Jane Russell



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Jane Russell (1818-1900)

Jane Russell was born on 27 Jun 1818 in Frankfort, Herkimer, New York, as the fourth child of Elisha Samuel Russell and Lucy Campbell. She had five siblings, namely: George Morris, Polly, William E., Joshua, and Charles Edward. * Her mother died when she was quite young and her dad remarried twice. His first remarriage was to a woman named Candace, with whom he had sons, James, Myron E., and Hiram Wesley. Candace died in 1851 and in about 1855, he remarried again to a woman named Ruth.

When she was 16, Jane married Austin Palmer, son of John Palmer, on 01 Jan 1835 in Frankfort, Herkimer, New York.

Austin Palmer and Jane Russell had the following children:

  1. Elvira Mary Palmer was born on 06 Aug 1837 in New York. She married Peter Morris Cornell on 06 Aug 1852 in Napoleon, Jackson, Michigan. She died on 05 Feb 1855 in Washtenaw, Michigan, at the age of 17. After her death, her widower left their daughter, Jane Elizabeth Cornell, with her grandmother Jane Russell Palmer when he went off to make his fortune in California.
  2. John Austin Palmer was born on 12 May 1840 in Rome, Oneida, New York. He married Sarah Jane Townsend on 28 Feb 1866 in Chelsea, Washtenaw, Michigan. He married Carrie Louisa Mohrlock on 08 Feb 1893 in Chelsea, Washtenaw, Michigan. He died on 22 Jan 1908 in Chelsea, Washtenaw, Michigan, at age 67.
  3. Sarah Louise Palmer was born on 12 Aug 1842 in New York. She died on 09 Jun 1863 in Chelsea, Washtenaw, Michigan, at age 20.
  4. Henry Clay Palmer was born on 09 Jul 1844 in Ann Arbor, Washtenaw, Michigan. He married Ellen DePuy on 08 May 1867 in Battle Creek, Calhoun, Michigan. He died on 05 Sep 1890 in Grass Lake, Jackson, Michigan, at age 46.
  5. Mark Palmer was born on 22 Jun 1846 in Ann Arbor, Washtenaw, Michigan. He married Janette Ruel on 05 Dec 1870 in Chelsea, Washtenaw, Michigan. He died on 22 Jan 1903 in Waukesha, Waukesha, Wisconsin, at age 56
  6. Russell Collins Palmer was born on 26 Sep 1847 in Brooklyn, Jackson, Michigan. He married Lucie A. Russell on 02 Oct 1875 in Warren, Lake, Illinois. He died on 10 Jul 1918 in Waukesha, Waukesha, Wisconsin, at age 70.
1850 Federal Census, Austin and Jane Palmer.

Jane was widowed when Austin Palmer died on 05 Feb 1852. She was only 34-years old at the time. She was left with six children to raise. The oldest was child was 14-years old and the youngest was only four. She supported her family by weaving fine dress goods on a large loom which stood in her sitting room.

A little over a year after her husband’s death, Jane’s oldest daughter, Elvira, married on her 15th birthday and then had a daughter of her own a year after that. Sadly, Elvira died a year and a half later. Then, Elvira’s husband, Peter Morris Cornell, headed west for the Gold Rush and left his young daughter, Jane Elizabeth Cornell, in the care of Grandma Jane. So besides, her own children, Jane had a granddaughter to raise.

A census record indicates that Jane remarried when she was about 39-years old. No marriage record has been found and we don’t know the name of her husband. The only evidence is the 1860 census record that shows her last name as Ayres (or Byres) and shows that she had a son named Frank Ayres (or Byres). If there really was a marriage, it must have been short-lived because she went back to using the Palmer surname.

1860 Federal Census, Jane Russell Palmer Ayres (or Byres), excerpt.
1860 Federal Census, Jane Russell Palmer Ayres (or Byres).

If the census is correct then Ayres and Jane Russell had the following child:

  1. Frank Ayres was born in 1859. He died about 1865, at age 6.

The 1860s may have been lonely for Jane. Her daughter Sarah Louise Palmer died in 1863. Her granddaughter, Jane Cornell, went west to reunite with her father in California. And all of her sons went off to fight in the Civil War for Michigan companies. John Austin was in a Calvary unit and saw action at the first battle of Bull Run, in Nashville, at Chickamauga, and at Look Out Mountain. Mark Palmer was in a Light Artillery Battery and Russell Collins was in an Infantry unit. Henry Clay was in an Infantry unit as well. He was wounded in the battle of Gaines Hill, Virginia, in 1862, and at Gettysburg in 1863. His left arm was amputated at the shoulder because of the first wound

She had brothers that served too. Charles Edward Russell served in Company G 184th NY Volunteers. Half-brother James Russell served with Company H 1st Wisconsin Calvary. Half-brother Myron E. Russell died during the war at Key West, Florida. He was with Company K 110th New York Volunteers when he died of yellow fever. Half-brother Hirem Wesley Russell was wounded at Shiloh. He was with the 56th Illinois Volunteer Company A and 1st Illinois Light Artillery Company I.

