THE ROSE BALL STORY
B Stett & Carmilla
(Investigator 130, 2010
Russellism, the cult that became Jehovah's Witnesses (JWs), occurred in
1908 and involved the cult's Australian office headed by Ernest C
Henninges and Rose Ball.
ROSE and ERNEST
Ball (1869–1950) of
Buffalo, New York, first encountered the religious cult of Charles T
Russell in 1884.
lived with Russell
his wife Maria in their apartment, 1889-1897, as their supposed foster
daughter, and worked in their religious headquarters, "Bible House", in
Allegheny-Pittsburgh, sorting mail.
poem which reflects the character-training the cult emphasized:
RIGHT SPIRIT WITHIN ME
a right spirit
Lord, is my prayer;
only the perfect
find echo there.
spirit of faith's
more should the
world's senseless idols
sway over me.
spirit of humble
sweet, lasting peace—
warring of earthly
spirit of Christ
finds in thy
service its duty,
pleasure in thine.
spirit of deep
wisdom and love;
wise as the serpent,
pure as the dove.
a right spirit
gifts of thy grace;
all who my
likeness may trace.
Make me a living
with thy name,
sealed with the
of the Saviour—
love to proclaim.
(Zion's Watch Tower,
(1871–1939) was a doctor's son. He met Rose at a convention of the
cult, converted to Russellism, and joined the staff at Bible House all
in 1891! The staff numbered about ten: "Our office force consists of
eight brethren and sisters and two lads, besides Sister Russell and the
Editor." (Watch Tower 1896, Dec. 15)
in 1897 when Henninges also became secretary/treasurer of the
Watchtower Society (WTS). They went to England in 1900 and opened the
first branch of the WTS outside the United States." (1973 Yearbook of
JWs, pp 91-93)
they managed the
cult's office in Wuppertal, Germany. In 1903 they were sent to
Australia and opened an office in Melbourne.
defected along with 80 out of 100 Australian converts. The JW
Yearbook 1983 claims: "While Jehovah prospered his organization,
Henninges' group soon died out." (p40) Whether "Jehovah prospered"
anything is not testable, but that Henninges' group did not die out
the New Covenant Publishing Company, published The New Covenant
Advocate (NCA) magazine, and produced many publications
including the jointly-authored books:
Bible Talks For Heart and Mind (1909)
Bible group became
the New Covenant Fellowship (NCF).
Parables of Our Lord (1912)
Church and Its Ceremonies (1914)
The Prophet (1920)
died at 67 and
was buried in Melbourne's Burwood cemetery. Rose was buried at the same
site but her name is not on the headstone. A photo of Henninges (taken
appears in the NCA 1939, February 1:
DATES AND COVENANT
continuation JWs have made false predictions for about 30 dates, many
resulting in major membership losses. The 1975 failure of Armageddon
cost about 500,000 members! The Henninges schism, similarly, coincided
with prophetic failure.
predicted 1914 as
the end point:
reason for changing the figures... They are, we believe, God's dates,
not ours. But bear in mind that the end of 1914 is not the date for the
beginning, but for the end of the time of trouble. (Watchtower Reprints
1894 July 15, p1677)
God to start in 1914 required a weakening of the major nations before
1914 which Russell estimated for 1905-1907:
is near at hand. Though one may not know exactly when it will break
forth, it seems reasonable to suppose it cannot be more than twelve of
fourteen years yet future. (1893 June)
Russia-Japan war erupted (1904) Russell suggested it would involve
Europe. By 1908 this prophetic-scheme was disconfirmed. Furthermore, in
1904 Russell changed his end point of 1914 to "immediately after 1914".
(Watchtower Reprints, p3389)
prophecy probably stimulated the schism, the actual theology argued
over was the "new covenant".
the established view that "the church" was under the New Covenant
(Hebrews 8; Jeremiah 31) to the view that it wasn't. Russell's position
which the defectors rejected was that:
The "new Covenant" did not apply to Christians but to Jews in the
the name New
Advocate — the defectors advocated that the "new covenant" applied to
Christians. Many prominent members seceded including, in America, M L
McPhail who founded the New Covenant Bible Students.
