105 Years Ago Today

105 Years Ago Today


On October 31, 1916, which is one-hundred and five years ago today, Charles Taze Russell, called Pastor Russell by his followers, died.

At 2:00 PM, Tuesday, October 31, 1916, Charles Taze Russell, the husband of Maria Frances Russell, died four months, sixteen days short of his sixty-fifth birthday. His death, it was said, was in Pampa, Texas. The next day, a New York Times headline read, “PASTOR RUSSELL DIES IN TEXAS TRAIN. Brooklyn Tabernacle Divine Expires from Heart Disease on His Way to New York.”

Pastor Russell’s grave certificate, signed by W. E. Spill stated the cause of death as cystitis. A death certificate can’t be located.

According to information published, when the body reached Chicago, a large number of friends assembled at the station, and, as it was necessary to transfer the casket from one depot to another, a long procession of automobiles bearing the sorrowing people formed and followed through the city. The casket was opened during the delay there, and many took their last look at him whom they knew so well and loved so much. From Chicago, the body was accompanied by a delegation–delegations from other cities joining en route to New York.

The body reached New York, Friday morning, November 3rd, and in Brooklyn on Saturday, November 4th, congregation members and the staff who worked with the deceased viewed it. On Sunday morning the remains were removed to The Temple in New York City and lay in state until 10 o’clock in the evening where thousands saw him for the last time.

I have spent literally thousands of hours researching the history of Russell and his wife during the past twenty-two years and what you have read above is an example of that research. Why do I do it? Because the religious teachings of these people unduly influenced the direction of my life. And not just mine – but the lives of millions of people around the world. His religious beliefs have influenced people since 1879 and have continued until now, 141 years later. If Charles and his wife, Maria, had never been born, I would not be the person I am today. My life experiences would have been totally different – and the same would be true for millions of other believers that have come and gone.

That’s why I felt that it was important to learn as much as I possibly could about these highly criticized -and passionately defended – individuals. I wanted to be able to do that research without being influenced by the power of Watch Tower leaders’ revisionist history.

Just the other day as I was looking at some material in one of my files, I glanced at the date Joseph L. Russell (the father of Charles Taze Russell) was born. I realized that the 208th anniversary of his birth was July 4th of this year, 2021. Over the years, as a researcher into the lives of these people, I’ve thought a lot about this Scots-Irish owner of haberdashery clothing stores (who later became a junk-yard dealer) born so long ago. It was Joseph’s money, beliefs, and encouragement that drove his son’s ambition and passion to become “the spokesman” between God and man for his era. And it is a bit disconcerting to consider the fact that his marriage to Ann Eliza Birney produced a son (CharlesTaze) whose interpretations of the Bible would eventually influence most of my life in so many ways.

I don’t mean to sound too critical of the man, but all of us who left the Jehovah Witnesses religion have in one way or another been through many heartrending life experiences. How did this happen? Because we unknowingly accepted a code of belief that was first hatched by men living during the Protestant Reformation. They were followed by 19th century self-appointed prophets called “Adventists” and”Age-To-Come” believers. Then came John Nelson Darby, co-founder of the Plymouth Brethren; all of these men were in general terms “dispensational, pre-tribulational, pre-millennial and cessational” in their theology. It was these religious influences that led Charles Taze Russell and his cohort (wife) Maria Ackley Russell in religious exegeses to expand upon and publicize through the use of the Watch Tower Corporation that they founded.

It is interesting to note that there are far too many former Jehovah’s Witnesses (and that includes disfellowshipped, disassociated, and so-called “faders”) who continue to believe that Jehovah’s Witnesses have the “true religion” or that at least some of their beliefs have merit.

Over the years, in speaking with many who have left the religion of Jehovah’s Witnesses, I have found too many who are consumed by guilt and worry. Why? Because they feel that they can not live up to God’s requirements as taught by Jehovah’s Witnesses, and they think they are going to die at the hands of God. That is, of course, a very unhealthy way to think and live.

My goal is to prove with documentation that Charles and Maria Russell were not and could not have been specially chosen or used by God. Learning the facts could free many minds and hearts from the hold that this harmful religion exerts upon them in so many ways.

