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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Clayton J. Woodworth (1870-1951)

Friends of the truth throughout the earth will be interested to learn of the death of one who played a prominent part in the affairs of the Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society for many years, Clayton J. Woodworth. An editor and textbook writer before coming into the Society’s service; he first became a member of the Brooklyn Bethel family in 1912, renewing this membership after a necessary interruption August 1, 1919. He was the writer of the commentary on The Revelation contained in the noted The Finished Mystery which the Society published in 1917. For his part in this and other Society matters he was one of the seven brothers, including the Society’s then president, J. F. Rutherford, who were sent to Atlanta Federal Penitentiary on false charges at the climax of World War I in 1918 but were released in 1919 and exonerated thereafter.

Additional Reading:

Following his release in 1919 Brother Woodworth was made editor of the Society’s newly introduced magazine The Golden Age. He remained editor when the magazine’s name was changed to Consolation in 1937, to carry on as such until 1946. Because of advancing years he was relieved of this when the magazine was given a new change of name to Awake! For years he served as a member and director of the New York Corporation, People’s Pulpit Association and Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, Inc. He continued joyfully active at other duties assigned to him till his illness made this recently impossible. He died at the ripe old age of 81, loyal to the faith and unwaveringly devoted to the theocratic organization, on December 18, 1951, at 4 a.m. Interment of his remains took place at the burial plot of the Bethel family adjoining Radio Station WBBR on Staten Island, New York, at the same time with two other faithful Bethel family members who had died, hours apart, two days previous at the Bethel home. All three professed to be of the anointed remnant, and we rejoice in hope of their realization of Revelation 14:13.

As its editor The Golden Age had one of the brothers who had been imprisoned with Brother Rutherford. He was Clayton J. Woodworth. His son, C. James Woodworth, fills in these interesting details: “My father reestablished a home for us in Scranton [Pennsylvania], and when, in 1919, The Golden Age was begun as a companion magazine to The Watch Tower, the Society appointed him its editor. It was necessary for him to spend a large part of his time actually in Brooklyn, so the Society kindly made an arrangement whereby he worked for two weeks in Brooklyn and two weeks at home—an arrangement that went on for quite a few years. I well remember my dads typewriter going busily at five o’clock many mornings—as he wrote or edited material for The Golden Age and sent it to Brooklyn by early mail.”

Clayton J. Woodworth faithfully served as editor of The Golden Age and its successor Consolation (published from October 6, 1937, through July 31, 1946, inclusive). Because of advancing years, he was relieved of this work when the new journal Awake! replaced Consolation, with the issue of August 22, 1946. However, Brother Woodworth remained faithful at other duties in God’s service until death, on December 18, 1951, at eighty-one years of age.

Charles Taze Russell had written six volumes of Millennial Dawn, or Studies in the Scriptures, but often spoke about writing a seventh volume. “Whenever I find the key,” said he, “I will write the Seventh Volume; and if the Lord gives the key to someone else, he can write it.” The Society’s officers arranged to have two Bible Students, Clayton J. Woodworth and George H. Fisher, compile a book consisting of commentaries on Revelation, The Song of Solomon and Ezekiel. The coeditors assembled material from Brother Russell’s writings and this was published under the title “The Finished Mystery” as the seventh volume of Studies in the Scriptures. Containing largely the thinking and comments of C. T. Russell, it was termed the “posthumous work of Pastor Russell.”

C. J. Woodworth

To one who forsook Jehovah’s service because the anointed followers of Jesus Christ were not taken to heaven in 1914, C. J. Woodworth wrote as follows:

“Twenty years ago you and I believed in infant baptism; in the Divine right of the clergy to administer that baptism; that baptism was necessary to escape eternal torment; that God is love; that God created and continues to create billions of beings in His likeness who will spend the countless ages of eternity in the strangling fumes of burning sulphur, pleading in vain for one drop of water to relieve their agonies . . .

“We believed that after a man dies, he is alive; we believed that Jesus Christ never died; that He could not die; that no Ransom was ever paid or ever will be paid; that Jehovah God and Christ Jesus His Son are one and the same person; that Christ was His own Father; that Jesus was His own Son; that the Holy Spirit is a person; that one plus one, plus one, equal one; that when Jesus hung on the cross and said, ‘My God, My God, why hast Thou Forsaken Me,’ He was merely talking to Himself; . . . that present kingdoms are part of Christ’s Kingdom; that the Devil has been away off somewhere in an unlocated Hell, instead of exercising dominion over the kingdoms of this earth . . .

