Russell Corners History

Russell Corners, in Carterville Township where the Cambria and Carterville roads meet, marks the homes built when Philip Russell and his four sons came to Eight Mile prairie in the winter of 1816 and 1817. Philip Russell (1765-1843) was a Virginia soldier in the Revolution and watched the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown. He settled in section 8, at the southwest of the corners.

Samuel T. Russell, the eldest son, lived on the west side of the prairie and was justice of the peace. Foreville church and school retain his nickname. James Stewart Russell (1801-1882) lived south of his father and was trustee of school lands and judge of general elections. The third son, William Washington Russell, also lived to the south. The youngest of the five who came in 1817 was Philip Jefferson Russell (1810-1877), who lived on the northwest corner and kept Fredonia post office. Jim and Jeff rode off to the Black Hawk war as soldiers in Captain Armstead Holman’s company. They returned to establish homes, and Jeff’s son in turn built on the northeast corner. This was John Randolph Russell (1848-1928).

When the stage roads were built, the daily hacks from Marion and Carbondale met at Russell corners. Postmaster Jeff Russell used to say he knew every man in Williamson County in those days before the Civil war. Lawyers and their clients, merchants and their customers broke their journeys by warming at Russell s stove in winter or drinking at Russell’s well in summer.

August 7, 1862 was a great day at Russell corners, for word went out that the enlistment officer would be there and a company raised. The land was heavily timbered, and neighbors arranged a barbecue in the grove where stump speeches were made for other campaigns.

Gabe Cox, a veteran of the Mexican war, played the fife and his two sons beat their drums. The men marched and drilled and a greater part of Company G, 81st Illinois infantry enlisted. One son, six grandsons, and the husbands of two granddaughters of Philip Russell enlisted that day. When the company organized at Anna later in the month, George W. Sisney was elected captain and William Washington Russell, first lieutenant. Company G saw Thompson’s Hill, Jackson, Vicksburg, Red River, and Spanish Fort and marched nine thousand miles before the remnant of its personnel came back to Russell corners.

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(Extracted from Pioneer Folks and Places, Barbara Barr Hubbs, 1939 which is on sale at the Williamson County Museum)