Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Russell Line- Introduction to First Generation

With this picture of the Russell siblings, I am beginning an effort to organize my blog along Family lines. Each Line will descend from one of my 16 great grandparents, unless I can simplify one of the great grand couples (husband & wife) into a single line. To distinguish each family line, it would be convenient if one could obtain a picture of the whole family for the FIRST generation- father, mother and children. Often this is not possible. Fortunately for the Russell Family Line, I obtained this photocopied picture of 6 of the 11 known siblings in the first generation:

Thomas William Russell, 1847-1928
Robert Russell, 1849-1940
John G. Russell, 1860-1914
Alma Emma Russell, 1866-1951
James Fredrick Russell, 1869-1957
David Russell, ?-1911

These six siblings immigrated to America between Oct 1881 (just missing the 1880 census) and 1885. They emigrated from the coal mining area of County Durham, in the north of England. The original was a hard-backed, 5x7 inch, “Cabinet” Photograph taken at Kruger Studios in Houtzdale, Pennsylvania, about 1892. The original is in the hands of Suzanne M. Forsythe. There are perhaps five other siblings in this generation who are NOT included in the Houtzdale photo, primarily because they were not in the area at the time and may never have been. I have birth registrations, and in most cases, parish records of baptism, in order of birth, for Thomas W. (who was my great grandfather), Robert, John Girabaldi, Alma Emma, and James Frederick, but not for David. I do not know when nor where David was born. He does not appear in any United Kingdom census in which all the other Russell siblings are enumerated as members of this family. Perhaps David was not biologically related to the others. But nevertheless, David was considered as a “brother”, and according to family tradition was never married though he obviously did immigrate to America.

The parents of Thomas, Robert, John, and Alma Emma, were THOMAS RUSSELL, the Senior, and Jane McNELLEY or Jane McNALLY (which are probably one and the same person, that is, the mother). However, James Fredrick Russell, was the youngest male, and the son of Thomas Russell, Senior, and apparently his second wife, Jane McCALLUM. Thus, James F. is a half brother to the others- same father, different mother. Don't you just love it, when the first name of two different wives is Jane and the maiden surname is hardly ever recorded. Fortunately, the maiden surnames of the mother are indeed usually given on birth registrations in England, which was my source for the maiden surnames of the mothers here.

According to U.K. censuses, baptismal entries in parish records, and civil registrations of birth for a few siblings, but not all, indicate the other members of the family were:

William R. Russell, the oldest, 1845-?
Mary Russell, 1851-?
Jane Russell, 1854-?
Janet Russell, 1856-1899
Sarah Rebecca Russell, 1864-1892

Note that 4 of these 5 siblings are females, confirming the difficulty of tracking down women in genealogy- because they usually marry and change their maiden surname. However, I do have data showing that Sarah Rebecca Russell married a Thomas DAWSON, in Aug, 1880, and died at 28 years of age at Ludworth Colliery, County Durham, England. She gave birth to a least seven children of which one died young.

I believe the first generation daughter, Mary Russell, married a John Robert CLEMENT, had least two children, and apparently remained in England. Sadly, her first child, Thomas William Russell, born out of wedlock, died within a year.

I have no information on the fate of Jane Russell, who nevertheless was a member of this first generation in the 1850s.

It was a very pleasant surprise when I received an email from a Geoffrey Parkinson about three years ago (Spring, 2005) who “stumbled” upon my Genealogical website of the Russell Family and provided evidence that his great grandmother was certainly Janet Russell of this family. Janet married Thomas PARKINSON in May 1873, in St. Bartholomew’s Anglican Church, Thornley, Durham County. Morever, Thomas Russell, senior, the father of Janet, was buried at St. Bartholomew’s in Nov, 1880, according to parish records. Although Janet and Thomas lived and died in England, their 11 children scattered to Australia and America, while at least three children remained in England. Geoffrey emailed me from Port Macquarie, NSW, Australia, and a few days later sent me a picture of Thomas Parkinson and Janet, born Russell (see below). He also sent me a DVD slide show he made of his recent trip with his wife, Beverly, to the Australian Northern Territory, from Ayers Rock (Uluru) to Darwin.

Image: Thomas Parkinson, 1851-1914, and Janet, nee. Russell, 1856-1899. Source: Geoffrey Parkinson, Port Macquarie, Australia.

Finally, the father and mothers of this first generation were all born in Scotland. The oldest two sons, William Russell and Thomas William Russell, were also born in Scotland; the other children were born in County Durham in northeastern England. According to his obituary, Thomas W. Russell was born in Holytown, Lanarkshire, SCOTLAND, in October, 1847; however, he was baptised less than a year later in August, 1848, at Holy Trinity Anglican in Easington District, Durham County, ENGLAND. Thus, between these two dates, the family apparently moved from Scotland to northern England. They remained in County Durham for the next 30 years moving around several different coal fields before eventually emigrating to PENNSYLVANIA, USA. The parents died in England.

Note: So that this “Introduction” to the FIRST generation, Russell Line, can be tagged for easy access I will label it Russell-Line-Intro. All other entries for this Line will be tagged simply, Russell-Line.

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