Saturday, September 20, 2014

John Silas Bell and Rutha Simpson of Wayne County, Kentucky

Last November, I did a series of posts on my Great Great Grandma Martha Bell and her family, including both her parents and her three children.   Looking back at those, they might be confusing.  This time I'm going to focus on Martha's parents and their children.

John Silas Bell was the son of David Bell and Mary "Polly" Adair.  He was born in 1814 in Wayne County, Kentucky.  His father died when he was 4, and his mother remarried to Garner Parmley.  John was a farmer and he lived and worked in Wayne County his entire life.

Rutha Simpson was the daughter of Reuben Simpson Jr and Martha Merritt.  She was born April 22, 1822.  To my knowledge, Rutha also spent her entire life in Wayne County, although I'm wondering where she was in 1880 as I can't find her in the census.  John died at the age of 64 on December 29, 1878.  Rutha died on April 11, 1907, just 11 days short of her 85th birthday.  They had been married for 40 years.  I have been to their graves in the Stringer Cemetery in Wayne County.

This copy of their marriage bond came from a distant cousin years ago.  The top record is for a David Bell and Tarleton Bell, names I have run across before, but I don't have them in my tree.  The middle hand-written note is:
Wayne County, State of Kentucky  I Garner Parmley do heare by certify that I did on the 3 day of May (?) solemnize the rites of matrimony between John S Bell and Rutha Simpson acording to law given under my hand as one of the Justices of the peace for said county licensed to celebrate the rite of matrimony. August the 20, 1838  Garner Parmley, J P

The bottom copied record is the marriage bond:
"KNOW ALL MEN BY THESE PRESENTS, that we John S. Bell & and W Simpson are held and firmly bound unto the Commonwealth of Kentucky, in the just and full sum of fifty pounds current money, to the true payment of which we bind ourselves our heirs, &c. jointly and severally, firmly by these presents, sealed with our seals, and dated this 2nd day of May 1838. The condition of the above obligation is such, that whereas there is a marriage shortly intended to be solemnized between the above bound John S. Bell and Ruth Simpson of the county of Wayne.  Now if there shall always appear that there is no legal obstruction to said marriage, then this obligation to be void, else to remain in full force and virtue."
Signed by W. Simpson and John S. Bell

W. Simpson is Rutha's brother William and Garner Parmley is John S. Bell's step-father.

John & Rutha had seven children:

Martha Eveline Bell, born November 3, 1842.   Follow the hyperlink to read about Martha, no need to duplicate it here.

Ira Garner Bell, born November, 1844.  He married Martha E. Simpson who was his first cousin.  Martha Simpson's father was Thomas, brother of Rutha.  They had two sons, William and Thomas.  He and his wife Martha are buried in the Simpson Cemetery in Wayne County according to a memorial on findagrave, but his death date is unknown.

Mary Elizabeth Bell, born August 12, 1846.  She married John Stringer on February 4, 1870.  They had three children:  Littleton, Paulina and Tilden.  Elizabeth Stringer is buried in the Stringer Cemetery along with her parents and two sisters.

Elisha S Bell, born August, 1848.  Elisha was first married to N. C. Span in 1873.  I haven't been able to find anything more about N. C. yet.  Then in 1875, he married Rebecca McFarland.  Transcriptions of these marriage records are available on the Wayne County genweb site.  

I've also tried again to find Elisha and Rebecca's burial place hoping to get their death dates.  They were in Flint, Texas by 1900 and there through 1920, but they aren't listed in the Texas Death Records.  I contacted one funeral home in Tyler, Texas and they gave me a phone number for a woman who has the records for the Flint Cemetery where I believe they are buried in unmarked graves.  She told me the records she has came from walking the cemetery, not burial records, so unmarked graves will not be listed in what she has.  I contacted another funeral home that has not responded to my request.  Probate records from the 1920's with actual images are available through familysearch.org, but looking in the index I don't find Elisha or Rebecca Bell listed.  

Saphronia Bell, born February, 1850, died apparently before 1887.  I posted a transcription of a deed from November 1887 which names the heirs of John S. Bell.  Her name is not on that deed.  If she had been married by then, I think she and her husband would have been included on the deed.

Emily E. Bell, born September 3, 1854, death date unknown but she is listed on the deed, so sometime after 1887.  It doesn't seem that she ever married and she may have died young.  In 1880, she lived with her sister Elizabeth Stringer.   She is buried in the Stringer cemetery near her parents.

Ursula Jane Bell, born April 8, 1856.  In the 1860 census, she was 4 years old, the year 1856 would be correct.  She married Henry Reynolds on December 7, 1871 and the transcription of that record has her age as 17 (born in 1854).  Did she actually get married at just 15 years old?   Ursula and Henry Reynolds had 3 children:  Leann, Ida and Thomas.  Ursula or "Sula" died on August 10, 1890 at about 35 years old.  She is also buried in the Stringer cemetery in Wayne County.

I have been in contact with descendants of Ira Garner Bell, Elizabeth Stringer and Ursula Reynolds.  If anyone asks me about them, I will refer the request to the cousins who know more about them than I do.  


Elisha is a guy I'm especially interested in.  My Great Grandfather Cicero Bell spent some time in Texas living near "Uncle Leish".  I learned this from an audio recording made by Cicero's second oldest son about the family history.  Uncle Leish and Rebecca had no children, they have no descendants.  I want to find more of their story. 

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