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History of the early Watchtower Organization from its Beginnings to the Rutherford Schism

RUTHERDct russellCLICK ABOVE TO LISTEN TO THE RECORDING.  Host David Stein leads a Panel Discussion with early Watchtower historians Jim Parkinson, Brian Kutscher, JM and Rolando Rodriguez. This interview took place on the Six Screens Tele-network back on March 13, 2011 and apparently was never published on our website.  The audience participated with questions and comments.

The discussion covers the Watchtower’s early beginnings with Brother Russell and the early Bible Students up through the schism with JF Rutherford where in the 1920s, 75% of the original Bible Students left this new organization forming under JF Rutherford. Many of these Bible Students regrouped to continue the International Bible Students Association. The panel will also discuss the JW early history movie, “Faith in Action.” They answer the questions, was Brother Russell the founder of the Jehovah’s Witnesses?  Did the original incorporation papers have any hint that the Watchtower would be a Theocratic and governing organization?  What organization changes did Rutherford institute starting in 1916?  and much more!

22 comments to History of the early Watchtower Organization from its Beginnings to the Rutherford Schism

  • Anonymous

    Over 140 years watchtower has been saying the end of the world is coming. And Gods kingdom will begin.

  • Gasa

    It is good the Bible Students have continued and there are brothers and sisters who can gain fellowship from those pushed out in Rutherford’s time to those today who have left or Disfellowshiped. I have a son in law who just after getting married was faced with other family problems he turned to smoking, was Disfellowshiped 6mths later stopped smoking. Became bitter because he feels they rushed his disfelowshipping now there is no contact. So the initial problem has gone but his parents said sorry we can’t talk cos we must shun you. So they never seen their grand children. Madness caused because of this crazy ex communition policy called Disfellowshiping . From what I have read about Judge Rutherford he sounds a bit dodgy, did Jehovah use him maybe being identified as Witness of Jehovah seems to me a good thing. Over 21million attend memorial, nearly 300,000 new ones are baptised each years the preaching must be done by someone in these last days. Mth 24:14 must be concluded in these last days.
    God himself through His Son will sort out the sins committed either soon before Jesus Comes or afterwards. God bless you and know God loves all of us and especially those who have suffered abuse and injustice. All my Love.

    • just Stay Sweet and Good aka Rena Luecking (Cifra)

      Gaza…All sin has to be repented of, so the sooner we get down to business the better we will be. We will all answer to Jehovah God for the damage that we do ourselves when we stall on standing up for what is right. We can’t have it both ways because we are not running this universe. Standing up verbally, in the congregation, is good for us. It gives us a backbone we never would be able to develop if we just snuck around and kept our mouths shut. Jacob was called a contender, a heel graber, and chosen special by Jehovah God to be a witness to all other people of the world. These are the kind of people Jehovah is looking for to witness for him, not cowards, but always ready to fight the fine faith as Gideon did. Onward Christian Soldiers.

  • Shannon

    Hi everyone its Shannon jaqaline can u send me link for Sunday meetings

  • SORRY AN ERROR OCCURED, I made a small / big mistake in my latest post. It should read as follows: “But there is no decisive evidence that JFR was fired, only –- in my opinion –- circumstantial evidence. Perhaps some Bible Students have information that can help clarify the matter.”
    Best, Poul B.

    • Jacqueline

      Poul Bregninge, I put the correction also on the end of your reply just in case they don’t see your correction. Thank you so much for coming in on the conversation.

      • Thanks Jacqueline, I’ve made many mistakes in my big post at the top. Therefore, I need to know how i can subsequently make the necessary corrections – just as I can on Facebook. My eyes do not always see the mistakes on the move, too, because I have too much haste, why I have to learn something, I think !! Best, Poul B.

        • Jacqueline

          Hello Poul, I monitor the site and when you make a mistake tell me and I will collapse it and you can re-post. Sometimes I will correct a misspelling and people think they are seeing things. But this site does not have that feature to self correct. It is a managed site unlike facebook which is self published.
          I was up until after 1am on your page! I enjoyed your trip, an the icee stick. I realized you are from another country! We all are on here, sometimes you can pick it up from the little words etc. I guess I have to be your friend to see all your page but I enjoyed it and seeing all the people you are helping, my.
          I saw John Ship’s picture on your friend page so I clicked on that and got to know him better by going over his page.
          I feel so hurt that he has met the people that want to push their views on facebook. I unfriended everyone but my family and classmates in order to keep friendship with my brothers. LOL
          Isn’t it nice to be free? Your trip to the closed museum was nice. I like pictures and I felt your freedom in your story. I enjoyed all of the different voices on your page.
          I have been on this site since it’s inception and have tried to be a helper to those struggling mentally and emotionally to get free to be one on one with God.
          Many of us try to get pass Jesus’ words but only find true freedom and happiness if we obey them:

