Bethel Sister Reveals Truth about Russell, Rutherford and Bible Students

Listen to a recording of Sister Cora Sumdbom telling her story of experiences at the Bethel in the days of Pastor Charles T Russell and the early days of the Watchtower Society.  She talks about the brethren’s meals, discussions, studies, work and interactions with each other and  with a kind, gentle, funny, engaging, warm and loving Pastor Russell.  Did you know that Pastor Russell would sometimes carve the meat for dinner at the Bethel?  He would often joke around with the brethren, always trying to create a loving, friendly, encouraging and spiritual atmosphere.

Sr. Cora then goes on to explain how J.F. Rutherford was so easily able to take over the Society due to his swiftness of action and the TRUST the brethren all had for each other.  Nobody believed it possible that a fellow brother would act in deceit and treachery to seize control of the Society.  She explains how Pastor Russell bequeathed his controlling interest in the stock of the Watchtower Society to three sisters and how J.F. Rutherford prevented them from voting.  She explains how Bro. Richie, the Vice President, was prevented from taking control of the business meeting electing the next president and why he did not take the matter to court.

She then goes on to discuss how she and her family were disfellowshipped  by J.F. Rutherford and how the brethren regrouped and reorganized into today’s Bible Student movement.

Sister Cora Sumdbom, Brother Baker and others testified that Brother Russell had quietly dismissed J.F. Rutherford from the Watchtower in 1915 for indiscretions unbecoming of a Christian.  Brother Russell was a compassionate gentleman who did not want to destroy Brother Rutherford’s reputation, so very few were aware that he had been expelled.

Enjoy hearing Sr. Cora Sumdbom’s personal recounting of Watchtower history.

LISTEN TO RECORDING OF SISTER CORA SUMDBOM BY CLICKING HERE:

After clicking on the above link, allow a few seconds for audio to begin.

21 comments to Bethel Sister Reveals Truth about Russell, Rutherford and Bible Students

  • ZionsHerald

    Thank you Rud,

    I believe what you have stated is correct and will detail out some of the evidence I have from both sides of the issue with as much of the evidence as possible which is in my possession. This is a long read and very boring, but it does track where Rutherford was and what he was doing during the years of 1915 to 1916.

    As much as I dislike what Rutherford and his friends did to the Bible Student movement and it’s friends, it is important to research the documented evidence available to be able to find a concrete answer. I find it interesting that Cora Sundbom also states that Rutherford claimed that the Society was broke when she quotes him as stating they did not have money to bring Br. Russell’s sister from Florida for his funeral because “we haven’t got any money for that.”

    I think that we have all heard stories about Rutherford being “sent away” over the years but the documented evidence for this is very slim. Now that many of the documents, papers, magazines, and personal letters from the time have been scanned we have the ability to track Rutherford’s whereabouts for this time period to a great amount of detail.

    Ken Rawson mentions this idea in his book but it lacks the details which would prove the idea and also has some historical inaccuracies.

    “W. A. Baker, a confidant of Pastor Russell, personally told me that Pastor Russell had discharged Judge Rutherford in 1915. Sr. Cora Sundbom, in a recording of her experiences at Bethel with her father Br. John Kuehn, a prominent member at Bethel, also observed that Judge Rutherford was dismissed in 1915. Rutherford never returned to the Watch Tower offices during the lifetime of Pastor Russell, who died in 1916.” (Ken Rawson, Pastor Russell Founded the Bible Students)

    Rutherford was still in service in the New York Bethel until the very end of 1915. We know this because the St. Paul Enterprise mentions not only his whereabouts on specific days, but also exactly what was done on those dates.”

    December 17, 1915 “Bethel,” Brooklyn, N. Y., Dec. 17, ’15. Editor St. Paul Enterprise: Dear Brother in Christ—Perhaps it would interest many to note that Sister Laura May Russell of the “Bethel” died December 11. Funeral service by our dear Brother Rutherford in which he noted her five Christ-like characters, the largeness of heart and nobility of soul, the warmth and graciousness of her spirit and her earnest devotion and tender love to the Master and his disciples: Pilgrim Rutherford lovingly called attention to the fact that our departed sister had the great honor of being the first from Brooklyn “Bethel” to meet and greet the Risen Master, even as did Mary of old. Two days later brother John Perry of “Bethel” also died. Funeral by Pilgrim Van Amburgh. His discourse was touching as he reviewed the faithful, devoted and blessed consecrated life of this very dear and saintly brother. Brother Perry had finely” wrought qualities of heart t.-at endeared him to all at the home. Like a shock of wheat he was fully ripe, and he has gone to meet the Saviour whom he loved so well! Forever with the Lord! Amen, so let it be! Life from the dead is in that word, ‘Tis immortality. Yours in Christ—”The Resurrection and the Life.” J. H. COYLE.” (December 24, 1915 St. Paul Enterprise).

    There is a lot of documentation regarding where Rutherford was and what he was doing on specific days for this period of time.

    In a personal letter by Rutherford dated on December 16, 1914 he states that he wanted to send Sr. Rutherford to Florida for several months because of her health. He was also sending their son Malcom and was also hoping a job could be found for him.

