The Infamous Black Bird Southern Oregon History, Revised


    The death of Rev. E. Russ occurred at his home in this city very suddenly Wednesday forenoon, about 11 o'clock. He had been ill for about one week, but his condition was not considered serious until a few moments before the final summons came. A few minutes before his death he became suddenly worse and before medical aid could be summoned he was dead. The direct cause of his death was acute constipation, from which he had long been a sufferer. Rev. Russ has been a resident of Medford since 1888, with the exception of a few months, when he filled the pastorate of the Baptist church at Amity, this state. He was sixty years of age and leaves a wife and two children, Edwin Russ, of this city, and Miss Flora E. Russ, of Portland. The funeral will be held today, Friday, July 5th.
Photocopy of unidentified, undated clipping, unidentified scrapbook, Southern Oregon Historical Society

    Rev. Russ was born of Baptist parents in Onondaga County, New York, in 1835. He had good educational advantages in New York, and also at Burlington University, Iowa, but says that he graduated "in the wilds of Oregon." He was converted in 1851, and united with the Baptist Church in Manlius Village, N.Y. He was licensed by the Clear Creek Church, Johnson County, Iowa, in 1861, and ordained by the Danville Church, Des Moines County, April 16, 1862. Here was his first pastorate, and a revival meeting attended his first efforts, at which there were about 50 converts in 10 days, and nearly all remained steadfast. He preached for the church for about five or six years, and for some other important churches in Iowa and Illinois, but a desire to do missionary work in more needy and destitute fields impelled him to come to Oregon in 1872. Here he was appointed by the A.B.H.M. Society for Amity, and preached for that church, sometimes once a month, sometimes twice or three times a month, for about 15 years, but was helped by the society only the first year or two. He also preached for the McMinnville, Gervais and Forest Grove churches, his entire salary averaging from $400 to $500 a year for all his time. He filled several positions of importance in the denomination, and was three times called to the pastorate at The Dalles, but did not accept. He was an earnest, effective preacher, full of fire, and able to give most excellent sermons, often full of bright, original ideas, or old ideas so quaintly and graphically expressed as to have nearly the force of originality. He preferred the pastorate, and was excellent in revival. He went to his appointments, let what would interfere, except sickness. It was told of him that at one time, in going to his appointment in the winter, the ferryman at the Willamette River told him that he could not get out on the other side, because of a slough or bayou, but he insisted on crossing, and on reaching the bayou, his horse refusing to swim, he left the animal at a place on the island, swam over, carrying his clothes above the water, and walked nine miles to his appointment. He wears well, has an easy flow of language, and usually sticks to his topic. In 1887 he moved to the Rogue River Valley, stopping at Medford, hoping to improve his health. He preached as he had opportunity for some of the churches, or in destitute places, and until almost the time of his death conducted a large Bible class, and did other Sunday school and church work. He was a warm friend of temperance, hostile to the use of tobacco, and was at one time a candidate for state senator on the Prohibition ticket for Yamhill County. A faithful man has gone to his reward. He died at Medford, Oregon, July 3, 1901, of peritonitis.
Rev. C. H. Mattoon, Baptist Annals of Oregon, vol. 1, 1905, pages 245-246.

Last revised December 8, 2015