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Rachel Steer & Joshua Russell Clippings

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Some Biographical Information on Joshua Russell
Contributed by Jane Russell Johnson

Born August 12, 1794, in New Market, Maryland. In 1804 moved with his parents, Thomas and Sarah Russell, to farm, called Pleasant Hill in the heading of several letters from him and his wife, two miles north of New Market, Maryland, where he lived until his death.

Member of Society of Friends.

Married Rachel Steer of Waterford, Virginia, on April 21, 1824, at Fairfax Friends Meeting, Waterford, Virginia.

Received silver mug as writing prize in 1825, presented by Charles Carroll of Carrollton, and now in possession of Robert [his great-great-grandson through his son Samuel-JRJ] and Joyce Small. Received silver ladle at Frederick County, Maryland, Fair in 1828 for ploughing the straightest furrow. Ladle was passed to his son Isaac in 1868, to his granddaughter Anne in 1906, then to his great-grandson Isaac Willis Russell. Currently [2010] in the possession of his great-great-granddaughter, Jane Russell Johnson. Signed, along with three of his sons, Isaac, Henry, and Samuel, and his daughter Phebe, the Quaker Friendship Quilt, estimated date around 1850, which is now in the possession of the Loudoun Museum in Leesburg, Virginia.

Listed as farmer in 1850 census with real estate valued at $1500. May also have been an undertaker and/or coffin-builder. In a letter dated November 23, 1853, from Rachel to her son Isaac, she stated, "Father has gone to take the length and breadth of poor old Sam he has been very poorly for some time and departed about three this morning ... Father has returned and says the old man is to be buried at 10 o'clock to morrow." [I believe the farm belonged to Sarah, his mother, who was also living there, and passed to Joshua at her death in 1860. JRJ] In 1860 census value of real estate had increased to $9000 and personal property was $3000. This farm adjoined a farm owned by Nick Albaugh, according to a letter to I. Willis Russell from Julia Eves Small [IWR's second cousin and also a great-grandchild of Joshua-JRJ], written April 15, 1977.

In October of 1853 traveled with his son, Isaac, to Philadelphia and New York City. When Isaac went on to Iowa, Joshua returned to his farm. Shortly afterward, he and his daughter Phebe attended Yearly Meeting in Baltimore. According to Isaac's diaries, he attended these and Quarterly meetings frequently.

On September 7, 1862, his son Isaac wrote in his diary, "Between 2 & 3 thousand rebels encamped in father's woods The yard is filled with them." In a letter written on September 13, 1862, Rachel's niece, Mary Narcissa (Wavie) Steer, who was living with them, spoke of the Confederate soldiers camping on Joshua's farm. "...there was no time for thinking then, surrounded as we were by those detestable villans...They left here Fifth-day afternoon, and appeared to be a a good deal of a hurry..We heard there was a very large army coming up from below and one coming from the north...The whole force that was here left and went towards Liberty three miles and turned to the left...We did not have a bit of peace while they were here. They wanted every thing...They broke down peach trees, stripped one very full of nice peaches, pulled green grapes, turned their horses in the clover seed, burned as much of the cord wood as they wanted, besides stole Frank's horse, our best saddle and all the halters. The saddle we got again but the rest went with the rebels." In later years she told family members that the saddle was Joshua's, and when he found it missing, he marched over to the encampment and strode through it until he found the saddle, picked it up, and carried it back home; he was then 68 years old. "They bought a stack of hay from us and promised to pay good money but uncle got some of the confederate stuff." [I have wondered if the Confederate bills in my possession, which came from Isaac Russell's house in New Market, came from this entire event. JRJ] "One hundred thousand Federals marched through New Market yesterday They commenced coming before dinner and continued to come till eight P.M. The first I knew of their having come I saw one coming down to the house...He was one of the 100 that were down at the end of our lane on picket duty. They were relieved last night by 400. We could hear the army wagons on the pike till late last night. We saw 5 or 6 signal lights last night; we suppose on the Sugar Loaf...we have heard cannon all day in the direction of Frederick also heard the drum very plainly." [I believe that this episode occured during the run-up to the battle of Antietam at Sharpsburg, about 30 miles west of New Market, which took place on September 17, 1862. JRJ]

The 1870 Maryland census listed his profession as farmer and the value of his real estate as $12,530. There was one domestic servant, Fanny Dorsey, in the household, and his son Samuel, Samuel's wife Deborah (Debbie), and their two daughters, Ellen and Eliza, were also living there. The1880 census no longer listed him as head of household, Samuel being named that, and he was described as a retired farmer.

In his later years he became blind, and Isaac Willis Russell, his great-grandson, wrote on March 11, 1977, "I remember my father [Henry-JRJ] saying that his [Joshua's-JRJ] teeth were down to the gums from his tobacco chewing!"