    On December 27th, 1914 Rutherford gave a talk on “The Rise and Fall of Satan’s Empire” at the Frankfort Theatre. (March 19,1915 St. Paul Enterprise)

    The St. Paul Enterprise MARCH 26, 1915 states *Bro. Rutherford, recently here, his famous lecture, “Where are the Dead,” in our best theatre to a large, intelligent audience. 120 names were handed in at the close of the lecture for literature. In “follow-up,” work we found many who were very much interested in Judge Rutherford. We intend mailing copies of the debate to all names handed in at the lecture here, given by Bro. Rutherford, believing that many would read them, when they found out
    “Judge” Rutherford was one of the debaters, for many speak of wishing to hear him again. We thought this a good suggestion for the friends in other cities where he has spoken (they all have copies of the names handed in, or can get them from Brooklyn Tabernacle). Our appreciation of the Enterprise, its splendid service, In creases with each copy received. With beat wishes for success in line*.—Mabel M. Jette, Lawrence, Kans.”

    From the 1915 Convention Reports we know that Rutherford was at the world’s fair from March 26th to April 30th.

    The Friday March 5, 1915 St. Paul Enterprise headline, read, “A Four Night Debate in Search for Truth J. F. Rutherford, Attorney, of New York City and Rev. John H. Troy, at Los Angeles to Debate on Biblical Propositions.”

    The 1915 Convention Report gives the discourse he gave there on “Fruition Day.”

    On April 25th, 1915 Rutherford gave a discourse “On Babylon Before the Great Court Synopsis of Lecture in Los Angeles Delivered at Shrine Auditorium following the Great Theological Debate with’ Dr. Troy (July 23, St. Paul Enterprise)

    The April 30th, 1915 St. Paul Enterprise prints the debate between Rutherford and Rev. Troy stating, “Rutherford and Troy In Four Big Debates 13500 People Come to Hear Arguments on Death and Punishment. Illustration and Verbatim Report from Los Angeles Express.”

    This is also mentioned on R5684 (May 1, 1915 WT). “THE RUTHERFORD-TROY DEBATE DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:– The debates are past history now–ending last evening. Every night the auditorium was packed, with probably more turned away than got in. The total attendance was approximately 12,000 persons. Except for the great amount of enthusiasm manifested by the audience everything was very orderly, and a good spirit prevailed throughout. Certainly the Lord’s favor was with us, and the prayers of the many friends were answered. Many messages of encouragement came from different parts of the country, among them two cablegrams from Europe. The friends are all happy.”

    The May 1, 1915 WT also mentions Rutherford’s book he wrote in defense of Br. Russell (A Great Battle in the Ecclesiastical Heavens.”

    “JUDGE RUTHERFORD’S SPICY DEFENSE — Brother Rutherford, grieved by the various untruthful, slanderous attacks upon the Editor, has prepared a pamphlet in my defense. A copy of it has just been handed me. I have not yet read it, though, of course, I knew of its preparation and in a general way of its contents. I preferred not to have anything to do with its publication. It explains Brother Rutherford’s views as a lawyer, as a brother, and as a man who most fully understands the entire situation. It contains some interesting illustrations and is priced at ten cents per copy, or eight dollars per hundred copies, postpaid. It is not unreasonable to expect that nearly all of our readers will be very glad to have this pamphlet, as it will furnish them with evidence on every point thus far brought forward by my maligners. Orders for the pamphlets should be addressed to Judge Rutherford, New York City, P.O. Box 51. However, we will have a supply at THE WATCH TOWER Office, and, if one is ordering other things, this pamphlet can be supplied also. It is entitled, “A GREAT BATTLE IN THE ECCLESIASTICAL HEAVENS.”

    From the documented evidence we know that during the middle of 1915 Rutherford was in California. There are several reports of his witness opportunities during the World’s Fair that year.

    The 1915 Convention Report shows how Br. Russell and Rutherford were still working together that year because at some point in the Spring, while en route to the 1915 Panama-Pacific World’s Fair). Br. Benjamin Barton was asked by Rutherford to substitute for Br. Russell.

    LOS ANGELES, CAL.
    Discourse by Bro. B. H. Barton.
    Subject: “BE YE ENLARGED.”

    Brother Russell has been real busy since coming to the coast. He was expected at Riverside last night. A few days ago it seemed impossible for him to reach Riverside last night.
    Brother Rutherford told me I would be expected to substitute. I started at once to pray for the meeting at Riverside. I thought that the Lord wants us to work as well as to pray, so I wrote Brother Russell, stating how important it was that he come to Riverside; that the friends there had gone to a great deal of trouble and expense in making preparations and it would be disappointing if he could not come. Even last night there seemed not to be much prospect of his being there. But in the Lord’s providence he came.

    May 12 (unknown)
    We had quite a treat and fellowship with about fifteen of the friends from Dallas and Corrallis who came to hear Bro. Rutherford who was to have given a lecture here May 12, but owing to washouts in California didn’t
    get here, but we had Bro. Yerex from Portland to speak that evening on the subject “Where are the Dead?” The opera house was pretty well filled and most of the audience gave close attention. Letter from MISS HATTIE DAY,
    2403 Center St. dated May 23, 1915 (from the June 4, 1915 St. Paul Enterprise)

    May 25th
    Winslow Arizona En Route to Conventions.

