Charles J. Bell, BiographyPorter County biographical sketches . . . .

Transcribed biography of Charles J. Bell

CHARLES J. BELL, the well known insurance man of Sheakleyville and civil engineer for the Cochrantown Telephone Company, comes of a gallant and educated Scotch-Irish family. He is a grandson of Sir William Bell, of Scotland. Lord John Bell, his great-grandfather, was in his earlier manhood colonel of a famous Scotch regiment of Highland dragoons and afterward became a general. The father, William Bell, was born in county Antrim, Ireland, and was educated in one of the noted Belfast colleges as a civil engineer for the India service. As his attractions for the west, however, were much greater than those for the Orient, he migrated to Quebec, Canada, where he engaged in teaching for a time, then crossing into the States and purchasing a farm at the head of Lake Chautauqua, New York. Teaching and farming also occupied his time at Pittsburg and at various points in Ohio prior to 1838, when he became a resident of Sandy Creek township, then settling on the land which was transformed into the family homestead, so familiar a landmark to the old pioneers of Mercer county. When William Bell thus became a fixture in the citizenship of this county he had already followed the family instincts and made for himself a military record, having served as a member of the English army in Ireland, in the war of 1812, and in the repression of the Irish rebellion of 1816 in which he was wounded by a cannon ball in the chest and in the head. He died in Sandy Creek township in 1878, at the age of ninety-five years, nine months and fifteen days, a citizen of brave, rugged and useful character, honored with many local offices and generally respected for his ability and rectitude in both private and public life.

William Bell was twice married, his first wife being Catherine McChain, of Ireland, who bore him William J., Arthur and James, and one daughter, who died in infancy. His second wife was Lavina Boyland, who was born in Mercer county. Her father, Aaron Boyland, Jr., was born, it is thought, in New Jersey, and his father, Aaron Boyland, Sr., was a native of New Jersey of English parents. He served under Washington in the Revolutionary war and participated in the battle of Trenton and on this battlefield found the steel spectacles now in the possession of Charles J. Bell. The wife of Aaron Borland, Sr., survived him many years, living to the advanced age of one hundred and fifteen years, spending her last days in Mercer county. Aaron Boyland, Jr., was a pioneer settler of this county, having secured government land in Deer Creek township and there cleared a farm. He reared a family of nine children and lived till past the age of eighty years. The maiden name of his wife was Sarah Thompson and she spent her entire life in Mercer county. There were ten children by his union to Lavina Boyland: Charles J., of this biography; Samuel T., Hannah C., Sarah A., David W., Joseph H., Wilminda. Jane A., John, and one who died in infancy. Mrs. Lavina Bell died in 1875, aged sixty-two years, eight months and sixteen days.

Charles J. Bell, of this review, was born on the homestead farm in Sandy Creek township, December 21, 1842, and received his education in the district schools of the neighborhood, which were taught in the log cabins. At the age of sixteen he was apprenticed to the shoemaker's trade, which he followed for eighteen years, when he became a clerk for T. K. Cochran, of Sheakleyville. This service of four years was followed, in 1880, by his entrance into the insurance field. During the intervening period he has established a substantial reputation and a fine business in connection with standard insurance companies of Pennsylvania and the eastern, western and southern states, being the local representative at the present time of the Michigan Commercial, the Home, of Georgia, the Mutual Insurance Company, of Lebanon, and the Fort Pitt Insurance Company, of Pittsburg. Mr. Bell is also one of the oldest and best known justices of the peace in Mercer county, being first elected to office in 1883, or more than a quarter of a century ago; (He has served as school director, and in various other township and borough positions, and while a resident of Porter county, Indiana, was postmaster of Porter Cross Roads in 1866-7. His Republicanism dates from the casting of his first vote for Abraham Lincoln, and his Presbyterianism from a still earlier date, as he became a member of that church in March, 1864, and has been a deacon in the local body for about thirty-five years. Mr. Bell is also one of the charter members of Norman Lodge No. 1640, Knights of Honor, and in social circles, whether of the lodges or the general community, is a welcomed and universally respected participant.

On September 17, 1863, Mr. Bell was united in marriage to Miss Catherine Meibert, born in Hesse-Cassel, Germany, daughter of Justus Meibert, also a native of Hesse-Cassel. He was a farmer of Perry township, where he settled in the year 1853 and died in 1904, aged eighty-four years. Catherine (Bartholomew) Meibert, his wife, was born in Hesse- Cassel, Germany, in 1819 and is still living, at the age of more than ninety years. Three children were born to the union of Mr. and Mrs. Charles J. Bell, as follows: William, deceased; George A., who married Miss Blanche Lockard, became the father of a daughter, Blanche, and died in 1904; and Emma, who married George A. Buell, a resident of Wyoming, and became the mother of William R., Mona E., Grace A., Jennie B., George E. and Charles M. Mrs. Catherine Bell died on the 23d of December, 1878, and on December 24, 1879, Mr. Bell married Miss Alice Dearmont, daughter of John and Mary (Ross) Dearmont, well known Crawford county residents, both of whom are deceased, the father dying in 1905, aged seventy years. The children born to this second union of Mr. Bell are as follows: John Burton, born 1880, who married Miss Grace Ross, of Sheakleyville, and is now living in Buffalo, New York; Leida, born in 1883, who is at home; Ralph Smith, born in 1885, also at home; Nancy Bernice, born in 1887, married Charles Powell and died February 19, 1909; and Carl Loyd, born in 1892, who is still attending school.

Mr. Bell's harmonious domestic life and comfortable circumstances are in keeping with his character as one of the most respected and successful pioneers of the county. It is pardonable that he should take a lively satisfaction in the honorable outcome of his life and be proud of the Bell family as a whole. In common with other old and stable families have descended to him a priceless collection of heirlooms, an especially large number being inherited from his father, covering much of the period from 1817 until he came to Mercer county twenty-one years afterward. But he has mementoes of far earlier periods, relating to both English and American history. He has a rare book of sermons by John Tillotson, D. D., the noted archbishop of Canterbury, which was published in London, in 1687, as well as a pair of hand-made steel spectacles which his great-grandfather found on the Revolutionary battlefield of Trenton, New Jersey, as previously stated.

Source: White, John G. 1909. A Twentieth Century History of Mercer County, Pennsylvania: A Narrative Account of Its Historical Progress, Its People, and Its Principal Interests. Volume II. Chicago, Illinois: Lewis Publishing Company. 1088.
Page(s) in Source: 1012-1013

This biography has been transcribed exactly as it was originally published in the source. Please note that we do not provide photocopies or digital scans of biographies appearing on this website.

Biography transcribed by Steven R. Shook


CSS Template by Rambling Soul