The search for Russell Leonard

Updated: Jan 22

The search along the trails left behind by my Leonard family, have led me squarely to a place commonly found by genealogists - a brick wall.

The earliest Leonard that has been identified in my line is Charles Russell Leonard who was born in 1830, possibly in Union Springs or Springport, Cayuga County, New York. He had a sister named Jenette who was born in 1833. Others in the family researching this line give his mother's name as Sophronia, possibly Sophronia Burrill.

An extensive search of newspapers published in the area during that period produced this very interesting find:

Who was this "Russel Leonard", husband of Sophronia Leonard, who left Lock Port on November 1, 1833, never to be heard from again?

Watch this video, which explains my theory:

If my theory is correct, Russell was the son of Joshua Leonard of Worthington, Hampshire County, Massachusetts. Joshua was born on Nov. 8, 1773. [Vital records of Worthington, Massachusetts, to the year 1850, p. 44]. He lived in neighboring Chesterfield in 1810. His father was Amos Leonard. (Possible match here).

Joshua Leonard, Jr., was living in Scipio, Cayuga County, New York, in 1820. In the home there was a young man born between 1805 and 1810, which could very well have been his younger brother, Russell. It couldn't have been either of his other two brothers, as the ages don't match.

In 1830, Joshua Sr., was counted on the census in Venice, Cayuga County, New York. Venice was formed from Scipio in 1823, so perhaps he didn't move, but rather the location of his home fell in the portion of Scipio that became Venice. He was counted on the census there again in 1840, where we find Sophronia was also living with her new husband, Thomas Knapp in 1840. It does not appear that her son, Charles, was living in the Knapp home. Perhaps he was living with Joshua Leonard, Sr. at the time.

My question is, what ever happened to Russell, the son of Joshua Leonard? Was he the husband of Sophronia who went missing in 1833?

I had previously researched another Russell Leonard who was born in 1808 in Hampshire County, Massachusetts and died on October 22, 1874 in Grant, St. Clair, Michigan. His death record states his parents were Elisha Leonard and Elizabeth Brown who were married in Washington, Massachusetts, on March 23, 1802. This Russell, however, was actually named Elisha Russell Leonard, Jr., born March 19, 1808, in Massachusetts. He married Lydia Ann Leonard, the daughter of Benjamin Leonard of Massachusetts and Eva Burgett of Connecticut, according to user contributed data on findagrave memorial #134570823. Lydia was born April 11, 1811, in Chautauqua, New York, and married first to a Mr. Forbes.

Russell and Lydia were married in London District*, Ontario, Canada on November 19, 1833. By 1850 "Russel Leonard", age 42, was working as a Shingle maker and living in Burtchville, Michigan, with his wife, Lydia, and five children: Almina, Wellington, Alice, Abigail, and George Leonard. (*or in Townsend twsp, Norfolk County, Ontario, Canada).

According to a very informative post by Marla Gearhart on the message boards in the Leonard Family Genealogy Forum on, Elisha Leonard (1751-1832) did have a son Elisha and a grandson named (Elisha) Russell Leonard. Elisha Leonard, Jr. moved from Massachusetts about. 1815 and lived in Madison County, New York, and then in Oneida County before moving to Ontario, Canada, about 1825. She claims his son, (Elisha) Russell settled in Michigan abt. 1847.

While the dates line up, and the places are close - they are not close enough. These Leonards show no connection to Port Byron or Union Springs. They also show no other known males named Charles in the line. Furthermore, if Russell's father was already in Canada in 1825, the it seems likely that his son was also there with him. For these reasons, I do believe the Russell who was the son of Joshua Leonard is more likely a paternal match for our Charles Russell Leonard. I hope to confirm this eventually. Someone please tell me he didn't leave poor Sophronia in upstate New York alone with two small children just as winter was approaching, only to run off and marry another woman! Please?!

There may have been a connection between Joshua and Elisha's families, since they were both from Hampshire County, Massachusetts. The fact that they both used the Russell name, however, seems to be coincidental. Joshua's son, Russell, appears to have been named after his mother's brother, Russell Sylvester, while Elisha Russell Leonard was named after his father. Deeper investigation into the lines will prove to be more confusing since there was another Joshua Leonard b. 1797 living in Cazenovia in the mid 1800s. He was a reverend. Perhaps in another post I will share my research on that line.

Your comments, questions and suggestions are welcome! Please share!

#Leonard #leonard #CharlesRussellLeonard #RusselLeonard #missing #Michigan #missinglink

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