The following background begins with Thomas Russell, "the elder",
and Jane McNelley who were my great great grandparents. The son of Thomas,
the elder, who was also named Thomas, married Ellen Hartley in 1867.
My knowledge of the Hartley family- the inlaws of Thomas- has been a relatively
recent discovery; therefore, this background concentrates primarily on
the Russell family.
|Fig. B-1. The Wrangholm Free Kirk, Holytown, Scotland. This church is about 2 blocks south of the former location of Napier's Square where my great grandfather, Thomas W. Russell, was born in 1847. The miner's cottages that once surrounded Napier's square have been demolished and replaced by a walk-thru park. In the cemetery surrounding this church, there are several monuments to Russell families though I have not made any connections to "our" Russell family as yet. Photo by web author, Bob Kramp, July 1996.|
|Fig. B-2. Bob Kramp, great great grandson of Thomas Russell, the elder, poses outside of a Bed and Breakfast, Holytown, Scotland, July, 1996. I spent the month re-traceing my ancestors' footsteps from the time they lived in Wingate parish, in the Easington District of Durham County, ENG, 1848-1881, to the time Thomas Russell and Jane began their family in Holytown, Bothwell parish, Lanarkshire, Scotland, in mid-1840's.|
According to her civil birth registration, Alma Emma, Thomas and Janeís eighth child, was born in August 1866, in Colliery Rows, Willington, in the sub-district of Saint Oswald. As yet, I have not been able to locate her baptismal record. About a year after Alma Emma was born, her older brother, Thomas W. Russell, married Ellen Hartley at St Stephenís Anglican Church in the parish of Willington. Thomas, the younger, was the first child of the family to marry.
Unfortunately, the matriarch of the first family, Jane McNelley, probably died while the family resided in the Willington area. Moreover, it was not long before Thomas married a second time to a Scottish-born woman who also was named Jane- Jane McCallum. I have not been able to find any records of death or burial for the first Jane, nor have I found a marriage record for the second Jane.
Realize, that in England, there are two major sources of primary records: church records which contain christenings, marriages and burials; and civil registrations by the government which record birth, marriages and deaths (beginning in 1837). The two types of records are similar, but not exactly the same when it comes to dates and ancillary information. Christenings usually occur and are often recorded soon after birth, but not necessarily. For instance, Thomas the younger was born in Scotland in Oct 1847, but he was not christened until almost a year later in Aug 1848 and then in a different country- England. Furthermore, baptismal records of the church, unlike those of civil registrations, seldom record the maiden surname of the mother. Data on marriages, of course, should match between the two types of records. And, the date of burial should be close to the date of death.
At first, the records were confusing regarding the wives of Thomas, the elder. Both of his wives were named Jane and both were born about the same time in Scotland. But, a look at civil registrations of birth for the children indicated that indeed there were two different maiden surnames for the mothers.
Civil registrations of birth for Robert, Jane, Janet, Sarah Rebecca, and Alma Emma state that their mother was Jane McNELLEY (or McNally), whereas the birth registration for the youngest child, James Frederick Russell, states that his mother was Jane McCALLUM. Thus, Thomas Russellís first wife must have died sometime after the eighth child was born but before the birth of the ninth child. That is to say, Thomas Russell lost his first wife and then remarried sometime between 1866 and 1869. It is not known whether or not Thomasí second wife had children by a previous marriage.
Since James Frederick Russell was born in Shotton Colliery, it is apparent
that by 1870, the Russell family had returned to the area of Wingate. During
the next decade, the extended Russell family which now included spouses
and children of the second generation resided in a triangular area formed
by the villages of Shotton Colliery, Thornley and Wingate (in the civil
district of Easington). Apparently new coal mines had opened or re-opened
and the village of Wheatley Hill near Wingate had greatly expanded. Several
second-generation Russell children were born at Wheatley Hill.
|Fig. B-3. View of The Cathedral as I stepped off the train at Durham station. I walked down the steep hill, crossed over the River Wear on the 11th century Framwellgate Bridge, crossed market square, and climbed Claypath Street to my lodgings. In the following days I researched the Durham Record Office (DRO), containing microfilms of parish records, hardbound indexes, and censuses. Civil Registrations, on the other hand, were not so easy to obtain, nor were they cheap.|
Often, coal miners and their families had to keep moving or risk severe deprivation if the mines were closed for long periods. Indeed, it might have been the austerity of their lives that drove our Russell family to abandon northern England and emigrate to America. Eventually, several of the second generation Russells, particularly the adult males, did leave Durham county; crossed the Atlantic; and settled in Clearfield County, in west central Pennsylvania. In their new home, they continued to mine coal, but some of the younger generation branched into other occupations: ministers, grocers, tradesmen, and car salesmen.
