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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Joseph L. and Ann Eliza (Birney) Russell

C. T. Russell was born in the United States, in Allegheny (now part of Pittsburgh), Pennsylvania, on February 16, 1852. He was the second son of Joseph L. and Ann Eliza (Birney) Russell, who were Presbyterians of Scottish-Irish descent. Charles’ mother died when he was only nine years old, but from an early age, Charles was influenced by both of his religiously-minded parents. As a later associate of C. T. Russell put it, “they trained the small twig; and it grew in the direction of the Lord.” Although brought up as a Presbyterian, Charles eventually joined the Congregational Church because he preferred its views. - Jehovah’s Witnesses—Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom, WTB&TS

Yet a fourth voice of proclaimers of an invisible presence of Christ comes to view, a group of sincere students of the Bible at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U. S. A., with its chairman, C. T. Russell. Charles Taze Russell was born in Old Allegheny (now part of Pittsburgh) February 16, 1852; he was one of three children of Joseph L. and Eliza Birney Russell. Both parents were Presbyterians of Scottish-Irish lineage. Russell’s father operated a clothing store business. His mother died when he was only nine years old. While still a boy, he used to write Bible texts with chalk on the sidewalks, and although brought up a Presbyterian, he joined the neighborhood Congregational church, because it was more liberal. At fifteen years of age Russell was in partnership with his father in a growing chain of men’s clothing stores. - January 1, 1955 Watchtower, WTB&TS

Additional Reading:

The inquisitive young man was Charles Taze Russell. Born in Allegheny on February 16, 1852, he was the second son of Joseph L. and Ann Eliza (Birney) Russell, both of Scottish-Irish descent. Charles’ mother, who had dedicated him to the Lord’s work at birth, died when he was a lad of nine. But at an early age Charles received his first impressions of religion from his Presbyterian parents. Eventually he joined the nearby Congregational Church because of its more liberal views.

As a mere boy of eleven years, Charles entered a business partnership with his father, the youngster himself writing the articles of agreement under which their enterprise operated. At fifteen he was associated with his father in a growing chain of men’s clothing stores. In time, they had stores in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and elsewhere.

All along, young Charles was a sincere student of the Scriptures. He wanted to serve God to the best of his ability. In fact, once, when he was twelve years old, his father found him in the family store at two o’clock in the morning, poring over a Bible concordance, heedless of the hour.

Growing older, Russell was spiritually troubled. Especially was he concerned about the doctrines of eternal punishment and predestination. He reasoned: “A God that would use his power to create human beings whom he foreknew and predestinated should be eternally tormented, could be neither wise, just nor loving. His standard would be lower than that of many men.” (1 John 4:8) Nonetheless, young Russell continued to believe in God’s existence. His mind beleaguered by concern over doctrine, he examined the various creeds of Christendom, studied leading Oriental religions—and experienced grave disappointment. Where was truth to be found?

Additional Reading:

By the time Russell was seventeen, a later associate says that this is the way he reasoned, namely: “There is no use in my trying to find out anything reasonable about the future from any of the creeds or even from the Bible, so I’m just going to forget the whole thing and give all my attention to business. If I make some money I can use that to help suffering humanity, even though I cannot do them any good spiritually.”

It was while young Russell had such thoughts that he stepped into that dingy hall in Allegheny and heard the sermon that ‘reestablished his wavering faith in the Bible’s divine inspiration.’ Approaching several young men of his acquaintance, he told them of his intention to study the Scriptures. Soon this small group—about six in number—began meeting weekly for systematic Bible study. At their regular gatherings during the years 1870 to 1875, the religious thinking of these men underwent profound changes. With the passing of time, Jehovah blessed them with increasing spiritual light and truth.—Ps. 43:3; Prov. 4:18.

- 1975 Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses, WTB&TS


THE EDITOR has lost his oldest, tried and true friend--his Father according to the flesh, his Brother according to the spirit; well known to quite a number of our readers. He was in his 84th year, and the burdens and disabilities of life under present conditions had gradually come to outweigh its pleasures, so that he was glad to enter into rest;--the rest that remains for the people of God.

