Anna Buckner(?) Russell 1718-1783, wife of William Russell

+3 votes
I have a "weak link" in my genealogy, and that is Anna Buckner.  According to William Russell's will (and this is definitely the correct William Russell), his wife's name was Anna.  All of their children had the most normal English names imaginable, except for their son, Buckner.  

Many years ago on Genforum, a bunch of people were trying to untangle the many men named William Russell living around Culpepper County, Virginia in the Colonial era.  Mine was the father of the Absalom Russell who married Frances Gaines, was widowed, and remarried her sister Elizabeth.  The will names all the children, and his wife, Anna, but no maiden name, and I have no other source for her maiden name.  On Genforum, it was supposed that her maiden name was Buckner, but someone said they thought it might be Lundy.  

Regardless, she was his wife when he made his will, not necessarily the mother of his children.  She could have been step-mother to any or all of his children.  Presuming she was their mother, which is a pretty big assumption, calling her Anna Buckner is a pretty big additional assumption.  

I am hoping that someone might have more information.  I would love to sure up this weak link, especially because Generations Gone By traces this Anna Buckner all the way back to the year 130, and I would like to verify all that information, but first, I need to verify that Anna was Absalom Russel's mother, and that her maiden name was Buckner.
WikiTree profile: Anna Russell
asked in Genealogy Help by Susannah Rolfes G2G4 (4.1k points)

1 Answer

+4 votes
I run into her pretty frequently. A lot of people do assume that her maiden name was Buckner, but I don't know that there's any more evidence for it than Buckner Russell's name. I think this profile needs to get back to the primary sources. The secondary sources are full of guesses and assumptions that have been promoted to facts by repeated copying, and I see reflections of them in this profile. The records of that area for that period are extremely thin, and one should view unsourced dates in this context with great skepticism.William Russell's will is quite possibly the only extant primary source that ever mentions her, so one has to wonder how people figured out when they got married, when/where she was born, when she died, etc.
She was certainly not the daughter of John Buckner Jr. of Gloucester. His daughter Ann was probably who married Miles Cary and died in 1768, per the probate of her York Co. will.
If Ann Russell was a Buckner, there were two Buckner families in Halifax in the late 18th C. that she could be related to. The first is and the second is Thomas Buckner, an impecunious younger son of of Louisa Co. However, she could also be related to the James River Buckners, who were in neighboring Lunenburg Co., children and grandchildren of
And the one other possibility is that she's related to (Presley), Haley, and William Buckner who seem to have grown up in the Pittsylvania/Washington Co. area in the 1750-70 time frame.
answered by Ben Buckner G2G6 Mach 4 (46.4k points)
edited by Ben Buckner
William's actually got a pretty interesting biography. I think they gave him just enough land to get started, but he must have run an ordinary until he could finance enough land grants to move up into the planter class. Crabtree found so many refs to him in Halifax order book 2 that I'll bet you could find all sorts of info.

I see one major hurdle with Anna Russell as a Stith. Once you gather up all the sources for Drury Stith II and Elizabeth Buckner's children, you get 7 documented sons, 5 with really solid birthdates. Drury III was clearly the eldest, so he has to be slotted in before Griffin in 1720. Buckner Stith (a childhood friend of George Washington) generally seems to be put into the one gap around 1722.

  1. Drury Stith - b. ca. 1718
  2. Griffin Stith - b. 28 Nov 1720 (register)
  3. Buckner Stith - b. ca. 1722
  4. John Stith - b. 20 Mar 1724 (register)
  5. Richard Stith - b. 30 Sep 1727 (bible record)
  6. Bathurst Stith - b. 19 Sep 1729 (register)
  7. Thomas Stith - b. 29 Dec 1731 (register)

On the one hand, with 7 known sons, it's pretty easy to suspect that there was a daughter or two who escaped notice, especially since Drury lived to 1740 and Elizabeth died well after him. On the other hand, there are not obvious gaps between 1718 and 1731. Usually, their marriage date is given as 1717, but AFAIK that's assumed from Drury III's birth year. Elizabeth could have been born as early as 1693, since her parents were married at least from that date and Drury II estimated around 1695, so there could be a daughter right before Drury III. She could also be a twin (seems unlikely), and obviously we have lots of slots after 1731, but 1731 is clearly too late be Anna Russell's BY. I still think the land record combined with the name of Buckner Russell is pretty compelling, but I don't see how to make it work unless Anna was the Stiths' first child born ca. 1716. There's another interesting fact here is the will of Elizabeth's brother John Buckner. John actually died SP in 1748 and left his entire massive (MASSIVE) estate to nephews Griffin, John, and _niece Katherine_ Stith. Now, this obviously opens the question of where a sister Kathrine might fit it. It's possible too that Kath. is the daughter of Drury III who was born around 1740, since people often tend to be pretty loose with the niece/great-niece distinction.

