Pastor Russell believed that the "nominal church" was "God's mouthpiece" "God's recognized channel of truth" In 1881 in the Watchtower he explained how he and others (maybe some of the 1st half of the overlapping generation) felt "at liberty to call God's children out of the nominal churches to a position of freedom and liberty" Based on the 2nd presence of Christ.
JW's know that the 2nd presence did not start in 1874. Those who thought it were mistaken. Like some of those same people who saw the fullfillment of Matthew 24:30 for many years only to realize again they were mistaken in the belief. The same ones (overlapping generation) who have clearly seen the composite sign now.
As God clearly hadn't rejected the "nominal church" because of there non acceptance of the 1874 seconding coming teaching? Do you think at that time lets say 1913 Pastor Russell was really an apostate?