Biography of James B. Russell
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James B. Russell. During his long and active career in Champaign James B. Russell made his impress on the financial life of the city and was a business man implicitly trusted, and the success he won in material affairs was only a part of the splendid record of his entire life as a man and citizen.
Mr. Russell was born in the city of Philadelphia in October, 1837. At the close of a long and active career he passed away at his home in Champaign, November 4, 1914, aged seventy-seven. His parents were Jonathan and Sarah (Burt) Russell, the former a native of Philadelphia and the latter of New Jersey.
The late Mr. Russell was educated in the grammar schools of Philadelphia until he was sixteen years of age and then for a time attended an academy in New Jersey. When about twenty-one years of age he married and soon afterward he and his young wife came West to Champaign County. He bought land at Tolono and was getting well started and had considerable business interests when the war broke out.
Early in the war Mr. Russell went back to visit friends and relatives in New Jersey. While there he witnessed many of his boyhood friends joining the army, and he. too, caught the infection and, placing patriotism above all business and personal considerations, he enlisted in Company D of the Twenty-fifth New Jersey Infantry. Mrs. Russell in the meantime had remained in Champaign County. With the assistance of her neighbors Mrs. Russell sold off much of the farm stock and implements and returned to Philadelphia and New Jersey, remaining until the close of the war.
Mr. Russell served in the army ten months, and came out with the rank of sergeant. He and his wife returned to Champaign, and for a time he acted as station agent for the Illinois Central Railway Company, and then entered the prominent old banking house which later became known as Burnham, Trevett & Mattis. Mr. Russell was cashier for that bank a period of thirty years. Failing health compelled him to resign, and he lived retired for some time before his death.
He was a loyal and active Republican, and was called upon to serve in the office of city treasurer. He was also keenly interested in the welfare of his old comrades of the war and at one time served as commander of the Grand Army post. He and his wife were members of the Presbyterian Church.
Mr. Russell married Harriett Potter Holmes, a native of New Jersey, and daughter of John and Mary (Clark) Holmes. Both her parents died in Bridgeton, New Jersey. Her father was a prominent miller and owned a large mill in the town where Mrs. Russell spent her girlhood. Mr. and Mrs. Russell became the parents of three children: Mary, who died March 6, 1867; Jessie, who became the wife of Bert Spalding of Champaign, and she died September 27, 1904, leaving one son, Russell; and Winfred, born September 18, 1873, and died May 10, 1891.