I was thinking about this some more, and I think I'm misinterpreting the language of that survey record. Where it says "John Russell entered with Major Stith..." I was thinking this was the old common law expression for livery of seisin, that they had "entered into" the property, which was at one time necessary for a fee simple transfer. However, it's odd that it says "with" and if it was a joint possession, Stith would have to transfer it to William as well. So what I think it actually means is "John Russell entered [this survey into the survey record] with [the surveyor] Major Stith..." since Stith actually was the Brunswick surveyor in 1740.
So, I guess it isn't evidence of a family connection to Stith, but it still seems like a pretty good clue that John Russell was William Russell's father.
(Accidental duplicate)

Wow!  I have not had a chance to reply because I am trying to catch up with all your contributions, thank you!

I do have some questions and some input.  First of all, you said that Anna Russell was "certainly not the daughter of John Buckner Jr. of Gloucester," that his daughter was probably Ann Cary.  Considering how many Russells there were, I'm not convinced by just the one data point (that her will mentioned a nephew who was a Russell), since perhaps she had a sister who married a Russell, rather than this nephew being the son of a brother.  Is there is some other evidence as to her identity?  For now, I've updated her profile to include your information as probable, but I am unconvinced myself without further evidence.  

Next, I want to ask you Which books are bad/fraudlent.  I can understand why you may not want to publically defame the books, but I'd really like to know which seemingly reputable sources to steer clear of.  I used "William Russell and his Descenents" to rule out Brevet Brigadier General William Russell, but have not used any other print sources.  I have never heard of a Gustave Anjou fraud. I can tell from what you wrote that I should avoid something from Crozier from 1907, and Jim White's 2008 book, but which is the third?  Is it by Gustave Anjou?  Was he infamous for fraudlent genealogy or something?  In looking for sources, I'll avoid these names, but if you can give specific titles of the books, that would be great.

One thing I did do recently was check the Anna Buckner who was born in England in 1717, whose christening record we do have.  There was no record of her marriage, christening of any children, or her death in England, though her parents' deaths are documented in England.  Therefore, I can't rule her out, as she was born the correct year and could have emmigrated. Everything I've ever seen showed she was born in Virginia, but not necessarily.

Also, what do you think of the Maryland birthplace?  Maryland was a Catholic colony, and I thought they were Protestants, but only because I know that Frances and Elizabeth Gaines were the daughters of a Protestant minister.  I thought it was unlikely that Absalom would have married not one, but two, daughters of a Protestant minister if he was raised Catholic, but even then, people did convert.  However, because marriages were usually arranged, I would think conversion an unlikely explanation.

I think you're right about your interpretation of Drury Stith as the surveyer, rather than co-owner of the land.  Nevertheless, I know from census records that people usually did marry a neighbor, so she could've been Anna Stith.  

I also want to call attention to some sources that I have not yet managed to track down to verify.  I know that on Genforum 18 or so years ago, some people were talking about DAR, and I think that part of this might just be a DAR proof of service document, and maybe someone just assumed her maiden name was Buckner.  But if it really IS a primary source, then we have something.  Also, some files allegedly in Franklin Co, Tennessee, where William Russell, son of William Russell and brother of Absolom et all, had a son named Absolom who apparently served as the county clerk for several years.  There is some sort of record showing young Absolom as county clerk, WITH the wife and dates of the older Absolom!  

I'd like to know what you make of these.  I added them as possible evidence that has not been verified, without a primary source to cite, but something to look for in the future, and to refute as flawed genealogy or to prove that her maiden name really was Buckner.

I added these sources to both William and Anna's profile today.  Take a look when you get the chance and see what you think.  I placed them under the heading, "Possible Evidence of Buckner as Anna's Maiden Name."

Oh, I'm happy to defame them publicly or any other way. It's (roughly) the first 16 pages of Crozier's Buckners of Virginia, Anjou's Buckner manuscript, and Jim White's Buckner Book I & II. That Days Gone By website or whatever it's called relies heavily on one or more of them for the Buckners, so it's mostly unsourced fantasy genealogy junk. If you want a basic reason why it's not John Buckner's daughter Anne, there's simply no positive evidence for it. The only thing going for the idea is the name, and even the chronology doesn't work very well. Anne Buckner was certainly born in or before 1712 since she was of age in 1733, so it's not that great of a fit in terms of age, and as I discussed in her profile, the evidence of Ann Cary's will strongly suggests that she's Thomas Buckner's sister. It's possible she's not, but if you take the Occam's razor approach to explaining why she says she's the aunt of Baldwin M Buckner and his older sister when Baldwin's mother doesn't have any known siblings, it's pretty obvious that she's probably their father's sister. We already know he had a sister named Ann, and the Carys were from the same county, and closely connected to the Gloucester Buckners, so it really seems like a no-brainer.

