Rutherford Exposed: The Story of Berta and Bonnie

by Farkel 739 Replies latest watchtower scandals

  • Scott77

    Thank you Farkel. I will keep reading this thread over and over again. Iam surprised, some of the history of Watchtower is shrouded in secrecy. But thanks to the internet, everythings will be uncovered. As a young boy, I read several accounts of Rutherford as portrayed by the WT, how he died on the train from a preaching tour, his missionary tour to England, Millions now living will never die, etc. Little did I know he was a drunkard and a womanizer.


  • aligot ripounsous
    aligot ripounsous


    Unless I'm mistaken, C.T. Russell died on a train, Rutherford died in Beth Sarim.

  • Leolaia

    I have one new little tidbit. Beth Sarim was built in 1929 but I have already had various indications that Rutherford had been wintering in San Diego some time before this. The question is when this happened. I have previously provided evidence that Mary Rutherford lived in Monrovia at least since 1923 and that Rutherford probably lived there with his wife while he sought treatment at the Pottenger Sanatorium. Just before this, Rutherford was under the care of John Wesley Coolidge in Los Angeles (back in 1919 and 1920), who prescribed the radium belt as treatment for Rutherford's lung ailment. The failure of this treatment was probably followed by the hypothesized treatment at the Pottenger Sanatorium, which was followed in turn by Rutherford's treatment in San Diego by chiropractor Alta Graham Eckols. So when did Rutherford come under Eckols' care? The only clear indication of this is the presence of Eckols abord the S. S. Ile de France which departed Plymouth, England, on 9/22/1927 with Bonnie Boyd and Robert J. Martin aboard. So this suggests that this had occurred by 1927 at the latest. I now found definite evidence of Rutherford spending time in San Diego as early as May 1927.

    *** g27 5/4 p. 500 A Righteous Nation ***

    [Radiocast from Station KFSD, San Diego, Calif., by Judge Rutherford.]

    THE great Creator has favored San Diego and Southern California above many other parts of the earth. It has been my privilege to see a great deal of the earth and its people. After spending some time here I am delighted with the environment. Here are had the majestic mountains, the broad and fertile valleys, the mighty ocean, scenery of unsurpassed beauty, and a climate that is almost ideal.

    I wonder where Rutherford actually stayed when he was in San Diego two years before Beth Sarim was built?

  • Leolaia

    Aha, and here is further confirmation that Rutherford still lived with his wife Mary in Monrovia in 1923:

    "With street car transportation swamped, with roads and thoroughfares choked with traffic and hundreds and thousands of people coming from points as far as San Diego to hear the famous lecture, 'Armageddon,' given by Judge Rutherford, president of the International Bible Students' Association at the Coliseum, Exposition Park, Sunday afternoon, a new record was established in Los Angeles for attendance at a public gathering.... Because he left an intensive lecture campaign to fill the Los Angeles engagement, the judge will retire to his country home at Monrovia, where he will rest a few weeks before his next European venture" ("35,000 People Hear Rutherford Lecture 'Armageddon At Hand' ", The Lewiston Daily Sun, 9/23/1923, p. 2) [link]

  • Leolaia

    I just checked and I see that there is a new ship passenger record for Bonnie Boyd and Joseph Rutherford. The manifest for the S. S. Mariposa departing Los Angeles, California on 4/4/1935 bound for Honolulu, Hawaii lists them as passengers in first class. The interesting thing here is that Bonnie gives her age as 32 and Rutherford gives his age as 65 (more than twice her age). This is the same age that she gave when departing Honolulu on the S. S. Lurline. So this shows that the age she gave then (corresponding to a date of birth in 1902, six years later than her actual DOB) was not random but corresponds to what she had claimed in her inbound trip. Perhaps she used the same form of identification in both? This would then be the first instance of a claim of birth in 1902; she would again claim a 7/17/1902 DOB in 1937 when she went on the S. S. Saint Elena. And it would be later in 1937 when she bumped her DOB up further to 7/17/1904 (which she probably maintained for the rest of her life, as it given in the SSDI and presumably is on her death certificate). I am still mystified as to why Bonnie claimed at least seven different DOBs. Why???

  • Black Sheep
    Black Sheep

    According to

    "Rutherford had purchased the Monrovia home around 1915, when he had moved to California to see after the WatchTower Society's west coast operations."

  • Leolaia

    Thanks for that, this is very interesting. Here is a fuller quote from that source:

    RUTHERFORD ESTATE ET AL v. CITY OF SAN DIEGO ET AL. Joseph Franklin Rutherford finally succombed to a long battle with rectal cancer on January 8, 1942. Even in death, Judge Rutherford managed one last attempt to bully non-JWs and the government. In all likelihood, Judge Rutherford intentionally set the stage for his final legal battle. Rutherford was an experienced attorney who started his career as a small town Missouri lawyer handling routine small town matters, and wound up his career handling cases involving interpretations of the U.S. Constitution before the Supreme Court of the United States. Thus, there was no reason why Rutherford should have specified that his corpse be buried at a location which was not approved for burials, unless Rutherford wanted to be certain that his demise would be celebrated in a courtroom.

