Joseph Russell was born on December 6, 1763 in Groton, Massachusetts, the son of Ephraim Russell and Miriam Wheeler. Joseph Russell enlisted on July 27, 1780 as a private at Groton, Massachusetts, and he served under Captain John Porter and Colonel Cyprian Howe in the Massachusetts Militia. He served for two months until October 30, 1780.
After the American Revolution, Joseph and his widowed mother Miriam moved to Bingham, Maine. Joseph Russell married Elizabeth Goodridge, the daughter of Josiah Goodridge and Elizabeth Phelps, in 1790 in Bingham, and they had seven children: Rhoda Russell, Frank Russell, Lucy Russell, Elizabeth Russell, Mary Russell, Ephraim Russell, and Susan Russell. Joseph and his wife were members of the First Congregational Church of Bingham, founded in 1805.
Joseph filed for a pension for his Revolutionary War service in 1832, which was granted. In 1850, the widower Joseph was living in Moscow, Maine. Joseph Russell died on December 27, 1855 in Bingham, Maine, and was buried in the Bingham Village Cemetery.