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Ann H. Russell Article

Observation and Impressions of the Journal Man
by Fred Lockley - 9 July 1922

    A woman who has known Ashland from the time it was a single cabin on a donation land claim tells Mr Lockley about the founding of that excellent city.  This woman has a remarkable history all her own, and she tells of her life work and of her fine and numerous family.

    For 60 years Mrs Ann H. Russell of Ashland has been a marble cutter.  I visited her at her home in the "Gem City of the Rogue River Valley" recently and she told me of her long and strenuous life.

    "My maiden name was Ann H. Hill," said Mrs. Russell, "I was born in East Tennessee April 14,1838.  My father, Isaac Hill, was born in Kentucky.  My mother, Elizabeth Fine was a native of Tennessee.  They had three sons and three daughters.  I am the youngest of their children.
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    "We started across the plains on my fourteenth birthday, April 14, 1852.  We had five wagons, with four yoke of oxen to each wagon. and we had over 100 head of loose stock; so you see we were well fixed for those days.  My father knew the plains, for he had crossed in 1849 to go to the California gold fields.  When he left California to get his family he was averaging over $50 a day on his placer claim.  We reached Salem late in the fall of 1852.  Mother was sick, so Father decided to winter there.  We rented a house near the Oregon institute.
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    "In the spring of 1853, we started for the Jacksonville mines.  The cattle played out, so father and my brother Cicero went on, leaving the rest of us at Canyonville.  They went on Horseback.  Father took up a donation land claim at what was later known as the Kingsbury Soda Springs.  That is eight miles south of Ashland.  At that time there was but one cabin on the site of what is now Ashland.  It was owned by Helman and Emry, who had donation land claims there.  Father came back to Canyonville and pacing all our goods on pack horses, we went to our claim.  The Indians had kept the land bujrned off, so there was over 100 acres ready for the plow.  Father broke the sod and sowed grain.

    "The summer we settled there Helman and his associates built a sawmill and a gristmill.  Helman was from Ashland, Ohio, so he named his mill 'the Ashland mills.'  For a long time the postoffice was known as Ashland Mills.  Finally they dropped the 'Mills' and named it Ashland.  The gristmill was run by water power and was located at what is now the entrance to Litiha park.  Main street has that peculiar bend in it because the stores were built on both sides of the old stage road.
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    "On May 9,1854, I was married to Major J.H. Russell and we moved to Mountain Home (1) on what was later the California-Oregon stage road.  We ran the Mountain [H]house and put up travelers.  C.C. Berkman, later the well known banker and Wells-Fargo express agent at Jacksonville, was at that time carrying express matter between Jacksonville and Yreka and had stopped at our place coming and going.  We ran the Mountain House from 1854 to 1856when we moved to Yreka , where for the next four years my husband ran a butcher ship.
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    "In 1860 we moved to Phoenix, in the Rogur river valley.  My husband started quarrying marble on Coleman creek.  He made headstones from the marble.  I liked to be with him, so he taught me to cut the inscriptions on the stones.  I soon became very skillful.  In 1863 he went to the newly discovered gold mines at Canyon City.  I carried on the marble cutting business.  That was just 60 years ago, and I am still using the mallet and chisel.  You see, a big boulder fell on my husband's leg and crushed it so badly that he was crippled for several years, so I made the monuments and headstones in his place.
            *            *            *
    "I have seen a lot of heart-rending sights.  At our old ranch there is a graveyard with 17 graves.  It is called the Isaac Hill cemetery. (2)  Each of those 17 graves is occupied by a man or a woman who was killed by Indians during the Indian troubles of the early '50s.  Time and again I have seen a settler ride up leading a horse over which a dead or badly wounded man was lying like the carcass of a deer.  Ir they were wounded mother wouldnurse them.  If they were dead, or died of their wounds, she would prepare them for burial.
            *            *            *            *
    "My husband served in the Rogue River Indian war of 1855 under Colonel John E. Ross.  My husband died 26 years ago, and though I am 84 years old I still carry on the business.  In addition to working as a marble cutter for the past 60 years, I have had 11 children, 10 of whom are still alive.  I have 21 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren. (3) I can't tell you about all my children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, so I will mention only two of my grandsons.  One of them, Major Leonard Russell Boyd, was in command of a company at Coblenz, with the Army of Occupation, and is now an instructor in the University of California at Berkeley.  My eldest grandson, Dr. C.R. Fountain is president of the state university of Georgia.  He is an inventor and has patented many useful things in general use.
    "Yes, I am proud of my progeny.  My two sons and nine daughters, with their children, are scattered all over the country and most of them are producers, not parasites."

(1) This is a typo - the name of where they moved was "the Mountain House." - James H. Russell was one of the four who built it in 1852
(2) It is also known as the Hill-Dunn Cemetery.
(3) This count is as of July 1922 and while not many more grandchildren may have been born after that, there certainly have been a large number of great-grandchildren.  Some day, I may try to count how many, or any count supplied by a cousin will be incorporated here.

Last updated by William P. Russell onSaturday, 24-Nov-2007 15:34:57 MST