The Editor's mother, a noble Christian woman, whose instructions and example are still fresh to his memory and will never be forgotten, died when he was but nine years old; and from that time his father filled nobly the office of both parents. His care, his admonitions, his help into paths of righteousness will never be forgotten.

But it was after we had come under the first rays of "present truth" that his fellowship became most precious. He was one of the first to accept the harvest message as set forth in ZION'S WATCH TOWER, MILLENNIAL DAWN, etc. Altho not gifted as a teacher of the good tidings, either by voice or pen, he manifested his zeal for the Lord and his cause in various ways--he loaned and gave away thousands of tracts and DAWNS, besides contributing financially for their publication. He was one of the founders of the Tract Society; voluntarily giving $1,000 in the first subscription at its organization,--a large donation for his means. His greatest helpfulness however was in his personal encouragement of the Editor; in every visit and in every letter, he sought to "hold up our hands." This was specially noticeable at such times as the Lord permitted the great Adversary to assault the work, and the Editor as one of its representatives.

In his case we have been reminded of the Apostle's words in Hebrews 10:32-34. He had the spirit of martyrdom, and if he did not get into the thickest of the fight and did not bear the brunt of the Enemy's attacks, he surely was a faithful encourager and "companion of them that were so used" and "had compassion on me in my bonds." And as the Apostle adds so add we for the encouragement of all such whom the Lord has not assigned to duty in the front of the battle:--

"Cast not away therefore your confidence which hath great recompense of reward." "For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labor of love which ye ...have ministered to the saints, and do minister." --Heb. 10:35; 6:10.

Our last conversation before he became unconscious was respecting our blessed hope of eternal life through Christ, our dear Redeemer, and the promised future glory in which the Apostle intimates there will be different degrees of brilliancy, as "one star differeth from another star in glory." (1 Cor. 15:41.) Humble minded, unostentatious and neither vain nor boastful, he declared that he did not expect a great or prominent position in the Lord's Kingdom, but that he had full confidence nevertheless--not in his own perfection but in the Lord's perfection and sacrifice and love and grace,--and was confident therefore that a place was reserved for him, and he was satisfied to have the matter thus.

It is not for us to say what shall be his blessing and reward: the gracious Judge will esteem us none the less if our confidence is in him, rather than boastfully in ourselves; but we can say of father a few things without boasting of him or for him. He was a lover of [R2239 : page 5] righteousness. He walked not after the flesh but after the spirit. He was a true yoke fellow and helper in the Lord's cause. He fought a good fight--striving to conquer self-will and inherited sin and to resist the world and the devil. He kept the faith--did not deny it,--confessing it in word and deed to the very last, leaning on and trusting in the dear Redeemer. He has finished his course, and the righteous Judge, in whose grace he trusted, will grant him a goodly portion in the Father's house of many mansions.

- January 1, 1898 Watchtower, WTB&TS

Letter from Mr. Joseph L. Russell (now deceased), father of the Editor, relating to the same trouble:-- My Dear Son:--It is with love and sympathy in my heart that I write you at this time, after having read the full account of your trials and troubles amongst those whom you accepted as brethren in Christ. It does seem almost incredible that those people could be guilty of such mean and despicable conduct toward you, from whom they had received so many marks of kindness. But, my dear son, these are some of the trials we all may expect--especially those engaged in the "harvest" work. I am proud of the noble defense you make in vindication of your conduct, and especially in the cause of the Truth we all love so dearly. I feel confident that you will come out of this trial brighter and more appreciated in your character and works than you ever were before. The good Lord, who has been testing your works, will promote you to still higher honors in his Kingdom. I pray that he may bless you always and sustain you in every good word and work; and to him we will ascribe all the praise forever. Amen. But while confident that the outcome will be a final victory for the Truth, it is very trying for one who has labored late and early for the last twenty years for the cause of Truth, to have his supposed friends turn against him and brand him as a liar and a hypocrite. Oh! it is terrible! I often think of you and your many trials, which you seem to meet very courageously. But with an approving conscience a man can stand considerable, especially if the Lord is on his side to help and strengthen. Please extend to your dear wife my hearty congratulations on her noble defense of her husband and the cause of Truth during this trying ordeal. With love and congratulations from us all, I remain, your loving father. JOSEPH L. RUSSELL."

