Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The Miracle Wheat Story - Part 4

Addendum – False or Unsubstantiated Statements Being Made Concerning Charles Taze Russell and Miracle Wheat:
Below are quotes from various sites and forums that contain unverified or false statements that are not necessarily dealt with above.
Unsubstantiated Statement #1:
Russell owned 990 of the 1,000 shares of Watchtower Society stock. By this figure, 99% of every “contribution” for “Miracle Wheat” was in effect a contribution to Russell himself.
Our Comments
The above is repeated often on many sites and in many forums. The truth is that no one has ever owned any capital stock in the Watch Tower Society, not even Russell. There has never been one single share of capital stock issued. However, for each contribution of $10.00 any contributor was entitled to one voting share. By 1915 there were nearly two hundred thousand shares, most of which we understand were owned by people other than Russell, and as it was written in 1915, though “it would be an easy matter to elect some other man as president, there never has been cast a vote against Pastor Russell.”
Nevertheless, the false statement appears to be based on Russell’s use of a company called “United States Investment Company”. This company was formed by Russell around 1896 in Pennsylvania in which Russell evidently put up the money for and capital was recorded in his name and two others. This may be where all these rumors of Russell owning 90% or 99% of the Watch Tower Society has come from, although this company was not the Watch Tower Society. Russell and some of his associates evidently formed this company because some had objected to the Watch Tower Society’s receiving and selling real estate and other items, so this “company” had been formed for that purpose, to take care of this in a business manner totally separate from the Watch Tower Society. Of course, this made it appear at least on paper that Russell had 90% interest in any property and assets owned by this company so his opponents saw this as reason to promote all kinds of wild speculations and distorted accusations, which evidently became twisted to what is stated in the quote above. In truth any profits that came from business activities of this company eventually went to the Watch Tower Society and was used in spreading the glad tidings of great joy. No one was receiving any secret profit from this company. This company had nothing at all to do with the sale of “Miracle Wheat”. In Joseph Rutherford's Battle in the Ecclesiastical Heavens (1915), we find this information about that company:
Much ado has been made by his enemies about business corporations with which Pastor Russell is connected, particularly with reference to the UNITED STATES INVESTMENT COMPANY.
The fact is that this company was never a corporation in the strict sense of the word. It was a limited partnership organized under the Statutes of Pennsylvania. Its capital stock was $1,000. Pastor Russell furnished that $1,000 out of his personal means.
This company was organized for the purpose of taking title to certain property which it did take over and afterwards disposed of, and every dollar that was received therefrom went into the treasury of the WATCH TOWER BIBLE AND TRACT SOCIETY, and was used for its religious work.
Pastor Russell did not receive one cent profit therefrom, nor has any other person ever reaped any pecuniary profit therefrom.
This company has been out of existence for more than two years, and does not own anything today, even its capital stock being expended by the WATCH TOWER BIBLE AND TRACT SOCIETY in its religious work.
There is no corporation in existence anywhere in the world in which Pastor Russell owns a single share of stock, nor in which anyone else holds any stock for his use or benefit.
When Pastor Russell closed out his business, many years ago, he had upwards of a quarter of a million dollars. The greater portion he freely spent in the publication of Bible literature, which was distributed to the people without charge for the purpose of enlightening them concerning the harmonious Plan of God as taught in the Scriptures. The remainder of his wealth he transferred to the WATCH TOWER BIBLE AND TRACT SOCIETY in harmony with and in fulfillment of an agreement between himself and wife made before their domestic troubles began.
Pastor Russell now has no money, no bank account and owns no property aside from a few personal effects, nor does anyone hold any property or money for his personal benefit.
His life for the past forty years has been devoted exclusively to religious work, during which time he has received as a monetary compensation his meals and a modest room in which to work and sleep, traveling expenses and $11 per month for incidental expenses, which amount is supplied by the WATCH TOWER BIBLE AND TRACT SOCIETY.
The charge that he has used these corporations for his personal and private gain is absolutely false, as the books of the corporations abundantly testify. Every dollar that comes into his hands he accounts to the Society for the same.
As an illustration, it was incidentally shown in a lawsuit in which the books of the Society were necessary as evidence that on one occasion Pastor Russell was on the opposite side of the continent from New York when he was handed a draft for $10,000, payable to his own order and which he could have cashed and appropriated to his own use, but, on the contrary, he sent the draft at once to the Treasurer of the Society, authorizing him to indorse his name thereon and cash it for the benefit of the work of said Society, which was done.
On the occasion of the above lawsuit a committee of five gentlemen, experts, were appointed to audit the books of the corporation, and not one penny was found as having been misappropriated by Pastor Russell or anyone else.
I know these facts because it was necessary for me, as counsel, to go over the audit.
