At 19 years of age Russell appears to have been manager of the store [Aull’s in Lexington, MO]. The extent of the firm’s business is seen in the fact that it had an interest in three Missouri river steamboats, operated a ropewalk in Liberty, owned a saw and grist mill, and engaged in the Santa Fe and fur trade. It also contracted to furnish supplies to Fort Leavenworth, Indian missions, emigrating tribes, and United States troops.”
Although only fragmentary studies of this giant pioneer firm have been made, it is clear that during the early 1830’s it was the largest and most influential business enterprise on the western Missouri frontier. As such it not only constituted excellent training ground for Russell, but to a very great degree provided a blue print for his career in days to come. In breadth of vision, energy, daring, and remarkable skill in organization, he was destined to operate in a similar though much wider field and by far surpass his old employer and mentor.