North Side: Charles Taze Russell
Charles Taze Russell
BORN: 16 February 1852.(44)
DIED: 31 October 1916.(45)
BURIED: United Cemeteries near West View.(46)
John Wesley, Alexander Campbell, Charles T. Russell, three of the bravest, purest men of modern times and the three most severely persecuted and slandered. (47)
Jehovah's Witnesses, Center of Flag Rows, Born in Pittsburgh.
On a train that rumbled over a Texas prairie on a fall day in 1916 a gray-haired man collapsed of a heart attack.
To a group that gathered round him, he murmured:
"Please wrap me in a Roman toga."
Hurried orders brought a wide-eyed porter with a sheet snatched from a berth and careful hands folded it about the prostrate figure.
Then death rattled in the stricken man's throat and he was still.
Thus did Charles Taze Russell join his God in whose name he founded in Pittsburgh a religious sect that now numbers 2,500,000 members in all parts of the world.
In News for Refusing to Salute Flag.
Known as Jehovah's Witnesses, they are in the news today for their steadfast refusal to salute the American flag on the grounds that it is against their principles.
Pretty Grace Estep lost her job as a teacher in Canonsburg because, as a Witness, she would not salute. Her brother and sister were suspended from classes.
Similar episodes recently occurred in schools at Nemacolin and Brownsville.
Russell was born here in 1852, and attended the old Grant School in the Third Ward.
He later went to work in a haberdashery owned by his father, Joseph L. Russell, on Fifth Avenue near Smithfield Street.
Set Up Tabernacle.
An assiduous student of the Bible, he taught Sunday School at the Congregational Church on Ninth Street, near Penn Avenue, until around 1880 when, rebelling against the doctrine of eternal punishment, he set up a tabernacle of his own on the North Side.
Followers flocked to him. He organized the International Bible Students' Association and established the Zion Publishing Company, which printed his "Watch Tower" magazine, and sermons and tracts on the second coming of Christ, and other beliefs he incorporated in his religion.
Rose to Prominence.
Almost overnight he rose from store clerk to national prominence as a spiritual leader.
In 1909 his wife Marie Ackley Russell, whom he had married in 1879, sued him for divorce.
Russell appealed the court's decision, which granted the divorce, five times, but failed to have it reversed.
Shortly afterwards he gave up his home here and left the city.
Moves to Brooklyn.
Then to Brooklyn where, under the Brooklyn Bridge, he opened the Plymouth-Bethel Church to an enthusiastic throng of disciples.
His doctrines spread and crowds that flocked to hear him preach forced him to move to a larger building.
On a trip to Palestine a year later, he gave a number of speeches that proved a strong impetus to the Zion movement, then in its infancy there.
Accused by Paper.
Returning to Brooklyn, he ran into trouble when a newspaper there accused him of selling, at $60 a bushel, "miracle wheat," supposed to possess marvelous agricultural powers.
Russell sued the paper for $100,000. But in the midst of the litigation, which he later lost, he left the United States for a tour of the world, scattering the seeds of his religion as he traveled.
On his return to New York, he got a tremendous ovation from thousands of his followers who welcomed him at a mammoth mass metting in the Hippodrome.
Russell kept his headquarters in Brooklyn and in the course of organizing his church averaged 30,000 miles of travel yearly to his various pastorates.
The movement had spread all over the world by the time he died, and is now said to be flourishing in 38 countries.
Nazis Seize 1,000.
Judge Joseph F. Rutherford, of the Federal Circuit Court, Missouri, was elected head of a division of the sect after the leader's passing.
And though many of the original members refused to follow him, he became an outstanding leader in his own name, coining the phrase "Jehovah's Witnesses" for his followers.
More than 1,000 of the members are reported to be prisoners in German concentration camps for their refusal to say 'Heil Hitler' with the same persistence that marks the refusal of those in the United States to salute the flag. (48)
It was in 1914, after years of work, that he brought out the first motion picture epic, "The Photo-Drama of Creation." This amazing production, 15 years before the advent of other sound pictures, was a combination of movies and still pictures, synchronized with recorded lectures. In four parts, it ran a total of eight hours in length, and was viewed by some eight million people. (49)