Died December 31, 1888 on the farm north of New Market, Maryland. Buried in Bush Creek Friends Cemetery in Monrovia, Maryland, on January 3 or 5, 1889. From The News of Frederick, Maryland, January 2 (Wednesday),1890: "Mr. Joshua Russell whose serious illness has been mentioned in The News, died on Monday evening at five o'clock. He was the oldest and for many years one of the most prominent citizens of New Market. He had reached the age of 95 years and death came to him in the old homestead, where he resided with his son Samuel. The funeral will take place at one o'clock on Thursday. Interment will be made in the graveyard adjoining the Friends meeting House in Monrovia." In the Friends' Intelligencer and Journal of February 9, 1889, is the following (exactly as appearing on the Internet copy):
     "Russell.--On Twelfth Month 318t, at his residence near New Market, Frederick county, Maryland, Joshua Russell, in the WSth year of his age; a member of Pipe Creek Monthly and Bush Creek Preparative Meeting."
Also appearing in the same issue of this periodical (again, exactly as appearing on the Internet copy):
An exchange paper, (the Telephone, published at Hamilton, Loudoun co, V'a.), contains a sketch of the late Joshua Russell, whose death occurred on 12th mo. 31, 1SS8, and has been duly noticed. (He was the father of our friend Henry E. Uussell, of Woodbury.) The sketch in the Telephone says : Joshua Russell was born Eighth mo. 12th, 1794, in New Market, Maryland.
When he was eleven years old his parents moved to a farm, two miles north of that town, where he spent the remainder of his life. Six years after moving to the country, his father died, leaving ten children. His mother survived her husband forty-nine years, all of which were spent under the same roof with her eldest son, the subject of this sketch. From the seed sown in caring for his mother he reaped a rich harvest in the loving ministrations of his children and grandchildren. On Fourth mo. 21, 1824, he married Rachel Steer, of Waterford, Va. Five of their six children are married and, with one exception, live in their native State. One died at the age of six years. A Union man during our late war and living in a neighborhood where his views were extremely unpopular, he maintained his principles in a manner that won the respect of the opposing party.
As a member of the Society of Friends he was ever faithful in the performance of duties connected therewith. A close observer, he kept himself well-informed, until liis eyesight failed, upon the leading topics of the day. For more than a year before his death he was totally blind, which privation he patiently bore, until, as the old year was drawing to a close, his spirit took its flight from the time-worn tenement, that was no longer a tit abiding place for aught so pure.
On .5th day, 1.st mo, ;!d, ISSH, his remains, followed by all of his living children and grandchildren, together with many other relatives and friends, were borne to Bush Creek burying grounds, where they were laid to rest besides those of his wife, who had passed from works to reward more than sixteen years before. So has ended a well-spent life, embracing the greater part of a century. Few, indeed, are permitted to enjoy so long and so thoroughly, as his unusually bright mind enabled him to do, the blessings of this life. Although his eyes were closed a comparatively short time to the beauties of nature, it was, perliaps, that the spiritual eyes might see more clearly the beauties of His Kingdom. L."
From the The News of Frederick, Maryland, April 1, 1890: "The first and final account of Isaac S. Russell, administrator of Joshua Russell, deceased, settled and distribution made."

Some Biographical Information on Rachel Steer Russell
Contributed by Jane Russell Johnson

Born June 10, 1796, probably Waterford, Virginia.

Grew up in Waterford, Virginia.

Member of Society of Friends.

Married to Joshua Russell of Frederick County, Maryland, on April 21, 1824, at Fairfax Friends Meeting, Waterford, Virginia, and went to live on his farm north of New Market, Maryland, where she remained the rest of her life.

A letter to Isaac S. Russell, her second son, from his mother is below. The letter was folded to make its own envelope and addressed to Isaac S. Russell, Back Creek Valley, Frederick County, Virginia. The letter is copied exactly as written.

"Pleasant Hill [I believe this is his parent's farm - JRJ], 3rd moth 9th 1851

My Dear son
     I have defered writing for some time for the reason that I expected to go to Waterford and would write from there. When Father and Sister returned I thought as soon as I could after we returned from Warrington I would go as they were so very poorly at Uncle Jonah's [Jonah Steer, Rachel's brother, who lived in Waterford, Virginia - JRJ] and he was anxious for me to do so he told Father he would meet me at the Point [of Rocks? - JRJ] and take me back any time but we heard they were mending and I was not in such a hurry as I had been in, for I dont like to put any body to so much trouble as that would be when I can help it.
     Lizzy Elliott [possibly sister-in-law, sister of Joshua Russell and married to John Elliott - JRJ] got a letter from her Aunt Betsy [possibly wife of Abel Russell, Joshua's uncle - JRJ] yesterday she said if I would bee at Harpers ferry to day I could go to Uncle Jonas's in the Carriage* but that seemed to be a roundabout way to get to Waterford, and we recieved a letter too from Aunt Mary Esther [probably wife of Jonah Steer - JRJ] saying they had all got pretty well again but Uncle Jonah held himself in readyness to meet me at any time when I say so, but I shall put it off for a while at least. Sister and Samuel have gone to Woods [the name of a family - JRJ] they have a little company there today and Sam being the only escort she has taken him into company quite enough for his age. Father expects to start early tomorrow with potatoes to Fredericktown and on fourth day [Wednesday - JRJ] morning for Baltimore with corn & oats so the may imagine we who are left at home will bee very lonely without a male person about the house *Aunt Betsy expects to stay there to night and home tomorrow.
     We got a letter from Henry a few days since he was well and says his time will expire in two weeks from this time then I hope we will not bee so lonely as we have been. I feel sometimes as if I would like to have you all at home again, but perhaps that would not bee for the best for some of you, but when I think of the danger you are exposed too I can hardly reconcile it.
     I often picture thee my son in a very dangerous situation. I have heard of so many accidents happening with those saws that I am often very uneasy lest thee or some one else should become careless and some serious accident happen I doo hope thee may bee ever on thy guard and not only watch thyself but all who are about thee. Since I heard of the road that you are making over the mountain I have been uneasy for fear thee would engage in the work in some way and it appears to me that there will be a great deal of danger in it and I want thee to keep out of it and I want thee to say thee will and then I will be better satisfied for without a promise I can't bee
     Sister has just returned and says they had a nice time tho there company was not large it was pleasant a few Russells and Ogborns and Julia Bensil I believe was the company and all that fuss without Shep he has gone to Baltimore to attend their Quarterly Meeting and some other business-Sister says they got along better without him. she says Pemberton was quite sick to day. I dont know how they made out with so many horses in the mud but I reckon each one got his own horse that is the boys. Samuel says James Russell [possibly Joshua's 1st cousin - JRJ] and Thomas Norris put away 8 horses when they went home from Meeting they were the only beaux that went to dine. I dont know how they are to get along with two farms when they can hardly manage one. Some night last week Shep set fire to a sedge field which caused great alarm in the neighbourhood tis said the Fredc bells were ringing and the neighbours horns blew in consequence, we seen the fire but twas nearly over then.
     Second day [Monday - JRJ] morning Father started early this morning for Frederick and sister went with him as far as New Market to stay a day or two with Susan she expects to go to Baltimore again the last of this month, she is not well and I think if she stays in Balt much more she never will be but she professes to think it dont hurt her. Sister was going to make a vest that had been in the house for some time but she recollected that some one of you objected to roang(?) collars and thought perhaps twas thee. thee has two in the house to make and I want thee to write and say how thee wants them made. We are making thee some working shirts in case thee wants them. Somebody put 87½ cents into my hands the other day from Elias Mount I think it was, which I enclose.
     Sister had made up her mind to teach school this summer she went round last week to look up her scholars but did not succeed in getting a sufficient number to justify her spending her time, the Landon children are all going to Centril they have a teacher there now they appear to be pleased with, she is disappointed in not getting them she felt a greater certainty in getting them than any others except, Joel Halls they, are anxious for her to teach so are some others but her number would not exceed 13 and that will not doo.
     I believe our friends are generally well in this neighbourhood except Thomas Farquhar [possibly Thomas C. Farquhar, who died April 14, 1851. He was the brother of Joseph and John - JRJ] he is at Johns very poorly and not likely he will ever bee much better he was brought home from Baltimore where he has been for some time professing to be doing something and his wife at her fathers in Washington where some said he could not bee in safety I suppose has spent all his living. They sent for his wife to come and bring her 3 children which she did last last seventh day [Saturday - JRJ] and I suppose had no idea that he was so poorly and was much affected by it, A heavy handfull for poor Lizzy to have them all to wait on. Oh! How I feel for his poor mother this must bee the hardest case she has ever had of nursing the idea that this was brought about by intemperance must be too hard for her to bear
     [This paragraph follows the second paragraph; it is written at the bottom of the first page of the letter - JRJ] I have written this very queerly when I commenced I intended to cut this much off, but I went down to the bottom with the others. I feel a great concern for the in regard to how the spends thy birthdays as well as others and I doo sincerely hope the may try to spend thy time profitably let thy situation be what it may or where ever thy lot may be cast I want thee to write oftener than thee has heretofore done for we get very anxious sometimes about thee.
     With desires for thy presant as well as future happiness which a well spent life will secure I conclude and remain thy truly affectionate Mother

Rachel Russell"

From a letter from Mary Narcissa (Wavie) Steer, Rachel's niece, dated September 13, 1862, at the time Confederate soldiers were camping on Joshua's and Rachel's farm, probably on their way to the battle of Antietam, about 30 miles west of New Market: "We did not have a bit of peace while they were here. They wanted every thing. Second-day we washed, and every ten minutes, I believe, a fellow would come and ask for something. But we having given to them the day before all we had to spare, I sent them off. We gave two very decent looking fellows their breakfast that morning, and baked for them in the afternoon...All the time they were here they wanted washing done, baking done, wanted to buy milk, clabber, bread butter, honey, meal, molasses, wanted to go in the orchard and get fruit, and indeeed asked for every thing they could possibly think of...He [a Confederate soldier - JRJ] came back after he borrowed the skillit and told aunt he had broken the handle off of it."

Died December 17, 1872. Buried in Bush Creek Friends Cemetery.

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