As far as William's origin goes, I'd guess he was born in North Carolina or Virginia. I don't see anything about him that looks like Maryland, but they seem to have stuck pretty close to the NC border, and there's one reference to John Russell being from Granville Co. There's probably a reason why Buckner Russell moved to NC.

Those Buckners in Cumnor around the same time probably aren't connected. I know them fairly well, and they're not very typical of emigrants. I can't say I know what happened to Ann Buckner in particular, but burial and christening records in the period are about 50/50 so unrecorded infant deaths are common. I think looking around Virginia is still your best bet given the time frame.
Thanks for letting me know about Generations Gone By being based on fraudulent genealogy, and the other titles to avoid. I had caught some mistakes on GGB, and don't trust it as a source, but it can be a good starting point, if you verify everything as you go. About a decade ago, I thought I had hit the genealogical jackpot when I found that site, but I could not verify anything past Anna, and it seemed they probably had the wrong William, so nothing was actually verifiable past Absalom and Buckner and their siblings, and even at that, Absalom's son, my ancestor Birdie Russell, was shown as female, even though they accurately listed his wives as the women he was married to! After I contacted them about the mistake, they didn't fix it, so that told me much of what I needed to know about them.

I can see why you call it fantasy junk. I was really surprised at the sheer number of times various branches of the GGB tree for Anna Buckner hit Charlemagne, for instance, and so many other kings and famous people, including Orkney Vikings dating back to 130 and legendary or semi-legendary figures like early English kings such as Old King Cole (spelled differently, but nevertheless). I'm surprised they didn't include King Arthur while they were at it! (But that would've been a dead giveaway.)

Had I started this profile, I never would have named her Anna Buckner, since her maiden name is uncertain or unknown, but I adopted an orphaned profile, and I see no reason to change her Wikitree ID until we actually know what it was. At least this way, anyone searching for Anna Buckner online at least has a chance of learning that they should not trust any genealogy that shows Anna Russell as the daughter of John Buckner and Ann Ballard.

You have obviously done some deeper research into possible origins for Anna than I have managed to accomplish or that I have seen elsewhere. I.e., you not only knew about Ann Cary; you knew that her nephew couldn't be on her sister's side because her sister didn't have a son. I have done amateur genealogy for a very long time, and have never been able to find so many potential sources for this branch, but then all of my footwork has been in Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana, and these are not things one is likely to find online!

While absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, I can see the probability now, and you're probably right about Ann Cary.

I was thrown for a loop by Maryland, but I figure it is worth looking into. Someone recently sent me a genealogy from some book showing the Maryland William and Ann Russell as having not only sons William and Charles, whose christenings I found, but also Ignatius, James, and Mary Ann. I have not checked the dates yet. When it was just Charles and William, it was possible (perhaps Charles died before the will was written), but if this book is accurate, this is definitely a different couple in Maryland, and probably a Catholic family.

I agree that Maryland seems very far fetched, even if they were in the Protestant minority. I want to check to see whether the church in England where an Ann Russell was christened in Dec. 1717 was Protestant or Catholic, as well as the church where the Maryland Russells had their children christened. There is no record of the English Ann Buckner marrying or dying in England, whereas her parents' deaths are recorded there, so perhaps she came to Virginia on her own or with siblings and married William Russell. Everything has said she was born in Virginia, but that could easily have been a guess. On the other hand, you're probably right that she died in infancy or childhood, and the death simply wasn't recorded, or records were lost.

From my Genforum days, I thought William, father of Absalom, Buckner, et al, was the son of William Russell and Mary or Martha Henley. It seems that I did some research that lead me to believe this wasn't so, but now I can't find it. Do you know?

I do hope you'll take a look at the following, as discussed on both William and Anna's profiles. This is info I added yesterday. Although the sources of this information are from the forum and GGB, perhaps you have run across primary sources, or you know the origins of these documents?

The alleged document from Tennessee seems like the most likely one to actually exist as a primary source. My guess is that either someone doing genealogy mistakenly thought that Absalom's namesake nephew (son of William, Jr., and brother of Philip, they claim), who was apparently the county clerk in Franklin Co, Tennessee, was the same individual as the elder Absalom. Possibly, someone read some primary source in which the younger Absalom filed paperwork in Tennessee for his uncle in Kentucky for a Revolutionary War pension or something. Then, someone researching the younger Absalom's genealogy (probably for DAR purposes) conflated the two, unaware that they were uncle and nephew. With such a mistake, it's likely that they added the maiden name Buckner after the fact, but, if there is a primary source in Tennessee in which county clerk Absalom Russell stated that his grandmother's maiden name was Buckner, then we have evidence that Buckner is correct as Anna's maiden name.

