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Pastor Russell and Miracle Wheat

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Brooklyn Daily Eagle, September 22, 1911


This article appeared in the September 22, 1911 Brooklyn Eagle. Notice the "general counsel". It is obviously Rutherford.



Offered the Faithful Who Read Pastor Russell's Magazine. 


Anyone Who So Desires Can Purchase the Precious Grain at Hicks Street Headquarters. 

Many of the devoted followers or Pastor Russell, whose Indefatigable efforts in the vineyard of the Lord has attracted wide attention in Brooklyn, are awaiting with interest the result of a new experiment emanating from his headquarters in the Tabernacle, 13 and 17 Hicks street, this borough. 

The experiment is 
“Miracle Wheat”. 

The society of which Pastor Russell is the head wants it distinctly understood that It has nothing whatever to do with the wheat itself beyond the fact that the grain is being sold from its headquarters, and that it expects the faithful follower who produces it to give the society the returns froth the sales.

Because of the miraculous powers of the wheat in question, it is being sold at a slightly higher rate than that commanded by the ordinary variety. Generally speaking, the price of the “Miracle Wheat” is $60 a bushel. tI [sic] can be bought in small lots at about $1 for a pound. Or, if one desires, it can also be purchased at the rate of fifty-five pounds for $50. 

The price of ordinary wheat for which farmers claim no extraordinary or divine qualities is, according to the latest quotations, about 59 cents or $1 per bushel. 

Brother Dockey (first name refused to inquirers) is the watchdog of the wheat treasury. Brother Dockey states that from thirty to thirty-five bushels have been sold thus far, which, according to the price quoted, has netted from $1,800 to $2,100. The Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society gets this money, accord., to Brother Dockey. The society's receipts last year from the sale of religious literature, donations, etc., was $150,000, and the money realized from the sale of wheat at $60 a bushel is expected to swell this year's revenues to an even higher figure. 

Brother Dockey says that Brother J. A. Bohnet, who, Brother Dockey understands, has “a farm out in Ohio,” first discovered "miracle” wheat. This was in 1907. Since that time he has experimented with it, and other "brothers" have been told the secret, until now Brother Bohnet of Ohio and Brother Flemming of Indiana and others are able to grow enough “miracle” wheat to have it placed on sale in Brooklyn, the brothers generously agreeing to donate all the proceeds to Pastor Russell's society. The following advertisement in the Watch Tower, the semi-monthly of the society, explains the proposition: 

Brother Bohnet's Generous Offer Set Forth in Detail. 


Brother Bohnet writes us that he has gradually accumulated a crop of miracle wheat from the few grains he obtained as a start. He prefers that the first opportunity for obtaining this wheat shall go to The Watch Tower readers. He will sell it for $1 per pound, including postage, and give the entire proceeds to our society. All orders for this wheat should be addressed Miracle Wheat Bohnet, 17 Hicks street, Brooklyn, N. Y. This will keep mail on this subject separate from his personal mail and from ours.

Brother Bohnet promises to be ready to ship this wheat by August 1. He says miracle wheat should be sowed one-fourth as thick as common wheat. Ordinarily it should produce from ten to fifteen times as much proportionately to the amount sown. To save keeping account, money should accompany the order. Watch Tower readers will have the preference up to August 15, after which orders will be attended to indiscriminately, so long as the supply holds out. This wheat should be sown in the fall.

Brother Dockey says that some of Pastor Russell’s followers in this city came to the Tabernacle personally and bought “miracle” wheat, while others in other cities and states sent in their money by mail and Uncle Sam carried the precious grain.

For years wheat experts in America have tried to produce wheat with the yielding qualities claimed by Brother BohnetÂ’s grain. Yet here is a marvelous grain that has been in existence for four years and not a big grain man in the country has known anything about it, or it would have been commercialized long ago.

No Guarantee Goes With the Wheat, However.

At the Tabernacle in Hicks street no guarantee is given with the “miracle” wheat that is sold that it will yield “from ten to fifteen times as much proportionately to the amount sown.” Brother Dockey admits thepossibility that the “miracle” brand isn’t so wonderful as all this. He says that Brother Bohnet doesn’t claim this. Brother Dockey in substantiation of this statement points to the advertisement above quoted, pointing especially to several certain words, to wit., “ordinarily it should produce.” Brother Dockey figures that this relieves Brother Bohnet of all responsibility in case any particular lot of “miracle” wheat should prove to yield only ordinary results.

Brother Dockey says that a wrong impression is got by anyone who, reading the advertisement, believes that Pastor Russell or the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society guarantees the worth of “miracle” wheat or that either Pastor Russell or the society has anything to do actually with promoting the sale of the wheat.

