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James Bell


Posted By: Fran Hunt, Volunteer
Date: 10/2/2001 at 19:19:48

From the Portrait and Biographical Album of Jefferson and Van Buren Counties – 1890
James Bell, deceased, an honored pioneer of Van Buren County, of 1837, was born in Virginia, about 1810. In early childhood he was left an orphan and reared by strangers with whom in his boyhood he went to Kentucky. He moved to Illinois prior to his marriage, locating in Hancock County where he formed the acquaintance of Miss Barbara Walker, whom he afterward, made his wife. With the hope of securing a home, in1837, they started westward crossed the Mississippi and made a location in the central part of Van Buren County, Iowa about two miles north of Keosauqua. At that time there were only one or two families living in the central portion of the county, and a cornfield marked the site of the present county seat. It will thus be seen that the work of advancement and development had not been carried forward with very rapid strides. Mr. Bell entered land which he transformed into a fine farm, and at his death the old homestead comprised two hundred and forty acres of as highly cultivated land as could be found in the county.
Seven children, four sons and three daughters were born to the union of James Bell and Barbara Walker. Eli, the firstborn, married Sarah A. Matthews and his farm, a short distance north of Keosauqua joins the old homestead; Rachel is the wife of Mr. Jackson, a resident farmer of Davis County Iowa; John R. operates the home farm has been three times married, his present wife being Mary Miller; George W., an enterprising businessman of Milton; Sarah E. is the wife of Jonathan Denning who is engaged in agricultural pursuits in Van Buren County; Henry who married Almira Kimball, was drowned in the Des Moines River at Pittsburg, in 1870, and one died in infancy.
The death of Mrs. Bell occurred in October 1863, but Mr. Bell survived his wife some seven years, dying in 1870, in the sixty-first year of his age. Both he and his wife were members of the Methodist Episcopal Church and were identified with the first church in the county. He was a Democrat in politics but gave little attention to political affairs. He was familiarly know among his neighbors and friends as “Uncle Jim,” and the word of Uncle Jim was as readily received as the bond of most men. He was genial and kindly by nature and was always ready to give assistance, encouragement or sympathy to those in need of his kindly offices. A typical pioneer, such as made the era of good feeling proverbial in the early settlement of the West, his sketch deserves representation in this volume which will long perpetuate his memory.
I am not related, and am posting this biography for those who may find this person in their family history.


Van Buren Biographies maintained by Rich Lowe.
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