“I praise God for the day that brought Present Truth to my door. It was so wholesome, so refreshing to mind and heart, that I quickly left the humbug and claptrap of the past and was used of God to also open your blinded eyes. We rejoiced in the Truth together, working side by side for fifteen years. The Lord greatly honored you as a mouthpiece; I never knew anybody who could make the follies of Babylon look so ridiculous. In your letter you ask, ‘What next?’ Ah, now comes the pity of it! The next thing is that you permit your heart to become embittered against the one whose labors of love and whose blessing from on High brought the Truth to both our hearts. You went out, and took several of the sheep with you. . . .

“Probably I look ridiculous to you because I did not go to Heaven, October 1st, 1914, but you don’t look ridiculous to me—oh no!

“With ten of the greatest nations of earth writhing in their death agonies, it seems to me a particularly inopportune time to seek to ridicule the man, and the only man, who for forty years has taught that the Times of the Gentiles would end in 1914.”

Brother Woodworth’s faith was not shaken when the events of 1914 did not turn out as expected. He simply realized that there was more to learn. Because of his confidence in God’s purpose, he spent nine months in prison in 1918-19. Later he served as editor of the magazines “The Golden Age” and “Consolation.” He remained firm in faith and loyal to Jehovah’s organization right down till his death in 1951, at 81 years of age.

- Jehovah’s Witnesses—Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom, WTB&TS

Raymond Street Jail
Brooklyn, N.Y.
June 23, 1918

Dear Ones all:

It is a lot of fun to belong to the tribe of Asher. It helps on to enjoy the follies of the high life of our great cities. We are all on the third tier of cells. Brother Rutherford is in 9 N 7, Brother Van Amburgh is in 11 N 7 and I am in 24 N 7. That means we are in the north Gallery Number 7; in room number 9. 11 and 24 respectively.

When we came up to our Gallery, Bro. Rutherford goes in first, after parting with Bro. Van and me; then Van goes in, after parting with me, and then I go in, bringing the heavily made iron doors shut as I do so. The lock is on the outside and shuts with a resounding clang that can be heard all over the prison. When the 155 prisoners in this section go in together the result sounds like an army of locusts going over the top of a tin roof. See Rev. 19:18 comments in Vol. VII “SCRIPTURE STUDIES”. Brothers Martin, DeCecca, MacMillian, Robinson, and Fisher are in 19 S 3, 22 S 3, 23 S 3, 24 S 3, and 25 S 3, that is in Gallery 3, rooms 19, 22, 23,24, 25 respectively. This Gallery is opposite ours, only 20 feet from cell to cell. This enables me to see and exchange greetings with DeCecca, MacMillan, Robinson and Fisher. Martin is just outside my range of vision, but I can hear him when he LAUGHS.


Since writing the foregoing, Bro. Rutherford has been transferred to a clearer cell, 20 N 7, only 4 door from me, and directly opposite Bro. Martin. Bro. Rutherford can also see Bro. MacMillian and Bro. Hudgings in 18 S 2 almost directly under Bro. Martin. Bro. Van cannot see Martin, but can hear him talk and LAUGH.

Bro. DeCecca has been transferred to another prison. The Pope has just escaped! DeCecca is the man, so the papers say, that caused the great Italian retreat a year ago. Poor DeCecca! He never did a thing in his life but minister to the needs of a hand full of believers - and write one ore two unfortunate letters, one of which was to his own brother who had written to him for advice.

But this is the life! You explain verse in the Bible - say Rev. 16:13,14 - and then you attend a three-weeks comedy or farce, showing the end from the beginning, and each day see it coming closer and closer. You know it is coming, and you know Howe!

In due time, you arrive at the Hotel de Raymondie. You stand in line, and are searched for drugs and sharp instruments of any kind. Residents are respectfully invited to cut their nails with their teeth. By the new process it is very interesting to see Bro. Van trim his hind paws.

Your room is 6 x 8 x 8 feet high. It contains one door of eight 1 inch vertical bars set 3 inches apart in a frame of Iron Posts 3 inches wide with five cross pieces of equal size. At the bottom is a hole 6 x 9 inches through you receive your food. This hotel is very particular to treat all its guests alike, but the arrangements for attending social functions between 3:30 P.M. and 7:00 A.M. are not all that could be desired, and I shall leave here the moment my board is up.

Your room does not have any windows and the scenery inside is not interesting, baring the fact that you can see every private and personal act of the parties in the square of nine cells directly opposite to you. If you cover more then a fourth of your door with paper you disobey a rule, and the disobedience of rules in a prison is no joke. For coughing at night a man was taken out of his cell, and I think, was put in the cooler, as the dungeon is called. I heard him crying on the way there, and afterward.

