The Pyramid at Charles Russell’s Grave
Described in the
Souvenir Report of the Bible Students Convention,
Pittsburgh, PA. 1/2-5/1919
“AT THE GRAVE
On Monday, a party of about 150 was conducted by Brother Bohnet to the grave of Brother Russell. Upon a hillside, sloping towards the south, we joined hands around the grave and sang: ‘Blest be the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love; the fellowship of kindred minds is like to that above.’
Our last lingering look upon the scene recalled the peaceful manner of our Pastor’s ‘passing beyond the veil.’ Brother Rutherford’s words came to mind: ‘I am glad this prison experience was reserved for us, rather than for our dear Brother Russell.’
We visited the marble works and there watched the workmen slowly but surely chisel out the monument to be erected as a memorial to the Society. The Watchtower Society burial lots in Rosemont United Cemeteries, five miles due north of Pittsburgh City, contain ample grave space for all the members of the Bethel family, and the pilgrims and their wives — in all more than 275 adult graves. In the exact center of the Bethel lot will be erected diagonally the Pyramid Shape Monument as designed by Brother Bohnet, and accepted by Brother Russell as the most fitting emblem for an enduring monument on the Society’s burial space. The size of this structure is nine feet across the base, and its apex stone is exactly seven feet above the ground surface level.
It rests upon a concrete foundation five feet deep and heavily reinforced with barbed wire, the work of Brother Bohnet, who would not entrust this important task to anyone else, so we are assured that the job was well done. The brother gave a full description of the securing of the rock material at the time he piloted the conventionists to the cemetery and urged us to help ourselves to souvenir chips in the shop of the granite worker nearby ...
Each slope of the pyramid will face one of the large lots, and on each of these slopes is cut in four-inch embossment a Teacher’s Bible, on the pages of which will appear the names of the ones buried there. The burial space for Brother Rutherford was indicated and his name, like that of Brother Russell, will be at the top of opposite Bible pages. A Bible space is being set apart for the Pilgrims — all in one lot of forty eight grave space[s], so all their names will appear on the same Bible.
Above the Bibles are spaces for inscriptions in full, W.T.B & T.S., I.B.S.A., ‘Dead with Christ’, ‘Risen with Christ’, etc. And above these the Cross and Crown and Wreath, and the whole capped with the apex stone, highly polished — its shape of course being pyramidal.
Within the structure, incased in a block of granite, will be a sealed metal box in which is a complete set of Karatol Scripture Studies, the Memorial Tower, and one of every tract, photographs of Pastor Russell, a copy of the Society’s charter, and many other things to interest the people who at some future date may open the pyramid and find them.
It is expected the monument will be in place before the next Decoration Day. Any truth people desiring a chip of the stone may send postage enough to carry a piece about the size of an egg, with enough additional to pay the Society for the trouble of having it wrapped for the mail.”
Souvenir Report of the Bible Students Convention, Pittsburgh, PA., January 2-5, 1919, page 7.
The Laodicean Messenger (a biography of Russell published in 1923) describes the Pyramid at Russell’s grave and the extra precautions taken to protect his gravesite from vandalism.
“Elsewhere in this book will be found some reproductions of beautiful photos taken of the surface, showing the "Pyramid" and Head Stone with inscription, likewise the plat beneath which is hidden the ashes of one who we believe is now crowned both King and Priest. The casket was placed in a vault beneath the surface of the earth, inclosed in solid cement two feet thick, and carefully sealed. This is in order that the ghouls might not "come by night and steal the body" for experimental purposes. Scientifically speaking that skull would have a great value, so money might be supplied without stint to obtain it. The committee thought it best to not put temptation in the way of any of the basely and curiously selfish, so they took proper precaution to prevent the grave being thus desecrated.” (Page 259)