The Death of a Cult Leader
The gaudy and ostentatiousness of the proceedings following the death of Charles Taze Russell is really interesting to look at. I can't decide if it is further proof of how much of a cult they were, even back then, or how much they are just like other religions, like the Catholics. Russell was like their Pope.
Charles Taze Russell fell ill from heart disease while traveling on a speaking circuit. After a doctor confirming he was indeed near death, Russell requested that he be wrapped in a toga (made from a bed sheet) and died at the age of 64 on Tuesday, October 31, 1916 while aboard a train traveling through Pampa, TX. His body traveled by train to Kansas City, where his body was embalmed. It was then taken by train, routed through Chicago to New York on November 3rd.
From the Watchtower, December 1, 1916:
When the body reached Chicago, a large number of friends had assembled at the station, and as it was necessary to transfer the casket from one depot to another, a long procession of automobiles bearing the sorrowing friends formed and followed through the city. The casket was opened during the delay here, and many took the last look at him whom they knew so well and loved so much. From Chicago the body was accompanied by a delegation, delegations from other cities joining en route to New York.
The remains reached the Bethel Home on Saturday, where they were viewed by the Family and by members of the Congregation. On Sunday morning they were removed to The Temple and lay in state until 10 o'clock in the evening. Thousands saw them here for the last time.
All day Saturday and Sunday representatives of congregations in many of the cities east of the Mississippi and in Canada arrived on almost every incoming train. The Temple was inadequate to accommodate them all. The lecture room below was opened for the overflow. Every inch of available space was occupied from the basement to and including the second balcony.
Elsewhere in THE WATCH TOWER will be found a full-page view of the floral display on the rostrum. It was the finest we have ever seen on such an occasion. The scene surpassed description. The rostrum of The Temple was so completely occupied by plants, ferns, flowers and a most wonderful collection of appropriate floral designs as to leave barely room enough for the speakers and the remains of our beloved Pastor. Moreover, the entire facing of every balcony and box was artistically decorated with a great variety of ferns and flowers.
At the foot of the casket was placed a broken pillar of flowers, fittingly representing that dear body which, like the Lord's body, had been broken in the service of the brethren; while at the head was a magnificent floral cross and crown, the cross symbolizing his share in the death of Christ, and the crown symbolizing the Crown of Glory, which we believe he now wears with our dear Lord in Heaven.
Picture that appeared in Watchtower, December 1, 1916. Russell's funeral at Russell Temple in Manhattan.
THREE funeral services for Charles Taze Russell were held at The Temple in New York City on Sunday, November 5, 1916, where 17 "brothers" spoke. His body was transported to Pennsylvania and ANOTHER funeral service was held at Carnegie Hall in Pittsburgh on Monday, November 6th.
The large auditorium of the Carnegie Library in Allegheny was packed at two o'clock the following afternoon, when the fourth part of the funeral services began under the direction of Dr. W.E. Spill, representing the Pittsburgh congregation. Love and deep interest were written upon every face in this vast audience also. Every available space on the platform was used to display the rich floral offerings of every description sent by Bible Students and friends from various sections of the country.
Russell's funeral inside Allegheny's Carnegie Hall: