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Clarence Houston Bell of Dozier shared heritage of family

Another autobiography or memoirs record is the source of today’s writing. Clarence Houston Bell of Dozier, Ala., wrote his book, Recollections, in 1997. This writer is very thankful to have had access to a copy and able to write this review.

Jonathan Bell Jr. is the earliest ancestor named by Clarence in his book. Jonathan was born in 1785 and lived a long life before passing in 1870. He was married to Sarah A. Andress (1787-1970). Ancestry.com carries this line back three earlier generations, but it may not be documented. It shows Jonathan Ezekiel Bell Sr., born 1751 in Stafford, Va., and died in 1818 in Sumter County, S.C., as the father of Jonathan Bell Jr. Jonathan Ezekiel Bell Sr. was the son of George Bell Jr., born 1731 in Hanover, Va. and died in 1787 in Louisa County, Va., and Ann Henson/Hinson (1729-1761. George Bell Jr. was the son of George Bell Sr., born in 1704 in Hanover, Va. and died in 1778, and Rebecca Moore (1710-1762).

Jonathan Bell Jr. and his wife, Sarah A. Andress, were the parents of a son named Thomas Walter Bell who was born in 1830. In 1865, he was married to Margaret Hazeltine Kirkpatrick (1840-1917), daughter of James S. Kirkpatrick (1811-1903) and Hannah A. ? (1818-1860). Thomas Walter and Margaret Bell were the parents of the following children: Hermon Adolphus, b. 1870, d, 1957, m. Lenora Ann Shreve (1870-1944); Clifford Justus, b. 1870, d. 1928; Walter Houston, b. 1874, d. 1957, m. 1908 Freddie Georgia Watson (1888-1975); Lillian McCurdy, b. 1876, d. 1954; Julius Marvin, b. 1878, d. 1967; and Laura Olivia, b. 1883, d. 1964. The family of the son, Walter Houston, is the one to be followed in this story.

The oldest son, Herman Adolphus Bell, was born in 1870 in Greenville, Ala., and lived until 1957 at which time he died in Andalusia. In 1892, he was married to Lenora Ann Shreve (1870-1944). They were the parents of the following children: Alma Gertrude, b. 1897, d. 1938; Allene E., b. 1898, d. 1978; Anna Mae “Annie,” b. 1902, d. 1973; Joseph Vernon, b. 1905, d. 1961, m. 1927 Clara Ellinor Ballard (1906-2002); Margaret Elizabeth, b. 1909, d. 1973; James Clement, b. 1909, d. 1982; and Odis, b. 1910, d. 1920.

The third son, Walter Houston Bell, was born in 1874 in Crenshaw County, Ala. He pursued school actively and eventually achieved his training to become a medical doctor. He began as a country doctor in the Aiken community in the southern area of Butler County and traveled around in his two-wheeled cart drawn by a horse. In 1914, he purchased his first car, a Model T Ford, and had to hire someone to teach him how to drive it. In 1908 in Aiken of the Pigeon Creek community, he was married to Freddie Georgia Watson, daughter of James Thomas Watson (1842-1927) of Taylor County, Ga., and Frances Eleanor Stallings (1853-1933) who was born in Oakey Streak.

John Thomas Watson and Eleanor Stallings were married in 1874 in Oakey Streak. She was the daughter of Reuben Reid Stallings and Lenora Ann Brogden. Reuben Reid was the son of William David Stallings (1797-1877) who was born in Aiken, S.C. and Harriett Lane, daughter of J.T. Lane and a native of South Carolina. William David Stallings was later married to Bridgett Williamson (1812-1877).

Dr. Walter Houston and Freddie Bell resided in the Aiken community until they moved in 1913 to the Searight community in Crenshaw County near the Covington County line. Dr. Walter Bell practiced medicine there for about eight years before moving again. They had three children at that time, and three more would be born at this residence. The older ones would begin school here, and Clarence described the Searight School as it was at that time. During his period of attendance, the wood frame building had two stories; however, there was only one teacher for about 30 students ranging from grade one through seven.

The children enjoyed the countryside and their stay in Searight. They fished and learned to swim in the nearby Camp Branch along with the Conecuh River below Sims Bridge. The adults seined with nets for fish in the ”Dead Lakes,” which were found in the area were the river once ran. The boys worked in the tobacco fields and rode on wagons loaded with it to the Gantt Warehouse. They enjoyed visiting a neighbor’s cane mill to drink cane juice and the area farmers’ peanut pickers for peanuts.

In 1921, Dr. Bell decided to move his growing family to Dozier, a slightly larger, growing town located several miles north of Searight. The move was by mules and wagons to a house purchased from Eugene Merrill. Dr. Bell located his medical office in the Drug Store Building. A number of folks in the area were growing cucumbers for a local market owned by the W.W. Pickle Company in Montgomery. Dr. Bell allowed his older sons to grow some for earning money. The cucumbers were cured some in brine and then transported in special tank cars to Montgomery to be processed and sold.

The school in Dozier was somewhat better equipped for educating the youth. The earliest one was located on County Road 77 and the second, on North Main Street and Co. 77. The third was across the street from Borie White’s house, and the fourth, a brick building, constructed in 1925, was located on School Drive, North East. Around 1938, lightening struck a chimney and caused the building to burn to the ground. A fifth and final building was constructed on the same lot and served the community until it was closed around 1992. Long serving trustees included A.F. Merrill, H.O. Cannon, J.H. “Babe” Clark and Levie C. Sirmon, all of Dozier.

Dr. Walter Houston Bell and his wife, Freddie, were the parents of the following children: Clarence Houston, b. 1908, d. 2001, m. 1932 Velma Jewel Rowell; Dr. Leslie M., b. 1910, m. 1939 Marion W. Willard; Dr. Bernard Thomas, b. 1911, d. 2002, m. 1944 Inza Helene Fripp (1920-1998); Evelyn Frances, b. 1913, d. 2002, m. Frank Kingsley Davis (b. 1904); Harold Wright, b. 1915, d. 1971, m. 1942 Thelma Forbes; Mary Helen, b. 1917, d. 2004, m. 1942 Robert Wilson Clarke (1917-2001); and Charles Woodroe, b. 1921, d. 2001, m. 1946 Sara Maulene Holmes.

The oldest son, Clarence Houston Bell, received his first diploma from Dozier High School in 1924. The next year, a twelfth grade was added, so he returned and received a second diploma in 1925. He recalled purchasing his marriage license at the courthouse and a wedding ring from P. Lewis Jewelry Shop in Andalusia. For that trip and others to occasionally catch a movie in Andalusia he would borrow a car from the auto shop owned by J.C. Cain, his father and himself. In 1932, he was married to Velma Jewel Rowell (b. 1905), daughter of Edgar Alonzo Rowell and Ella Irene Colquett.

Clarence continued to work in the auto business, and his family resided in the Town of Dozier. He and Velma were the parents of the following children: Mary Frances, b. 1934, m. James Byron Rollins Jr., and had a son named James Scott Rollins; Gladys Joyce (Gladys name was dropped), b. 1938, m. Billy Dean Baxley, and had two children: William Dean Baxley, m. 1993 Robin Laura Barnes, and Jennifer Baxley, m. Shannon Hall; and Walter Ed, b. 1940, single.

The source for today’s writing was Clarence Houston Bell’s autobiography entitled Recollections with a few additions from Ancestry.com.

Anyone who might find an error in the above is requested to contact this writer, Curtis Thomasson, at 20357 Blake Pruitt Road, Andalusia, Ala. 36420; 334-804-1442; or Email: cthomasson@centurytel.net.