Sarah Russell and her family

This page isn't complete yet. Work is in progress on incorporating numerous messages from our Perry cousins into its data.

Sarah Russell was Moses Perry's wife, and my great-great-grandmother. We've pieced together this tentative outline of her family, based on the messages below from:

Glenn Atwell has also gathered information on these Russells, including William and Thomas' military service, which he plans to publish.

Sarah's father was William Russell. Birth and death dates unknown. May have arrived from Ireland in 1774. Wife's name may have been Jane Black, but no evidence has been found for this guess. William's known children:

The following was taken from an e-mail from Nancy Scott to Fran Reed which lays out a great deal of evidence and raises some questions:

01 Jan 2002

William RUSSELL born Ireland, arrived Philadelphia Nov. 1774, served in the PA Militia, Chester County, Revolutionary War. (cf. Thomas Russell's Application Papers, National Archives R9108).

1790 US census PA Northumberland Co. 1 m 16+, 1 m under 16, 5 f 16+.


I have this information on possible birth places for Sarah:

  1. LDS desc:
    WmR VNC6-68: Sarah b 1777 Northumberland Co. PA.
  2. 1768 NY from Virgil Perry (Mildred's work).
  3. 1902 Centennial History of Champaign County OH: born in Ireland, came as child to PA [If this is so, the birth date would be before 1774.]
  4. 1880 Venango Co. PA census says that David's mother [Sarah] was born in NY and his father [Moses] in Ireland. I have not been able to reconcile this in my mind. If she was born in US, why not in Philadelphia or Chester County where they lived? Did they move to NY for a while before going to Northumberland Co. William Sr. & Thomas [her father & brother] were in the Revolutionary War from Chester County, PA.

Fran, you show a Moses Perry born 1774 in Scotland. I have been hoping that we would find Moses on the same ship with the Russells from Ireland.... If so, he would have been an infant or born on the ship!

Can't be sure of Scotland or Ireland for Moses' family. They were Scotch-Irish from the evidence of the churches they participated in founding. Scotch-Irish were Scottish people who had settled in Ireland before coming to America.


The William Russell family immigrated to Philadelphia in Nov. <1773>. They settled in Chester County, PA.

Margaret (Russell) Atwell's birthplace is shown in the 1850 census as Maryland. The family land was in a kink in the Mason-Dixon line. When it was straightened out later, it was now in Maryland. While they lived there, it was in PA.

While living there during the Revolutionary War, William served in the militia. He very likely was in the battle of Brandywine, in the northern part of the same county, in which case he would have been defending his own area. (The records of the militia for the dates of the battle of Brandywine have not survived, but for the dates before and after that, he is listed in the militia.) When he was considered too old to fight, his son Thomas took his place.

After the Revolution, the family settled briefly in mid-state Pennsylvania. (Glenn Atwell has found several land transactions.) The land applications were taken out in the names of William and his children. His wife is not named in them. These are in the vicinity of Williamsport, the birthplace of the first son of Moses Perry.

By 1799 the William Russell family had arrived in Venango County, PA. It appears that his land was adjacent to that of Moses Perry and Robert Atwell, his sons-in-law. He sold out to Moses Perry and his brother about 1818.

(This information gleaned by Glenn Atwell from the Pension Application of Thomas Russell and from land & census records.)

Thank you, Nancy, for sharing this with us! In another e-mail regarding Sarah Russell, Nancy says:

I have documented her existence by looking at the sale of land by Moses PERRY, signed also by wife Sarah.

Mary Pierotti supplied the following additional information:

09 Jan 2002

In a message board [post] from Glenn Atwell (20 May 1999) on RootWeb he says:

Moses Perry married Sarah Russell, daughter of William Russell. Her sister, Margaret "Peggy", married Robert Atwell, and is my gt-gt-gt-grandmother. Atwell sold his place in Scrubgrass Twp. to Moses Perry and his brother about 1816 (I can check the deed if it would help.)

The families maintained connections after Atwell moved to Marion Twp., Butler Co. One of the Atwells' grandsons was named Perry Stewart Atwell, the Stewart coming from the married name of another Russell sister who married Andrew Stewart.


Oh, what a tangled web this family weaves. Would first cousins really have wed? What do you know about this relationship?

