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William R. Russell, one of the earliest settlers of Riverside and for many years a leading horticulturist of the colony, is a native of Holt County, Missouri, born in 1840, son of John and Margaret (Oiler) Russell, the former a descendant of a prominent Southern family and a native of Kentucky, who early in life settled in Ohio and was there married, his wife being a native of Virginia. In 1840 he moved to Missouri and settled in the county where the subject of this sketch was born. When William was fourteen years of age, his father crossed the plains for California, locating in Solano County, where he engaged in stock farming and the dairy business. Henry, a brother of William, had preceded the family to this State in 1846; he came as a member of Fremont’s command and participated in the Mexican War; he died in Solano County in 1862. Mr. Russell was raised as a farmer and stock-grower, being associated with his father in that enterprise until 1869, when he returned east and for the next five years was engaged in various occupations in the Western states. Returning to California he sought a desirable place to locate; and in 1875 he came to Riverside, purchasing upon his arrival a ten-acre tract in Brockton square, and entered into horticultural pursuits. He fully improved that place and sold it for a good price in 1881. He then bought twenty acres on Arlington avenue, three miles south of Riverside, where he established one of the finest orange groves and vineyards in the colony, built a fine residence, etc. He sold that place in 1889 to J. H. Dole and established his residence in the city.
His long residence in Riverside and connections with her industries has made him well and favorably known. Politically he has always been a stanch Republican and a strong supporter of the Union during the days of the civil war. He is a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and affiliates with the Riverside lodge. He was married in 1881 to Miss Maggie Hays, a native of Indiana. Their children are: Nellie N., Ralph R. and Killie, all natives of Riverside.