Saturday, July 23, 2011

Untangling the Russell Knots: William H. Russell, Sr. (1811-?) & Catherine Albury

William H. Russell, Sr. & Catherine Albury

Not much is known about g4 grandfather, William H. Russell, except that he was born on April 15, 1811 in Great Guana Cay, Marsh Habour, Bahamas. The only thing known about his father is that his first initial was A. This information was received from other researchers on and it can only be confirmed by researching the National Archives in the Bahamas. (If anyone wants to be my financier for that research trip, I'll happily accept.)

On Jan. 12, 1836, at the age of 24, William married sixteen year old Catherine Albury, also a native of the Bahamas. Her parents' names are not known. There is a William Russell on a passenger list from the Bahamas to Key West in 1837. The birthdate for their first child and only son William, Jr. changes often, but he was born in Florida some time after that.
from Key West Images of the Past

Next, came a daughter Maria Elizabeth, in 1844. Third, Sarah Ann in 1848, who will become my g3 grandmother. Two more daughters will be born to them, Ann (1850) and Caroline (1852). Though the family appears to have immigrated in 1837, and all children were born in Florida, this Russell family doesn't appear in a census until 1860.

from Key West Images of the Past
In 1860, William and his family live in Key West near a few other Russells. William was a mariner and Catherine a seamstress. Their house was worth $200, and William's peronal property was worth $50.

In 1870, Catherine and William live alone on Cudjoe Key. William is farming, Catherine keeping house. None of their children live with them. Their second youngest daughter Ann, lived with her sister Maria and her family. It is not know where Caroline lives. Why the youngest unmarried girls didn't live with them isn't known. My guess is that there were schools in Key West and not on Cudjoe, as well as society. Perhaps it was even safer and more comfortable to live in town rather than the outlying islands. Only a few families lived on Cudjoe with the Russell couple, most notably Justin Everett Knowles and his family, son of g4 grandfather John Thomas Knowles.

There is no other proof William and Catherine were alive after 1870. There were so many Russells, often with the same names and even same wives' names, finding much info about them at all is nearly impossible. Their children, however, are a bit easier to come to understand, as record-keeping modernizes in Key West. With each decade, the kind of information gathered broadens and therefore a more complete story can be fashioned.

William and Catherine's children:

William H. Russell, Jr: born approximately between 1837 and 1843, marries a Julia A. between 1861-1863. They have their first daughter Melvina in 1864. Then Ida in 1870, Ethel in 1879 and Raymond in 1882. William is a seaman all his life. There is no proof he lived after 1885. He was not named as living in his sister, Sarah's, obituary in 1930.

Maria Elizabeth Russell married g4 grandfather John T. Knowles's son, James Alexander, on Aug. 28, 1862. They have three children before the 1870 census comes knocking: Maria (1864), James Alexander, Jr., (1867), and Mary Elizabeth (1869). In 1870, Maria's 15yo sister, Ann, is living with them. James is a seaman. They live down the street from her brother William and his family. The next decade brings another son, William (1873). In 1880, the family lives on Margaret Street. James is still a seaman. Their son, John, has just been born. Their last child, Annie Louise, will be born in 1883. In 1885, they're still on Margaret Street. Their oldest son, James, is 18 and a cigarmaker. Their daughter Maria is no longer living at home, but rather with her husband James Pinder. Mama Maria's husband James dies on May 22, 1888. Their youngest child, Annie, is five years old. She carries on, raising her children somehow, without ever having to sell her house. No occupation is listed on any subsequent census record. She dies in 1926 at the age of 81.

Sarah Ann Russell would become my g3 grandmother. Born in 1848, she married her sister Maria's husband's brother, Oscar Washington Knowles, when she was 17. Oscar was 22. Since they will receive their own post, just a quick overview follows. They have 8 children together: Sarah Golden, William Edward, Emma E, Ella Louise, Lula Mayfield (my g2 grandmother), Winifred, Catherine (Katie), and Henry Lee. She and Oscar will only be married 20 years, as he died in 1885. More about them later.

Lorena Mayfield Sweeting

Ann Russell's first husband was William H. Knowles, Jr, who is the son of my g4 grandfather on another branch of the family. They are married long enough to have one son together, Charles Edward, in 1874. They divorce and Ann marries a man with the last name Elm. They have two children together: Charity and Richard. They either divorce or Elm dies. Ann marries her last husband, Richard Boldick Sweeting and they have three children: Alonzo, Daniel, and Lorena Mayfield Sweeting.  

In 1920, Ann and Richard live on Francis Street near the cemetery. Richard is a watchman on a ditch, Alonzo is a fisherman and Daniel is a laborer for a hotel. Ann dies on June 18, 1933. She's buried near her husband, who died three years before her.

Caroline Russell is the only smart one in the bunch as she never marries. At least, I don't think she did. There are some Caroline's about her age, one married to a Pinder, one to Watkins, the owner of an ice cream parlour, but I don't think it's our Caroline, especially because Sarah's obit states she outlived her and though they mistake her last name for Knowles in that article, they use Miss and her first name, which wasn't done unless the woman was unmarried.

As stated earlier, figuring out this particular family line was difficult. This information is the best as I understand at this time.

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