She was known as “Mother Russell,” the wife of the state’s chief justice and the mother of a U.S. Senator.
Ina Dillard was born in Oglethorpe County in 1868. After attending the Lucy Cobb Institute in Athens, she married a young Athens lawyer named Richard Russell. He became one of the first judges to serve on the Georgia Court of Appeals and in 1922 was elected chief justice of Georgia’s Supreme Court.
Ina raised seven sons and six daughters while managing the family farm near Winder. In 1912 alone, she sewed more than 200 garments for her children. Her oldest son Richard Jr. became Georgia governor in 1931 and served 38 years in the U.S. Senate.
In 1932, the Georgia State College of Women—now Georgia College and State University—renamed its library in her honor as the alma mater of five of her daughters. State flags were flown at half-mast when she died in 1953.
The matriarch of one of Georgia’s great political dynasties was born on February 18, 1868, Today in Georgia History.
Today in Georgia History is a joint collaboration of the Georgia Historical Society & Georgia Public Broadcasting.