- Born: Abt 1746, Somerset Co., MD
- Marriage (1): Anne (Nancy) McMurray about 1769
- Died: Bef 13 May 1790, Somerset Co., MD
Price Russell lived on the modern day Pirate's Wharf Park property in Wicomico Co., MD
By the time the Declaration of Independence is composed in 1776, the McMurray plantation had been in full operation for 75+ years and it was getting ready to transition into its fourth generation of the family to call it home. In November 1778, there is a notable deed recorded in Somerset County that covers two transactions where the daughters of James McMurray (grandson) and their respective husbands partitioned the original 400 acre McMurray plantation to divide it equally between them. The first partition was for to Price and Anne (McMurray) Russell for 100 acres of "Whittys Invention" and 100 acres of "Whittys Later Invention," tracts that are contiguous and the partition roughly equally straddled the boundary line of the two. The second partition went to Arthur and Rebecca (McMurray) Denwood for the balance of the 200 acres of the 300-acre "Whittys Invention" tract.
From the partition described, we see that Price and Anne Russell received the portion of the land that included the original James McMurray dwelling house and cemetery. Arthur and Rebecca Denwood received the adjacent land to the south and west about ½ of which lies within the current bounds of Pirate's Wharf. In addition, the two families had acquired the 40 acre "Georges Meadow" per the provisions of George Dashiell's 1768 will. Each family received 20 acres of that tract. See Figure 6 for a layout of the approximate bounds of the 1778 Russell/Denwood land partition.
Price Russell (c1745-c1790) was the son of Alexander Thomas Russell (c1715-aft 1772) and Ann Price (c1722-??) and married James McMurray's daughter, Anne (c1750-1793), in c1769. Like many others in the community, he felt the urge to serve his new nation during the Revolution and became a Sergeant in Captain Henry Gale's Quantico Company of the Maryland militia under County Lieutenant, George Dashiell's Salisbury Battalion. The Battalion had been formed earlier under the Militia Act of 1777 and organized itself with various companies where a formal muster listing all members was conducted in 1780. The Somerset and Worcester militia companies of the lower shore did not see much formal action during the war but they were instructed to remain trained and help quell any Tory activity in the area. Arthur Denwood (c1745-c1787) was the son of George Denwood and he married Anne (McMurray) Russell's sister, Rebecca McMurray (c1752-1802) in c1774. He is listed as a Private in the same outfit as his brother-in-law, Price Russell, along with many others in the surrounding community.
To help pay for the War effort and get the new nation back on firm fiscal ground, there was a tax assessment conducted in Maryland in 1783 to raise money from real and personal property holders. It primarily lists all land owners at the time and is a boon to local history and genealogy researchers. In that document, we find entries for the tracts that are within today's Pirate's Wharf as follows:
- "Whittys Invention": Arthur Denwood, 200 acres; Price Russell, 100 acres
- "Whittys Later Invention": John Porter, 200 acres (only minimal overlap with Pirate's Wharf land); Price Russell, 100 acres
- "Georges Meadow": Arthur Denwood, 20 acres; Price Russell, 20 acres
- "Debtford": John Porter, 23½ acres (not part of Pirate's Wharf but shown for consistency)
The John Porter in the listing is who married Margaret (Peggy) Nicholson (c1755-1800), she who inherited this land from her grandfather George Dashiell in 1768. John Porter (c1750-1799) married Ms. Nicholson in c1778. There is a John with unknown surname listed in the muster for the same Quantico militia company as Russell and Denwood which might be this John Porter but the portion of the document is unreadable.
Following the surrender of the British in late 1781, the new nation began an uncertain but exciting time. At the Pirate's Wharf location, the Russell (~220 acres) and Denwood (~120 acres) families owned just about all of the property that was to become the modern 340-acre tract. They continued to tend their plantations and raise their children, a 5th generation on the site that began with James McMurray's purchase in the late 17th century. John Porter owned the remaining bit of land (<5 acres) as it seems his property slightly overlaps the current tract along a thin sliver on its northeast side.
For the Russell family, who owned the original dwelling house and farms, Price Russell fell ill and died in the year 1790 leaving six children; James McMurray Russell, Ann, Sarah, Solomon, Samuel and William Russell. Though Price Russell died without leaving a will, an inventory of his estate was conducted by his wife Anne as administrator in June of that same year. It is a comprehensive list of 161 items worth £686.4.1 of his personal possessions (i.e.; no land was listed on these inventories) that allow us to see just what his plantation must have contained in the year of 1790. The majority of value of the estate was in ten slaves itemized as Brister (age 35), Morris (22), Mingo (20), Job (17), George (9), Jean (60), Esther (24), Minty (13), Theaner (4) and Littleton (2) collectively worth £291.10.0.
