Thursday, October 3, 2019

Domestic Troubles (J. F. Rutherford)

DOMESTIC TROUBLES

(Excerpt from "A Great Battle in the Eccesiastical Heavens", by Joseph F. Rutherford.)

Pastor Russell was married in 1879. For the first thirteen years of their married life he and Mrs. Russell lived happily together. They were both engaged in religious work, and had been even before their marriage. A semi-monthly religious journal, THE WATCH TOWER, was published, of which Pastor Russell was and still is the editor. She became dissatisfied with his manner of conducting this journal and attempted to dictate the policy thereof. Being the head of the house, Pastor Russell would not submit to his wife's dictating the manner of conducting his business affairs. Without notice, she voluntarily separated herself from him in 1897, nearly eighteen years after their marriage. For nearly seven years she lived separate and apart from him, he furnishing her a separate home.

In June, 1903, she filed in the Court of Common Pleas at Pittsburgh a suit for legal separation. They had been actually separated for nearly seven years. In April, 1906, the cause came on for trial before Justice Collier and a jury. It has been remarked by a number of lawyers who have read the record in this case that "no court has ever before granted a separation upon so slight testimony as appears in this case." The record discloses nothing except a misunderstanding between husband and wife, and which at one time was adjusted, by mutual consent. The issue being submitted to the jury they evidently concluded that, being already actually separated for a period of seven years, a legal separation might as well take place.

There never has been an absolute divorce of either of the parties.

GREATEST FISH STORY
EVER MANUFACTURED

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.

Domestic Affairs

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 [Rutherford was evidently in error on this], 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.)

[See our research: Russell and Rose Ball]

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 jellyfish story was manufactured for the occasion. Truly it is a great fish-story!

A CLINCHER

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.)

Domestic Affairs

MRS. RUSSELL TESTIFIES HER
HUSBAND WAS NOT GUILTY

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.

PASTOR RUSSELL EXONERATED IN
SEVERAL COURTS

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.

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