Your furniture consists of an Iron cot, which may be hooked up against the wall, and two large, double, heavy woolen blankets, with a straw tick pillow covered with a slip made of flour sack cloth. No sheets. The walls are very cold and even the blankets have not been able to keep us from shivering all night, some nights. This leads us, sometimes, to sleep in our clothes, and even Bro. MacMillan does not look tidy, when he has slept all night in his clothes.

Then you have a sort of Methodist mourner’s bench 20 inches high, 13 inches wide and 28 inches long, with one shelf in it, 8 inches above the floor. This contains your fine china and other table ware, consisting of two enameled-ware 1-quart bowls which Mac has christened cuspidors. As for me and my house, we are not brought up to eat out of cuspidors, but you can not always sometimes tell what you will do in this world. You do a lot when you learn howe.

Then you have a nickel-plated table-spoon. A least you should have. I did not find mine until after I had my first meal here., and unless you have tried eating ham and eggs out of a deep tray without anything more then your fingers to help you, why then you have missed something. Bro. Rutherford did not find his spoon until the fifth day. How he has managed to eat his meals in the meantime is a matter between him and his towel into which I dare not too particularly inquire.

The room contains a wash-basin, with no stopper, and a spring faucet which closes the instant the hand is removed. It also contains a porcelain, coverless toilet which is strictly sanitary if kept scrupulously clean. There are 400 of these in this wing. The Russelites keep theirs clean. I cannot speak for the rest; but I can smell for them! The ventilation is entirely inadequate. Singing and whistling is forbidden, but we have Wagerian opera all the time, i.e. heavy airs. This makes everybody sleepy and stupid, and it is a fact that the average prisoner is in bed eighteen hours out of twenty four. We have all found it very difficult to study much except Bro. Fisher who was born wearing spectacles and his hands full of types. Bless his dear heart, he and Bro. Rutherford have already produced some splendid Tower articles, in spite of all conditions.

Then you have a pile of newspapers, and if inclined to think lightly of them at first, you soon come to realize that in these papers and in soap and a wash-rag, lies your one chance of cleanliness and self respect. Your room is painted buff on the ceiling and half way down the side. A reddish brown base 18 inches high is painted about the bottom and the floor and wainscot section of the wall were once painted a light brown. You enter at midnight. Your keeper slams the door behind you, and you find yourself the midst of unspeakable filth and disorder. Worn out with your three weeks attendance at the grand farce you wrap yourself in the top blanket and sleep fitfully until 5:30 when the light in the top of your cell goes on and the tier-man comes running along, shoves a broom under the door and orders you to get up; and clean up the cell and put your discarded papers through the door, along with your soiled towels.

You arise, and stripping for a sponge bath, find yourself bitten from neck to hips and covered with a dozen poisoned blotches 2 or 3 inches in diameter. You succeed in getting in touch with the jail physician on the fourth day. He looks at you and tells you that it is something in your blood. You take his advice with a grain of salt, as you have already killed bedbugs, lice and fleas in your cell. You take a dose of salts, in fact, and are glad to get the morning shower bath and sulphur ointment which he also prescribes.

The jail meals are at 6:00 A.M. , 12:00 Noon, and 5:00 P.M., but every hour or so a caterer send a man through selling cakes, coffee, pies and fruit, and takes orders for excellent meals, which are thoroughly well cooked and very appetizing. By buying one good caterers meal each day, suitable selecting from the regular jail menu provide amply for all one’s needs.

Every morning at 6:00 A.M. a bell rings. Then comes the clatter of what Mac calls the cuspidors out through the holes in the bottom of the doors and on the Iron steps. Immediately every boy in the place (for all men are but boys) yell, “moosh”, “moosh” and the Russellite begin to laugh. Martin’s yell of boyish glee at the rediculousness of the whole situation rings to the remotest corner of the dreariest cell in the place, and everybody joins in the chorus.

Down each tier goes an attendant with a big bucket and long-handled dipper, shouting “honor-mush” as he comes. You are an “honor” prisoner. You have not misbehaved in prison, so you get mush. Some morning it is hominy with milk and sugar already mixed in it, and is palatable. Other mornings it is oatmeal of Lapage’s liquid variety, and without milk and sugar., I would have to be hungrier than I ever was yet before I could eat it. The morning meal also contains good war-bread, all you want of it, and a hot drink - as it were coffee. The coffee supplied by the caterer at 5 and 10 cents is excellent.

At noon the jail gives a splendid soup, containing lots of meat and vegetables, and all you want of it, and more bread and coffee, potatoes and meat or hash. The evening meal is of bead, apple sauce, and tea of coffee.

