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Arts and Heritage to honor Russell Clan at St. Patrick’s Day event
This year’s honorees for the Arts and Heritage annual St. Patrick’s Day Breakfast are familiar faces to Montgomery.
The Russell Clan includes Kathleen Russell and her sister Maureen Gunderson, both of Montgomery.
The sisters are the daughters of Jane (Wells) and Gordon Russell, both descendants' of the Emerald Isle. Maureen said they do not know much about their mother's family, except that Jane’s parents and grandparents all were born and raised in different areas of Wisconsin. Her great-great grandparents came from Ireland and farmed in Wisconsin. Jane passed away in 1988 from cancer.
“Our dad (Gordon) was the historian and did much research on his family,” Maureen said.
Maureen said Gordon’s grandfather, Patrick Russell hailed from Templemore, Ireland. When he was 14- years-old, he sailed with his father and three brothers and two sisters to Quebec, Canada, and then via the St. Laurence to Montreal. Milwaukee was the destination, where Patrick’s father had other relatives who farmed on 80 acres northwest of Milwaukee in an area that reminded them of Ireland, and is now called Holy Hill.
When he was 20-years-old Patrick, a brother and three friends went to St Louis, MO where they made railroad ties for the Southern Pacific Railroad. After returning to Milwaukee when he was 28-years-old in 1857, he married Mary Martin. Ten years later, with six children in tow, they moved to Fredricksburg, Iowa to farm. There, they had four more children, one of whom was Maureen and Kathleen’s grandfather, George.
George grew up and married Anna Mae Shinners, also from Iowa in 1909. They resided in Milwaukee, and had one son Gordon, who was Maureen and Kathleen’s father.
Maureen said her father’s dream was to take his children to Ireland.
“Dad had been there twice with my mom and researched his family and found the family farm,” Maureen said. “Apparently one sibling of Patrick's stayed in Ireland when they came to the States. We were able to make the trip in 1991 and had a wonderful time. In Templemore, we visited the Russell Farm and found three of my dad’s cousins who have a 40-acre farm with 30 cows, sheep and geese. They are the end of the Russell Clan in Ireland.”
Kathleen moved from Milwaukee to Montgomery on April 1, 2006, to join Maureen.
“We were hoping it wasn't an April fool's joke, and it turned out to be the best thing that could have happened to Kathy,” Maureen said. “She loves Montgomery and we are thankful for all the wonderful people who have made that possible.”
Maureen married Gregg Gunderson. They have two children, Anna and Joe. They have lived in Montgomery since 1977. Maureen and Kathy have two siblings who live in Milwaukee, Dennis and Jane. Their sister, Mary Pat lives in Cuernavaca, Mexico. They also had a brother, Michael, who passed away at five-years-old of spinal meningitis.
If you go:
Arts & Heritage Center
Annual St. Pat's Day Breakfast
Sunday, March 17, 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the American Legion Club. On the menu are scrambled eggs, ham, pancakes, potatoes, scones, nut bread, coffee, juice and milk.
A program honoring the family will take place about 10:30 a.m.
This is a fund raiser for the Arts and Heritage Center.