Person:William Russell (86)

Brig. Gen. William Russell
m. est. 1720
  1. Jemima Russellabt 1721 -
  2. Brig. Gen. William Russellabt 1732 - 1793
  3. Henry RussellABT 1735 - BEF 1760
  4. Catherine RussellABT 1737 -
  • HBrig. Gen. William Russellabt 1732 - 1793
  • WTabitha AdamsABT 1736 - 1776
m. 1755
  1. Henry Russell1756 - 1773
  2. William Russell1758 - 1825
  3. Mary Henley Russell1760 - 1815
  4. Robert Spotswood Russell1762 - 1842
  5. Tabitha Adams Russell1764 -
  6. John Coates Russell1768 -
  7. Samuel Russell1770 -
  8. Celah Russell1772 -
  9. Henley Russell1774 -
  10. Chloe Russell1776 -
m. abt. 1783
  1. Henry Winston Russell1784 -
  2. Elizabeth Henry Russell1785 -
  3. Patrick Henry Russell1788 -
  4. Jane B Russell1788 -
Facts and Events
Name[1] Brig. Gen. William Russell
Alt Name Capt. William Russell
Alt Name General William Russell
Gender Male
Birth[4] abt. 1732 Culpeper County, Virginia
Alt Birth? c1737 Culpeper, Virginia, United States
Marriage 1755 Culpeper County, Virginiato Tabitha Adams
Military? 10 Oct 1774 Battle of Point Pleasant
Marriage abt. 1783 Virginiato Elizabeth 'Betsy' Henry
Death[1] 14 January 1793 Front Royal, Warren County, Virginia
Alt Death? 14 January 1793 Shenandoah County, Virginia
Burial[3][7] Arlington National Cemetery
An article prepared to support the Southwest Virginia Project

  Genealogy well done. Exemplary WeRelate page with excellent use of original sources.



The following is a summary of the life of Brigadier General William Russell (c1737 to 1793). Sources for the information in this summary are given in the following sections. The accompanying biography is taken from Source:Des Cognets, 1884 with minor elisions, and additional footnotes to note exceptions.


William Russell was born about 1737 in Culpepper County, Virginia, to William Russell Sr, and Mary Henley. Some consider his family to be members of the colonial aristocracy of Virignia; his father is said to have come to America with Governor Spotswood, and is also said to have been a member of Spotswoods "Knights of the Golden Horsehoe". There does not seem to be any direct evidence that this is the case, and some believe his family to be yoman farmers. The younger William Russell is said to have attended William and Mary until 1755, at which time he married Tabitha Adams. The couple continued to live in Culpeper County until lands opened up for settlement west of the Blue Ridge in 1769. They settled in Castle's Woods (then Washington County) by 1773. Russell played a significant role in the defense of the Clinch River settlements during Dunmore's War of 1774. In addition to organizing defenses along the Clinch, he led a company of milita at the Battle of Point Pleasant. A member of the Virginia Continental line during the Revolution, he fought at the Battles of Monmouth and Germantown. During the Southern Campaign he was at the Battle of Charlestown and was captured by the British. Following parole and exchange, he is said to have rejoined Washington's Army, and participated in the Battle of Yorktown. During the war Russell rose to the rank of Brigadier General.

Tabitha Adams Russell died in 1776, leaving William with a large family of ten surviving children. Since he was away at war most of the time following Tabitha's death, he moved his family from Castle's Woods to the more secure Middle Fork of the Holston, settling them near Seven Mile Ford. The family of General William Campbell lived in this same area. Campbell's wife, Elizabeth Henry, (sister of Patrick Henry) came from the same area as Russell (Culpeper County), and it seems likelly that she knew him and his former wife; it also seems likely that the move to this area was designed to place his children in a location where they could be watched over by a family friend while Russell and Campbell were away at war.

Russell returned to his family following the War, and remarried in 1783. His new wife was the widow of General Campbell who had taken ill and died during the Battle of Yorktown. The family resided at the Campbell home known as "Aspenvale" near Seven Mile Ford on the Middle Fork of the Holston. Here Russell lived out the remainder of his life, raising his family, now enlarged by several more children by Elizabeth. He died in 1793 at Front Royal Virginia, while returning from a visit with some of his children in Kentucky.

Personal Data

The following is taken from Source:Des Cognets, 1884 unless otherwise noted. Primary documentation needed throughout.

