According to the 1860 Morgan County census, John Russell was born in North Carolina in 1808. Land Grant No. 205, dated February 1826, from the State of Tennessee to John Russell of Anderson County, for 50 acres located on the Indian Fork of Popular Creek. This land was located in "The Cove" very near to the Morgan County line. Later, the Russell family would acquire additional acreage adjoining the homestead. John married Susannah Williams in 1828. Susannah was born around 1805.
John, along with sons Samuel, Thomas, John Frances, Ezra (Edward), William, and Andrew Jackson enlisted in the Union Army at Barboursville, KY, on February 25th, 1862 in 5th TN Infantry, Company F. John Russell, along with his son Thomas, were taken prisoner at Cumberland Gap in September 1862 and sent to Richmond, VA. They were traded as prisoners of war and sent to Camp Chase, OH, on January 27, 1863. From Camp Chase, John was sent back to the Army of the Cumberlands. During a leave of absence at his home, John was reportedly captured, tortured, and killed by the Confederate Home Guard July 9th, 1863. It is assumed that John is buried in the Allen Cemetery with his three sons.