The Russell Family
The Russell family is another of the Virginia Protestant families within my ancestral line. William Russell (1685) was born in England about 1685 and was married to Mary Henley. They migrated to the Virginia colony and parented three children. The oldest child, William (Jr.) was born in 1735 in Virginia. He was an alumnus of William & Mary College at Williamsburg. In the summer of 1755, he married Tabitha Adams, the daughter of Samuel Adams (the Virginia Adams’ not the Massachusetts Adams’) and Charity Coates. Despite William’s training in the law at college, they settled in Culpepper County Virginia as planters. William (Jr.) was also a captain of a rangers group under General Braddock in 1755, and saw service as a Lieutenant Colonel in a campaign during the French & Indian War two years later. For his military service, he was awarded substantial acreage in western Virginia, now Kentucky.
Although there was a ban on settlement on the Kentucky side of the Appalachians, William moved his family to southwestern Virginia in 1773, with the purpose of going on to Kentucky and claiming his land there. Settling in along the Clinch River, where William already owned 2400 acres, they heard news that the trip through the Cumberland Gap into Kentucky, would be too harrowing for women and children, both from hardship and from the Indians. William, staying behind with his wife and children (he had 12 altogether), nonetheless sent his eldest son Henry and some slaves to join a party of about 80 people being led by Daniel Boone into Kentucky. His mission was to prepare a settlement for William and the rest of the family. In Powell’s Valley, this party was attacked and 6 were killed, including 17 year old Henry Russell, Daniel Boone’s eldest son, and another of their age. After this, William Russell gave up all thought of homesteading in Kentucky. Within a few years, the revolutionary war broke out and William, with his military experience was appointed a Colonel in the continental forces. Captured once at Charleston, he was traded and was on hand at Yorktown for the surrender of Cornwallis. For his service, Russell was awarded large tracts of land in the Green River section of Kentucky. He died in 1793. Russell County Virginia, and Russellville Kentucky are both named for him.
One of William’s son, John Coates Russell, born in 1768, married Anne Clay in the fall of 1793 after his father’s death. Anne was the daughter of noted Baptist preacher Eleazar Clay of Chesterfield County. The Clay family was noted for providing many members to the clergy, both of the Episcopal church and the Baptist. Another Clay of this family would likewise move to Kentucky, to the Lexington area. He became a US Senator and a great orator. His greatest work in the Senate was his creation of the Missouri Compromise.
John Coates and Anne settled in Kentucky on the Green River Survey, part of his now deceased father’s holdings. They had at least 5 children, of which two, Jane Elizabeth and Tabitha Adams married into the Duval family, and both moved to Union County Kentucky. Tabitha Adams Russell married Lucius Duval in Morganfield on 1 August 1818. Their second born child, Mary Ann Duval, married Robert E. Rowley. They are my 3’rd great-grandparents.
The cabin at the top of the page represents the rustic conditions that the Russell’s would have experienced in southwest Virginia before and during the Revolutionary War. This cabin, while from the Appalachian area has no relationship to the Russell family per se. It is from the Berea College collection of Appalachian cabin pictures. Notice the large spinning wheel on the porch.