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RUSSELL, RALPH

RUSSELL, RALPH (1789-28 Dec. 1866) founder of the North Union Shaker colony, was born in Winsor Locks, Connecticut, the son of Jacob and Esther Dunham Russell. In 1811, Ralph and his brother Elijah traveled to the Warrensville area to inspect land their father had bought from the Connecticut Land Co. Favorably impressed, they returned in 1812, bringing 20 members of the Russell family to settle here. Later, Ralph married Laura Elsworth 8 Jan. 1818 in Chester Mass., and they returned to Warrensville. On a trip to Union Village, a Shaker community (near Lebanon, Ohio) in 1821, Ralph was enthused by the good deeds and right living of the society in which property was held in common and celibacy was practiced as part of their faith. He returned home and began to proselytize the large, closeknit Warrensville families to adopt Shaker ways, aided by bi-annual visits from Union Village elders. Ralph founded the NORTH UNION SHAKER COMMUNITY of believers, only to be superseded by Elder Ashbel Kitchell who arrived in 1826 to prepare converts for the transition to a celibate life where men and women lived separately. When the final covenant was signed by those who committed themselves to Shaker beliefs in 1828, Ralph Russell did not sign. He and his family left North Union, moving to BENTLEYVILLE where he continued to farm until he died and was buried in the village churchyard. Among his survivors were sons Ralph Elsworth, Jacob Huffman, Hezikiah Loomis, Andrew Jackson, and Joseph Pelton Russell.


Piercy, Caroline B. The Valley of God's Pleasure (1951)