Skip to Main Content

Mary Virginia Harrison Russell correspondence, 1905-1980, bulk 1930-1976

This collection encompasses the life of Mary Virginia Harrison Russell. The collection also details, in part, the lives of Augusta "Gussie" Mae Bloodworth Harrison and Benjamin Harrison.  

Benjamin Harrison was born on August 30, 1894 and reared in Washington and Hancock Counties, Georgia. He was the son of William Thomas Harrison, a Civil War veteran (Southern Army) and Margaret "Maggie" Lee Brown Harrison both of Washington County, Georgia. Benjamin Harrison graduated from Georgia Military College in June 1916. In 1918 he married Augusta "Gussie" Mae Bloodworth. From 1918 to 1919, he served as acting company commander for the United States Navy in Charleston, SC, instructing and training recruits in military science and tactics. From 1919 to 1940 Benjamin Harrison worked in sales, banking and construction. He was appointed and served as Postmaster for Milledgeville from May 1940 until his death in 1956. During his tenure as Postmaster he was granted several leaves of absences to go on active duty with the Naval forces.  

Benjamin Harrison was a member of the International Rotary Club, the Elks Club, the Milledgeville Post American Legion and served as the District Director of the National Association of Postmasters. He received the American Defense Service Medal, the American Area Camp Medal, World War I Victory Medal, World War II Victory Medal and the Good Conduct Medal.  

Augusta "Gussie" Mae Bloodworth was born on March 7, 1900 in Baldwin County, Georgia. Her parents were Erasmus Franklin Bloodworth of Wilkinson County, Georgia and Martha Emma Baumgartel of Putnam County. She attended the Midway School and Georgia Military College during her formative and adolescent years. She was enrolled as a student at the Georgia Normal & Industrial College. She did not, however, graduate from GN & IC. At the age of eighteen, Augusta "Gussie" Mae Bloodworth married Benjamin Harrison. On June 1, 1925 Gussie Harrison gave birth to a daughter, Mary Virginia Harrison.

Gussie Harrison participated in Civilians for Volunteer Service in Home Defense during World War II. She was active in her community as evidenced by her position as a charter member of The Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation, as a a member of the Nancy Hart Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, and as a member, along with her husband and daughter, of Saint Stephen's Episcopal Church.

Mary Virginia Harrison Russell, born on June 1, 1925, was the only daughter of Benjamin and Gussie Harrison. During her childhood years she was a student of the Grammar School Department of Georgia Military College (GMC). Afterwards she attended Peabody High School and graduated in 1942. After high school Mary Virginia attended Georgia State College for Women in Milledgeville, Georgia. On September 2, 1943, Mary Virginia was the first person under twenty-one years of age who became a registered voter in Baldwin County, Georgia. In 1946 she graduated with an A.B. in Spanish, Speech, and English. While attending GSCW Mary Virginia was a member of the A Capella Choir directed by Max Noah, a member of the Allegro Club, a member of Alpha Psi Omega, a member of the Granddaughters' Club and the Town Girls' Club, elected as president of the Literary Guild sponsored by the Department of English at GSCW, and a staff writer of the Corinthian, the student literary journal at GSCW, during Flannery O'Connor's tenure as editor.

After graduation from GSCW Mary Virginia worked as a clerk for the United States Post Office in Milledgeville, Georgia. For approximately two years she worked in the same office as her father. Mary Virginia moved to Washington, D.C. and worked as a civilian employee for the Navy Department. On November 12, 1949, she married John Allison Mills. She continued to work for the government during her marriage to Mills. The marriage was dissolved in 1954. In 1959 she resigned from her position as an intelligence clerk from the Navy Department and married Roy Russell, Sr. an automobile dealer and inherited a step-son, Roy Russell, Jr. Upon her marriage to Russell, she moved to Vidalia, Georgia. She was an active member of the Vidalia Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Shortly after her husband's death, in 1974, she returned to Milledgeville.

Mary Virginia was a member of the Milledgeville Planning and Zoning Commission and helped piece together the planning and zoning ordinance. In May of 1979 she was elected to the Board of Trustees of the Old Capital Historical Society. In September of 1979 she ran an unsuccessful campaign for the city council post.

On November 6, 1979, at age of 54, Mary Virginia died at the Macon Medical Center as a result of a gunshot wound to the head. Local authorities ruled her death a suicide.