Christian Church had no mediator;
Israel would be restored in Palestine and rule the world.
the interpretation that Russell had discarded and also repudiated
Russell's prophecy of Israel being restored, but without giving credit
to those condemned in 1908. In 1966 The Watchtower admitted:
[the 1920s] the Bible Students thought that the new covenant as
foretold in Jeremiah 31:31-34 did not apply to the 144,000 spiritual
Israelites but was to be made with the natural Jews after the battle of
Armageddon. Lectures were given to large public audiences on "Jews
Returning to Palestine," and in October of 1925 the book Comfort
for the Jews was published. Under the subheading "The New
Covenant," pages 97-103 discussed this covenant and reserved it for the
natural Jews regathered to Palestine. (February 15, p117)
won the theology debate.
RUSSELL VERSUS RUSSELL
Russell in 1897 over religious differences. Russell, for example,
remained stuck on prophetic date-setting whereas Maria in her book This
Gospel of the Kingdom (1906) set no specific dates.
as contributing to the marriage breakup. New York's Brooklyn Daily
Eagle (October 29, 1911) reported:
October 27 - The suit for a separation brought by Martha (sic) F.
Russell against Charles Taze Russell, her husband, popularly known as
Pastor Russell, who has just entered a libel suit against The Brooklyn
Eagle, is remembered here as one of the most sensational court
proceedings in the history of Allegheny County…
elicited the most comment concerned the relations of Pastor Russell
with Rose Ball, a young woman stenographer employed by Pastor Russell
in the Bible House on Arch Street. This testimony was given by Mrs.
Russell on direct examination on Thursday, April 26, 1906. It was ruled
out by the court on the ground that the incidents to which reference
was made were said to have occurred on a date which precedes the dates
mentioned in Mrs. Russell's bill of complaint. Pastor Russell recurred
to the incidents when he went on the stand several days later, and gave
his version of what had happened. Rose Ball was not called to the
stand, as she left for Australia shortly before the case came to trial.
verbatim record of
this testimony taken from the official report of the case on file in
the office of the Prothonotary of Allegheny County is as follows:
want you to tell
what your husband did in company with this woman Rose, in your presence
and in your home…
evening he spent
the evening downstairs and our library and bedroom were next to each
other upstairs on the second floor, and I spent the evening downstairs
reading, and I went upstairs about 10 o'clock to my room, and I
supposed that: he was either in the library or had retired, and when I
went up there I found that he was in neither place, and I stepped out
in the hall, and I found that he was in his night robe, sitting beside
Miss Ball's bed and she was in bed. On other occasions I found him
going in there and I found she called him in and said she wasn't well
and wanted him in, and I objected to this, and I said that it was
highly improper, and I said: "We have people about the house, and what
kind of a name will be attached in this house if you do that sort of
thing?" and he got angry…
state that you
found him doing this at other times. How often after that?
found him a number
of times; I don't remember how often.
Yes, sir. And I
him in the servant girl's room as well. And I found him locked in the
servant girl's room.
he make any
explanation why he was in the girl's room?
He did not; he
just got angry.
What did you say to
him about this conduct and what did he say.
said to him, "We
have a great work on our hands," and I said, "In this work you and I
have to walk very circumspectly before the world and if you are going
to do things like this, what will happen? Suppose you are all right,
don't you suppose people will talk about things like this?" and I said,
"I am not satisfied with it," and he said he wasn't going to be ruled
by me. But I felt distressed about that.
What did Rose do at
the Watch Tower.
attended to the
Where was her desk
with reference to the desk of Mr. Russell of the Watch Tower Society?
wasn't near his;
was in the office.
When would he go to
the Watch Tower, in the morning?
don't remember; he
generally went down alone.
came with him in
the evening and they came about 11 o'clock and the young men that were
in the office — she was the only girl, and the young men would go home,
and he wouldn't allow her to go home with them, and she must wait and
always go with him.
want the mere
did this girl Rose go home with your husband?
What year was that?
the fall of 1894…
said one evening
when she came home with him, just as she got inside the hall, it was
late in the evening, about 11 o'clock, he put his arms around her and
kissed her. This was in the vestibule before they entered the hall, and
he called her his little wife, but she said "I am not your wife." and
he said "I will call you daughter, and a daughter has nearly all the
privileges of a wife."
