The Infamous Black Bird Southern Oregon History, Revised

Rev. Elijah Russ

    I attended the Pleasant Hill district school, near Rickreall, and later put in two years at the Baptist college at McMinnville. In the fall of 1871, when Dr. R. C. Hill was financial agent of the college, Professor J. D. Robb was given a contract as principal of the college. In 1873 the Rev. Mark Bailey became president of the college, with Professor J. D. Robb and the Rev. E. Russ as teachers.
Andrew Jackson McDaniel, quoted by Fred Lockley, "Impressions and Observations of the Journal Man," Oregon Journal, Portland, November 7, 1929, page 12

    Rev. Mr. Russ, of East Portland, has been fired out of the church for following after Beecher. "What shall we do with our ministers?" is becoming a grave problem.
"State News," Oregon City Enterprise, July 4, 1878, page 3

The McMinnville Reporter says: There is one crop that will hardly be likely to fail us this season, and that is the potato crop. We find them in patches of several acres each between McMinnville and Lafayette--or in other directions, for that matter. Rev. Russ caps the tallest, we believe, with his field of fourteen acres, which he has planted on the Rogers' farm, south of town.
"Oregon Items," Puget Sound Argus, Port Townsend, Washington, August 28, 1879, page 2

    The following lines to the memory of little Hetta Henderson, daughter of T. B. and E. V. Henderson, of Amity, were written by Rev. E. Russ.

She did not die but passed away
    To brighter realms of endless day;
To share the bliss so freely given
    To all who gain the bliss of heaven.
She heard a voice we did not hear,
    And would no longer tarry here;
But gently passed from ills to come,
    To make more bright our final home.
Her stay was brief, yet not in vain,
    She suffered that brief life of pain;
For He who turns earth's night to day
    Turned pain to pleasure on that day.
We did not see the ransomed throng,
    Nor hear their welcome loud and long;
As they beheld with glad surprise,
    Her earthly entrance to the skies.
Thus we will stop each rising sigh,
    And hope to meet her by and by;
When we shall know no  pain or care,
    But Heaven's eternal glories share.
                                                E. RUSS.
Yamhll Reporter, McMinnville, June 21, 1883, page 12

    It will soon be time to make gardens, and in doing so people want the best of seeds. Rev. E. Russ has a few peas for sale--the best ever brought to this section.
"Our Peer-amid," Yamhill Reporter, McMinnville, March 13, 1884, page 5

    Ira Russ of Portland surprised his brother and family, the Rev. Russ of this city, by coming up Saturday evening and spent Sunday here. He returned by the morning train yesterday.
Daily Reporter, McMinnville, November 30, 1886, page 3

    Rev. E. Russ will keep a fine stock of organs. Call and see them at Miss F. E. Russ'.
"Telephone Whisperings,"
West Side Telephone, McMinnville, May 10, 1887, page 3

    Last Tuesday, J. C. Cooper laid out the lines for the foundation of the new Odd Fellows building, and work will soon begin. He has sublet the brick work to Rev. E. Russ; tin to S. A. Manning; wood to C. R. Cook and son.

"Telephone Whisperings,"
West Side Telephone, McMinnville, May 20, 1887, page 3

    Rev. Mr. Russ of McMinnville spent the Sabbath in Medford and preached two excellent sermons at the Baptist Church.
Southern Oregon Transcript, Medford, March 13, 1888, page 3

    Rev. Russ and family left Monday for Medford, Or., where Mr. Russ will preach in the Baptist church at that place. Miss Russ took her stock of millinery goods and intends starting a store there.
West Side Telephone, McMinnville, April 6, 1888, page 3

    Rev. E. Russ, pastor of the Baptist church at this place, has gone to Southern Oregon, and Rev. Woods, of Pendleton, will fill his place for the present.
"Amity," Polk County Observer, Monmouth, April 7, 1888, page 3

    O. Holtan has sold his store building on Seventh Street to E. Russ for $1000, through R. T. Lawton & Son's agency. Mr. H. is engaged in stock raising on Dry Creek.
"Medford Squibs," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, April 27, 1888, page 3

    Rev. Russ is building him a commodious dwelling on C Street.
"Medford Items," Valley Record, Ashland, August 16, 1888, page 3

    Rev. Russ is putting up a residence on C Street.
"Medford Items," Ashland Tidings, September 14, 1888, page 3

