On the north side of South Park Boulevard, just east of Lee Road, there is a solitary grave which is the final resting place of an American Revolutionary War soldier--Jacob Russell. Next to the grave is a large stone with a bronze plaque commemorating Russell's life. The plaque, placed there in 1926 by the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), is the oldest historic marker in Shaker Heights.
Jacob Russell was born in Connecticut in 1746. In May 1775, just weeks after the battles of Lexington and Concord, twenty-nine year old Jacob, who was married and had two young children at the time, enlisted in the 8th Company of the Connecticut Continentals. He served in this unit for five months and was discharged in October 1775. Little else is known of his Revolutionary War military service.
But the story of Jacob Russell did not end when his military service came to an end. Sometime around 1800, Jacob, his wife Esther, and their by then ten children moved west from Windsor, Connecticut to Jefferson County, New York, located on the eastern shores of Lake Ontario. A little over a decade later, the family moved west again, settling in northeast Ohio in 1813. It was a dangerous trek in that year, as the United States was at war with Great Britain, and northeast Ohio was in the middle of the war's western front.
The Russell family survived the War of 1812, and were among the earliest permanent settlers of Warrensville Township. Among their neighbors was Daniel Warren for whom the township was later named. The 1820 federal census found the Russell family living in Warrensville Township, constituting 26 of the 133 persons counted in the census--almost 20 percent of the township population.
In 1821, at age 75, Jacob Russell died. It was said that his son Ralph was so distraught over the death of his father that he turned to religion for solace and became a member of the United Society of Believers in Christ's Second Appearance, better known as the Shakers. Following his conversion, Ralph Russell founded the Shaker North Union Colony on Russell family farmlands in what is now the City of Shaker Heights.