Ohio Biographies

Brooky B. Russell

Brooky B. Russell, Centerville. James Russel, born August 27, 1769 in the Shenandoah Valley, Va. Nancy McKee, born November 22, 1771, and married to James Russell, 1791. From this union were ten children, born as follows: Elizabeth, February 9, 1792; Robert, May 28, 1794; William, December 26, 1795; John, October 6, 1797; Abraham, June 24, 1799; James, December 6, 1800; Mary M., December 28, 1902; Brooky B., February 22, 1804; Ann, July 15, 1807; Mariam, June 27, 1810. Of the above children three only are now (July, 1881) living.

Mr. Russell’s early boyhood and manhood were spent principally in boat-building on the Allegheny River, Pennsylvania. When about seventeen years old he moved with his parents to Mercer County, Penn., where he continued boat-building, one of which he and his brother loaded with produce and made a trip to New Orleans. Returning home, he concluded after awhile he would like to see the Northwest. Accordingly he started on the perilous trip in 1798. The Indians being troublesome, he procured the assistance of a guide, who traveled about 200 miles with him from the Pee Dee River. Finally reaching his destination in safety, he made his selection and purchase of land. He found a boarding-place with Dr. Hole, a pioneer, living about two miles distant. He immediately went to work and erected his round-log cabin, with a cat and clay chimney and puncheon floor. The pioneers that could be found within a reasonable distance by request assembled at a given time and assisted him in the erection of his cabin. During the day, one of the pioneers asked Mr. Russell where he was from. he replied by saying he was from Cork, the North of Ireland, sir. The pioneer turned around and said to another: I wish to God he had stayed there, for they are the meanest people on earth. For some time after that Mr. Russell went by the name of Cork. Cabin finished, he returned to his family after an absence of ten weeks, built a boat in which he and his family came down the river to Cincinnati, in the spring of 1799, and moved immediately into the neighborhood of Redding and raised that season as much of a crop as he could; then in the following February or March started for his future home in Washington Township, Montgomery County, Ohio, reaching it on the 12th day of March, 1800. Mrs. Russell has been heard to say that the sweetest night’s sleep she ever had was the first one spent in that rude cabin. Family then consisted of parents and five children. Now settled, the next thing in order was the clearing of a farm, which to one not having will or nerve would be a serious undertaking, but Mr. Russell possessed both, and in due course of time a farm was to be seen instead of dense forest. To supply the table (made of puncheons) with meats was an easy matter; it was wild but in abundance and very easily secured. When Mr. Russell wished to take a day for a hunt he would put on a scarlet cloak with a hood to it, of his wife’s, and thus equipped would start out and would return, if he wanted so many, with one dozen deer in a day.

Bread was for a long time made exclusively of corn; grinding done at Mr. Ripley’s mill, one mile south of Ridgeville, Warren County, Ohio. For the wearing apparel, of home manufacture; dressed deer-skins were used extensively. Boots and shoes were made of untanned hides. When Mr. Russell went to the land office to make payment, it was ascertained he had a surplus of several acres. He was then at a loss to know what to do. When Gen. Findley, the Receiver, said to him, my dear fellow, you take all the land you can get up there or I will. Mr. Russell took the advice, went out and borrowed from a friend enough to complete the payment. Mr. Russell served one term in the Legislature, the session of 1828 and 1829. Was County Commissioner some years. It is said that at one settlement with the County Treasurer there was such a quantity of silver that in order to expedite their work, the Commissioners weighed the cash instead of counting it. He served as Justice of the Peace from 1810 to 1834, being a period of twenty-four years, which is conclusive evidence he was a man standing high in the estimation of his fellow citizens. Beloved by his family and highly respected by acquaintances, he died March 12, 1845, having lived just forty-five years in township. His wife, Nancy Russell, died November 19, 1849.


From History of Montgomery County, Ohio, W. H. Beers & Co., Chicago, 1882