Did the Watchtower Society Construction Crews in Brooklyn Bury Some Bodies?


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    Gamaliel posted Mon, 18 Aug 2003 20:31:00 GMT(8/18/2003)

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    Well this isn't exactly what you might think, but I have the following information based on what I consider good authority. Still, it's without a shred of hard evidence. I am bringing it up now before the Watchtower Society tries to sell off the particular building in question.

    Here's the story I heard: During the 1980's, one of the construction crews directed by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society was digging in the foundation area around the initial site of one of the buldings they currently own in Brooklyn Heights, New York. (Construction is now complete on the building in question.) The same crew came upon some human remains (bones) along with some artifacts which made them initially suspect they had chanced upon an Native American burial site. Others thought that it was much more likely the bones were from a 17th or 18th century "African-American" slave burial site. The few workers who were aware were asked, I'm told, for their complete silence about this discovery because of the delays that the City of New York would undoubtedly enforce upon the building project. It was suggested that this discovery might even put a complete stop to the building project. Although these are not quotes, the cooperation of the construction crew, I'm told, was clearly spoken of in terms similar to the following: "Let's make sure we don't say anything that might stand in the way of the work Jehovah wants us to accomplish. We all know how important this work is in our day."

    I'm not trying to break a story here. I'm looking for another person or persons who can corroborate the story I have heard. I am especially looking for eye-witnesses. I'll treat it completely anonymously if you have only heard about the story. If you are an eyewitness, I will treat the story as you wish, but with the request that we can at least discuss (with an attorney present, if you will allow) a way of publicizing the story to any legal extent possible under the protections offered to journalists. I am not a journalist, but will be happy to recommend one. Also, I will pay all legal fees and transportation fees for all consultations prior to release of the story (or permission to release the story). If you are serious, PM me and I'll provide initial contact information.


    Gamaliel posted Tue, 19 Aug 2003 15:30:00 GMT(8/19/2003)

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    Satanus posted Tue, 19 Aug 2003 15:35:00 GMT(8/19/2003)

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    Yes, i heard this story many yrs ago. Bttt for you.


    M ozziepost posted Tue, 19 Aug 2003 15:37:00 GMT(8/19/2003)

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    I incline to the view that this is just "a story", an urban myth.

    I note that it's not referred to in Ray Franz's books.

    Cheers, Ozzie

    Joker10 posted Tue, 19 Aug 2003 15:58:00 GMT(8/19/2003)

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    I don't believe it.

    F cruzanheart posted Tue, 19 Aug 2003 16:00:00 GMT(8/19/2003)

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    Interesting, though. I can see where it would be possible, since the area has such a lot of history behind it. Keep us posted!

    Nina (of the I-Love-A-Conspiracy class!)

    Gamaliel posted Tue, 19 Aug 2003 16:02:00 GMT(8/19/2003)

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    I incline to the view that this is just "a story", an urban myth.

    I note that it's not referred to in Ray Franz's books


    Good points. I should add that the "good authority" is someone who told me the story nearly 10 years ago, who is honest, and who believes the story. I believe only that he is telling me the story exactly as he heard it. The problem is that he is not a "good authority" on whether it really happened.

    It fits the simple profile of urban myths in that it uses ideas based on known facts and then builds something sensational on them -- things that a certain audience would very much want to believe or at least repeat. But those additional facts, just like in any urban myth, usually hinge on some suspicious ideas. The assumption, for example, that anyone on a Bethel construction crew might have correctly identified artifacts in the way a historian might. The possibilities proposed would more likely have ranged everywhere from "Piltdown Man" to "Jimmy Hoffa." I remember only one person in Bethel who might have been able to correclty identify a burial site from artifacts. Bill Gehring was a New York City history buff, and knew all the revolutionary war history and many of the obscure historical sites, and went on many historical tours of the city. (He wasn't in construction, however.)

