Ebenezer and Phebe Russell

Margaret’s father, Ebenezer, was not known to have used the Junior suffix. Likewise, his father, Ebenezer, was not known to use the Senior suffix. I will use them here to help differentiate the two.

In the Historical Atlas of Paulding County, Ohio, illustrated (Morrow, Bashore, 1892), Ebenezer Russell (Sr) is included in the biographical sketches. While his name is listed as the primary, the biography is actually about his son, Rufus Russell (1827-1900). Rufus was 65 and still living when this biography was penned, so it is assumed that he was the contributor. His biography gives us some dates and locations and a tiny insight into Ebenezer’s life who served as a Justice of the Peace in Paulding County, Ohio.

Ebenezer (Sr) married Phoebe (sic) Freeman in New York and was in Cattaraugus County, New York until 1833 when Rufus was born. In 1830, only one Ebenezer was found in Cattaraugus County, specifically in the township of Perrysburg. It is the only census year for this county that a man named Ebenezer is listed and supports Rufus’ biography. There are Russells in large numbers throughout New York, and five are named Ebenezer. But don’t worry, I looked at them all and can eliminate them on one or more points. The county lines of Cattaraugus have not changed since 1816, and if one were to look at a modern-day map, the boundaries today are the same as when the Russell family was there.

Ebenezer’s 1830 household consisted of one male aged 20-29 (as the head of the household, Ebenezer would be the only male of legal age), one female aged 80-89 (possibly his mother or mother-in-law), one female aged 20-29 (probably his wife, Phebe), one female aged 5-9 (unidentified), and two males under 5 (both Ebenezer Jr and Rufus would have been under 5 according to other evidence for their birth years).

The 1840 census also supports Rufus’ biography which states that Ebenezer Sr moved his family in 1833 to Medina County, Ohio. Ebenezer and his family are enumerated in Guilford Township, Medina County, and consisted of one male aged 50-59 (I think this is a clerical error as Ebenezer should be 30-39, one female aged 30-39 (probably his wife, Phoebe), two males – 10 thru 14 (Ebenezer Jr and Rufus), two females aged 5-9 (likely daughters Phoebe and Delila), and three females Under 5 (likely daughters, Mariah, Sophia and unidentified).

Continuing with Rufus’ biography, he had moved away to Michigan when he came of age, but in 1856 had reunited with his family who had since moved to Allen County, Ohio. And we find an Ebenezer who was paying taxes in Richland Township, Allen County, Ohio as early as 1845. The 1850 census has Ebenezer’s family residing in Jackson Township, Allen County, Ohio where the household is made up of Ebenezer Sr (age 53), Phebe (age 46), Rufus (23), Ebeneza (sic, Jr) (age 21), Phebe (junior, age 19), Delila (age 17), Sophia (age 15), Mariah (age 15), Edward (age 8), and Laura Jane (age 3). 

It seems Rufus may be off on his years since he is in his father’s household in Ohio in 1850 and not in Michigan until 1856 as he recollects. Though it is possible that he did not live EVERY year apart from his family. If he was anything like me, he could have returned to his family several times before getting a firm grasp on independence. And perhaps he didn’t consider himself “settled” in Allen County until his final return in 1856.

Ebenezer and his family make their final move a short distance from Jackson Township, Allen County, Ohio to Jackson Township, Paulding County, Ohio. Rufus states this occurred in 1859, and true to his story, Ebenezer Sr and his shrinking family are found in the 1860 census where Rufus told us to look. Ebenezer and Phebe are down to their youngest children, Edward T (19) and Lawrie (sic) (age 13).

Ebenezer purchased forty acres at the South West quarter of the North West quarter of Section four (4) Township Two (2) North of Range three (3) East. Phebe later refers to this as “the homestead” in her will.

Rufus places Ebenezer Sr’s death in 1865 but does not give us a month or day. Ebenezer Sr and Phebe made their wills on the same date, 28 September 1865. Ebenezer Sr’s will was very short and to the point. He left everything to Phebe, naming no other heir. I get the feeling his will was written in haste, most others being very verbose and directing, naming all heirs and leaving at least something to each.  

To my beloved wife Phebe Russell, I will and bequeath all my property both real, personal and missed, she t? disposs of it all or befor her death as she may see fit. In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this twenty eighth day of September in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-five (signed) Ebenezer Russell.

Probate Records of Paulding County transcription for the will of Ebenezer Russell (Sr)

I think Ebenezer must have been ill and was anticipating his death. It may also be he was with a fever and found it difficult to think of such things. Perhaps it was Phebe who, fearing he would not make it, had him make his will before it was too late. Perhaps she made her will at the same time so that she would have the same witnesses as moral insurance for her actions. Regardless of the why, with only three more months left after writing his will in 1865, we can narrow the month to sometime between October and December. Personally, I lean toward October given the high statistical pattern of death occurring within a month of making wills. Just a guess. And if you’re thinking…well, wouldn’t the date of probate help narrow down his date of death? I wish.

As mentioned, the witnesses were the same for both of their wills, and on 23 April 1868, the witnesses presented both wills to probate upon the death of Phebe in 1868. Phebe had delayed filing for probate when Ebenezer Sr died, being the only heir and apparently not having to deal with contested property rights from her adult children. It’s likely that the family had already agreed about what to do with the “homestead” when Ebenezer and Phebe made their wills and was helping Phebe and the younger children out after Ebenezer’s death.

Contrary to Ebenezer, Phebe named her two youngest children as her heirs but did not name the older children even though a number of them were still living.