    AWAY TO THE WEST ON I. B. S. A. SPECIAL Tale of the Tourists’ Trip Told in Personal Letters by Editor’s Wife (St. Paul Enterprise)

    Between meetings, some of us went sight-seeing in autos, visiting the orange groves, parks, etc. Several cases of oranges and grape fruit were presented to us after the meeting. Pastor Russell did not board our train as I said he would yesterday. I was mistaken. He will arrive here at 6 P. M. and will speak at 7:45. We left our things in the train in care of the porters. Dr. and Mrs. Jones were going to have dinner on the train at noon, but we all thought
    it best not to trojible them and we will go to a restaurant and have our supper on the train. Our train pulls out Thursday morning at 6:40 for Los Angeles. We are all pleased with California. The palms are wonderful. I have taken a lot of pictures. Mr. Rutherford looks enough like our Lieutenant Governor Burnquist to be his twin brother. He pointed his finger at me and said: “Oh, I saw your picture in the paper.” He is very jolly. He will be with us at each
    convention, but he is not on our train.Mr. Rutherford presided at the meeting Wednesday evening when Pastor Russell addressed a very large audience at Riverside.

    May 27
    Los Angeles, Calif., Thursday, May 27—6:15 P.M.

    Los Angeles, Thursday, 11 P. M. Dear Will—We are at the depot and our train leaves at 11:50 for San Diego. The Friends at Los Angeles were holding a local convention May 26 to 30; inclusive, at the People’s Temple, 755 So. Flower street. At 10:30 A. M. the praise service was presided over by Brother W. Homer Lee, and at 11:00 o’clock Brother H. B. Barton delivered a discourse. At 3 o’clock another praise service was held and at 3:30 there was another talk by Brother Barton which I did not hear, but I did hear Pastor Russell again this evening when he addressed about 4,500 people, I should judge, at the Shrine Auditorium. I saw Mr. Rutherford again this evening. He
    wants to have a talk with me at Oakland. I don’t know what about. Will let you know. You will not need to send me any money. I have taken in quite a bit of money for subscriptions. We are off for San Diego and the Panama-California Exposition. —MAY. (From the June 4, 1915 St. Paul Enterprise).

    June 3, 1915 Letter from St. Paul Enterprise Wife
    Oakland, Calif., June 3,1915—2 P. M. Dear Will: I just received all your letters and oh, I was so pleased to hear from you all. I liked Ed.’s picture on his note. Thanks for them all. I have but a few minutes to myself so I will
    not tell you much; as I must get back to the Hall. I have a table at the Hall and Brother Sexton has been very kind to me. Brother Rutherford will speak this afternoon and I want to hear him. I have not seen him since I left Riverside. (July 11, St. Paul Enterprise)

    Oakland, Calif., Thursday, June 3, 9 P.M.
    My Dear Will: I thought I would get at this writing before this but I could not I received quite a number of subscribers and sold some papers today and I gave a lot away to the Friends as an advertisement No doubt you will note that the program has been changed quite a bit. That is because some of the speakers, whose names are on the program, could not get here in time, and others took their places. I enclose an article clipped from a paper as it may help you in making a report. Brother Rutherford spoke this afternoon and his talk did me a world of good. I cannot now tell you what he said because it is late and I must get a good night’s rest as I was up late last night. (July 11, St. Paul Enterprise)

    Oakland, Calif., Thursday, June 3, 9 P.M
    A question meeting was held this evening from 8 to 9 o’clock at the Scottish Rite Cathedral, presided over by Bro. Paul S. Johnson and another question meeting will be held Saturday evening conducted by Brother Rutherford.
    The Scottish Rite Cathedral is a splendid place for the convention. It is very beautiful, and one can hear every word spoken. (Cathedral is right. I called it Hall before.) Brother Bundy from Honolulu spoke this afternoon at 2:30 and Brother Rutherford at 3:30. I will now try to tell you of our outing on Wednesday. (July 11, St. Paul Enterprise)

    Oakland, Friday, June 4, ’15.
    My Dear Will—I sent you a telegram this afternoon about the advisability of holding all the type of the Rutherford-Troy Debates with a view to their publication in pamphlet form. It seems that you can reasonably expect to sell 150,000 copies of the pamphlets. (This letter deals almost exclusively with the proposition of publishing the debates in pamphlet form and will not be printed in full.) Brother Rutherford is much interested in the Analysis of the Debates by our friend whose identity remains a hidden mystery. We had a large attendance at the convention this afternoon. After 3 o’clock’ the time was devoted to a symposium on the fruits of the spirit in which seven brethren took part in ten-minute talks. I hope to write you the rest of this tomorrow. With much love, I am your wife—MAY. (July 11, St. Paul Enterprise)

