Saturday, December 3, 2016

Russell and Rose Ball

I am presenting below an excerpt from Joseph Rutherford's A Great Battle in the Ecclesiastical Heavens, beginning on page 17:
Upon the trial of this cause Mrs. Russell testified that one Miss Ball had stated to her that her husband said, "I am like a jelly-fish, I float around here and there. I touch this one and that one, and if she responds I take her to me, and if not I float on to others."
All this matter the Court struck from the record and would not permit it to go to the jury. In his charge to the jury the Judge said: "This little incident about this girl that was in the family, that is beyond the ground of the libel and has nothing to do with the case because not being put in it, and it was condoned or allowed to pass."
It is manifest that this "jelly-fish" story was entirely the product of Mrs. Russell’s imagination, and other facts which appear in the record conclusively show that it could not have been true.
Pastor Russell emphatically denied that any such thing ever occurred. It would seem unreasonable that any man would make such a statement about himself.
But the most conclusive facts disclosed by the record showing her statement to be untrue are these: Miss Ball came to them in 1889, a child of ten, and was taken into the home of Mr. and Mrs. Russell. She was treated as a member of the family. She was an orphan. She kissed both Mr. and Mrs. Russell good night each evening when she retired. They treated her as their own child. (Court Record, pages 90, 91.) Mrs. Russell testified that the "jelly-fish" incident transpired in 1894, when the girl could not have been more than fifteen years of age. (Page 1.5, Record.) Mrs. Russell lived with her husband for three years thereafter and was separated from him seven years longer before suit was filed, or ten years after the alleged incident before she filed her suit for separation. In her complaint, or bill for separation, no reference whatever is made to the Ball or jelly-fish incident. Her husband had no notice that she intended to make such a charge, and when upon the trial it was intimated by her counsel that he expected to prove such, counsel for Pastor Russell asked for a continuance of the case, which the Court denied. Miss Ball was then living and Mrs. Russell knew where she was and could have procured her as a witness, or have had her deposition, in court. No attempt was made to procure her attendance or her deposition.
Pastor Russell could not have had her there to testify because he had no notice or intimation that his wife would attempt to bring such into the case. It is but reasonable to conclude that this jelly-fish story was manufactured for the occasion. Truly it is a great fish-story!
Another point that conclusively shows that the "jelly-fish story," or Miss Ball incident, was manufactured and untrue is this fact: Three years after the alleged incident Mrs. Russell herself selected and called together a committee of three before whom she and her husband met to discuss their differences and tried to arrange them.
Two members of that committee testified at the trial that all the differences of Mr. and Mrs. Russell were discussed and that their trouble grew out of the management of the paper, or journal. The committee decided against Mrs. Russell’s contention, and, in their language, the two "kissed and made up."
The Miss Ball or jelly-fish incident was not even intimated to this committee. (Court Record, pages 79, 113-116.)
At the trial of this case Mrs. Russell’s counsel made mention that Mr. Russell was in a room with Emily Matthews, a member of the household, and the door was locked. To this Pastor Russell at the time made answer under oath (page 97, Record of Testimony), as follows: "I said (to Mrs. Russell), ‘Dear, you understood all about that.
You know that was the room in which the slops were emptied and the water was carried, and that was the morning that Emily Matthews was sick, and you told me of it and asked me to go up and see her, and when they were running out and in with water pails I turned the key for half a minute until I would have a chance to hear quietly what she had to say, and there wasn’t the slightest impropriety in anything that was done. I would just as soon that everybody in this room would be present.’" Mrs. Russell did not deny this statement in her testimony, and therefore, being undisputed, it must be taken as the true and correct explanation. It shows not the slightest impropriety on his part.
That Mrs. Russell herself did not believe and never has believed that her husband was guilty of immoral conduct is shown by the record in this case where her own counsel (on page 10) asked Mrs. Russell this question: "You don’t mean that your husband was guilty of adultery?" Ans. "No."
It is seen that the court properly took away from the jury the consideration of the "jelly-fish" incident to which she testified. These are the facts which Pastor Russell’s enemies distort, and upon which they charge him with immoral conduct.
