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Dictionary of Miramichi Biography

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RUSSELL, GEORGE HUNTER, businessman; bap. Chatham, Feb 1823, s/o Joseph Russell and Ann Agnes Hunter; m. 1847, Mary Johnstone, sister of James B. Johnstone and Thomas George Johnstone; d. Chatham, 3 Jul 1868.

In 1847 George H. Russell opened a store in Chatham in which he had hardware and "spring and summer goods" for sale. He was enumerated as a merchant in the census of 1851. In 1857 he was an agent for the Mutual Assurance Co. In the same year, he was a stockholder and founding director of the Chatham Gas Light Co., which installed gas lights on Chatham streets. In 1858 he was elected president of the Miramichi and Richibucto Electric Telegraph Co., which had brought telegraph service to the Miramichi in 1851. When not engaged in business affairs he occupied himself as a gentleman farmer.

Russell was the first worshipful master of the Miramichi Lodge of Masons, which was chartered in 1858. He was also active in the militia. In 1863 he was promoted to captain in the 1st Battalion, and at around the same time he succeeded John M. Johnson as officer of a volunteer company known as the Chatham Rifles. He was head of this unit until 1866. He was also a commissioner for lights and buoys in the Gulf of St Lawrence, as successor to George Kerr.

At a banquet held for William J. Fraser in 1865 Russell sang "The Barrin' of the Door, We'll, We'll" in a "truly humorous style," but most reports concern his more serious activities. He was president of the Miramichi Mechanics' Institute in 1866 and of the Chatham YMCA in 1867. At the time of his death in 1868, at age forty-six, he was a member of the Miramichi Religious Tract Society.

Russell was one of the wealthiest men in Chatham and was the original owner of "Blink Bonnie," one of the town's grandest homes. He and his wife, Mary Johnstone, had two sons and one daughter: Agnes H. Russell, the wife of the Rev. Alexander Rae Garvie.


[m] Gleaner 23 Nov 1847 [d] Gleaner 4 Jul 1868 / Bird; Gleaner 3 Aug 1847 (ad), 10 Jan 1857, 24 Jan 1857, 9 Jan 1858, 25 Dec 1858, 25 Jul 1863, 18 Feb 1865, 29 Dec 1866, 16 Feb 1867; Manny Collection (F193); Martin; MacMillan