1919: Jesse Fuller jr.
Fred Sparks
1937: Olin Richmond Moyle (-1939)
Martin Conboy
1938: Abraham J. Isserman
1939: William G. Fennell
R. W. Henderson
Joseph F. Rutherford (-1942)
Hayden C. Covington (-1969)

Donald Jacobs said...

Jerome, or anyone, do you have any idea why there was such a long period between Rutherford beginning to associate with BS and him getting baptised ? Was baptism less common then, did practice change, or did he just take a while to make up his mind ? Or some other reason I can't think of .

Anonymous said...

Is this booklet able to be downloaded complette 128 pages ?

jerome said...

For Donald

The long period between the first contact and Rutherford's baptism was explained in the December 15, 1916, Watch Tower. There are two editions, and the later printing gives a biography of Rutherford over the last two pages.

While he bought some books and wrote a letter to Zion’s Watch Tower in 1894, there is no indication in the biography that meetings of Bible Students were available locally. But “about fifteen years ago” (so 1901/1902) he met CTR for the first time. On one later occasion while entertaining CTR at the Midland Hotel, Kansas City, Missouri, CTR suggested he write something on the Divine Plan, from a lawyer’s viewpoint. The December 15, 1916, article says “Mr Rutherford was not then consecrated, not even understanding what it meant to consecrate one’s self wholly to the Lord.” During the vacation season of 1906 Rutherford worked on the book Man’s Salvation from a Lawyer’s Viewpoint, reportedly locking himself in his private office and keeping clients waiting in the reception room while he did this. To write the book he had to revisit all the available Studies in the Scriptures, and this convinced him to change his life. By 1907 he had virtually abandoned his law practice, apart from cases for “special friends” to “devote the major portion of his time to religious work.”

So it apparently took a while before he came to a decision, but once he did, he followed through on it.

For anonymous

I had a search but cannot find anywhere from where it is available as a download. I only have a photocopy and frankly cannot remember where it came from! It must be available in a record office somewhere, or the newspaper files of the paper that published it. But all it is, is as stated on the cover - a review of Missouri law for the layman.

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

You can, however, download this:

Miquel Angel Plaza-Navas said...

Interesting data about Rutherford. Thanks!!

Anonymous said...

If it were available, I'm not sure I could muster up enough enthusiasm to read the 'Laws of Missouri - Business Manual', whoever wrote it. However, Rutherford's 'Militarism – How will it be Forever Destroyed?' has real substance, especially in view of the stand that followed.

Thanks for an interesting blog article Rachael. Much appreciated as always.

Son of Ton

Donald Jacobs said...

Thanks Jerome interesting information.