Personal Data
DOB:c1735Primary source needed. Des Cognets states "He died peacefully, about 4 o'clock, on Monday evening, the 14th of January, aged fifty-eight years." This implies that he was born c1737. The formulaic nature of this note suggests that Des cognets based the text on another document, possibly the MS of son-in-law Rev. Hubbard Saunders. Des Cognets quotes Saunders in this general passage, and would seem likely that he specified his fatherinlaws age when he noted the precise time of death. Others, however, give DOBs ranging from 1732 to 1737. One source gives a specific DOB of 6 MAY 1732 but without reference to source or an explanation of the date. On the whole, a DOB of c1735 seems to be the most authoritative date.
POB:Place:Culpeper VAHis parents lived in Culpeper County and his father, at least, died there per his will. See: his fathers will
DOD:14 January 1793Source:Des Cognets, 1884; gravestone DOD (see FindAGrave
POD:Front Royal, Warren County, VirginiaSource:Des Cognets, 1884 tells us that a Physician from Front Royal attended him. This implies that he died at/near Front Royal, though perhaps not "in" the town itself.
Burial:Arlington National CemeteryMay have originally been buried in the Aspenvale Cemetery near his home, but it seems likey that he was originally buried near the home of his soninlaw, XXXXX, whom he was visiting at the time of death. Some have suggested the Millar-Allen cemetery near Front Royal. Des Cognets indicates that some thought he'd been buried in Culpeper County, in the cemetery where his parents had been buried. In anycase, we are told that his body was removed in the 1940's to Arlington National Cemetery by members of the Society of the Cincinnati (See FindAGrave entry, and it is possible that their records would indicate where he was originally buried. It is also possible that the burial site in Arlington is more of a cenotaph than grave.
Father:William Russell,"It is shown by the records of Frederick county that in 1763, William Russell, gentleman, and heir at law of William Russell, deceased, and Tabitha, his wife, sold seventy-three acres of land, it being part of a tract of 4,950 acres patented to William Russell, dec'd, from the King's office in 1735" Source:Des Cognets, 1884; See also his fathers will
Mother:Mary Henley Mary's given name is noted in his fathers will; there's no indication that she's a second wife, so presumably is William Jr's mother.
Spouse (1):Tabitha Adams"It is shown by the records of Frederick county that in 1763, William Russell, gentleman, and heir at law of William Russell, deceased, and Tabitha, his wife, sold seventy-three acres of land, it being part of a tract of 4,950 acres patented to William Russell, dec'd, from the King's office in 1735" Source:Des Cognets, 1884; Source for surname needed.
DOM:c1755based on DOB of their eldest child (Henry); that DOB is, however, not documented.
POM:Culpepper Co, VAPresumed, based on the idea that both his and her parents lived in Culpeper County, and that land records show that they lived here shortly after 1755.
ChildDOB-DODDispersion Summary/Notes/Sources
Henry Russell1756-1773Killed by Indians on way to Kentucky
William Russell
Robert Spotswood Russell
Mary Henley Russell
Katherine Russell died before 1773
Athelia Russelldied before 1773
Tabitha Russell
John Russell
Samuel Russell
Celah Russell
Henley Russell
Chloe Russell
Spouse (2):Ann [Henry] CampbellWidow of Gen. William Campbell
POM:Washington County, VA
ChildDOB-DODDispersion Summary/Notes/Sources
Henry Winston Russell1784-c1784
Elizabeth Henry Russell1786-
Patrick Henry Russell 1788-c1788
Jane Robertson Russell 1788


The following is from Source:Des Cognets, 1884:7-?.[8] Subsections and illustrations have been added. Some material has been elided, as shown by "...".

Early Life and Marriage

WILLIAM, the eldest son of William and Mary Henley Russell, was born in 1735 [9]. He received a classical and scientific education at William and Mary College, Williamsburg, Va., the oldest seat of learning in the United States except Harvard University. He had decided to adopt the profession of law, and was ready to enter upon his studies to carry out that design when he returned home from college in the spring of 1755[10]
That intention was interrupted by his marriage, which took place during the summer, and while he was still one year from completing his majority. In consequence of this, he entirely abandoned the study of law, and settled upon a plantation in the northwestern portion of Culpepper county, on the north branch of Hedgman river, about twelve or fifteen miles from the courthouse. The maiden name of his wife was Tabitha Adams. She was the daughter of Samuel Adam of Culpepper county. Her mother's name was Charity Coates. After the death of Mr. Adams, she married Mr. Moore, and their son, William Moore (half brother of Tabitha Adams), was the father of William Wharton, Thomas, Henley, John, Charles Chilton, and Samuel Moore; also of Mrs. Mary Coates Gray, Mrs. Elizabeth Bright, and Mrs. Yancy Young; all of whom settled in Kentucky and Missouri. Nothing can be found relating personally to Tabitha Adams or her family, but her memory has been perpetuated by her name, which is found often repeated in the families of her descendants.... Image:Culpeper County, VA.jpg

French and Indian War

It is...shown that William Russell was found early in the field in the defence of the colony. The Rev. Philip Slaughter found an old document which he inserts in his "History of St. Mark's Parish" from which the following extract is made:

The names of the following persons appear in a record before me, as having served in a campaign against the French and Indians, about this date (1757), viz: Col. Robert Slaughter, Lieut. Col. William Russell, [11] Capt. William Brown, Capt. John Strother, Lieut. John Field, Lieut. William Slaughter, Martin Nalle, William Nalle, Charles Yancey, William Lightfoot, Reuben Long, Thomas Slaughter, William Robertson, William Yager, Henry Gaines, Henry Stringfellow, and William Roberts. Nearly all these names have representatives still in Culpeper county, and they are reproduced as items of interest to their descendants.
What special campaign is referred to in the record is not known. It is found also, that "William Russell was Captain of a company of Rangers under Gen. Braddock," which must have been in 1755.[12]

It is shown by the records of Frederick county that in 1763,

William Russell, gentleman, and heir at law of William Russell, deceased, and Tabitha, his wife, sold seventy-three acres of land, it being part of a tract of 4,950 acres patented to William Russell, dec'd, from the King's office in 1735.

Also, that they sold in 1757, 300 acres, it being the remainder of a tract of 3,650 acres patented to William Russell, deceased, in 1735.

Dunmore's War

In 1765, Captain Russell was sent by the British authorities on some mission among the Indians in the section of country about where Chattanooga is situated; and was employed nearly twelve months in executing this trust, during which time he endured great hardships among the Creek Indians. While on this tour he kept a journal, which was long preserved, but has unfortunately been lost.

In 1770 he emigrated with his family to southwestern Virginia, and settled temporarily on New river. His design was to go on to Kentucky, where he had valuable lands. In the fall of 1773, with the intention of executing this purpose, he proceeded with his family to Castle Woods, on Clinch river; [13] but from information received, he considered it too dangerous to pass the Wilderness of the Cumberland with his family at that time; so he halted with them, and sent forward his eldest son, HENRY, with some negroes, to make a settlement preparatory to the removal of his family afterwards.

