The Russell Family
Contributed by John Mitchell
SENECA RUSSELL FAMILY
S. Russell, who followed Jesse Scott into Montmorecy Township in Whiteside County, was Seneca Russell, born in New York on September 1, 1812. Seneca was my great-great-grandfather.
In 1852, Seneca purchased 164.98 acres of land in Whiteside from the government and paid for the land with a military warrant #297, originally issued to Willis Baxter for his service in the Cherokee War as a sergeant in “Captain Rogers’ Company, Alabama volunteers.” Probably Seneca obtained the warrant through some commercial channel because it was assignable; I can discover no Russell family connections to the Baxters. The dates involved in Seneca’s land purchase seem confusing because the warrant transaction was clearly dated 1854. Perhaps the settlement of the Russell family preceded the final payment for the land on which they settled.
Seneca Russell and Tabitha Rodgers were married in 1839 in Delaware County, Ohio, and had a child by the time of the 1840 census. Various census reports show that the Russell family consisted of Seneca, his wife Tabitha, and these children: George, Minerva, Albert, Elizabeth, William and Warner. According to in-family information, Albert’s twin Delbert “died in infancy.”
During the 1870 census of Whiteside, Permelia Russell, 84, also lived in Seneca’s family. Permelia was probably his mother, and she was born Permelia Duell in New York to Ebenezer Duell/Deuel, sometimes an innkeeper in Easton, New York, and a Mayflower descendant. Seneca’s father was Richard Russell, but I do not know the names of his parents. Richard first appeared in the 1810 census of Easton, New York, and later in the census reports of early Delaware and Morrow counties in Ohio.
In the 1840 census of Delaware County, Ohio, Seneca’s family and Richard’s family were listed next to each other; but by the time of the 1850 census, Seneca’s family was living in Lee County, Iowa. In 1850, the Russells had three children: George, 10; Minerva, 8; Albert, 6; and Elizabeth, 3. Seneca’s daughter Elizabeth was listed as born in Iowa; and according to a Russell family historian, Elizabeth was born in Des Moines. Seneca was employed in “teaming.”
Soon after the 1850 census, the Russells settled in Whiteside County and ceased to be a wandering family. Apparently, they even prospered a bit; the 1860 census reported Seneca’s valuations of $2000/$300, which rose to $8024/$1740 during the 1870 census.
I have no more information about Seneca’s son George Russell who was born about 1840 in Ohio.
Minerva Russell, born about 1842, grew up in Whiteside County; and on April 4, 1861, she married Lysanias J. Davis in Whiteside. Both Lysanias and Minerva’s brother Albert Russell served in Company G 34th Illinois Infantry during the Civil War. In a deposition, Albert Russell described Lysanias’ wounding near Atlanta when a bullet passed through Lysanias’ leg and then hit Albert:
Question: When and where were you wounded?
Answer: It was in front of Atlanta, Georgia, I think sometime in August 1864. It was in my right knee that I was wounded, just on the inside of the knee on the bone.
Q.: What were you wounded with?
A.: A spent ball. The ball went through the leg of L. J. Davis, a comrade by my side, and hit me on the knee. I picked the ball up and he has got it now, that is, Mr. Davis has. He lives in Oakdale, Nebraska. The ball didn't break the skin on my leg, but just bruised it some and raised a lump, and I was lame for three weeks.
In another deposition, Lysanias described in his own words how he and his brother-in-law were wounded by the same bullet: “August 6, 1864, the same bullet that wounded me struck him in the knee; I went right to the hospital and did not see him again until he was discharged and came home.”
I followed the descendants of Lysanias Davis and Minerva Russell for three generation, and I suppose that the line continues in modern times.
Albert Russell was probably born on July 19, 1843, in Ohio; he was very inconsistent in reporting the year of his birth. Albert Russell joined the Union Army, 34th Illinois Infantry Regiment, Company G, on December 8, 1861, in Sterling, Illinois. He listed his address in Whiteside as “Mt Morency.” Albert served until December 22, 1863, apparently as a private. He was discharged in Chattanooga, Tennessee, on December 22, 1963, and re-enlisted the next day as a corporal in the same regiment and company. He worked with the mules in transport and hauling, and in his pension petitions he claimed to have been injured by a mule that kicked him in the groin, an injury that did not prevent his siring a number of children, some of whom lived into the 1950s. At one time during his service, he nearly died of erysipelas and was nursed back to health in Whiteside by his family and a neighbor. He then served until the end of the war and was discharged in Louisville, Kentucky, on July 12, 1865. In his old age, he was finally pensioned (Certificate number 407.494) at $25 per month.
