1789: Birth of Samuel Russell

Samuel Russell was the eldest son of Captain John Russell and Abigail Russell. He founded the Russell Manufacturing Company and became its first president. Russell traveled extensively throughout his lifetime.

On return from his trip in China in 1837, he made arrangements for construction of a mansion on the corner of Washington Street and High Street. The house, which would later be called Russell House, was erected under the supervisor of Hon. Samuel D. Hubbard. The Russell House represents a revival in Greek architecture in the United States and has become an essential part of Middletown aesthetics.

After his death in 1862, his wife Frances purchased a vacant church at the corner of Broad and Court Streets and had it converted into Middletown’s first free public library. It was named the Russell Library in memory of her husband Samuel.

Story contributed by Kimberly Singh.

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4 thoughts on “1789: Birth of Samuel Russell

  1. I enjoyed and appreciate this post. I wonder if Kimberly could comment or provide further information on these questions: I had heard that Samuel Russell was active in the opium trade, which is why he was travelling back and forth to China. Also, I’ve heard that his profits from the opium trade were what financed the construction of the Russell House at Washington and High.
    Finally, I had also heard that construction of Russell House was the idea of Frances Russell, who wanted to present her husband with this mansion upon his return from another trip.
    Are these legends that I have heard bogus, or is there some truth to them? Thank you.

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    1. Hi John, We have also heard the rumors about Sam Russell and the opium trade. We’ll do a little digging into both your questions and respond to your post in the next week. Thanks for following Middletown 366!

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  2. So, to put it rather crudely but nonetheless accurately, Samuel Russell was a big time drug dealer, or even a drug cartel kingpin. And yet, this activity is described in the State Historical Commission’s record as the “greatest heights” of “Middletown’s mercantile tradition.” Somehow, it seems very fitting and relevant to point this out. Thank you, MCHSCT366.

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