Here again is a quote from Russell. This is from the supplement to the first issue of Zion's Watch Tower, July, 1879. I highlighted the portion that indicates that he had heard of the 1873 time proofs.
I have been a Bible student since I first had my attention called to the second coming of our Lord, by Jonas Wendel, a Second Advent Preacher, about 1869, who was then preaching the burning of the world as being due in 1873. But though he first awakened my interest on the subject, I was not a convert, either to the time he suggested nor to the events he predicted. I, in company with others in Pittsburgh, organized and maintained a bible class for the searching of the Scriptures, meeting every Sunday.
We reasoned that, if Christ's coming were to end probation, and bring irrevocable ruin upon ninety-nine in a hundred of mankind; then it could scarcely be considered desirable, neither could we pray with proper spirit, "Come, Lord Jesus, Come quickly!" We had rather request--much as we should "love his appearing"--that he remain away and our sufferings and trials continue so that "if by any means we might save some." Not only so, but great masses of scripture referring to the Millennial glory and teaching that "All nations which thou hast made shall come and worship before thee," &c., &c., would be left unfulfilled if at His coming there should be a wreck of matter and a crush of world.
We first saw Millennial glory--then the glorious work which is offered us as His Bride; that we are by faith the "seed of Abraham;" and as such, heirs of the promises, &c., in whom "all the families of the earth shall be blest." (`Gal. 3`.) This most certainly points to a probation in the future after He has come.
Thus, speedily, steadily and surely God led us to recognize the second coming of our Lord as being not the sunset of all hope to mankind, but the "rising of the Sun of Righteousness with healing in his wings."
The Lord gave us many helps in the study of His word, among whom stood prominently, our dearly beloved and aged brother, George Storrs, who, both by word and pen, gave us much assistance; but we ever sought not to be followers of men, however good or wise, but "Followers of God, as dear children." Thus growing in grace and knowledge for seven years, the year 1876 found us.
Up to this time we persistently ignored time and looked with pity upon Mr. Thurman's and Mr. Wendel's ideas. (The latter was preaching the same time as Bro. Barbour; viz: The burning of the world in 1873.) We regarded those ideas as unworthy of consideration, for though we believed the event "nigh even at the doors," yet we recognized the fact that the church will be withdrawn--translated--before there would be any open manifestation to the world, or, in other words, the two stages of Christ's second advent, viz: coming for his saints, and coming with all his saints.
About this time I received a copy of the "Herald of the Morning," Bro. B. was its publisher; I read with interest how he and others had been looking for (to use his own expression) "a bonfire"; how scriptural arguments pointed to the autumn of 1874 as the time it was due; how that as the disappointment connected therewith began to abate, he and others had re-examined the scriptural proofs that appeared to teach that the end of the world was due at the time supposed; how clear and firm all those proofs still seemed; etc.; how that then, they began to examine what was due to take place at the end, and found that instead of a bonfire, scripture taught that "The harvest is the end of the world" (or age), and that though the age ended, the earth remained and a new age unfolded in which "All the families of the earth shall be blest."
When I read the account I was deeply interested, and as I read on I saw that, if the arguments were true they proved that we had entered and were then in the harvest or end; and if in the harvest, Jesus was due to be here present. This was all reasonable enough for it was much what we had been expecting, and it linked time to our expectation in a harmonious and beautiful manner. My thought now was: Are there sufficient proofs of our being in the time of harvest? If so, this brother and I were in perfect harmony. The paper came in the morning, and I had read it and written to brother B. before noon. I examined more of the time proofs, and though not yet settled with reference to them, made arrangements with brothers B. and Paton to come to Philadelphia, where I was engaged at the time (1876), and hold some meetings, giving evidences, etc., of time, to which I listened with interest, and of the truth of which I felt convinced.