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James H. Russell

As Published by
Chapman Publishing Co. in Chicago

Biography of James H. Russell

    Closely associated with the early advancement and industrial growth and prosperity of Ashland was the late James H. Russell, a man of marked ability and integrity.  Coming to the coast with the venturesome miners of 1849, he assisted in developing the rich mineral resources of this section of the Union, and after settling permanently in Oregon in 1851, was one of the first to make use of the veins of fine marble underlying much of the land in the southern section of the state.  An an early settler of Jackson county, and its leading pioneer marble worker, he is justly entitled to honorable mention in a work of this character. His widow, Mrs Ann H. Russell, is also especially deserving of commendatory notice, being a woman of intelligence, culture and great artistic talent.  Since the death of Mr. Russell she has continued the business which he so firmly established, and has the distinction of being one of the oldest and most capable marble workers in the United States.
    A native of West Tennessee, James H. Russell was born April 15, 1823 and died at his late home, in Ashland, Ore. October 1, 1895.  His parents, James and Mabel (Howard) Russell were born and reared in Marietta, Ohio, and both died while yet in the prime of life.  Thus left an orphan at the tender age of five years, James H . Russell was educated in Washington county, Ohio, near Marietta, living there until fifteen years old.  Going then to Pittsburg, Pa., he served an apprenticeship at the trade of a marble worker and stone cutter, and afterward worked as a journeyman in that city.  Joining a party of seventy enterprising and ambitious young men, he started for the gold diggings of California in 1849, coming across the plains from the Missouri river with the Big Mule Train.  After mining on the Yuba river for two years he came with three companions, Messrs. Gibbs, Hare and Barron to Jackson county, Ore.  Locating at a place now called Barron, they took up a donation claim containing two sections of land and continuing in partnership carried on the land and conducted the Mountain House, which they established until 1858.  During the Indian wars of 1853-56, Mr. Russell was actively engaged, serving as major in the regiment commanded by Col. John Ross.
    Settling in Yreka, Cal., in 1856, Mr. Russell was employed in the butcher business for four years.  Returning to Jackson county, Ore., in 1860 he located on Coleman creek, near Phoenix where he opened a marble quarry, and put in a marble mill, which was furnished with water power.  A year later he went to Canyon City, and while working in a tunnel of the Blue Mountain mines was struck by a huge boulder, which shattered his leg, inflicting such serious injuries that he did not get home for eighteen months.
    April 14, 1865, Mr. Russell moved with his family to Ashland, where he erected a marble mill, its site being at the rear of the lot now occupied by the Odd Fellows' building.  After his accident Mr. Russell had the able assistance of his wife, who had employed her leisure time while he was away in developing her hitherto latent artistic talent, becoming in the time an adept marble carver and sculptor.  Quarrying his marble in Josephine county, Mr. Russell had it hauled here with teams until completion of the railroad as far as Roseburg, when he had it shipped in from the east.  He had the honor of errecting the first monuments in Jackson, Josephine, Douglas, Klamath and Lake counties, Ore., and in Siskiyou county, Cal.  After his first mill burned he ordered his marble from eastern quarries and continued his business until his death.He had an enviable reputation throughout the country, at the time of his death his name being the fourth from the top, in regard to length of time and financial integhrity in the marble directory of the United States.  A generous, public-spirited citizen, he was ever one of the foremost in the encouragement of beneficial enterprises, and was prominent in the building of school houses, churches and public buildings.  Mr. Russell served as councilman one term; was an active member of the Methodist Episcopal Church South belonged to the Jackson County Pioneers' Association; and was one of the leading Prohibitionists of city and county.
    May 9, 1854, at the home of the bride, Mr. Russell married Ann Haseltine Hill, who was born in Sweetwater, Tenn., and came across the plains with her father, Isaac Hill, when fourteen years old.., and settled in Jackson county, Ore.  A more extended history of the Hill family may be found elsewhere in this volume, in connection with the sketch of Mrs. Dunn, a sister of Mrs. Russell.  Since Mr. Russell's death, Mrs. Russell has conducted the marble business most successfully, her well-equipped shop being at the rear of her residence.  She is one of the pioneer marble workers of the coumtry, and the oldest woman marble worker in the United States.  Her work which is of a superior order, will be found in southern Oregon, northern California and eastern Oregon.  Among the beautiful and artistic monuments which she has erected in Ashland are the Atkinson, Waner, Chitwood, Dennis, Tolman, McCall, Ganiard, Thomas Smith and Russell monuments, all of the inscriptions on same, except last date, being cut by herself.  These monuments are truly works of art, and a credit to her good taste and workmanship.  Of the union of Mr. and Mrs. Russell eleven children were born, namely:  James B., in the marble business at Yreka; Mrs. Grace Fountain, an artist, living in Portland; Nellie, at home; Mattie, wife of Rev. Mr. Boyd of Woodland, Cal.; Mrs Mollie Eubanks, a twin sister of Mrs. Boyd, who died in Ashland; Mrs. Hortense Vining, of Los Angeles, Cal. ; Mrs Theodosia Walter, of Portland; Bertha, wife of O. Winter of Ashland; Mable, an artist, residing in Ashland; Carl, engaged in mining in Siskiyou county, Cal.; and Pearl, at home.  Mrs. Russell belongs to both the Jackson County Pioneers' Association, and the State Pioneer Association, and is a member, and ex-president of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union. Politically she is a strong Prohibitionist, and religiously she is a consistent member of the First Presbyterian Church.  At Rest Cottage, Evanston, Ill., the last earthly home of Frances E. Willard, may be seen a beautiful piece of Mrs. Russell's handiwork.  It represents the badge of the W.C.T.U., the white ribbon bow, carved from marble.  It was first exhibited at the W.C.T.U. booth, at the Jackson county fair, later at the World's Fair and is now in the memorial room in Rest Cottage.

Last updated by William P. Russell onSaturday, 25-Jun-2005 18:15:05 MDT