    San Francisco, Calif., June 5, 1915. Dearest:—I received your letter. I hope you got my report from Santa Ana in time. I got two telegrams from you today—both of them at 7 A. M. I am sorry that you sent so many papers as the Oakland Class is not very large, but it will be all right if the papers arrive before the convention closes. Mr. Hoskins did not re turn until Friday but as things are it was easy for me. I have a table for myself and the Friends are oh so good to me. I showed your telegram about the booklet of the debates and everyone I have talked with about putting the debates into a booklet says that it would be a fine thing to put both sides of the argument in the book.
    I had another talk with Brother Rutherford and told him that I was sea sick last Sunday and he said I was land sick. I will send you the reports in another letter. I want to go to the meeting this eventing and must stop writing at once. — MAY (July 11, St. Paul Enterprise)

    Oakland, Calif., June 7, ’15.
    Brother J. F. Rutherford spoke and was followed by Pastor Russell after whose address we sang “Lift Up Thy Voice” and Pastor Russell pronounced the Benediction. (June 18, 1915 St. Paul Enterprise)

    Late June 1915

    Medicine Hat, Alberta, July 5th, ’15. Editor St. Paul, Enterprise: I received the three sets and Rutherford-Troy debates and Truth numbers and thank you for same.” I like the “Enterprise” very much, and shall send you at least a subscription for myself, (and probably some more besides) at the end of this month when the three subscriptions paid for run out We had a visit recently from Bro. J. F. Rutherford and great interest was created in this city by his lecture, “Where Are The Dead?” The debates form very useful reading for inquirers. I note you ask for contributions to your columns from foreign subscribers and will see what I can do in the near future. Yours sincerely, A. HULBERT (From the July 23, 1915 St. Paul Enterprise)

    Notes From the Winnipeg Ecclesia. Those who had the pleasure of attending the Winnipeg class on Sunday, August 15th, will not soon forget the spiritual feast, which was a foretaste of the great convention. The class was privileged in the morning by having a talk on “Baptism” by Bro. Howlett, who has just returned from a five-weeks’ visit in Regina, Sask., following Bro. Rutherford. He has there formed a class, which is now in a healthy condition. (St. Paul Enterprise August 27, 1915)

    June 28, 1915 St. Paul Enterprise says —
    Judge Rutherford passed through St. Paul Tuesday morning en route for Duluth, and granted a very pleasant and profitable interview to The Enterprise staff. It is possible that he will stop in St. Paul Saturday evening on his way to Milwaukee and favor the local Class with a special address on the development of character that will stand in the present crucial tests. If word is later received that he can make the visit, notice will be sent by
    mail to all local class members.. . .

    . . . .Judge Rutherford was shown some recent attacks sent to The Enterprise by friends from various part of the country, to which these friends had requested public answers, and he was asked if he would advise the continuance of such answers in the paper. His thought seemed to be that all the ground had now been fully covered, so that further work of that nature would not be necessary nor advisable. He says that all such attacks
    are received at the Bible House, and that the latter may be trusted to furnish the friends all really needful defensive materials. This is exactly the position taken some time ago in the columns of this paper. Does this meet
    with the endorsement of our readers?

    From the July 30 St. Paul Enterprise
    It is scarcely likely that any new attack will be made that has not already been provided for. The masterpiece of defense is unquestionably Judge Rutherford’s recent pamphlet, “The Battle,” obtainable from the Bible House. Every friend should have it at hand for use. Many points not taken up by the Judge have been covered by the Enterprise, most of which are available in the special edition of last February. Judge Rutherford himself has advised against further defensive articles. His opinion is highly valued… (This references Rutherford’s book which was a defense of C. T. Russell, The Great Battle in the Ecclesiastical Heavens.)

    July 25, 1915
    From the 1915 Convention Report

    Clipping from the Springfield Homestead — July 25, 1915

    Springfield, Mass. Convention
    New High Record of Attendance at Annual Bible
    Students Association
    PASTOR RUSSELL TODAY
    Mayor Stacy Welcomes Delegates and Judge Rutherford Speaks on “Love of God.”

    ….There were fully 2,000 present at the afternoon meeting which opened at 3 o’clock and in the course
    of which Judge J. F. Rutherford, a prominent member of the New York City bar delivered a
    powerful address….

    ….Following a praise and prayer meeting at 2 o’clock yesterday afternoon Judge J. F. Rutherford of
    New York delivered an address which was the most powerful of the day…..

    Three talks were given by Rutherford here —

    1) Discourse by Judge Rutherford.
    Subject: “THE LOVE OF GOD,”

    2) Conclusion and Summing Up
    of Symposium on Discipline.
    By Bro. Joseph F. Rutherford.
    WHAT is the purpose of discipline? Why have discipline at all?

    (From the St. Paul Enterprise of August 6, 1915)
    One of the most instructive and helpful feasts of the week was the Symposium on Wednesday, participated in by six speakers and summed up by Judge Rutherford. The thought for the day1, was “Discipline” and Brother E. F. Crist of Buffalo made stenographic reports of the symposium for Dr. L. W. Jones, of Chicago, and it will appear among the new Convention reports. If arrangements can be made with Dr. Jones to get the report of this Symposium to be run in the Enterprise after it has been printed in the “Reports,” we will be glad indeed to give our isolated Friends the great treat of reading them in our little paper. Pastor Russell conducted a Question meeting on Monday morning and addressed the Friends in the afternoon of the same day. He also spoke on Saturday afternoon on the subject of Baptism and Its Import, and at 3 o’clock Sunday held a great public meeting when his topic was “The Battle of Armageddon.” . . . .

