Biography of James I. Russell
Monroe County, MI Biographies

Among the older residents of Summerfield perhaps none are more worthy of mention than Helen M. Russell, the widow of James I. Russell, who was for many years closely identified with the early history of Summerfield. She was born in Oneida county, New York, March 7, 1819, and with her parents, David and Wealthy (Dewey) Curtis, came to Summerfield (now Dundee) in 1833. In the summer of 1839 she kept school in the first frame school house ever built in the township, and December 8, 1840, married James I. Russell, and began housekeeping in a little log cabin on section 16, on which farm sbe lived until Mr. Russell's death, February 1, 1882, when she purchased a house in the village of Petersburgh, into which she moved the next April.

In speaking of her life, which for nearly half a century had been spent on the old farm, she has just reason to be proud of the family which she has there reared. The oldest, James Otis, born February 19, 1842, was offered a sacrifice on the altar of his country, enlisting in the Sixth Michigan Heavy Artillery, and dying in the hospital at New Orleans, November 27, 1864, after passing through many hard fought battles; Jane Ann, born April 23, 1844; Alonzo C., born November 27, 1847, died September 17, 1849; Horace Isman, born February 11, 1850, now a train dispatcher in Oregon; Henry Wayne, born April 3, 1852, now a mining superintendent in Mexico; Mary Wealthy, born May 4, 1854, died October 26, 1854; Newton Buchanan, born September 18, 1855, and now living on the old farm; Orra Hull born November 18, 1858, now one of the leading hardware merchants of the township; and Eugene D., born February 9, 1861, and for some years past, township clerk.

Of Mr. Russell we would say that up to the time of his death, February 1, 1882, he had always been a respected and honored citizen. Born in Jay, Essex county, New York, June 24, 1812, he came to Sum merfield at an early date, and was the last survivor of the number who voted at the first election in the township. He drove the first team through to Toledo, and helped construct the first dock in the "Corn City." Although devoting his time chiefly to farming, he always manifested a lively interest in the various improvements and issues of the times, serving as supervisor four years, and as representative one term, as well as most of the minor offices in the township. As a public man his record was clear; us a private citizen he was a genial whole souled gentleman, well and favorably known to nearly everyone in the section of his home. Possessed of fine social and conversational talents, be was always a welcome addition to any company, never failing to add a large degree of pleasure by his jovial good humor and fund of information and anecdote. At his funeral was one of the largest turn outs ever seen in Summerfield, the business houses in Petersburgb all being closed during the hours of his funeral.

History of Monroe County, Michigan
Talcott E. Wing, Editor
Munsell & Company, Publishers
New York 1890.

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