Rose Saunders, Maple Lake, Minn., Published September 08 2012
Letter: Sifting through more history of the Fort Abercrombie regionI read the article about the history of Fort Abercrombie (Forum, Aug. 30). Peter Russell, my grandfather, emigrated from Quebec in 1858 and worked at the fort. He married Sarah, who was working there also. She came from Winnipeg. The Richland County Old Settlers Association interviewed her in 1910, and she recalled the siege of the fort and hiding from attacking Indians. “The History of Richland County” has the Sarah Russell story.
Some of the data is off about 10 years. It says: “The first marriage ceremony of record in Richland County was that of Mr. and Mrs. Peter Russell on June 10, 1860, and had a unique setting in that it was performed on the steamer Selkirk at Fort Abercrombie.” I wish I knew where that record was. Her obit from Kindred papers has her married to my grandfather in 1863. The steamer Selkirk was not in operation; it was being built at McCauleyville in the winter of 1870-71. Someone got the wrong boat.
My father, Peter, was their first son, born Christmas Day 1869, and he died at his farm in Cogswell in 1936. My great-grandfather Frank Russell also immigrated about the same time and settled in the Wild Rice area with other French-speaking people. He applied for citizenship and a land grant in September 1874 and that December froze to death out on the prairie; his oxen came home without him. His wife, Mary Ann or Marie, reapplied for citizenship in 1879 in Stanley Township.
I thought Peter was the only child who immigrated and recently, while tracking Marchands, found that Sarah Marchand was their daughter. She died in Moorhead in 1904. Mary Ann Russell is buried next to her at St. Benedict’s church.
I found some of my grandfather’s other brothers and sisters in Fort Covington, N.Y., near the Canadian border, where they were in the 1840s. Some had immigrated through the port of Detroit. One of his brothers fought in the Civil War. One of my husband’s great-great-grandfathers is buried there. He fought in the Revolutionary War.
Genealogy is fascinating but time-consuming. North Dakota is not too easy because it wasn’t a state until 1889, about 100 years after New York.