A party under the guidance of Daniel Boone were then ready to attempt to make their way into Kentucky, and Henry Russell, with his negroes, joined them, the whole expedition numbering about eighty persons. The account of what befell them is taken from Flint's "Life of Boone," (which is as follows:

The expedition of Boone to Kentucky commenced its march on the 26th of September, 1773. They all set forth with confident spirits for the western wilderness, and were joined by forty persons in Powell's Valley, a settlement in advance of that on the Yadkin, towards the western country. The whole made a cavalcade of about eighty persons. The principal ranges of the Alleghany, over which they must pass, were designated as Powell's, Walden's, and Cumberland. These mountains, forming the barrier between the old and new country, stretch from the northeast to the southwest. The aspect of these huge piles was so wild and rugged as to make it natural for those of the party who were unaccustomed to mountains, to express fears of being unable to reach the opposite side.
Their progress was uninterrupted by any adverse circumstance, and every one was in high spirits until the west side of Walden's was reached. They were now destined to experience a most appalling reverse of fortune. On the 10th of October, as the party was advancing along a narrow defile, unapprehensive of danger, they were suddenly terrified by fearful yells Instantly aware that Indians surrounded them, the men sprang to the defense of the helpless women and children. But the attack had been so sudden, and the Indians were so superior in point of numbers, that six men fell at the first onset of the savages. A seventh was wounded, and the party would have been overpowered, but for a general and effective discharge of the rifles of the remainder. The Indians took to flight and disappeared. Had the numbers of the travelers allowed it, they felt no inclination to pursue the retreating Indians. Their loss had been too serious to permit the immediate gratification of revenge. Among the slain was the oldest son of Daniel Boone. The horses and domestic animals accompanying the expedition were so scattered by the noise of the affray, that it was impossible again to collect and recover them. The distress and discouragement of the party was so great as to produce an immediate determination to drop the projected attempt of a settlement in Kentucky, and to return to Clinch river which lay forty miles in their rear, where a number of families had already settled. They then proceeded to perform the last melancholy duties to the bodies of their unfortunate companions, with all the observances which circumstances would allow. Their return was then commenced, and the party retraced in deep sadness the steps they had so lately taken in cheerfulness and even joy."

One of the six who were slain in this encounter was Henry Russell[14], then seventeen years of age. One of his negro men was also killed. The account of the massacre in Powell's Valley, in Butler's " History of Kentucky", speaks of the "fate of three boys, the eldest hopes of three families, (Henry Russell, Daniel Boone's son, and another), who were moving with Daniel Boone to Kentucky." Butler says, "they had remained behind to collect some- stray horses, when they were surprised by the Indians and slain before the rest of the party could come to their assistance." From some old records it appears that Captain Russell must have been immediately notified of the casualty in Powell's Valley, for he is mentioned as being there, and assisting in burying the dead.

The death of his oldest son was a terrible blow, and caused him to relinquish all idea of emigration to Kentucky. He owned a tract of 2,400 acres of land [15] on Clinch River, which had been granted to him by the King of England, through the government and council of Virginia. Upon this he established his home, near a settlement called Clinch. It was about twelve miles from Castle Woods Ford on Clinch river, and immediately on the line of travel from Virginia to the Wilderness of Kentucky. That locality is now in Russell county, Virginia. Captain Russell was soon called into active public service. In 1774, he commanded an expedition against the Shawnees, in southwestern Virginia. He also led his company in the battle of Point Pleasant, on the 10th of October, 1774. Of this engagement, Collins, in his "History of Kentucky", says:

This was probably the most severely contested conflict ever maintained with the northwestern Indians; the action continued from sunrise to sunset, and the ground for half a mile along the bank of the Ohio was alternately occupied by each of the parties in the course of the day. So sanguinary was the contest, that blood was found on each of the trees behind which the parties were posted. The Indians, under the celebrated chief, Cornstalk, abandoned the ground under cover of the night. Their loss, according to official report, exceeded that of the Americans, the latter amounting to sixty-three killed and eighty wounded. This report was drawn up by Captain Russell, reported to be the best scholar in camp." Collins says also: "
The garrison at Kanawha was commanded by Captain Russell, who continued in it until the troops were disbanded in July 1775, by order of Governor Dunmore, who was apprehensive that the post might be held by the rebel authorities."

The Revolution

Virginia Militia

In 1776, we find Captain Russell promoted to the rank of Colonel, and commanding a regiment of mounted men. He was constantly engaged in repelling the aggressive Indians on the frontiers of Virginia and Tennessee.

Ramsay[16] (sic), in his "History of Tennessee," says: "

Expresses had succeeded in escaping from the besieged fort at Wautauga, and in communicating to the station at Heaton's the dangerous condition in which the siege had involved them. Colonel Russell was requested to give them succor, and five companies were ordered to proceed to Wautauga."

He says further: "

After the attack on Wautauga, a soldier effected his escape and went to Holston, express, for reinforcements. A detachment of one hundred Rangers went instantly forward under the command of Colonel Russell. On their way the Rangers fell in with a party of forty Cherokees, who were busy skinning a beef, at a deserted plantation fifty miles cast of Long Island. Of these, Colonel Russell's men killed five, and took one prisoner who was mortally wounded, and also made prize of twenty rifles belonging to the Indians."

