Albert Louis Russell


Wayne County, NY

A. L. Russell was a Wayne County portrait photographer who at various times had studios in Newark, Lyons, and Clyde. He took a number of the photos in Grip's historical souvenir of Lyons, N. Y., 1904. By process of elimination of all others in the U.S. census, he appears to be Albert Louis Russell, the son of prosperous farmer James Cochran Russell and Octavene A. Chambers, of Millcreek, Erie County, PA.

The first mention of him noticed in local papers was the following article:

Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, Thursday, May 5, 1898, page 4

He Was a Clever Swindler and He Worked Newark Well.

At Newark yesterday a very clever swindling game was worked on the residents of the place by a party, who is unknown, although the police are earnestly endeavoring to form a more extensive acquaintance of him. The man, who is described as middle-aged, average height and weight, and sporting a set of full burnside whiskers, alighted from the Central Hudson train, which reaches Newark from Rochester, at about 9 o'clock A. M. He inquired of the station agent the name of the photographer who had last come to the village. The agent replied "A. L. Russell." The man started in then, and worked his little game all through the north part of the town, seeming to shun the more southerly part, next to the business section. Towards evening he worked along back towards the depot where he caught an evening train for the West, and has not since been seen. He had blanks, which he filled in with the customer's name and that of the photographer (in this case he used the name of A. L. Russell, of Newark.) He told the people that he was canvassing for Russell, who for the sum of 98 cents would call at the residence and take one dozen photographs, besides furnishing a framed, enlarged picture. He claimed this offer would continue but a few days, and collected 30 cents to bind the bargain, catching numerous victims. The man made good his escape, for no one was aware that a fraud had been perpetrated, until late in the afternoon, when one of the persons, who had been taken in, chancing to meet Mr. Russell, asked him concerning the offer which he was making.

Chief of Police Lehn was notified and has telegraphed a description of the swindler to all near-by places.

Within a couple of months, Mr. Russell sold his business at 46 Union St. in Newark to Mrs. Clarence Conklin. She was the Alice Conklin, photographer, listed in the 1900 directory of the village of Newark. Both Alice and her husband, proprietor of a planing mill, were listed at 121 Union Street. In the 1900 census of Arcadia, Alice M. Conklin, age 39, b. April 1861, is listed as a photographer, and her husband as a lumberman. In the 1910 census, Mrs. Alice M. Conklin and her husband still resided at 121 Union St. and she was a photographer on her own account.

From: The Arcadian Weekly Gazette, July 6, 1898, page 7

Mrs. Clarence Conklin has purchased the Russell photographic studio on Union street.

In the 1900 census of the village of Lyons, "Albert Russel," single, age 36, born May 1864, photographer, was a boarder in the large family household of widow Christina Gauthner. Mr. Russell was said to be born in NYS, his parents the same.

In the 1901 directory of Clyde NY, "A. L. Russell" was listed as being a photographer on William St., with rooms at same place.

In the 1905 New York State census of Lyons, "Albert Russell," born in the U.S., resided alone in Lyons NY, and was a photographer working on his own account. His age on the census page is illegible. In early 1906 an article in the Rochester D&C mentioned his participation in, with other respectable Lyons residents, a photographic experiment carried out by Dr. M. A. Veeder of Lyons NY.

According to a 1910 notice in Wilson's Photographic Magazine, regarding the election of local officers at the annual meeting of the Rochester Section of the Professional Photographers' Society of New York, "A. L. Russell," of Lyons was elected Chairman. Wilson's Photographic Magazine, 1910, Volume 47, page 293.

In the 1910 census of Lyons, "A. L. Russel," age 47, single, and a photographer working at a "gallery photo" on his own account, resided alone in a rented home at 53 W. Union St. Mr. Russell stated that he and his parents were born in Pennsylvania. This might be an error in location, as there is no Union St. in Lyons, unless there was a street name change.

In 1912, Mr. Russell again sold his studio business, to a young photographer who'd go on to an illustrious career elsewhere. See paragraph about E. T. Monroe at bottom of page.

From: Bulletin of Photography: the weekly magazine for the professional photographer, Volume 11, page 137. Published by F.V. Chambers in 1912.

Edward T. Monroe, of Jamestown, N.Y., has purchased the studio of A. L. Russell at Lyons, N.Y., taking possession on July 8th.

Mr. Russell might have permanently left Lyons at the time of the sale of his business in 1912.

From: The Lyons Republican, Friday, March 21, 1913, page 5.

A. L. Russell, a former photographer of this village called on friends here a couple of days this week.

A listing in the Steuben County NY Board of Supervisors book in 1914 includes "A. L. Russell, Photographer, Wayland, N. Y."

Despite some effort, the last appearance of Mr. Russell found was in the 1915 New York State census of the village of Wayland, Steuben County. At this time he resided in what appeared to be a small boarding house on West Naples St. Albert L. Russell was said to be 52 years old, born in the U.S. and a photographer on his own account.

The individual who MAY be photographer Albert L. Russell first appears as "Albert Russell" at the age of 7 in the 1870 census of Millcreek, Erie County PA. The household consisted of his father James, a farmer age 42, mother "A.O.", age 32, and farm laborers "Hrison" (sic, Harrison) Strough, age 16, and William Vance, age 19. His father's real estate was valued at $15,000, and personal estate at $2000.

