Scots Descendant in America
Part V - Biographies
ALEXANDER RUSSELL, poet, musician
and composer, was born at Woodhall Gardens, near Airdrie, Lanarkshire,
Scotland, September 10, 1860; he is the son of James Russell and Mary
Baird. When he was very young the family moved to Motherwell, where a
sister and two brothers still reside: his mother at Canton and two sisters
are in this country, Mrs. John Hamilton, in Chicago, and Mrs. James P.
Caruthers, in Harvey, Illinois; his father died in Motherwell, April,
Mr. Russell received his early
education at Craigneuk School, near Motherwell; he also attended classes
in the manufacture of iron and steel and in machine construction and
drawing. He attended the arts classes in the University of Glasgow,
1885-1886. In profession he is a rolling mill superintendent in steel
plants, and at present is engaged in a local steel plant at Canton, Ohio,
having been engaged previously for five years in the Clairton (Pa.) plant
of the Carnegie Steel Company.
At an early age Mr. Russell joined
the church choir and studied music; he received the matriculation
certificate for both notations from the Tonic-Sol-Fa College, London, and
three certificates from
private teachers. He also studied
the pipe-organ and played with success. Many of his friends urged him to
take up music as a profession, but he preferred music as a hobby, and
derives much pleasure from it, always remembering the words of his
teacher, that "pleasure is a shy nymph, if you chase her she will flee
from you, but go on and do your duty and she will seek you." Mr. Russell
does not compose to order; when he reads a poem and, so to speak, falls in
love with it, a "something sweetens round the heart and sets the muse
a-going." His first song set to music, "How Sweet was Life Langsyne,"
words by the late Alexander Anderson (surfaceman), Librarian of the
Edinburgh University, was published by Kohier & Son, Edinburgh, and took
very well; many more have followed to words by Mr. Anderson, Robert
Sanderson and others. Mr. Russell has the original copy of the well-known
poem, "Cuddle Doon," written and signed by the poet himself.
In April, 1903, he married Margaret
Maxwell, daughter of the late James Hamilton, of Maygateshawhead, Carluke;
his friend, Alexander Anderson, was best man. They are members of Calvary
Presbyterian Church, Canton.
Mr. Russell is a Blue Mason, a
Chapter Mason, a Knight Templar and a Thirty-second Degree Scottish Rite
Mason, being a member of Gourges Lodge of Perfection, Pittsburgh, Pa. He
has been a contributor to The Caledonian for several years.
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