Monday, November 2, 2015

Russell, A Revolutionary Family Line

Russell Ancient Tartan from Heritage of Scotland
Russell Old Colours from Heritage of Scotland
Russell Modern Tartan from Heritage of Scotland

What does Scotland, the Revolutionary War and Seattle have in common? Nothing at first glance until you follow the remarkable line of the Russell Family.   

Russell Family Badge, From Heritage of Scotland

The Revolutionary Russell Family Line

It begins with Andrew Russell, Senior.  Andrew was born in Sorn, Ayrshire, Scotland, on the banks of the River Ayr in Ayshire.  Located near the Firth of Clyde between the Isle of Arran and Scotland proper, Ayr is a small village of 300 or so residents.  Andrew was baptized on the 25th of February in 1733.  His parents were Robert Russell, Sr. and Margaret Smith, of the legendary Scottish Smith Clan.  Andrew Russell arrived in America in 1758 and settled in Pennsylvania (Whyte, 132).  He settled first in Oxford, Pennsylvania before moving on to Washington County, Pennsylvania.

Sorn Parish in Sorn, Ayr, Scotland. Picture from drookitagain

An old picture of Sorn's Main Thoroughfare.  Picture from: Mccord Genealogy  
The location of Chartiers Township, Washington County, Pennsylvania. Map from Wikipedia

Andrew settled in Pennsylvania in the middle of the Seven Years War, otherwise known as The French and Indian War, (1754–1763).  And, not to long after that was Revolutionary War broke out as colonists fought for Independence from Britain.  Andrew Russell became involved in the war and pledged an Oath of Allegiance to his new home and countrymen.  His DAR Ancestor Number is A098319 (DAR Service).  A biography from Joseph McFarland states:

"The interesting history of this family begins with the great-grandfather, Andrew Russell, who was born in Scotland in 1732. He married Isabel Mays, who was born in Ireland, and together they crossed the Atlantic Ocean in 1758, and found a home near Oxford, in Chester County, Pa. They had ten children and they lived in Chester County until after the birth of the youngest and then decided to move into Washington County, selecting the land near Canonsburg which has ever since, a period of 127 years, remained in the Russell name. This moving from one county to the other was a great undertaking for those days. The Alleghany Mountains lay between and all the household goods had to be packed on the backs of horses to transport, and even then many of the necessities had to be left behind. The family safely reached the new home, which was established near Westland, in Washington County, and the Russells have belonged to Washington County ever since, for years having been numbered with the best of its citizenship. There were three sons and seven daughters in the family and they were named as follows: Alexander, Robert, Andrew, Polly, Jane, Peggy, Hannah, Ibby, Liddia and Betsey. Thus there were sons to cultivate the land, while the father could also work at his trade of blacksmith. He was a typical Scot, stern, persevering, thrifty and religious, and the picture in words has come down to the present generation of the sturdy old man walking a distance of ten miles in order to attend church and sitting through the whole day in order to enjoy both services, and deeming this no hardship, but, on the other hand, a privilege. He was one of the founders, probably, of the Chartiers Church at Canonsburg. His political opinions were those then entertained by the Whig party. His wife died May 5, 1802, and he survived until June
20, 1814. They were interred in the Canonsburg Cemetery" (McFarland, 965-966).

Andrew Russell, Sr was buried with a Revolutionary War marker.  He is buried in Oak Spring Cemetery in Canonsburg, Washington County, Pennsylvania (Image provided by: Judith Abernethy from findagrave).

Andrew Russell begat many children including Robert Russell, who remained in the Pennsylvania region, farming the land and cultivating what his father began.  Robert gave birth to several children with Nancy Agnes Woodburn including Samuel Woodburn Russell.  Samuel Woodburn Russell married Jane Sprott in 1827 in Ohio. Samuel and Jane Russell moved out west and were instrumental in the pioneering the Alki region of Seattle.

Samuel Woodburn Russell
Jane Sprott Russell

Much of the information about the two pioneers can be gleaned from their obituaries,

Jane Sprott Russell:
"RUSSELL - In Seattle, May 14, Mrs. Jane Russell, wife of Mr. Samuel W. Russell, aged 72 years, 6 months and 9 days.

Mrs. Russell was born at Darlington, Penn., in 1808. In company with her husband and seven children, crossed the plains in 1852, and settled on White River, in this county in 1853. In 1855, just a few days before the Indian massacre on Duwamish River, being warned by friendly Indians, they moved to Seattle, and thus escaped the terrible fate in store for them had they remained. The deceased leaves her aged husband, and five children, named as follows: Mrs. Tanner, Thomas S. Russell, Mary Thomas, Robert Russell and Mrs. Crow. About four years ago this aged couple celebrated their golden wedding. The deceased continued in good health until a short time ago, when she fell and broke her arm; following which came an attack of crysipelas***, that probably hastened her death. The bereaved ones are joined by a large number of friends in their sorrow. The funeral services will be held at the Presbyterian church on Monday at 10 o'clock A.M., Rev. Bird officiating. Tri-Weekly Fin-Back, Saturday, May 14, 1881" (Find A Grave).  (***This is actually "Erysipelas, which is an acute infection typically with a skin rash, usually on any of the legs and toes, face, arms, and fingers. It is an infection of the upper dermis and superficial lymphatics, usually caused by beta-hemolytic group A Streptococcus bacteria on scratches or otherwise infected areas. Erysipelas is more superficial than cellulitis, and is typically more raised and demarcated" (Wikipedia).  At one time it was deadly, but in our modern times it is treated with antibiotics such as penicillin.)

Samuel Woodburn Russell: 
The funeral of Mr. S.W. Russell, the aged pioneer of this section of the country, which will occur today, will be attended by many old settlers who have known him for many years. The pall bearers who have been selected are: H.L. Yesler, D.T. Denny, W.H. Gilliam, Hillory Butler, Henry Adams and Dexter Horton, all of whom arrived in Seattle in 1853, the same year in which Mr. Russell landed at Alki Point. Source: Seattle P-l, Monday, April 21, 1890" (Find A Grave). 

Aerial view of Alki Point in Seattle. Elliott Bay and Downtown Seattle can be seen in the background..  The Russell's settled in this area in 1853 (Information and Photo Provided by: Michael Brophy and Wikipedia). 
Samuel Woodburn Russell and Jane Sprott Russell had eight children including Armida Russell who married James Tanner. James Tanner was involved in the American Civil War and fought on the Union side for Indiana. He was enlisted as a a private in Company A Indiana 142nd Infantry Regiment and M Indiana Cavalry.

Pension Application Filed by Armida after the death of James Tanner.  Listed are his two service records for The Civil War.

Armida and James Tanner had five children: Milton, Jane, Mary, Thomas, and William.  Milton Russell Tanner married Mary Hygiana Deuel in 1879 when he was 31 years old.  They settled in Indiana for a period of time before migrating out west, first to the Seattle region and then south to the Ventura County, California area.  They had four children Earl, Verne, Ralph and Velma.  Sadly, Earl and Verne died in a tragic house fire on August 11, 1892.

From The Seattle post-intelligencer., August 12, 1892, Page 6. Photo from NWPioneer and added on Find A Grave

From the Sacramento Daily Union, Volume 83, Number 149, 12 August 1892. Photo added by NWPioneer on Find A Grave
Additional Information from Find A Grave:
Verne Tanner:
Record Series: Death Records
Collection: Seattle Death Registers Index, 1881-1907
County: King
Image: seattle_death_1892-1899_009.tif
Reference: seattle-death-records_002762
Page Number: 9
Record Number: 336
Name: Verne Tanner
Death Date: 8/11/1892
Age: 9
Gender: M
Place Of Death: 206 McClair
Year: 1892-1899

Earle Tanner:
Record Series: Death Records
Collection: Seattle Death Registers Index, 1881-1907
County: King
Image: seattle_death_1892-1899_009.tif
Reference: seattle-death-records_002761
Page Number: 9
Record Number: 335
Name: Earle Tanner
Death Date: 8/11/1892
Age: 12
Gender: M
Place Of Death: 206 McClair
Year: 1892-1899

A horribly devastating tragedy for such a wonderful family. I always like to keep little Earle and little Verne in my thoughts. The other two children Ralph and Velma survived the fire and went on to live long lives with families of their own.

