WILEY JOHN RUSSELL (1856 – 1940)
Wiley John Russell was born in March 1856 to John Russell and Harriet Glasco Russell. His brother and two sisters were: Glasco born 1855, Charlotte born 1854, and Leah born 1858.
Wiley was seven years old when slavery ended. He remembers being whipped once by his slave owner.
Wiley Russell is first named on the 1870 U S Census for Wilson County, Texas. His age is listed as 14 years old. A Bible entry and his death record give his date of birth as 9 March 1856.
Wiley could read and write which was unusual for African Americans at that time. It is not known where he acquired his education.
At Christmas time 1885, 29-year-old Wiley married Adeline Williams who was 20 years old.
Wiley was a farmer and grew cotton and other crops. He kept his pledge to never work for anyone—to always be self-employed.
From 1887 to 1910, 15 children were born to the couple. At one time the household also included Wiley niece and nephew and Adeline’s mother.
Around 1910, the family moved to the Muskogee/Taft area of Oklahoma seeking better schools and better farmland. However, the soil was poor and the weather was bad. The Russell’s returned to Floresville, Texas.
Wiley served as the superintendent of Sunday School at the Methodist Episcopal Church. Wiley Russell was a well-respected man in his community. He died in November 1940 at the age of 84. Hundreds came to pay tribute to this African American pioneer of Wilson County, TX. Wiley is buried in Floresville Cemetery #2 on Plum Street.