Rutherford Exposed: The Story of Berta and Bonnie (redux)

by Leolaia 119 Replies latest watchtower scandals

  • Gamaliel


    You said:

    "It appears that William Pratt Heath, Sr. (1875-1950), vice president of qualifty control at Coca-Cola, was the source of the "Direct Contribution" for Judge Rutherford's house, Beth Sarim."

    I think there is still some question about whether the donation came from Dr. Eckols or Heath, or whether the former only dealt with the property and the latter only with the building of the house. They both show up as involved. Thanks for all your research here and on other threads including: (Beth Sarim Deeds and Transfers)

    You also asked: "Beth Sarim cost $25,000, what was it that motivated Heath Sr. to donate such a large sum?"

    Before Rutherford's religion, Russell's religion had been attracting a much more sophisticated crowd - and Rutherford couldn't be too quick to demonize Russell's old teachings or he could lose their support. In any case, these followers were very anxious to believe that the world had ended, that millions now living would never die. The seeds of Beth Sarim started only one year after their riches were supposed to turn to rust. 1925 had been more clearly spelled out in Scripture than 1914, according to Rutherford.

    A quick, speculative "follow-the-money" exercise might reveal something else, whether it was Heath or Eckols might be immaterial:

    Remember that the check-signer for the Society from 1918 (and into the early 1920's) was MacMillan. (Faith on the March, 94) He says about the Society: "Yet when it is necessary they will spend thousands of dollars for equipment and millions for new buildings to expand the preaching program. In doing all this, Jehovah's witnesses have always managed to pay as they go." (Faith on the March, 208)

    But in 1926 something unexpected happened, that appears to be in contrast to the usual pay as you go. It happened because of the method of collecting for a new building. Keep in mind that the Watchtower publications don't admit that Martin, factory manager, was involved in the property deal as early as 1926. The Watchtower always refers to the year 1929, when Martin made the arrangements. But the records show Martin's dealings with Rutherford's San Diego doctor (A. Eckols) for the property as early as October 1, 1926. And 1926 was the year that the Watchtower Society admits to being flooded with too much money.

    Here are some excerpts from the next few pages of MacMillan's book, pages 208-210:

    ------------------- THE PEOPLE BRING MORE THAN ENOUGH

    There is an interesting story in that connection I'd like to tell you. It has to do with building our first factory at 117 Adams Street in Brooklyn. ... This was in 1926. It was going to cost a substantial sum of money, so Martin, the factory manager, and I got together and talked it over. We went to Rutherford and said, "Brother Rutherford, if you would issue notes at a reasonable interest and offer them to our own people you'll get all that is necessary to build the factory and it would be in the family." "Oh," he said, "if I set out something like that in The Watch Tower, that would cause a furor, it would disrupt the organization. They'd say, Look at them now, they've started in begging."

    "But you wouldn't be soliciting or asking for contributions. Just a loan. Why don't you do this? Put a little supplement in there, not as a regular part of the Tower. Tell the friends all about it, what the money's for and how it will be used, and I'll guarantee you that in no time at all there will be sufficient funds to build that factory, because everybody in the truth that's devoted to Jehovah is as interested in it as we are and I think it will thrill them to think they can have some part in it."

    Well, Rutherford didn't say much after that but he became quite serious and thought about it. Sure enough, he did issue that special edition of the Watch Tower and sent it out. I left on a trip about that time and got back in five or six weeks. Rutherford came to me with a very serious look on his face, and said, "Brother, you were so sure that a few weeks after the Tower would get out with that special notice in it that there would be enough funds come in here to build the factory. Here it's been six or eight weeks and just a few little dribbles have come in." "Brother Rutherford, you haven't been out amongst our people as I have. The friends have their money in savings banks or hidden away in a glass jar under the cellar stairs or in the rafters of the barn — who knows where it is? Give them a little time. They'll think it over — it will be two or three months before it will begin to come in. Now I'm going away on another trip and I'll be back in about two months, and if there's not enough in here then to build that factory, I'll take you out and get you the finest chicken dinner we can get in Brooklyn." (He always did like chicken.) "And if there is enough in there, then Brother Martin and I will be looking for that chicken as your treat."

