The fact that virtually no early editions of Russell newspapers survive is a frustration for anyone interested in community history --- there were too many changes in name, changes in ownership and fires for bound volumes to accumulate.
Fortunately, Russell news was a regular feature in the Chariton newspapers, although coverage waxed and waned depending upon the enthusiasm of Russell correspondents. So we do have some idea of what was going on during some of those early years.
Here's a sample --- brief news items published in a Chariton Patriot column under the headline "Russell Racket" on Feb. 2, 1877. Russell was just 10 years old at the time.
The mine referred to in the opening paragraph was known later as Zero. Note especially the number of businesses given in the next to the last paragraph.
George A. Kackley, whose death was mentioned in the second paragraph, is buried in the Salem Cemetery, west of town. Russell would not have a cemetery until the year after this edition of "The Racket" was published.
And the Gasper Hill whose marriage was reported here was a distant relation of mine so I can assure that his name really was Gasper (after a mutual ancestor) and not Jasper.
The Coal Company four miles east of town is down 228 feet, the last 70 feet being through solid rock.
George A. Kackley, who was here from Ohio visiting, died on Monday of last week at the house of his niece, Mrs. G.H. Berry. His age was 66 years and his disease lung fever.
The principal improvements last year were: H.W. Elliott, two story brick block, $4,000; J.H. Cook, dwelling, $1,100; Mrs. Van Dyke, dwelling, $800; Jerry Caddigan, dwelling, $500; Matthew Hixon, dwelling, $600; S. Wagoner, dwelling, $500; Geo. Barney, house, $200; H.W. Elliott, barn, $200; M.L. Plotts, addition to house, $200.
Dr. Sprague took the body of Wilson Myers to Illinois for burial. The doctor thinks that Myers died of strangulation resulting from his throat being closed by erysipelas swelling. The case is regarded as a very singular one.
Boggs & Plotts are buying and shipping lots of corn.
The school under the management of Mr. J.M. Hanlin and Miss Jennie Lane, is giving general satisfaction. The enrollment is 102, but the average attendance during the last month has been about 80.
Some talk of getting a fire engine. The portable chemical extinguisher seems to be the favorite.
Becker, of Chariton, comes down every Thursday and opens a barber shop in the office of the Wilson House.
A.M. Vance is selling the Davis sewing machine.
Morgan is doing considerable custom work at his mill, principally with corn.
Rev. Osmond continues his protracted services at the Presbyterian church. Rev. Mr. Batcholder, of Albia, assisted him last week.
There is a good opening here for a shoemaker.
Squire Vangilder has a full docket, principally suits on accounts.
G.C. Boggs has a pen holder that was made in Sweden. It is quite a novelty.
Some burglar effected an entrance into B.F. Fuller & Co.'s store one night last week, but was frightened off without getting anything.
Jonathan Aldrich, living several miles southeast of town, died Sunday last of lung fever. (Jonathan was buried in the Greenville Pioneer Cemetery, but his remains later were moved to the Russell Cemetery.)
Harvey Elliott is able to be around, but is not strong enough to take a place in the store, but customers find Messrs. Ranslow, Goodwin and Kennedy ready to wait upon them.
J.H. Cook expects soon to put up an office and enter largely into the grain trade.
Russell can boast of one of the best brass bands in this section, and if it continues under the efficient leadership of Squires it will soon rank with the leading bands of the State.
Drs Sprague and Palmer report considerable sickness, principally lung and throat complaints, but nothing very serious.
Squire Vangilder married Gasper Hill to Miss Lucy A. Rouse on Jan. 23d, and the happy couple went at once to Woodman and bought furniture, stoves, etc., and commenced housekeeping.
The business of the town is summed up as follows: 5 dry goods and grocery stores, 2 drug stores, 1 hardware and furniture store, 2 churches, 3 blacksmith shops, 2 meat markets, 1 millinery store, 1 harness shop, 2 hotels, 1 flouring mill, 2 doctors, 1 lumber yard and agricultural implement house and 1 seemingly necessary evil known as a saloon.
A two year old child of R. Tabor, east of town, died on Monday, Feb. 5. (Richard N. Taber's remains, too, were moved eventually from elsewhere to the Russell Cemetery.)