It was during this year that Colonel Russell lost his beloved wife, who died while he was away from home, in the discharge of his soldierly duties. Upon his return to his family he found it a bereaved one. [17] The devoted and affectionate wife and mother was gone, and his house left desolate. It was upon the place near Clinch, that TABITHA ADAMS RUSSELL was buried in 1776, and, though the storms of more than a century have swept over her lone, and perhaps unmarked grave, her name has been venerated, and her memory cherished to the present day.

The Indians were now carrying fire, devastation, and massacre into every settlement, from the remotest cabin on Clinch river to the Seven Mile Ford on the Holston.[18] Colonel Russell considered the locality of his home as now unsafe for his children, and immediately removed with them to a farm which he purchased adjoining the Aspenville tract belonging to Colonel William Campbell, on the middle fork of the Holston, und near the Seven Mile Ford. It was here that they lived during the Revolutionary war. His two eldest sons, William and Robert, remained at home for a short time, but they, too, although mere boys, soon took up arms for defense against the Indians. Upon his eldest daughter, Mary Henley, then but sixteen years of age, devolved the care of the motherless children, as well as the task of rearing her infant sister of six months. In these fearful times it would seem that children became men and women, in bravery and self-reliance, at a very early age.
William Russell settled on the Clinch at Castle's Woods sometime prior to 1773. Land records (que vide infra) for Washington County shown as having property on the Middle Fork of the Holston by 1781. This is consistent with a move to the Saltville area prior to his remarriage in 1783
William Russell settled on the Clinch at Castle's Woods sometime prior to 1773. Land records (que vide infra) for Washington County shown as having property on the Middle Fork of the Holston by 1781. This is consistent with a move to the Saltville area prior to his remarriage in 1783

Among the slaves of Colonel Russell were an old man and his wife, who were faithful and devoted to their master and his family, and to their care and protection he committed his children, while he gave his service to the cause of liberty. Well and faithfully they performed the duties of the trust reposed in them. This family of children, in the absence of their brave father, were many times menaced by British raiders[19] but they escaped all harm.

Virginia Continental Line

The winter following Colonel Russell received the appointment of Colonel in the regular army, and took command of one of the Virginia regiments. This command he retained to the close of the war, and he was one of the Colonels on the Virginia line, on Continental establishment, brevetted on that account. He participated in the battles of Brandywine, Germantown, and Monmouth; also in the siege of Charleston, where, upon its capture, he was made prisoner of war, and sent on a British prison- ship to one of the West India islands. He was afterwards released on parole, and returned to Virginia, where he was soon exchanged, and again in the field. For information upon these points we are indebted to a communication from Dr. Lynian C. Draper, author of "Annals of Virginia," to Ex-Gov. David Campbell of Virginia, bearing date 1844. He says:

In regard to the general actions in which Gen. Russell took part during the Revolutionary war, I found nothing in his old letters by which I could tell definitely, except that his regiment formed part of Brig. Gen. Peter Muhlenberg's brigade, which was formed early in 1777, and it was in the opening of that year that Russell joined the army under Washington. Muhlenberg's and Weedon's brigades formed Gen. Green's division at Germantown, the 4th of October following. A letter of Gen. Adam Stephen, in Appendix, 5th volume, Spark's 'Life of Washington,' in speaking of the battle of Germantown, says, 'Colonels Lewis and Russell, of Green's division, behaved gallantly during the action.' Marshall's 'Washington,' vol. 1st, page 169th, says, '
Muhlenberg's and Scott's brigades formed Green's division at Germantown';
hence, I consider the proof conclusive that Gen. Russell took part in the battle of Germautown. It is equally clear to my mind, though the evidence is not quite so luminous, that he participated in the battle of Brandywine. With regard to this, I may add that Judge Johnson's 'Life of Green' states, that Muhlenberg's and Weedon's brigades comprised Green's division at Braudywine. The battle of Monmouth occurred on the 28th of June, 1778, Green's division participating, and I can find no evidence to the contrary, but that Muhlenberg's brigade still formed a part of Green's command; and another fact is, that in 1777, 1778, 1779, Col. Russell was in Washington's grand army. I have not a shadow of doubt about Russell's being in the battle of Monmouth, and I have gone into this detail, thinking you might be interested to prosecute the enquiry and give me the result; and, for another reason, should I not live to finish what I now have in hand, that you may have the benefit of this hasty research, founded entirely upon the-key that Russell's regiment was part and parcel of Muhlenberg's brigade, which fact, as already indicated, I find in a letter of Gen. Russell's, dated March, 1778. In December of 1779 the Virginia line, reduced to 700 men, were detached by Gen. Washington, commanded by Gen. Woodford, to join Gen. Lincoln at Charleston, at whieh place they arrived April 10th, 1780, and the surrender took place the 12th of May. Col. Russell was, as a matter of course, in Woodford's detachment. None of his letters relating to the Revolution bear date after 1779, and I cannot tell to what brigade he was attached after he was released from his captivity."

Colonel Russell was with the army at Yorktown, and witnessed the surrender of Lord Cornwallis on the 19th of October, 1781 [20]It is much deplored that a full and detailed account of his military services cannot be obtained. Time has waged a fearful war on the memorials of the days "that tried men's souls," and they are even-where scattered, and many of them destroyed. There are, however abundant evidences that he exhibited great bravery as an officer, and he retired from the service with a most honorable record. Having served through the entire Revolution, he was brevetted to the rank of General, and retired on half-pay for life. For his services he was entitled to large bounties of land, much of which was afterwards located in the Green River section of Kentucky.