    I left on my next speaking trip then and came back in eight weeks. I met Rutherford in the hallway and I said, "Well, Brother Rutherford, how are the subscriptions for loans coming in?"

    "Oversubscribed — had to send some back."

    "Well," I said, "I have a thousand dollars in my pocket that's been offered."

    "Send it back, we don't need it." And we certainly didn't; we had more than enough.

    Instead of borrowing money from a bank, we had borrowed it from our own people and the Society gave them a note at the regular rate of interest, although many of Jehovah's witnesses waived the interest. It was understood by those receiving notes that they could request their money in full at any time if they might unexpectedly have need for it. These received their money at once and the rest were paid off as the regular voluntary contributions made it possible. Before the notes had matured, all had been settled.

  • jehovahsheep

    i repented when i committed adultry-and was dfd and will be destroyed at the big a.joey boy got to enjoy it and now is sitting with jesus in heaven.

  • jehovahsheep

    jesus said with what judgement you judge you will be according to wts doctrine -mr.judge rutherford-you sinned against gods holy are not in heaven-you have suffered the second are far the least in the kingdom of the heavens.

  • jaydee

    Absolutely magnificent thread

  • AndersonsInfo

    About Beth-Sarim: I read on this thread that I supposedly said that Beth-Sarim was paid for by Wm. Heath, Sr. I have no direct knowledge of who paid for that home, but some of the suggestions offered on this thread seem logical to me.

    However, I do know for a fact that Wm. Heath, Sr. paid for Beth-Shan. Around 1990, Joe and I were watching an old film Joe Lubeck (an older Bethelite who at one time was caretaker of Beth-Shan), was showing the Bethel family. In the film we saw a man, identified by Lubeck as being Wm. Heath, Sr., walking with Rutherford on the Beth-Shan property and it was then that Joe Lubeck said this is the man who paid for the construction of Beth-Shan. Lubeck said that Wm Heath, Sr. was never associated with JWs, but that his wife was a Witness and he admired Rutherford very much. Lubeck identified Heath, Sr. as being a founder of Coca Cola. As I've told others privately, no one in the Bethel family even knew about the existance of Beth-Shan (maybe Franz did but he was in the Bethel Infirmary and out of his mind), so Lubeck's information was a shocker and there was lots of conversation in the Writing Dept. the next day about Beth-Shan. Wm. Heath, Jr. and his wife, Bonnie, lived at Beth-Shan. The original deed shows that Heath, Jr. purchased the property in 1939, so it's conceivable that Heath, Sr. provided the money for a place his son and wife would live at because his son did not have an income and could not afford to build a home himself.

    A few years later, Heath, Jr. argued before the San Diego Planning Commission that the property could not be sold because it was held in trust for the ancient witnesses, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob et al., yet there is a deed conveying this property from Wm. Heath, Jr. and his wife Bonnie to new owners, dated 1945. See "Monuments to False Prophecy" by Edmond C. Gruss

    Also, because Heath, Jr. was the sole driver of the ONE Caddy which was parked in the Beth-Sarim garage, it was thought by some in the Writing Dept. that it was also purchased by Wm. Heath, Sr. for his son's use and to drive Rutherford around. I still stand by my statement that Heath, Jr. was a heavy drinker because that's what I was told by an old Bethelite now deceased, Arthur Worsley.

    There was definitely another expensive car that Rutherford had use of but it was parked at Bethel in Brooklyn, NY. In 1926, a "Brother Hilliard" of Hammond, Indiana contributed to the Society a Lincoln solely for Rutherford's use. It was said that the opposition outside Bethel made quite a fuss over this gift, but Rutherfor pointed out that "the brother directing the Polish work in Detroit had a limousine, but the President of the whole organization didn't even have a wheelbarrow." See subject: 1926 History Slides #38.