Interesting items from the balance of the estate provide more clues about the operations at the Pirate's Wharf property in the years just after the Revolution. This includes his livestock listed as five horses, 34 pigs, 20 sheep, six oxen (3 yokes) and 12 cows. Farm items mentioned include a 40 gallon still, cage and worm and 20 cider casks; a loom and spinning/wooling wheel; carriage and harness; plow/harrow; 4 full cow, 3 yearling hides and one horse hide; saddles and bridles; blacksmith and carpenter's tools; 1500 pine boards and part of frame of a new barn, all of which would support the plantation business. Additionally, we find listed 80 bushels of coal; 3062 pounds of tobacco in crop and 400 pounds in transfer; 2 tobacco and 2 meat hogsheads with 36 pounds of lard; 380 pounds of bacon; 6 pounds of white lead; 20 pounds of raw wool; 10 barrels of corn and 70 pounds of pot metal (for blacksmithing). All these items suggest a robust and large farming operation at the site surrounding the primary production of tobacco. The meat, textiles and other animal byproducts produced probably went largely to feed the family and slaves but some also was probably used for barter.
The household items listed in the inventory round tell us more about the Price Russell farm business and family. Here we find items like a walnut table, desk, case of drawers and stand; 2 pine tables; 6 sets of bed and bolster suites and blankets/quilts; clothing; 53 pounds of pewter items; 3 "looking glasses"; iron hardware and pots for the fireplace; earthenware tea cups and mugs; glassware; "Queens china" coffee pot, plates, cups and serving board; blue & white plates; 3 dozen silver spoons and 4 silver buckles; spice mortars, various glass bottles; two powder horns and "sundry" books including an old Bible, Bailey's dictionary and Bacon's Laws. Finally, the inventory lists "Cash in gold and silver…£100.9.6."
The inventory provides us with the closest thing we can get to a time machine to journey back to 1790. We can infer that Price Russell was literate from the books he owned and he and/or his plantation hands knew the carpentry and blacksmith trades. The primary crop on the property was tobacco with a sub-crop of corn. The Russell family made their own clothing with the loom and spinning wheels. He owned a carriage which was an extreme luxury in those years and, the large sum of gold and silver and nine slaves in the inventory elude more to his family's wealth.
Through all the generations, the James McMurray name persisted in the naming of the male family members and Price Russell's son, James McMurray Russell (c1768-c1805/6), would inherit the name and plantation in 1790, except for his mother Anne Russell's dowry (her 1/3rd rights during widowhood). But she passed away in 1793 and she left that dowry to "my son James Mc. Russell" unless he were to die without heirs, then it would go to son William Russell and if he, in turn, would go without heirs, then the land to be split between sons Solomon and Samuel Russell.
Some interesting cultural aspects of Anne Russell's will are that she delineates who is to get some of the slaves in the family and how the minor children will be attended to. My "negro boy named Littleton" to go to son Samuel and "negro girl Theaner" to son William. She also instructs that her oldest son James Russell keep the estates of the other sons until they reach the age of sixteen and he is also to provide them with "schooling to read and write as far as the double rule of three and…then to bind them to such trade as either of them might choose." The extra provisions presented in Anne Russell's will to make sure the land stayed in the family did not matter in the end as James McMurray Russell lives, with heirs, and gained complete ownership of the plantation in 1793 when he was just a young man about 25 years of age.
He did a land transaction on Aug 9 1786 but his wife was listed as a widow on a similar transaction on May 13 1790. Since these records are listed consecutively (SoLR-I:82,83), it is likely Price Russell died in early 1790. His administration was done by his wife on Aug 5 1791 and mentions his six children James, Ann, Sally, Solomon, Samuel and William Russell. (SoI-EB15:678, 690; SoAcc-EB16:466)
Price married Anne (Nancy) McMurray, daughter of James McMurray and Elizabeth Stewart, about 1769. (Anne (Nancy) McMurray was born about 1751 in Somerset Co., MD and died on 27 Apr 1792-04 Mar 1793 in Somerset Co., MD.)