    W. B. Roberts has sold 40 acres of land east of Medford to Rev. E. Russ for $1600. The purchaser will improve it by setting out a large number of fruit trees in the near future.
"Medford Items," Valley Record, Ashland, November 29, 1888, page 3

    E. Russ intends starting a large nursery at this place in the spring. He has purchased the land of Roberts and O'Neil.

"Medford Items,"
Ashland Tidings, November 30, 1888, page 3

    Rev. Russ has moved into his new residence on C Street.
"Items from Medford," Valley Record, Ashland, December 27, 1888, page 3

    E. Russ now occupies the new dwelling on C Street.
"Medford Items," 
Ashland Tidings, December 14, 1888, page 2

E. Russ to H. Flindt, property in Medford; $1300.
"Real Estate Transactions," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, January 17, 1889, page 2

    Miss Russ is visiting her old home at McMinnville.
"Medford Squibs," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, May 30, 1889, page 3

    J. E. Enyart, N. A. Jacobs, Peter Henderson and others have organized a class in stenography at this place and are rapidly mastering its mysteries. Edward Russ is instructor for the class.

"Medford Squibs," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, February 27, 1891, page 2

    Rev. Mr. Burnett, the Christian minister, has established himself permanently in the Russ residence.
"Medford Squibs," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, September 18, 1891, page 2

    E. Russ, our nursery man, is being visited by his brother, H. Russ of New York state. The latter is well pleased with this section.
"Medford Squibs," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, December 4, 1891, page 2

    F. J. Martin, a member of the Union hardware and implement firm of McMinnville, spent a few days in the city last week, the guest of his old schoolmate, E.  Russ, of the Medford nursery.
"Local News," Medford Mail, February 11, 1892, page 3

A Voice.
Editor Southern Oregon Mail:
    I wish to say a few things about the Fourth.
    I was especially pleased to hear a young man read the Declaration of Independence. He did it with credit to himself and the satisfaction of his hearers. The oration was excellent and ought to go into the papers.
    The music, a good selection, was well rendered by the band and glee club. Of course, all were delighted who heard Prof. Clark sing.
    The fireworks as seen from Nob Hill were very fine.
    The fire on Mt. Roxy cast its light far and wide. Taking it all in all, I think the verdict is that the Fourth of July, 1892, in Medford was a pleasant day.
    I wish to make a suggestion to the committee on next year's program. Let there be six or more young ladies and gentlemen to read parts of the Declaration and a prize be given to the best reader. This plan will greatly increase the interest in this part of the exercises and also help to fix in many minds these immortal words.
Medford, Ore.
Southern Oregon Mail, Medford, July 8, 1892, page 4

    Rev. E. Russ will depart for Amity, Ore., to take charge of the Baptist Church at that place. He was at one time pastor of that same church for fifteen years. Evidently he gave satisfaction.
"Local and General," Southern Oregon Mail, October 28, 1892, page 3

    Although Rev. E. Russ has been called to occupy a Willamette pulpit, we have been requested to state that the Russ Nursery will continue business as usual and will be in charge of the son, Edwin Russ. Mrs. Russ will also remain here.
"Local and General," Southern Oregon Mail, November 4, 1892, page 3

    Rev. E. Russ goes to Amity to take charge of the church at that place, much to the regret of his friends in this section.
"Medford Squibs," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, November 4, 1892, page 3

    Edwin Russ is now conducting the Russ nursery at this place, since the departure of his father for the Willamette section.

"Medford Squibs," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, November 11, 1892, page 2

    E. Russ keeps the Medford Nursery, one mile east of Medford, and his stock is doing great work in way of growth. He reports that from one raspberry plant which he put out one year ago there are now growing an even seventy thrifty plants--in the place of one he has seventy and all from the one parent plant. In berry culture Mr. Russ leads 'em all.
"All the Local News," Medford Mail, December 22, 1893, page 3

    Arrangements have been made whereby Rev. J. Merley will occupy the Baptist pulpit, in Medford, on the first and third Sundays of each month, and Rev. E. Russ on the second and fourth Sundays. Services at the usual hour--morning and evening.

"News of the City," Medford Mail, June 29, 1894, page 3

    Baptist Church--Rev. J. Merley will preach on [the] first and third Sunday and Rev. E. Russ on second and fourth Sundays of each month. Preaching at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. Prayer meeting every Wednesday evening. Sunday school at 10 a.m. Junior Band at 3 p.m.