  • Leolaia

    Here is some info new to me about Mary Rutherford. Barbara Anderson hosts on her site an information sheet for a Bethel slide show done in 1974 and one of the slides was a photo of Joseph and Mary Rutherford. The information sheet states:

    "Rutherford and his wife. Sister Rutherford had fallen down two flights of stairs when she was 18 months old and as a result became an invalid in later life. Brother Rutherford carried her up and down the stairs on her last stay at Bethel for three months in 1920 but it was so hard on her that Brother Rutherford arranged a home for her in California. Rutherford's belief was that if he had not made these arrangements, Sister Rutherford would have died from the hard situation in Brooklyn."

  • Farkel

    I guess this will sound like sour grapes, but in re-reading this thread, I see all the kudos going to Leolaia who did in fact miraculously save the information from cyberspace and did in fact do a wonderful amount of investigation after this bombshell was revealed.

    However, comma, It was I who wrote the original bombshell article, and I who introduced this whole subject in the first place. I'm not even sure Jim Penton knew what I knew before I revealed what I knew.

    I'm a bit disappointed that Leolaia did not make that very obvious as it SHOULD be very obvious who it was who started this subject: me. Since I don't make any money for my work, it was even more disheartening. This whole Berta/Bonny thing has taken a life of it's own with Leolaia as its apparent heir or author getting all the raves.

    That is simply not the way it is. I don't want any raves per se, but I fairly resent raves going to someone who didn't break the original ground on this subject and who didn't do the original work on it. When larc first told me about this on the phone and interviewed Jan, his wife, I said to him "we have a bombshell here, Carl. I need to know everything I can know about it. He didn't think it was important. A little later after 10,000 or so views, he called me and said, "Doug, you were right. This IS a bombshell."

    I wrote that bombshell. Leolaia and other great researchers confirmed it. Let the credit for the bombshell go to the author of it, please.


  • watson

    Alllrighty then.

  • Leolaia

    Farkel, you absolutely deserve all the credit for exposing the information about Bonnie Boyd and Berta Peale, for writing THE essay on the subject which was very widely read throughout the net, and for getting the whole ball of research rolling. And you are right more kudos should have been directed your way since the thread was restarted. I should have been vigilant at noticing this, as I was anxious to highlight your original work when I began this thread and to credit you and larc for your revelations.

    Hence I am somewhat confused why you say this:

    I'm a bit disappointed that Leolaia did not make that very obvious as it SHOULD be very obvious who it was who started this subject: me.

    when in fact I said at the outset of the thread: "In September 2004, Farkel posted an article on this forum called 'Rutherford Exposed: The Story of Berta and Bonnie.' His essay, which subsequently was translated into several languages and which received over 10,000 views after the first month, spawned a thread that ran 28 pages and contained the collaborative research efforts of many in JWD."

    If this wasn't obvious enough, I regret not making it more obvious. I then laid out in bulleted format the many revelations that you made in your "Rutherford Exposed" essay:

