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CHARLES TAZE RUSSELL DIVORCE
MARIA FRANCES RUSSELL
CHARLES TAZE RUSSELL
DIVORCE-SEPARATION COURT CASE (1903 - 1909)
VISITORS TO THIS WEBPAGE
immediately need to know that in building this page that -- like all of our other research webpages -- it is NOT our intent to waste your time by simply reproducing the same old material found on nearly every other webpage covering this topic, which is usually poorly edited and inaccurately interpreted. We believe that the "Rose Ball Affair"
has for decades overshadowed other important revelations that resulted from the Russell Divorce-Separation Case, thus we save that topic for the bottom half of this webpage. We begin this webpage by posting a series of sections which will take a look at the character of Charles Taze Russell -- THE HUSBAND
. Our goal is the same goal as on our FINANCIAL BIOGRAPHY OF CHARLES TAZE RUSSELL
WILL THE REAL "CHARLES TAZE RUSSELL" PLEASE STAND UP -- FINALLY!!!
"He believes that not a soul in the world can point to a single act of cruelty or unkindness or injustice or lovelessness on his part toward any of the human family, ... . ... the worldly have misunderstood, misinterpreted him, even as they did the Lord ... ." --- Charles Taze Russell writing about himself in the third-person in the very next issue of the WATCH TOWER magazine which followed the adverse 1906 Divorce Court decision in which a jury granted Maria Russell a legal separation on the grounds of "Cruelty".
The Russell Divorce-Separation Court Case was filed by Maria Russell in April 1903. The Russells, who had married in March 1879, already had been physically separated since November 1897. Maria Russell sought only to formalize the couple's informal marital separation status, plus obtain some financial support from her estranged husband. Maria Russell sought what was then legally termed "Divorce From Bed and Board - with Alimony". That was today's equivalent of a "Legal Separation". Maria Russell did NOT want, nor did she seek an "Absolute Divorce", which would have terminated the marriage.
Despite the fact that Charles Taze Russell had been the marital partner whom had initiated discussions of divorce -- starting back in 1895 -- when Maria Russell finally filed for legal separation 5 1/2 years after their actual separation, cult leader Charles Taze Russell fought Maria Russell every step of the way. In April 1906, a jury finally granted Maria Russell her full request. Charles Taze Russell appealed that 1906 Divorce-Separation decision, plus contested the award and later increase of alimony. In all, the Russells met in court five times from 1903 until 1909.
Even then, cult leader Charles Taze Russell's monstrous ego would not allow him to submit to the judgement of the court. Charles Taze Russell refused to pay the increase in alimony, plus refused to pay Maria Russell's court-ordered attorney fees and court costs. Charles Taze Russell even moved his business operations to Brooklyn, New York to escape the arms of the Pennsylvania courts and Maria Russell. Facing contempt proceedings and an outstanding arrest warrant, Charles Taze Russell sailed to Europe and left Judge Rutherford
behind to settle matters with Maria Russell and the Pennsylvania courts, so that he himself did not have to personally submit to anyone else's will or authority.
Today, it is said that a man can be judged by how he treats his pets. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, wives had only a few more legal rights than today's pets, so a wealthy man in Russell's day -- when wives were at the mercy of their husbands -- can very well be judged by how he treated his wife, even more so than in our day. Let's start our analysis of the WatchTower Society's one-time "Faithful and Discreet Slave" with the Trial Court decision, thereafter the 1908 Pennsylvania appellate court decision -- whose Appeal the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania denied in January 1909 -- and thereafter work our way back in time to what led up to such.
The Brooklyn Daily Eagle
November 18, 1911
Some Extracts From the Court Records That Indicate How "Pastor" Russell Regarded Marriage
One of the most interesting features of the Russell separation [law]suit was the testimony relative to "Pastor" Russell's ideas as to the relations of husband and wife. "Pastor" Russell's opinions on this relation were so unusual as to induce Judge Orlady of the Superior Court of Pennsylvania to say that he found it quite difficult to understand them; that "Pastor" Russell's standards in this respect must be radically different from those imposed by law.
The "Pastor's" opinions were expressed in conversations with his wife and in certain letters addressed to her, which figure in the testimony. On one occasion, according to her testimony, Mrs. Russell ventured to remark to her husband: "Even a dog has his rights." The "Pastor's" reply, as cited by his wife, was: "You have no rights that I am bound to respect."
When Mrs. Russell was ill, the "Pastor" explained to her what he thought caused the illness. The testimony of Mrs. Russell on that incident follows:
Q. Did [Taze] say anything to you that evening, or any other evening, while you were sick, as to what the cause of your illness was?
A. He said it was a Judgment on me from God.
Q. For what?
A. I wasn't in harmony with him.
Russell Conveyed Disquieting Message Through Rose Ball.
"Pastor" Russell's testimony as to this incident is interesting. He is on the stand under cross-examination by Attorney Portor:
Q. Did you or did you not tell [Maria] that her sickness was the Judgment of God upon her -- for her failure to obey you?
A. I did not.
Q. You didn't do that?
Q. Nothing of that kind?
A. No, sir. I did say some things like that.
Q. What did you say?
A. Miss Ball, who was her special friend, and who I knew would tell her -- I told [Miss Ball], in my opinion, this was a Judgment from the Lord on [Maria].
Q. And you intended Miss Ball to tell her that?
A. Yes, sir. I wished her to. I thought [Maria] ought to know it.
At this point in the examination, the [JUDGE] became interested and took up the examination.
Q. [JUDGE]. Was that the time she had erysipelas?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. [JUDGE] Did you believe that was the Judgment of the Almighty?
A. I think so.
Q. [JUDGE] Where did you get that authority?
A. Well, whether my judgment is good or not ...
Q. [JUDGE] It is just your own judgment?
A. Yes, sir.
Mrs. Russell Had Serious Relapse After Hearing of Husband's Views.
Rose Ball is the girl who, according to Mrs. Russell's testimony, was frequently kissed and fondled by the "Pastor." Mrs. Russell testified that when Rose Ball brought her this ["Judgment"] message from her husband, it caused her to have a serious relapse, which kept her confined to her bed for some time longer.
The testimony of "Pastor" Russell on this incident concluded with the following question and answer:
Q. That is your idea of good treatment?
A. That was my idea. I was treating the lady the very best; there couldn't have been a kinder treatment given to anybody in the world; and I know I couldn't say this to herself; she wouldn't take it from me; and I thought that it might prove beneficial to her; and I prayed at the time that this sickness might result to her advantage; and I hoped it would.
In the course of her testimony, Mrs. Russell also reported the following conversation as having taken place between her husband and herself:
[Maria] "Husband, trouble seems to spring out of the ground with you. I can't say a thing, but what you find fault with it. What is the matter with you?"
[Taze] "I can show you a thousand women that would be glad to be in your place, and that would know my wishes, and do them."
[Maria] "What is it you want?"
[Taze] "I can show you a thousand women, that if I would say, 'I want sweet potatoes,' sweet potatoes would be there. If I wanted pumpkin pie, pumpkin pie would be there."
"Pastor," Wife Testified, Claimed Fruits of Her Labors.
Mrs. Russell testified further that after she was compelled to leave her husband, she returned to his house on one occasion, and asked if he would let her have her books. When this request was refused, she said: "Will you let me have some of the comfort that I made while I was here?"
The "Pastor's" answer, as his wife quoted it on the stand, was: "No, everything that you made as my wife is mine."
A further illustration of the "Pastor's" peculiar views on the marital relation is found in a letter to his wife, which figures in the separation [law]suit as Exhibit No. 3. In his letter, "Pastor" RusselI says:
"For the past three years, you have been gradually forcing upon me the evidence that we both erred in judgment when we married -- that we are not adapted to each other; not capable of making each other happy, as we agreed to do, and supposed we could do. I conclude that I am adapted to no one, and that no one is adapted to me, except the Lord. I am glad that He and I understand each other, and have confidence in each other."
Testimony similar to the above, of which there are dozens of pages, caused Judge Orlady of the Superior Court of Pennsylvania to say in confirming the separation which the Jury awarded to Mrs. Russell:
"In an analysis of the testimony, it is quite difficult to understand the view of the respondent in regard to his duty as a husband to his wife. From his standpoint, he doubtless felt that his rights as a husband were radically different from the standard imposed on him by the law, and recognized by all the courts of this country. ... His course of conduct toward his wife evidenced such insistent egotism and extravacant self-praise that it would be manifest to the jury that his conduct towards [his wife] was one of continual arrogant domination, that would necessarily render the life of any sensitive Christian woman a burden and make her condition intolerable."
The Brooklyn Daily Eagle
November 2, 1911
Pastor Russell Sought to Show Wife was Insane
Records in Separation Suit Tell How He Circulated Stories of Her Mental Weakness
Mrs. Russell Feared Husband Would Secure Her Incarceration in a Private Asylum
It appears from the official records of the separation suit brought by Mrs. Marie F. Russell against her husband, Pastor Russell, now of the Brooklyn Tabernacle, that he at one time endeavored to spread the idea that Mrs. Russell was insane. Her fear that he would have her incarcerated in a private asylum and get rid of her in that way is one of the things that induced her to appeal to the courts for protection.
Pastor Russell's conduct in this connection was scored by the courts, and the evidence concerning it was a strong argument for Mrs. Russell with the Jury and later with the Judges to whom the case was appealed.
According to the evidence brought out in the separation suit, Pastor Russell started to spread the idea that his wife was insane at a secret meeting of his followers.
Congressman Stephen G. Porter's summary of the evidence on that point as contained in the brief which he submitted when the case was appealed leads as follows:
"Pastor" Russell Called Assembly of His Followers and Declared Wife Was Weakminded.
"That next evening (the evening following the humiliation of his wife in the presence of Rose Ball), respondent (Pastor Russell) called an assembly of his followers to this city for a secret meeting at the so-called Tabernacle; and another similar meeting on Sabbath evening, the fifth instant. These meetings were attended by about sixty people, a number of whom were from a distance. The respondent (Pastor Russell) confesses that at this meeting he stated that his wife was weak-minded and under the spell of a Satanic hypnotic influence that proceeded from her sisters. This statement was more or less a genteel way of stating that his wife's mind was unbalanced; and notwithstanding the fact that Mrs. Russell was within the building at the time this meeting was held, she was locked out under the direction of the respondent.
"In addition to this statement which he made to this assembly, Mrs. Helen Brace testified, and it is not denied, that his wife was suffering from mental aberration. We find also in a letter to Mr. Brown, (Exhibit No. 5), just three days after that meeting of September 5, 1897, a similar statement, as in this letter, he tells Mr. Brown that his wife's mind is poisoned, and she is semi-hypnotized by her sister. "Weak-minded," "mind poisoned," under "Satanic hypnotic influence," and "mind unbalanced" were the expressions that he used to many people concernng his wife. The only charitable excuse he could find for her is that she was passing through a critical time of life, which was not true, but which, had it been true, would have made his conduct toward her only the more brutal. Bear in mind the fact that those people of the Russell organization knew Mrs. Russell through her writings and hearing these reports from the lips of her husband, of course, they would think that he was putting it in the mildest possible language, owing to the fact that he was her husband and wanted to shield her, and would naturally conclude that she was insane.