"Churches of Medford," Medford Mail, October 5, 1894, page 1

    Hon. J. D. Whitman and Edwin Russ were attending the horticultural society meeting at Ashland.
"Medford Items," Valley Record, Ashland, October 18, 1894, page 3

    Edwin Russ reports his mill, east of Medford, doing a good business. Says farmers are coming from far and near to have their grain ground. He is turning out a fine article in graham, rolled oats and corn meal.
"News of the City," Medford Mail, October 19, 1894, page 3

    Edwin Russ, East Side custom mill, chops all kinds of grain for cash or toll.
"Medford Items," Valley Record, Ashland, August 22, 1895, page 3

    Mr. Russ has moved his chop mill from the sidehill location to level ground further from the residence. He is prepared to do all kinds of chop work.
"News of the City," Medford Mail, August 23, 1895, page 5

    E. Russ' little mill on the hill is a point quite generally sought by the farmers of the valley who have grinding to do. On Wednesday of this week Mr. Russ numbered customers from Talent, Antelope Creek, Jacksonville and Evans Creek--and the mills of the Russ grind not slowly, neither do they grind exceedingly small, but just as the farmers want their grist ground.
"Additional City News," Medford Mail, November 22, 1895, page 8

    E. Russ informs us that he will sell fruit trees at a figure just a little lower than they can be purchased elsewhere--until his entire stock is disposed of. Nursery situated one-half mile east of Medford--at the mill.
    I can furnish prune and pear trees from the Willamette Valley at a rate as low if not lower than any other dealer in Southern Oregon. E. Ross.
"News of the City," Medford Mail, January 17, 1896, page 5

East Medford Precinct:
Elijah Russ, 67, flour mill owner, born Feb. 1833 in N.Y., parents born in N.Y.
Mary E. Russ, 62, born Jan. 1838 in N.Y., father born N.Y., mother Mass.
Edwin I. Russ, 36, miller, born Feb. 1864 in Iowa
U.S. Census, enumerated June 12, 1900

    E. Russ:--"There were eight men with loads of grain waiting to do business at our East Side mill last Saturday. Business is coming so thick and fast that we have decided to grind on two days of the week hereafter--Fridays and Saturdays."
"Echoes from the Street," Medford Mail, May 3, 1901, page 2

    Good residence property for sale cheap, on South C Street, three blocks from the main business street. Call on or inquire of E. Russ.
"City Happenings," Medford Mail, May 24, 1901, page 7

    Last week James G. Smith, the Palmer Creek mining man, purchased the E. Russ place, in East Medford, paying $2500 therefor. There are forty-one acres in the tract and [it] includes all of Mr. Russ' possessions in East Medford and extends from a short distance west of the Russ mill and east to the cemetery road excepting the Nob Hill property which is owned by Dr. Kirchgessner. The place is well set to fruit trees and berry brushes, and right now there are 100 Royal Ann cherry trees giving up a fine crop of fruit. Mr. Smith will improve the property to the extent of a new fence at least, and it is not improbable that he will otherwise improve the premises. Mr. Russ retains ownership of his grist mill and the right to remove the same, and he will soon commence the relocating of the mill in Medford, on property he recently purchased situated near the city electric light and water plant. He proposes reconstructing his mill throughout, making it more compact and more convenient and adding to it a considerable amount of modern machinery. The reconstruction work will be under the general supervision of E. Russ, Jr., who is a genius and a natural-born mechanic.
"City Happenings," Medford Mail, June 14, 1901, page 7

    Rev. E. Russ will soon have his building ready to receive the machinery for his mill on the west side.

