Up to now, no one has contested the explanation that has been provided by the WT Society and their official history. Supposedly, Russell sold his clothing store and financed his activities from the proceeds.
Anyone familiar with printing and shipping knows that the large quantities of material Russell distributed free had to cost in just one year alone more than the proceeds from selling his store. On top of that, Russell had legal fees from repeated court battles, exorbant travelling costs, and a full-time staff to house and feed.
His followers were not required to give up their money to become Bible Students. So where did the money come from? The foreign branches received free literature some of which they sold, and came up short even after some sales and donations. Bear in mind, the WT Society was not efficient as it is today. Today they make their own ink and have the latest equipment to typeset and print with. But back then, at least part of the books Russell printed he paid outside printers to print.
Up to now, it has been stated that Russell was a genius with money. That kind of statement simply clouds what really happened. Russell was not Rumplestiltchen. If he was such a man of finance (and he certainly had the reputation then), it seems hard to picture him sending out his people to stand in front of churches to hand out expensive books free to Christians as they left. A man that loose with his own money would hardly makes a fortune in ten years of running a clothing store. Russell wasn't being careless with his money, because he was not having to finance his operation himself. His backers were obviously quite rich and powerful.
The Greek Orthodox church which jealously guards it turf, has repeatedly accused the Jehovah's Witnesses of being financed by the agents of "International Zionism."10 This topic is discussed more in chapter 6.
It will surprise many people to learn that Charles T. and his father Joseph L. were quite poor in 1870. They boarded and their store was rented to them. In 1870, they were not involved in religion yet, and between the two of them they had not a single piece of property. Joseph's personal belongings were $2,000.11
Actually, they were doing fine, considering Joseph had left Ireland during the Potato famine, and had left owing his brother-in-law money.12
The first good financial break was when Charles T. Russell's uncle by the same name died Dec. 1875. His father inherited $1,000.13 Because his father and him were in business together, this was a real boost. According to court testimony, Russell had a chain of 5 stores by 1880. Soon Russell invested in oil in Butler Co. and his father and him opened a scrap metal business in 1882.14 They closed the men's furnishing business in 1883.
Charles bought out his father, and when his father died in 1897, his will reveals that he had 3 houses and lots in Allegheny, PA. a house and 3 lots at Farfron Springs, FL. along with another 25 acres, 160 acres in Polk Co.,FL and stock in the Carlin Co. Besides that he had shares of stock in the Railway and Dock Construction Co. of NYC which C.T. Russell inherited.15
Because C.T. Russell's wife divorced him in 1897 Russell hid his money so that his ex-wife would not be able to get any support, in court, C.T. Russell would not honestly state his holdings even under oath. A Reverend J.J. Ross investigated on his own and discovered that Russell had lied under oath. Russell was a stockholder in the Pittsburgh Asphatum Co. which later became the Calif. Asphatum Co. which was the organizer of the Selica Brick Co. Russell also had controlling interest in the Brazilian Turpentine Co. located in Pittsburgh, a cemetary in Pittsburgh. & the U.S. Coal & Coke Co. with capital of $100,000.16 After having lied in court, Pastor Russell had to make a clean breast of his lies when the Reverend Ross confronted him in court with the facts and the charters of some of Russell's companies.17
Russell also had money invested in timber limits. Russell had just secretly purchased silver mines in Nevada, and had gone out to check them out on his western trip when he died.
In 1874, when C.T. Russell began his religious meetings, he also began buying property in Allegheny. He bought again in 1874, 1884, 1885 (two properties), 1889 (four properties), in 1890 (five properties), 1892, 1894, 1896, 1897 (two properties), and four more properties after the turn of the century in that area alone in his own name.18 Further, the WT Society which he had control of had ownership of numerous properties. Russell had control (99% of the snares) of the U.S. Investment Co.,Ltd. which in turn held 38 houses and lots in Binghamton, NY, several lots in Tacoma, WA, a farm near Rochester, NY, a house and lot in Buffalo, NY, a farm in OK, 100 lots in TX, a house and lot near Pittsburgh, and 5,500 acres in KT.19
By the way, the original owners of U.S. Investment Co. were John A. Bohnet (5
shares), Ernest C. Henninges (5 shares), and C.T. Russell (990 shares).20
The popular story is that Pastor Russell gave all his money to his great crusade and died a poor man, leaving his poor wife (the WT Society claims they were only seperated--the divorce papers say otherwise) with only $200.21 The court records show a very rich man indeed. And most of Russell's money came in after he started up his Watch Tower Society.
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