There was no testimony produced upon the trial of this case that had any tendency to show that Pastor Russell had been morally derelict in the slightest. No witness testified against his moral character, and no witness in any court has ever yet uttered a word of testimony tending to show anything against his morality.
Shortly after the trial of the above case the Washington Post published aforementioned "jelly-fish" story in connection with the name of Pastor Russell, and charged that he was guilty of immoral conduct. Thereupon Pastor Russell filed suit for libel against the Post, which case was tried before a jury. The instructions of the court on behalf of the defendant, the Post, were manifestly erroneous and prejudicial, but notwithstanding this the jury brought in a verdict exonerating Pastor Russell, but allowed him only one dollar damages.
Pastor Russell thereupon appealed to the Superior Court, which court reversed the judgment of the lower court and remanded the case for retrial, that a jury might have opportunity to assess larger damages. The case came on for trial the second time and after plaintiff had put in a portion of his testimony counsel for the Washington Post offered a compromise and the case was settled by the defendant, the Washington Post, paying to Pastor Russell a substantial sum of money, together with all costs in the case, and the Post thereafter published his sermons.
Thus he was completely exonerated by two different courts concerning the "jelly-fish" or immoral story.
Still his enemies persisted in trying to get this before the public. A preacher in New Jersey wrote an article to a Chicago paper, the Mission Friend, charging Pastor Russell with immorality, and as proof thereof cited the Miss Ball or "jelly-fish" story. Thereupon an action of libel for damages was filed by Pastor Russell’s counsel against the Mission Friend.
The case came on for hearing, and after argument of the legal questions involved the Court decided in favor of Pastor Russell.
The only question that remained to determine was the amount of damages to be allowed Pastor Russell.
Counsel for the Mission Friend then sought a compromise or settlement. Pastor Russell not desiring "blood money," but merely that his good name might be vindicated, agreed to the compromise upon the following terms, which were carried out, to wit: The Mission Friend paid all the costs and published a retraction admitting that it had wrongfully published the Miss Ball or "jelly-fish" story concerning Pastor Russell, further stating that Pastor Russell is a Christian and a gentleman of the highest integrity and moral standing and entitled to the respect and esteem of all good people.
It has been claimed that Rutherford, who evidently had never met Rose Ball, got the information concerning her age mixed up. If she was ten years old in 1888, then she would have been about 72 years old when she died in 1950. However, according to several sources, she was 81 when she died; if this is so, then she must have been about 19 when she came to the "Bible House".
The following is from the Watch Tower of July 15,1906, page 221f.
Mrs. Russell's bill of complaint admitted that there had been no cohabitation between herself and her husband, and her attorney attempted to make out of this that she was deprived of one of the chief pleasures of life. The Court would not permit this. The fact is that the matter was in Mrs. Russell's own control. She did understand that her husband preferred to live a celibate life, but she agreed and expressed the same as her preference. She knew his teachings on the subject, as now expressed in DAWN, VOL. VI., chap. 12--that neither the husband nor the wife may "defraud" the other of reasonable marital rights.
Notwithstanding the foregoing, Mrs. Russell on the witness stand and through her attorney attempted to give the impression that her husband was very amorously inclined, "like a jelly-fish floating around," "embracing all who would respond." She said that some one had told her this thirteen years ago. Hear-say testimony is not admissible in Court, but the precious object to be obtained was the public branding of her husband as a "scalawag," so her attorney smuggled this in by having Mrs. Russell swear that she had told it to her husband ten years ago.
When the next day the husband took the witness stand and swore that he had never used the language (and never had heard of it before) all reasonable people concluded that only an idiotic person would make such an uncomplimentary remark about himself. They concluded, too, that even an ordinary woman, seeking a charge against her husband for thirteen years, could imagine wonders and create the living and real in her own mind. This is the most charitable view possible of such an oath. The Court ruled that the testimony be stricken from the Court records.
