The Ackley Connection

In The Watchtower and the Masons the early history of C.T. Russell is given. Charles and his father married two Ackley sisters a number of years after Charles' mother died.

What is an intriguing item is that C.T. Russell's mother's will indicates she owned land in Iowa. A description of that land shows it was north of the town of Ackley, Iowa. It turns out that a man named William Ackley had purchased the land in that area, and had sold it in large part to Scot-Irish settlers of the Presbyterian faith as they were coming to America. At the time C.T. Russell's mother died a town named Ackley had been staked out in 1857, but the Civil War had interferred with construction plans. A Presbyterian congregation had been formed in the area during the early 1860s in the Ackley area, which indicates some settlers had arrived. What connection did the Russells have with the Ackleys years before Charles T. and his father married Ackley sisters?

Who are the Ackleys? Maria Ackley, who was Charles T. Russell's wife, was well-educated and an excellent writer. Interestingly, in the 19th century she believed a socialist revolution was coming. She wrote, "This great revolution has not yet come, but where is the statesman or the intelligent citizen that does not see it coming?" (Russell, Maria. This Gospel of The Kingdom, p. 26.) She was the ghost writer and ghost editor for much of her husband Charles Taze's work. Her family was well-off. William Ackley, the land speculator/seller in Iowa, traces his ancestry back to Prence Doane and Elizabeth Godfrey. Elizabeth Godfrey in turn was the great-granddaughter of William Brewster of the Mayflower fame. The Ackleys were Puritans to begin with and seem to have been concentrated in the Connecticut area, and from there their family members moved out into NY and PA. Another Ackley (1832-1881) at that time was Richard Thomas Ackley, a Freemason who worked for the Miller, Russell and Company store in Salt Lake City in 1858 soon after the Mormons built Salt Lake City.

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