From my research into other lines, I've seen that it was quite common for cousins to marry, especially in small, isolated frontier communities such as existed in western Pennsylvania 200 years ago. In an e-mail to Nancy Scott, Glenn further comments:

10 Jan 2002

Yes, Mary wife of Andrew Stewart (sometimes Steuart) was another daughter of William Russell. I have never been able to confirm that William's wife was named Jane Black and really don't know where that came from. (I'd be interested in the source.)1 I'm also not sure about the marriage between Perry and Stewart; as said, that would have been between first cousins!

Mary added the following information on the Russells:

22 Jan 2002

The Russells. From the History of Butler County 1895, Cherry Township:

The RUSSELL family, who settled in Scrubgrass township, Venango county, in 1798, contributed five sons to the settlement of Cherry. Samuel, the eldest, died in 1870, aged ninetyfour years. They were not here when Butler county was organized, but came into the STEWART neighborhood shortly afterwards.

Nancy Scott transcribed the following information which Dr. Max Burr sent us:


Andrew Stewart, Sr. of Chester co. & wife Nancy

Will of Andrew Stewart, Cherry Twp., Butler Co. PA.

Will Book C page 161, filed Feb. 17, 1851, Reg & Rec. - James McJunkin.

"In the name of God. Amen."

I, Andrew Stewart of Cherry Twp., Butler Co., PA.......after being buried according to the Rites of Secession Church, do .....

  1. to my daughter, Margaret Phipps, one cow worth $12.00.
  2. to my daughtger Ellen Pollock, $40.00 in good trade.
  3. to my daughter, Sarah Hindman, one horse, saddle, and bridle, which she rcd. at her marriage.
  4. to my oldest son, James, $100.00 in trade.
  5. to my son, William, a lot of meadow ground bounded on the west by lands of James Campbell, and north by lot of said William, purchased of Gilbert Christy; east & south by lane between William & father's land.
  6. to Andrew - a Bible worth $2.00.
  7. to Charles, 3 acres of ground adjoining the east end of his farm.
  8. to David, balance of farm on which I now reside, 230 acres, bounded south by lands of William Andrew Porter, east by William Porter and Marvin Christy; north by Robert Christy; west by lane between farm and lot before described willed to son William, with all and singular buildings erected thereon, with wterways, also household furniture and kitchen furniture; said David to maintain and support my beloved wife, Mary.

The above children to receive their inheritance when offered or forfeit all claim.

I do appoint my son, David, as executor of my estate.

Attested by George Christy and Thomas Christy, Apr. 12, 1845.

Codicil 1848 wife, Mary, to have the use of and disposal of the following:

- 2 bedsteads and all bed clothes owned by me; also all bedding, our beaureu (sic), one leaf table; 2 cows, all plates, cups and saucers belonging to the kitchen and kitchen cupboard with necessary pots and pans; wool of 10 sheep if she needs it.


[N.B. This copy has omitted a large paragraph about the military history of a William Russell, who appears not to have been the father of our Mary Russell Stewart. This mistaken identity has been mentioned by Alice Morrison, and has also been verified by Glenn Atwell.]

Andrew Stewart and William Russell lived in Sadsbury Twp., Chester Co. PA.

He was a farmer, Andrew, Sr., and William Russell were neighbors.

In the 1790 census of Sadsbury, Andrew Stewart, 1 male above 16, 4 below 16, and 2 females.

The 1800 census showed no William Russell, but an Andrew Stewart with 2 males 16-26, and 1 over 45. This could be an error as one should be over 45, because the 1810 census showed no Andrew but a James and an Ann which could have been the widow Nancy Ann.

Andrew Stewart's will is in Chester Co. Will Book, page 62, made out Dec. 25, 1804 and proved Jan. 26, 1805.

The Will - To his wife Nancy, the tennant house with the improvements on the south side of the farm where I now live and the land about the house, the field, firewood, one bed and furniture, one cow, household furniture and table, plus 25 pounds; to son, Andrew [Jr.], 30 pounds with which he is to pay his brother James, the money he borrowed from him and five shillings over and above the 30 pounds as his part of the estate; to son, James, $45 also 10 pounds as his legacy; son Elijah, $20. daughter, Mary, wife of James Irvin, sum of five pounds; to daughter

Margaret, five pounds; to daughters, Sarah and Jenny, 15 pounds each; to daughters, Nancy, Hannah, and Fanny, 15 pounds each; to pay for these legacies sell 50 acres of land on the west side of where I now live within two years; to son, Enoch, the remainder - 132 acres, wagon, four horses and all implements; sons James and Enoch, executives.