- July 15, 1906 Watchtower, WTB&TS

Children of Thomas and Fannie Russell: James G. Russell: b. 1796, d. 1847, buried in the family plot, in Allegheny Cemetery. Sarah A. Russell: b. 1799, d. 1846, buried in the family plot, in Allegheny Cemetery. Fanny (Russell) Harper: d. 1867. Mary Jane Russell: d. 1886, buried in the family plot, in Allegheny Cemetery. Alexander G. Russell: d. [between 1872 and 1878]. Charles Tays Russell: b. 1806, d. 1875, buried in the family plot, in Allegheny Cemetery. Joseph Lytle Russell: b. 1813, d. 1897, buried in the family plot, in Allegheny Cemetery.

Children of Joseph Lytle Russell: b. 1813, d. 1897, and Ann Eliza (Birney) Russell: b. 1825, d. 1861, both are buried in the family plot in Allegheny Cemetery. Thomas B. Russell: b. 1850, d. 1855, buried in the family plot, in Allegheny Cemetery. Charles Taze Russell: b. 1852, d. 1916 (aboard train near Pampa, Texas), buried in Rosemont United Cemetery in Pittsburgh. Margaret M. (Russell) Land: b. 1854, d. 1934. Lucinda H. Russell: b. 1857, d. 1858, buried in the family plot, in Allegheny Cemetery. Joseph Lytle Russell, jr.: b. 1859, d. 1860, buried in the family plot, in Allegheny Cemetery.

Child of Joseph Lytle Russell and Emma H. (Ackley) Russell: Mabel R. (Russell) Packard: b. 1881, Allegheny; d. 1961, Saint Petersburg, Florida, buried in Royal Palm South Cemetery. The family plot also includes her Mother Emma H. (Ackley) Russell (1855 - 1929), her aunt Maria F. (Ackley) Russell (1850 - 1938), and her husband Richard P. Packard (1870 - 1946). - The Bible Student Movement, In The Days of C. T. Russell


The Family of Maria F. (Ackley) Russell

Mahlon Foster ACKLEY was born about 1807 in New Jersey. He died on 13 Dec 1873. And was buried on 14 Dec 1873 in Union Dale Cemetery, Plot 3, Allegany, Pennsylvania. Mahlon Foster ACKLEY and Selena Ann HAMMOND were married. Selena Ann HAMMOND was born on 18 Dec 1815 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She died of pneumonia on 3 Oct 1901 in Allegheny, Pennsylvania at the residence of her daughter Mrs. Charles T. Russell, of Allegheny. She was buried on 5 Oct 1901 in Union Dale Cemetery, plot 4, Allegany, Pennsylvania. Mrs. Ackley was born in Philadelphia and spent her childhood in Baltimore, Md. She journeyed by stage and canal with her mother to Johnstown, Pa, where she was married to the late Mahlon F. Ackley of Allegheny, who was employed on the Pennsylvania railroad, which was then in process of construction. Early in the 1840's she came to Allegheny with her husband and had resided there ever since. She saw the city grow from a straggling village to a metropolis. Mrs. Ackley was for many years a member of the North Avenue Methodist Episcopal church, and before the formation of that church was, with her late husband, connected with the Arch Street church of the same denomination. She was the mother of seven children, of whom five are now living - Mrs. Laura J. Raynor, Mrs. Selena A. Barto, Mrs. Maria F. Russell and Mrs. Emma H. Russell of Allegheny and L. M. Ackley of Chicago.

Emma H. (Ackley) Russell (1855 - 1929), and Maria F. (Ackley) Russell (1850 - 1938) were laid to rest in the in Royal Palm South Cemetery in St. Petersburg, Florida. - Photos by Christopher Gross, 2007.