James Russell – Aunt Bolles Connection

As a follow up to the post about Aunt Bolles and her Spoons, I wanted to determine the exact connection between James Russell and Dorcas (Russell) Bolles.  In his letter to Edward Henry9 Dickerman, James closed with the signature line

“Your affect. Cousin, James Russell”

The original letter can be seen here and the transcription here: Letter_of_James_Russell-June_19_1886-Transcription

So how were Dorcas and James actually related?  For many years I hoped that James was the brother of Dorcas, which may have lead me to her and my Great-Great-Great Grandmother, Mary Russell’s parents.   Russ Dickerman and I have made the case that Dorcas, Mary, Diantha, and Albert G. Russell were all children of William Russell, son of Jason and Elizabeth (Locke) Russell.  (See “Russell’n Through the Leaves”)


1900 Census entry for James Russell

However, after reviewing the census records of the late nineteenth century for Mason, New Hampshire, I do not believe James Russell was the son of William, or even the nephew of William (making him a first cousin of Dorcas).  Instead, I now think it is more likely that this James Russell was born in 1838, the son of Jonathan and Sophia (Farwell) Russell.   In the 1880 Census for Mason, James Russell is listed as a Lumber Dealer, aged 42, living with his parents, two younger brothers, and a sister-in-law.   By the 1900 census, he was married to Lydia Farnsworth with son James Howard Russell listed at age seven.  The court documents provide no clues as to whether this is the “right” James Russell.

The original petition for custody of Dorcas Bolles was dated November 1882, when James H. Bolles died.  James Russell’s father Jonathan had died in January of the same year, but his mother Sophia Farwell lived until 1891. Were Sophia and Dorcas perhaps very close friends?   Sadly, Aunt Bolles passed away the next spring on April 29, 1883.  So we’re still wondering, where was the connection between James Russell and Dorcas (Russell) Bolles?

Well, tracing back the lineage of James Russell, we find that he and Dorcas are first cousins, once removed.  His father, Jonathan Russell, was the son of Josiah Russell.  Josiah was the third son of Jason Russell and Elizabeth Locke.  His youngest brother was William Russell, father of Dorcas.


Death Record of James Russell of Mason, N.H.

James Russell died in 1918, the result of being burned in a fire.  Lydia preceded him in death by fifteen years.  Their son, Lt. Col. James Howard Russell, is buried with his parents and wife in Milford near Mason.  Perhaps someday we will meet some of his descendants.

James and Lydia A. (Farnsworth) Russell

Headstone for James and Lydia A. Russell

As mentioned in the previous post, Aunt Dorcas was always highly regarded and well-loved by all the nieces and nephews.  Her three natural children died in childhood, but she adopted many children including Frank Bolles Dickerman, son of Samuel R. and Fannie (Bolles) Dickerman.  In fact, Fannie herself was adopted by the Bolles family and Frank thought so much of James and Dorcas that he changed his name to Frank Dickerman Bolles.  I can think of no better tribute to the extraordinary Aunt Bolles and her very generous husband, James Harrison Bolles.

4 comments on “James Russell – Aunt Bolles Connection

  1. Jessica Sewell says:

    Hello there,

    I am currently researching my family history and have started my own genealogy. I am related to James H. Dickerman (4th Great Grandfather through my mothers maternal side) and found this to be very interesting and well as informative. I was able to answer quite a few questions I had. I am also related to Arnold Payne through that same side and his 2nd wife would have been James’ mother which I found very interesting.

  2. Hello Jessica,

    It’s wonderful to meet you. I have been searching for descendants of James H. Dickerman for many years without success. As you’ve probably discovered, your 4th Great Grandfather was the son of Samuel Dickerman and Mary Russell. Samuel sailed from New Hampshire (Boston port) around Cape Horn in South America and into the San Francisco bay in 1849 in search of gold and fortune. Unfortunately he died within a year so his widow Mary moved to Michigan to live with her brother Albert G. Russell. Here she met and married Arnold Payne.
    Arnold’s daughter, Eliza Payne, married Mary’s son, James H. Dickerman. James served in the Civil War and died on June 12, 1863 of wounds received in battle. I believe they had two daughters and a son, Dorr Dickerman, who lived in Michgan and is buried in the Old Payne Cemetery north of Maple Rapids. However, my research ends there. Would you be willing to help me update your line?

    Again, it’s wonderful to meet you. Please feel free to email me at jeff@dickerman.org.

    Your cousin,

    Jeff Dickerman

  3. Jessica,

    Just a minor correction for you. I suspect the Dickerman Genealogy may have listed the year of James H. Dickerman’s death incorrectly. This was likely reported by my ancestor, Edward H. Dickerman, who was the younger brother of James.
    The Dickerman Genealogy indicates James died June 12, 1863 but I believe the year was actually 1864. Until now I had no idea where James was buried but it appears he was buried in Arlington Cemetery as indicated on the web. The record of his death is listed in U.S. Registers of Deaths of Volunteers, 1861-1865 database. James was a 1st Sgt. with the 8th Michigan Volunteers and injured in battle as described by Edward in various letters I have in my possession.


    • Jessica Sewell says:

      Sorry for my delay in response. I sent you a lengthy email with additional information on my ancestors up until Dorr Dickerman. You are welcome to share that information on her and with anyone who wishes to have it. Thank you for this additional information. I will correct my records and will be looking up the Arlington information as military service is very important to me as my father is a Marine and retired after 20 years of service. Thanks again, hope you enjoy the email!

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