Joseph and Sarah Bell
The progenitors of some of the Bell families in Mercer County appear to be Joseph and Sarah Bell. They are found in 1850 in Washington, Fayette County, Ohio: #105 Joseph Bell, farmer, 65, born New Jersey; Sarah, 62, born Virginia; Joseph Knight, 10, born Ohio. Also in Washington, Fayette County, Ohio we find son James Bell: #46 James C. Bell, 32, merchant, born Ohio; Eliza J, 30, Va; Laura McLean, 12, Ohio; Joseph S. Bell, 7, Ohio; James L Bell, 5, Ohio; Charles H. Bell, 5/12, Ohio; Benjamin F. Thompson, 21, Merchant, Ohio. In the History of Mercer County, 1882 (page 621) we find a biography of Benjamin F. Thompson which says "When about sixteen years old Mr. Thompson went to Washington C. H., Ohio, and clerked in a dry goods store for six years, when he came west and settled in New Boston, Mercer County, Illinois, where he formed a partnership with his brother-in-law, J. C. Bell, in the dry goods and pork packing business." This tells us that James Bellís wife, Eliza, was sister of Benjamin Thompson and that they migrated to Mercer County about 1852.
Another son of James and Sarah Bell, Charles H. Bell, came about the same time and in 1860 he is found in New Boston: #1950 Charles H. Bell, 32, merchant, born Ohio, next to 1951: B. F. Thompson, 32, merchant, born Ohio. We find that Charles H. Bell joined the New Boston Lodge No. 188, I. O. O. F. November 20, 1855 (page 90 History of Mercer). His brother J. C. Bell was also a charter member (p. 109). That he was brother of James is confirmed in a trustee sale reported in the Aledo Weekly Record on 11/15/1859: Jeremiah Cayton and Mary Cayton, wife, of New Boston, 9/21/1858 executed a deed of trust conveying to Henry I. Southard, trustee, 42 ft of NW part of Lot 4 Block 5 in New Boston. The trust deed was given to secure payment of $95.60 to be paid to James C. Bell and Charles H. Bell dba Bell and Brother. Deed recorded mortgage book E 25th Sept 1855 p. 210, 211, 212. Public sale of the land was later reported as occurring 12/3/1859 with Henry Southard, Trustee.
Another son of Joseph and Sarah Bell remained in Washington, Union Township, Fayette County and is found in the 1860 census: #197 John M. Bell, 38, teacher, born Ohio; Eliza J, 33, Oh; Sarah J, 10, Oh, Ada, 8, Oh; Lizzie, 4, Oh, Eliza Ann, 1, Oh.
Joseph and Sarah Bell are in Union Township, Fayette County, Ohio in 1860: #207 Joseph Bell, 75, farmer, born Va; Sarah, 68, born Ky. Notice that the birthplaces are different than the 1850 census. Joseph Bell probably died in Fayette County and Sarah came to Mercer County, where she is living with widowed son James C. Bell in New Boston in 1870: Sarah Bell, age 76, born Virginia.
More on the children of Joseph and Sarah Bell of Fayette County, Ohio
Charles H. Bell
Charles H. Bell married Althea Histed, daughter of Edward and Mary J. Histed, on 12/4/1860 in Mercer County. We know he was partnering with brother James from the Aledo Weekly Record reporting Bell and Brothers offering cement, lime and sugar for sale 4/24/1867. We learn that Charles' middle name was Hannibal and Althea's first name was Alice in the 1870 census in New Boston: #103 Hannibal Bell, 43, clerk in store, born Ohio; Alice, 29, born NY. In a biography of George Gore, banker and future mayor of New Boston, on page 117 in History of Mercer County, 1882 it is reported that George Gore embarked in trade in 1873 and was in partnership the first two years with C. H. Bell. In 1880 Charles is living between his nephews James and Joseph Bell in New Boston:#30 Charles H. Bell, 54, born Ohio, parents born Va;, dry goods clerk; Alice A., 40, born NY, parents born NY. In 1900 he is boarding with a Davis family in New Boston Township: Ham C. Bell, boarder, day laborer, born Nov 1824, 76, married 39 years, born Ohio, parents born Ohio; Alice A. Bell, born April 1842, no children born, born New York, parents born New York.
