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John R. Bell


Posted By: Fran Hunt, Volunteer
Date: 10/4/2001 at 19:28:27

From the Portrait and Biographical Album of Jefferson and Van Buren Counties – 1890 County
John R. Bell, who is engaged in farming and raising stock on Section 19 Van Buren Township, Van Buren County, is a native of Hancock County Illinois. He was born on November 14, 1836, the third child of James and Barbara Walker Bell. His father was born in Virginia, July 16m 1813, and in his native state in the usual manner of farmer lads spent his boyhood days. At the age of sixteen years he started out in life for himself, going to Campbell County Kentucky, where he worked as a farm hand by the month for four or five years, He then married and engaged in farming in his own interest. Removing to Hancock County in 1836, he there spent one year, during which time our subject was born, and in 1837 continued his journey westward until reaching Van Buren County, Iowa. He was truly one of the pioneer settlers of this community. At that time the work of advancement and progress had scarcely been commenced, few settlements had been made and the country was still inhabited by the red men. The land was not surveyed, but Mr. Bell made claim and as soon as it came into market paid the Government price for his farm; $1.25 per acre. It was a one hundred and fifty-five acre tract of timberland without improvement, but tree after tree fell before his ax, the brush was cleared away, the ground was plowed, and in the course of time abundant harvests were garnered as the result of his labors. That farm, which fifty years ago was an unbroken wilderness, is now the home of our subject. His father also made substantial improvements, including the erection in 1856 of a good brick dwelling. He was a quiet man yet just and honorable in all his dealings, winning the respect of all with whom he came in contact. He voted the Democratic ticket. His death occurred on the old homestead, April 15, 1872. His wife, who was born in Kentucky, May 4, 18120, and resided in that state until her marriage, was called to her final rest October 8, 1862. She was for many years an active member of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Their family numbered six children, all of whom grew to mature years, namely: Eli D., a resident farmer of Van Buren Township; Rachel D., wife of J.M. Jackson, of Davis County; John R., of this sketch; George W. a farmer of Davis County; Sarah E., wife of Jonathan Denning, a farmer of Van Buren township, and H.L., now deceased.
When a babe of five months John R. Bell was brought by his parents to Van Buren County, and upon the farm which his father cleared and developed he has passed his entire life and the old homestead, doubly dear to him, as the dwelling place of his parents and the spot where his own boyhood days were passed, will doubtlessly continue to be his abiding place until this life shall have ended. He acquired his education in the district schools of the neighborhood and, like a dutiful son, assisted his father until he had attained to man’s estate when he began working in his own interests as a farmer. Throughout his entire life he has engaged in agricultural pursuits and in connection is now doing a good business in the line of raising stock. He keeps on hand a good grade of stock, which he is constantly improving, and is now grading into Shorthorn cattle and heavy draft horses.
At the age of twenty-two years, Mr. Bell was joined in wedlock with Miss Sarah A. Bridell, of this county, daughter of Isaac and Maria Roach Bridell, both of whom were natives of Indiana. Her parents are now deceased. By this union were born three children: Marietta, who became the wife of J.G. Hootman and died leaving one son—Wentford R.; Harriet T., wife of H.S. Beer, of Van Buren Township, by whom she has one child—Van L.; Addie B., wife of George N. Shepherd of Union Township, Van Buren County. The mother, who was a member of the Methodist Church, departed this life July 11, 1871. On January 24, 1872, Mr. Bell wedded Mrs. Almira Bell, widow of H.L. Bell and daughter of Henry and Sarah Knupp Kimmel. Their union was blessed with one child, John S., who was left motherless September 16, 1876. On October 3, 1877, Mr. Bell was a third time married, his union being with Miss Mary C. Miller, daughter of G.W. and Eliza J. Henry Miller. They also had one child, a daughter—Carrie M. the parents and the elder children are members of the Methodist Church, and in political sentiment, Mr. Bell is a Democrat. He takes an active interest in all that pertains to the advancement and welfare of the community and is an earnest worker in Mr. Zion Methodist Church, being Superintendent of the Sunday School and Class Leader, having acted in that capacity for twelve of fifteen years. Few if any have been longer residents of the county that he. Its growth and advancement he has witnessed, and in its development he has borne no inconsiderable part. He has seen towns and villages spring up, has witnessed the introduction of the railroad, has seen the establishment of churches and schools within its borders, while the county has been made to bloom and blossom like the rose.
I am not related, and am only copying this for the information of those who might find this person in their family.


Van Buren Biographies maintained by Rich Lowe.
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