" /> Original Sin and Its Penalty
Central Kentucky Bible Students

















































































































































































































































































William E. Van Amburgh

William E. Van Amburgh

1863 - 1947


Information listed below is provided for historial research purposes.

William E. Van Amburgh became associated with the Bible Students prior to 1900. He was a close friend of Pastor Charles Taze Russell. He was elected a director in 1901 of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society in 1901 and Secretetary-Treasurer in 1903.

After Pastor Russell's death a rift occurred in the Society. According to the charter of the Watch Tower Society, the board of directors was to be composed of seven members. If a vacancy occurred the remaining members could fill the vacancy. Two days after the Pastor's death, A.N. Pierson was elected a member. The board was composed of A. I. Ritchie, W. E. Van Amburgh, H. C. Rockwell, J. D. Wright, I. F. Hoskins, A. N. Pierson, and J. F. Rutherford. The seven-member board then elected the Executive Committee of three.

The annual meeting was held on January 5, 1918. J. F. Rutherford, C. H. Anderson, W. E. Van Amburgh, A. H. Macmillan, W. E. Spill, J. A. Bohnet, and G. H. Fisher received the most votes and became board members. From these men J. F. Rutherford was elected president, C. H. Anderson, vice president, and W. E. Van Amburgh, secretary-treasurer, a post he held until 1947.


Pastor Russell's Will named William E. Page, William E. Van Amburgh, Henry Clay Rockwell, E. W. Brenneisen, and F. H. Robison as the Editorial Committee. Others were named to fill vacancies-A. E. Burgess, Robert Hirsh, Isaac Hoskins, G. H. Fisher, J. F. Rutherford, and John Edgar. Page and Brenneisen resigned, Rutherford and Hirshreplaced them as members of the Editorial Committee.

Van Amburgh remained loyal to Judge Rutherford and continued with the society until his death. In 1925, Br. Van Amburgh wrote the book “The Way to Paradise” for younger ones to be used in special schools for teaching them. It was published by the Watchtower Society for several years.

The Finished Mystery Controversy

Pastor Russell had been making notes on the Book of Revelation up until his death in 1916. It is reported he said whenever he found the key he would write it. The Executive Committee of the Society, after the Pastor's death, appointed Clayton J. Woodworth and George H. Fisher to write the book, which encluded a commentaries on Revelation, Ezekiel, and The Song of Solomon. The work was kept secret. When it was released it was falsely stated to be the Pastor's posthumous work.

When it was revealed in July 1917 to the Bethel family, a major rift occured which led to Rutherford removing directors who opposed him. These men left the Bethel family.

The Great War was raging in Europe when the book was released. The book carried a denunciation of the war. United States governmental authorities saw the book's distribution as an act of treason as it made anti-governmental statements. On the 7th of May 1918, the Department of Justice arrested Giovanni DeCecca, George Fisher, Alexander Macmillan, Robert Martin, Frederick Robison, Joseph Rutherford, William Van Amburgh, and Clayton Woodworth and charged them with “unlawfully, feloniously and wilfully causing insubordination, disloyalty and refusal of duty in the military and naval forces of the United States.” They were also chared with violating the Espionage Act. On the 20th of June 1918 the eight were found guilty and began serving sentences ranging from 10 to 20 years at the Federal Penitentiary in Atlanta, Georgia.

The United States circuit court of appeals in New York reversed the decission on the 14th of May 1919. The case was remanded for a new trial, but on the 5th of May 1920 it was decided that the case would not be presued any farther.

William Van Amburgh continued with the society, which became known as Jehovah's Witnesses until his death in 1947. The society shunned former Bethel members. Following is an encounter one former Bethel brother had with Van Amburgh.

 Norman Woodworth, founder of the Dawn Bible Students Association, described a chance encounter with former old colleagues and friends from his days at Bethel.  Dawn Bible Students at its founding was located in Brooklyn on Fulton Street not far from Bethel.  One day walking through Brooklyn, Woodworth could see old close friends of his coming up the sidewalk in his direction.  Two of the individuals were W.M Van Amburgh and A.H. MacMillan.  As he approached and then passed by them they did not acknowledge his presence.  Disheartened that they would not stop and say just a quick hello, he turned around and noticed MacMillan who was holding his hands behind his back, was waving discreetly back at Woodworth!  Some Bible Students had learned that Rutherford had given Jehovah’s Witnesses strict orders not to interact or acknowledge former Bible Student friends and associates. (See http://www.whatsupwatchtower.com/articles/2017/2/11/charles-taze-russells-modern-day-bible-students-a-history-of-the-watchtower-from-the-perspective-of-a-former-bible-student-part-2)