Russell - From Child's Gazetteer of St. Lawrence, 1873-74

Town of Russell
From Child's Gazetteer of St. Lawrence County

Link to listing of Individuals in Russell Business Directory
Link to listing of Businesses in Russell Business Directory

RUSSELL(1) was formed from Hopkinton, March 27, 1807(2). Rossie was taken off Jan. 27, 1813; a part of Fowler, April 15, 1816; Pierrepont, April 15, 1818; and a part of Fine, March 27, 1844. It lies south of the center of the county and contains 56,553 acres. The surface is much broken, and much of the south part is still a wilderness. Its streams are Grass River, which flows in a circuitous course, diagonally through the town, and receives on the east line of the town its north and middle branches, and Plum and Elm creeks. Boyd Pond is a small body of water near the center of the east line. The soil is generally light and sandy, but quite fertile in the north part and in the valleys.

The population of the town in 1870 was 2,688, of whom 2,395 were native, 293 foreign, and all white.

During the year ending Sept. 30, 1872, the town contained nineteen school districts and employed twenty teachers. The number of children of school age was 955; the number attending school, 825; the average attendance, 368; the amount expended for school purposes, $4,663,36; and the value of the school houses and sites, $6840.

RUSSELL (p.v.) is situated on Grass River, a little north of the center of the town, and had in 1870 a population of 334.

NORTH RUSSELL (p.o.) is situated in the north-east part, five miles north of Russell village.

MONTEREY is a hamlet on Grass River, near the east line in the south part.

Settlement was commenced under the agency of Russell Attwater, of Blanford Mass., who in the summer of 1804 first explored the town with that view. In 1805 the town was surveyed into farms by Timothy Blair, also from Blanford, an din the summer of that year Mr. Attwater came in company with Nathan Knox, Heman Morgan, Elias Hayden, Loren Knox, Reuben Ashman, Jesse Bunnell, Elihu Morgan, and David Knox, mostly young men, in his employ, and spent the season in opening roads, surveying and clearing about twelve acres. They lived in a shanty and procured provisions from Canada. On the 5th of May, 1805, Nathaniel Higgins, from Blanford, Mass., came with his family, which was the first to settle in town, and commenced a clearing near the site of Russell village. He came with an ox teams, the journey occupying six weeks. The first year he was obliged to carry his grists to Ogdensburg with an ox team, and one week was required to make the trip. During the first five years of their residence, says Mrs. Nathaniel Higgins, wolves and Indians were numerous and troublesome. The former came to the door and ate the bones she threw out. The family of Joel Clark settled in the town in the fall of 1805. They came from Granby, Mass., and Mr. Clark built the same year the first saw mill in town. It was located on Plum Creek, about half a mile above its mouth. These two families were the only ones who spent the winter of 1805-6 in town. The following April Mr. Attwater returned with many others who proposed to settle. They came by way of the Black River country and the State road to Washburn's in Macomb, thence to Stillman Foote's settlement in Canton, and thence to their destination - the site of Russell village. Alvin White, from Granville, Mass., lived near the south line of Canton and was the only settler on the route south of Canton Village. Joseph Hutchinson, of Shoreham, Vt., Michael Coffin, from Vermont, and Philip and Sampson Viall, John Potter and John Cooper, from Willisborough, N.Y., joined them that year. Corn was planted among the logs in June, and its abundant yield created pleasing anticipations in the minds of the settlers, while the favorable report of the soil's fertility influenced others to locate there. In the summer of 1806, Jacob Hutchins commenced the construction of a log grist mill, on Van Rensselaer Creek, in Dewitt, about half a mile south of the line of Canton, which was the second mill built in town. In 1807 the families of Simeon Stiles, Elihu Phelps, Samuel Clark and several other families by the same name, John Watson, Horace Dickenson, Enos Bunnell, Luther and David Phelps, and Dr. Plinny Goddard settled in the town. Dr. Goddard was from Vermont and was the first physician who located in the town.

The first birth was that of a son in the family of Reuben Ashman, in October, 1806; the second was that of Rachel Higgins, in the family of Nathaniel, June 22, 1807. The first marriage was contracted by Calvin Hill and Harriet Knox, in the summer of 1806, the ceremony being performed by Rev. Royal Phelps. The first death was that of ------ Curtis, in 1807. The first school was taught by Rollin Smith in the winter of 1808-9.

In 1809 an arsenal was constructed by the State in Russell village, on a lot donated for the purpose by Russell Attwater, in conformity with an act of the Legislature passed the 24th of February of that year, authorizing the Governor to select such place in this county for its location as he deemed advisable, and to equip it with not to exceed 500 stands of arms, and suitable and necessary ammunition and military stores. The building is constructed of stone, is 30 by 50 feet on the ground, three stories high, and was designed for use in case of an invasion, which the difficulties preceding the war of 1812 seemed to threaten. During the war it was guarded, and subsequently its care was entrusted to a person living in the vicinity. It was sold at auction in 1850, for $525, in pursuance of a general law, and is now used as a school house.

The first religious services were conducted by Rev. Royal Phelps, a Presbyterian missionary, at the house of Russell Attwater, in 1806. Episcopal services were first held by Bishop Hobart, about 1807.


(1) Named from Russell Attwater, the first settler. It embraces a part of Dewitt, the whole of Ballybeen, and the north half of Sarahsburgh, in Great Lot No. III of Macomb's Purchase.

(2) The first town meeting was held at the house of Reuben Ashman and the first officers elected were Russell Attwater, Supervisor; Reuben Ashman, Clerk; Ezra Moore, Joseph Hutchinson and Philip Viall, Assessors; Calvin Hill, Constable and Collector; John Knox and Joseph Hutchinson, Overseers of the Poor; Samuel Eaton, John Watson, and John Knox, Commissioners of Highways; John Watson and Thomas Gillmore, Fence Viewers; Azel Clark, Simeon Stiles, Elihu Morgan, and Joel Clark, Overseers of Highways.