RUSSELL AND RUSSELL, LaCROSSE. Messrs. William H. and Frank U. Russell compose this firm of well known lawyers and republicans and, although they are not natives of Rush County, have been identified with it since they were boys. They come of bright, stirring Irish blood, their immediate American ancestors being residents of Pennsylvania, and, like all their forefathers, have demonstrated their adaptability to new surroundings and new people. Their grandfather, David Russell, migrated from eastern to western Pennsylvania in 1820, and located on a farm on the Conemaugh River, Westmoreland County, where he worked and died. There was born his son, James A., the father of the Russells, in 1829. The even tenor of his life was broken by the Civil war and his enlistment as a Union soldier. His brother, David M., died in service. In the spring of 1879, then fifty years of age, James A. Russell started for Kansas with his wife and children. He brought his family by rail to Larned, having come by steamboat from Rochester, Pennsylvania, to Kansas City, Missouri, and arrived at his claim, about 2 1/2 miles southwest of Rush Center, April 20, 1879.
The father of the family was well qualified to make friends and progress in the new country which he had selected as his home. He had acquired a fair education and taught school in Pennsylvania; had first voted for Fremont; had been on a Union force who had chased Morgan's men through Ohio and Indiana; had been a local republican leader and repeatedly chairman of the county committee at Deaver Falls; was a Mason, an Odd Fellow and a member of the Ancient Order of United Workmen, and altogether a man of varied experience and abilities. When he first settled near Rush Center he taught school and engaged in farming. He proved up his claim and subsequently identified himself with Rush Center, where he served as postmaster for the twelve years preceding his death in February, 1904.
James A. Russell married Servilla Beham, a daughter of P. A. Beham, of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, a farmer of Irish blood. Mr. Beham's wife was Miss Elizabeth Power, daughter of Benjamin Power, a Maryland soldier of the Revolution and a member of Col. Mike Cressup's Independent Company. He fought in a number of battles in New York and New Jersey, and at the end of the war was granted a large body of land in Pennsylvania, it is believed in Westmoreland County. Mrs. James A. Russell died at Rush Center in 1908, at the age of seventy-eight years, and was the mother of: Rosalva A., now of that place, who married Miss Amanda Butler, and to whom have been born four children; Harvey A., a lawyer and present county attorney, residing at Scott City, Kansas, who married Olive F. Haun, of Pawnee County, and is the father of three children; and William H. and Frank U., the members of Russell and Russell.
William H. Russell was born at Livermore, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, November 24, 1867, and had no scholastic education other than what he obtained in the public schools. He taught three years in Rush County rural schools, became manager of the Prairie Lumber Company of Rush Center, read law while in that line of business, and was admitted to the bar at LaCrosse November 20, 1888. He began practice alone at Rush Center, but moved to LaCrosse in October, 1895, and in January, 1908, formed a partnership with his brother. His first important case was the suit in which he defended Banner township in an action brought against it for $5,000 damages. He won the case, and soon afterward started the successful prosecutions against violaters of the prohibition law in the county. These were the first convictions made in the county, and at a time when liquor prosecutions were far from being popular.
Mr. Russell has always been a leading factor in county politics. He cast his first presidential ballot for Benjamin Harrison, and has served as chairman of the republican county committee and as a member of the state and congressional committees. In 1895 he was elected commander-in-chief of the Sons of Veterans at the Knoxville (Tennessee) convention, and served a term as such. For many years he has served as chairman of the board of trustees of the United Brethren Church at LaCrosse, and is a Blue Lodge Mason.
On December 25, 1895, William H. Russell married in Rush County Bertha E., daughter of Frank B. Smith. Mr. Smith came to Kansas from Iowa in 1873 and settled near Rush Center. He is still living in the county. The children born to Mr. and Mrs. Russell have been: Howard, who graduated second in his class as an electrical engineer at the Kansas State Agricultural College, and is now with the General Electric Company at Schenectady, New York; Grace, a graduate of the LaCrosse High School; Guy, a senior, and Winifred, a sophomore, in the High School; and Donald, Everett and Bertha.
Frank U. Russell, junior partner of Russell and Russell, was born in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, June 14, 1873. As a boy and a youth he worked on the Kansas farm, received a high school education, set type for several years on the Walnut City Gazette and worked on various papers in LaCrosse and Blue Rapids, Kansas. Then he taught school for eight years and engaged in business at Rush Center for about seven years. In the meantime he had been admitted to the bar and in January, 1908, tried his first case, at which time he associated himself with his brother. In 1910 he was elected county attorney, as the successor of J. W. McCormick, and he served in that capacity for six consecutive years. He was elected to that office three times, by the heaviest majorities received by any candidate up to that period. Throughout his administration he continued a vigorous prosecution of offenders against the liquor law, and conducted the first successful prosecution under the state law prohibiting the sale of diseased animals for food; also won the first conviction under the statute making wife desertion a felony, as well as that secured under the "hotel inspection" law.
Since he became a voter Mr. Russell has been in alliance with the republican party. He has been a delegate to state and congressional conventions, and in 1916 was a congressional candidate at the primaries, being second in the race of five candidates for the nomination. He was one of the incorporators of the Citizens State Bank of Rush Center. He is a member of the Masonic Order, United Workmen, Sons of Veterans, and was chairman of a committee of five to locate an Ancient Order United Workmen home for Kansas members. Mr. Russell affiliates with the United Brethren Church. He is unmarried. Mr. Russell is now in France as an assistant field director for the Red Cross, leaving for his work September 8, 1918. Finally a family matter of historic interest may be mentioned to close these sketches, which is that Mrs. Templeton, Mr. Russell's aunt on the maternal side, was the mother of the first white child born in Rush County, Samuel Alpha Templeton, now a resident of Marionville, Missouri.
Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. [Revised ed.] Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1919, c1918. 5 v. (xlviii, 2530 p.,  leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.
Tom & Carolyn Ward
Home Page for Kansas
Search all of Blue Skyways
The KSGenWeb Project