Most of us are reasonably familiar with reports of scandalous goings-on of that old jellyfish lecher, the founder of the Watchtower Cult, the one and only Charles Taze Russell.
But, are these stories true?
This thread is going to be devoted to his allegedly scurrilous activities. So, bookmark it, please, Bro' Focus is in possession of Noo Light, and we're going to explore Russell like you've never seen him explored before.
We're approaching his 100th Death Anniversary, and for all I know this virtual exhumation may lead to a real one. We know where the body lies.
Why bother, it is so long ago, do I hear?
Since Russell's the only reason God allegedly picked the Watchtower Society in the first place, rather than any of other Millenarian (and Millerismic - the link via Storrs is obvious) charismatic cults of the time, he merits close examination. Very close examination indeed!
Now, here's a picture of the fine man, apparently taken in October 1916 just a few days before he was taken from us:
Speculation that he was still, at 64, there spotted looking out for young talent would be just that - speculation. Even though it sure looks like he is. It has been conclusively proved that Rose Ball was no longer a child when she was first enfolded by Russell, so those charges of pedophilia levied against him were false. But by this time she (now Mrs Henninges) had not only been shipped off to Australia, far from the reaches of Mrs Russell's divorce lawyer, but had further splintered off from the Russellites altogether, to start her own scam. She'd learnt from the Master.
And I'm sure Mr Menta Sturgeon, his secretary and escort, who was evidently in love with Russell (swooning over CTR's "blue eyes" as he did - written proof available) would have had none of it.
During our exploration of the morals and ethics of the good "Pastor", you are going to become familiar with "his" local paper, the BROOKLYN DAILY EAGLE.
This newspaper had more than a warm relationship with Russell - it was a positively hot one!
We move to a hitherto unreported (online) and apparently unnoticed account from 1911 of a scam Russell pulled - it took years to come out.
Here's the cleaned-up press cutting (followed by the searchable text):
BROOKLYN DAILY EAGLE
SUNDAY NOVEMBER 5, 1911.
PASTOR RUSSELL A CLEVER FINANCIER
Duped Prominent Pittsburg Clergymen Into Supporting Cemetery Scheme.
HIS "DUMMY" TRANSACTIONS.
Ministers Didn't Know They Were "Boosting" Deal of Man They Opposed.
(Special to The Eagle)
Pittsburg, November 4 - That "Pastor" Russell succeeded in getting the four leading clergymen of Pittsburg, including the Episcopal bishop of this diocese and the Rev. S. Edward Young, now pastor of the Bedford Presbyterian Church of Brooklyn, to lend their names and influence to further the financial prosperity of a cemetery which he controls, is shown by some hitherto unpublished records on file in this city.
The story of this cemetery deal involves a variety of dummy transactions that would do credit to a Wall Street banking expert.
So cleverly did Russell manipulate the deal that the Rev. Cortland Whitehead the venerable Episcopal bishop of this diocese; the late Rev. Dr. B. F. Woodburn, for forty years a lender of the Baptist clergy here; the Rev. S. Edward Young, the leading clergyman of the Presbyterian Church, and the Rev. J. W. Witherspoon, the leading minister of the United Presbyterian Church, which is probably the most powerful church organizatlon of this city, all of whom were bitterly opposed to Russell's teaching and methods, accepted the position of trustees on the Russell cemetery board before they found out that they had been duped.
The "Pastor" Sees a Good Chance for a Cemetery.
"Pastor" Russell, who has always been counted as a good judge of Pittsburg real estate, a few years ago discovered a plot of ground lying along the old Ruysville road, which is a continuation of Federal street just beyond the city limits, that appealed to him as admirably adapted for cemetery purposes. He figured that there was a good opening for a cemetery in Pittsburg and was looking for a suitable plot of ground to get one started.
The property was purchased for $27,000 by Brother W. E. Van Ambergh [SIC], who was a railroad man in the South before he became a Russell Pilgrim and assumed the important duties of treasurer of the Peoples Pulpit Association, which is one of the big Russell corporations. Van Ambergh is now one of the big financial men in the Brooklyn headquarters.
Van Ambergh was pretty well known in Pittsburg as a Russell satellite, so it was not deemed advisable for him to hold title to the property. Morever, Van Ambergh is one of those who are supposed to be serving the "Cause" for $10 a month and expenses, and it might have occasioned surprise to find him the possessor of a $27,000 piece of property. At any rate Van Ambergh, very shortly after acquiring the property, sold it for $30,000 to the United States Investment Company.
Courts Declared Transfers of Russell to Be Frauds.