    . . . .At the conclusion of this response by Chairman Sturgeon, Honorable Judge Rutherford, of New York city, arose and made the following motion: While His Honor, the Mayor, is present, as a member of this convention,
    I want to take this occasion to “move that we, by a standing vote, express to the citizens of Springfield, and especially to the head thereof, the Mayor, our deep appreciation and thanks for tendering to us this magnificent auditorium for this convention.” The motion was promptly seconded, and immediately the large audience rose to its feet, as a unit, seemingly desirous of unmistakably indicating their sincere appreciation . . . .. Following a praise and prayer meeting at 2 o’clock yesterday afternoon Judge J. F. Rutherford of New York delivered an address which was the most powerful of the day He spoke on the general theme of the day. Love, and his brilliant oratorical powers were never displayed to better advantage. “The Love of God” was his specific topic and he placed great emphasis upon its all-important bearing on the spiritual welfare of mankind and pointed out the wonders of self-purification that it had accomplished in numberless cases which human history could disclose. Judge Rutherford’* Address. Judge Rutherford spoke on the subject: “The Love of God,” . . . .

    ….Judge Rutherford’s Predictions. Judge Rutherford of New York city followed, speaking on “Confident assurance of Messiah’s kingdom.” ….

    (And now back to the Convention Report of 1915….)
    3) Springfield, Mass. Discourse by Bro. J. F. Rutherford.
    Subject: “CONFIDENT ASSURANCE OF THE INAUGURATION
    OF THE KINGDOM.”

    Boston Mass….
    From the St. Paul Enterprise, August 6, 1915

    HOW CONVENTION IMPRESSED EDITOR Editor Abbott Reflects Heart Throbs of His “First Truth Convention”
    And there one could not be otherwise than greatly impressed by Judge J. F. Rutherford, as he stood before the people expounding the Word of God, nor do otherwise then reflect on the great sacrifice he has made of worldly position to take up the despised and forsaken Master’s course. Truly his influence is ennobling. And the dear Pastor,—how the Friends all love him—as he stands before the people telling the story which seems too good to be true his face beams with the joy of’service and with great peace. It is difficult to understand why so lovely a character should suffer such abuse as he does from men who claim to be ambassadors for God. It has been a great pleasure” as well as a privilege to meet so many new friends in Springfield. Hundreds have grasped me by the hand and said some very pretty things about our little Enterprise and we are filled with a desire to be of real service to them and the cause they love.

    August 8
    The following Sunday, Aug. 8th, we went to Portland, Maine. We had to go four days earlier, as Bro. Kimball had charge of the assignment of rooms, it was quite a task but a very joyful service and he had some fine helpers.
    Bro. Rutherford expected to be there as chairman, but was obliged to go elsewhere, so Bro. Sturgeon presided. You know how beautifully he served in Springfield, so can imagine just how well the Portland Convention was
    served. You know with him each session is better than the last, so he keeps his audience enthused.

    ….I am glad to be here. As we sometimes say, “tickled to death.” We think a great deal of Brother
    Rutherford. I love hint as much as you do. We have had some delightful times together at
    conventions. I was surprised when he came to me and said, “Brother, I cannot attend the Portland
    Convention.” I felt sorry for him. He won my heart there, and he has had it ever since. He had
    received a telegram which was of such a nature as to make it necessary for him to forego this
    delightful privilege of serving as chairman. I know he had a great desire to come, and his heart is
    here. But the Lord has sent him on important business that may have a bearing upon all of our
    interests, therefore he is serving us, and no doubt it is more pleasing in the Lord’s sight for hint to
    be there than to be here. Having this faith in God we DON’T WANT HIM HERE. This is reverence
    for the Lord and His arrangements. We are not making any apologies, or excuses. We are rejoicing
    in the Lord.

    August 12
    PORTLAND, MAINE, CONVENTION. AT 10:30 A.M. of August 12th 1915
    We had expected our dear Brother Rutherford to be with us, but the Lord has sent Brother Sturgeon
    in his place. We believe that He knows just how to take care of His work… (August 27, 1915 St. Paul Enterprise letter from SR. KIMBALL.)

    August 13, 1915 article, Mr. Abbott Describes His Return Journey (dated August 9, 1915).