"Medford Squibs," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, June 27, 1901, page 5

    The death of Rev. E. Russ occurred at his home in this city very suddenly Wednesday forenoon, about 11 o'clock. He had been ill for about one week, but his condition was not considered serious until a few moments before the final summons came. A few minutes before his death he became suddenly worse, and before medical aid could be summoned he was dead. The direct cause of his death was acute constipation, from which he had long been a sufferer. Rev. Russ has been a resident of Medford since 1888 with the exception of a few months when he filled the pastorate of the Baptist Church of Amity, in this state. He was sixty years of age, and leaves a wife and two children, Edwin Russ, of this city, and Miss Flora E. Russ, of Portland. The funeral will be held today, Friday, July 5th.
"City Happenings," Medford Mail, July 5, 1901, page 7

Elijah Russ to Mary E. Russ, lots 4, 5 and 6, blk 17, Medford . . . 1

"Real Estate Transfers," Medford Mail, July 19, 1901, page 5

    J. G. Smith, the Palmer Creek mining man, who recently purchased the Russ property in East Medford, is having a large barn built on the place. The barn will be 26x56 feet in size and sixteen-foot posts--a facsimile of the barn recently built by Mr. Lindley. E. W. Starr is doing the carpenter work.

"City Happenings," Medford Mail, July 19, 1901, page 7

    Graham, corn meal, whole wheat flour on sale at the Russ mill, two blocks south of Hubbard Bros. implement house.

"City Happenings,"
Medford Mail, August 30, 1901, page 7

    Ed Russ is getting his mill fitted up in good shape. He is now grinding barley and very soon he will have the necessary machinery in place for doing other kinds of grinding. If any person doubts that Mr. Russ is a genius they have but to visit his mill and be convinced that they were greatly at fault.
"Additional Local," Medford Mail, November 8, 1901, page 6

    Edwin Russ to W. I. Vawter and C. W. Palm, ½ interest in lots 7, 8 and 9, blk 17, Medford . . . 1
"Real Estate Transfers," Medford Mail, February 21, 1902, page 5

    Edwin Russ is putting in a private water supply for his residence on C Street, between Tenth and Eleventh. He has put in a pump which will be operated by a wind wheel and a big tank to be used as a reservoir. He expects to have water enough for household purposes and an ample supply for irrigation of his yard and garden.
"Additional Local," Medford Mail, July 18, 1902, page 6

Mary E. Russ to M. Trafy, lots 3, 4, 5 and 10, blk 17, Medford . . . 500.00

"County Records: Real Estate," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, January 28, 1903, page 4

    Prof. P. Ritner heard Rev. Crandall mention the Russ family lately; it was a pleasant surprise to him. Prof. Ritner's father, Joseph Ritner, of Danville (12 miles west of Burlington), a man very much interested in colleges and a leading member of the oldest Baptist church in Iowa, sold 5 acres of his farm to the late Rev. E. Russ, who built his home there. Prof. P. Ritner and Edwin Russ, of Medford, were born on the same farm. It was in Danville that Mr. Russ was ordained and entered upon the work of a pastor serving this church five years.
"City Happenings," Medford Mail, May 15, 1903, page 7

    Miss Grace K. Woodhead, of Chicago, Ill., is now visiting her aunt, Mrs. Mary E. Russ, having arrived Wednesday from San Francisco. She is the daughter of Mrs. Russ's youngest sister, Mrs. J. E. Woodhead, of Chicago. The young lady will probably remain two or three weeks.
"Purely Personal," Medford Mail, May 22, 1903, page 6

    For sale--Over ninety different named varieties of rose bushes. Blooming chrysanthemums. Call on or address--Miss F. E. Russ, Medford, Ore.
"Additional Local," Medford Mail, December 4, 1903, page 4

    Ed. Russ:--"A couple of weeks ago you published an article which was in substance that if orchardists were to take entrails of a rabbit and rub their young fruit trees with them they would be no longer troubled with those pesky little rabbits gnawing the bark from the trees. Father tried that plan several years ago and while it may have kept the rabbits away, the remedy brought a horde of squirrels, and these ate the bark from the trees as badly as the rabbits ever did. As between the two, Father and I decided it was a 'tossup' and came to the conclusion that we might as well economize on labor and let the rabbits have the trees."

