To answer questions and reply to comments:
1. Schulz and de Vienne say they're about half done with book 2 in their history series. Book two concentrates on the years 1870-1887, though there is a strong backwards look into Russell antecedents and his Age to Come and Adventist and Literalist influences. I've seen most of their chapter on Storrs, Stetson, Wendell, et. al. Stunning. Things you will not have seen or will not know, all documented from original sources that include Stetson’s personal letters which still exist.
2. They have a public and private blog. Some of what is on the private blog spills over to the public blog. The private blog consists of long extracts, sometimes full chapters, from their research. It is unwise to post one's work-in-progress to an open blog. There are copyright issues, plagiarism issues, and one must consider that further research changes things. I've seen their research amend earlier posts. Dr. de Vienne pointed me to someone else's "history" post that copied something Mr. Schulz wrote years ago and posted on the internet. They now know this is wrong. Yet, the person who claims to have the best short history of the Watchtower copied it entire without checking.
3. The public blog is http://truthhistory.blogspot.com/ . It is open to everyone.
4. The principal donors in the first year (1881) of Zion's Watch Tower Tract Society are known. A document dated to that year contains the amounts donated and the signatures of the original donors. I cited the amounts earlier. Their chapter on financing the work contains a photo of the signatures with the amounts noted. You will have to wait for publication. I was roundly scolded for posting from the closed blog. Someone sent Dr. de Vienne a link to this discussion. She was kind but adamant. I will not repeat the mistake.
5. The facts will not dissuade a true believer. Questions about Russell and the Masons and “Illuminati” will persist no matter how plain the evidence is that there is no connection.
6. There are, however, surprising connections. They’re just not scandalous. Usually. Conley involved himself in the faith-cure (faith healing) movement and on the recommendation of Whitesides (Christian and Missionary Alliance) hired a C&ME clergyman to run his faith-cure home. This clergy man liked to kiss the girls as a spiritual experience. More than kiss them. It was a huge scandal, but it did not touch Russell.
7. S and de V. also found a diary entry from a well known female evangelist detailing Russell’s attempt to get her to go to lunch. No scandal though. They found a comment by a well-known Methodist clergyman explaining his attempts to comfort Russell over the hell-fire doctrine.
8. Lastly, you’re welcome. Watchtower history interests me. I’ve never seen anything as good as what Schulz and de Vienne write. The Proclaimers book looks shallow next to their research. They take to task, usually in a fairly polite way, both opposition writers and Watchtower writers, pointing out errors. I’ve truly enjoyed reading their sometimes snarky comments.