W. L. Russell

W. L. Russell, president of The Bank of Lima, whose
portrait accompanies this sketch, is one of the leading men of this
section of the State, identified with a number of its most important
interests to such an extent that he has made a name for himself in
business, social and political life. Mr. Russell was born in
Zanesville, Ohio, and is a son of Anson Henry Russell, a well-known oil
producer who now lives retired at Cleveland.
Mr. Russell received his educational training in the public
schools at Hanoverton, Ohio, Logansport, Indiana, and Saginaw, Michigan.
His father was interested in oil production and the son entered into
business as an operator and producer, first in the oil fields of Venango
County, Pennsylvania. Since then he has investigated intelligently the
oil fields of almost all sections of the United States and has been a
producer in Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. At the
present time (1905) he is personally interested in the operation of 475
wells. In addition he has company interests in a number of successful
concerns which cover a wide territory. He is president of the National
Consolidated Oil Company, Union Oil, Gas & Refining Company, Mount Joy
Oil Company, Bolton Oil Company, and Troga Oil Company; and is a
director and a member of the executive committee of the United States
Petroleum Company. The last mentioned is the largest independent
oil-producing company in the field and was organized by Mr. Russell. He
floated it in France, its flotation being the largest deal ever made in
the oil fields, the sum involved being nearly $1,000,000. For some time
Mr. Russell continued as president of the company, but subsequently
resigned in order to give necessary attention to his many other
enterprises.
In 1902 he came to establish his home at Lima. He is a man who
impresses one most favorably, a man with clear insight into world
affairs, with a level head, an open, engaging mannor and, in business, a
perfect master of diplomacy. His mingling with men of affairs in this
and other countries has broadened both mind and his sympathies, making
him a citizen of whom Lima has reason to be proud.
Always alert in matters of business, when the great Klondike
region began to attract visitors, he went with great exodus from the
East to that far-distant spot in the great frozen West. He was
successful in attaining the results which took him there and returned
home in safety after an absence of 18 months, although he was on almost
the exact spot where occurred the great snow-slide in which 86 men and
three women lost their lives. Mr. Russell assisted in taking out the
bodies of six of the unfortunates.
Three years prior to his visit to the Klondyke region, Mr.
Russell made a business visit to Venezuela, South America, and while
there he secured from President Crispo concessions for a long-distance
telephone service. He also was the moving spirit in the building of
1,500 miles of trunk lines through the Andes Mountains and he
established 17 local exchanges. It was during his strenuous work in
those malarial regions that he was attacked with yellow fever.
Although 20 of his employees died of the disease at this time, he
survived, being cured by a treatment of his own, with no medical
assistance.
He was directly instrumental in saving the life of President
Crispo at the beginning of a revolution; for this act he was decorated
with the third degree of the Buste Bolivar, which he has in his
possession. He is the only private citizen that ever received this
decoration.
With the exception of his visits to South America and the
Klondike region, and their consequent business results, Mr. Russell has
given his time mainly to the oil-producing business and in Ohio his name
is almost as familiar a one as those of the leaders of the largest oil
corporation in the world.
Politically Mr. Russell is a stanch Republican and he has
always been more or less prominent in partly councils. He was a delegate
from the Fourth Congressional District of Ohio to the Republican
National Convention, which nominated Theodore Roosevelt for the
presidency, a fact which has given him much satisfaction. He belongs to
the Masons, the Elks and the Red Men.