The neighbor who helped to nurse Albert was Jesse Willard Scott, son of the pioneer Asa. In a deposition Jesse gave an interesting picture of rural life in Whiteside before the Civil War as the examiner relentlessly focused on the real origin of Albert Russell’s groin injury.
Q: How long have you been acquainted with Albert Russell, late private Company G 34 Illinois Volunteers Infantry in the war?
A: Over thirty years. I lived about three-fours of a mile of him before the war. We went to school together. He was several years younger than I. He worked with me some a short time before he enlisted. I was running a threshing machine, and he helped me some of the day.
Q: Were you in swimming with him during the summer of 60 or 61?
A: I was in swimming with him during the summer before he enlisted. I remember a couple of us boys went down with his father's team one evening that summer and I ran 1/2 mile against the team. We were in swimming several times.
Q: Was he ruptured prior to service?
A: No, sir, and he must have ruptured when [after] he was home sick the time his father went after him, for I washed and took care of him just as I would do a baby.
Albert recovered, more or less, from his experiences in the Civil War, went to Iowa, to Kansas, back to Iowa and also into Missouri. He married Celia Fox in Iowa, and I descend from that marriage. Albert’s life was full of poverty and illness, and he did drink too much. He died in the Illinois Soldiers' and Sailors' Home in Quincy, Illinois, on May 12, 1916. He was buried in Sunset Cemetery in Quincy. He has many, many descendants.
Elizabeth A. Russell was born on February 16, 1847, reportedly in Des Moines, Iowa. She married Orange Brittell on January 21, 1868, in Whiteside. Orange Brittell and his siblings were listed in the 1850 census of Whiteside, living in the family of Jesse Scott and wife Annah. Brittell fought through the Civil War, having enlisted in Company D, Seventy-fifth Illinois, under Captain A. Mc Moore and under General Sherman. Elizabeth Russell died on September 14, 1932, in Elgin, Nebraska. There is a long line of descendants from this couple.
Born about 1857, William Russell apparently married Lizzie Barnes in Whiteside on August 7, 1880. She was a daughter of Charles Barnes and was in South Dakota when her father died. In 1880 there was another William Russell in Whiteside, but I assume that it was Seneca’s son who married Lizzie.
Warner’s name is often mistranscribed as Warren. He was born in July of 1860 or 1861. Apparently Warner Russell married Clara Love Overly on March 29, 1883, in Lee County, Illinois. I am having some trouble documenting this marriage, but the following newspaper clipping relates the tumultuous end of the relationship.
ASKS FOR A DIVORCE -- MRS. CLARA RUSSELL OF ROCK FALLS FILES BILL FOR A LEGAL SEPARATION.
She and Her Husband are Parents of Eight Children -- Seven of Them Unmarried.
Mrs. Clara Love Russell of Rock Falls has filed a petition for divorce from Warren [Warner] Russell, to whom she was married in Harmon on March 29, 1883. They are parents of eight children, seven of whom are unmarried and living with her. They are Jessie, aged twenty-three; Ross, aged twenty-one; Ethel, aged sixteen; Hettie, aged fourteen; Bernice, aged twelve; Ruth, aged eleven, and Warren, aged nine. Mrs. Russell alleges in her petition that because of his habits and mode of living he is an unfit person to have custody and care of the children, and she asks the care and custody of them. She charges him with intoxication, abusive and ill treatment, together with non-support. She claims that since Jan. 1, 1910, he has not contributed to the support of herself and children and that she is forced to take in washing, do housework for others and keep boarders. She asks for alimony, the possession and ownership of the household and that he be restrained from in any way molesting her.
Clara married again, to a man named Manges. In Nebraska, one of Clara’s daughters named Grace Alice Russell married Lloyd Harry Brittell, son of Orange Brittell; otherwise I know little about this line except the names of husbands of some daughters. I sense that there are descendants.
Long before he could see his son’s distressing divorce, Seneca died in February of 1882 of pulmonary tuberculosis. Government pension examiners had looked zealously for evidence of tuberculosis in Albert Russell’s lineage. Their suspicions were probably correct.
Seneca’s widow Tabitha was still alive in 1883 although she was recovering from a stroke. She lived about five miles southwest of Rock Falls. On May 17, 1884, Tabitha Russell was well enough to testify in behalf of her son Albert Russell in his long effort to obtain a pension for damage to his health during the Civil War. She signed her deposition quite clearly. Besides her name and her testimony about her son, I have no other information about Tabitha, but her parents were born in Pennsylvania. I do not know when Tabitha died or where she and her husband were buried.,
For the sake of brevity, I have omitted source notes from this article, but I can provide documentation on request; and I am always glad to correct errors in my research and to learn more about Seneca’s family.