James C. and Eliza Thompson Bell
As reported above James and Eliza came to Mercer County early in the 1850ís along with Elizaís brother, Benjamin Thompson. James and Eliza are found in New Boston in 1860: #1856 James C. Bell, 45, farmer, born Ohio; Eliza J., 42, Va; Laura McLean, 20, born Ohio; Joseph L., 16, Ohio; James, 14, Oh; O. H. F., 10, born Ohio; Mollie Ramsey, 19, domestic, born Ohio. Note that Laura was also given as McLean in the 1850 census. In 1860 Jamesí parents Joseph and Sarah were still in Fayette County, Ohio, and living next to them was a Daniel McLean family, with a wife Matilda, age 37, born Ohio. We suspect but cannot prove that Matilda was perhaps a daughter of Joseph and Sarah Bell and sister to James Bell and that Laura McLean was her daughter and for whatever reason was under the care of James and Eliza and came to Mercer County with them (remember, this is only speculation!) Laura McLean married Justin Fidler 10/8/1863 in Mercer County and in 1870 they were in New Boston Township: Justin Fidler, 32, farmer, born Ohio; Laura, 30, Oh; Bell Fidler, 5, Il; John T. Fidler, 2, Il. We find nothing further on this family.
Eliza J. Bell died 9/23/1867 and is buried in New Boston Cemetery. Her birthdate is listed as 1/20/1814 on the tombstone. We find widower James C. Bell in New Boston in 1870: James C. Bell, 54, grocer, born Ohio; Joe S. Bell, 28, Oh; James T., 24, Oh; Omer H, 19, Oh; Sarah, 76, Va; Jennie, 18, born Ohio. We are not sure who Jennie is; she does not appear to be a daughter of James and Eliza unless she was missed in the 1860 census. Curiously the New Boston Cemetery records give James C. Bell as born 5/14/1816 and died 4/15/1867. Obviously he was alive and well in 1870 so we are not sure what the correct date of death is. We do know he died before 1880 so it may be 1877.
Son Joe S. Bell married Ella Crabb, daughter of George Washington and Sarah J. Carnahan Crabb, on 3/21/1876. They remained in New Boston and are found there in 1900: Joseph Bell, born Aug 1841, 58, married 24 years, born Oh, parents born Oh, grocer, own free and clear; Ella, Dec 1853, 46, 4 children born, 4 living; born Il, parents born Oh; Ed, Mar 1877, 23, Il, Oh, Il, grocer; Grace J, Mar 1879, 21, music teacher; Cassie, Sept 1881; Ora, Jun 1883, 16, at school.
We did not find a marriage record for son James T. Bell but find him in 1880 in New Boston: #29 James T. Bell, 35, retail grocer, born Oh, father Oh, mother Va; Alice M, 24, wife, born Oh, parents born Ohio; Rebecca Stewart, 53, mother-in-law, boarder, paralysis, born Oh, parents born Virginia.
Son Omer Hannibal Bell married Vashti Willits, daughter of James Monroe and Sarah Prouty Willits and granddaughter of Levi Willits, on 10/21/1874 in Mercer County. They are found in New Boston in 1880: #112 O. Bell, 30, farmer, born Ohio, father born Ohio, mother born Va; Vashti, 25, Il, mother In, father Il; James, 4, Il; Sallie, 2, Il; Vic (f) 2/12, Il; Henry Pierce, 60 boarder, trapper, born Mass, parents Mass. We did not find them in 1900 or 1910 in Mercer County but both Omer (1850-1926) and Vashti (1854-1924) are buried in New Boston Cemetery. We did find them in 1920 in Dallas, Dallas County, Texas: #3231 Carlisle Street, own, Homer Bell, 70, born Oh, father Ohio, mother Virginia; Vashti, 66, born Il, parents born Indiana; Sarah Bergh, daughter, 32, widow, born Il, father Ohio, mother Il. Since they likely died in Dallas we are not sure they are actually buried in New Boston Cemetery though they have markers there.
Other Bell families in Mercer County
In the 1860 census there is a William Bell family from England in Richland Grove, and a Moses Bell of England working nearby. In Viola there is a William Bell family of New York. In North Henderson there is a Jesse Bell, age 24, born Indiana, working as a laborer.