Andrew Stewart, Jr., wife Mary and father-in-law, William Russell went to Northumberland Co., PA and from there to Cherry Twp., Butler Co. PA in 1798. [Here follows the omitted section about service in the Revolutionary War.]

William Russell had the following children:

May have been other children.

Alice Morrison writes:

"The William Russel who was Mary Stewart's father left very little record behind. He appears in the 1800 census in Irwin Twp., Venango Co. (which then included the area now Scrubgrass Twp.) as being between the ages of 26 and 45 with a wife the same age and 3 sons under 10, 2 sons between 10 and 16 and 1 daughter between 10 and 16. In 1810 he appears on a Scrubgrass Twp. assessment list with the following children of school age: Matty, John and William. No estate is filed for him in Venango County."

[The above Stewart Outline & copy of the will, as well as the extract from the Stewart History, were sent to Max E. Burr, M.D. Columbus, GA in 1982 by Alice E. Morrison, Titusville, PA. She says they came from Donald Stewart, Butler, PA in 1968.

Typed and forwarded to Perry genealogical cousins by Nancy Scott (Mrs. Walter C. Scott), on 19 Jan 2002.]

Several years after posting the exchange of e-mails above, I received the following from Ken Atwell:

4 Oct 2007

Hi Chuck,

Great web site, it has helped me a lot with my Perry/Russell ancestors... I think I know where "Jane Black" comes from. There was a Jane Black who married a William Russell from the Revolutionary War, but not *OUR* William Russell. Here is a bio for this other William that I'm writing and will soon post to my tree at The family tree that I started with, of mixed/partially unknown origins, incorrectly it seems, mixed the bios of the two William Russells.
William, a stout man of dark complexion, was born in Ireland and worked as a carpenter in Pennsylvania and enrolled in the PA militia, William Thompson's First Rifle Company (Michael Doudle's company), shortly after the Revolutionary War began in 1775. On April 21, 1777, he was commissioned and served as Ensign in the 3rd PA. At the battle of Brandywine in September 17, 1777, William lost his right leg below the knee from enemy cannonball fire and was in a hospital for a period of time. William is listed on the muster roll of the famed Valley Forge winter encampment (1777-8), but it is possible he may not have been with his unit due to his injury. William was overlooked for a promotion to Lieutenant during this time, and multiple letters were written in early 1778 (one by William himself), speaking toward his good character, asking for a promotion despite the injury (these pleas seems to have fallen on deaf years, as he never was promoted beyond Ensign).

He was ultimately transferred to the Invalid Corps, but seemingly never made it to that group due to his continued hospital stay and eventual end of the war. He would draw a pension of $120 per annum because of his war wounds.

After the war, William worked as a tailor and was living in Adams County as of 1800, moving to Washington County (4-5 miles northwest of Washington) shortly after 1800.

William married Jane Black, "a young woman" in York (now Adams) County in Jane's brother's residence "some years after his return from the service," about 1785...


William Russell Pension File, R9103
Pennsylvania Archives: S1 V6 pgs. 214, 286;
S2 V10 pgs. 23, 42, 458;
S2 V13 pg. 198;
S2 V15 pg. 431;
Colonial Series V7 pgs. 107-8, 609

Ken is descended from William Russell via two lines:

A name like William Russell is common enough that there could have been several men living in Pennsylvania at about the same time who could be confused with one another. I believe Ken has demonstrated, in further analysis which appears on his web site, that our ancestor was pretty definitely not the William Russell who was wounded at Brandywine. Let's hope that we can learn more about "the real William Russell"; I'll be glad to include his story in this Family Album and give full credit to the researchers who come up with it.

1 This is the only mention I've seen of William Russell's wife's name. Nancy says that she found the name in LDS records which were submitted in the 1970s. She has been unable to contact the person who submitted the information. Glenn Atwell and Ken Atwell also believe the name to be incorrect.
This page was last updated 19 Oct 2007.