Russell Families of Marshall County, Alabama

Many Russell’s immigrated from Scotland into Pennsylvania during the mid 1600’s to the mid 1700’s. While we are not sure from which family our Russell’s descend yet, it is known that they were in Pennsylvania by 1790. Our lineage begins with:


Joshua Russell and his wife, Nancy Richardson, were born in either Pennsylvania or Virginia. It is not clear whether they or their parents were born in Pennsylvania at this time. They came to Hawkins County, Tennessee by 1810 travelling through and living for a while in Virginia, probably Smith County. They settled in an area which became Rogersville. Joshua was a saddler by trade and was very active in the courts as a juror from 1810 to 1837. He and Nancy had five children, Robert (1806), Joseph Hooker (1808), John Garland (1810), Alfred Grayson (1811) and Evalina (1814). Joshua lived out most of his adult life in Tennessee. Before 1850, he moved to Marshall County, Alabama and lived with one of his sons, Alfred, until his death before 1860. Nancy, his wife, was not listed with him in Alabama, so it is assumed that she died in Tennessee and Joshua took up with fifty year old, Jane Smith, who was also living at Alfred’s house. Joshua was buried in the Russell Family Cemetery, which no longer exists today.


Alfred Grayson was the son of Joshua and Nancy Russell. He was born in Rogersville, Hawkins County, Tennessee in 1811 and moved to Limestone County, Alabama around 1828 when he was about 17 years old. There he married Susan Geno and started to work in a tannery. In 1837, they moved to Marshall County, Alabama in an area which became Guntersville by 1860. Together they had six children, Jane (1836), Sam Houston (1838), Alfred (1839), Nancy (1841), Evaline (1842) and Henry Clay (1846). Three of his sons (Henry C., Samuel H. and Alfred) fought in the civil war in the 4th Alabama Cavalry, also known as “Russell’s”. All three boys were in Companies H and I that fought under Colonel Alfred A. Russell. We are not sure if he was a relative. Son Alfred served from 1861 to May 9th, 1865 and he was held prisoner at Fort Donelson from Feb. 16, 1862 to Sept 23, 1863.

Alfred’s wife, Susan, died around 1846. He married 22 year old Laura Loveless on Sept. 2, 1847. She was born in South Carolina. Alfred started in the mercantile business with which he continued the rest of his life. Alfred and Laura had seven children: John L. (1848), Clarissa (1851), Abby (1854), James (1858), William (1859), Betty (1861) and Emma (1862). Abby, Betty and Emma died before 1900 without marrying and were all buried at the Russell Family Cemetery in Marshall County. William moved away from the farm after 1880 at age 21, but also ended up in the family cemetery. James lived on the family farm with his parents and sister Emma at least until 1910. Clarissa’s life is unknown. John L. lived his life out in Guntersville as a farmer on property adjacent to his parents.

Alfred died in 1874, but Laura lived until between 1900 – 1910. Living with her was her son James, who was 41, and her daughter Emma, who was 37. Interesting note, all of the male children of Alfred and Laura were educated, but none of the daughters could read or write. Living next door to Laura in 1900 was a widowed daughter-in-law and her children. Laura listed her occupation as a farmer. Also living with Laura in 1880 was Wesley Ennis who was 12 years old and was listed as an orphan. Laura had a black farm hand named Charley Tate who lived at her farm and worked on it.  Laura, at some time, purchased the an old Indian Schoolhouse.  This led to many rumors that exist today, that the Russells were of Indian descent.  No Indian heritage has been established, except possibly Laura’s mother.

Alfred and Laura were also interred at the family cemetery adjacent to the farm.


John, son of Alfred G. and Laura Russell, was born about 1848 in Guntersville and lived on his parents farm until he was 21. In 1870, he married Martha McGhee who was from South Carolina. They lived in an area called Crossroads. Together they had ten children: James B. (1872), Alfred E. (1874), William T. (1875), Alford (1877), Sam Dean (1878), John (1883), Susie Bell (1886), twins Arthur and Martha (1888) and Charlie (F)(1890). According to the census, Martha stated she had 12 children total and 8 living. We know that Susie Bell and Charlie both died as young children, so we assume the other two died young, between census’. John unfortunately died before most of his children became adults. He is buried with no marker in the family cemetery, but we assume his death to be around 1893, when he was about 45 years old. Martha was left to raise the family, but was living next door to her mother-in-law, Laura Russell and her son James and daughter, Emma. By the time of John’s death, his oldest son James had also started a farm adjacent to the other Russell’s and had married Ida. He and Ida had at least three children and remained in Guntersville. Martha ended up marrying Miner McClendon and was still alive in 1938. Martha is buried next to John in the family cemetery and with their two daughters, Susie Bell and Charlie.


Listed as “Sammy” on the 1880 census, we don’t know much about Sam’s childhood other than he was raised on the family farm. When he was 21, he married Mary Lang, who was 15 years old and moved next to her family. In 1900, Mary’s mother had just remarried to a John King. She had seven of Mary’s brothers and sisters living at home still. Shortly thereafter, John King moved to Upshur County, Texas with Mary’s mother and siblings. Sam and Mary Russell stayed in Alabama until after 1920 and then followed suit settling near the King’s around the Shady Grove/New Hope area.

Submitted by: Letty Harrington

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