    Still, the person I know heard it first while in Bethel circles, not in exJW circles, so I'm trying to find out anything else I can about the story. It's of interest to me even if it's not true. My loyal JW parents did not doubt it when I told them (5 years ago) but were quite ready to defend the Society on the decision that was supposedly made.


    logansrun posted Tue, 19 Aug 2003 16:05:00 GMT(8/19/2003)

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    Ozzie said,

    I note that it's not referred to in Ray Franz's books.

    But, if it happened in the 1980's it would make sense that Ray wouldn't write about it since he would have had no first-hand knowledge of the incident since he was DF'd in the first year of that decade. If he personally had no "hard evidence" he probably would not have put it in his book since he's very punctillious about things like that. Note that no mention is made of the Greenlees and Chitty incidents in any of his works, yet we all know that something unsavory happened with them.

    I don't think the story is that implausible, although we probably will never really know for sure.


    mizpah posted Tue, 19 Aug 2003 18:30:00 GMT(8/19/2003)

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    I wonder if this story has been twisted and confused in the telling? I do recall an article some years ago about the discovery of a cemetery during an excavation for a sky scraper in NYC. The archeologists determine it was the burial site of black slaves of that early period. It halted construction for awhile. The remains were removed and reburied as I recall. But it was not in Brooklyn and did not involve Watchtower property.

    A more interesting question is where was Rutherford buried? When he died, JWs requested to have his remains buried on the Beth Sarim property in San Diego. There was even a burial vault built there for this purpose as I understand it. The city officials denied the request. And according to official Watchtower history he was buried in NY on the site of the old radio station, WBBR. However, persistent rumors through the years have said that his remains were actually buried on the San Diego property. Does anyone have additional information on this?

    Room 215 posted Tue, 19 Aug 2003 18:45:00 GMT(8/19/2003)

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    While it lacks confirmation, the story strikes me as plausible, at least. It's not generally known that in the early 18th century, fully one-fifth of New York City's population was African slaves, and NYC had more slaves than any urban area except for Charleston, South Carolina. Burial grounds in Brooklyn, not that far from Bethel, have been found.

    M willyloman posted Tue, 19 Aug 2003 19:11:00 GMT(8/19/2003)

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    Well, this is fitting. The Watchtower is no stranger to slave labor, so a monument seems appropriate.

    M SadElder posted Wed, 20 Aug 2003 22:22:00 GMT(8/20/2003)

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    Don't know about any dead bodies, but did hear that the new 90 Sands edifice is plagued with mold/mildew problems as a direct result of the Bethel construction crew improperly installing moisture shields in the baths of some 350 rooms. No wonder they want to move out of Brooklyn.

    mizpah posted Thu, 21 Aug 2003 16:50:00 GMT(8/21/2003)

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    Jehovah's Witnesses and the Watchtower Society rarely admit to the blunders that occur in their building projects. Years ago at a new assembly hall in Massachusetts, the whole air conditioning system had to be replaced as well as the tile work redone in the rest rooms. There were also rumors that there were some serious mistakes made when computers were first being installed at Bethel.

    Jehovah's Witnesses boast about their building projects. But the truth is that many costly mistakes have been made. Of course, the labor is usually free. And the money is donated. So the Watchtower organization remains way ahead of any "worldly" business.

    Stan Conroy posted Thu, 21 Aug 2003 18:19:00 GMT(8/21/2003)

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    Jehovah's Witnesses and the Watchtower Society rarely admit to the blunders that occur in their building projects.

    One of the quick build halls in this area had to have all the drywall re-done because of some mistake that were made during the hasty build. Apparently the roof also had to be redone. Perhaps the leaky roof destroyed the drywall?


    Gamaliel posted Thu, 21 Aug 2003 20:29:00 GMT(8/21/2003)

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    There were also rumors that there were some serious mistakes made when computers were first being installed at Bethel.

    You can say that again. My roommate was one of the first people brought in to work on them. A good friend from back in our circuit was also brought in. From what they could gather, mistakes were costing millions unnecessarily. IBM was laughing at us. We thought we could use one of the first ones installed (a Series 1 mini) to run an APS-5 typesetting machine. That project alone wasted a million. Of course, I've also been in companies since then that have thrown away multiple projects that cost upwards of 10 million each. It's just that you expect that the Holy Spirit would do better than an idiot CIO.