Warned Wife's Relatives and Friends Not to Harbor Her
"But, that was not all. The very next day, after that meeting of September 5, 1897, respondent ("Pastor" Russell) sent insulting and threatening letters to Mrs. Russell's relatives and intimate friends, warning them under threats of legal proceedings and lawsuits for damage, not to harbor her or have any communications whatsoever with her.
"Pastor Russell had already turned his whole congregation against her by the meetings of September 4, and 5, 1897, from which she had been excluded, and now, on September 6, through legal threats, endeavored to cut Maria Russel off from her last natural ties, her own relatives and a few remaining loyal friends, among them "Pastor" Russell's own father, and his wife, Emma Ackley Russell, Maria Ackley Russell's own sister.
"The conduct of the respondent ("Pastor" Russell) in proclaiming to the little world in which he and his wife lived, that his wife was mentally unbalanced was, as was well said by the court in its charge to the jury, "a great indignity", in fact, it would be almost impossible to conceive of one which would be greater; and surely was such an indignity as when coupled with other matters heretofore referred to, as "to render the condition of any woman of ordinary sensibility and delicacy of feeling intolerable and her life a burden."
Superior Court Scores Acts of "Pastor" Russell
That the Superior Court of Pennsylvania agreed with Congressman Porter's characterization of Pastor Russell in this respect is evident from the text of its decision, which was written by Judge Orlady, which reads in part:
"The indignities offered to [MARIA RUSSELL] in treating her as a menial in the presence of servants, intimating that [MARIA RUSSELL] was of unsound mind, and that [MARIA RUSSELL] was under the influence of designing and wicked persons fully warranted her withdrawal from [CHARLES TAZE RUSSELL's] house, and justified [MARIA RUSSELL's] fear that [CHARLES TAZE RUSSELL] intended to further humiliate her by a threat to resort to legal proceedings to test her sanity. There is not a syllable in the testimony to justify [CHARLES TAZE RUSSELL's] repeated aspersions on [MARIA RUSSELL's] character or her mental condition, nor does [CHARLES TAZE RUSSELL] intimate in any way that there was any cause for difference between them, other than that she did not agree with him in his views of life and methods of conducting their business. [CHARLES TAZE RUSSELL] says himself that [MARIA RUSSELL] is a woman of high intellectual qualities and of perfect moral character. While he denied, in a general way, that he attempted to belittle his wife as she claimed, the general effect of [CHARLES TAZE RUSSELL's] own testimony is a strong confirmation of [MARIA RUSSELL's] allegations."
To improve readability of the following Opinion issued by the Superior Court of Pennsylvania, we have sometimes exchanged the names [CHARLES TAZE RUSSELL] and [MARIA RUSSELL] for the various generic and legal references used by the court, such as "the defendant", "the libelant", "the husband", "the wife", etc., and their pronouns. Bolding, italicizing, and coloring are also added where emphasis is appropriate. We believe that most visitors who have previously read this decision will admit that our improved edited version has multiple times better understandability than the original legalese version.
Superior Court of Pennsylvania
Argued May 7, 1908
Issued October 19, 1908
In the libel filed in this case, it is charged that [CHARLES TAZE RUSSELL] offered such indignities to the person of [MARIA RUSSELL] as to render her condition intolerable and her life a burden, thereby compelling [MARIA RUSSELL] to withdraw from [CHARLES TAZE RUSSELL's] home and family. In the specification of indignities it is alleged that [MARIA RUSSELL] was treated with disrespect by [CHARLES TAZE RUSSELL] in the presence of servants and others; that insulting language was used to [MARIA RUSSELL]; that [CHARLES TAZE RUSSELL] circulated reports among [MARIA RUSSELL's] friends to the effect that she was of unsound mind, and other stories that were calculated to affect [MARIA RUSSELL's] character and her right to receive, entertain or visit friends, which stories reflected upon [MARIA RUSSELL's] good name and moral character, and that by words and actions [CHARLES TAZE RUSSELL] caused [MARIA RUSSELL] to fear attempts would be made on his part to have her deprived of her liberty; by reason of which treatment [MARIA RUSSELL] was kept in bodily fear, her health seriously affected, her condition rendered intolerable and her life was made burdensome.
The case was tried before the court and a jury and resulted in a verdict in favor of [MARIA RUSSELL]. A motion for judgment non obstante verdicto was overruled and a judgment was directed to be entered on the verdict, from which [CHARLES TAZE RUSSELL] appeals.
After a careful review of the 150 pages of testimony in this case, we are satisfied that the verdict was fully warranted, and was rightly sustained by refusing [CHARLES TAZE RUSSELL's] motion. The effect to be given to the verdict in such a case has been so recently considered in Fay v. Fay, 27 Pa. Superior Ct. 328, that it is not necessary to review the authorities therein cited in vindication of that decision. As was said in that case, it is enough for us to say that we have examined the whole body of evidence in the light of the general principles relative to this cause for divorce, and whilst it is conflicting in many particulars we are constrained to the conclusion that the testimony of [MARIA RUSSELL] and her witnesses, if believed by the jury, was sufficient to warrant them in finding the facts essential to a lawful dissolution of the marriage tie. Here our duty ends so far as the evidence is concerned.
The learned trial judge instructed the jury, that they were to be satisfied, by the strength of the evidence, that such personal indignities were put upon [MARIA RUSSELL], from time to time, continuously -- not occasionally -- but continuously, so as to render her condition intolerable and life burdensome, and forced [MARIA RUSSELL] to remove from her husband's home. Which thought was repeated several times in the charge. And further, that the intolerable conditions and burdens which compelled [MARIA RUSSELL] to withdraw, must not be on account of her own faults, her own stubbornness, intellectually or otherwise.
[CHARLES TAZE RUSSELL] urges that it was error to submit the case to the jury in the first instance, and second, that the court erred in the general charge. In the two excerpts taken, which represent the first and second assignments of error, the complete thought of the trial judge is not fully set out, and these excerpts, taken in connection with the fair and lucid explanation which precedes and follows them, satisfies us that the charge of the court, taken as a whole, was fair and adequate, and that it was fully understood by the jury.
In an analysis of the testimony it is quite difficult to understand the view of [CHARLES TAZE RUSSELL] in regard to his duty as a husband to his wife. From his standpoint, he doubtless felt that his rights as a husband were radically different from the standards imposed upon him by the law and recognized by all the courts of this country. [CHARLES TAZE RUSSELL] stated to his wife, "I can show you a thousand women that would be glad to be in your place and that would know my wishes and do them." [CHARLES TAZE RUSSELL's] estimation of his own importance is gathered from his statement to a friend: "I have been approached twice by parties who contemplate the organization of a large bank in Pittsburg, with a capital of three million dollars, and have been solicited to permit my name to be used in connection with the organization as its prospective president," and to another friend, "After reading 'The Plan of the Ages' people say, Brother Russell is great! I will go to Allegheny and be near this great man! When they get to Allegheny they find Brother Russell makes no claim to greatness, and merely claims that it is God's word that is wonderful. He reasons the matter to them as though it were a question in mathematics; and when they hear the answer, they say, 'how simple,'" and many like expressions of self-esteem pervade [CHARLES TAZE RUSSELL's] testimony. Letters to friends furnish some idea of [CHARLES TAZE RUSSELL's] own estimation of his character. [CHARLES TAZE RUSSELL] repeatedly states that he is not self-conceited, but meek and not boastful, and writes that two phrenologists had examined his head and assured him that he was deficient in self-esteem. From [CHARLES TAZE RUSSELL's] whole testimony, it would seem that he was right in reaching the conclusion stated by him in a letter to his wife, to wit: "I conclude that I am adapted to no one, and that no one is adapted to me, except the Lord. I am thankful that He and I understood each other and have confidence in each other. The last month has fastened the conviction upon me much against my will. I am convinced that our difficulty is a growing one generally -- that it is a great mistake for strong-minded men and women to marry."
From this view point [CHARLES TAZE RUSSELL's] conduct is at least consistent, and he would naturally feel warranted in feeling that any doubt as to the correctness of his views, or conclusions, would be due to plots and schemes on the part of his wife; that his wife was a blasphemer, or as he stated it, "One of two things is certain, either my wife has become mentally unbalanced, or else she has become possessed of a most wicked spirit."
It is apparent from the testimony of each, that each had strong convictions as to the correct interpretation of the Holy Scriptures. They were engaged in the publication of a newspaper called "Zion's Watch Tower," and the "Millennial Dawn," the "Watch Tower Bible," tracts and pamphlets.
[CHARLES TAZE RUSSELL's] course of conduct toward [MARIA RUSSELL] evidenced such insistent egotism and extravagant self-praise that it would be manifest to the jury that [CHARLES TAZE RUSSELL's] conduct towards [MARIA RUSSELL] was one of continual arrogant domination, that would necessarily render the life of any sensitive Christian woman a burden and make her condition intolerable. The indignities offered to [MARIA RUSSELL] in treating her as a menial in the presence of servants, intimating that [MARIA RUSSELL] was of unsound mind, and that [MARIA RUSSELL] was under the influence of designing and wicked persons fully warranted her withdrawal from [CHARLES TAZE RUSSELL's] house, and justified [MARIA RUSSELL's] fear that [CHARLES TAZE RUSSELL] intended to further humiliate her by a threat to resort to legal proceedings to test her sanity. There is not a syllable in the testimony to justify [CHARLES TAZE RUSSELL's] repeated aspersions on [MARIA RUSSELL's] character or her mental condition, nor does [CHARLES TAZE RUSSELL] intimate in any way that there was any cause for difference between them, other than that she did not agree with him in his views of life and methods of conducting their business. [CHARLES TAZE RUSSELL] says himself that [MARIA RUSSELL] is a woman of high intellectual qualities and of perfect moral character. While he denied, in a general way, that he attempted to belittle his wife as she claimed, the general effect of [CHARLES TAZE RUSSELL's] own testimony is a strong confirmation of [MARIA RUSSELL's] allegations.
In Butler v. Butler, 1 Parsons Select Equity Cases, 329, decided in 1849, after a careful review of precedent authoritia, Judge KING says, A husband may by a course of humiliating insults and annoyances practiced in various forms which ingenious malice could readily devise, eventually destroy the life or health of his wife, although such conduct may be unaccompanied by violence, positive or threatened. Would a wife have no remedy in such circumstances, under our divorce laws, because actual or threatened personal violence formed no element in such cruelty? The answer to this question seems free from difficulty when the subject is considered with reference to the principles on which the divorce for cruelty are predicated.
