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Charles Taze Russell

Charles Taze Russell, (February 16, 1852 - October 31, 1916), founder of the Bible Students Association, currently known as Jehovah's Witnesses.

Russell was born in Allegheny, Pennsylvania, USA. He was the second son of Joseph L. Russell and Ann Eliza Birney, who were Presbyterians of Scottish-Irish descent.

Russell for a time attended the Episcopalian Church, but his interest in spiritual matters was kindled when he attended a sermon of Adventist Preacher Jonas Wendell.

In 1873, at the age of 21, Russell published a booklet entitled "The Object and Manner of the Lordís Return." Around 50 000 copies were published. In 1879, he began publishing 'Zionís Watch Tower and Herald of Christ's Presence', now known as 'The Watchtower'.

Convinced of the need to promote what he considered to be the truth of the Bibleís message, Russell dissolved his partnership in his father's haberdashery business and devoted his entire fortune, approximately a quarter of a million dollars, to the promulgation of the Christian religion and the distribution of Bible literature.

Legal Battles Opponents of C.T. Russell charged him with a variety of offences, notably of fraud in selling what he allegedly claimed was 'Miracle Wheat'. A review of the actual source material, published in Zionís Watch Tower, reveals a different picture. Miracle Wheat was a strain of wheat that received recognition from U.S. Government representatives. Far from making extravagant claims, Russell merely wrote: "If this account be but one-half true it testifies afresh to God's ability to provide." When a supporter of Russellís cause donated some of that strain of wheat, Russell merely announced that it was available for sale for a dollar a bushel. The funds were not given to Russell personally but were used to promote the cause. Russell offered to return the money of anyone dissatisfied with the wheat, but no-one took him up on the offer.

Russell died at the age of 64 on a train in Pampa, Texas, while on a lecture tour of the midwestern and southern parts of the United States.