On November 20, 1892 at Judsonia, Arkansas James W. “Jim” Russell wed Lelia O. Edens. Jim was born on what is now North Ballard at Wylie, Texas in the year of 1867 at the log house of his parents, James Vaughn and Nancy Jane Harper Russell. Jim and his brothers attended the old Nickleville College, near the corner of the present South Ballard and Stone Streets.
Lelia Edens Russell was born December 26, 1873 in Judsonia, Arkansas. Her mother died at an early age, and Lelia was raised by her sister, Betty, who had married Moses Andrews. In 1885 at the age of 12 years, Lelia joined her father, E.H. Edens, sister Susan Sossaman, three brothers-George, Bill and Bob, and the Moses Andrews family, for a move to this area.
In 1893 Jim built a home on North Ballard. This house was later moved to a location just south of the Santa Fe Railroad on old Highway 78. At this home the Russell’s raised six children in a joy filled home. The children were:
I. VAUGHN RUSSELL (1893-1943) married Maud Adams at Austin. They had three sons who served their country in World War II. Mr. and Mrs. Russell made their home in Ft. Worth where he worked as a salesman.
II. DORCAS RUSSELL was born 1895 and died 1990.
III. LLOYD RUSSELL was born 1897 and passed away at his home in Houston September 18, 1973. He is buried in the Wylie Cemetery. A veteran of World War I, a Mason and a Methodist, Lloyd was married to Agnes Watson. They had two children, Martha Russell (Williford) and Ralph Russell, who lost his life in World War II. Lloyd owned a grocery store in Houston.
IV. KATHLEEN RUSSELL (GREEN) was born March 15, 1897 in Johnson County and died Sept. 10,1982 at Wylie. She was married to John Green, both of whom were well-known and well-loved in the Wylie area. Their children were Becky Green (LaCour) and Pauline Green (Akin). John Green, along with his brothers, owned and operated the Green Brothers traveling picture shows in the early days.
V. CLYDE RUSSELL was born at the home of his parents in Wylie November 4, 1901 and died in Irving June 22, 1972. He was married to another native Wylieite, Gladys Paul (born October 9,1908). To this union two children were born-Paul Russell of Irving and Virginia Russell (Sanders) of Chandler, Texas. Clyde was an employee of Western Auto and Gladys worked for 18 years with National Linens. In 1939 they bought five acres in the country near Irving, Texas where there was constant peace and quiet. According to Mrs. Gladys Russell, who still lives there, “Today you can’t cross the street for the cars.”
VI. PAUL RUSSELL (1904-1971) married Ruth Pruitt of Dallas. They had two children, Nancy and Dennis. A salesman, Paul and his family lived in Houston.
For many years Jim Russell taught school in and around Wylie. In 1898 he was made principal of the Wylie Common Schools. He served as Mayor 1907-1908. For several years he was a successful dry goods operator in Wylie, Denison, Ft. Worth, Corsicana and Gordon, Texas. He was also editor of the Wylie weekly newspaper, the Wylie Herald, in the 1930’s until his retirement. This couple was also very active in every phase of the Wylie’s First Christian Church.
His parents, James Vaughn, “Uncle Jimmy” and Nancy Jane Russell, attended the Cottonwood Church of Christ which was three miles south of Wylie in Dallas County, Texas. Ben Faulkner served as minister of the Cottonwood church from 1883 until 1887. It was sometime around 1887 when Elder Brown of Pleasant Valley and Deacon Brooks brought a piano into the worship service after a “singing school”. This caused the congregation to split and the minister, along with T. J. McClain (owner of Pleasant Valley Store) and several other members and leaders moved to meeting at the home of James “Jimmy” Russell where they then formed the Wylie Christian Church. About half of the Cottonwood Church of Christ members did remain and the Church is now one of the oldest in north Texas.
Members of the new Christian Church continued meeting at the home of Uncle Jimmy Russell until the fall of 1887 when they constructed a church building. Their first church house was located at the corner of Brown and North First Streets. J. Ben Faulkner served as pastor of the new group from the fall of 1888 until 1894.
Lelia Russell passed away suddenly April 1, 1939. It was the same day which Betty Andrews, the sister which raised her, died after a lengthy illness. A double funeral was held at the Methodist Church.
Jim Russell passed away at the Wylie home of his daughter, Kathleen Green in November 1941. Only a week before he had called all of his children home for one more reunion. Both Mr. and Mrs. Russell are buried in the Wylie Cemetery.
By Jim Foster and Beb Fulkerson.