When the history of the Grange movement in Washington comes up, the name of David L. Russell leads all the rest.
Russell was an organizer and first master of the Washougal Grange, the state’s oldest in terms of continuous existence, and also was prominent in organizing the first state Grange in LaCamas in 1889, two months before statehood.
Russell was born in West Virginia in 1835 and immigrated to California with his father in 1850 to join the gold rush. Not finding any gold, he headed back to Missouri, but the lure of the West kept beckoning him.
In 1864, Russell headed back to the Pacific Coast and turned north to Washington Territory. He took up a homestead in the Battle Ground area in the spring of 1866, cleared away the forest and farmed the property until March 1882.
In that year, Russell settled on dairy farm about one mile from Washougal where he milked 30 cows and manufactured butter.
When the Washougal Grange was orgainzed March 31, 1883, Russell became the first master, a position he held for several years. Six years later, Russell was chosen first master of the state Grange and toured the state orgainzing subordinate Granges.
Russell worked long and hard for agricultural causes and was a member of the Washington Territorial Legislature in 1873 to 1875.
As a dairyman, Russell fought bitterly against the introduction of oleomargarine into America’s diet and played an important role in getting the product restricted as a butter substitute for many years.
As early as 1892, Russell said in his annual address: “Some of our dairymen as well as many customers of butter have been investigating this matter and believe that strong measures should be instituted to prevent this fraudulent stuff from crowding honest butter out of the market. Washington has become a dumping ground for this foul stuff.”
Russell died Aug. 22, 1913, at age 78.