Russell county in Virginia was named in his honor; as also, Russellville, Kentucky, which was built upon land originally owned by him. After peace was restored he returned to civil life, and rejoined his family. He was soon elected to the Virginia Senate, of which he was a member many years, and it appears that he was as popular and influential as a citizen, as he had been brave and true to the cause of American Independence. Regarding his personal traits and appearance, the account we have of him says,

"He was a man of very distinguished appearance, being tall and erect in stature. He united to a military bearing, great dignity and manners which were of the courtly order." From all that can be learned of him, he was truly a gentleman of the olden school, "without fear and without reproach."

He had maintained correspondence with his relatives in England till the beginning of the Revolution, at which time they besought him not to take up arms against the British government. While he was a prisoner in British hands, they still wrote, urging him to return to his allegiance to England, but he remained steadfast to the cause of American Freedom. It is much regretted that all his papers, correspondence, and family records were destroyed in a conflagration several years after his death. Had these been preserved, the writer would probably have found it unnecessary to go beyond them for information which has been anxiously sought.

After his return home, about 1783, he married Mrs. Elizabeth Henry Campbell, widow of Gen. William Campbell, of King's Mountain fame, who died a few weeks before the siege of Yorktown, in 1781. She was the daughter of John Henry, a native of Aberdeen, Scotland; who married Sarah, a daughter of Isaac Winston. Her paternal grandmother was Jane Robertson, sister of Dr. William Robertson, the historian, and cousin of Lord Brougham. As the home of Mrs. Campbell and the farm of Gen. Russell were adjacent, it seems probable that their acquaintance had been of many years' standing.[21]

He was at this time forty-eight years of age. He had numbered twelve children, two of whom, Katherine and Arthelia, had died, it is believed in Culpeper, previous to 1770. Henry, the oldest son, being also dead, there remained nine at that time. The two elder sons, William and Robert Spotswood, were but little at home, being much in Kentucky and Tennessee, looking after surveys and location of land warrants. The eldest daughter, Mary Henley, had already married Captain Bowen; and the second daughter, Tabitha, very soon married Captain Campbell, so that five children constituted his family at the time of his second marriage. These were John, Samuel, Celah, Henley, and Chloe the youngest, then about seven years of age.

Mrs. Campbell had but one child, Sally Buchanan Campbell, then five years old, having previously lost her only son, Charles Henry Campbell. She is represented as being endowed with great superiority of mind and strength of character. There is much evidence that her attachment for Gen. Russell was of unusual strength and warmth, and that their married life was one of perfect harmony and happiness. He was remarkable for his devotional nature, and as husband and father was fond and indulgent. His letters of that period give the only glimpses of their home-life which can be obtained, and they furnish indications of a spirit of harmony and affection pervading the entire family circle.

After their marriage, they lived for several years at Aspenville (sic) the home of Mrs. Campbell, near the Seven Mile Ford, Washington county[22]

Aspenvale Cemetery is the family cemetery for the Campbell and Preston families.  It was situated on the property known as "Aspenvale", named by the Cambells for a grove of aspen trees in the vicinity. This cemetery is believed to be the only surviving trace of the original Aspenvale plantation.
Aspenvale Cemetery is the family cemetery for the Campbell and Preston families. It was situated on the property known as "Aspenvale", named by the Cambells for a grove of aspen trees in the vicinity. This cemetery is believed to be the only surviving trace of the original Aspenvale plantation.
Having a large interest in the salt-works, situated about ten miles from Aspenville (sic), they removed to that place in the spring of 1788, in order more successfully to carry on the manufacture of salt. This became their permanent home, and it was here that Gen. Russell passed the remainder of his life. His journeyings to and from Richmond, while he was a member of the Assembly, he frequently makes allusion to in his letters. It was in 1788, that he became a convert to the Methodist faith, and united himself with the church. An account of his conversion, together with that of his wife, is given by the Rev. T. Ware, in his "Life," and is as follows: "
Our first conference in Holston was held in May, 1788. As the road by which Bishop Asbury was to come was infested with hostile savages, so that it could not be traveled except by considerable companies together, he was detained for a week after the time appointed to commence it. But we were not idle, and the Lord gave us many souls in the place where we were assembled; among whom were Gen. Russell and lady, the latter a sister of the illustrious Patrick Henry. I mention these particularly, because they were the first fruits of our labors at this conference. On the Sabbath we had a crowded audience, and Mr. Trunnel preached an excellent sermon which produced great effect. The sermon was followed by a number of powerful exhortations. When the meeting closed, Mrs. Russell came to me and said, "I thought I was a Christian, but, sir, I am not a Christian; I am the veriest sinner upon earth. I want you and Mr. Mastin to come with Mr. Trunnel to our house and pray for us, and tell us what we must do to be saved." So we went and spent much of the afternoon in prayer, especially for Mrs. Russell, but she did not obtain deliverance. Being much exhausted, the preachers retired to a pleasant grove near at hand to spend a short time. After we had retired, the General, seeing the agony of soul under which his poor wife was laboring, read to her, by the advice of his pious daughter, Mr. Fletcher's charming address to mourners, as contained in his "Appeal." At length we heard the word "glory" often repeated, accompanied with the clapping of hands. We hastened to the house and found Mrs. Russell praising the Lord, and the General walking the floor and weeping bitterly, uttering at the same time this plaintive appeal to the Saviour of sinners: "Oh, Lord, thou didst bless my dear wife while thy poor servant was reading to her, hast thou not also a blessing for me?"
At length he sat down quite exhausted. This scene was in a high degree interesting to us. To see the old soldier and statesman, the proud opposer of godliness, trembling and earnestly inquiring what he must do to be saved, was an affecting sight. But the work ended not here. The conversion of Mrs. Russell, whose zeal, good sense, and amiableness of character were proverbial, together with the penitential grief so conspicuous in the General, made a deep impression upon the minds of many, and numbers were brought in before the conference closed. The General rested not until he knew his adoption; and he contiued a faithful member of the church, and an official member after he became eligible for office, constantly adorning the doctrine of God our Saviour, until the end of his life." It appears from the account of Mr. Ware, given above, that when Gen. Russell enlisted as a soldier of the cross, he did so with his whole heart and soul. He and his wife also were very zealous in their faith, and consistent in their devotions. Family prayers were held night and morning, and they frequently had preaching at their house. Bishop Asbury was a frequent and favored visitor, and he says in his Journal, "General Russell's was one of the harbors of rest for the weary Methodist preacher." It is found that within a year or two from that time, all their household, both white and black, were converted and brought into the church.