"Street Echoes," Medford Mail, December 16, 1904, page 1

    Rev. Russ was born of Baptist parents in Onondaga County, New York, in 1835. He had good educational advantages in New York, and also at Burlington University, Iowa, but says that he graduated "in the wilds of Oregon." He was converted in 1851, and united with the Baptist Church in Manlius Village, N.Y. He was licensed by the Clear Creek Church, Johnson County, Iowa, in 1861, and ordained by the Danville Church, Des Moines County, April 16, 1862. Here was his first pastorate, and a revival meeting attended his first efforts, at which there were about 50 converts in 10 days, and nearly all remained steadfast. He preached for the church for about five or six years, and for some other important churches in Iowa and Illinois, but a desire to do missionary work in more needy and destitute fields impelled him to come to Oregon in 1872. Here he was appointed by the A.B.H.M. Society for Amity, and preached for that church, sometimes once a month, sometimes twice or three times a month, for about 15 years, but was helped by the society only the first year or two. He also preached for the McMinnville, Gervais and Forest Grove churches, his entire salary averaging from $400 to $500 a year for all his time. He filled several positions of importance in the denomination, and was three times called to the pastorate at The Dalles, but did not accept. He was an earnest, effective preacher, full of fire, and able to give most excellent sermons, often full of bright, original ideas, or old ideas so quaintly and graphically expressed as to have nearly the force of originality. He preferred the pastorate, and was excellent in revival. He went to his appointments, let what would interfere, except sickness. It was told of him that at one time, in going to his appointment in the winter, the ferryman at the Willamette River told him that he could not get out on the other side, because of a slough or bayou, but he insisted on crossing, and on reaching the bayou, his horse refusing to swim, he left the animal at a place on the island, swam over, carrying his clothes above the water, and walked nine miles to his appointment. He wears well, has an easy flow of language, and usually sticks to his topic. In 1887 he moved to the Rogue River Valley, stopping at Medford, hoping to improve his health. He preached as he had opportunity for some of the churches, or in destitute places, and until almost the time of his death conducted a large Bible class, and did other Sunday school and church work. He was a warm friend of temperance, hostile to the use of tobacco, and was at one time a candidate for state senator on the Prohibition ticket for Yamhill County. A faithful man has gone to his reward. He died at Medford, Oregon, July 3, 1901, of peritonitis.
Rev. C. H. Mattoon, Baptist Annals of Oregon, vol. 1, 1905, pages 245-246

    E. Russ.--"I read with considerable interest Hon. John D. Olwell's letter in the Mail regarding the P. Bary pear. I think I was the first man to introduce the pears to Jackson County. Several years ago I went to California for trees of this variety, and L. F. Lozier now has them in bearing in his orchard west of Medford. More attention was paid to other varieties, however, by orchardmen, and not a great many P. Barys were grown. Mr. Olwell's letter, though, confirms the opinion I had of the pear in the first place.
"City Happenings," Medford Mail, July 5, 1907, page 5

Main Street, Brownsville, Oregon:

Edwin Russ, 46, farmer, born in Iowa, parents born in N.Y.
Flora E. Russ, 48, born in Iowa, parents born in N.Y.

Mary E. Russ, 72, born in N.Y., father born N.Y., mother Mass.
U.S. Census, enumerated April, 1910

    L. B. Brown, proprietor of the Russ Mill, will return Sunday from a visit to the exposition at San Francisco.
"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, November 5, 1915, page 2

    The old Russ mill, north of the blazing laundry, caught fire and threatened to cause a fire approaching the proportions of a conflagration. Ray Miksche, one of the Monarch Seed and Feed Company, owners of the mill, entered the building and extracted papers and other valuables from the safe, but the fire fighters soon had the blaze on the south side of the mill extinguished.
"People Flee in Night Clothes from Apt. Fire," Medford Mail Tribune, July 25, 1922, page 1

    The old "Russ" mill on [135 South] Riverside Avenue, one of the city's best-known pioneer landmarks, bowed to the march of commercial progress today when Spence Childers started to tear down the hewn timber edifice at the direction of the present owner, L. K. Miksche.
    This old mill was built by Edward Russ 39 years ago in the east side, where the residence of J. F. Hittson now stands. Later in 1898 it was moved to its present site on Riverside Avenue where it was used continuously by various owners, until the Miksches last year built a new warehouse on the S.P. right of way.
    The material in the old building, consisting of lumber and old timbers, hand hewn, many of them in a perfect state of preservation, will be stored by Childers and sold, he agreeing to tear down the mill for the salvage.
    The Miksches will clear the property as soon as possible, grade it and place it on the market. With the development of this section of Medford this has grown to be one of the very valuable pieces of real estate in the city.
    According to rumor the county court plans to build the permanent courthouse there, but this was officially denied today. The county court has not decided upon the courthouse site, but it will probably be the city park or the present Washington School.
Medford Mail Tribune, June 14, 1927, page 3

Last revised October 29, 2023