Search This Blog

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Joseph L. Russell (1813 -1897)

Joseph L. Russell, Charles’ father, was a member of the Allegheny Bible study class and a close associate of his son in the activities of the Watch Tower Society until his death in 1897.


THE EDITOR (Charles Taze Russell) 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 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 (This is a reprint of an early letter, Joesph died in 1897)


The following letter is from the Editor's beloved father, who has past his threescore and ten: it shows his deep interest in the truth, and though neither a public speaker or writer, he is a minister and ambassador for the Lord, seeking continually to be used to the Master's honor, by letting his light so shine as to glorify our Father in heaven.

Manitee Co., Fla.


MY DEAR SON:--Your kind and welcome letter came duly, and I infer from its tenor that you are all well. However much I like to hear from you often, I am satisfied that you have not much time to give to writing letters and therefore will excuse you, when you do the best you can. We are in comfortable health at present, though I am far from rugged or strong. I feel that the Lord is dealing very graciously with us in all things, and that we have great reason to be very humble and thankful for his mercies, and I do feel thankful and contented. The world and the things of the world do not trouble me as they used to do. I take great pleasure in thinking of the goodness of our Heavenly Father in giving us the light of His glorious plan of salvation, and of establishing our faith in Christ Jesus our Lord as the only way to obtain eternal life. This hope and this trust in Jesus alone for salvation, is daily strengthened in me, the more I see of the various dogmas of conflicting creeds. The most regret I have, and the only thing which makes me feel dissatisfied with myself is, that I cannot do more than I am doing for the cause of truth, and to communicate to others the blessed truths we so much enjoy. We had a precious season here on the anniversary of the death of "Christ our Passover," though there were but three of us. We remembered the gathering at Allegheny, as well as all the scattered sheep, and knew even before the April TOWER told us, that you would have a precious season and remember us at the throne of grace.

I am glad to know that Bro. Zech has concluded the translation of DAWN into the German language. Tell him I compliment him on having accomplished his work in so short a time, considering other work. You are all doing a great work, and I pray that you may be very successful in your undertakings in the future, as you have been in the past. Send me 300 missionary envelopes. I have some of the "Arp Tracts" yet. Please send me about five or six more February TOWERS. I will state to you that if you find any one wanting to buy wild land near Pinellas, I want to donate 10 acres to the WATCH TOWER TRACT SOCIETY, but I am unable to find a purchaser here at present.

We here, all join in sending love to you all. Your loving father.


- May 1888, Watchtower, WTB&TS


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