“Here’s our lawyer right here,” said Brother Dockey today, motioning to a tall man in black who was standing near by. “He’ll explain that this society has nothing whatever to do with ‘miracle wheat.’”

The tall man in black said he was “general counsel” for the society. He did not care to give his name.

“Brother Dockey is right,” he said. “Anybody who says that Pastor Russell or the society is selling wheat is a liar. Brother Bohnet offered to donate his ‘miracle wheat’ and the society accepted his offer. He is merely allowed to place the wheat on sale here in the Tabernacle. Brother Dockey sells it. Neither brother has a voting share in the society. Brother Bohnet has kindly agreed to turn over all the money received for the wheat to the treasury of the society.”

Neither Brother Dockey nor the “general counsel” make any claim that the “miracle wheat” has an intrinsic value of $60 a bushel.

“The advertisement in the Watch Tower does not say that ‘miracle’ wheat is worth $1 a pound,” said the general counsel. “It says simply that Brother Bohnet is willing to sell it at that price. It is purely a donation sale, for the benefit of the society, and those who buy at the price quoted, do so with the understanding and the idea that they are voluntarily giving aid to the society. I might place high value upon worthless forniture [sic] if I wished to, and if people wanted to buy at the price I named they could do so if they wished, though I made no claims that the furniture had any real value beyond that of ordinary furniture.”

Although Brother Bohnet is not a member of the society, according to the “general counsel,” it is a fact that he finds time between tending his “miracle” wheat on his Ohio farm, to lecture before Bible classes. Brother Bohnet just now is lecturing out in Washington or Canada. Brother Dockey is not sure just which.

So this one article tells us:

1) That it was easy to know that this was extremely overpriced.
2) That the Society received around $3.7M in 2016 dollars in 1911
3) That any person who knew anything about wheat would know this wasn't really "miraculous". If it was, then more people would know about it.
4) They were already planning for failure, "you didn't read the fine print".
5) Rutherford called himself "general counsel", not "judge", was prideful, and possibly knew they were selling worthless things at a high price.

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The famous PYRAMID tombstone for Pastor Russell was designed by the same Brother Bohnet who conducted the funeral. It is Bohnet who offered to donate the famous wheat to the Watch Tower.

In 1905 a Watchtower booklet called "Features of the Plan of God" is written by J. A. Bohnet.

Bohnet's 1910 letter to the Russell in the Watchtower:




The Watch Tower, October 1, 1910, page 307 

Two grains of this wheat were given to the Editor, who, in turn, handed them to a brother in the Truth, who reported that the two grains produced 1,312, which, planted, produced five pounds -- one grain having fifty stools of well-developed stalks or straws. The brother planted the miracle wheat alongside of some ordinary wheat, and reports that the miracle wheat heads are from three to five inches long and from three to five grains to the mesh, whereas with the common wheat the heads are from two to three inches in length.

Another brother obtained some of the miracle wheat and, out of the first crop, presented the Editor a peck of the same. This was entrusted to another brother, a farmer, who has just handed the Editor $100 proceeds therefrom, with the following report: --

As you remember, I secured also a peck of the miracle wheat from a brother in the Truth as a donation to yourself (because he first heard of the miracle wheat through THE WATCH TOWER).

Brother Kuesthardt advertised the wheat in his paper, and the money sent you is the result of the sales at $1 per pound.

Your brother in Christ,


The Watchtower Bible & Tract Society of New York, located at 25 Columbia Heights in Brooklyn, New York was incorporated in 1909 in the State of New York as a Private Company, by Charles Taze Russell and several of his followers. 
Previously they incorporated as the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society under the laws of Pennsylvania as a Nonprofit corporation under the date of December 15, 1884.

The United States Investment Co. Ltd. was incorporated June 24, 1896, in Pittsburg, PA.

From the records in Pittsburg:

"'Article 1. Names of Subscribers: John A. Bohnet, Ernest C. Henninges, Chas. T. Russell.

"'Amount Subscribed by Each: Bohnet $5.00; Henninges $5.00; Russell $990.00.

"'Article 3. For purpose of buying and selling real estate, patent rights, stocks, bonds, and other securities, merchandise, building homes, etc.

"'Article 4. Name of Association is U.S. Investment Co., Ltd.

"'Article 6. Officers--… C. T. Russell, Manager.'
Russell needed two "straw men" to make up the required number of three for incorporation. One would assume he would choose two men that he could trust. Note the name John A. Bohnet and the date of 1896.

(Note: the 3rd man in the above document ended up marrying Rose Ball and moving her to Australia before the famous divorce trial in which Maria Russell claimed her husband had been intimate with the young woman.)

