Bell family descendants first settled here in the 1850s

Published 12:07 am Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Bell family name appeared in Covington County as early as 1823 when Isaac H. Bell was here doing some surveying work. In 1823, he was deputy surveyor for Range 15E in the county. Also, in 1847, he surveyed townships one through five of Range 16. He apparently did not locate in the area for very long, but returned to his home when his work was completed. There were no Bell households enumerated during the 1850 federal census for Covington County.

By 1854, other Bell descendants began to purchase land from the government throughout Covington County. The first to do so was Walter Bell, who purchased 80.25 acres in the Antioch Township in 1854. During the same year he acquired 242.70 acres in the same area. Two years later in 1856, Samuel Bell bought two tracts of land, 40.27 acres and 79.90 acres, in the Dozier/Rose Hill Township.

When the 1860 census was enumerated, a James A. Bell was listed as owning one slave. Two years later in 1862, Bushrod W. Bell enlisted in the Confederate Army. He served as a 2nd Lt. in Company A, 25th Alabama Infantry Regiment.

There were four Bell households enumerated in the 1860 census. John Bell was listed as a 40-year old farmer, born in Alabama. He had a boarder, Nathan D. Seigler, 31 years old, living in his household. Robert A. Bell, 29 years old, born in Alabama, and his wife, Mary E., 27 years old, had a son, James T., 5 years old. Samuel N. Bell, 33 years old, and his wife, Martha Ann E., 21 years old, had two young children, Alice O., 2, and Edward S., 1. Robert Bell, 71 years old, born in South Carolina, was listed as a hatter. With him were the following: Ann, 40; Easter, 30; Elizabeth, 25; Samuel 30; and Charlotte, 19. All of these were born in South Carolina.

In the Alabama State Census in 1866, there were two Bells listed, J.W. and B.E.

There were other Bell households here when the 1870 census was recorded. In the Red Level Precinct, there was the Thomas Bell family. He was 47 years old and a native of South Carolina. With him was his wife, Susan A, 48, also a native of South Carolina. With them were the following children who were born in South Carolina: Sarah J., 16; Thomas, 14; Rebecah A., 11; and Ella E., 9. The next child, Julia A. or P., 7, was born in Alabama, and another, Celia S., 3, was listed as being born in Georgia.

The next Bell family resided in Rose Hill. J.T., born in Alabama, was 24, and his wife, Anney, was 17 and born in Alabama. Living next door to this couple was the John W. Bell family. John was 28 and born in Alabama, and his wife Elizabeth was 24. With them were two young children, Mary E., 2; and David, 6 months.

Two other Bell families here in 1870 were those of J.W. Bell and Barry Bell. J.W. was 52 years old and a blacksmith as well as native of Alabama. He and his wife, Tempy, who was 50 years old, had the following children in their household: Elizabeth, 16; Herendon, 14; Dock, 12; Hudson, 4; and Malissa, 1. Barry Bell was a farmer at 30 years of age and native of Alabama. He and his wife, Jane, who was 27, had two young children, James, 3; and Ema, 7 months.

When the 1880 census was recorded, Charles Tweed Bell was listed as a farmer at 32 years of age. His wife, Barbara, was 28, and they had an infant son, Jacob, 2 years old. He homesteaded two tracts of land during 1883.

During the 1880s and 1890s other Bell descendants purchased government land in Covington County. Charles T. Bell homesteaded two different tracts, 122.50 and 40.89 acres, in the New Hope Township, which is located in the southeastern area of the county. In 1894, Jeremiah F. Bell homesteaded 151 acres in the Beulah Township. In 1895, Barney E. Bell homesteaded 160.55 acres of land set aside for railroads in the southern area of Crenshaw County. In 1899, John M. Bell, homesteaded 160.25 acres set aside for a railroad in the Andalusia Township.

By the recording of the 1900 census for Covington County, there were several Bell households. John M. Bell, who had homesteaded land the previous year, was 38 years old and residing in the Andalusia Precinct. He and his wife, Phardy E., who was 27 years old, were both born in Alabama. They had two young children, Jessie L, 9; and James M., 6, who were also born in Alabama.

Also residing in Andalusia were William M. Bell, 65 years old, and his wife, Elizabeth, 64 years old, both born in Alabama. Their daughter, Laura, 33, and her husband, Henry F. Floyd, 35, were living in the household, and they had the following children with them: William F., 19; Loucey, 14; Lou T., 13; Jennie, 8; and Joel A., 3.

Elbert Bell, 14 years old, was living with his grandparents, Elbert and Mary E. Scofield. They were located in Hallton of Precinct Three, which is only a short distance northeast of the Town of Opp.

Also in the Hallton area was H. Bell, 23, who was listed as head of the household. With him were his mother, Mary Ann Bell, 49, and brother, Jefferson, 17. His aunt, Mathey Whitehead, 34, and her four children were also living in the household: Mildred, 9; Frances, 6; Jessie W., 4; and unnamed infant, 1 month.

Charles T. Bell was residing in the Green Bay community. He was 53 years old and his wife, Barbra A., was 47. They had the following children with them at that time: Jacob. H., 23; Mary E., 18; Frances M. (male), 14; Charles C., 9; Thomas J., 6; and Sarah, 3. In the same general area, Sam Bell, 17 years old, was a boarder in the home of Zebedee Schofield.

John Bell, 38 years of age, was a boarder in the home of Elizabeth Brown, a widow in the Hart community.

Those were the Bell descendants who resided in Covington County up until 1900. There may have been others whose names are not in public records. Obviously, there is a need for more information on the Bell family to have a good history of it during these years. Anyone who might have such information or any correction to the above data is requested to contact this writer, Curtis Thomasson, at 20357 Blake Pruitt Road, Andalusia, AL 36420; call 334-222-6467; or e-mail:

The sources for this family data were the census records and Wyley Ward’s two books: Original Land Sales and Grants in Covington County, Alabama and Early History of Covington County, Alabama—1821-1871.