    BROOKLYN, NY.
    While waiting for the coat to be fixed Judge Rutherford, passed by and stepped in to greet us. Then I crossed the street to Hotel Margaret and secured delightful quarters on the tenth floor overlooking the harbor……

    “Los Angeles, Calif., Sept 8, 1915. Editor St. Paul Enterprise: I ‘am glad to send you names of a few subscribers. The readers enjoy the Enterprise and look forward for it every week, it is enjoyed next to the Watch Tower.
    We have just had a two-day convention, Sept. 5 and 6 We certainly had a spiritual feast and many excellent speakers, among them being: Bros. Adams Homer Lee, Sexton, Farrah, Robie, Erickson and finished ‘up with Bro. Rutherford, who gave a very beautiful address on Love, taking Eph. 3:14-21 and closing with a love feast. All received a rich blessing. The Los Angeles class is very much blessed by the Lord in having so many privileges. Glad to hear your interesting letters also the Sermons and other articles. Wishing the Lord’s blessing on the work. Yours sincerely, MRS M. A. ELDRED.” (Possibly the September 17 or 24, 1915 St. Paul Enterprise…page missing).

    September to October 1915 Watch Tower Headquarters in Brooklyn
    “After our interview with the Pastor we attended a prayer and testimony meeting held in the dining ball and presided over by Judge Rutherford. It was a beautiful and impressive service of praise and prayer and personal testimonies by the dear friends of the Bethel Family. Outside the house a little yelping cur set up an opposition to the music every time the organ was played and the friends sang, but he forgot to stop when they did, keeping up almost continual barking during the entire hour. This had no apparent effect upon the Friends, how¬ ever, who showed that “none of these things moved them.” (October 1, 1915, St. Paul Enteprise, Pen Pictures of I. B. S. A. Brooklyn Headquarters).

    October 1915 New York
    THE RISE AND FALL OF SATANS EMPIRE Interesting Theme Discussed by Judge J. F. Rutherford of New York . . . .AT FRANKFORT IN DECEMBER (October 8, 1915 St. Paul Enterprise)

    December 1915 Frankfurt Germany
    THE RISE AND FALL OF SATANS EMPIRE Interesting Theme Discussed by Judge J. F. Rutherford of New York . . . .AT FRANKFORT IN DECEMBER (October 8, 1915 St. Paul Enterprise)
    Perhaps Rutherford did not go to Germany until early 1916? See the next letter from St. Paul Enterprise

    December 17, 1915 “Bethel,” Brooklyn, N. Y., Dec. 17, ’15. Editor St. Paul Enterprise: Dear Brother in Christ—Perhaps it would interest many to note that Sister Laura May Russell of the “Bethel” died December 11. Funeral service by our dear Brother Rutherford in which he noted her five Christ-like characters, the largeness of heart and nobility of soul, the warmth and graciousness of her spirit and her earnest devotion and tender love to the Master and his disciples: Pilgrim Rutherford lovingly called attention to the fact that our departed sister had the great honor of being the first from Brooklyn “Bethel” to meet and greet the Risen Master, even as did Mary of old. Two days later brother John Perry of “Bethel” also died. Funeral by Pilgrim Van Amburgh. His discourse was touching as he reviewed the faithful, devoted and blessed consecrated life of this very dear and saintly brother. Brother Perry had finely” wrought qualities of heart t.-at endeared him to all at the home. Like a shock of wheat he was fully ripe, and he has gone to meet the Saviour whom he loved so well! Forever with the Lord! Amen, so let it be! Life from the dead is in that word, ‘Tis immortality. Yours in Christ—”The Resurrection and the Life.” J. H. COYLE.” (December 24, 1915 St. Paul Enterprise).

    This fills out the details of Rutherford’s activities during 1915. As can be seen, he was at Bethel early in the year, and at Bethel later in the year and in between was doing much work for and with Br. Russell. (Unfortunately he worked against Br. Russell in the very first moments after he died).

    What about 1916? Br. Russell and Rutherford were at the same conventions and even travelling together.

    Here is what we know about Rutherford in 1916.

    March 1916 – Kalamazoo, MI (St. Paul Enterprise) Why Do the Nations War?

    March 26, Cincinnati (St. Paul Enterprise)

    April 8, with Pastor Russell talking about Sin Offering (St. Paul Enterprise)

    April 16, Oklahoma City (St. Paul Enterprise)

    CONVENTIONS TO BE ADDRESSED BY PASTOR RUSSELL
    Toledo, Ohio (Four-Day Minneapolis, Minn………..July 6
    Polish Convention, Winnipeg, Man…………… ” 7
    from May 27-30)……….May 29 Sioux City, Iowa………… ” 9
    St. Joseph, Mo…………..June 12 Newport, R.I……………. ” 16
    Kansas City, Mo…………. ” 13 Portland, Me……………. ” 23
    St. Louis, Mo…………… ” 25 Norfolk, Va…………….. ” 30
    N. Y. City Temple………..July 2 N. Y. City Temple………..Aug. 6
    Toronto, Ont……………. ” 3 Cleveland, Ohio…………. ” 13
    Elgin, Ill……………… ” 5 Niagara Falls, N.Y………. ” 20
    ====================

    CONVENTIONS TO BE ADDRESSED BY PASTOR RUSSELL
    N. Y. City Temple………..Aug. 6 N. Y. City Temple………..Sept. 3
    Cleveland, Ohio…………. ” 13 Los Angeles, Cal………… ” 9- 11
    Niagara Falls, N.Y………. ” 20 Seattle, Wash…………… ” 17
    Nashville, Tenn…………. ” 27 Milwaukee, Wis………….. ” 23, 24