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On September 23, 1911, in the Brooklyn Eagle, this picture appeared.

Russell sued the Eagle for libel because of this picture, and lost the case.

The picture implied that Russell was making easy money, and that if he could manage to get his followers to buy Miracle Wheat at 60 times the regular price, then he could be of much "help" in the corrupt Union Bank.


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September 23, 1911, Brooklyn Eagle:


Postoffice Inspector Dickson Will Have the Wheat Sold in Tabernacle Tested, He Says. 


But He Doubts the Faith of Those Who Are Not Members of His Faithful Band.

Uncle Sam has decided to make an official test of the "Miracle" wheat sold at $60 a bushel at Pastor Russell's Tabernacle in order that the faithful who have invested their money, and a waiting world as well, may learn more fully of the astonishing merits of the precious grain.

W. W. Dickson, chief of the postal inspectors in Manhattan, has received a communication regarding the notice which appeared in Pastor Russell's semi-monthly, The Watch Tower, setting forth the unusual qualities of "miracle wheat." He promises to set going the wheels of inquiry. He says the Watch Tower notice may or may not represent grain that yields from ten to fifteen times the amount sown, and may be worth $1 a pound, as advertised. But he wants to find out. Accordingly, he has mapped out a plan. It is likely that Inspector John N. Parsons, who generally conducts investigations into Brooklyn affairs, will have the task of testing the yielding qualities of "miracle wheat." Pastor Russell said today that he had full confidence in the qualities of the grain, as noted in the Watch Tower, but he admitted that his confidence was based only upon letters written to him by “brothers” of the "millennial dawn" sect, and that he had never supervised the sowing and growing of "miracle wheat.”

Inspector Dickson will ask that he be furnished with a sample of "miracle" wheat. It will be analyzed by Government chemists in Manhattan. Along with the sample, Inspector Dickson's men will find out who bought “miracle” wheat from Brother Dockey, the watchdog of the cereal treasury, so that it may be learned what interstate shipments were made of "miracle" grain.

Brother Dockey Says Supply of Wheat Is Limited. 

Pastor Russell could not state today just how much "miracle wheat" there was on hand at the Tabernacle. He telephoned Brother Dockey to come right over to Pastor Russell 'shome [sic] at 124 Columbia Heights. Brother Dockey did so. Brother Dockey announced that the supply was limited. It is still selling at $60 a bushel, only there isn't enough for any one person to buy as much as two bushels. So Brother Dockey is selling preferably by the pound, still at $1 a pound. He had 20 pounds left a few days ago, but someone—he thought it was another "brother"—telegraphed from California that he must have 100 pounds. So Brother Dockey is reserving 100 pounds until the Californian sends on $100. This leaves 100 pounds still in sale at the Tabernacle. Brother Dockey was loath to name the amount until Pastor Russell gave him permission. 

An Eagle reporter yesterday bought one pound for $1. Brother hockey wouldn't sell it for less, though the reporter shamelessly tried to "beat him down." Today Pastor Russell, in Brother Dockey's presence, made an offer to the reporter. 

Pastor Russell Would Buy Back Reporter's Wheat. 

"If you will bring that pound of wheat back I will pay you what you gave for it," said Pastor Russell. The reporter indicated that his pound of "miracle wheat" was not for sale.

"It's pretty late to plant it now, unless you send it down South," reminded Brother Dockey. 

Brother Dockey stated that less than 5 per cent of all the "miracle wheat" sold at the Tabernacle went to people other than Pastor Russell's followers. "Other people than my own," explained Pastor Russell, "wouldn't believe that this wheat contains extraordinary qualities. It is too much of a miracle for them to comprehend." 

"It wouldn't do to try to fool our own people, either," Brother Dockey interpolated. "If we did that they would never have confidence in us again."

Pastor Russell says that as long as Brother Bohnet, Brother Flemming and other "brothers" continue to display generosity enough to hand over the proceeds from the sale of "miracle wheat" to the society, the grain will be sold' at the Tabernacle. Regarding the advertisement in the Watch Tower, Pastor Russell says that, as Brother Dockey said yesterday, no guarantee is offered that "miracle wheat" possesses powers of extraordinary yield. Pastor Russell does say, however, that he was responsible for the notice being inserted in the Watch Tower and that he believes in "miracle wheat" and intended to have his readers, all over the world, fully understand that he thought highly of it.


Here we see that Russell had fears that the Miracle wheat was not going to work, he had elitism even for the wheat, he was deluded to think that wheat would produce or not based on "faith", that there WERE ads placed in the Watchtower, that he had responsibility for the ad, and that he knew he was respected. It also shows that there was a "cult of personality". If Russell liked it, than people would buy it.

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