Washington County Biographies

Part of the Wisconsin Biographies Project

Russel S. Kneeland

Russel S. Kneeland, conveyancer and agent for the Northwestern Life Insurance Company; also agent for Washington, Waukesha and Dodge Cos., for the Monumental Bronze Company, of Bridgeport, Conn., and the Detroit Bronze Company, Hartford. Was born in Berkshire Co., Mass., March 10, 1810; is the son of Isaac and Philomela (Robinson) Kneeland. At the age of 3 years, he moved with his parents to Connecticut, where they spent two years, and then moved to Shalerville, Ohio. In 1835, he went to Illinois, where he spent six months as teacher at Jacksonville, and a year as merchant's clerk at Pekin. From there he went to St. Louis, MO., and engaged as steamboat clerk on the Upper Mississippi and Illinois Rivers. After five years of steamboating, he established himself at St. Louis as clerk in a flouring-mill. While steamboating he had visited Wisconsin, and was married, Sept. 25, 1838, at Prairieville, now Waukesha, to Miss Electa Rossman, daughter of James W. and Irene Rossman. Mrs. Kneeland was born in West Haven, Vt. In the fall of 1846, Mr. Kneeland, on closing his engagement with the milling company, came to Waukesha, where he engaged with his brother, F. C., in the mercantile business. This connection lasted only six months, when he came to Hartford, April, 1847, and formed a partnership with Mr. Hiram H. Wheelock in the general mercantile business, under the firm name of Wheelock & Kneeland. Soon after the organization of the firm, Mr. Ira H. Wheelock and Mr. Nathan Parker were admitted, and the firm name changed to Wheelock, Kneeland & Co. About 1854, they purchased a half interest in the water-power and saw-mill and the old grist-mill, on the construction of the La Crosse & Milwaukee Railway. Mr. Kneeland was elected one of the Directors of the company, and, in 1855, was appointed wood agent. In 1856, he withdrew from the firm of Wheelock, Kneeland & Co., and continued to act as agent for the railroad company till 1857, when he was called upon to settle the estates of C. W. Rossman; and, in 1859, settled the estate of George C. Rossman. Mrs. Kneeland died Nov. 28, 1848, leaving two children. The eldest, Clara Irene, is now Mrs. A. D. Parker, of Fond du Lac; the youngest, Charles R., was married to Kedia Sayles, and resides at Lamberton, Redwood Co., Minn.

Mr. Kneeland was married, Nov. 23, 1849, to Miss Olive K. Harrington, daughter of Aaron and Esther Harrington. Mrs. K. was born in Winason, Vt. Four children were born to them-Eva E.; Russel S., married to Jennie L. Sackett, and is station agent at St. Peter, Minn.; Edna O., now residing in Boston; and Fred H., living at Fond du Lac. Mr. Kneeland was Chairman of Hartford in 1849; was also Town Treasurer and Town Clerk several terms; was actively engaged several years in the collection and settlement of soldier claims; has served as Justice of the Peace ten years; was enrolling officer in 1864; and, in 1870, was appointed Deputy United States Marshal to take the census in the towns of Hartford, Erin and Polk. Has also done considerable conveyancing and collection, and attended to the settlement of estates while a member of the firm of Wheelock, Kneeland & Co. From 1850 to 1855, was a member of the firm of N. Parker & Co., and engaged extensively in the manufacture of pearlash.