Gen. Russell had by his second marriage four children. The eldest, Henry Winston Russell, was born in 1784, and died in infancy. Elizabeth Henry Russell was born in 1786. Patrick Henry Russell and Jane Robertson Russell (twins) were born in 1788. The former died when a few weeks old, leaving only the two little daughters, of whom he writes as "Betty Henry" and " Jenny."

Some of the letters of Gen. Russell, written about that time, are here inserted. They will certainly be read with interest by his descendants, having been written nearly a hundred years ago, and all who are mentioned in them having long since passed away. It must be borne in mind that they are merely family letters, from father to son. He could little foresee that, after a century had passed, they would be eagerly read and treasured by his great-grandchildren. [These letters have not been inserted here. They deal primarily with day to day affairs, and would be of considerable interest to descendants. They can be examined in Source:Des Cognets, 1884

Final Journey

...Quite a lengthy account of. Gen. Russell's illness and death, together with some of the circumstances of his leaving home, was written by Rev. Hubbard Saunders, who had just then married his youngest daughter, Chloe, and who, with his wife, accompanied Gen. Russell on this visit to Shenandoah. The chief points of interest in this manuscript will be given.

Gen. and Mrs. Russell, Mr. and Mrs. Saunders, Henley Russell, and the two little daughters, Bettie Henry and Jenny, together with several servants, set out on Thursday, the 15th of December, 1792. It appears that John and Samuel were left in charge of the salt-works and affairs at home. Mr. Saunders' account says, "His solemnity in parting with those who were left behind is worthy %of observation. Afte"r leaving his house, he had his family and servants assembled together at the salt-works, which were about a quarter of a mile from the house. He then offered prayer after, [Which, he spoke personally to every one with warmth and feeling, bidding them farewell in a manner peculiarly solemn, and, as it afterwards seemed, as if he felt intuitively that he would see them no more."

They finally started and journeyed on till they arrived at Col. Madison's, where they remained perhaps ten days. Resuming their journey, they reached the house of their son Robert on Tuesday the 1st of January, 1793, to find him with his family absent from home. It must be concluded that he had not been apprised of the date at which they would arrive. They went on to Col. Allen's. (the father-in-law of his son Robert), which place was only a short distance farther, and situated on the Shenandoah river. Here they were most warmly and cordially received. The state of the roads and the tedious and fatiguing mode of traveling at that period can scarcely be imagined at the present day

Image:FrontRoyal.jpgIn several of Gen. Russell's letters, he expresses a dread of the exposure attendant upon his journeyings to and from the Assembly in Richmond, during cold and severe weather. This last travel in the depth of winter proved fatal to him. He contracted a severe cold, and on the day after his arrival complained of feeling ill. A physician of Front Royal was immediately summoned, who, upon his arrival found the symptoms of his patient quite serious. He had constant fever, attended with great prostration, and after a few days another physician, from Winchester, was called in, but his disease did not yield to treatment.

After a week had elapsed he expressed his conviction that his illness would prove fatal, and from that time he was wholly absorbed in the contemplation of death, and the promises of God, upon which he securely rested; and very frequently engaged in prayer. His son Robert and family had arrived some time before, as also his sister, Mrs. Roberts, with her daughter and two sons, Henry and John. The account says,

His wife tenderly nursed him through all his illness. Frequently he called for his little Betty and Jenny, and would press them to his lips and breast, and Jacob-like, gave them his blessing. He talked much with all his family, especially his son Henley, who was much overcome with grief. He exhorted them all to live according to God's word, and frequently prayed that the grace of God might rest upon all.

His strength gradually failed, and he finally became unconscious. He died peacefully, about 4 o'clock, on Monday evening, the 14th of January, aged fifty-eight years.

The grief caused by his death was as a dark cloud overspreading the household, for he was deeply and tenderly loved by all. The season of the year, and condition of the roads rendered it impossible to carry his remains home for interment, and he was buried in the family cemetery at Col. Allen's. As no traces of his grave can be found there at the present time, it is regarded as certain that he was afterwards removed, but to what place cannot now be ascertained. Accounts received on this point are very conflicting; one saying, "he was carried back and buried at the salt-works," while another says, "it is quite certain that he was not buried at the salt-works." The writer [Des Cognets] has made searching investigations regarding this, and from all that can be learned, inclines to the belief that, when removed from Col. Allen's, he was buried by his father and mother, in the churchyard at the old "Buck Run" church, in the adjoining county of Culpeper; but of this, some degree of uncertainty must exist. No towering marble, nor perhaps even a crumbling stone, remains to mark the spot where rests the brave old soldier, but

"Glory guards with solemn round
The bivouac of the dead."[23]

Military Records

Name: Capt. William Russell
Comment: entitled to 3,000 acres of land agreeable to the King's Proclamation in the year 1763.
Signature: Dunmore, Govr.