What other terms
Then he said, "I am
like a jellyfish. 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"; and she wrote that out so that I could remember it for sure
when I would speak to him about it. And he confessed that he said those
the young men
home ahead of them?
State to the court
jury…what you stated to your husband that Rose had said and his reply
said, "Rose has
told me that you have been intimate with her, that you have been in the
habit of hugging and kissing her and having her sit on your knee and
fondling each other, and she tells me you bid her under no account to
tell me, but she couldn't keep it any longer. She said if I was
distressed about it she felt that she would have to come and make a
confession to me, and she has done that.
What did he say?
tried to make
of it at first and I said, "Husband, you can't do that. I know the
whole thing. She has told me straight and I know it to be true." Well,
he said he was sorry; it was true, but he was sorry. He said he didn't
mean any harm. I said, "I don't see how you could do an act like that
without meaning harm."
JW sources portray Rose
Ball as 10 to 15 years old when she lived with the Russells:
- Miss Ball
to them in 1889, a child of ten... She was an orphan. (A Great Battle
in the Ecclesiastical Heavens, 1915, p18)
improper intimacy between her husband and "Rose," who became a member
of the Russell household in 1888…
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 in 1888…
was mutually agreed
that "Rose" thereafter should be considered and treated as an adopted
daughter…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… (The Watch Tower
1906, July 15)
- During the
1906, Mrs. Russell testified that a certain Miss Ball told her that C.
T. Russell had once said: "I am like a jellyfish. 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."
came to the Russells in 1888 as an orphan about ten years old… Mrs.
Russell testified that the alleged incident occurred in 1894, when this
girl could not have been more than fifteen years old… Though Miss Ball
was then living and Mrs. Russell knew where, she made no attempt to
procure her as a witness and presented no statement from her. (Yearbook
"no attempt to
procure her" the fact is Rose was in Australia, sent there by Russell
in 1903 when Maria filed for legal separation. Rose was probably glad
to be far away as she never publicly mentioned her life as Russell's
"daughter" or the fondling and kissing.
ROSE'S REAL AGE
Certificate of Registration gives her birth-date as 19/3/1869. Maria
Russell, in the Russell vs Russell transcript, states Rose,
"was about 19 or 20 when she came to us…" (p67) Rose's death
certificate gives her age at death as 81.
Zion's Watch Tower for April 25, 1894 titled A Conspiracy
Exposed lists Rose Ball among the seven directors of the WTS! (p56)
This alone proves she wasn't a child and that Russell knew it! In
when he "kissed…his little wife" she was 25 and he 42!
was Russell's response to four elders who accused him of various
"sins". The publication cites Rose Ball repeatedly including an
affidavit by her (pp 53-54) and letters defending Russell (pp 31-34,
bribed Rose's support by promoting her to the highest possible position
the cult offered — into the top seven!
Internet forum further
revealed that Rose was not an orphan:
certificate also states that she was born in Buffalo, New York… In the
1880 census we see Rose Ball, the daughter of Catherine Ball, 10 years
old, living in Buffalo, New York…
concealment and bribery surrounding the Russell-Rose affair it's
probable their private intimacies exceeded published admissions.
her father and
mother were alive when she was married in 1897. I have their death
certificates. Both died in 1911.
1910 census for
Buffalo, New York…shows both of her parents alive living with their son
Richard L. Ball and daughter Lillian M. Ball.
RUSSELL VERSUS RUSSELL
collapsed in 1897. Maria filed for legal separation in 1903 at the
Court of Common Pleas at Pittsburgh; the case was heard in 1906.
came out is that
1897 the Russells lived in a business building. The Bible House workers
previously lived there too but had all been removed — except Rose Ball
who now acted as go-between, taking messages from Russell to Maria.
Court heard of: "the
utter desolation of her [Mrs Russell] house and the withdrawal of all
support [which] to her mind pointed to one conclusion, namely, that he
proposed to deal with upon the pretext of insanity." (Barbara Harrison,
1978, Visions of Glory, Chapter 2)
Russell was forcibly
ejected from Bible House with the words "Get out of here, you
blasphemer." Another time when she complained of having less rights
than a dog Russell told her, "You have no rights at all that I am bound
to respect." In a letter of July 1896, Russell wrote: "…under the
circumstances it properly devolves upon you to make the advances on the
line of social amenities between us. It would be improper for me to
take the initiative in the matter of amenities such as, 'good morning,'
'good night,' etc."