    CONVENTIONS TO BE ADDRESSED BY PASTOR RUSSELL
    N.Y. City Temple, N.Y…….Sep. 3 Duluth, Minn…………….Sep. 21
    Los Angeles, Cal………… ” 9 -11 Milwaukee, Wis………….. ” 23, 24
    Seattle, Wash…………… ” 16, 17 N.Y. City Temple, N.Y…….Oct. 1
    Spokane, Wash…………… ” 18 Dayton, Ohio……………. ” 8

    CONVENTIONS TO BE ADDRESSED BY PASTOR RUSSELL
    Santa Ana, Cal…………..Sep. 9 Spokane, Wash……………Sep. 18
    Los Angeles, Cal………… ” 10, 11 Duluth, Minn……………. ” 21
    San Bernardino, Cal……… ” 12 Milwaukee, Wis………….. ” 23, 24
    San Francisco, Cal………. ” 13 N. Y. City Temple, N.Y……Oct. 1
    Portland, Ore…………… ” 15 Dayton, Ohio……………. ” 8
    Seattle, Wash…………… ” 16, 17 Providence, R.I…………. ” 15
    ====================
    CONVENTIONS TO BE ADDRESSED BY PASTOR RUSSELL
    Milwaukee, Wis…………..Sep. 23, 24 Providence, R.I………….Oct. 15
    N. Y. City Temple………..Oct. 1 Fall River, Mass………… ” 15
    Dayton, Ohio……………. ” 8 Dallas, Tex…………….. ” 22
    ====================
    CONVENTIONS TO BE ADDRESSED BY PASTOR RUSSELL
    N.Y. City Temple, N.Y…….Oct. 1 Fall River, Mass…………Oct. 15
    Dayton, Ohio……………. ” 8 Dallas, Tex…………….. ” 22
    Providence, R.I…………. ” 15 N.Y. City Temple, N.Y…….Nov. 5
    ====================

    ADDRESSES BY BROTHER J. F. RUTHERFORD (From August 15, 1916 Wt — This is the only WT he is listed as speaker. He is absent from the list from 1912 through this entire year.)
    North Westminster, B.C……Aug. 11 Boise, Ida………………Aug. 22, 23
    Vancouver, B.C………….. ” 12, 13 Ogden, Utah…………….. ” 25
    Victoria, B.C…………… ” 15 Sacramento, Cal…………. ” 27
    Everett, Wash…………… ” 16 San Francisco, Cal………. ” 28
    Wenatchee, Wash…………. ” 17 Stockton, Cal…………… ” 29
    Tacoma, Wash……………. ” 19, 20 Fresno, Cal…………….. ” 30

    August 19-22 Niagara Falls Convention – Rutherford talk on “The Ransom”

    September 2 – September 10 – Rutherford Chairman at Los Angeles Convention, WT1916p318

    What about Sr. Sunbom’s Testimony? Here are the words I typed from a recording of Sr. Cora Sundbom about Rutherford right after Br. Russell’s death.

    “I better tell you first how Rutherford got in. You see Br. Russell died at the end of October 1916. The next Sunday, the first Sunday in November was his Funeral. Rutherford had been away, sent away I understand. He sent a telegram, don’t do anything until I come. And when he came he walked right into Br. Russell’s study and took care of things, just handled things. And the will said, that Br. Russell’s sister should have charge of the funeral. She was down in Florida and we knew she was poor, and so Papa (Br. Kuehn) told Rutherford you ought to to send for Sr. Land, give her some money, so she can …(Rutherford said) ‘oh we haven’t got any money for that.’ You know, if you had your wits about you, but you might have, but never mistrusted a brother. And so they had a Director’s meeting, Br. Ritchie told us and he went to take the Chairman’s chair and Macmillan put his hand across there that chair and said, “We’re saving that for the judge” and he wouldn’t let Br. Ritchie take charge of the meeting. So Br. Ritchie said that he knew he’d have to go to court. And the Bible says do not go to court with your brother, so what should he do? So he asked the Lord for a sign. Like Gideon did, he didn’t know what else, because he was responsible to the friends and if he was to go to court, if anyone called him President in the next 24 hours, which they had been doing, but they didn’t, no one. So he decided not to go to court. So then, Bro. Russell’s Will. He bequeathed his votes, the controlling interest of the Society to three sisters. When Rutherford came along and took charge, he said ‘you can’t bequeath votes’ and he threw them out. You see, and then it could be controlled by Proxies, whatever. he got entrusted and elected in. That was in January. In February he asked my father and mother and sister to leave and then he sent a letter around to all the family, the Bethel family to sign, says we the undersigned, give the President of the Society a blanket vote of confidence. You know what that means. Whatever you do is alright by me. ..and whoever didn’t sign it should write a letter to him. So of course my sister and I were the only ones who were left of the family that didn’t sign it, and we wrote him a letter and told him why. Well in a little while we were having a convention in Boston, and and they always sent the Bethel family and pay for their expenses and so forth and we told him we didn’t want to go because our brethren who he had deemed put out as directors, …had printed a paper telling what was going on to let the friends know. That was sent up there, and he sent up papers up there and we knew it wouldn’t be anything spiritual so we said (we wouldn’t go). He said, ‘if you stay here while we go we’ll give you the same money that we give them you take a vacation, you take a month. You need it. We were gone a week and we each got a letter and told us not to come back.”

