Rutherford's wife, why the info blackout?

by VM44 64 Replies latest jw friends

  • ohiocowboy

    Mary and Joseph were married in 1890. Malcolm was born Nov. 10, 1892. Can we find Malcolms' wifes name and when they were married? It appears that her last name was Brinkerhoff? It seems that Paul Rutherford, Malcolms son, was born Aug. 26, 1915, and died Sep. 20, 1992 in Riverside, CA.

    Heck, who needs to read a book about them, when we can all pitch in together doing research about the family???!!!

  • Leolaia

    ohiocowboy....Yup, this is what I found in the California Death Index:


    Mother's maiden name is given as Fetzer. The SS Death Index, which I think is what you also looked at, is what gives his residence as Arcadia, Los Angeles, CA.

    According to the 1920 census, we find Malcolm Rutherford living in Los Angeles with his wife, Pauline Rutherford. No children are listed. Both Malcolm and Pauline were born in Missouri, with Malcolm's age being 26 (estimated date of birth given as <1893>) and Pauline's age being 23 (thus born in 1897). Thus there appears to be a little discrepency here between Malcolm's actual age and what is given here. The profession of Malcolm is stated as "attorney". The 1930 census is also very interesting. His address was 6246 Drexell St., Los Angeles, CA, and at the residence we find listed both Malcolm C. Rutherford and Pauline S. Rutherford. The value of their home was stated as $12,500, and Malcolm's age was 37 and Pauline's age was given as 33. That would give a date of birth for Malcolm in 1892-1893. Malcolm's age at first marriage was 25, and Pauline's age was 21. That would mean that Malcolm was married in 1917-1918. That would not fit with the date that Malcolm's son Paul was born (in 1915), unless this is a different Malcolm Rutherford or unless Paul was born out of wedlock (!). Also, there is no child listed at this address, and if Paul was born in 1915, he would only be 15 years old at the time of the 1930 census. So I wonder if the information about Paul is accurate. The census also lists Malcolm and Pauline as born in Missouri, and it gives Malcolm's occupation as a clerk at the Superior Court.

    I know there was another totally different "Malcolm Rutherford" living in Los Angeles at the time. This individual was 31 years old (considerably younger than the Judge's kid), and was born in Wyoming. I don't know if perhaps "Paul Rutherford" was related to him.

  • Leolaia

    Here is the listing on Paul Rutherford in the California Death Index:


    Next, I checked the 1930 census and lo and behold I found a "Paul H. Rutherford" who was born in 1915, living in Santa Barbara, CA. He was 14 at the time. His father was Stephen Rutherford, Jr. who was born in California (of Scottish parents), and his mother was Verde Rutherford, who was born in Texas. Clearly, this is a different Rutherford.

    Thus we can pretty much rule out "Paul Rutherford" as a grandson of JF Rutherford.

  • Leolaia

    As mentioned in an earlier post, the 1880 census lists the entire Rutherford family at the time as:

    • James Rutherford, father, aged 43
    • Lanora Rutherford, mother, aged 37
    • Virginia Rutherford, daughter, aged 20 (employed as school teacher)
    • Anna Rutherford, daughter, aged 19
    • Salena Rutherford, daughter, aged 17
    • William Rutherford, son, aged 15
    • Florence Rutherford, daughter, aged 13
    • Joseph Rutherford, son, aged 11
    • Berkie Rutherford, son, aged 4

    Now according to a article (, Joseph was born on 8 November 1869 and the booklet Rutherford Exposed, written in 1937, presented the following information on Rutherford's family:

    His parents, according to the Catholic priest Rev Richard Felix who lived in the same Missouri county and wrote the booklet Rutherford Exposed (Our Faith Press, Pilot Grove, MO) were "honest, hardworked, respected" people. They were James Calvin Rutherford and Lenora Strickland Rutherford who lived nearly fifty years on a small farm 3 ½ miles north of Versailles. Ironically, given the later anti-democratic ploys of their son Joseph, they were active in a church less than a mile from the farm which was called the Freedom Baptist Church. The father died July 11, 1912. Rutherford's mother died October 9, 1926. There is no indication whether either parent left the Baptists and in fact both were buried in a small cemetery near their church. His mother was a pensioned blind invalid the last three years of her life and Rutherford preached at her funeral.