Be it remembered that heretofore to-wit, On the twenty eighth day of September in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-five came the said Phebe Russell and filed in the office of the Probate Judge of said County of Paulding her certain envelope indorsed as follows to-wit: Last Will and Testement of Phebe Russell…I Phebe Russell, of the County of Paulding and State of Ohio being af sound mind and memory, do hereby make this my last Will and Testament revoking all others by me made intruding to dispose of my world goods as many seem to me but under the circumstances: To my beloved daughter Laura Jane, I give and bequeath one cow and five sheep and such other personal property as I may give her previous to my death. To my beloved son Edward T. Russell, I give and bequeath the remainder of said personal property of which I my dispose or used of, and in case of the death of Laura Jane before marriage said property heretofore willed shall fall to Edward T. – And to Edward T. Russell for his duty since his arrival to ?? age of majority, I hereby bequest to him and his heirs forever the South West quarter of the North West quarter of Section four (4) Township Two (2) North of Range three (3) East, containing forty acres more or less being the homestead. And provided however ?? bequests shall be null and void in case of my beloved husband surviving me in this life, and in such case he shall be heir to all I may possess at my death. In Testimony whereof I hereunto set my hand and seal this twenty eighth day of September in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-eight. Phebe Russell

Probate Records of Paulding County transcription for the will of Phebe Russell (Sr)

It is important to note that this is a transcription of the original by the probate clerk. The preceding text shows that the will was filed by Phebe at the courthouse in 1865 before the witnesses submitted the will for probate leading to the Probate clerk’s erroneous copying of the date of her signature. Ebenezer was already deceased in 1865 so she would not have left her estate to him in 1868. And, Ebenezer’s will is entered after Phebe’s, presumably being a part of the envelope that she filed at the courthouse in 1865. The context of Phebe’s will indicates that perhaps they thought there was a slight chance that Ebenezer would recover from whatever was going on when Phebe included the clause to void all language leaving property to Edward and Laura if Ebenezer were to outlive her.  

But who were Ebenezer and Phebe before Cattaraugus County, New York? Many public trees assign a man named William Russel and his wife, Submit Fosget, as the parents of Ebenezer Sr. In reviewing what records are easily available online, I can not find anything that disputes this – though I am also not finding anything that easily confirms this. The connection is made in this way…

– In 1840, a man named William Russell (aged 70-80) is the head of the household in Guilford Township, Medina County, Ohio. This is the same year that Ebenezer Sr is in Guilford Township, but they are enumerated several pages apart.

– In 1850, a man named William Russell (aged 80) lived in the household of a woman named Ophana or Orphans Powers and her child in Guilford Township, Medina County, Ohio. 

– A veteran of the War of 1812 named William Russell died and is buried in Seville, Medina County, Ohio. Seville is located in Guilford Township. William is reported to have been born in Connecticut.

– In The genealogy of the Cleveland and Cleaveland families, illustrated in three volumes, Volume I (Cleveland and Cleveland, 1899) a woman named Elizabeth Russell who married Ira Cleveland in Salem, Washington County, New York was recorded as the daughter of William Russell and Submit Fosget. Ira Cleveland died in Median County, Ohio. 

Their proximity in Guilford Township, Medina County, Ohio could suggest a relationship and I am hoping that one of these other researchers who’ve made this connection has access to something that I don’t. For now, I am accepting this relationship but am continuing to test the hypothesis.

Phebe’s origins are still a very murky, that curse of being a daughter of the 18th and 19th centuries.

Genealogical Summary for Ebenezer and Phebe:

Ebenezer Russell was born about 1796 in New York, possibly Salem, Washington County. His parents may have been William Russell and Submit Fosget.  

Phebe Freeman was born about 1804 in either Massachusetts or Vermont. She married Ebenezer (Sr) in New York around 1825 or 1826.

Ebenezer died between October and December of 1865 in Paulding County, Ohio. Phebe died on 13 February 1868 in Paulding County, Ohio. Both are apparently buried in Pleasant Grove Cemetery in Paulding County, Ohio.

Ebenezer and Phebe had the following children:

 1. Daughter Russell was born about 1825 in New York and died before 1840.
 2. Rufus Russell was born on 9 March 1827 in Cattaraugus County, New York, and died on 24 April 1900 in Paulding County, Ohio. He married Jane Charlton in Allen County, Ohio on 6 March 1851.
3. Ebenezer Russell was born about 1829 probably in Cattaraugus County, New York, and may have died before June 1867 in Paulding County, Ohio. He married Malinda Hand in Allen County, Ohio on 26 August 1851.
4. Phebe Russell was born about 1831, probably in Cattaraugus County, New York.
5. Delila Russell was born about 1833 in either Cattaraugus County, New York, or Medina County, Ohio.
6. Daughter Russell was born about 1835 in Ohio and died before 1850.
7. Mariah Russell (possibly a twin) was born about 1836 in Ohio and died on 27 November 1878 in Bath Township, Allen County, Ohio. She married (1) Nelson Hand in Allen County on 19 March 1853. Nelson was the brother of her sister-in-law, Malinda Hand. She married (2) Peter Kemler, her widowed brother-in-law, in Pauling County, Ohio on 23 April 1874.
8. Sophia Russell (possibly a twin) was born on 29 March 1836 in Ohio and died on 29 December 1872 in Paulding County, Ohio. She married Peter Kemler in Allen County, Ohio on April 1854. Peter Kemler may be a relative of Sophia’s niece’s husband (Ebenezer Jr’s daughter, Phebe, also married a Kemler/Kimler).
9. Edward T. Russell was born about 28 August 1841 in Medina County, Ohio, and died 29 June 1909 in Paulding County, Ohio. He married Rachel Clementine Louthan in Paulding County on 28 July 1862.
10. Laura Jane Russell was born on 24 January 1848 in Allen County, Ohio, and died on 27 August 1903 in Cedar Rapids, Linn County, Iowa. She married Levi Jefferson Ford in Paulding County, Ohio on 20 August 1866.


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