Born in Northern Ireland (probably County Armagh) on 25 August 1859, James Henry Russell was the youngest of twelve children of Robert Russell and Jane McComb. James traveled from Liverpool on the S.S. Algeria with his widowed mother and brother, Robert, arriving in New York City on 26 October 1872 at the age of thirteen. Three older sisters, Sarah, Rachael, and Mary “Alice” had arrived ten years earlier on 21 June 1862 and immediately settled in Waupaca, Wisconsin. The rest of the family followed suit. James bought several pieces of land there from 1874 to 1884. He declared his U.S. citizenship on 19 February 1881 in Waupaca County.

On 6 May 1885, James married Addie Mathilda Chamberlain of Dayton, Wisconsin, in the home of her parents, Henry and Sarah Jane (Brown) Chamberlain. Rev. J. R. Creighton of the Methodist-Episcopal Church officiated. James and Addie had three sons: Roland James, Guy Robert, and Leon E. At first a teamster, by March 1892, James was a produce dealer. In 1903, the family moved to St. Louis where James set up his own business as a produce commission merchant, James H. Russell on “Produce Row” on Fourth Street near the riverfront. His business thrived as he traveled the country buying train car lots of fresh produce; his oldest son, Roland, joined him in 1909.

Business was so good that James began buying stocks and mineral rights in the 1920s. They yielded very little during his lifetime, but in 2011, his two grandchildren received calls about a one-sixteenth interest in mineral rights on 640 acres in Webb County, Texas, on which gas wells had already been drilled. What a nice gift from an ancestor!

James and Addie were active members of St. John’s Methodist Church on Kingshighway. They rented apartments on Glasgow and St. Louis Avenues, at 4625 Morgan (which became Von Versen and then Enright Avenue), and Vernon and Cabanne Avenues. They wintered in San Antonio, Texas. In 1928, the family bought a home in the Dogtown area, on Childress Avenue, where Addie died on 3 May 1934.

James moved in with Roland’s family in a large home on Cabanne. The Depression was in full force and business was bad. By 1936 the business had failed and Roland had lost his home on Cabanne and moved the family to Enright. In mid-1940, when James fell ill, he went to live with the Little Sisters of the Poor at 3400 S. Grand. He died on 14 August 1944 at the age of eighty-five. James is buried beside Addie at Valhalla Cemetery.

Sources include: cemetery records; city directories; death and burial certificates; family interviews; marriage records; naturalization certificate; passenger lists; Texas mineral rights deed; U.S. census; Waupaca County, Texas, land records; and Wisconsin births and christenings index.

Written by Cheryl Davis
February 2017

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Last Modified: 25-Oct-2018 22:20