Chelsea, Michigan

Jane Russell lived in most of her widowhood in Chelsea, Washtenaw, Michigan. She was found there in the 1870 and 1880 Federal Census records and in city directories through the 1890s. She lived in Chelsea with her oldest son, John Austin Palmer. In 1870, the youngest son, Russell Collins Palmer, lived with her too.

1894 City Directory, Chelsea, Washtenaw, Michigan, Palmer

But by 1899, according to a city directory, she was living with her youngest son, Russell Collins Palmer, at 113 James, Waukesha, Waukesha, Wisconsin. Her son Mark lived nearby.

1899 City Directory, Waukesha, Waukesha, Wisconsin, Palmer.

Jane Russell Palmer died on 01 Mar 1900 in Aurora, Kane, Illinois, at the age of 81. She died in the home of her granddaughter Jane Cornell Miller. She was buried at Oak Grove Cemetery, Chelsea, Washtenaw, Michigan.

Obituary of Jane (Russell) Palmer, 8 March 1900 (Chelsea Standard).

Whenever I think of this family, I smile thinking about a lady, also named Jane Palmer, who was so helpful way back when I was just beginning to get serious with genealogy. I found her name attached to notes in the cemetery records where the Palmers were buried. The address she left with the cemetery was in Minnesota. I wrote to her there. A few weeks later I got a letter from Arkansas, “Dear Denise, Your letter found me. The people who bought our house in MN nine years ago, remembered our address. That is luck, and you also have found a lengthy genealogy that goes to Charlemagne over 40 different lines, to a number of the Magna Charter Sureties, Barons of England who forced King John to make that first step in securing Constitutional government, Lady Godiva, who rode through Coventry naked in order to save people from starvation, to name a few... Jane Sandefur” I’ve always been so thankful to the people who bought her Minnesota house and so very appreciative of all that Jane shared with me. I am extremely saddened to learn, through my work on this post, that Jane Alice (Palmer) Sandefur has passed away. She died on 18 May 2017, at the age of 92.

– Denise

Where is she in the tree?

Relationship chart, Leona Catherine Miller to Jane Russell.
Pedigree chart, for Jane Russell.

Sources and Notes:

*There may have been another brother named Jonathan. Some researchers have him in another family, but he is found in a New York State Census record listed as a brother to Jane’s brother Joshua.

“Mrs. Jane Palmer,” Chelsea Standard (Chelsea, Michigan), 8 Mar 1900.

Jane Alice Palmer Sandefur, Palmer/Russell Collection; Jane Alice Palmer Sandefur, Cherokee Village, AR, 1996. Jonathan Russell descendant report.

Historical Data Systems, comp. U.S., Civil War Soldier Records and Profiles, 1861-1865 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2009.

Ancestry.com, 1850 United States Federal Census (Provo, UT, USA, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009), www.ancestry.com, Year: 1850; Census Place: Napoleon, Jackson, Michigan; Roll: M432_352; Page: 441B; Image: 632.

Ancestry.com, 1860 United States Federal Census (Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2004), www.ancestry.com, Year: 1860; Census Place: Sylvan, Washtenaw, Michigan; Roll: M653_563; Page: 381; Family History Library Film: 803563.

Ancestry.com, 1870 United States Federal Census (Online publication – Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009. Images reproduced by FamilySearch.Original data – 1870 U.S. census, population schedules. NARA microfilm publication M593, 1,761 rolls. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Record), Ancestry.com, http://www.Ancestry.com, Year: 1870; Census Place: Chelsea, Washtenaw, Michigan; Roll: M593_708; Page: 412A; Image: 174262; Family History Library Film: 552207.

Ancestry.com and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1880 United States Federal Census (Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2005), www.ancestry.com, Year: 1880; Census Place: Chelsea, Washtenaw, Michigan; Roll: 609; Page: 348A; Enumeration District: 241.

Ancestry.com, U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 (Provo, UT, USA, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011), ancestry.com.

Jackson, Ron V., Accelerated Indexing Systems, comp., Michigan Census, 1827-1870 (Provo, UT, USA: MyFamily.com, Inc., 1999), www.ancestry.com.

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One response to “Jane Russell”
  1. Coralee Phillips Krueger Avatar
    Coralee Phillips Krueger

    My mother told about hearing stories from her grandmother, Jane Cornell Miller, about holding her brother’s arm when it was amputated during the Civil War.

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