Unsubstantiated Statement #2:
While the motives of Russell can only be judged by God Himself, few would argue that such “Miracle Wheat” claims today would be more at home in the National Enquirer than in the Watchtower – a magazine claiming to be produced by God’s only true organization on the earth.
Our comments
The above is proven false because of the new “Miracle Wheat” produced by Norman Borlaug. This wheat has been written about in many Scientific and Agricultural journals. (See links presented below.)
The last part is irrelevant to the Watch Tower in Russell’s day, as there was no claim at all by Mr. Russell that the Watch Tower was “a magazine claiming to be produced by God’s only true organization on the earth.”
Unsubstantiated Statement #3:
Before he got his religious career well underway, Russell promoted what he called “miracle wheat,” which he sold at sixty dollars per bushel.
Our comments
Russell himself did not name the wheat “Miracle Wheat”, nor did he himself originate any of the claims concerning “Miracle Wheat”. Additionally, Brother Russell’s religious career was well under way long before he had ever heard of “Miracle Wheat.”
Unsubstantiated Statement #4:
You may know of the court case in which Charles Taze Russell, founder of the Watch Tower Society, was on trial for mail fraud (he had claimed that his "miracle wheat" would produce ten times as much as regular wheat).
Our comments
It is often stated that Brother Russell was sued because his selling "Miracle Wheat". It should be apparent from all the information above that Mr. Russell was never on trial for “mail fraud”, nor was Russell ever sued by anyone concerning "Miracle Wheat"; thus, those making these claims are mistaken.
While Russell did repeat what others had said concerning the yield, he did not originate the claims concerning Miracle Wheat. As to its producing “ten times” as much a regular wheat, we have not found anyone who made such a claim. However, the original government report that Mr. Russell quoted (see above) would seem to indicate that, given proper soil and circumstance, this wheat might have been able to produce up tens time more, but, as we stated, we have not verified where anyone ever made the claim that it would produce tens times more. The point is, however, that it was others that said this; Mr. Russell only reported what was said in the newspapers and what had been reported to him.
Unsubstantiated Statement #5:
Some farmers also commenced proceedings against him on the grounds of fraud and swindling because he sold to them wheat which he called, `miracle wheat’ at a very high price, claiming that it was from the holy land and that it was many times more abundant than the normal harvest. {Of course non of this was true, the wheat was normal American wheat.}
Our comments
None of the above is true. There were never any farmers who brought proceedings against Russell. Indeed, there were many who were willing to testify on behalf of Russell, and 11 did so in the libel suit. On the other hand, however, Mr. Russell did send out letters to all who had purchased any of the wheat in which he offered to return money if any were not satisfied. Not one person asked for any money back, as shown in the information already given in this report.
Unsubstantiated Statement #6:
[[Charles Taze Russell]] was certainly an expert at making money, whether in the drapery business until he sold it, or by investments in mines and real estate, or by the selling of his books, and of “miracle wheat.” Unfortunately he was legally compelled to restore to the purchasers the money he had obtained for his miracle wheat, on the score that it had been dishonestly extracted from them.
The Society was prosecuted for selling Miracle Wheat at sixty times the going rate for wheat, and which was found to be inferior to ordinary wheat.
And a similar statement:
Charles Taze Russell … was convicted of fraud in his sale to farmers of “miracle wheat”, the “millennial bean” and “fantastic cotton seed”.
And one states:
He claimed it would grow five times as well as regular wheat. In fact, it grew slightly less well than regular wheat, as was established in court.
Our comments
Mr. Russell was never “legally compelled” to restore money to anyone, nor was there ever any prosecution of the Society “for selling Miracle Wheat at sixty times the going rate for wheat.” He was never “convicted” of fraud, nor was any legal accusation taken against him for fraud. Mr. Russell did voluntarily offer to restore money to any who were not satisfied, but no one requested a refund.
As to the idea that “Miracle Wheat” was found to be inferior to ordinary wheat, we have seen no evidence presented of such an idea, but we do know that many witnesses did testify that it was greatly superior to ordinary wheat.
Mr. Russell never sold any “millennial bean”. The “Millennial Bean” was so named by someone else, not by Mr. Russell himself. We reproduce below the only mentions of “Millennial Bean” by Russell that we could find.
The Watch Tower
January 1, 1912
Sister Smith of Nebraska recently discovered one stalk of beans which she declares yielded so prolifically that she calls it the Millennial Bean. She desires to get the beans into the hands of others, and at the same time to make a donation to our Tract Fund for the sending forth of free spiritual food to the hungry. Accordingly the beans have been sent to our office.
We believe the project quite a proper one, and if the beans be as prolific elsewhere as in Nebraska, we would be glad to purchase them at the rate of five beans for one dollar. (We have heard of seed wheat selling at one dollar per grain.) However, in view of unfriendly criticism of enemies, we think it best not to sell these beans, but to give them free to our subscribers who have gardens, and who will request them –five beans each.