Land Records

From: The Washington County Surveyors Record 1781-1797

Page 28 - 'Col. William Russell...620 ac...Preemption Warrant...on the waters of Clynch River and along the foot of Copper Creek Ridge on the north side of the same...Beginning corner to Samuel Porters land...near a path...crossing the Kentucky road on James Osburns line...crossing the above road twice...above the sink of the the road...on Smiths line...on the side of Copper Creek Ridge...March 13, 1783

Page 39 - James Berry...400 ac...Commissioners Certificate...on the waters of the middle fork of Holstein River...Beginning on the southeast side of the Knobs...on the west side of White Run...corner with William Russell & James Trimble...corner to John Crilling & Andrew Russell...corner to Robert Huston & Mary Berry...on the southeast side of a branch on Mary Berrys line...April 13, 1782 - James Berry...400 ac...on the waters of the middle fork of Holston River on the south side, includes improvements, actual settlement made in 1771...August 30, 1781

Page 53 - William Russell...June 18, 1782...229 ac...Preemption Warrant...Beginning on Gen. Campbells old patent line...on the bank of Holstein River...on a precipice bank a corner of James Thompsons old patent the head of a little spring...on Walkers old corner...

Page 53 - William Russell...June 18, 1782...229 ac...Preemption Warrant...Beginning on Gen. Campbells old patent line...on the bank of Holstein River...on a precipice bank a corner of James Thompsons old patent the head of a little spring...on Walkers old corner...

Page 87 - Edmund Smith...150 ac...Commissioners Certificate...on both sides of Cassells Run, branch of Clinch River...Beginning on the north side of Copper Creek Ridge, corner to Col. William Russells land...corner to Edward Stapletons land...on the east side of Cassells Run and north side of the Kentucky Road...with a line of Frederick Fryleys land...November 13, 1782 - Edmund Smith, assignee of John Crawford...150 ac on Cassells Run on both sides adjoining John Smith, includes improvements, actual settlement made in 1771...August 21, 1781

Page 115 - Edward Faris...June 13, 1782...266 ac...on the waters of the Middle Fork of Holstein River...Commissioners Certificate...Beginning corner to Col. Russells survey & Walkers old line...on William Napiers line...on Gen. Campbells old patent Edward Farris field - Edward Farris, assignee of James Bates, assignee of Joseph Cole, assignee of Jeremiah Bloomer...400 ac...on the MIDDLE Fork of Holstein River, includes improvements, actual settlement made in 1774...August 31, 1781

Page 191 - Samuel Porter...200 ac...Commissioners Certificate...on the north side of Copper Creek Ridge on the waters of Mill Creek, south branch of Clynch River...Beginning corner to Capt. Russells land...near a path...on James Alvins line...corner to David Cowans land...near the Kentucky a path...corner to William Robinsons land...along Copper Creek Ridge...March 14, 1783 - Samuel Porter, assignee of James Hall...400 settlement in 1772...on Clynch and adjoining Thomas Alleys land...August 8, 1781

Page 409 - Mrs. Elizabeth Russell, administrator of Gen. William Russell, decd. - 140 ac - by entry made by William Russell - Preemption Warrant #1952 - on both sides of Fowlers Mill Creek, a branch of the north fork of Holstein - corner to Dysarts & Fowlers lands - with what is the lick tract - in a valley - corner to Smith's land - with John Fowler's line - February 10, 1794


Miscellaneous notes, undocumented "facts" General William Russell, Colonel of the Thirteenth Virginia, December, 1776; transferred to Fifth Virginia, September, 1778; taken prisoner at Charleston, May, 1780; exchanged, November, 1780; served until November 3, 1783, when he was made brigadier-general.


Source:Des Cognets, 1884
Source:Crozier, 1905


  1. 1.0 1.1 Source:Des Cognets, 1884.
  2.   William Russell (Virginia), in Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia.
  3. .

    FindaGrave entry includes the datum: Burial: Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington Arlington County, Virginia, USA Plot: Sec. 1, Lot 314-A, Grid MN-34/35.

