A Club of One - Addison Peale Russell

Addison Peale Russell


Addison Peale Russell (1826-1912)

Addison Peale Russell was born on 8 September 1826 in Wilmington, Ohio.

At the age of 16, he took a job as a printer for a local newspaper and by 19, he was the editor and publisher of the Hillsboro News. In the 1850 Census, he is living in a hotel in Lebanon, Ohio and his occupation is listed as Printer.

Addison's youthful years in journalism brought out his interest in politics and before the end of 1850, he is involved as a clerk, in the Ohio Senate.

In 1856, he became a Republican member of the Ohio House of Representatives in the 52nd General Assembly. Two years later, in 1858, he became the Ohio Secretary of State. Addison remained in that position until 1862.

In the 1860 U.S. Census, Addison is recorded at Neil House, a tavern/boarding house across the road from the Ohio State Capitol building. He is listed as 32 years of age with the occupation of Sect (Secretary) of State.

During the American Civil War, Addison worked as the financial agent for Ohio. He was stationed in New York.

According to Henry Howe in his Historical Collections of Ohio, [Russell] “fills out a big suit of clothes, topping off with a high, square collar, well laundried, and white cravat around a plump, full neck, like a gentleman of “ye olden time””.

Addison retired from politics and decided to focus his talents on writing literature. He wrote seven books: Half Tints (1867), Library Notes (1875), Thomas Corwin (1882), Characteristics (1884), A Club of One (1887), In a Club Corner (1890), and Sub-Coelum (1893).

Sub-Coelum, an anti-materialistic Utopian novel, was probably his most admired book.

Within the copy of his book, A Club of One, Addison wrote a whimsical poem while waiting for his breakfast:

Mr. Thomas Hutchinson with best wishes of A.P. Russell, the author.
Wilmington Ohio, U.S.A.
June 16, 91.

Letter pasted in after “Editor’s Preface”…

A Leap Year’s Song.
Air- Betsey Baker.

The birds did sing, and as did I,
As I did overtake her,
Determined I would show my love
Straightway to Betsey Baker
Ri too rah loo rah, etc.

I seized her round (sound?), I pressed her lips,
She struggled as expected,
Then sweetly cried, “Oh, let me go!”
I did as she directed.
Ri too rah loo rah, etc.

“You’ve broke my stays?, you’ve won my heart,
I care not for another;
Now, turn you back, my ? dear,
And ask me of my mother.”
Ri too rah loo rah, etc.

Full fast I flew. Good mamma said
“You love her- pray do take her”;
And ever since I’ve happy been;
Thank God and Betsey Baker.
Ri too rah loo rah, etc.
20 May, ’92 [1892]

Dear Mr. H.
These are my last nonsense verses- written this very morning, while waiting for my breakfast. They may amuse you and Mrs. H.

Your epistolary prose? gave me very great pleasure. You are a poet; I am only something of a rhymester. Pardon!

Addison never married. For many years he lived with his sister, Amanda, and her husband William Marble and their two youngest children Catherine and Fanny. At the age of 73, he was living with Amanda's daughter, Catherine [Ralston]. Ten years later, he was living with his 67 year old widowed niece, Clara Burns.

Addison Russell Peale died on 24 July 1912, at the age of 85, in Wilmington, Ohio, the town where he was born. He is buried there in Sugar Grove Cemetery.


1850 United States Federal Census. Census Place: Lebanon, Warren, Ohio; Roll: M432_737; Page: 45A; Image: 359

1860 United States Federal Census. Census Place: Columbus Ward 2, Franklin, Ohio; Roll: M653_964; Page: 95; Image: 195; Family History Library Film: 803964

1880 United States Federal Census. Census Place: Wilmington, Clinton, Ohio; Roll: 1001; Family History Film: 1255001; Page: 184C; Enumeration District: 063; Image: 0372

1900 United States Federal Census. Census Place: Union, Clinton, Ohio; Roll: 1248; Page: 2B; Enumeration District: 0071; FHL microfilm: 1241248

1910 United States Federal Census. Census Place: Wilmington Ward 1, Clinton, Ohio; Roll: T624_1160; Page: 6A; Enumeration District: 0074; FHL microfilm: 1375173

Howe, Henry. Historical Collections of Ohio: an encyclopedia of the State, Vol.1. (Columbus: Henry Howe & Son, 1889), 429.

Ohio. Division of Vital Statistics. Death Certificates and Index, December 20, 1908-December 31, 1953. State Archives Series 3094. Ohio Historical Society, Ohio.

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