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Political leader, Boston baseball team owner possessed deep Hannibal roots

Photo: Library of Congress


Matilda P. Richmond hails from one of Hannibal’s earliest business families, the Carstarphens, who were settled in Hannibal as early as 1850.

Matilda married Elder Daniel L. Russell on March 15, 1854, and three years later, their son, William H. Russell was born.

William Russell, a participant in the infamous editorial duel staged with baseball bats in Hannibal during 1878 (see accompanying story), began his newspaper career in Hannibal circa 1873. Starting with the Hannibal Courier as a reporter, he worked his way up to managing editor. While working for the newspaper, he also studied law under noted Hannibal attorney William C. Foreman. In 1879, Russell was employed as superintendent of the Clipper Herald Co., and resided at 206 N. Fifth. The 1880 census reports that W.H. Russell was an editor, age 23. Living with him were Matilda R., mother, who was a widow, and B.H. Richmond, William’s cousin, who was a printer.

In 1881 he was city editor of the Morning Journal, and resided at 206 N. Seventh along with his mother.

He was subsequently admitted to the bar in 1882, while serving as editor and proprietor of the Hannibal Morning Journal.

Soon after he was admitted to the bar, he was twice elected city attorney of Hannibal on the Democratic ticket. He entered a law partnership with Col. George W. Easley and David H. Eby, prominent attorneys.

Russell left Hannibal in 1884, first hired as attorney for the Louisville, New Albany and Chicago railroad, then moving to Chattanooga, Tenn., to become a partner in the first of Russell, Titlow & Daniels. After the financial panic of 1893, Russell’s firm reorganized in New York, where he became involved with city politics.

In 1910, Russell became principal owner and president of the Boston National baseball club. His untimely death the following year left the team’s fate in peril.

He was survived by his wife, the former Miss Mary Gushert of Hannibal, who he married in 1880, and they were parents to six children. His widow died in June 1944. Two daughters survived her, Mrs. Ellis J. Cook and Mrs. B.T. Richardson.

Biography source: Boston Journal, Wednesday, Nov. 22, 1911, via

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