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JOHN BELL

BELL, CHAMPLIN, COURTRIGHT, EMMERSON, FASHINGER, THOMPSON

Posted By: L.K.Newby (email)
Date: 9/13/2006 at 16:39:47

Portrait and Biographical Album of Lee County, Iowa
(1887) Published by Chapman Brothers Inc., Chicago, Illinois
Transcribed from pages 194-195

John Bell, one of the honored pioneers of Lee County, is also one of the oldest residents of Marion township. He came from Morgan county, Illinois, to this section in the spring of 1840, and at once identified himself with the interests of his adopted State. He has built up for himself a good record as a man and citizen, and is one of the most valued members of the community.

Mr. Bell is of Scottish-English ancestry and parentage, and was born June 21, 1815. His parents were John and Mary CHAMPLIN Bell, who were in limited circumstances in their native England, and reared their son to habits of industry and economy. His early advantages for an education were extremely limited, as he was thrown upon his own resources at the early age of nine years, when he began to herd sheep, and, in fact employed himself at whatever he could find to do which would assist him in making his own way and providing for himself.

After arriving at years of manhood, Mr. Bell was united in marriage with Miss Jane EMMERSON, their wedding occurring on the 1st of May, 1837. On the 24th of the same month the young couple embarked upon a sailing-vessel which had just been launched, and was bound for Quebec, Canada. They landed at Buffalo, N.Y., and thence proceeded to Portsmouth, Ohio.

From there our subject came westward to Morgan county, Illinois and stopped for a time with his uncle and aunt, John & Mary Bell THOMPSON. He was then employed by him, and after about three years crossed the Mississippi and came into Lee county, Iowa, locating in Marion township on Section 30. Here our subject rented a small farm of 140 acres for a time, and then purchased it, paying $7 per acre. The money which he paid over to secure possession of this he had borrowed and paid 20 percent interest.

Upon the farm was a small log house, in which Mr. Bell and his family resided for seven years. The endured many privations and hardships, being compelled to travel long distances to mill in order to obtain necessary provisions. But our subject was prospered in his labors, and in due time found himself on the high road to prosperity. As his profits accumulated he purchased more land, and finally became the owner of 1,000 acres, a large part of which he has now divided up among his three children: William Emmerson BELL — his maternal grandfather’s namesake — resides in Donnellson and owns a farm in Franklin Township with his wife Minerva COURTRIGHT and their twelve children; Isaac Clyde BELL— his paternal grandfather’s namesake — was one of the Pioneers of Cedar township in the Big Mound community and still resides there with his wife Margaret FASHINGER-COURTRIGHT and their three children; and our subject’s youngest son Robert Edward BELL— his maternal great grandfather’s namesake — and his wife Charlotte DODSWORTH along with their five children remains on the Pioneer Homestead with his parents.

Mr. Bell and his wife Jane have lived together for a period of forty-nine years, and both are still active and in good health. When they first came here Indians were numerous and often passed in close proximity to their cabin home, but never injured or molested them. At the time of their marriage they had only money enough to bring them to the United States, and our subject presents a fine illustration of what may be accomplished by resolution and industry. He is now in possession of a fine competency for his old age. He has retained 240 acres of his land and the present substantial family residence, which was built of brick was completed in 1847, is still in a good state of preservation.

Mr. Bell has been prominently connected with the affairs of his township since its organization, and assisted in building the first school-house; the first teacher of that primitive structure was Monroe Reid, now a resident of Keokuk and known as Col. Reid of West Point. This also served as a voting-place and for the holding of religious services, while camp-meetings were held in the woods, being attended by everybody from the surrounding country that could get there. In politics our subject, formerly an old line Whig, now affiliates with the Democratic Party.

Clay Grove Cemetery
 

Lee Biographies maintained by Constance McDaniel Hall.
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