The courts intervene to dissolve the marriage bond for the conservation of the life or health of the wife endangered by the treatment of the husband. The cruelty is judged from its effects, not solely from the means by which those effects are produced. To hold absolutely that if a husband avoids positive or threatened personal violence that a wife has no legal protection against any means short of those which he may resort to, and which may destroy her life or health, is to invite such a system of infliction by the indemnity given the wrongdoer. The more rational application of the doctrine of cruelty is to consider a course of marital unkindness with reference to the effect it must necessarily produce on the life or health of the wife, and if it has been such as affect or injure either to regard it as true legal cruelty. This doctrine seems to have been in the view of Sir H. Zeimer Just in Dysart v. Dysart, when he stated that he deduces as an inference from what Sir William Scott ruled in Evans v. Evans, that, If austerity of temper, petulance of manner, rudeness of language, a want of civil attention, occasional sallies of passion, do threaten bodily harm, they do amount to a legal cruelty. This idea as expressed axiomatically would be no less than the assertion of this principlc; that whatever form marital ill-treatment assumes if a continuity of it involves the life or health of the wife, it is legal cruelty.
While the early rule as announced in England and in some of the American states, was, that mental suffering, distress or injury, and bodily injury resulting from mental suffering were insufficient to constitute cruelty, yet the modern and better considered cases have repudiated this doctrine as taking too low and sensual a view of the marriage relation, and it is now very generally held, and has always been the rule in Pennsylvania, that any unjustifiable conduct on the part of either the husband or the wife which so grievously wounds the mental feelings of the other, or so utterly destroys the peace of mind of the other as seriously to impair the bodily health or endanger the life of the other, or which utterly destroys the legitimate ends and objects of matrimony constitute cruelty, although no physical or personal violence may be inflicted, or even threatened or reasonably apprehended: May v. May, 62 Pa. 206; Jones v. Jones, 66 Pa. 494; McMahen v. McMahen, 186 Pa. 485; Howe v. Howe, 16 Pa. Superior Ct. 193; Schulze v. Schulze, 33 Pa. Superior Ct. 325; Fay v. Fay, 27 Pa. Superior Ct. 328; Barnsdall v. Barnsdall, 171 Pa. 625. To warrant the granting of a divorce on the ground of the conduct on the part of either the husband or wife, as to render the condition of the other party intolerable and life burdensome, where there is no proof of overt bodily harm actually inflicted or threatened, the evidence should be strong and convincing, the course of illtreatment complained of must have been long continued, and of a serious character. The conditions exacted by these decisions, have been fully and clearly met by [MARIA RUSSELL], and the proof adduced by [MARIA RUSSELL] on the trial fully warranted the verdict rendered. No error being found in the record the assignments of error are overruled and the judgment is affirmed.
Here is an informative article published by the BROOKLYN DAILY EAGLE on October 31, 1911.
PASTOR RUSSELL SILENT TO HIS WIFE FOR MONTHS
Would Address Her Only by Letter, and Then in Terms of Reproach.
ORDERED OUT OF SICKROOM
Wife's Counsel's Brief in Separation Suit Charges Husband With Sending Offensive Messages by Rose Ball.
(Special to The Eagle.)
Pittsburg , Pa., October 31 Surprise has been expressed here by those who know Pastor Russell at the assertions contained in the last issue of the People's Pulpit, of which many copies are being circulated in this city. One feature of this issue is Pastor Russell's explanation of his trouble with his wife. He makes in this issue the same charges against his wife for which the Superior Court of Pennsylvania has declared there was not a syllable of justification in the evidence which Pastor Russell presented in court in his vain endeavor to prevent his wife from getting a separation.
Some of the specific statements about Mrs. Russell in Pastor Russell's paper, which have aroused comment here, read as follows: "She came under the influence of what is popularly known as 'Woman's Rights,' and, because she could not have her own way and write what she chose for the columns of my journal, The Watch Tower, she endeavored to coerce me and took one step after another, apparently determined that, if she could not coerce, she would crush and destroy my life and influence."
To those here who recall the Superior Court's characterization of Pastor Russell's conduct toward his wife as evidencing "insistent egotism, extravagant self-praise and continual arrogant domination," and the same court's reference to Mrs. Russell as a "sensitive Christian woman," Pastor Russell's present explanation of their difficulties is not convincing.
A review of this part of the testimony in the separation suit which called forth criticism of Pastor Russell's conduct by the court is contained in the libellant's brief, prepared by Congressman Stephen G. Porter, who was Mrs. Russell's attorney throughout the long court proceedings in which Pastor Russell was repeatedly defeated. In this brief, which was submitted to the Superior Court, to which Pastor Russell carried the suit after the jury in the Court of Common Pleas had rendered a verdict against him, Congressman Porter says:
"The testimony clearly shows that the relations between libellant (Mrs. Russell) and respondent (Pastor Russell) had become somewhat strained prior to the year 1896, about which time respondent ceased speaking to his wife, and holding all his communications with her by letter.
Letter of Pastor Russell to Wife Key of Situation.
"His letter to her of July 8, 1896, may be fairly considered the key to this case, as it shows respondent's notions of marital life, and his treatment of his wife is in harmony with the spirit of that letter. In the letter he states (Exhibit 3):
"'I am convinced that our difficulty is a growing one generally; that it is a great mistake for strong-minded men and women to marry. If they will marry, the strong-minded had far better marry such as are not too intellectual and high spirited, for there never can, in the nature of things, be peace under present time conditions where the two are on an equality.'
"Later in the letter he states:
"'For the past three years you have been cruelly forcing upon me the evidence that we both erred when we married; that we are not adapted to each other. The last month has fastened this conviction upon me much against my will.'
Pastor Sulked for Weeks at a Time.
"While professing at all times to be guided by the Word of God the undisputed evidence is that he would sulk for weeks at a time and not speak to his wife, and would resort to the pen to have any communications with her; instead of approaching her personally to try to secure reconciliation of their differences and praying with her as a godly man would have done, he went about among her associates and told them she was under the hypnotic influence of Satan in the form of her sister, who was his father's second wife.
"It will be noted here that Mr. Russell in this letter of July 8, 1896, in stating his conviction that they made a mistake in getting married, and that that conviction had been growing on him for three years, which would make it begin in 1893. The dispute about the editorship of the paper began in 1896; therefore it could not have been the dispute about the same that forced the conviction upon Mr. Russell that their marriage was a mistake, and which conviction he says had been growing on him for three years.
"During the letter writing period Mr. Russell refrained from either bidding his wife good morning or good night; and though he denied this on the witness stand, his letter of July 9. 1896 (Exhibit 2), clearly contradicts him, for in that he states:
"'To avoid misunderstanding, let me say, under the circumstances it properly devolves upon you to make the advances on the line of social amenities between us. It would be improper for me to take the initiative in the matter of amenities such as, 'good morning,' 'good night," etc."
"The atmosphere of this home from July 1896, to the time when she withdrew from it in November 1897, was filled with unbearable silence and utter neglect. This, of itself, was an indignity of such a character as to render the condition of a woman of Mrs. Russell's delicacy of feeling intolerable and her life burdensome.
"Nagging and Cutting Sarcasm."
"To this, libellant testified, was added nagging and cutting sarcasm. 'You are my wife only in a legal sense' (Exhibit 14, page 6), and by stating to her: 'A wife has no rights which a husband is bound to respect,' and calling her a blasphemer, as testified by libellant in describing a scene that occurred in the Watch Tower office, where the respondent took her by the arm and forcibly ejected her with the statement: 'Get out of here, you blasphemer.' This is not contradicted by the respondent; in fact, it might be said that the case is somewhat remarkable for the great number of failures to contradict the libellant by respondent when he had amply opportunity to do so.
"Another incident in the fall of 1896, to which libellant testified, and was uncontradicted, by the respondent was: When leaving home for the far West she helped him get ready, and then putting her hand on his arm, she said: 'Husband, you are going far away. There are lots of railroad accidents, and we might never meet again. Surely, you don't want to leave your wife in this cold, indifferent way.'
In reply, he pushed her back, slammed the door in her face, and departed on his journey.
'"Again, libellant testifies, that in the latter part of December, 1896, she was taken sick with a severe form of erysipelas. When she had been ill for about two weeks respondent went to New York, was gone nearly a week, and when he returned he did not so much as enter that sick room and see his wife; but after taking his breakfast in their apartments, he goes to his office and remains until night, and then between 9 and 10 o'clock goes to the sick room, not to comfort and cheer; but to order libellant out of the room. As a direct result of this treatment, libellant testifies, and it is not denied, that she was thrown into a violent fever that night and a heavy backset followed. The erysipelas, which had been confined to head and face, thereafter involved the whole person, and was most distressing and dangerous.
"Even if defendant did attend to her himself at nights when at home, in preference to hiring a competent nurse, it is evident from the testimony of libellant that he did not do it in a way becoming to a kind husband, for libellant testifies that in the midst of a nervous chill he told her himself that it was a judgment of God upon her, and that if she could not control her nerves he would leave her alone, for it was not his duty to attend to her.
Sent Offensive Message to Wife by Rose Ball.
While respondent denies that he ever told the libellant directly that her sickness was a judgment of God, he admits that he did say this to Rose Ball, with the intention of having her repeat it to his wife. This Rose Ball is the same girl that the respondent admitted was in the habit of sitting on his knee and kissing him, and would naturally be the most offensive messenger by whom he could send a message to his wife. And she didn't fail to carry it to the bedridden wife.
"Finally, however, she did recover, after about nine weeks illness. She was again about the duties of her home in the spring and summer of 1897, when one day, in the presence of this same Rose Ball, he demands of his wife an itemized statement of her outlays. Something he had never required before, probably because he realized that she had made more of his money than he did. Such a demand at any time would be inexpressibly humiliating to her, and when made in the presence of Rose Ball would be inexcusably and utterly intolerable."
In rendering its decision against Pastor Russell, the Superior Court recurs to many of the above matters and partly bases its decision on the facts which they disclose.
***At the Divorce Trial, Maria Russell also testified that her husband had moved a picture of her father and mother to behind a door.
The following excerpt from one of Maria Russell's trial testimonies in 1907 is highly revealing as to how Pastor Russell came to be estranged from Maria Russell, and how he subsequently treated Maria. To fully understand the context of such, readers should have first read our FINANCIAL BIOGRAPHY OF CHARLES TAZE RUSSELL
Q. Mrs. Russell, after you separated from your husband in November, 1897, where did you go live?
A. I went to my sister's. [80/1006 Cedar Avenue]
Q. And how long did you live with your sister?
A. A year and a half.
Q. Did you receive any support from your husband during that year and a half?
A. None whatever.
Q. At the expiration of the year and a half, which would be about April, 1899, where did you go live?
A. The house next door to my sister [79/1004 Cedar Avenue], which was owned by my husband, which was left vacant, the tenant moved out and I went in and took possession of it and notified Mr. Russell I was there.