At 7:00 to 7:45 A.M. we walk in the covered court , a motly array, seventeen of us are Negroes. There are three cells between Bro. Rutherford and me,with Negroes in two of them. The court is clean to start with, but many of the men smoke and chew, and make bad shots at the cuspidors. Hence, we have to wipe off the soles of our shoes when we return to our apartments. On these walks we eight brethren seek fellowship with each other by two and threes and fours, occasionally talking with others when any seem inclined to listen. Stopping an instant while Bro. Hudgings comb my hair , a pickpocket snatch at my watch, but the chain broke and I saved it. Behind me a murderer boasted of getting only ten years for murder. We seven each get 80 years Total 560 theoretically, because Uncle Sam and I disagree as to the meaning of Rev. 16:13,14 It is an awful crime to be a Bible Student nowadays: and sincere.

At 7:45 Martin, MacMillan, Fisher, and I take a shower bath together - a rare treat. The bath is as fine a shower bath as is to be found anywhere. Then we go back to our cells, but are left out again at 8:45 to 9:30 to see the sun and clouds and the tree tops of a near by park. At 10:00 A.M. to 11:30 those whose wives are here may go down to the visiting corridor, where they talk through wire mesh grating - so near and yet so far. This is a curious sight. On one side and one the other a long line of people jabbering loudly at each other, in the attempt to be heard above the general uproar. Martin and I have had visitors twice in the week we have been here.

We attended services Sunday A.M. at 9:00 Bro. Fisher played in the absence of the regular organist The chaplain preached at us eight. Manifestly he did not remotely understand the first thing about his text. his talk was silly, so I just passed 15:2,3 along to the seven and they marked Job 15:9 and sent it back - all of which was without profit - in some sense at least - to the Asherites. See Rev. 7:6

At 1:30 to 3:30 we have our concluding talk in the inner court, during which time we may get shaved, for 15 cents each. Every man lathers himself and the barber gives him a quick once over and turns him out with his clothing well spotted with leather in “Jig time”.


Be sure to take with you an extra towel, soap, wash - rag, Mirrors Not allowed.

Scrub your side walls, floor, bench, bed, wash basin, and toilet thoroughly. At the first opportunity slam your blankets hard repeatedly against the corridor bars. Then carefully pick them over carefully on both sides, inch by inch , eight times.

In making your bed lay a double thickness of the bottom blanket on the bed. Then lay on it eight thickness of clean newspaper. Put two thickness of newspaper inside the top blanket. Sleep with the back of the top blanket under you. By doing this you will keep warm.

Cover your floor with news paper turned up 6 inches around the base. This will hide the tobacco stains which you could not scrub off.

Lay extra floor paper in your runway. Discard these every day.

Cover your bench and toilet with paper napkins to save your towel. A clean towel, of good quality, is provided each day.

Sort over your papers and magazines and wrap up for discard if soiled or greasy.

Caterer’s meals are supplied in three white enameled ware serving - dishes, 1 1/2 inch deep with vertical sides and double handles. they are circular in for and 6 inches in diameter. One contains your soup, one your meat, and accompanying potatoes or spagetti, and the other your desert.

Wipe off the bottom of these dishes with paper napkins ere you receive them into your suite, lest you be sorry afterward when you see the grease spots everywhere.

Satchels or suit cases are not allowed in cells. anything left such is liable to be stolen. Supplies from your suit case can be obtained on application to the office before 3:30 P.M.

The light in your cell must always be burning when you are in it and extinguished when you leave.

In my cell at present, I have in the side board ( i.e., the shelf or mourners bench ) a paper containing 5 cents worth of salt ( enough to last me until I get out ), a paper containing two potatoes boiled in their jackets.. I have learned to peel these deftly by using the handle of the spoon. There is also a ham sandwich and an egg sandwich, saved from my ham and egg dinner. There are also two peaches , two bananas and an orange, total cost 15 cents. These will provide my evening meal today and breakfast tomorrow.

On the same shelf are my Bible, two magazines, pocket hymnal. pocket Revelation and Poems of Dawn, letter paper and envelopes, and Tower. Beneath it is a package of clean linen amd underware. When anything gets soiled I wash it and hang it nest to the ceiling on the iron pipe which carries the electric light wires. Hanging it there now are my nighty and tie, a paper folded so as to throw my pillow out of the direct light and a string to which my hat is attached by a bow knot run through the loop of the bow knot on the hat. There it is clean and I can get it and put it on in five seconds.

In the wall I found two small holes. Into these I thrust wooden toothpicks and now have on the wall a beautiful Lake and Mountain scene, formerly the cover of a Christian Herold, and a spiritual calendar which a dear sait of God mailed to me.
Phil. 4:11-13; Eph. 4:1-3; 2 Cor.13:11:14

In fondest love,

Clayton J. Woodworth