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Jack Ryan

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As noted above, Charles Taze Russell's 65 year-old father, Joseph Russell, married Maria Russell's "younger-by-five-years" 25 year-old sister, Emma Russell, in 1880. Born in 1813, the 84 year-old Joseph Russell must have experienced an inordinate amount of stress caused by the marital discord between his only living Son and his wife Emma's older Sister -- particularly during the last six months that preceded their physical separation in November 1897. Joseph Russell DIED only five weeks after Maria Russell moved out of the Bible House and fled to her brother in Chicago while Charles Taze Russell was on a trip to NYC.
The January 1, 1898 issue of ZION'S WATCH TOWER magazine contained the expected laudatory OBITUARY, which contained no hint that things had ever been less than perfect between father and son, and indicated that Charles had been near Joseph's bedside at the time of his death on December 17, 1897.
Only three months earlier, back on September 6, 1897, in the midst of some of the most vicious and most public of the fighting between Charles and Maria, Charles Taze Russell MAILED what he himself labeled as "LEGAL NOTICES" to "Mr. J. L. Russell, Mrs. J. L. Russell and Mrs. L. J. Raynor (Maria and Emma's older, widowed sister, who also was a one-time Bethelite)" ORDERING THEM "not to receive, harbor or entertain my wife under your roof under any pretext whatsoever." That is all that we know of the content of those three "Legal Notices", and we know that much only because Charles Taze Russell included that information in a fourth "legal and formal notice" that he sent to Maria Russell at the same time.
HOWEVER, on November 8, 1897, after the last round of fighting which preceded Maria Russell's departure, Charles Taze Russell once again sent out a "LEGAL NOTICE" to four friends of Maria Russell (unidentified, but believed to be Emma Russell, Laura Raynor, and two other unknown "friends"), which Charles Taze Russell once again copied to Maria in her own "Legal Notice", in which Charles Taze Russell ORDERED Maria that he did "... prohibit you from having intercourse with them in any manner."
We are going to "assume" that the first set of September "Legal Notices" were prepared by Charles Taze Russell's Attorney (but no biggie if that assumption is incorrect). However, in November, Charles Taze Russell states in his letter to Maria that these second set of "Legal Notices" were typed by Bethelite John A. Bohnet (see our Russell Financial Biography page), although we assume that Charles Taze Russell actually composed the content of this second set of "Legal Notices" BASED ON THE CONTENT OF THE PREVIOUS SEPTEMBER "LEGAL NOTICES", including that sent to his own Father. There is no concrete evidence that Joseph Russell was one of the addressees of these second "Legal Notices", but neither is there any hard evidence that Joseph Russell was not one of the addressees. The fact remains, that given the lack of legal rights possessed by females of that era, the second September "Legal Notice" addressed to "Mrs. J. L. Russell" would have been understood to have been addressed to her husband, Joseph L. Russell.
Here is the content of the second November "Legal Notices", to which we have "added emphasis" to improve readability:
Some time ago I addressed you in regard to your influence upon my wife. I have since had some ground for hope that both you and she had come to view matters in a different light, and that your mutual conspiracy to do me injury had been repented of and abandoned. And acting in good faith I made no further objection to your intercourse.

For a month past, however, I am reluctantly forced to the conclusion that the great adversary is deluding your clique to take some other lines for mischief -- hoping for better success than last time. I have been praying for you each and all, earnestly, that the Lord would open your eyes to the enormity of your course; but I now conclude that it is my duty toward my dear wife to isolate her from your pernicious influence; for such it is, whether you are aware of it or not; and I hope and incline to believe that you are not wilful, but blinded, in the matter; but that there be no chance for misunderstanding, and that this notice shall be in every way a legal notice, I must use great plainness of speech, and tell you that your influence, however intended, is a wicked influence; for it has a wicked effect upon my dear wife. So far from being a "peacemaker," as all who bear the name of Christ should be, you are a mischief maker -- a disturber of the peace. You have already alienated from me the affections of my dear companion, who I believe was given me by the Lord, so that she bears no resemblance to her former loving, generous self. You have incited, or helped to incite in her, an evil, selfish disposition, as contrary to the Scriptural definition of the spirit of love and the character of our Lord, as it is contrary to her former beautiful character under the influence of Divine grace. The laws of our State, not to mention the higher laws of God, deprecate all such conduct and pernicious influence as seeks to alienate and separate between husbands and wives. -- "What God hath joined let no man (nor woman) put asunder"-- either actually or in spirit of mind.

Very reluctantly, therefore, I hereby give you notice that you must not continue this baneful influence; and that to this end you henceforth abstain from all intercourse with my dear wife -- either personal or otherwise -- that you shall not receive her into your home, nor visit her at my home, nor meet her elsewhere, nor correspond with her either directly or by proxy through others.

As it is with pain and reluctance that I thus write to you -- and only as a last resort in the defense of my home and in hope that under Divine blessing my dear wife, being freed from such false sympathy and evil encouragements, shall regain "the spirit of a sound mind" -- the holy spirit of love, -- so, I shall be most glad to recall the restrictions here placed upon you with reference to my wife. But nothing shall be construed as revoking this notice except it be given in writing over my own signature. And failure on your part to conform to this notice, absolutely, will justly lay you liable for such heavy penalties as the Courts of Allegheny County may prescribe.

Sorrowfully yours, etc.


Notably, during the 1894 Schism, Charles Taze Russell published a letter of support from his father, Joseph L. Russell, which condemned Russell's attackers. Notably, during Charles Taze Russell's lengthy battle with Maria Russell, which started long before 1897, and continued to be played out in the media and countered by Russell in the pages of the WATCH TOWER magazine up until and even after Charles Taze Russell's own death, we have not located any letter, statement, quotation, or even indication of any condemnation of Maria Russell or her actions from Joseph L. Russell prior to his death in 1897.
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