Q. How long did you live in that house?
A. I remained there for four years.
Q. During those four years, did Mr. Russell contribute anything to your support, outside of permitting you to live in this house?
Q. And during those four years, how did you make a livelihood?
A. I rented furnished rooms.
EDITORS NOTE: Maria Russell testified at the first support hearing in late June 1903 that she netted around $30.00 profit per month from rental of rooms and providing "board".
Q. I believe during this time Mr. Russell gave you some furniture?
A. Yes, Sir.
Q. And that would bring us down now to April, 1903?
A. Yes, Sir.
Q. And did you leave that house on Cedar?
A. On April 16, 1903, Mr. Russell and these men who are with him today came over to my house, and with some others from the office, they were persons connected with the Watch Tower Society and also the [United States] Investment Company and they came over and took possession of the house, and turned me out of the house; he kept the furniture and even retained my pocket book which carried the money that I had received from the rent of rooms.
EDITORS NOTE: Maria Russell either misspoke when she said, "April 16, 1903", or the court reporter got it wrong. The correct date was Monday, March 16, 1903. See Section below to see what all occurred during the week of March 16, 1903 between Maria and Taze Russell.
Q. And then I believe shortly after that eviction from this house you instituted these proceedings for divorce? And also proceedings in the [C]ourt of Quarter Sessions for non-support. (See following section.)
A. Yes. Sir.
Q. In which the court sentenced him to pay $40 a month?
A. Yes, Sir.
Q. Which has been done from that time down until the present?
A. Yes, Sir.
Q. Have you had any financial aid from your husband except this $40 a month which you have received since about April 1, 1903, down to the present time?
A. None whatever.
Q. Mrs. Russell, have you any means of your own?
A. I have no means of my own, excepting a very small legacy from my mother, just a few hundred dollars, and that has helped to eke out life with that $40 a month which I have been living on since that time. Mother just died just before I was evicted from that house.
Q. Mrs. Russell, prior to the time you left your husband, did he ever propose a separation?
A. Yes, Sir.
Q. When was that?
A. That was just before we moved down to the Bible House. It was in 1895.
Q. And at that time you were living on Clifton Avenue, Allegheny?
A. Yes, Sir.
Q. Did or did not Mr. Russell at that time make any threat as to what he would do with his property unless you acceded to his demands?
A. Yes, Sir.
Q. What were they?
A. He proposed that on the ground of incompatibility that we agree to separate, and if I would do so he would give me that house in which we were living, and when I broke down at the suggestion, he said if I did not agree to it, that I would not get anything.
Q. After this proposed separation and threat, Mrs. Russell, where did you go to live, you and your husband?
A. We moved down to the Bible House.
Q. At whose suggestion?
A. Mr. Russell's.
Q. And I believe you continued to live there until the final separation in November, 1897?
A. Yes, Sir.
Q. And I believe you continued to do work in the Bible House for Mr. Russell?
A. Yes, Sir, down to the time I took sick; and after that I kept on with the work all the time I was there.
MARGARET M. LAND v. MARIA F. RUSSELL, and MARGARET M. LAND v. EMMA H. RUSSELL, and MARGARET M. LAND v. SELENA BARTO were civil charges of forcible entry and detainer filed by Margaret Land at the behest of CTR against Maria Russell and her two sisters. Charges were eventually dropped after it finally dawned on the FOOL that he was losing the PR battle.
At around 3:00 P.M., Monday, March 16, 1903, Pastor Charles Taze Russell called at the local police precinct and requested police assistance to evict Maria Russell and her six tenants from Russell's apartment house on Cedar Avenue that Maria had been "occupying" for nearly four years. The police refused to get involved at that point. Accompanied by 4 males and 2 females from the Bible House, Russell arrived at the home of Maria Russell and attempted to gain entry. However, Maria locked the doors and refused to let in Russell and his Bible House bullies. Taze called the police, while Maria called her attorney, whom instructed Maria to maintain her resistance. The responding police officers attempted to bluff Maria into unlocking the doors, but Maria stood her ground. After the police left, Taze broke a ground floor side window in an attempt to get in, and reportedly cut his arm sufficiently that it had to be bandaged. Taze and his Bible House Bethelite bullies eventually gained entry and began evicting Maria's boarders and/or their personal property. Russell and his thugs brought along their own personal property, which they placed inside the rental rooms of the large residence. Maria Russell summoned the police for their help, but the responding two male officers refused to stop CTR.
As the pathological LIAR always did, Charles Taze Russell LIED to reporters inquiring about the reasonableness of the evictions. Taze told reporters that he had given prior notice to both Maria and her six tenants to quit the premises, or suffer eviction. However, during the later Divorce trial, deep into questioning and after Taze had finally stopped LYING then and there, Taze admitted that he had not given Maria nor her six tenants prior notice of the evictions. When Maria's attorney asked Taze if he was at least ashamed of his eviction of the innocent six tenants without giving them prior notice, the ego-manic Taze responded, "I was not!!! I never do anything that I am ashamed of, or that I would be ashamed of!!!"
Taze also LIED when he repeatedly told reporters that he was not evicting Maria from the house. Taze also DECEIVED reporters when he failed to inform them of the "conditions" under which Maria would be required to to live in order to continue to live in the house. Neither Russell informed reporters that Margaret Land had lived with Taze and Maria previously, and that the two women had not gotten along, and that Maria previously had even asked Taze to ask his sister to move out.
Maria Russell later informed reporters:
"Yes, my husband did offer to support me in this house, but under conditions to which no self-respecting woman would submit. He entered my house last Monday when I was on one of the upper floors, bringing with him four men and two women. When I entered the parlor he said:
"'Mrs. Russell, I have brought my sister, Mrs. Land, here to manage this house. If you care to, you can remain here as long as you conduct yourself properly, with the understanding, of course, that you remain subject to the authority of Mrs. Land, whom I have installed here as my housekeeper. There is a room on the second floor in the rear of the building that you may occupy. The first floor of the house I have rented to a doctor. (That unidentified "doctor" turned out to be WatchTower Society D/O Walter E. Spill.) The remainder of the house will be occupied by my friends (Bethelites). You are to have nothing to do with the management of the house, and must exercise a spirit of meekness and obedience toward Mrs. Land.'"
"So, could any woman live in her own home under such conditions? I told my husband that I would never recognize Mrs. Land's newly acquired authority nor would I ever eat a bite that had been prepared by any of his friends."
Around 9:00 P.M., Monday, Maria went over to Emma's house to eat a late supper, but when she returned to her own house, Maria discovered that she had been locked out. Sometime later that night or Tuesday, Maria and Emma apparently gained entry to the home in an effort to obtain some of Maria's property and money.
Undoubtedly at the instruction of Charles Taze Russell, Margaret Land immediately filed legal charges against both Maria Russell and Emma Russell for "forcible entry and detainer". Margaret Land also filed the same charge against one of Maria's boarders whom had also gained entry to his room through a window in order to remove his personal property. Outcome of that case unknown. However, on Wednesday, the two court cases against Maria and Emma were dismissed by the magistrate's court, with court costs assigned to Margaret Land.
Charles Taze Russell also DECEIVED reporters when Taze insinuated that along with the Bethelites who were moving their personal property into the house that he also would be moving into the house. Taze told reporters that his sister, Margaret Land, "had returned from Florida to run his household for him". That story quickly changed to Russell "renting" the house to his sister Margaret Land as the situation became "legal".
Thereafter, Russell even had the gall to tell reporters that the apartment house had been constructed on "leased ground", on which he paid annual rent, which Russell interpreted for reporters as legally eliminating any dower right to a wife.
"My wife has no legal right to the house or its furnishments, not even dower rights, as it is built on leased ground."
Taze Russell did not identify this "alleged" legal owner of the "ground" on which sat 79 Cedar (next door to 80 Cedar -- the first house purchased by Joseph Russell in 1877/8, which by 1903 was owned by his widow, Emma Russell), but this assertion makes Pastor Russell out to be and even bigger Conman than previously thought. If true, then that would have meant that Russell had been scheming against his spouse for years -- long before Maria and he had marital issues -- to screw Maria out of every cent that he possibly could if such ever became necessary -- as if under 1800s Pennsylvania law pertaining to the legal rights of "wives" such was even necessary. In reality, just like the last-minute financial "note" mentioned in the Joseph Russell's Will section below, this alleged "lease" was likely just another of a series of legal concoctions intended to screw Maria out of every penny that Taze could if an when such became necessary. (CTR was a REAL POS behind the scenes where and when he thought noone could see what he was doing. To think that this SCUMBAG fathered one international religious cult, along with multiple insignificant personality cults, makes a significant statement about human society.)
PENNSYLVANIA v. CHARLES TAZE RUSSELL. On Wednesday, March 18, 1903, one of Maria Russell's boarders filed criminal charges of "assault and battery" against Pastor Charles T. Russell. That tenant stated that he had been a tenant in the house for more than a year, and that when he returned home on Monday night, March 16, 1903, that Pastor Russell "laid violent hands on him and tried to throw him out into the street". Outcome unknown, but given the fact that Russell left for Europe only a few weeks thereafter, the outcome is predictable.
MARIA RUSSELL ROOMER v. CHARLES TAZE RUSSELL. In March 1903, one of Maria Russell's former tenants filed a civil lawsuit against Pastor Charles T. Russell claiming $1000.00 damages (approximately $32,000.00 in 2016 dollars) to his personal property that Russell had illegally removed from his rented room. Outcome unknown. This litigant is believed to have been a different roomer than the one above who filed criminal assault charges against Pastor Russell.
PENNSYLVANIA v. CHARLES TAZE RUSSELL. Having her only means of financial support unexpectedly ripped away from her, on Saturday, March 21, 1903, Maria Russell swore out a warrant for her husband, C. T. Russell, criminally charging him with "non-support" of his spouse. Maria requested immediate temporary support until the matter could be established permanently at trial.
The Allegheny County Criminal Court was unable to schedule trial until June 27, 1903 -- after Pastor Russell had returned home from his trip to Europe. At trial, Pastor Russell claimed that he had donated all of his assets to the Watch Tower Society, and that his only income was the standard Bethelite $10.00 per month, plus expenses. Pastor Russell was court ordered to pay Maria Russell $40.00 support per month. As noted elsewhere on this page, the $40.00 monthly support was actually paid by the Watch Tower Society -- not Pastor Russell.
ANONYMOUS ALLEGHENY MERCHANT v. CHARLES TAZE RUSSELL (1898)
-- DECLARED FRAUDULENT BY COURT --
Starting in 1898, and ever since, the WatchTower Society has publicly proclaimed that Charles Taze Russell "donated" the "Bible House", located at 56-60 (aka 610-614) Arch Street, to the WatchTower Society, on April 1, 1898. THAT IS A LIE! In fact, Charles Taze Russell could not have donated the Bible House real property to the WatchTower Society, because such a transfer would have required the signature of the estranged Maria Russell. Thus, in order to CHEAT Maria Russell out of her dower rights to the real property located at 56-60 Arch Street, Charles Taze Russell contrived an elaborate FRAUDULENT scheme.