    Rutherford had seven siblings. His oldest brother was W.P. Rutherford who died in the West, possibly California, a few years before Felix's book was printed in 1937. Sisters who were deceased at that time were Mrs Flora Chism, Mrs Lena McDaniels and Mrs Anna Neville. Mrs Ella Newkirk of Tipton and Mrs Virginia Ross of Versailles were then alive as was a younger brother, James B. Rutherford who then lived in Kansas City. The Proclaimers history mentions that Rutherford's wife Mary died on or about December 17, 1962 in California where Rutherford sometimes wintered at the Beth Sarim mansion. A surviving son was Malcolm. He or more likely a descendant of his with a similar name may still be alive though not on the West Coast. Mary was a practising JW but no indication is given that Malcolm was.

    This matches pretty well with the census data:

    • James Calvin Rutherford, father = James Rutherford
    • Lenora Strickland Rutherford, mother = Lanora Rutherford
    • W. P. Rutherford, oldest brother = William Rutherford
    • Mrs. Flora Chism = Florence Rutherford
    • Mrs. Lena McDaniels = Salena Rutherford
    • Mrs. Anna Neville = Anna Rutherford
    • Mrs. Ella Newkirk = not mentioned, born after 1880?
    • Mrs. Virginia Ross = Virginia Rutherford
    • James B. Rutherford, younger brother = Berkie Rutherford

    That should make tracing Rutherford's siblings pretty straightforward.

  • VM44

    Hi amac,

    Can you say where you got this information from?

    The information is on the web, put "Rutherford Judge Four Days" into Google and you will get many results. I believe AlanF and Farkel have also posted about it here at JWD.

    There is also a booklet reprinted you can get from Witness Inc. specifically on the topic of Rutherford's 4-Day judgeship:

    #R13 JUDGE "FOR 4 DAYS" RUTHERFORD: Edward L. Curran (1940). Exposing the history of former Watchtower president and founder of the modern JWs, Joseph F. Rutherford. Was he really a "judge"? A look at the $-making Watchtower Society. Many strange biblical interpretations
    analyzed. Much information on Rutherford's tactics of hate toward non-JWs. $1.95.

    Witness Inc also has the "Rutherford Uncovered(Exposed)" booklet from which Leolaia, through, obtained confirming information about Rutherford's family.

    #R14 RUTHERFORD UNCOVERED: Richard Felix (1937). Felix lived in the same county in which J.F. Rutherford practiced law before becoming a Russellite. Rare details on Rutherford's law career and his family. Exposes Rutherford's illegal and unethical actions as a private attorney including
    his twice being fined for contempt of court! Information on the infamous sedition trial (#286 Rutherford v. the U.S.). $1.95.

    These booklets are listed in the Witness Inc online catalog at:


  • Athanasius

    According to the January 1, 1892 Boonville (Missouri) Weekly Advertiser Joseph F. Rutherford married Mary Fetzer on December 30, 1892. The ceremony was performed at the home of the bride's mother by Reverend Gauss of the Presbyterian Church. The November 11, 1892 Advertiser reports that Joe's son Malcolm was born on November 10, 1892. According to Joe, Malcolm's first words were "Hurrah for Cleveland." Grover Cleveland had just been elected President of the United States on November 8, 1892 and Joe had taken an active part in the campaign.

    Mary Fetzer Rutherford had an older brother named Fred who was present at their mother's funeral in February 1895.

    To my knowledge Malcolm Rutherford didn't have any children.

  • Leolaia

    That's great information. Do you have any idea where the middle initial "M" came from in Mary's name? In the California Death Index and the 1930 census, she is listed as "Mary M. Rutherford".

  • simplesally

    I attended the Sierra Madre hall, the Temple City hall, too..........Monrovia was quite close. Our pioneer meetings were held at the Monrovia hall. I was told that Sister Rutherford didn't like New York because of the cold and heat........she was ill all the time and preferred California. That was the only scoop I heard.

  • Mary

    I didn't even know the stinking ol' goat WAS married!! This is literally the first time I've heard of it........sounds to me like they were probably unofficially separated (as divorce back then was still very "scandalous").

  • JT

    This is why i just love The NET "THANG"

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