Russell residents will be celebrating a special time from the township’s past. They will be observing the coming of pioneer Gideon Russell who settled in a wilderness that would later become Russell Township. The event will take place 2 -5 p.m. Sept. 30 at residents Ron and Cheryl Chernicky’s historic Rome Patch Farm on Pekin Road.
The actual bicentennial of the community is 2027, because the community did not become an official township until 1827. It was the last township to be founded in Geauga County.
According to local history, Gideon Russell’s son came from Connecticut to the area in 1817 which eventually became a township bearing the family name. He built a cabin and went back to get his family. His father, Gideon Russell, and family then arrived in the area.
“They were the only ones here for several years,” Russell Historical Society President Jeanne Schroeder said. The family settled in the area that everyone knows now as the center of Russell at the Chillicothe (Route 306) and Kinsman (Route 87).
The Russell Historical Society is funding Founder’s Day, she said. “We wanted to do something to celebrate the township’s founder.
“It is a good reason for a celebration,” Mrs. Schroeder said. Mr. Gideon is buried in the Newbury cemetery.
“They offered their farm for the event,” Mrs. Schroeder said of the Chernickys. Postcards are being sent out to about 1,851 homes, inviting residents to attend the free event. There will be plenty of food and entertainment.
Mrs. Chernicky noted photographs of the farm will be displayed in the barn’s arena including some of Rome Patch.
William Savage built the house that is now called the Rome Patch home. It was originally located on Kinsman Road and it was moved to the present property in 1858. It was moved again to its site on the property in 1968 when the electric power lines were installed. Mr. and Mrs. Chernicky began restoring the house and barn in 1996 and completed the project in 2016.
Mrs. Chernicky said she is looking forward to the celebration.
As to township founder Gideon Russell, the Russell Historical Society’s “A Pictorial History of Russell Township” notes that Mr. Russell, born in Somers, Connecticut in 1760, was a private in the Third Regiment, Connecticut Line and fought in the Revolutionary War. He and his wife, Jemima Alvord, had nine children.
A letter in 1818 to Joseph Ely of Bainbridge Township mentions that Mr. Gideon Russell expected to set out for New Connecticut, also known as the Connecticut Western Reserve. His son William had bought 280 acres south of the center and had built a log home there.
Gideon Russell and his family arrived in 1818 at a time when the area was very wild and they were the only residents in the township for two years.
As the township grew, the first Russell Township election was held in 1827 and Mr. Russell was elected one of the first trustees. The other two were Clark Robinson and John Lowry. Mr. Russell’s sons Gideon and Jemima were elected treasurer, constable, clerk and supervisor of roads. A total of 12 votes were cast in that election. Mr. Russell died in 1838 at the age of 78 while his wife died in 1837 at the age of 75.
Mrs. Schroeder said other Geauga County communities including Bainbridge and Auburn townships have held bicentennial observances in 2018, but Russell’s actual bicentennial is not until 2027, “And we may not be here then, and we thought it would be a great idea to have a Founder’s Day now,” Mrs. Schroeder said.
The Founder’s Day event will include a local caterer cooking up hamburgers and hot dogs along with side dishes and there will be plenty of lemonade and ice tea, she said.
There will be access to the barn’s arena with tables and chairs and three bands will provide the entertainment. The Men of Independence, a barbershop quartet will play from 2-3 p.m. A brass band directed by Greg Hillis will entertain from 3-4 p.m. The Fort Huntsburg band, singing and playing mainly country music, will be on stage starting at 4 p.m. Along with the food, there will be face painting and popcorn, and a free drawing for a gift basket and flowers as well as other items. There will be a raffle of wooden bowls created by resident Stewart Matthews.