By November 1897, the Russells' acrimonious marriage had reached its breaking point, and Maria Russell had moved out of the Bible House, and had moved in with her recently widowed sister, Emma H. Russell. Charles Taze Russell immediately took steps to fulfill his 1895 threat that if Maria refused to agree to separate in exchange for their Clifton Avenue home, then he would make certain that she received NOTHING.
Not every specific detail and date are known, but in December 1897, Russell first mortgaged the "Bible House" at 56-60 Arch Street for $15,000.00 (nearly $530,000.00 in 2016 dollars -- HALFHILL). That five-year mortgage was interestingly held by the Public Library of Philadelphia.
In January 1898, Charles Taze Russell, likely counseled by one or more attorneys, conceived a scheme to defraud Maria Russell out of her rights in the "Bible House". Beginning the first week of February 1898, "Pastor" Russell began placing daily legal notices in local newspapers declaring that he would not be financially responsible for any credit given in his name to anyone but himself.
On March 1, 1898, Charles Taze Russell, with his signature only, deeded the "Bible House" real estate (lot was only 45 ft wide and 60 ft deep, and Bible House only occupied front of lot) to the WatchTower Society, and on or about April 1, 1898, Russell donated the personalty assets of Tower Publishing Company to the WatchTower Society.
Then, in March 1898, "Pastor" Russell intentionally refused to pay a charge account which had been long established with a local Allegheny Merchant, which Maria Russell was continuing to use to purchase groceries and other necessities. On March 18, 1898, a lawsuit was filed against "Pastor" Russell for the outstanding balance of $178.00. INTERESTINGLY, the Named Plaintiff in that lawsuit was NOT the Allegheny Merchant, but rather was an Allegheny Attorney acting on behalf of that Merchant. Apparently, in order to guarantee that Merchant's cooperation in this immoral scheme, the good "Pastor" Russell had propositioned that Merchant with a way to keep the Merchant's name out of the newspapers and even out of most of the court documents. Russell likely even footed the bill for the lawsuit against himself.
"Pastor" Russell did not even answer the lawsuit, and quickly lost by default. The Plaintiff-Attorney then "attached" the "Bible House" for payment of the $178.00 judgement. Russell not only did absolutely nothing to legally resist the attachment and the "Sheriff's Sale", but even proactively waived inquisition and condemnation so that matters could proceed as fast as possible. Sometime in April-May 1898, the Watch Tower Society was the sole bidder of $50.00 at the "Sheriff's Sale". Russell and his attorneys thought that the Sheriff's Sale and Russell's deed would clear any interest that Maria Russell had in the property. WRONG.
After all was said and done, the co-conspirators on the Board of Directors of the WatchTower Society appraised Russell's "donation" of all assets of Tower Publishing Company, including the building and land that had been purchased at the Sheriff's Sale, as worth $186,000.00 (nearly $6,500,000.00 in 2016 dollars -- HALFHILL). In addition to the mortgage on the real estate, the WatchTower Society also assumed eight "conditional loans" made to Tower Publishing Company, totaling $6966.65, from seven female Russellites and one WatchTower Pilgrim. Most of the "conditional loans" were expected to gradually become "donations". Russell was eventually credited with 16,403.365 voting shares in the WatchTower Society (per the one share for every $10.00 donation rule).
Later, during the Russell Separation-Divorce Trial
, the Court of Common Pleas in Pittsburgh declared the following regarding Russell's multiple efforts to "donate" all of his assets to the Watch Tower Society in his attempt to keep Maria Russell from receiving a penny, including the "Bible House"
scheme: "The purpose of this whole transaction was to deprive the wife of her dower interest and was a FRAUD on her. ... and the subsequent donations [to the Watch Tower Society] are plainly made with the same reckless disregard of the rights of the wife, and with intent to defeat her of any interest or claim she might have for her support. ... ... It has been adjudicated against him that his property was disposed of by him in FRAUD of his wife's rights, ... ."
Years later, Judge Rutherford alleged that some years after the 1898 shenanigans that "a" MORTGAGE on the Bible House was foreclosed (in order to make absolutely certain that Maria Russell's dower rights were totally extinguished). The Bible House allegedly was sold at an unknown second time, and the purchaser allegedly was NOT Russell nor the WatchTower Society (the 1897 mortgage may have been purchased from the Public Library of Philadelphia by a sycophant, or more likely, a second mortgage was created later). Why dumbass Rutherford would spill the beans on this later legal incident is unknown, because at some point all these multiple legal shenanigans are meaningless -- EXCEPT to demonstrate that Charles Taze Russell, Joseph F. Rutherford, and the WatchTower Society were/are SATAN'S EQUALS when it comes to SUBTERFUGE. In any event, as we have revealed on Page 2, in 1911, Russell's "straw-man" George Raymond traded the Bible House and other Russell properties for ... well, go look.
Charles Taze Russell and the Board of Directors of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society also committed FRAUD by issuing Russell 1200 voting shares in the corporation in exchange for the Bible House equity, because the Watch Tower Society became the legal owner of the Bible House via their purchase of the Bible House at the Sheriff's sale -- not via Russell's alleged FRAUDULENT donation. In fact, this very act by the Watch Tower Society Board of Directors was a public acknowledgment that the Merchant's lawsuit had been a FRAUDULENT conspiracy to further DEFRAUD Maria Russell. "O' what a tangled web" Satan's henchmen can conceive.
In February 1899, Pastor Russell transferred to the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society around $48,000.00 (roughly $1,600,000.00 in 2016 dollars) worth of stock in the Brazilian Turpentine Company Limited, the California Asphaltum Company, and a yet to be identified coal company. Russell likely received around 4800 voting shares in the WatchTower Society.
In April 1900, Pastor Russell transferred to the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society 12 miscellaneous real estate holdings valued at around $47,500.00. The WBTS Board of Directors valued those assets at $45,390.00, and credited Pastor Russell with 4539 voting shares in the WatchTower Society.
In November 1902, Pastor Russell transferred to the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society oil stock valued at around $6000.00, for which he likely received 600 voting shares in the WatchTower Society.
ARREST WARRANT ISSUED FOR CHARLES TAZE RUSSELL
The WatchTower Society's latest history book, JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES -- PROCLAIMERS OF GOD'S KINGDOM, includes a number of half-truths and outright LIES in its coverage of the Russell Divorce. A half-truth included on page 645 is the factual statement that Maria Russell initiated court proceedings in 1903, and that Maria Russell "was awarded, in 1908, a judgment, not of absolute divorce, but of divorce from bed and board, with alimony." Would you like to know "the rest of the story" not told by PROCLAIMERS?
If you have read the information above, you now know that Maria Russell did not initiate any court proceedings against her husband until April 1903 -- only after Charles Taze Russell
and his "Bible House"
henchmen, without notice or warning, threw Maria Russell and her tenants out of Charles Taze Russell's rental house, where Maria Russell had exercised a sort of "squatter's rights" for four years -- if a "squatter" is what you wish to label the still legal wife of the person then believed to be the "Faithful & Discreet Slave"
by his cult followers.
The balance of the half-truth in the PROCLAIMER excerpt regards "alimony". Charles Taze Russell, personally, NEVER EVER paid a single alimony payment, but rather, the alimony payments were all made by the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, which deceptively continued to carry Maria Russell on its' books as a Bethelite worker, with the alimony payment being shown as a Bethelite worker monthly "allowance". In June 1903, Charles Taze Russell had been ordered to pay Maria Russell $40.00 per month maintenance starting back in April 1903. In March 1908, alimony was increased to $100.00 per month. At some point, Charles Taze Russell was also court ordered to pay Maria Russell's attorneys' fees and court costs. However, Charles Taze Russell refused to pay Maria Russell's attorneys' fees and court costs, and he also refused to pay the court-ordered increase in alimony.
We are not certain of the exact dates, but a "Contempt"
proceeding was initiated against Charles Taze Russell
sometime around April 1909. In late April or early May 1909, just prior to Charles Taze Russell leaving the United States for a 5-week tour of Europe, an ARREST WARRANT
was issued for Charles Taze Russell by that Pittsburgh court. The "Bible House" in Pittsburgh had already been "attached" for the now third or fourth time due to non-payment of Charles Taze Russell's debts -- this time by Maria Russell. Maria Russell also obtained a "writ of foreign attachment"
against Russell's personal property in Brooklyn. In an interview held with a reporter two days before he sailed for Europe, Charles Taze Russell acknowledged the ARREST WARRANT
-- boldly stating that he wasn't afraid of being arrested.
Interestingly, this overseas trip was one of the rare Charles Taze Russell European trips during which Judge Rutherford stayed behind. While Russell was out-of-reach in Europe, Judge Rutherford
rushed to put out the firestorm back in Pittsburgh. In June 1909, Maria's $1500.00
attorneys fees were paid. The $60.00
court costs were paid. All unpaid alimony (believed to have been $1056.00 including interest and penalties)
was caught up. Despite the fact that Charles Taze Russell's legal obligation to make alimony payments would cease the second that he died, $5000.00 (50 months)
in advance alimony payments were paid to Maria Russell. Russell also was required to post $5000.00
bond for future alimony payments. Criminal proceedings against Pastor Charles Taze Russell were subsequently dropped.
Judge Rutherford later stated that Maria Russell was paid in excess of $10,000.00. Payment for unpaid alimony, future alimony, attorneys fees, and court costs only amounted to $7616.00. (Maria received zero from the $5000.00 bond payment.) Maybe Rutherford just LIED -- again. Possibly, there was a "gratuity" included to make certain that the arrest warrant did not become a public relations nightmare. If so, we don't believe that that was the last "payoff" that Maria Russell received from Judge Rutherford. (Don't be naive. Lawyers "affect" "payoffs" all the time.)
In fact, after traveling to the funeral of Charles Taze Russell in Pittsburgh, it was reported that Maria Russell then traveled to NYC and hired an attorney to pursue any dower or other interests that she might have in assets in New York state belonging to the deceased Charles Taze Russell, the WatchTower Society, or the other legal entities that Charles Taze Russell had used to hide assets from her. It is possible that Maria Russell did the same thing before leaving Pittsburgh regarding any remaining assets in that state.
We believe that soon thereafter that Judge Rutherford traveled to Florida to negotiate with Maria Russell with "loot" from one of Charles Taze Russell's multiple stashes. Judge Rutherford needed Maria Russell to "go away" both happy and satisfied -- with his own "peace of mind" that Maria Russell would stop her current attempts and make no future attempts to make any dower or other type claim of "ownership" on the Watch Tower Society or its assets, nor would she do anything else to cause the Watch Tower Society or Judge Rutherford future "public relations" problems. "Things" simply went "too smooth" with the Russell family after CTR's death. Family members other than Maria Russell may have also received their "cut", only after first signing carefully crafted contracts.
