John R. Russell

Lt. Colonel

34th Texas Cavalry, CSA

By Christopher Taylor

755 Yell Rd.

Lewisburg, TN 37091

John R. Russell was one of seven children of James W. Russell and Nancy Johnson. John was born on 15 Oct 1822 in Orange County, North Carolina. When only a boy, his father relocated the family to Haywood County, Tennessee where John grew to an adult, farming, hunting, and going to school. School was never to his liking.

Having moved to Bowie County, Texas in 1842, he went to San Antonio, Bexar County, Texas at the outbreak of the Mexican War where he enlisted in Captain (later Colonel) Walter P. Lane's company of Major Mike Chevalier's battalion of Texas Rangers and served until the end of the war. In 1852, John Russell located himself in Bonham, Fannin County, Texas while associated with a dry goods business with his younger brother, D. C. Russell. Due to "economy, industry, study of his business, close association, honesty and straight forward dealing, without risking anything in speculation", he amassed a large fortune. In 1881, he was noted as having a dry goods business in Bonham, Fannin County, Texas that cost $10,000, sold $60,000 worth of goods annually, 150 acres in cultivation near Bonham, 3000 acres of unimproved land, stock in the Fannin and Hunt County (Texas) Banks, several lots and houses in Fannin County (Texas), and a ranch and 1400 head of cattle in Palo Pinto County, Texas. At the time, he was serving as President of the Fannin County Bank.

John R. Russell married his first wife, Cynthia Bradford, on August 9, 1854 in Fannin County, Texas. Cynthia was born in 1837 in Mississippi to James Fitch Bradford and Martha Davis. He was a native of Connecticut, she from Georgia. To this union was born one son, James Bradford Russell, on December 27, 1856 in Fannin County, Texas. Upon the death of Cynthia on November 20, 1861 in Bonham, Fannin County, Texas, Colonel Jack (as he was known) married her sister, Mrs. Margaret Bradford Tinder, in 1864. Two children were born to this union: John W. Russell in 1867 and Mary C. Russell in 1869. Both were born in Bonham, Texas. Cynthia was buried in Fairview Cemetery in western Fannin County, Texas. Her parents were both buried next to her in January of 1892.

In 1861, John. R. Russell entered the Confederate Army and was elected Captain of a company in Alexander's regiment, and afterwards Major, then Lieutenant Colonel. He served in this capacity until his resignation in 1863 due to lung hemorrhages and poor health. He served as Lieutenant Colonel of the 34th Texas Cavalry in Texas, Indian Territory, and Missouri, under Generals Cooper and Albert Pike.

Col. Russell was a devout missionary Baptist from boyhood, who had little to do with politics. It is noted that in presidential elections, he voted the Democratic ticket, but voted for the most suitable man in all other elections. He was also a member of the Masonic Lodge of Bonham, Texas.

John R. Russell died on 20 Aug 1881, of lung hemorrhages and pulmonary consumption. Upon his death, the local newspapers wrote: "It has been a long time, if ever, since the people of Fannin County (Texas) were called to perform the last sad rites, and to mourn the death of one whose demise has occasioned more sorrow, or one whose loss was so seriously felt, as that of Col. J. R. Russell, who departed this life at 2 o'clock Saturday from a lingering disease, pulmonary consumption. The funeral took place at 4 o'clock Sunday at his residence. Every vehicle in town was utilized on this occasion, and great numbers of people went out on horse-back and on foot. The number present was estimated at six to eight hundred. He was a truly Christian gentleman, who died as he had lived: with the respect, the esteem, and love of the entire community where the most of his manhood had been spent."

Col. John R. Russell was laid to rest in the Russell family plot of Willow Wild Cemetery in Bonham, Fannin County, Texas. The remains of his second wife, Margaret, rest beside him.


1. Life of Colonel John R. (Jack) Russell, Encyclopedia of the New West, published in Marshall Texas, 1881.

2. Marriage Certificate, Fannin County, Texas Court Records.

3. Obituary of John R. Russell, Bonham, Fannin County, Texas newspaper.

4. CSA Muster Rolls.

5. Letters of resignation from CSA penned by Col. John R. Russell.

6. General Society of Mayflower Descendants Records of Christopher Taylor, National #65,544, Tennessee State #320.

7. Sons of Confederate Veterans Records of Christopher Taylor, December 1, 1998, Camp #297, John Hardison Allen Camp, Lewisburg, Marshall County, Tennessee.

Originals or copies of the above in the files of Christopher Taylor, great-great-great-grandson, 755 Yell Rd., Lewisburg, Tennessee, 37091. January 7, 2000.

© Ron Brothers and Christopher Taylor, All Rights Reserved, 1999.

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