    All Sr. Sundbom says in the recording is that “Rutherford had been away, sent away I understand.” Unfortunately it appears she is drawing a conclusion because she does not elaborate on this point.

    Perhaps this was this when Rutherford was sent away? Perhaps Sr. Cora was confusing 1915 with 1916? Through Br. Rawson we are told that Br. Baker said that Rutherford was sent away in 1915 while Sr. Cora suggests Rutherford was sent away around the time of Br. Russell’s death. Which is it? 1915 or 1916? From the documented evidence it might be neither because we know that Rutherford was doing the business of the Watchtower Society at the World’s Fair in 1915 and in 1916 he was travelling with Br. Russell to various conventions.

    In September and October of 1916 Rutherford is absent. the question is why?

    We now know where exactly where Rutherford was during this time and exactly what he was doing. I have in my possession two letters written by Rutherford explaining in precise detail what ‘business’ he was involved in.

    September 14 – Seattle Washington — “The program indicated that Bro. J. F. Rutherford would deliver a discourse on “Christian Fellowship,” but he being unavoidably absent, Pilgrim Bro. Walter Bundy appeared in his stead…” (1916 Seattle CR)

    Here at the end of 1916 it gets very interesting. Where was Rutherford in September and October 1916 and what was he doing? Through personal letters we know what was happening.

    Early October to October 8, — Joplin, Missouri, (In a personal letter to his sister in the flesh he states he would be in Joplin soon to straighten out a “tangled condition”. There was a family argument about property.) Rutherford writes, “I see no reason why I should spend what little money I have left in coming to Missouri to look after the farm. …I will be going East the first part of next month. I will be going through Tipton, as I have been routed over the Missouri Pacific from K.C. to St. Louis. I may stop off at Tipton between trains and see you for a few hours, but I hardly think I shall go to versailles. I will be at Joplin, Mo., on the 8th of October).

    October 8 – “We just received notice that Bro. J. F. Rutherford will be here Oct. 8 for a public meeting. We have secured the new Joplin theater, at Seventh and Joplin streets—the best in the city.” (St. Paul Enterprise)

    October 11, 1916 – In another personal letter of Rutherford regarding the property squable Rutherford states “Should my brother will every kill me, please see to it that it be made known that my desire is that he be not prosecuted. Leave him entirely in the Lord’s hand. I write this because of threats he has made.”

    October 31, 1916 – Death of C. T. Russell

    “A.H. MacMillan intercepted the telegram at the Brooklyn Bethel home and wired J.F. Rutherford, then at a convention in Oakland, Md., “The old man is dead.” Rutherford returns to Brooklyn and assumes control.” (Herald of Christ’s Kingdom Special History issue 2003)

    November 2. A telegram from Brooklyn announces funeral services in the New York temple at 2:30 p. m. Sunday, and a sending of the remains to Pittsburgh Monday for interment. Another telegram says, “Prepare grave for Brother Russell in designated spot at Rosemont United Cemeteries. Have undertaker at depot to meet the 9:30 train Monday to convey the body to the place of service. Six brethren will accompany. (St. Paul Enteprise, Items of Interest…)

    The rest as they say is history.

  • Rud Persson

    Laura Whitehouse was Isaac Hoskins´ sister-in-law. Eventually she came to live with the Hoskins. If she would tell people about Rutherord being dismissed she certainly would tell Isaac also of it, and he surely would not have spared Rutherford. The Judge´s prominent opponents shows no knowledge about any sacking. So, it is difficult to believe that Whitehouse had actually implied that Rutherford was sacked. Cora Sundnbom did not say he was sacked, only that he was away when Russell died, and evidently had been sent away, which could mean other things than a dismissal. Baker was a Rutherfordite who supported him in 1920, in fact had a letter published to that ecffect in The Watch Tower. To rely on him in this respect therefore does not seem prudent. What many do not realize is that the health of Rutherford´s wife deteriorated at this time and that she needed to live outside of New York. A letter to that effect from December 1914 is available. Any sane man would move from New York under such circumstances, especially since Russell cut down heavily in the summer of 1915 and indicated he might have to cut down even more. Mcmillan in a letter from 1915 stated that the Society was “about broke.”! It was in August 1915 that there was a Board meeting where Russell recommnded the Board to loan Rutherford $ 1000 to set up a law firm in Los Angeles. The board granted the loan. This Isaac Hoskins stated in court under oath. So, while I have no respect whatsoever for Rutherford, I fail to accept the claim that he was dismissed. I will deal with this whloe issue in the book I am writing.

    Rud Persson, Sweden

    • Peter K. (admin)

      Rud,

      Thanks for the good information. I am doing a little more digging myself now. Keep in mind that a lot of information Bible Students have were from verbal first hand accounts that were passed down to interested brethren, but not necessarily documented on paper.

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