Sister Smith writes that they should be planted one bean to the hill, and the hills six feet apart. They should be planted in April. They keep bearing right along for weeks, and five should supply a small family. They will be ready to ship in February.
The Watch Tower
March 1, 1912
The requests for five of the prolific beans for seed by far exceed the supply donated by Sister Smith. We have filled the orders first received.
In reply to various inquiries from those who requested these seed beans, we are informed by Sister Smith that there are advantages in planting them in an onion bed or row– at a distance of six feet. An insect, which proves destructive to the bean plant, seems to dislike the onions, and is thus kept away. After the onions are harvested, the beans grow very fast, if the ground is kept loose on the surface. It is also suggested that great care should be exercised in gathering the pods, not to injure the bushes, by pulling, or breaking off the leaves. If the first crop of beans is allowed to remain on the bushes until fully ripened, there will be no additional yield and the bush will die. If they are to bear repeatedly, the pods must be removed as soon as large enough to eat, we are told, and then new blossoms take the place of the first crop.
As to the “fantastic cotton seed”, again Mr. Russell never offered any cotton seed for sale, nor did he “invent” such a cotton. However, we present below the material that the writer above is probably referring to.
The Watch Tower
March 1, 1913
The finest specimen of cotton plant we have ever seen has come into our possession. It is a little tree, an inch in diameter a foot from the ground, and seven feet high. It contains about three hundred bolls. This seems to be a specially thrifty and prolific new variety. We have no knowledge respecting its pedigree or the kind of soil on which it grew. It is our thought that such phenomenal plants should be specially cared for and their seed kept carefully separate from other seed, with a view to improving the general yield. Apparently this cotton should be grown one stalk to the hill, with the hills two feet apart.
If any WATCH TOWER readers are cotton-growers, we shall be pleased to send them samples of this special seed for special planting separate from all other seeds. We will supply the seed free, on condition that the seed from one-half the crop shall be kept for us and be at our disposal when picked and ginned. The other half would be for the experimenter in extending his acreage next year.
The Watch Tower
February 15, 1915
Last year we offered our readers a few grains each from a wonderful stalk of cotton seven feet high, bearing hundreds of bolls. The only conditions were that they should send us one-half the seed of their crop, keeping the remainder for their own use. As a result we have received some sixty or seventy pounds of cotton seed. We will be pleased to send this to cotton-growers, giving a preference to those whose names are found on THE WATCH TOWER lists–on the same terms as that sent out last year. However, because of the better supply, we can increase the quantity sent to you. Write soon, and then wait. We will allow reasonable time to elapse before sending any, so as to determine what quantity may go to each.
The Watch Tower
March 1, 1915
Again we have some cotton seed for free distribution. It is of the Caravonica cotton type, which has been so successful in South Africa. It is quite prolific. Our subscribers are welcome to sample lots, free.
The above is all we could substantiate concerning this. We ask how Mr. Russell was defrauding people by offering free cotton seed?
Unsubstantiated Statement #7:
In Russell’s denial of the [Ross] pamphlet, he did admit, “The item about the miracle wheat might be said to have a particle of truth, just one grain of truth in it, in a sense.”
Our comments
We have found no proof that Mr. Russell ever made such a statement as attributed to him above. Not having found the source of this quote, we are unable to judge its context, if such a statement ever was made. Of course, there is “a grain of truth” in the Miracle Wheat matter, which grain of truth is that Mr. Russell did put a notice of its sale in the Watch Tower, which he never denied.
Final Thought:
While the original “Miracle Wheat” strain became weaker over the years as it became blended with other varieties, a new high-yielding strain has been produced since then, which is also called “Miracle Wheat”:
Norman Borlaug: A Billion Lives Saved
Billions Served – agronomist Norman Borlaug – Interview
GM crops: Seeds of contention
U.S. Intellectuals: Finally Embracing High Yield Farming
Second Green Revolution to be launched on August 15, 2004
Global Partners Against Poverty in the Dry Tropics
Some other information online concerning Brother Russell and Miracle Wheat
Pastor Russell in Reply to Critics — C. T. Russell’s Reply to the accusations of E. L. Benedict (Mason M. E. Church) as appeared in the Tacoma Tribune regarding money matters, 1914, miracle wheat, Union Ban
A Great Battle in the Ecclesiastical Heavens
by J. F. Rutherford, 1915 — Approved by Brother Russell: Discusses The Brooklyn Eagle’s accusations of Russell. Includes information concerning “Miracle Wheat”, The Ross Libel, Mrs. Russell’s accusations and more.
Return to Part 1 * Part 2 * Part 3

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