  • A JWD poster named larc (Carl Thornton) is the nephew of a woman named Berta Peale who was a close associate of JF Rutherford from 1937 to his death in 1942. (Verified by public records that show that the Berta who was an associate of Rutherford was indeed larc's aunt)
  • Berta told larc's relatives regarding Rutherford: "He was like a husband to me in every way". (Unverified, but larc's wife also testifies to this)
  • Rutherford was married and had a son, but he was separated from his wife. (Verified by public records, which show that Rutherford and his wife lived separately from the mid-1920s onward)
  • larc reveals that Berta herself abandoned her husband of 15 years to go to Bethel in 1938. Her husband Alfred Peale, a resident of Ohio, filed for divorce on the grounds of abandonment, which was granted in 1940 (Berta's marriage to Alfred is verified with public records, larc had a copy of the paperwork from Alfred's filing)
  • Berta was a friend of Rutherford's personal secretary Bonnie Boyd who travelled with Bonnie and Rutherford to Europe the summer before 1938. (Verified with actual ship records) Unlike nearly everyone else who came to Bethel, Berta started at the top.
  • Berta lived thereafter with Rutherford as his personal dietician, despite not having any training in nutrition. Rutherford already had a qualified dietician at Bethel, yet Berta assumed this job quickly after arriving to Bethel in 1938 (Verified with data from the Moyle trial transcript and public records)
  • A few months before Berta came to Bethel, Bonnie Boyd married William Heath, a Coca-Cola heir from Atlanta, GA. This was very controversial at Bethel at the time, as it broke rules on marriage with non-Bethelites (Verified with public records and the Moyle trial transcript)
  • Prior to Berta's arrival to Bethel, Bonnie had been one of Rutherford's closest associates, working for many years as his private secretary. Bonnie publically claimed to have been Rutherford's adopted daughter, even though she was not. (Verified with public records)
  • Farkel points out the following similarities between Berta and Bonnie: (1) Both women were among to "closest" people to Rutherford while he was president, (2) Both women were constant traveling and living companions, (3) Both women broke the organization's rules on marriage but were in Rutherford's good graces, and among other things, (4) Both were quickly propelled to the top of the organization.
  • Finally, there are a few other unverified stories that add to the suspicion of Rutherford's infidelity. Farkel reported an account, previously posted by AlanF, that once when Rutherford was staying at a hotel, the person who straightened up his room found a lady's hairpin in his bed. According to AlanF, this occurred in 1928 and the incident led to the stumbling of a number of Bible Students in the Buffalo, New York, area. Both claim that M. James Penton has been doing research on this incident. Moreover another poster, cyberguy, was friends with an elder from Long Beach, CA who knew Berta. He related that Berta had a bedroom adjoining Rutherford's in the train car they used in their travels, with a directly connecting door between the two rooms. He learned this when Berta met with the elders before she died and gave them a full confession, showing them home movies of the two of them together.
  • All of that I properly credited to you via your original article. And I referred to them as your revelations. In other words, facts that were first revealed in your article. I did not claim to be responsible for them myself, and that should have been obvious anyway because I then went on to critique them on the basis of what was subsequently learned. Finally, when I reposted the essay, I said explicitly that this was "Farkel's original 'Rutherford Exposed' essay". Again, I apologize if I could have stated this more plainly.

    now that would be a bombshell - LEOLAIA guilty of academic plagiarism

    stilla...I can't believe you said this!! I must reiterate that I did not take credit for Farkel's work, and I definitely poured a lot of original research into what I posted in this thread -- while at the same time highlighting the collaborative effort that has thus far transpired. BTW, I think most of the kudos on the first pages of this thread were not crediting me for starting the discussion in the first place but for recovering a thread that had been feared lost (e.g. "Thank you Leolaia, for all the hard work in re-creating this important thread" // "Three cheers ... So nice that all was not lost of the original thread" // "You have done a great job in making this info available again." // "Thanks for the memories."). I hope those comments were warranted because it did take a lot of very tedious work to put that PDF together (and I did also thank everyone who sent me the data I used to compile the PDF). But Farkel has every right to be dismayed at not receiving the recognition that he is due. For all who have appreciated the "Berta and Bonnie" information, and those who have contributed to this thread, I think it would be a great idea to take a moment and tip your hat to the person who took the effort to publicize this information in the first place (as well as to our late friend larc who deserves as much credit).

  • jgnat

    I give credit to Leolaia that this bombshell did not get buried in the dust of obscurity. What she so beautifully has done is apply a little scholarly rigor to history. What can be confirmed from what Farkel, larc and AlanF have claimed, she has confirmed.

    Which carries more weight; the claim or the confirmation?

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