With that in mind, for convenience I will copy and paste this from Anna's profile, so you need not read this is you've already looked at it there. I'd really like your opinion, and any ideas about where/how to search for any primary documents. I have it in mind to go to an LDS research library (or familysearch center or whatever they're called) to ask about these two alleged LDS resources, and it's also possible that I could go to Tennessee at some point and search for the original in the state archives, though I likely can't manage such a trip until next year.

Here are the potential sources, as well as my discussion:
(In the next comment)

These are the sources I mentioned, that, if genuine, could prove that Anna's maiden name really was Buckner.  I'd appreciate any input you might have about these sources and how I/we/someone might track them down, if they actually exist.


Franklin County Court Clerk Absolum Russell (1760-1840) son of William Russell and Anna Buckner, husband of Frances Gaines; served during the American Revolution, enlisting in Virginia.

Casey County Residents on the Pension List of 1835

Page 81

RUSSELL, Absalom, Pvt., VA Militia; 6 May 1833; $23.33; age 74.

Note: there is currently no primary source cited for this entry. Absalom's nephew Absalom, son of William, Jr., was probably the Absalom mentioned in this record, combined with his uncle Absalom, who actually lived 1760-1840. According to a source below, the younger Absalom was the clerk of Franklin County, Tennessee.

While the second section is clearly a military pension record from Casey County, Kentucky, the first section may be a DAR proof of service record, in which case, it should not be considered evidence that Anna's maiden name actually was Buckner.

If this is a genuine primary source (as worded above), it probably dates between 1783 and 1793, because Absalom's first child with Frances was born in 1785, and he remarried Elizabeth in 1793. However, Absalom's namesake nephew apparently became the county clerk in 1808 and served until his death in 1813. While this is certainly within his uncle's lifetime, one wonders why his wife is given as Frances, since she was deceased and he had remarried.

If it dates to Absalom's own lifetime, then, most likely his mother's maiden name really was Buckner.

In the form in which it appears here, this was taken from

According to a post on, allegedly, there is an article in the State Archives of Tennessee that states Major Wm. Russell's son, Absalom, was county court clerk of Franklin Co., Tennessee in 1808 and served until he died from wounds at the Creek War on 11/8/1813. According to this article, William Russell died 3/16/1825. Based on his age, it appears this may be the William Russell from this profile's son, William. The user also added that he believed Wm. Russell had a brother named Absalom. If so, it appears that William, Jr. may have named his son after his brother. However, since there were four Absalom Russells and over 20 William Russells, it's possible that this is a different family entirely, and until the text of this article is ascertained to be a primary source, is legitimacy must be called into question.

An additional user posted a reply to the above, stating that Absalom's brother, William, is given, by George Ely Russell (Researcher) as the father of Philip Russell (b.1765 in Lunenburg, Co. Virginia). This William also married a woman named Ann, but we have no proof of a maiden name proof for the grandmother, Ann (listed as Buckner), nor a maiden name for the mother, Ann, (both married to William, one to the father, the other to the son). This post states that The LDS files lists the grandmother's last name as Buckner, but so far the research cannot confirm it.

Finally, another user posted the following information (with all typographical errors corrected for Wikitree):

From LDS library files: Absalom Russell, son of William Russell, Sr. and Anna Buckner, born in 1760, Halifax Co., VA, married Elizabeth Gaines 23 October 1793 in Halifax Co., VA. Second marriage to Frances Gaines. He died in 1840 in Casey Co., KY and is buried on the Homer Baldock Farm, South Fork Creek, Casey Co., KY. Their children were: Bird, (M) born 14 February 1793 in Halifax Co., VA; George born in 1796; Lucretia (Cresey); Juncy (Nancy); Mary (Polly); and Elizabeth (Rosey).

With the typos corrected, the only information that is inconsistent with the facts as we know them is that the order of his marriages is backwards (he married Frances first, she was the mother of the three oldest children, then she died during or following childbirth, and he remarried her sister Elizabeth), and not all the children are listed. The only other questionable piece of information here is the mother's maiden name of Buckner. While we know this is in the LDS library, from the information provided, we do not know whether the information is a primary source, or if it was gathered from someone's research, which may have made a mistake in the tangled Gordian knot of William Russells who lived in Colonial Virginia.

Since writing this, I have confirmed that there a multiple primary sources showing that an Absalom Russell, who was the son of a William Russell, was county clerk in Franklin Co, Tennessee from 1808-1813.  I haven't confirmed that he was the nephew of our William Russell, who was married to Anna.  

This is the additional info I have found about this court clerk Absalom's family, of course I haven't had a chance to verify any of it yet, but if this is the same family, it may be useful:

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