Contributed by J. Mitchell at firstname.lastname@example.org
After my short history of the Russell family in Whiteside County was posted, several people sent me more information; and I can now add the following information.
The matriarch of the Russell family in Whiteside was Tabitha (Rodgers) Russell, whom Seneca Russell married in Delaware County , Ohio . I still do not know her father’s first name or either of her mother’s names. Seneca predeceased her; he died slowly of tuberculosis. She held onto their farm in Montmorency Township for a couple years and then gave it up. Her son-in-law Orange Brittell apparently helped with the final sale of her farm which was heavily mortgaged. The last records about Tabitha's are from Antelope County , Nebraska , where she probably died. In an affidavit filed in 1890 to support Tabitha’s application for a mother's pension, Orange Brittell noted that she had "lived around with her other children" and that "she is now living with her youngest son in this county." Orange made his affidavit in Antelope County , Nebraska . Orange's wife was Elizabeth (Russell) Brittell, Tabitha's daughter.
Seneca and Tabitha’s son George Russell joined the Union Army and died soon after his discharge. On May 24, 1861, in Dixon, Illinois, George Russell, a single man, a farmer, residing in Como, Whiteside County, Illinois, joined the Union Army as a private in Company B of the 13 Illinois U.S. Infantry. He was 21years old, 5 feet 8 inches tall, with grey eyes, "light" complexion and red hair. He had been born in Woodbury in Delaware County , Ohio . His term of enlistment was three years. He was discharged "ON SURG CERT OF DISABILITY 7 SEP 1863 AT BOOMA [error] MISS BY ORDER GEN SHERMAN " (). A document from the War Department in the pension file created when George's mother applied for a mother's pension reported that George was discharged on September 4, 1863, at BOVINA, Mississippi . Bovina is written very clearly. Copies of Tabitha Russell's pension requests, now in the National Archives, report that George died from chronic diarrhea on November 20, 1863, in Como , Illinois "at home." He never married according to these records. I do not know where he was buried.
Seneca’s son Warner Russell married Clara Love Overly. Warner and Clara had eight children but eventually divorced; however, some of Warner’s children and grandchildren stayed in the Whiteside area or in Illinois . Warner Russell appeared in the 1910 census of District 141, Ward 1 in Sterling , Whiteside County , Illinois . He was a blacksmith in a foundry, age 47 [?] born in Illinois of parents born in Pennsylvania . (His mother was born in Pennsylvania , his father in New York .) Warner lived with his son Ross, age 22 and born in Illinois , and Ross's wife Eva, 17, born in Illinois of parents born in the same state. The couple had been married for one year and had no children. In 1934 Warner died at a hospital in Chicago and was buried in Mount Hope Cemetery in Chicago . I have stitched together the following outline of his descendants from such records as I can find, and I appreciate additions and corrections.
1 Clara Love Overly 1866 - 1948 Married Warner Russell (1861-1934) married 2nd Henry Edward Manges
......... 2 Grace Alice Russell 1884 – 1980 Apparently a cousin to Lloyd
............. +Lloyd Harry Brittell 1884 – 1968 Lloyd was son to Orange Brittell.
.................... 3 Lucille Brittell 1906 - m Lester M. Henderson
.................... 3 Grace Brittell
.................... 3 Dorothy I. Brittell 1912 - m Vincent E. Brinner 1907 - 1990
.................... 3 Leroy Brittell 1918 - 1996
.................... 3 Baby Brittell 1920 -
......... 2 Jessie L. Russell 1887 - 1930 m Frank Anning 1885 - 1930
.................... 3 Vera M. Anning 1915 -
.................... 3 Donald L. Anning 1916 -
.................... 3 Ruth H. Anning 1919 -
......... 2 Elmer Ross Russell 1888 - 1958 m Eva D. Bryson 1892 - 1918
.................... 3 Beulah Russell 1911 -
......... *2nd Wife of Elmer Ross Russell:
.............+Hazel Marie Pierce 1894 - 1981
.................... 3 Helen Grace Russell 1911 - 1983 m. Homer Lawrence Colwell
.................... 3 Bernice R. Russell 1917 -
.................... 3 Margaret A. Russell 1917 -
......... 2 Ethel C. Russell 1894 m Winfield A. Reeser
......... 2 Hattie Russell 1896 m Edward Maynard 1892 -
.................... 3 Edward Maynard 1917 - 2006
.................... 3 Russell Frances Maynard 1919 -
.................... 3 Fred R. Maynard 1920 - 2006 m Minie Strough
......... 2 Bernice Russell 1898 -
......... 2 Ruth Russell 1899 - ?? m William Hawk
......... 2 Warner A. Russell 1900 - 1956
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