The Pittsburgh Press from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on June 25, 1967 · Page 169
Get access to this page with a Free Trial

A Publisher Extra Newspaper

The Pittsburgh Press from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania · Page 169

Publication:
Location:
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Issue Date:
Sunday, June 25, 1967
Page:
Page 169
Start Free Trial
Cancel

V .Jiil MdDEannnQnena By George Sivetnam Press Sniff Writer X ' 1 ? Rev. Charles Taze Russell TEAR the top of the hill on Cem- etery Lane, between Babcock. i RnnlpunrH and IT R 19 in Rnss Township, is one of the strangest monuments to be seen in all the Pittsylvania Country. It is a granite pyramid, perhaps ten feet square, and it is filled with books and magazines and other papers, hermetically sealed to await the end of time. The pyramid has one side towards each of the principal compass points. Each side has spaces for 48 names, numbered one to six under each of the first eight letters of the alphabet. But only seven of the spaces have ever been filled: Two on the north, one on the south, and four on the east. But if you think the monument is unusual, you ought to consider the man who built it and whose grave is beside it, though it doesn't bear his name. He was a native of Pittsburgh, and perhaps its most widely known one, although you may not recognize his name in the form in which lie was christened: Charles Taze Russell. Not too many other people would, or would have at any time. But as "Pastor" Russell his name was a household word half a century ago, and today he has over a million active followers, all over the world. They are no longer called "Russell-ites," however. Theirs is no cult of personality. You can read for an hour in the group's yearbook and never find his name if it is indeed there at all. They have never published a biography of him. The official name of the group is now Jehovah's Witnesses. Only Child Charles Taze Russell was born in Old Allegheny on Feb. 16, 1852, the only child of Joseph L. and Eliza Birney Russell. His father had a general store on Federal Street, and the family was living in rooms above it. Mr. Russell's business was known as "the Old Quaker store,",, from the picture signboard, of a type often used here and elsewhere when many people were unable to read. Mrs. Russell died when Charles was only eight years old, and after that he and his father were almost inseparable. Because the lad was sickly and not always able to go to school his father often tutored him at the store. Perhaps because of the mother's death, they thought much about religion, and old timers used to recall that Charles often wrote Bible texts on the sidewalk. Charles learned fast, and at 11 became a full partner in the store. As his health improved, he grew fast, too, and by the age of 15 looked like a man, and acted like one. His father sent him to Philadelphia on buying trips. The business prospered, and by 18G9 they were operating a very early chain of stores. They had moved to a house on Liberty Avenue. The first branch was a shirt store at 12 Fifth Avenue (near Market Street) and others followed on Washington Street, Liberty Avenue, and one in Philadelphia. But despite his success in business, young Russell was troubled in spirit. Troubled by the doctrine of eternal damnation, he had become an unbeliever, but kept probing for some faith he could accept. Attended Meeting One evening he dropped into a dingy little basement hall near the Federal Street store, and heard an Adventist named Jonas Wendell preach on the near approach of Christ's second coming. Vastly interested, he im mediately resumed his study of the Bible, started a Bible class in Pittsburgh, and began lecturing on the subject. In 1877 he joined with George Barbour of Rochester, N. Y., in publishing a paper, "Herald of the Morning," and in writing a book, "The Three Worlds." In this book he predicted the end of the age as 1914, which many believed meant the end of the world, but which he later explained as the beginning of the final preparation. That same year, at 25, the young merchant called a meeting of all the ministers of Pittsburgh, and laid his views before them. They heard him polilely, but declined to join in his movement. It was this rebuff that convinced him it was necessary to break with all churches. He sold out his stores one by one the last in 1883 and decided to devote his entire personal fortune, estimated at $350,000, to the spread of his teachings. In 1879 Mr. Russell began publishing a paper, "Zion's Watch Tower," and married Maria Frances Ackley, a member of one of his study groups. The publishing venture prospered, but the marriage did not. By 1880 he was traveling and lecturing widely, writing books on religion and publishing his journal. Four years later he incorporated Zion's-Watch Tower Tract Society, t JZ-cV This is the monument containing the writings of Pastor Russell. (organized in 1881) and in 1886 began publishing the "Millenial Dawn," a series of his six major books. He wrote and syndicated Bible lessens carried by newspapers with circulation of millions, all over America. By this time he was beginning to be called Pastor Russell, and in 1890 the Pittsburgh City Directory for the first lime listed him as a minister. Still Small The movement, except as a publishing house, was still small. At the first convention, in 1893, there were only 360 delegates, and it was 11 more years before the 1000 mark was reached. International conventions now bring out 150.000 to 200,000. By 1900 Pastor Russell was one cf the most controversial figures in America, and his movement was growing by leaps and bounds, opening its first overseas office, in London. In 1909 he moved the publication from Bible House, on Federal Street, to the Bethel Home, in Brooklyn. He set up his entire fortune as a trust fund for the work. Today it extends to more than 200 countries, and it published and distributed more than five million bound volumes last year, while its two magazines had a total - circulation of more than 200 million copies. The Witnesses expect to fill Forbes Field for their district assembly July 27-30. Constantly on the go, Pastor Russell suffered a stroke on a train in Texas in 1916, and was buried here in the cemetery he owned, a few yards from the pyramid. He had founded 1200 churches, preached 30,000 sermons, and written over 52 million pages. The spaces on the pyramid, corresponding to cemetery lots, had been designated for key workers at Bible House and the Bethel Home. But Jehovah's Witnesses are seldom wealthy, and the cost of bringing the dead here was high. Only seven were brought here, and the other lots were later sold to the public. Of the seven buried, as he had planned, at least five were Pitts-burghers, Arabella Mann, Chester Elledge, Grace Mound, H. L. Adding-ton and Flora Cole. Mary J. White-house and Lorena Russeil (no known kin to the Pastor) may have been but this is uncertain. Addington died youngest at 35, Miss Cole eldest, at 78. Tli Pitt&burgh Press, Sunday, June S5, 1967 Pajc 7

What members have found on this page

Get access to Newspapers.com

  • The largest online newspaper archive
  • 18,700+ newspapers from the 1700s–2000s
  • Millions of additional pages added every month

Publisher Extra Newspapers

  • Exclusive licensed content from premium publishers like the The Pittsburgh Press
  • Archives through last month
  • Continually updated

Try it free