Mrs. Russell charged an improper intimacy between her husband and "Rose," who became a member of the Russell household in 1888. The attempt of Mrs. Russell and her attorney to give the inference of criminal intimacy was so manifest that the Court interrupted to inquire, if criminal intimacy were charged, why it had not been made part of the plea and why "Rose" had not been made co-respondent in the suit? Then both Mrs. Russell and her attorney disclaimed any charge of criminal intimacy, but meant that "Rose" had sat on Mr. Russell's knee and he had kissed her. Mrs. Russell also swore that one night she entered "Rose's" room and found Mr. Russell sitting near her bed and holding her hand. The attempt of Mrs. Russell was not to state "the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth," but conversely, to state a part of the truth in order to give seeming foundation for evil surmisings, that would injure her husband's influence among those who do not know him.
The next day Mr. Russell on the witness stand explained that "Rose" and her brother "Charles" were members of the family and office assistants--the former at Mrs. Russell's request. "Rose" was quite childish in appearance, wore short dresses, and looked to Mr. Russell to be about 13 years old. He did not know her age, but another who knew her guessed that she was then only 10 years old. She may have been older than 13 in 1888. The brother came first, and shortly after "Rose's" coming he died.
It was some months later that Mr. Russell in the WATCH TOWER office, hearing sobbing, turned to find "Rose" in tears. Inquiring the cause, "Rose," still weeping, came over and sat on his knee, and complained that Mrs. Russell had worked her too hard before she started for the office; and that she felt weary and friendless. He told her that all that was a mistake. He defended Mrs. Russell as not intentionally unkind or unreasonable, and told "Rose" to do what she was able to do, cheerfully, and then to explain her weariness, and that he was sure nothing unreasonable would be asked. Then, suddenly drying her tears, "Rose" kissed [R3815 : page 222] Mr. Russell. Although surprised at all this Mr. R. did not resent it nor reprove it; but rather reproved himself for not having been previously more fatherly. That very night he talked with his wife about "Rose," and pointed out that she was surely lonely since her brother's death, and that it would be a duty to look after her interests more carefully.
Mrs. Russell agreed, and it was mutually arranged that "Rose" thereafter should be considered and treated as an adopted daughter. "Rose" was so informed in the presence of the three, and invited to spend her evenings in the large study and reading room with the Russells. This course was followed; and when "Rose" retired, usually at 9 p.m., Mrs. Russell kissed her good-night and told her to "pass the kiss along" to Mr. R. also. This custom continued several years, until Mr. R. said to "Rose": "I think it best that I should discontinue kissing you; you are now wearing long dresses and looking more womanly, and Mrs. R. might get to feel jealous;--although she has never said a word to that effect, I would not wish to give her the slightest reason for so feeling." Mr. Russell declared that it was quite a while after his discontinuance of his proper fatherly conduct toward "Rose" that Mrs. Russell (having become alienated on account of not getting all the liberty she desired in the WATCH TOWER columns) upbraided him for kissing "Rose." As for Mrs. R.'s claim that she found her husband in "Rose's" room [R3816 : page 222] one night, sitting near her bed and holding her hand, Mr. R. said that he had no recollection of the occurrence, but that as he has a slight knowledge of medicine he was called on by all the members of the family in cases of illness: Mrs. R., her mother, her sisters and her sisters' children all were accustomed to apply to Mr. R., who kept a free medicine chest, referring serious cases to a regular practitioner. Mr. R. presumed the case in question was an emergency call, and that he was counting "Rose's" pulse. The entire "Rose" matter had a different appearance when the light of truth was turned on it. The Court ruled out the "Rose" testimony, and ordered it stricken from the Court records.
Mrs. Russell mentioned a person named "Emily," a sister in Christ, who served as house-help in the Russell family about 14 years ago. With her attorney's assistance Mrs. R. brought out with dramatic effect that, Once she found Mr. R. in "Emily's" room with the door locked! Again the whole truth was sacrificed under oath, and a partial truth with false inferences went to the public.
On the witness stand next day Mr. R. explained the entire matter. One morning "Emily" was sick, and he was called on to see her and prescribe medicine. "Emily's" room contained a sink and a pump used for the second floor refuse and water. The noise from the pump made it difficult to hear, and Mr. R. turned the key in the door to prevent confusion until he could hear what "Emily" had to say about her condition--certainly less than a minute, probably not half a minute. "Emily," now married, put upon the witness stand, swore that she had no knowledge that the door was locked even for a moment, and that then and at all times Mr. R.'s conduct toward her had been most exemplary.