Maria had erysipelas
in early 1897 Russell declared it God's judgment. Stephen Porter,
attorney for Mrs Russell in 1906, questioned Russell:
meetings (September 4 & 5, 1897) of cult members at which he
declared his wife weak minded and under Satan. He wrote letters to her
relatives and friends warning against communicating with her.
Miss Ball, who was
special friend, and who I knew would tell her, I told her in my
opinion, this was a judgment from the Lord on her.
Ball to tell her that?
Yes, sir. I wished
to. I thought she ought to know it.
the Court): Was
that the time she had erysipelas?
you believe that
was the judgment of the Almighty?
said: "The atmosphere of this home from July, 1896, to the time when
she withdrew from it in November, 1897, was filled with unbearable
silence and utter neglect."
November 1897 Maria
finally fled, and moved in with relatives.
about this time, and Henninges was appointed secretary/treasurer of
Russell's Watch Tower Society. As mentioned, Russell sent them to
Australia in 1903 where they defected in 1908.
TRAIN ACCIDENT 1910
experienced a train
accident in 1910 and received compensation, which rescued the NCF's
been greatly hampered by lack of capital to open out the publishing
work… Mrs. Henninges and I were making this a matter of prayer…
input of funds
when "needed" was, Henninges claimed, "miraculous". The event,
therefore, probably motivated an attempt in 1917 to repeat the
November 21st, 1910, we were returning together from a Bible Class held
in a Melbourne suburb…
When this train was within a few hundred yards of its destination it
was run into by a locomotive which was running on a line diagonally
crossing the one we were on. Our carriage was forced from the rails,
and there was a sound of woodwork being wrenched and crunched as the
colliding locomotive tore away the footboard from the carriage we were
in; and when stopped, the colliding locomotive was just at our
compartment… Mrs. Henninges has suffered from this much more than I,
but is now, after seven months' incessant pain, making good progress…
The Railway has awarded compensation that will be a help to us in the
publishing work… (New Covenant Advocate, 1911 July, p60)
Reports (Volume 22, 1917, pp 481-485) reported an appeal in the
High Court of Australia (Melbourne) brought by Rose Ball against the
Victorian Railways Commissioners to recover damages for negligence.
brought in the Victorian County Court where she maintained that when a
locomotive was linked to the train she was in, she fell off the seat
and this made her "neurasthenia" worse.
was exacerbated, "Neurasthenia", is defined by Bailliere's Nurses'
Dictionary (18th edition) as "an outdated term for a state of
general debility, both physical and mental."
County Court jury
against Rose and decided no negligence was involved. She appealed to
the Supreme Court of Victoria for a retrial. This was granted by a
single Justice who decided the jury was improperly instructed by the
the Victorian Railways Commissioners appealed to the High Court of
Australia claiming the Supreme Court Justice had erred and that the
jury was properly instructed. The High Court approved the appeal,
making it clear Rose had received a fair trial and her claims were
false. Page 483 says:
of damage the plaintiff's case was that she was extremely ill for a
long time suffering from neurasthenia, and, if that was so and the
defendants were responsible for it, she was entitled to substantial
damages. Medical evidence was called to support that view. Medical
evidence was also called on the other side, which, if believed, would
show that she was not really injured at all by the accident, and that
either she was a conscious impostor or her story was unconsciously
imaginative. It was for the jury to say which evidence they accepted…
The jury saw her in Court, and one of the medical witnesses deposed
that, having seen her behaviour in Court and having previously examined
her, he was of opinion that her alleged condition was purely subjective
Henninges' death in
February 1939 the NCF's evangelizing efforts declined.
edited the NCA from
1939 to 1944. After that she continued to evangelize via letters and
poems, and received a positive write-up in the NCA (January 1, 1951)
after her death.
of authority in two cults, suggest intelligence, competency and
charisma. But in her intimacies with Russell and her attempted fraud
against the Railways she failed the ethical standards advocated in her
now numbers under 100. They publish The New Covenant News and
still hold meetings and summer camps.
The claim that Rose Ball
was 15 or younger
(when she was 25) is a
Jehovah's Witness lie repeated for over 100 years.
On this website
we seek the truth: