Friday, November 27, 2009

One ... maybe ... two more chapters to the Russell Line

Hold the printing presses on the Genealogy of the Russell Family. More information has come to light resulting in substantial changes to the Russell Line. I realize that I have to stop somewhere and print The Book. But first, I wanted to identify the so called "unidentified Russell" in an early family portrait taken about 1885 at Kruger Studios in Houtzdale, PA. All of the other persons in that portrait have been identified- sometimes from additional pictures taken later in life.

Enlarge any image by clicking on it.

Image above: The "Russell Siblings" portrait taken at Kruger Studios, ca. 1885, in Houtzdale, Clearfield County, PA. One of the persons has not been identified, but there are two candidates who are being proposed in this blog entry. The lone sister is Alma Emma Russell (in right portrait only) who immigrated to America about 1885. She was married to Alexander Forsyth by January 1888. Incidentally, there were at least ten children in the first generation.

Image above: Four Russell siblings in the first generation- Thomas William, Robert, Alma Emma, and James Fredrich. James Russell was a step sibling to the others. Photo taken August 1920, in which Thomas and Robert of Pennsylvania traveled to Syracuse, NY, to visit Alma and James. Two Russell brothers had already passed: John Girabaldi (1914) and probably the "unidentified Russell" (1911).

There has been mostly hearsay evidence that the "unidentified Russell" might be called David and that he was a bachelor who worked as a secretary to the officers of the Berwind and White Coal Company. However, a David Russell was not enumerated in the UK census reports of the Russell family during the 30 years or so (1848-1881) they lived in northern England before emigrating to America. The progenitors were Thomas Russell and Jane McNELLEY/ McNALLY, both born in Scotland. They were given as the parents in christening records (Holy Trinity Anglican, Wingate, County Durham, England) and birth registrations (Easington District of Co. Durham) for all the accountable children of the family EXCEPT for a David Russell. Note that Thomas Russell, the Elder, was married twice, and he and his second wife, Jane McCALLUM, had only one child, James Fredrich Russell, who appears in the family portrait with his step siblings. In November 1880, the father of the family died, and a year later, two married sons and their families emigrated to Houtzdale, Clearfield County, Pennsylvania, just missing the 1880 US census reports. The younger siblings came a few years later.

A family friend informed me that another immigrant family from Scotland appeared earlier in Houtzdale, PA, according to the 1880 US Census. The family was headed by Robert Russell who we have since identified as Robert McCALLUM Russell. Since his pronounced middle name was the same as the surname of Thomas Russell's second wife, a connection is suggested. Since Robert was in Houtzdale at least 5 years before the said portrait was taken, could he then be the "unidentified Russell"? More has been uncovered about Robert McCallum Russell and his family but the specific connection to the rest of the Russell family is yet to be defined. And thus far, no one can point to the Unidentified Russell in the portrait and say, "yes, that's Robert McCallum Russell".

To confuse the issue further, a second candidate for the Unidentified Russell has recently been discovered. A family genealogist should never make unsupported presumptions. I thought for sure that the oldest child of the first generation Russell family, that is William Russell, remained behind in England after the others came to America. Furthermore, I thought William's first, reconnaissance trip to America in 1879, which resulted in the death of his traveling companion, unnerved William from ever coming to America again. I knew that William married Mary Ann Laverick in January 1870, and that they had four children, all boys, as recorded in the UK census of 1881.

However, my family informant came through again and emailed me a reference indicating William Russell and his family were enumerated in the 1900 US census, in Paint Township, Somerset County, PA, as follows:

William Russell, head, 53, born Dec 1846, in Scotland of Scottish parents; married 28 years [m. about 1872], immigrated 1887, naturalized; coal miner; rents house.
Mary A, wife, 52, born Oct 1847 in England of English parents; bore 8 children of which 6 survive.
All children born in England of Scottish father and English mother:
Thomas Russell, son, 28, born Jan 1871; coal miner.
George Russell, son, 22, born Oct 1877; coal miner.
C A (sic, probably Charles Russell), 19, born Oct 1880; coal miner.
William Russell, son, 18, born Jan 1881, coal miner.
Ph ... (illegible), son, 16, born July 1883.
Jane A. Russell, dau, 14, born Aug. 1885.

Fortunately, the immigration year stated for the family head turned out to be accurate and I found the family on a passenger list at; they arrived 20 May 1887, at Castle Garden on SS City of Rome; departing from Liverpool, England, Passenger Nos. 515-522 (see cropped image below):

There was a discrepancy in that the "son" identified as "Ph ..." on the 1900 census is listed on the passenger list as a daughter named Phyllis (who wore the same given name as Mary Ann Laverick's mother).

So, all we have to do is find William Russell's family in more recent US census reports. Right? Wrong. I have searched and, so far, have come up empty handed.

Indeed, there is some evidence that William Russell might have died in 1911 according to a dated letter sent between two of William's brothers, Thomas W. and John Girabaldi. See a previous entry for full text of letter.

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