Mary and Milton Tanner
Milton Russell Tanner, date unknown.  Added by Janet Tonole from

Milton passed away at the ripe age of 86 years in 1934 in Port Heuneme, Ventura County, California and is buried in Lancaster, Los Angeles, California.

Photo Provided by Irene Cardwell on Find A Grave

Mary Hygiana Deuel Tanner passed away in 1930, at the age of 77 in Ventura County, Calfornia.

Notice from NWPionner on Find A Grave Source:The Oxnard Daily Courier
June 2, 1930 

From NWPioneer on Find A Grave  Source: The Oxnard Daily Courier
June 6, 1930

Velma Tanner was born near Lincoln, Nebraska, which in an odd twist of fate is not far from where I currently reside (source from Ancestry Social Security Index filed by Milton and Mary Tanner). However, she, along with her family, made the pioneering trip as a young child to the Seattle, Washington region. And, sometime before her 20th birthday she moved to Fullerton, California. Velma Tanner married Charles Scates and had many girls:  Catherine (1918 - 2004), Evelyn (1920 - 2005), Caroline, Elizabeth (1923 - 2012), Iva (1927 - 2007), Ida, and Charlotte.

Charles and Velma Tanner

Velma passed away on May 25th 1986 in Lancaster, California and is buried in the Lancaster Cemetery in Lancaster, Los Angeles County, California.

Velma Scates Resting Place.  Photo added by Jack and Ruth Gravance on Find A Grave

Evelyn (my grandmother), Velma (my great grandmother) and I (I'm the baby!) in 1982
I always love working on this line.  It's amazing how families move and migrate.  The Russell line coming all the way from Scotland and eventually have descendants settling all around the United States.  Here is a working straight line of the Russell family thus far...

Robert Russell Sr. born 1704 in Ayrshire, Scotland and Died 1775 in Maryland
Andrew Russell born 1733 in Sorn, Ayrshire, Scotland and Died 1814 in Canonsburg, PA
Robert Russell born 1762 in Beaver City, PA and died 1829 in Allegheny, PA
Samuel Woodburn Russell born 1804 in Allegheny, PA and died in 1890 in Seattle, Washington
Armida M Russell born in 1829 in Athens, Ohio and died in 1896 in Seattle, Washington
Milton Russell Tanner born in 1848 in Indiana and died 1934 in Ventura, California
Velma Tanner born in 1890 somewhere near Lincoln, Nebraska and died 1986 in California

So, that concludes the Russell's for now.  I am always disocvering new and amazing things about this line.  They were pioneers and immigrants.  Adventurers and steadfast folks.  They lived through tragedy, wars and countless ordeals to make a life of legacy that I hope can continue onward.

I'll leave today with a photo of my favorite dress of all time and one that if I renew my vows I'm totally gonna wear! And I am thinking that if I don't get it in the Pride of Scotland colours, I'll need to get it in the Russell Clan Tartan colours.

Beautiful dress from Heritage of Scotland ....someone buy it for me! I'll send ya my measurements. Ha ha!

With much love and Russell Pride,

Additional Sources: 
Whyte, Donald. A Dictionary of Scottish Emigrants to the U.S.A. Vol. 2. Baltimore: Magna Carta Book, 1986. 132. Print.
Source Code 9761

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Mahill. Publications of the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania, 1855. 165-166. Print.

McFarland, Joseph F. 

20th century history of the city of Washington and Washington County, Pennsylvania and representative citizens Chicago, Ill.: Richmond-Arnold Pub. Co., 1910, 1438 pgs. pages 965 - 966

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