          Matthew 18:20 New International Version (NIV)
          20 For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

          You don’t need a whole big congregation to get to God. Fellowship and sharing is what we need. But as far as understanding the scriptures, Holy Spirit got that job! I have learned to fall back on Jesus and the Bible is the only book I need. I work with voice of the Martyrs and all we do is sneak Bibles into countries. Sometimes just a few pages and Holy Spirit goes to work as they pass and recopy these pages. From these simple truths they get a full Bible and understand things needed to be God’s friend. Many suffer the loss of family and imprisonment but they push on. So our journey is put in perspective when I see and hear of their experiences.
          We are all in this together and Christ has it and He is the only man that has ever lived, that we do well if we follow him. Take Care and I will go send you a friend request so I can see your other stories.

  • Under the heading, “Just Stay Sweet and Good,” August 22, 2018 asks
    Jacqueline: “Is there proof that Brother Rutherford was dismissed by Brother Russell before Brother Russell died and did not go back until he heard of his death?”
    Dear Jacqueline. In my book Judgment Day Must Wait, 2013-2017, I have tried to tell the whole story of Rutherford’s takeover from Russell’s death on Oct. 30, 1916 – plus of course the story from the beginning about 1872, and the continued development of Rutherford’s product, Jehovah’s witnesses to today. But there is no decisive evidence that JFR was fired, only – in my opinion – evidence. Perhaps some Bible students have information that can help clarify the matter.
    Rutherford, in my opinion, did not meet any significant opposition from the WTS board but manipulated everyone until the January 1917 meeting. I think the reported reports of JFR’s dismissal approach the truth. Russell dismissed JFR in silence, as far as I understand, not only to be considerate as it is conveyed, but especially because JFR had a high status in the association and could be dangerous as a critic of Russell. Why should Russell, after all, have given JFR a loan of $ 1,000 to $ 1,500 to start a business again, unless JFR was dismissed in 1915? 3) Right now, there is a discussion on my Facebook page about whether JFR was fired and still a member of the WTS board when CTR died. It’s possible! I think that Russell might still use JFR to hold public lectures after the presumed dismissal; so Russell may still have benefited from JFR in the association’s propaganda work! However, I’m not sure at the time of writing! Typical! Robert Hirsh and others, as far as I remember, were also offered to become pioneers after they had been fired in the summer of 1917. I believe that JFR first appeared in the headquarters after Russell’s death. So he has actually been away from the influence of/in the headquarters in Brooklyn, but it was only few in the association, who apparently knew this.
    Best, Poul Bregninge,
    PS! I write in several places, “as I remember,” or the like, as I do not quote directly from my book or other sources. My Facebook Address: https://www.facebook.com/poul.bregninge

    This is a correction for a sentence above: SORRY AN ERROR OCCURED, I made a small / big mistake in my latest post. It should read as follows:
    “But there is no decisive evidence that JFR was fired, only –- in my opinion –- circumstantial evidence. Perhaps some Bible Students have information that can help clarify the matter.”
    Best, Poul B.

    • just Stay Sweet and Good

      Paul….Thankyou for your information…..I do remember one time I was doing “street work” in Long Beach CA and a man started asking me very pointed questions about the WTBS and he told me he was a buddy of brother Rutherford’s son. I was shocked…I didn’t even know he was married. I was so naieve and trusting as a young girl, but I ain’t a little girl anymore.

  • Jacqueline

    I just read that the October 2018 watchtower will discuss what happened when Rutherford took over. They say it is a detailed discussion.
    Has anybody read it yet?

    • Ted R. (Bible Student)

      I just read it. Obvious damage control. The Bible Students are getting noticed. The first article deals with 1919 and the publication The Finishes Mystery. It tells of what a great book it was and how Rutherford was persecuted by the government and clergy due to its wonderful message. The next article talks about lying. This to me is an attempt to counteract the information on the internet regarding Rutherford. It’s funny because the second article applies so well to the Governing Body.. The next article deals with how JESUS is leading the organization through the governing body. I will send you a coy in pdf if you would like.

