James W. Bell


James W. Bell, living practically retired upon his eighty acre farm in Franklin township after many years of close identification with agricultural interests of Winnesheik county, is a native of this part of Iowa, born at Frankville, June 27, 1854. He is a son of Thomas and Kizan (Williams) Bell, the former born in Dumfrieshire, Scotland, June 22, 1801, and the latter in Tennessee in 1830. The mother passed away when the subject of this review was nine days old but the father survived her many years, dying April 4, 1871. In early life he was a ship carpenter and followed this occupation until about 1840, when he came to America, locating first in Canada and later in Galena, Illinois, where he engaged extensively in lead mining. About the year 1852 he moved to Iowa, locating in Frankville, in Winnesheik county, where for several years thereafter he was employed in a store. He was a man of exceptional education and special training at the carpenter’s trade and he had no difficulty in securing employment. In 1856 he moved to Allamakee county and turned his attention to his trade in Franklin township until his death. He was well known in public affairs, having been carried forward into important political relations during the long period of his residence here and he was honored by his fellow citizens by election to various positions of trust and responsibility, rendering his township excellent service as justice of the peace, notary public and township assessor. He and his wife became the parents of two children: George, who resides in West Union, Fayette county, and James W., of this review.

James W. Bell was reared in the home of his aunt, Mrs. Mary Clark, a resident of this township who took him when he was nine days old. At the age of twelve he began aiding with the operation of the homestead and thus at an early age became familiar with the best and most practical agricultural methods. After his marriage he purchased his aunt’s farm and upon it for many years cultivated the soil as an independent landowner, during which time his industry, ability and perseverance brought him substantial and well merited success. In 1911 he sold the property and moved to Waukon, making his home just on the corporation line for one year, after which he bought his present farm of eighty acres lying on section 9, Franklin township. This he has rented to his son and is living in practical retirement, his period of leisure rewarding many years of active and earnest labor in the past.

On the 30th of December, 1875, Mr. Bell was united in marriage to Miss Ella M. Johnson, who was born in West Virginia, May 9, 1859. She is a daughter of Samuel and Mary (Beall) Johnson, the former a veteran of the Civil war, who was killed in the battle of Richmond. The mother afterward came west and located in Jefferson township, near Rossville, where she married Oliver Adams, with whom she moved into Franklin township, making her home there until her death. Mr. and Mrs. Bell have become the parents of six children. Anna, born June 28, 1878, is the wife of George E. Decker, a resident of Franklin township, this county. Alta, born October 16, 1880, married James E. Graham, a farmer in Stevens county, Minnesota. Edna, born April 16, 1882, married Ernest Decker and is now deceased. Arlie, who was born October 14, 1884, is the wife of A. Henthorn, a farmer in this vicinity. George, born December 9, 1890, is assisting his father with the operation of the home farm. Gail, who completes the family was born June 9, 1895, and is attending school in Waukon.

Mr. Bell is connected fraternally with Rossville Lodge, No. 172, I. O. O. F., and his political allegiance is given to the republican party. He was justice of the peace for eight years, closing his service with his resignation, but he has never desired and has always avoided political preferment. He is numbered among Allamakee county’s most progressive and successful native sons and has many friends in this community, all of whom have learned to respect and esteem him highly by reason of a life upright, straightforward and honorable in all its relations.

-source: Past & Present of Allamakee County; by Ellery M. Hancock; S. J. Clarke Pub. Co.; 1913
-transcribed by Linda Earnheart

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