  4. LaBach, William A. Ancestry of William Russell.; William Russell was born in Virginia circa 1732.

  5.   Des Cognets, Anna Russell. William Russell and His Descendants. (Lexington, KY: Samuel F. Wilson, 1884), 1884.
  6.   Died at age 58 on 14 January 1793, implying a DOB of c1735
  7. The location of his grave in Arlington National Cemetery seems peculiar for someone who a) died in Culpepper County Virginia, b) lived in Southwest Virginia, and c) Arlington National Cemetery did not exist as such at the time of his death. The explanation that is sometimes given is that he was originally buried near where he died in Front Royal. Some years later, after the Civil War, members of the Cincinnati Society (of which he was a member), moved his remains to Arlington National Cemetery. Confirmation of this is needed.
  8. While this Family History provides a good overall summary of William Russell's life, documentation for many of the elements presented is not provided. The events described may have a factual basis, but supporting evidence for them would be helpful. In some cases, the events are well known, but described otherwise in more authoritative works. For example, the death of Henry Russell in October of 1774 is a well known event, but the circumstances described elsewhere (e.g.,Source:Thwaites, 1902 based on Lyman Drapers incomplete biography of Daniel Boone) are quite different from those presented in this work.
  9. elsewhere Des Cognets implies a DOB of c1737, based on his age of 58 at death in 1793
  10. A check of Alumni records of William and Mary may yield useful information.
  11. This is probably William Russell Sr, given his rank. See Source:Scott, 1907 for the following:
    "In Thwaites's edition of Withers it is said that Col. William Russell, at one time high sheriff of Orange, did some frontier service in the early part of these wars, and in 1753 was sent as a commissioner to the Indians in the region where Pittsburg now stands. His son, of the same name, was at the battle of Point Pleasant; was second in command at King's Mountain, and retired at the end of the Revolution as brevet brigadier-general.
    The foregoing seems reasonable insofar as it points to the father as being the William Russell who served in the French and Indian War. However, it seems to mistep when it refers to his son as being "second in command at King's Mountain. While there was indeed a William Russell at King's Mountain, his rank appears to have been as a Lieutenant. This may be an entirely different William Russell, but its also possible that this is the son of Brigadier General William Russell, and that he was perhaps serving under General William Campbell. Given William Russell's social position in Southwest Virginia, this seems plausible, but remains unsubstantiated.
  12. Source:Crozier, 1905:45 indicates that a Captain William Russell received a land grant of 3,000 acres in 1763, authorized by Governor Dunmore for services in the French and Indian War. What this is based on is not clear, but given Crozier's focus on Virginia Militia, it would seem that this particular Captain William Russell was indeed from Virginia, and could be plausibly considered to be William Russell, Jr. of Culpeper County.
  13. This seems to be speculation on the part of Des Cognets. Evidence of an initial settlement on the New River has not been found. What basis Des Cognets has for her discussion of his plans to go to Kentucky is not clear. It seems unlikely that he moved to Castle's Woods with the initial idea of moving on to Kentucky, but this can not be ruled out. Other authors (e.g., Source:Draper, 1902 do not suggest that young Henry was being sent ahead to Kentucky to make an initial settlement; rather, most present the circumstances as such that William Russell was planning on joining the Boone party, and sent his son ahead of his main group.
  14. Flint's work makes no mention of Henry Russell or of his father William Russell. While there's no question that Henry was killed in this attack, Des Cognats apparently utilized some other source (possibly Source:Butler, 1836 cited below) than Flint from which to draw her information about the role of the Russell's in the party.
  15. Direct evidence for this has not been found. The 1795 property tax record shows that William Russell owned a relatively small parcel (600 acres) in Castles Woods near "Temple Hill", but his holdings in that area were not inordinate (see Analysis of Property Size Russell County VA, 1795 for comparison data). Possibly this refers to acreage that he might have a claim for in Kentucky, or perhaps its a confusion with something else entirely. I've personally never come across a community known as "Clinch" in this area. ~~~~
  16. See Indian Attacks on Southwest Virginia
  17. Presumably Tabitha died while William was leading men going to the aid of the Watauga Settlements. This would probably place her death in later July or August of 1776. There were several attacks on the Clinch Settlements at this time (See XXXX which were met by troops under Captain Daniel. Most of these attacks predate Old Abrahams attack on Fort Watauga, and most of the fatalities recorded were in the vicinity of Fort Blackmore. It is not impossible that Tabitha was one of the victims of these attacks, but if so, there seems to be no record of the fact. Russells prominence in the area would have surely ensured that some note would have been taken if this had been his wife's fate.
  18. Cf "they divided themselves into small detachments, and carried fire and devastation and massacre into every settlement, from the remotest cabin on Clinch, to the Seven Mile Ford, in Virginia" Source:Ramsey, 1853
  19. it would be of interest to document the presence of British raiding parties on the Middle Holston, with an eye toward determining whether htis statement is factual, or poetic license. Possbly this is an oblique reference to Indian attacks, or perhaps Tory activities, rather than raiding parties sent out by formal British military.
  20. . The basis for this is unknown.
  21. As it happens, Elizabeth Henry's family was also from Culpepper County, and belonged to the same social elite Williams family is reputed to belong. It is likely that William Russell knew Elizabeth Henry well prior to her marriage to William Campbell. Russell's move to this area after the death of his first wife was most likely motivated by the need to protect his own family while he was away at war. The move took his children somewhat out of harms way, and also placed them in close proximity to the Campbell's, whom he almost certainly knew prior to his move to the Clinch.
  22. Seven Mile Ford lies a mile or so east of the town of Chilhowie. Chilhowie had been settled as early as 1751 when Dr. Thomas Walker passed through the area enroute to the Cumberland Gap and Kentucky. Des Cognets consistently gives the name of the Campbell home, as "Aspenville"; this is probably in error, based on the application submitted for the inclusion of Campbell Family cemetery on the National Register of Historic Places, which gives the name of the cemetery and of the family home as "Aspenvale". Apparently the only surviving relic of Cambell's Aspenvale is the family cemetery, where Gen. William Campbell, General Francis Preston (brothernlaw), and Elizabeth Henry Campbell Russell are buried. See Google Maps for a location map. See also Source:US Department of the Interior, 1980 for the Aspenvale Cemetery application to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
  23. See Person:Theodore O'Hara (1) for complete poem. The poem was written to commemorate American losses (264 killed and 450 wounded) at the Battle of Buena Vista, February 22-23, 1847. See also: Ranck, George Washington, and Theodore O'Hara. 1898. The bivouac of the dead and its author. Cincinnati: The R. Clarke co.

The following seems to have been taken from the Wikipedia, but is ultimately drawn from Source:Des Cognets, 1884 which is quoted extensively above.

William Russell kept a journal which is currently lost. His eldest granddaughter, Mrs. Tabitha Bowen Moore, had read this journal. In 1770 William emigrated, with his family, to Southwestern Virginia, and settled temporarily on New River. His design was to go on to Kentucky, where he had valuable lands, which had been patented to him, for his and his only brother's ((Henry) services in the Colonial Army.

In the fall of 1773, with the intention of executing this purpose, he procedeeded, with his family, to "Castle Woods," on the Clinch River, but from information received, he considered it too dangerous to pass the wilderness of the Cumberland with his family at that time.