Readers should bear in mind that at the time of the Russells' separation in November 1898 that Charles Taze Russell had a net worth in excess of at least $150,000.00, and as we demonstrate in our RUSSELL FINANCIAL BIOGRAPHY webpage, Charles Taze Russell may have been worth double, triple, or even more. In fact, in the early 1910s, Russell would variously publicly value his 1898 net worth at $250,000.00 and $300,000.00. Given that Charles Taze Russell routinely LIED about nearly everything having to do with his personal affairs, noone really knows what he was worth at any given point in time. Thus, whatever Maria Russell got from Judge Rutherford in 1909, and from Rutherford after Russell's death, was nothing close to what she was morally and ethically due as the wife of Charles Taze Russell.
PASTOR RUSSELL'S PERSISTANT FEMALE STALKER
Immediately following Charles Taze Russell's return from his convenient May-June 1909 tour of Europe, Russell was besieged with the apparently unwanted public attention of a 29 year-old single female -- described as petite, refined, and well-dressed -- whom some newspapers referred to as "Sophie Hassan". On Russell's departure from the Mauretania, "Sophie" met Russell on the dock and welcomed Russell home by throwing her arms around his neck, weeping, and eventually falling at his feet "in prayer". Embarrassed by such a public display of affection, Russell hurried away. Sophie thereafter followed Russell home to WatchTower HQ, where she unsuccessfully attempted to gain entrance to interact with Russell.
"Sophie" returned each of the following three days, until Russell's sister, Margaret Land, called the police and had Sophie arrested for repeatedly ringing the doorbell. At the first court appearance, the judge suspended Sophie's sentence for disorderly conduct. So, Sophie returned to WatchTower HQ the following day, and was arrested again. This time, the judge sent Sophie for a mental competency exam. The outcome is unknown, but Sophie likely passed. If so, Sophie would have served some jail time.
Russell went on a four week speaking tour from early July through early August. Sophie's third arrest occurred one week after Russell returned to Brooklyn, when she was discovered sleeping in the exterior vestibule just outside of Pastor Russell's office. Sophie told the police that she was tired, and merely wanted to be "near her bridegroom". After this third arrest, Sophie was committed to an asylum on Long Island, but was sufficiently competent to manage to escape a few days later and make her way back to WatchTower HQ in only two days, without having any food or money, where she was arrested a fourth time. At her court appearances, Sophie was well-dressed and well-mannered. Sophie's mother attended the hearings and indicated that Sophie was a highly intelligent person, whose erratic behavior had only recently began to exhibit itself with regard to her recent "infatuation" with Pastor Russell, whom "Sophie" referred to as her "bridegroom", or "spiritual bridegroom".
The limited media articles contain much conflicting information, including various spellings of Sophie's name, and varying ages. All reports seem to agree that Pastor Russell and the single female had become acquainted during an ocean voyage returning from Europe back to NYC, where Sophie had been accompanied by her mother and sister, whom all lived in the Greater NYC area. However, reports differ as to when that voyage occurred -- either in 1906 or 1909, which would make a big difference in the story given that Pastor Russell had only recently relocated to Brooklyn from Pittsburgh. One media article reported that Sophie had made much of a similar public display when Russell departed from NYC in May, which obviously would indicate that she had known Russell since a voyage in 1906. However, it is also easy to see that that reporter could have just as easily confused the story about Russell's return as being Russell's departure, which possibly could mean that Russell and Sophie had just met on this June 1909 voyage.
In any event, there are indications that Russell was forced to seek a restraining order against Sophie in order to terminate her affections and attentions. One can't help but wonder how Sophie's affection and attention became so accelerated in May-June 1909, if she had known Russell since 1906, when there had been no previous indications of such. One can't help but further wonder whether Sophie and her "spiritual bridegroom" had engaged in a "spiritual marriage" and a "spiritual honeymoon" on that return voyage in 1906 or 1909, or whether such had occurred at some other place and time in early 1909, or during one of Russell's many previous visits to NYC.
ROSE BALL AFFAIR
Rose Ball's older brother, Charles Ball, relocated from Buffalo, New York, to Pittsburgh -- probably sometime in mid 1888 -- and began to work at Watch Tower Society HQ. Charles Ball, age 21, died in March 1889. Shortly prior to his death, Charles Ball had requested and had received permission for his younger sister, Rosa Ball, to join him in Pittsburgh to also work at Watch Tower Society HQ. We believe that Rosa Ball arrived in Pittsburgh in latter 1888, when she was 19 years-old (she was born in 1869). Charles and Rosa lived with some other HQ workers at Charles and Maria Russell's Clifton Avenue home. (At the Divorce Trial, "Pastor" Russell testified that the age of Rose Ball had NEVER EVER come up. Russell further alleged that when he occasionally visited with Rose alone in her room that he thought that she was only around 13 years-old.)
After the tragic death of Charles Ball, Rosa decided to stay in Pittsburgh, continue working at HQ, and continue living at the Russells' home. Given the younger, single female's situation of having just lost her "big brother" and her only relative in the city, the Russells probably became quite protective of Rosa. Rosa was allowed to socialize with Charles and Maria in their private study during evenings and weekends. Over time, the Russells and Rosa grew sufficiently close that the Russells began to treat Rosa Ball as if she were their own daughter, and Rosa reciprocated by treating the Russells like her parents. This eventually included the nightly habit of the by then 20 years-old Rosa kissing both Russells before she retired to her bedroom each evening.
Rose Ball's relationship with both Charles Taze Russell and Maria Russell apparently changed greatly, but inversely, between 1890 and 1894. However, over that same time period, Charles and Maria's marital relationship declined proportionately. By 1894, the April 25, 1894, Extra Edition of Zion's Watch Tower magazine, lists "Rose J. Ball" as one of the seven Directors of Zion's Watch Tower Tract Society -- quite an accomplishment in a short space of time for a dainty, fragile 25 year-old single female, with limited or no resources, living in 1894. In fact, Chuckie's little "Rose" continued as a member of the Board of Directors through at least 1898, after the corporate name had been changed to the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, and after Rose had become "Rose Ball Henninges". Rose Henninges and her husband Ernest Henninges both played an active role in Charles Taze Russell's property transfer Conspiracy used to DEFRAUD Maria Russell out of her dower rights in Chuckie's real estate, and its' attempt to DEFRAUD Maria Russell out of alimony.
Rose Ball's personal relationship with Charles Taze Russell had grown quite intimate between 1890 and 1894, while Maria Russell's marital relationship with her husband had declined to the point of non-existence. Quite a "rivalry" seems to have developed between the two females by 1894. Whatever was or wasn't going on between Chuckie and Rose sexually, they each were ready for Maria to move on and get out of their way, because an emotional/psychological relationship definitely existed. Yes, Chuckie and Rose were in lust or love of one type or another. (Readers should recall that Chuckie's 65 year-old Father, Joseph L. Russell, had married Maria's 25 year-old sister, Emma Ackley, in 1880, and they had a daughter, Mabel Russell, the following year. Testosterone levels run in the family. If "Old Joe" couldn't keep it in his pants at 65, how do you think that his son Chuckie was living a supposed celibate life? The only person actually celibate in that family was Maria!!!)
By 1894, Chuckie and Rose had developed a routine where, instead of returning to the Russells' home at the end of the workday, Rose would stay late at night -- often until 11:00 P.M. -- with Chuckie down at WatchTower HQ. Chuckie's excuse was that he did not want Rose walking home alone with the other male workers who also lived at the Russells' home. The obvious question is why did Rose not return home with Maria (or one of the other female co-workers who occasionally also lived with the Russells -- Laura Raynor, Margaret Land, and others)? And, why would 25 year-old Rose Ball EVEN WANT to routinely stay at HQ late into the evening hours -- alone with the 42 year-old Charles Taze Russell -- unless something was going on?
In the Fall of 1894, probably in the hopes of driving the final wedge into the Russells' marriage, 25 year-old Rose Ball went to and "confessed" to Maria that Chuckie had developed a "habit of hugging and kissing her and having her sit on [his] knee and fondling each other", and that Chuckie had "bid her under no account to tell [Maria]". Rose further claimed that these things were occurring "down at the office when she stayed down there with [Chuckie] in the evenings after the rest had gone, and here at home at any time when [Maria] wasn't around".
Rose Ball further "confessed" to Maria that only recently when Chuckie and she had arrived home one night at around 11:00 P.M., that Chuckie had stopped her in the vestibule and "put his arms around her and kissed her". Chuckie had called Rose "his little wife", but Rose retorted, "I am not your wife." Chuckie replied, "I will call you daughter, and a daughter has nearly all the privileges of a wife". Apparently, Rosa was not satisfied with just being "a daughter".
The context is unknown, but Rose also told Maria that Chuckie had stated to her, "I am like a jelly fish. I float around here and there. I touch this one and that one, and if she responds, I take her to me, and if not, I float on to others." Rose also told Maria that Chuckie had told her that, "A man's heart is so big that he can love a dozen women, but a woman's heart is so small that she can love but one man."
When Maria finally approached Chuckie with these shocking disclosures (she had to wait a day to regain her composure), he allegedly admitted some lessor things, denied some, and/or attempted to make fun of the allegations. In 1906, during his trial testimony, Chuckie denied making any of the most damaging statements alleged to have been made in 1894, and attempted to excuse away any "kissing, hugging, and fondling" as explainable, innocent events that had occurred way back in 1889, when Rose was an innocent, naive teenager, whom had just lost her brother, and whom was experiencing adjustment problems with Maria and other co-workers -- all despite the fact that the "kissing, hugging, and fondling" incidents actually at issue were NOT those earlier 1889 incidents, but were the more serious incidents that had occurred more recently -- in 1894 -- when Rose Ball had been a GROWN 25 year-old woman. Thereafter, in the pages of the WATCH TOWER magazine, Charles Taze Russell repeated his attempts at deception by repeatedly discussing and refuting the incidents that had occurred back in 1889, while ignoring as much as possible the statements and incidents which were the real issue -- the statements and incidents that had occurred in 1894.
It was likely the 1894 SCHISM that temporarily drew Chuckie and Maria back together as a couple, and which also forced Chuckie to end his private relationship with Rose Ball. However, by only 1895, Chuckie himself was asking Maria for a "divorce", and he even offered Maria their Clifton Avenue property (which would provide sufficient rental income for Maria to live independently, but spartanly) if she would go quietly. Maria declined Chuckie's meager offer, so Chuckie moved and eventually sold the house out from beneath Maria. Maria moved with Chuckie into the top, fourth floor of the "Bible House", where she remained until she moved out in November 1897.