Mr. Russell declared that he had no knowledge of his wife's notice of the matter until years afterward (when endeavoring to coerce him to grant her all the liberty she desired in the columns of the WATCH TOWER) she mentioned it, saying that it would not sound well if told. Even then, however, Mr. R. could not believe that at heart she meant it, or that she would lend herself to so diabolical a misrepresentation, falsification, of "the whole truth."
It appears that, if Rose Ball was indeed about 19 when she came to the Bible House, she was, due to her child-like appearance and manner of dress, thought of and treated as being much younger. 
In May 1900 [Russell] sent one of his co-laborers, E.C. Henninges and his wife, to England for the purpose of setting up an office and depot in London from which all future work in the UK should be conducted. (It should be explained that this work comprised the import, storage and distribution of the Pastor’s Publications, tracts, books, etc, and was not in any sense an effort to control or direct the organization and individual work of the British groups.)

Thus, sometime before 1900, she had already married Brother Henninges. Later Brother Henninges and his wife began to oppose Brother Russell regarding the new covenant, and both he and his wife evidently cut off all communication with Brother Russell. And this was the situation at the time the accusations were made in the divorce proceedings. 
In 1913, we find this in the 1913 International Bible Students Souvenir Convention Report, page 352
I never defrauded my wife nor anybody else. My wife and I mutually agreed that the property I earned and owned should be devoted to the Lord's service. I carried out my part of the agreement and made a deed, which my wife did not sign. Subsequently the property was sold for debts which my wife had contracted unknown to me. Her dower interest was sold for her debt at public sale. The property being mortgaged, brought all that anybody probably would have paid.
The girl who sat on my knee and who kissed me was an adopted child in short dresses. Her brother had died, and she was in grief; besides, my wife had publicly requested her to kiss me every night before retiring, as her foster-father. If there be any crime in this, let the stones fly, but tell the truth.
As to my being in a girl's room with the door locked. Our servant girl was reported to be sick, and my wife asked me to take time to see her, as I had some knowledge of medicine. In the room where she was there was a noisy pump and sink, and after being interrupted, I turned the key for quietness for about one minute. My wife never charged me with unfaithfulness; nor had she any ground for so doing. She stated under oath that she made no such claim, and also under oath stated that she and I had lived celibate lives for eighteen years.
It is quite untrue that I was silent to my wife for months. The reverse was true--that my wife was silent to me except in the presence of others. She thus and in every way sought to coerce me into giving her more liberty in the columns of the Journal I edited and published, The Watch Tower--because she had adopted suffragette sentiments. She was not granted a divorce. There were no grounds for it. She got a legal separation nine years after she had left me.
I never claimed, nor sought to show, that my wife was insane.
The following appeared in one of the issues of "Bible Student Monthly":
I remind you briefly of the facts: A most excellent and noble wife became mentally poisoned by "Women's rights." When I refused to allow such ideas a place in my journal, The Watch Tower, she became my bitterest enemy. First she tried. to coerce me. This failing she since seeks to destroy my influence. Yet never was a wife more kindly treated. Our property by mutual consent was all devoted to the Lord's cause whilst we were in fullest accord. Provision was made merely for the necessities of life for both of us. When she changed her mind she demanded the money we had devoted to God's cause. I paid her forty dollars per month. She appealed to the courts for more money. However, that is all settled, for in 1909 during my absence in Europe preaching, five of my friends, all men, made up a purse of $10,000, settled with Mrs. Russell and took her receipts for five-years' allowances ordered by the court, which they knew I had not means to pay.
What about Rose Ball going to Australia?
Why, of course, she did not stay a child in short dresses all the time. She married and went to Australia with her husband. Remember, this is quite ancient history which the Eagle considers news. Twenty years ago Rose kissed my wife and me every night when she retired. And she did this at my wife's suggestion. It was at that time that she came crying to me and sat on my knee to tell her troubles-as to a father.
No one knows better than my wife that there was absolutely nothing impure in any of my dealings with that foster child. I did not get a chance to furnish my testimony in Court because the trial judge discerned that no immorality was charged in my wife's plea and ordered everything of the kind stricken from the court records.
If anyone has anything more as far as documentation regarding this, please let us know in the comments area.

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