|35th Treasurer of Illinois|
|Preceded by||John F. Smulski|
|Succeeded by||Edward E. Mitchell|
|37th Treasurer of Illinois|
|Preceded by||William Ryan Jr.|
|Succeeded by||Len Small|
|Illinois Auditor of Public Accounts|
|Preceded by||James J. Brady|
|Succeeded by||Oscar Nelson|
|Born||June 17, 1856|
|Died||November 22, 1934|
Andrew Russel (June 17, 1856 – November 22, 1934) was an Republican politician and banker, who twice served as Illinois Treasurer (1909-1911 and 1915-1917) and later as Illinois Auditor of Public Accounts (1917-1925), before being convicted along with his partner of illegal banking practices in 1932 and dying in prison.
Early and family life
Born in Jacksonville, Illinois, the eldest son of merchant William Russel (1824-1904), who had emigrated as a boy from Scotland in 1834 and his American-born wife, the former Emily Gallagher (1834-1905), daughter of a Presbyterian minister. He was named for his by-then elderly grandfather Dr. Andrew Russel, who had become a leading member of the Jacksonville community and known for his anti-slavery stance and Underground Railroad activities before the American Civil War. Russel graduated from Illinois College in Jacksonville.
By 1880, Russel had become a bookkeeper, though he continued to live with his parents and siblings. In 1891, with his retired father's financial help, Russell and his partner Millard Fillmore Dunlap established their own local bank, Dunlap, Russel and Company. Ayers Bank had been named after Philadelphia-trained druggist, merchant and early local banker, David Ball Ayers, who had begun banking on the Jacksonville site in the early 1830s, and his son Marshall Paul Ayers and brother Augustus E. Ayers had continued the business, but both died shortly after the turn of the century (as did William Russel). The Russel family was also prominent in Jacksonville: one brother became a Presbyterian minister, an uncle (also Andrew Russell) managed the grandfather's large farm 10 miles south of town, and two uncles ran the county's largest lumber yard.
In 1910, Dunlap and Russel bought the venerable Ayers National Bank (Dunlap becoming the combined bank's president). They soon hired Chicago architect Jarvis Hunt as well as a contractor from St. Louis, and built Jacksonville's first steel frame building (and one of the largest in southern Illinois), offering seven floors of office space above the bank on the ground floor. The year after it opened, the combined Ayers National Bank also bought its rival First National Bank of Jacksonville, and the combined bank grew, reaching $9 million by 1930. Russel became an early President of the Illinois Bankers Association, as well as supervising editor of a history of banking in Illinois.
Meanwhile, Russel became active in the Republican party, following his father's and grandfather's tradition. Although he lost his initial campaigns for local circuit court clerk and state senator, Russel was appointed to the Illinois Board of Pardons, and served as chairman from 1901 to 1906. His partner, Dunlap, was (like his father, the former local sheriff) a Democrat. Dunlap was a friend of William Jennings Bryan, and served as that party's state treasurer for years as well as national treasurer, but unsuccessfully ran for the office of Illinois state treasurer in 1896. Russel successfully ran as a Republican for Illinois Treasurer in 1906, so he served from 1907 to 1909 and again from 1915 to 1917 (the second time after defeating a Democrat who had succeeded to that office). Russel then successfully ran for Illinois Auditor of Public Accounts, and also won re-election to that office, serving from 1917 to 1925. These positions presumably helped his bank become one of the depositories of Illinois state funds.
Although Ayers Bank survived the initial failures as the Great Depression began, federal banking regulators discovered Dunlap and Russel had engaged in self-dealing (improperly waiving interest on an uncreditworthy note as an asset and overdrafts to Russel's personal account). In 1932 Russel and his Dunlap were indicted and convicted of violating the National Banking Act.
Death and legacy
Russel was sentenced to the federal detention farm in Milan, Michigan for eighteen months, and died there on November 22, 1934. His remains were returned to Jacksonville for burial. Depositors, including his alma mater, Illinois College, ultimately received about $.33 for every dollar they had deposited, substantially hurting the local economy. In 1939, Farmers State Bank bought the Ayers Bank Building at a foreclosure sale for $53,000. It still stands as Jacksonville's tallest building (and has been the Farmers State Bank headquarters since 1941). It may be the oldest site continually occupied by a bank in Illinois, and since 1986 has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
- 1894 Plat Book of Morgan County, Illinois, available at https://morgan.illinoisgenweb.org/1894/r_001.htm
- 1870 U.S. Federal Census for Jacksonville Ward 4, Morgan County, Illinois p. 6 of 22
- Green Berry Raum, History of Illinois Republicanism pp. 592-596(Rollins Publ. Co., 1900) available at https://books.google.com/books?id=EupKAQAAIAAJ&pg=PA592&lpg=
- Illinois marriage licenses on ancestry.com
- 1910 U.S. Federal Census for Jacksonville Ward 4, District 110, Morgan County, Illinois p. 67 of 68
- 1880 U.S. Federal Census for Jacksonville Ward 4, Morgan County, Illinois p. 6 of 22
- Prominent Democrats of Illinois, available at https://books.google.com/books?id=z7RWAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA260&lpg
- Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of Morgan County vol.2 (Chicago, 1906) available at https://sites.rootsweb.com/~ilmaga/morgan/1906bios/ayersm.html
- Raum pp. 592-596
- 1894 Morgan County Plat Book
- Cox, Harold; Davis, James E. (May 21, 1986). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory - Nomination Form: Ayers Bank Building" (PDF). Illinois Historic Preservation Agency. Retrieved December 12, 2019.
- nomination p. 12 of 18
- Men of America: A Biographical Dictionary of Contemporaries, available at https://books.google.com/books?id=nW1bTkMF2UMC&pg=PA718&lpg
- Bateman and Selby, Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and Morgan County, vol. 2 p. 816 available at https://books.google.com/books?id=5Us0AQAAMAAJ&pg=PA749&lpg
- Dunlap v. U.S. 70 F.2d 35 (7th Circuit 1934, cert. denied), digest available at https://books.google.com/books?id=blYknTozvpMC&pg=PA125&lpg
- 'Illinois Blue Book 1923-1924,' Biographical Sketch of Andrew Russel, pg. 46
- 'Andrew Russel Dies in Prison Farm Hospital,' Chicago Tribune, November 23, 1934, pg. 1
John F. Smulski
| Treasurer of Illinois
Edward E. Mitchell
William Ryan, Jr.
| Treasurer of Illinois
James J. Brady
| Illinois Auditor of Public Accounts
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