That’s the main reason why I continue to research and write about the Russell’s and their beliefs over the last two decades.

16 thoughts on “105 Years Ago Today

  1. Thanks Barbara. It’s amazing to think it’s been 105 years since Pastor Russell died. Maria Russell certainly played a significant role in promoting Russell as that Servant although we mustn’t forget Russell’s ‘humble’ allowance of this portrayal in the Watch Tower of that Servant being fulfilled by a single individual.

    The Society post 1927 has tried and continues to cover up these facts. The idea that Pastor Russell not only believed that the faithful & wise servant was a singular person and was in fact Russell himself, is anathema to the modern Society. But the biggest lie is that the Society itself was the biggest promoter of Russell as that Servant, even greater that Russell and Maria.

  2. The WTBTS have now rid themselves of one of their “thorns in the flesh” by removing the pyramid that JF Rutherfraud had built in CTR’s memory. He is still revered by the many Bible Student groups that are still around. The largest being the LHMM.

    1. when did they remove the pyramid? We went on a JW tour while in PA, hosted by an ex-Bethelite named Jonas I think, and I asked him why the pyramid was included in it. I liked his answer, he replied that, “Jehovah’s Witnesses hav never tried to hide their mistakes.” A lovely idea…

      1. They had it removed within the last couple of months. Go on YouTube and type in something like Russell pyramid removed and something should come up.

  3. Hi Barbara, we will never stop thanking you for your spirit of deep search into the facts and actions about the founder of this organization and all others who followed during the years, leading to the WT’s organization how it presents nowadays. Sure, the ideology of Russel has survived him, joining many of us hundred years after his death. I’ve always hated the claim of WT when on their magazines claimed: Is thanks to the organization if you learned the truth, and became the person you are… Yes, they did the dirt job to control our minds and lives with wrong interpretations of the Bible, adding loads on loads in our lives, but the basic education about life, ways of act with others, sense of justice and honesty, respect for others have all be learned in our families, since our birth, and if we are today ‘a good person’ is not thanks to WT but thanks to our parents! WT has filled our mind of a wrong view of other people who are not JW, has set a system of controlling each other worthy of a dictatorship, and disfelllowshipping people for reasons not sustained by the bible, destroying the social life of those individuals, and I could continue… In fact, WT’s did more harm than good. Thanks to your research and writings and thanks to my husband to had the courage to search the ‘apostate’ literature that our family is happily out and far with our mind, from this organization.

  4. Cystitis or heart disease? Cystitis is a bacterial infection in the bladder which can be sorted out with a simple course of antibiotics. Which one do you think it was?

  5. Good and interesting information. It would be so much easier to read though if it were divided into logical paragraphs? I found myself getting lost in the dense, undivided text.

  6. Thanks Barbara. Your work on this and other issues relating to the Watchtower and JW’s is an inspiration. Keep up the great work!

  7. I definitely wasted time believing the tripe put out by this religion but My Wife was the finest example of a human being I’ve met in spite of Her being raised as a JW and I wouldn’t have my three daughters if I hadn’t fell under the spell of the religion. Now we’re happy Atheists making the most of this happy accident that is life. All religions are to some extent or another destructive as they’re all based on nonsense.

    1. You’re very fortunate that your wife (and daughters) left the religion with you. It has not gone so well for me and many other ex-JWs.

  8. It’s so sad to think JWs believe they are going to die at the hands of God if they don’t tow the Watch Tower line is indeed a very unhealthy way to think, believe, and live. I’m so grateful that my soul got me out of that cult in 2000, in spite of me never imagining it possible to leave. Thank you Barbara for all your research, so appreciated by so many today.

  9. I think Generalissimo Rutherford did way more damage than Russell, and no one mourned Rutherford’s death like that.
    Would my parents have been sucked into a different cult? I would have liked to credit them with more intelligence than that, Like JT says, no one does hypocrisy quite like the Watchtower.

    1. I agree Adam, Rutherford indeed did way more damage. He was not mourned anything like Russell. That does tell you a lot about each of their characters. Then Knorr turned things slimmy and Franz turned things weird. So eventually harshness from Rutherford, mixed with slimmy, weird ingredients becomes what you see today. A confused bunch of scared cauliflowers.

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