This Investment company is a dummy corporation to which "Pastor" Russell transferred a lot of oil stocks, mining stocks and other property at about the time his wife was trying to collect the alimony awarded to her by the courts. Some of transfers which "Pastor" Russell made at this time, were made, the courts declared, "in fraud upon his wife." Although it at one time held property worth more than $50,000. this company is capitalized for only $1,000. Of this total "Pastor" Russell holds $990. Brother Bohnet, of Miracle Wheat fame, holds $5 and Brother Ernest C. Henninges (who married Rose Ball and departed with her for Australia shortly before Mrs. Russell's suit for separation came to trial, owns the remaining $5.
It is from the United States Investment Company that the Rosemount, Mount Hope end Evergreen United Cemeteries bought the land, which thus lost all direct association with "Pastor" Russell's name. Through some of his friends and followers "Pastor" Russell had persuaded the four eminent Pittsburg divines to lend their names to the cemetery project. In some way not clearly explained this cemetery was supposed to benefit poor people. On April 18, 1905, the Rosemount, Mount Hope and Evergreen United Cemeteries was incorporated under the laws of Pennsylvania by the following: John G. F. Kuehn, John G. Messner, J. H. Giesey, C J. Woodworth and J. Adam Bohnet, all Russellites. The original board of trustees included John G. F. Kuehn, John G. Messner, J. H Giesey, C. J. Woodworth. C. T. Russell, W. W. Giffen, H. A. Guepner, William M. Wright, Francis Winton and the four Pittsburg clergymen to whom reference has been made - Bishop Cortland Whitehead, the Rev. S. Edward Young, Dr. B. F. Woodburn and the Rev. J. W. Witherspoon.
So far as can be learned, the four reverend men did not attend any of the meetings of the board of trustees, which were held at the Russell headquarters, in the Bible House, on Arch street, Alleghany. If they had, they might have learned that, by virtue of a secret agreement, duly filed in the proper recording office in Pittsburg, although its text is known only to the real insiders, the United States Investment Company retains an important measure of control over the property it sold to the Cemeteries Corporation. The agreement carefully prescribes what the Cemeteries Corporation may do with the property, and forbids its sale without the consent or the United States Investment Company.
''Treasurer and President" Was Only a Figurehead.
J. G. Messner, an insurance agent, with an office at 324 Fourth avenue, who was president of the board of trustees, says that he himself knew precious little about the business.
"Russell told me to act as treasurer and president of the board of trustees," he said to an Eagle representative who questioned him about his connection with the cemetery deal.
The business was all done somewhere else. Then one day Russell telephoned to me: 'Messner,' he said. 'I know you're a busy man. I've got a girl in the office here who can handle the money for the Cemeteries. Just send me a check for what money you have on hand, and I'll take care of the business from now on.' I sent him a check for several hundred dollars, which, for some reason, he kept on hand and didn't cash. I only learned of this later, when I got notice that the bank in which the money was deposited had failed."
Messner was asked what had become of the property.
"I believe it is being run by some of Russell's local representatives." he answered. "I understand they are selling a good many lots and doing quite a business. It has a beautiful location and probably was a good investment."
It was this cemetery deal which helped to open Messner s eyes to Russell's operations, and he severed his connection with the Russellites soon after it was put through.
Pastor Had No Idea Russell Was Connected With Scheme.
The Rev. S. Edward Young, pastor of the Bedford Presbyterian Church of this city, when shown the above dispatch at his home at 1035 Prospect place, wrote out the following statement:
"I recall that several years ago - probably seven or eight years - I was asked to serve as trustee of a new cemetery which had some such name as the Rosemount, Mount Hope and Evergreen United Cemeteries; that Bishop Whitehead of the Protestant Episcopal Church diocese of Pittsburgh, Dr Woodburn, pastor of the First Baptist Church, Alleghany, and other ministers and laymen well-known to me, were to be fellow trustees.
"Upon being persuaded in my own mind that the enterprise was hardly the sort of one I had been assured it would be, I served notice that my name should be dropped from the list of trustees. I never attended a meeting of the trustees or any meeting with anybody in connection with the matter, and really do not know what became of the enterprise, whether it took actual form and became operative or not. I put no money in it, had no stock in it, no promise of stock or other interest. The Eagle's dispatch is the first intimation I have had of Pastor Russell's relation to the properties."
Comments? AFAIK, this incident has never before been discussed on online JW forums. We can thank Z.O. Prominent Bethelite for the work.
RUSSELL REFERENCE: XFocusX001