      • just Stay Sweet and Good

        Ted…….The article where Brother Russell identified the Protestants as being Babylon the Great and bloodguilty for their participation in WW1, was written before seventh volume and was incorporated in to it. That’s what made the clergy mad and was considered interference in the draft The reason they were released is because the government realized they would have to jail all of the ‘peace churches”. Amish, Menonite, Quakers, etc.

      • Jacqueline (Bible Student)

        Ted R thank you for the summary. I don’t read any more of their literature as the manner of their speech, the way they form their sentences sends me back to darker times. A little bird says there is more to come and I think it is of interest to friends coming here to read both accounts and make their decision.
        This is an era of great revealing in all sectors of society.

        PS: Since you will be there can you be the reporter on the comments made when they actually study this and the other articles that are expected, please?

        Wow! Have you heard of all the earthquakes lately in the last few days? What is happening? The beginning of pangs of distress maybe?

        • just Stay Sweet and Good

          Jacqueline…..Every mountain and every valley in this world from the begining to time was made by earthquakes and rivers. It is the attention modern man has given them that we are quickly made aware of. The increase of the populations is what makes them so dangerous and a tragedy.

    • Nubby Tope

      No I haven’t read it yet Jacqueline and I’m as curious as you are to see what they say and how much “damage control” they use as he was an unsavoury character! But I did hear somewhere (Kim & Mikey?) that the October 2018 WT has a study article on a change of leadership between Moses and Joshua and applies it to how a change may happen concerning GB. I wonder what’s going on?

    • just Stay Sweet and Good

      Jacqueline…This paragraph is of interest

      “At this meeting, held on January 5, 1918, several prominent men who had been dismissed from Bethel attempted to gain control of the organization. Richard H. Barber, a faithful traveling overseer, opened the meeting with prayer. After a report on the preceding year’s work, the annual election of directors was held. Brother Barber nominated Joseph Rutherford and six other brothers. Then an attorney who sided with the opposers nominated seven other men, including the ones who had been dismissed from Bethel. They were defeated. By an overwhelming majority, the shareholders elected Brother Rutherford and six other faithful brothers to be directors.” Oct 2018

      Is there proof that brother Rutherford was dismissed by brother Russell before brother Russell died and did not go back until he heard of his death?

      • Jacqueline (Bible Student)

        JSSG, I have no other info except what is written here: https://www.friendsofjehovahswitnesses.com/category/bible-student-history/. There are a lot of different aspects on these pages. Perhaps some of the Bible student brothers that have been around for a while can answer this. There are some reading in on the site from time to time. I can say however the JW articles are rebuttals to what is written on this site and the Heraldmag.org. So it has begun and I will leave this up to the gb and the brothers to work this out.
        BTW: CONGRATULATIONS! on your marriage tell Br. Larry hello for me.

      • greg (Bible Student)

        Hi JSS&G,

        Like any good mystery, proof is often found by following tiny trails of bread crumbs. You have to follow the trail and see where it leads. It can be slow and arduous. But once you latch onto some clues, you will find corroborative evidence, once again in little crumbs. As the evidence accumulates, a picture of truth emerges.

        A few months back I watched a youtube video that, to my frustration, I can’t seem to locate at present. Maybe someone else remembers it and can find it? Maybe it’s gone now?

        In the video, the speaker sat in his kitchen (as memory serves) and discussed airplane tickets and flight manifests which I believe he had recently discovered that linked Rutherford to this man’s Aunt(? is my memory correct?) and showed they frequently and regularly traveled together whilst JFR was President of WT.

        I have accumulated and archived many crumbs of tiny “proofs” to my own satisfaction. Convinced myself, I seek not to convince; only to inspire others to do their own research.

        Perhaps you can find your own trail of breadcrumbs to follow by starting here:

        How did J.F. Rutherford Succeed in Seizing Control of the Society against the Instructions of Pastor Russell?

        Rutherford: Was he a womanizer? – Cedars’ vlog no. 114


      • greg (Bible Student)

        Oops, I forgot to include this link:

        Moyle vs. Rutherford


  • Jacqueline (Bible Student)

    The link I sent out to our Wednesday night group on the discussion of Beth Sarim was broken.
    Greg sent this new one.


    • greg (Bible Student)

      Yes, and just to avoid any possible confusion, the link to jwfacts that you just posted above works fine.

      When I visited that page, I noticed (about half way down) that the link reading “Click for a 17MB scan of the 1931 Messenger” wasn’t working. So I did a search and managed to locate a nicely scanned copy of the file on the Internet-archive site.

      In case anyone else is interested in verifying the evidence for themselves, here is the working link I found for that 17MB PDF:



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