The progenitors of the Russell family did not make it to America. Thomas Russell, the elder, died of minerís asthma in late 1880 and was buried at Thornley. Nothing is known of Jane (McCallum) Russell after her enumeration in the village of Wingate in Spring, 1881. At that time, she was head of the household, widowed, aged 54, and living with John, Emma, James, and her daughter and son-in-law, Sarah (Russell) and Thomas Dawson. Sarah died in 1892, in Durham County, after bearing 7 children. Thomas Dawson then remarried and eventually brought his extended family to Pennsylvania in 1905.
A Change in Religious Persuasion
Another event in the life of the early Russell family is worthy of note. They shifted their religious persuasion- from the Church of England to Methodism. As already mentioned, the children of the first generation were christened at Holy Trinity which was in the diocese of the Church of England of Durham, also known as the Anglican Church. However, by the early 1870ís, the children of the second generation were being christened in chapels of the Primitive Methodist Circuit.
Realize that the Church of England was closely allied with Royalty and with the British government. Parliament must still be opened with a decree from the Archbishop of the Anglican Church. In northern England, in particular, the Anglican church was a very powerful political body. It was the church of the Establishment. Indeed, all religions outside of the Church of England- Methodists, Quakers, Catholics- are called nonconformist. The Methodist church became very popular among the poorer families of coal miners. Some of the terms used by the Methodist church are also used by the Minerís unions, such as chapel and warden.
One thing struck me as I toured the former lands of our ancestors in
the summer of 1996. In Wingate, I walked past the manse in which the ministers
of Holy Trinity had resided for decades. It was a mansion compared to the
living quarters of the miners. In fact, most of the squalid minersí houses
have been torn down and bulldozed. The simple minerís cottage can only
be seen in old photographs or in outdoor museums such as the one at Beamish
in Durham County. On the other hand, the Wingate Rectory still stands in
relative splendor. It was easy to understand why the miners, including
our Russells, might have sought out their own when it came time to worship.
|Fig. B-4. On a Sunday in July, 1996, I attended a service at St. Andrews, Methodist Church at Coxhoe- a church in the Thornley circuit. The minster, Reverend David Jackson, let me take a photo of this banner which hung in the church. The tapestry is reminiscent of the traditional banners carried by members of the unions during the Miner's Gala (Big Meetin' day) in Durham City in July. Each square, which was cross stitched with wool on canvas, represents individual societies within the Thornley Circuit. The central painting is Christ's resurrection and appearance to Mary, "I am come that they might have life".|
The crosses in each corner square represent the pectoral cross found in St Cuthbert's coffin and symbolize the long christian tradition in the area.
Then reading clockwise from top, left:
Kelloe St Paul's- a reading figure on red background is reminder of St Paul's letters.
Thornley- illuminated cross on blue.
Trimdon Grange- an old pit wheel in middle of village. Rose in center- chapel is on Rose St.
Trimdon Station- side view of new chapel.
Fishburn- Christian symbol of the fish in center.
Haswell- yellow colored, new chapel.
Wheatley Hill- hands in prayer.
Thornley circuit- crown of thorns.
West Cornforth- miner's lamp illuminates an open Bible.
Stationtown and Wingate- old railway station and level crossing gate and reaching hands symbolizing friendship between the two communities.
Coxhoe, St Andrews- St Andrews Cross with fishing boat on a stormy sea; St Andew was fisherman.
Cassop- chapel with a wedding party outside.
|Fig. B-5. This colliery wheel stands in a memorial park in Thornley, Durham County. A plaque at the base of the wheel is inscribed, "Colliery Sunk 1835; closed 1970. Time passes, memories linger for the people and parish of Thornley." The steeple of St Bartholomew Anglican Church is seen in the distance where Thomas Russell, the elder, was buried 6 Nov 1880, according to parish records. Photo by Bob Kramp, July, 1996.|