In the 1880 census of Mill Creek, Erie County, Pennsylvania, "Albert L. Russell," age 17, was listed as a student, born PA, and both parents b. PA. The rest of the household consisted of his widowed mother, Octavene Russell, age 43, house keeper, born PA, father born PA, and mother b. NY and his sister, Ruth A. Russell, age 16. The Erie Cemetery Association website gives the dates for his father as 05/12/1827 - 11/09/1874.

His parents, Russell grandparents, and other of his Russell relatives rest in Lot No. 39, Section D of Erie Cemetery. The cemetery association website has a search engine.

In the 1900 census of Millcreek, Erie County, PA, Albert's 63-year-old widowed mother, "Octavine Russell," age 63 and b. April 1837, resided on Wattsburg Road. She was listed as the 2nd household on the farm of Lauren(?) Miller, but freely owned her own home. In April 1910, "Octavine A. Russell," age 74, born PA, was enumerated as an inmate of the "State Hospital for the Insane" in Conewango Township, Warren County PA. It noted that she was widowed, and had had 4 children, with 1 living. This would be Albert L. Russell. According to the Erie Cemetery burial list she passed away November 12, 1911. His sister Ruth Adalia Russell is listed as passing away March 22, 1900. A "child of James C." is listed as having been interred on October 4, 1862.

According to her findagrave listing, "Octavene Anna Chambers Russell" was born April 1836, death date unknown. Associated listings are her husband "James Cochran Russell," born May 12, 1827 at Belle Valley, Erie County PA, and passed away November 9, 1874, location not stated. Also listed are two children who died young, Girl Russell (February 1857 - February 1857) at Millcreek Twp., and James Lewis Russell (1860 - October 2, 1862) at Millcreek Twp., as well as daughter Ruth A. Russell (1864 Millcreek Twp. - March 20, 1900 at Belle Valley). James Cochran Russell's parents were Hamlin Russell (March 5, 1781 Hartford County, CT - September 19, 1852), an early settler of the area, and his first wife, Sarah Norcross Russell (December 22, 1788 NJ - February 11, 1831 Millcreek Twp.)

An excellent family history, "The Russells of Belle Valley," is posted on the Erie County PA GenWeb site, detailing the children of Hamlin Russell. This biography states that James Cochran Russell married Octavene A. Chambers on February 7, 1856. A birth date is given for little James Lewis Russell as October 15, 1860, and birth date for Albert Louis Russell as April 13, 1863. Keep in mind that in the 1900 census, a birth date was given for our subject Albert Russell as May 1864.

A Brief Tangent Regarding Edward Thayer Monroe

In the mid-19th century, especially in the 1860s, the Finger Lakes Region and Central New York were "training grounds" for young photographers who would later find success in the Mid-West and Far West. This was also the case decades later with the purchasers of A. L. Russell's Lyons studio, for whom a stay in Lyons was one of several career stepping stones. Social mention newspaper articles in Wayne County papers from 1912 and 1913 describe the very young Mr. Monroe and his wife Genevieve Unity Davis as being active in musical activities during their brief stay in Lyons, giving vocal recitals at local entertainments and churches. Both were said to be exceptional soloists. According to a 1912 advertisement in the Lyons Republican, the "Studio of Edward T. Monroe," was located at 55 William St., Lyons. The high quality and naturalness of their portraits was attributed to their fast lenses and modern equipment. Ads in the June 13 and November 14, 1913 issues of the Lyons Republican state that their address was at 53 William St. A social mention in the January 30, 1914 issue of the Lyons Republican noted that "Mr. Edward T. Monroe, formerly of Lyons and now located in Syracuse," came to town to visit. At this time he was working in Syracuse for the well-known local photographer Edwin C. Dinturff, who would soon close his own studio.

Although the Monroes would play no further part in the history of photography in the Finger Lakes and Central New York, Edward Thayer Monroe's talents found a wider artistic audience in New York City. By 1915, at age 25, Mr. Monroe was the head portrait photographer for the famous White Studios of Manhattan. In 1917, when he registered for the draft, the Monroes resided in the Washington Heights area of Manhattan, and he worked as a photographer for White on Fifth Ave. From the 1920s to the early 1950s Mr. Monroe specialized in portraits of celebrities, particularly film and Broadway stars. Mrs. Monroe's personal career involved musical instruction and composition. Both Mr. and Mrs. Monroe had grown up in fairly well-to-do families in Chautauqua County NY. Searching with google, as well as on and's newspaper database (including Wayne County papers), turned up interesting genealogical and career information about this couple - too much to cover here. To get you started in your own research, here's a well-written sketch of Mr. Monroe's career.

*** This information about Albert L. Russell was gathered due to curiosity after happening upon the account of the swindler incident. For all inquiries about ALL persons and places mentioned, and genealogy of the Russell or Monroe families, do NOT email the site coordinators. The site coordinators have NO further information other than what you read above, which was assembled from scattered online findings. We refer you in advance to doing your own research via internet search engines, historical societies, and libraries.

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Created: 1/9/14
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