genealogy trails

Christian County Illinois

Named after Christian County in Kentucky through the influence of emigrants from that county.

Established February 15, 1839 as Dane County (Laws, 1839, p. 104). Name changed to Christian County in 1840.

Portrait and biographical record of Christian County, Illinois : containing biographical sketches of prominent and   representative citizens, together with biographies of all the Governors of the state, and of the Presidents of the United States.  Chicago, Ill. : Lake City Pub. Co., 1893.  Transcribed and annotated by Judy Rosella Edwards, 2007.
THOMAS OLIVER RUSSELL, proprietor of the City Mills of Pana  with which he has been connected since 1879, is a native of the Pine Tree State, his birth having occurred in Somerset County, on the 22d of July, 1835.

No event of special importance occurred during his youth, which was quietly passed upon his father's farm. When a young man of twenty-two years, he left the State of his nativity, and in 1857 emigrated Westward to Illinois, locating in Pulaski County, in the southern part of the State. He had been reared in a lumber region, and became familiar with the workings of a sawmill. After his arrival in this State, he secured employment in a sawmill, and to that work devoted his energies for two years.

On the expiration of that period, Mr. Russell returned to Maine and was married. On the 4th of January, 1860, he wedded Miss Adeline French, a friend of his youth, who has since been his faithful companion and helpmate, sharing with him the joys and sorrows of life, its adversity and prosperity.

They had no children of their own, but have reared an adopted daughter, Lulu, who is now a young lady of twenty-one. She has lived with them since her third year.

Mr. and Mrs. Russell began their domestic life upon a farm in Somerset County, Me., and he continued its cultivation with good success until 1869, when he again sought a home in the West, locating in Pana.

During the succeeding ten years of his life he was engaged at work in a sash, door and blind factory. He then invested about $2,000 in the City Mills, and in 1879 became proprietor of the same as a partner of Adam Miller. The plant at that time was worth about $15,000. In 1886, Mr. Russell became sole proprietor.

He has since remodeled and repaired the mill, fitting it out with complete roller-process machinery, and it now has a daily capacity of one hundred and twenty-five barrels of flour.

The favorite brands which he manufactures are Golden Sheaf, Favorite and Gold Band. He does a merchant and general exchange business, and is now enjoying a liberal patronage, which has constantly increased from the beginning. He also deals in all kinds of grain grown in this part of the State, as well as hay, and ships to the principal markets of the country. Mr. Russell has been very successful in his undertakings, and nearly all of his property has been acquired during his residence in Pana.

Our subject is a stalwart supporter of the Republican party, but has never been an office-seeker, although for five years he served as a member of the School Board.

He takes considerable interest in civic societies, is a Royal Arch Mason, an Odd Fellow and a member of the Knights of Pythias. He also belongs to the Encampment, and has attended the Grand Lodge of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. In manner Mr. Russell is cordial and pleasant, and has those sterling qualities of character which win confidence and respect for the possessor wherever he goes.


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