    I think the biggest embarrassment was the huge metal-plate printing press, that was so big they claimed there was a gravitational pull that made it too hard to control the pressure between the plates and the rollers and therefore the ink pressure on the page was always off. (I don't know if the problem was really gravity but they say you can measure the gravitational pull between two of those large steel wrecking balls when they are hanging very close to each other on two adjacent cranes)

    I used to show that massive new press proudly in my Bethel visitor tours and Gilead Student tours, and was always told to say it would be working in just another month or so. After a few more months, we were asked not to make any comments about it any more. I always wondered if the purchase of this neo-dinosaur press (against the wishes of those who said it was time to move to "offset" printing) contributed to Brother Wheelock's suicide. (He was a factory overseer, and someone I saw almost every day.)


    F berylblue posted Fri, 22 Aug 2003 12:01:00 GMT(8/22/2003)

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    Let's make sure we don't say anything that might stand in the way of the work Jehovah wants us to accomplish. We all know how important this work is in our day."

    I don't know about the rest of the story, but this statement certainly has the ring of truth to it. Meaning JW idiocy and hypocrisy.

    Gamaliel posted Fri, 22 Aug 2003 15:17:00 GMT(8/22/2003)

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    I have found a couple other places where such rumors might have started. Someone recalled that there was some additional construction work around the already completed Squibb Bldgs (30 C.H.) that revealed some things that were unexpected and that they didn't know how to dispose of legally. (May have involved disposal of items that Squibb had stored -- chemicals, vitamins, etc.) There was no legal reason to stop construction work.

    The natural progression in the life of rumors could have leaped from "if they found this around Squibb, imagine what they would have found in the brand new digging on a fresh construction site nearby."

    Also, I just got an uncannily similar report that happened on a KH construction site elsewhere in Brooklyn around the same time period, which may have fed these rumors. I have a first hand witness to that KH issue, who decided to look into the matter further even though the exact same reasons for keeping quiet were given. There were no human bones in the case of the KH, only a suspicion that they had come across something of historical interest. Can't say more, without risking exposure of privacy, but there turned out to be no legal reason for halting construction in either of the cases I've just mentioned.

    I'm still interested, of course, if anyone has more details, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was all built on the "foundations" already mentioned.


    mann377 posted Sun, 31 Aug 2003 20:54:00 GMT(8/31/2003)

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    I know for a fact that while digging a tunnel from the 124 building to the Towers, another tunnel was found. This tunnel had lots of old clothing in it. The tunnel came from the river. Part of 124 was the home of Harriet Beecher Stowe and I suspect that she was involved in the underground railroad. I was there when the tunnel was found.

    M Elsewhere posted Mon, 01 Sep 2003 00:21:00 GMT(9/1/2003)

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    they claimed there was a gravitational pull that made it too hard to control the pressure between the plates and the rollers and therefore the ink pressure on the page was always off.

    lol... this is total BS. Yes, it is possible to measure the gravitational pull of such a massive object, but the instrument used to take the measurement would have to be extraordinarily sensitive. Using the below formula, one can easily calculate that a 10,000 pound object (the press) would exert about 0.0007 pounds of force on an object that was within one millimeter of it. That is less that the force of a farting cockroach.

    M SadElder posted Tue, 02 Sep 2003 11:55:00 GMT(9/2/2003)

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    Don't know about your math Elsewhere, sounds uh uh uh... it's been too long since my college days, but Ol Max Larson later said that it was the rollers that expanded due to temp changes after running for a time, thus the register changes made the product unacceptable for dub publications. Don't know if this is true or not. Given the mass of the roller it's hard to believe that it would heat up enough to expand.

    I do know that that million dollar press never printed the first book that actually made it into circulation. The press was orginally designed to print comic books and low budget type publications. Not intended for high quality operation. I always said they should cut it into little pieces and encase them in plastic, then sell them as momentos of Bethel. Bet they would have gotten that money back in a heartbeat.


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