After spending two months with her brother in Chicago, Maria returned to Pittsburgh in January 1898, and moved in with the widowed Emma Russell, and their mother, on Cedar Avenue. At least twice, Maria and Emma went to the Bible House and attempted to retrieve Maria's personal property which remained there. Both times, "Pastor" Russell refused to give Maria any of her property, stating to her once, "You don't get anything. Everything you made while my wife is mine!"
By November 1897, Rosa J. Ball had already been married off to Russell's right-hand man, Ernest C. Henninges -- in September 1897. In January1898, Ernest Henninges was "voted" (chosen solely by Russell) as both a Watch Tower Society Director and as the new Secretary-Treasurer (Officer) of the Watch Tower Society -- as the replacement for Maria Russell. Around March 1900, Charles Taze Russell sent the Henninges to England for 20 months to establish a new Great Britain Branch Office of the Watch Tower Society, in London, England, and to reinvigorate the poorly performing recruitment work, after which the Henninges returned to the United States in November 1901.
In March 1903, Charles Taze Russell forced Maria Russell to file this Divorce-Separation lawsuit by forcibly evicting her from the rental house he owned in which she had been living and renting out rooms as a means of survival. In mid-April 1903, Russell left on a planned trip to Europe. Coincidentally, Ernest Henninges had left for England about three weeks earlier to look for a new London Branch Office location, and to take care of other business prior to Russell's arrival. Interestingly, at some point in this drama, Rose Ball Henninges also left Pittsburgh and went to visit her parents and siblings in Buffalo, New York. (It is not known whether such occurred before or after the filing of the Russell lawsuit.) However, Rose Henninges also soon left for Europe -- joining Charles Taze Russell and Ernest Henninges in London, England during the last week of May 1903, where they all three promptly left for Germany. There, Russell and the Henninges shopped for a rental location for a brand new European Branch Office in Elberfeld, Germany. Russell left the Henninges behind in Germany to get that new WatchTower Society Branch Office up and going. Around December 1903, and without returning to the United States, the Henninges headed to Australia -- as far away as possible from Pittsburgh as Russell could send them -- to open up a new Branch Office for the Watch Tower Society in Melbourne.
In Australia, Ernest and Rose Henninges defected from the Watch Tower Society in latter 1909 (along with several prominent U.S. Russellites), and started their own religious "Society", which had its' own U.S.A. office only two blocks from Brooklyn Bethel in the 1920s.
JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES -- PROCLAIMERS OF GOD'S KINGDOM
---- Other Shameful HALF-TRUTHS ---
On page 645 of PROCLAIMERS, it is stated: "[Maria] sought to secure for herself a stronger voice in directing what would appear in the Watch Tower. When she realized that nothing that she wrote would be published unless her husband, the editor of the magazine, agreed with its contents (on the basis of its consistency with the Scriptures), she became greatly disturbed."
Here is Maria's own (though rambling) sworn trial testimony in which she gives her side of this story. Decide for yourself whether the above PROCLAIMERS statement is honest, or deceitful:
"I had been writing for the paper, and my husband had taken the liberty of writing into my own articles sentiments that did not represent my own thought, and which, to my understanding, were not true, and I did not want them to go out as my writing, and as I was reading the proof of such an article down in the office one day, it was about noon, and I came across this article. Thinks I, "I didn't write that,' and I looked at the copy, and it was his writing. He was sitting at another desk, and I said, 'Husband, you have written something into this article that I can't accept,' and I tried to show him the sentiment was wrong. He says: 'That is the way I want it.' I said, 'Well, this is my article. ... If you want to change anything in it ask me if I can approve it, and I will approve it if I can, but if I cannot, throw the whole article out, or take it in as it is.' Then he took me by the arm and shoved me out of the office, and said: 'Get out of here, you blasphemer.' He said to me I was blaspheming his name.
"I went upstairs to our home [by that time, on the top, fourth floor of the Bible House]. When he came up in the evening I said, 'What in the world do you mean acting this way? Don't you feel I have a responsibility hereafter for my own writing?'
"And he said: 'No. you haven't. When you have written an article it is mine; I am the editor.'
"I said: 'But I am the associate editor, and will write over my own signature,' and he said: 'The articles will go as I want them.'
"I said: "Well, I will not any longer be the associate editor.'
"He said: "Associate editor has no responsibility.'
"I said: 'I recognize, my own individual responsibility to God and man, and I will no longer be associate editor; I will just be a contributor.'"
After the excerpt quoted above, without even starting another paragraph, PROCLAIMERS continues: "He put forth earnest effort to help her, but in November 1897 she left him. Nevertheless, he provided her with a place to live and means of maintenance."
Other than the fact that this last statement is a LIE, as we have demonstrated in the top half of this webpage, PROCLAIMERS readers are left with the impression that Charles Taze Russell never published any more articles authored by Maria Russell.
In fact, this argument between Charles and Maria Russell occurred sometime around September 1896. Thereafter, starting with the November 1, 1896 issue of the WATCH TOWER magazine, every WT issue through the June 1, 1897 issue (except for two consecutive issues in February and March - one of which contained a republished unsigned 1885 WT article that contained multiple "mother" references -- thus could very well have been authored by Maria), contained a LENGTHY and DEEP scripture exposition authored by Maria Russell. These articles can be found online simply by googling "Mrs. M. F. Russell". Readers are encouraged to read some of those articles, because doing so will impress on the reader that Maria Russell obviously had been the foundation stone of Charles Taze Russell's writings for the previous two decades.
On page 646 of PROCLAIMERS, the WatchTower Society counts on the IGNORANCE of its Jehovah's Witnesses readers regarding legal procedures in its' attempt to negate Maria Russell's trial testimony regarding the shenanigans between Charles Taze Russell and Rosa J. Ball. Readers need to fully understand that Maria and her attorneys were only seeking today's equivalent of a "Legal Separation". They did not go into court intending to completely and totally destroy the character of Charles Taze Russell. That might have won the battle, but it would have lost the war. "Adultery" would have been "grounds" for "Absolute Divorce". Maria Russell did NOT want an "Absolute Divorce". That is why Maria Russell and her attorneys wanted to make it absolutely CLEAR, and stated such for the court record, that they were NOT alleging that Charles Taze Russell had committed "adultery".
Maria Russell wanted a "separation", NOT a "divorce". Thus, Maria Russell's "Complaint" alleged "Cruelty" as her "grounds" for a "legal separation". The time period given in Maria Russell's original Complaint was from 1897 to the date of the Complaint -- April 1903. In order to prove "Cruelty" committed in 1897, Maria Russell reasonably had to be permitted to testify about events that preceded 1897. The trial judge ruled that January 1, 1896 was reasonable, but not before he first granted the Motion made by Charles Taze Russell's attorneys to STRIKE OUT Maria Russell's earlier testimony regarding the shenanigans between Charles Taze Russell and Rosa J. Ball -- after it was eventually learned that the most damaging events between Chuckie and Rose to which Maria Rusell had previously testified had occurred back in 1894. The authors of PROCLAIMERS knew all that, but decided to deceive their readers and make more of what Maria Russell's statement meant than what it did, and make more of the "strike of testimony" than what it was.
DEATH OF JOSEPH L. RUSSELL
As noted above, Charles Taze Russell's 65 year-old father, Joseph Russell, married Maria Russell's "younger-by-five-years" 25 year-old sister, Emma Russell, in 1880. Born in 1813, the 84 year-old Joseph Russell must have experienced an inordinate amount of stress caused by the marital discord between his only living Son and his wife Emma's older Sister -- particularly during the last six months that preceded their physical separation in November 1897. Joseph Russell DIED only five weeks after Maria Russell moved out of the Bible House and fled to her brother in Chicago while Charles Taze Russell was on a trip to NYC.
The January 1, 1898 issue of ZION'S WATCH TOWER magazine contained the expected laudatory OBITUARY, which contained no hint that things had ever been less than perfect between father and son, and indicated that Charles had been near Joseph's bedside at the time of his death on December 17, 1897.
Only three months earlier, back on September 6, 1897, in the midst of some of the most vicious and most public of the fighting between Charles and Maria, Charles Taze Russell MAILED what he himself labeled as "LEGAL NOTICES" to "Mr. J. L. Russell, Mrs. J. L. Russell and Mrs. L. J. Raynor (Maria and Emma's older, widowed sister, who also was a one-time Bethelite)" ORDERING THEM "not to receive, harbor or entertain my wife under your roof under any pretext whatsoever." That is all that we know of the content of those three "Legal Notices", and we know that much only because Charles Taze Russell included that information in a fourth "legal and formal notice" that he sent to Maria Russell at the same time.
HOWEVER, on November 8, 1897, after the last round of fighting which preceded Maria Russell's departure, Charles Taze Russell once again sent out a "LEGAL NOTICE" to four friends of Maria Russell (unidentified, but believed to be Emma Russell, Laura Raynor, and two other unknown "friends"), which Charles Taze Russell once again copied to Maria in her own "Legal Notice", in which Charles Taze Russell ORDERED Maria that he did "... prohibit you from having intercourse with them in any manner."
We are going to "assume" that the first set of September "Legal Notices" were prepared by Charles Taze Russell's Attorney (but no biggie if that assumption is incorrect). However, in November, Charles Taze Russell states in his letter to Maria that these second set of "Legal Notices" were typed by Bethelite John A. Bohnet (see our Russell Financial Biography page), although we assume that Charles Taze Russell actually composed the content of this second set of "Legal Notices" BASED ON THE CONTENT OF THE PREVIOUS SEPTEMBER "LEGAL NOTICES", including that sent to his own Father. There is no concrete evidence that Joseph Russell was one of the addressees of these second "Legal Notices", but neither is there any hard evidence that Joseph Russell was not one of the addressees. The fact remains, that given the lack of legal rights possessed by females of that era, the second September "Legal Notice" addressed to "Mrs. J. L. Russell" would have been understood to have been addressed to her husband, Joseph L. Russell.
Here is the content of the second November "Legal Notices", to which we have "added emphasis" to improve readability:
Some time ago I addressed you in regard to your influence upon my wife.
I have since had some ground for hope that both you and she had come to view matters in a different light, and that your mutual conspiracy to do me injury had been repented of and abandoned. And acting in good faith I made no further objection to your intercourse.