    Judge Rutherford died at his 100 acre southern California estate located in the hills outside San Diego. The 5100 square foot mansion, named "Beth-Sarim", or, "House of Princes", had been built for Rutherford by some of his wealthy followers, in the late 1920s, after he was no longer welcome at the home of his wife, Mary Malcolm Rutherford, in Monrovia, California (north of Los Angeles). Rutherford had purchased the Monrovia home around 1915, when he had moved to California to see after the WatchTower Society's west coast operations. After Rutherford became President of the WatchTower Society, he spent time in Monrovia whenever he traveled to the west coast on WatchTower business. However, by the late 1920s, Rutherford apparently had become completely estranged from his wife, and even his only child, Malcolm Rutherford (born 1892), who lived not far from his mother. Malcolm Rutherford had been a "Bethelite", who prior to Rutherford becoming President of the WatchTower Society, had worked intimately with both his father and Charles Taze Russell in WatchTower activities.

    If what this says is accurate, then it would imply that the move to Monrovia had nothing to do with the Pottenger Sanatorium. But there are some big problems here that make me suspect that the source has confused two separate residences. As one can see in my data dump on the previous page, Mary Rutherford did not live in Monrovia (at 160 N. Primrose Avenue, Monrovia, Los Angeles, California) in 1920; she lived at 128 N. Eastlake Avenue, Los Angeles, California. And it is at this address where Malcolm "lived not far from his mother," as Malcolm's address in 1920 was 124 N. Eastlake Avenue, Los Angeles, California. The Eastlake Avenue address is found in Malcolm's 1917 draft card, the 1920 census, and the California Voter Registration Index for 1924 and 1926. It was then that Malcolm moved, not to Monrovia, but to 6246 Drexel Avenue, Los Angeles, California, as stated in the 1928 index and the 1930 census. Later Malcolm moved again, to 2207 Laverna Avenue, Los Angeles, California (whereas he was living in Arcadia, California decades later when he died). There is no indication that Malcolm had a separate home in Monrovia. Mary, meanwhile, had her home on Eastlake Avenue in Los Angeles before moving to Monrovia. Since Malcolm was living on Eastlake Avenue as early as 1917, this suggests that it was the Eastlake home that was purchased in 1915, not the Primrose one in Monrovia.

    Then later Mary's address was given as 159 Stedman Place, Monrovia, California. This is actually an adjoining property to the Primrose home and according to VM44 the house there was built in 1935. It is possible that Malcolm moved there next to his mom at that time in the mid-1930s, and that is what the source means by saying that Malcolm "lived not far from his mother". But this is already a time far removed from the situation in the mid-1910s, where Malcolm lived near his mom in Los Angeles, and the late 1920s when Malcolm lived in Los Angeles and Mary lived in Monrovia (the Primrose home is located 12.8 miles away from the Eastlake address where Malcolm lived before c. 1928 and 25.8 miles away from the Drexel Avenue home where Malcolm lived from 1928 onward).

  • Lady Lee
    Lady Lee


    it was common for women to lie about their age. It was rarely spoken of. What surprises me is that she did it on paper

  • Leolaia

    Here is further confirmation. From Zillow:

    According to Zillow, the Primrose home was built in 1922. So it hadn't even been built yet when Rutherford moved to California in 1915. This date however fits really well with the newspaper article in 1923 indicating that Rutherford was living there at the time.

  • Leolaia

    Lady Lee.....I may indeed lie about my age in a casual face-to-face encounter but I wouldn't go around putting a false DOB in my government-issued passport or other forms of ID. And even if I were to do that, it would make no sense to keep changing my DOB or have several forms of identification with different DOBs. It's just plain weird. My dad btw started claiming a false DOB in the 1960s to get out of paying income taxes, and then he got stuck with it when he got married and it was put into his marriage papers. And then when he died, it almost got put into his death certificate if it hadn't been for my mom insisting that the date was wrong. This kind of reminds me of the situation with Bonnie having a false DOB in the SSDI and presumably on her death certificate. It's fishy. And weird. And it reminds me of the age falsification that Rutherford promoted with respect to Rose Ball (aimed at making her too young for Pastor Russell to have taken an improper interest in) in his Great Battle in the Ecclesiastical Heavens. Bonnie ended up shaving a whole decade off her age when she claimed in 1942 that she has been continuously with Rutherford since the young age of 16; this implies that she came to Bethel in 1912 when in reality she came to Bethel at Van Amburgh's invitation in 1923. This was while claiming that she was Rutherford's adopted daughter (sounds similar to Russell's statement about Rose Ball being an orphan: "The girl who sat on my knee and who kissed me was an adopted daughter in short dresses"). It's uncanny.

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