Saturday, August 15, 2015

Sympathy Saturday - Elisha & Rebecca Bell

I have been trying to find death and/or burial information for my 2nd Great Grandmother’s brother Elisha Bell and his wife Rebecca for a long time.  They were married in Wayne County, Kentucky and moved to Smith County, Texas in the 1890’s.  I've written a little about them before in this post - John Silas Bell & Rutha Simpson.   They last appear at age 72 in the 1920 census, so I assumed they died between 1920 & 1930.  They never had children.  With help from others, I had decided they were probably buried in unmarked graves with Rebecca’s McFarland family, who also lived in Smith County.  Records for the Flint Cemetery were created from grave markers not burial records so unmarked graves would not be listed.   There is an online index of Texas deaths, but I couldn’t find them listed there. 

Last fall, I had sent a request to the public library in Tyler, Texas hoping they had either an obituary index or burial records to give me a death date.  At that time, the librarian replied that they had a few records on microfilm but they did not loan those out.   

Then a couple weeks ago, I got another email from the librarian.  Apparently she had been working on the McFarland family and had my request as it was relevant to the McFarland family.   She found this “Card of Thanks” notice from the Tyler Daily Courier-Times, Monday, August 2, 1920 with just a mention of the death of "our dear wife and sister", from Mr. E. Bell and Mrs. Hester McCarty.  I'd like to know what it means by "the carriers of Route No. 5".  

The names here aren’t much information to go on, but the librarian was sure that Hester McCarty was Rebecca’s sister.   She provided a little more information on the McFarland family. Looking through past emails from another researcher, they also had Hester McCarty and Rebecca Bell as sisters.  Even with this information, I can't find her listed in the Texas Death Index.  For now I will enter Rebecca McFarland Bell's death date as July, 1920. 

The librarian also said she found a death certificate for an E. Bell, who died October 12, 1933 at the Rusk State Hospital.  Rusk is in Cherokee county, just south of Smith county.  The hospital was a mental health facility, a person with dementia or alzheimer's would be included in that definition.  
On the death certificate it has the Birthplace as Texas, but so much of the form is marked "DK", for don't know, it still may possibly be Elisha Bell from Kentucky.  Principal cause of death was "General Exhaustion", contributory cause "psychosis & malignancy" if I read correctly.  This man was buried in the asylum cemetery.  I emailed the Rusk State Hospital to confirm the burial and try to get more information and their reply was that all records there are destroyed after ten years.  Any chance of finding out for sure about this E. Bell were destroyed years ago.  My Great Grandfather, Cicero  Bell, lived near his “Uncle Leish” in the 1890’s.  I would think that possibly they would have kept in touch.   Maybe there would have been something connecting them in his file.  I'll never know. 

I haven’t found Elisha Bell anywhere yet in the 1930 census, including reading all the listings at Rusk State Hospital.  E. Bell may have been there less than 4 years before his death.  The librarian said that she looked in the Tyler newspaper and didn't find an obituary for him.  Unless I can find a probate record and without a chance for more information from Rusk State Hospital, I may never know for sure if this was the right man.  But most likely, Cicero Bell's "Uncle Leish" died on October 12, 1933 in Rusk, Texas.  

No comments:

Post a Comment