For a month past, however, I am reluctantly forced to the conclusion that the great adversary is deluding your clique to take some other lines for mischief -- hoping for better success than last time. I have been praying for you each and all, earnestly, that the Lord would open your eyes to the enormity of your course; but I now conclude that it is my duty toward my dear wife to isolate her from your pernicious influence; for such it is, whether you are aware of it or not; and I hope and incline to believe that you are not wilful, but blinded, in the matter; but that there be no chance for misunderstanding, and that this notice shall be in every way a legal notice, I must use great plainness of speech, and tell you that your influence, however intended, is a wicked influence; for it has a wicked effect upon my dear wife. So far from being a "peacemaker," as all who bear the name of Christ should be, you are a mischief maker -- a disturber of the peace. You have already alienated from me the affections of my dear companion, who I believe was given me by the Lord, so that she bears no resemblance to her former loving, generous self. You have incited, or helped to incite in her, an evil, selfish disposition, as contrary to the Scriptural definition of the spirit of love and the character of our Lord, as it is contrary to her former beautiful character under the influence of Divine grace. The laws of our State, not to mention the higher laws of God, deprecate all such conduct and pernicious influence as seeks to alienate and separate between husbands and wives. -- "What God hath joined let no man (nor woman) put asunder"-- either actually or in spirit of mind.
Very reluctantly, therefore, I hereby give you notice that you must not continue this baneful influence; and that to this end you henceforth abstain from all intercourse with my dear wife -- either personal or otherwise -- that you shall not receive her into your home, nor visit her at my home, nor meet her elsewhere, nor correspond with her either directly or by proxy through others.
As it is with pain and reluctance that I thus write to you -- and only as a last resort in the defense of my home and in hope that under Divine blessing my dear wife, being freed from such false sympathy and evil encouragements, shall regain "the spirit of a sound mind" -- the holy spirit of love, -- so, I shall be most glad to recall the restrictions here placed upon you with reference to my wife. But nothing shall be construed as revoking this notice except it be given in writing over my own signature. And failure on your part to conform to this notice, absolutely, will justly lay you liable for such heavy penalties as the Courts of Allegheny County may prescribe.
Sorrowfully yours, etc.
C. T. RUSSELL
Notably, during the 1894 Schism, Charles Taze Russell published a letter of support from his father, Joseph L. Russell, which condemned Russell's attackers. Notably, during Charles Taze Russell's lengthy battle with Maria Russell, which started long before 1897, and continued to be played out in the media and countered by Russell in the pages of the WATCH TOWER magazine up until and even after Charles Taze Russell's own death, we have not located any letter, statement, quotation, or even indication of any condemnation of Maria Russell or her actions from Joseph L. Russell prior to his death in 1897.
JOSEPH L. RUSSELL'S WILL
During Maria's and Taze's April 1906 Divorce-Separation Trial, Charles Taze Russell testified that at some unspecified time during the mid-1890s that he had spoken to his father, Joseph Russell, about what Taze perceived as the insufficient amount bequeathed in Joseph's WILL to Taze's sister, Margaret Land. Taze evidently convinced Joseph Russell that he should leave more to Margaret. Taze drew up a new WILL for Joseph, which also devised $1000.00 to the Watch Tower Society -- which effectively was a bequest of $1000.00 to Taze, despite the fact that Taze boasted that he had counseled his father that his estate was too small for such a large bequest, and boasted of the fact that he, Charles Taze, received nothing from the estate of his father. (The obvious question is how had Joseph Russell's estate become so small by the mid-1890s, unless such was because Joseph had effectively already given much of his lifetime earnings to Taze via their intermingled business dealings which had all eventually trickled down to Taze. Interestingly, a note -- evidence of a debt -- in the amount of $1700.00 was given to Charles Taze Russell by Joseph Russell only 15 days before his death. Such memorializations between fathers and sons under such circumstances are often attempts to revive previously paid or even forgiven debts, or simply to concoct non-existent debts, in order to defraud those to whom money will otherwise legally and rightfully flow via a WILL or divorce. Attorneys will even counsel clients to do such. This Editor even has seen this occur multiple times amongst my own relatives.)
Emma Russell was very unhappy about the way that her husband was treating her and their child in his WILL after she had married this old, wrinkled codger when she was 25 years-old, and had borne him another daughter. Emma passed that anger on to her sister Maria, who passed such along to her husband. Joseph L. Russell's ONLY obligation was to his relatively young wife, Emma Russell (born 1855), and their teenage daughter, Mabel Russell. Nothing should have been bequeathed to either Margaret Land nor the Watch Tower Society unless there was obvious surplus over and above that which was estimated to last Emma's life expectancy, which was NOT the situation. In fact, when Emma was in her late 50s, she was forced to take employment at Bethany College as an "Assistant Dorm Matron" -- a Campbellite school located in Bethany, West Virginia -- where she lived and worked until about six years prior to her death in 1929.
THE BROOKLYN EAGLE. NEW YORK, MONDAY, NOVEMBER 25, 1912.
SAYS "RUSSELLISM" BROKE UP FAMILY
Merchant Declares Wife and Daughter Were Lured Away by "Pastor's" Teachings.
LAWYER'S ADVICE SOUGHT
After Two Months on the Road Selling Russell Books, Women Return, Asking to Be Forgiven
(EMPHASIS ADDED BY US. Also, readers should bear in mind that this newspaper article was published during a much more conservative age, and we believe that the editor intentionally chose the occasionally double-meaning verbiage to make certain that the EAGLE'S readers "got it".)
The Eagle has been requested by a well-to-do New York merchant to make known his experiences with Pastor Russell and his teachings, which for a while, he says, broke up his home and caused him and members of his family great misery.
The man's wife and an 18-year-old daughter had become so attracted by the doctrines of Pastor Russell that they left their home in a New Jersey seaside town and went out on the streets selling books for the Brooklyn preacher. They stayed away about two months, and it was only when the husband and father informed them that he had consulted his attorney about instituting a legal action to get possession of his daughter that they returned home and asked to be forgiven.
When they left home last September they took only summer clothing with them, and as the New York business man refused to send them their winter wraps, the cold weather may also have helped induce them to return. They were received back on condition that the girl should be sent to a boarding school for two or three years, and that the wife should give up all relations with the followers of Pastor Russell.
In a letter to the husband and father Pastor Russell invited him to come to Brooklyn and turn over his "all to the Lord [Russell]." Should the husband and father refuse to do this he was warned that it might "blight your life and embitter it -- and cost you the future life," which being interpreted in the light of the pastor's teaching would mean that he would suffer the "second death" and have no further chance for enjoyment of the coming millennium, which is a cardinal feature of "Russellism."
Wife Comes Home and Asks Husband to Forgive Her.
No attention was paid to the letter, and instead the father consulted his lawyer. It was last Monday that the wife, who demanded to be supported by her husband, though living away from home, was informed of this move. She then went away to consult the leaders of the sect, and presumably by advice of their lawyer she came back home next day and asked to be forgiven.
The daughter came first in the company of a "sister" from the Russell camp, but her father told her he would have nothing to say to her unless she came alone, whereupon the "sister" was dismissed and a reconciliation followed. The girl is now in an out-of-town school, where her father expects to keep her for a few years.
"My daughter is as innocent as a child," said her father today. "She does not know much about other religions, and in some way, through her mother's indulgence, she became fascinated by this 'self-consecration' and 'millennium' idea, until she was unable to do anything but carry out the orders of the leader of the sect and his aides."
"My wife has always been of a religious turn of mind," continued the husband. "She was brought up in a small town, where she did not get in touch with any broad currents of life, and though her father was one of the finest men I ever knew, he did not take much interest in religion. Consequently, the novelty of extreme religious ideas had a certain attraction for her.
"She belonged to the Church of the Disciples of Christ for many years, and was a diligent worker for them. I never hindered her in her church work as long as it seemed to me normal and wholesome. Then she became infatuated with Dowie and Zionism for a few years, but that, happily, did not take any extreme turn.
"It was about three years ago that she began to be interested in "Pastor" Russell and his doctrines. I had no idea of the character of the teachings of that cult, and being an open-minded man I even went so far as to accompany my wife to several of their services in Brooklyn, and also donated a little money to them. And what is more, I read faithfully the six books that "Pastor" Russell sells, called "Studies in the Scriptures."
"Things went along peaceably as far as I could make out, until last summer, when the "season" opened at the seaside place where we have our house. The Russellites began to invade our home and hold evening "study meetings." That upset my rest and brought a lot of people into the house that I did not want to entertain, so I said the meetings would have to stop.
Says Wife and Daughter Were Given Great Quantities of Books to Sell.
"The next step came when I found about ten thousand copies of "Pastor" Russell's pamphlets in my house, and a lot of books, which my wife and daughter were sent out to distribute and sell. Instead of keeping house, and taking care of the two younger children, they spent all day tramping house to house among our neighbors, distributing leaflets and selling books.
"It was my daughter who made most of the sales, I learned, because she is a bright girl, though unsophisticated, while my wife is not adapted to commercial affairs. She never could sell anything.
"This kind of life told on my girl's health, and furthermore, I did not want her to be exposed to the dangers of going in and out of strange houses, so I finally put my foot down, and said this peddling must stop.
Thereupon, as I found out later, my daughter sent a telegram to Brooklyn asking what to do. She was told she should leave her home at once. To my wife this was equivalent to a command she did not think of disobeying, but when l was told about it, I said that I would never let my daughter go away unless her mother went with her, to look out for her.
"They both left. That was about two months ago, and a few days later I got a letter from "Pastor" Russell in which he invited me to come and join his flock, and practically turn over my business to him. He used a lot of Biblical phrases, and asked me to come and spend Sunday at his house, on Columbia Heights, in Brooklyn. He even went so far as to offer me the use of his own room, as he was going away to Maine over Sunday.
"I paid no attention to the letter which proposed that should I not consent to sell me home and join him, my wife would be sent back to me, but my young eighteen-year-old daughter would be kept. I supposed her ability to sell books was the only reason he wanted her to stay [don't bet on that].
"I informed my wife that I would not take her back unless my daughter came back, and that it would be her plain duty to stay and look after the welfare of our child. My younger daughter and son stayed with me, and we kept the house going, but naturally it was not a happy home. I became more and more worried, and at last decided to go to court to get back my oldest child. I intended to ask the court to make me her guardian, so I could do with her what I pleased.
Lack of Winter Clothes Helps to Bring Woman and Her Daughter Home.
"In the meantime the two women had been sent out to work for the 'pastor.' I heard one of them in Bloomfield, N.J., where they were going from house to house selling the Russell books, which sell for $2 per set.
"When they went away they packed up only their summer clothes, as their winter wraps were then in a storage place. When the cold weather came, they sent for their heavy clothes, but I refused to give them up. I'm afraid they had a hard time to get along with the 'pastor,' and now they are back. One of the stipulations of the reconciliation was that my wife would have no further intercourse with the sect, and that my younger children should be spared instruction in the Russell doctrine.
"I have hopes that my daughter will grow out of her delusions, and that she will be spared to me. She had already gone so far as to believe that she had become 'consecrated' and that her whole life was to be given up to work for the 'pastor '. While I cannot control my wife's mind, I also expect that she will be glad to remain in her home, where she has every comfort. In fact, she seems very glad to be back.
"It has been a terrible experience for me, and I hope other men may take warning."
END OF ARTICLE
WHO REALLY IS THE "FATHER" OF THE WATCHTOWER SOCIETY?
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