Transcribed from History of Labette County, Kansas and its Representative Citizens, ed. & comp. by Hon. Nelson Case. Pub. by Biographical Publishing Co., Chicago, Ill. 1901

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J. F. Russell

J. F. RUSSELL, a popular passenger engineer on the Junction City division of the Missouri, Kansas & Texas, Railway, with headquarters at Parsons, Kansas, is a veteran on that system, and has the distinction of being, in years of service, next to the oldest engineer now stationed in Parsons. In this respect David Dunham claims first honors.

Mr. Russell was born in Venango county, Pennsylvania, December 13, 1843. He is a son of R. S. and Sarah (Johnson) Russell, both of whom were natives of London, England. His father, who was a blacksmith, late in life went west to the home of J. F. Russell, in Parsons, where he spent his last days, and peacefully passed away in 1887, at the advanced age of seventy-six years. Mr. Russell's mother died at his home, January 7, 1887, when seventy-eight years of age. This aged couple reared five sons and one daughter. Those besides J. F. were: George, of Franklin, Pennsylvania; Robert H., a merchant of Hillyard, Washington; Mrs. Sophia McCune, of Pennsylvania, and M. M., of Pueblo, Collorado, both deceased; and Frank B., an engineer on the Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railway, at Parsons, Kansas.

Mr. Russell attended the common schools of Pennsylvania. His first manual labor was performed in the oil regions, where he assisted in drilling and working about oil wells. In 1867, he decided upon a railroad life, and immediately entered the service of the Atlantic & Great Western Railroad Company as a fireman on locomotives, at Meadville, Pennsylvania. He worked as a fireman until 1869, when he was promoted to be an engineer, and ran different engines on that system for two years.

In January, 1872, he came west to Labette county, Kansas, having but $20 with him upon his arrival at Parsons. On January 20th, of the same year, he entered the employ of the Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railway Company, whose interests are still identified with his own. After serving several years in the freight department, he was promoted to the passenger service in 1875, on the Cherokee Division, and is now a passenger engineer, pulling trains between Parsons and Junction City. He makes three trips one week, and two the following week, running opposite Engineers John Reilly and David Dunham. Mr. Dunham has served as engineer on the system ever since June 20, 1869.

Mr. Russell has been very successful, in his career, both financially and otherwise. He is quite an extensive property owner in Parsons. He erected the brick block on Johnson avenue, which is now occupied by the Flynn & Morris Clothing Company, and is one of the finest blocks in the city. He also, purchased a fine residence property at 2211 Washington avenue, where he still resides. He owns a similar house at the corner of Crawford avenue and Twenty-third street, which he leases.

Mr. Russell has been twice married. His first union was with Margaret Guisler, of Pennsylvania, who died February 1, 1875. An infant son, Alfred, followed her to the grave, six months later. They had previously lost their first two children, namely: Thomas, who died when eighteen months old; and Harriet, who lived but six months. All are buried at Parsons. The second marriage of our subject was contracted at Meadville, Pennsylvania, with Elizabeth Clemson. They have one child, Helen, born in August, 1891.

In political preferences, Mr. Russell is a Republican, and has frequently refused the requests of his friends to run for office, his time being fully occupied by his business. He is a valued member of Division No. 179, B. of L. E., of Parsons, and has served as its chief. He is also a member of the Masonic fraternity, which he joined in Pennsylvania. He is now a member of both the blue lodge and commandery, of Parsons. He belongs to the Ancient Order of United Workmen, Lodge No. 1, of Parsons. The family attend the M. E. church.

Although Mr. Russell has had a very successful and fortunate career, he has experienced a few frights and accidents. On one occasion he was held up at Leliaetta, Indian Territory, by the "Dalton gang," who "went through" the express car. He had a headend collision at Oswego, and was once slightly injured at Chetopa. Neither accident was attributable to him, and no one was killed. A portrait of Mr. Russell accompanies this sketch, being presented on a foregoing page.