William Jennings Russell


If you have been wondering who that man is over on the side, his name is William Jennings Russell.  Russell Street in Fayetteville, North Carolina is named after his family.  North Carolina’s colonial government had purchased land from his great-grandfather’s estate for the town that has become Fayetteville.

William Jennings Russell was born in 1814 in Cumberland County, North Carolina to William Russell who was the son of John Russell.  John Russell was a … Tory; and his father was Capt John Russell, commander of the HMS Scorpion, which explains John’s loyalty to Great Britain.

William Jennings Russell was married twice.  His second wife was Margaret Mahaldy Clark.  Together they had four children:  Charles Henry, Emma Delilah, John Benton and Leonidas Campbell.

In the 1840s and 50s, he built boats.  One of the ones he built was a steamer named the John Dawson.  In the 1860s, there wasn’t as much call for his boat building skills, but he continued finding work as a carpenter and then switched his focus to railroad cars.

Margaret died in 1868.  William died several years later in 1871.  Charles and Emma were their surviving children.  They went to live with one of Margaret’s sisters and her husband.  Margaret is buried at Cross Creek Cemetery in Fayetteville.  Most likely William is also, but his grave is unmarked.