Monday, August 1, 2016

Amanuensis Monday - Oren Bell's Recorded History

Following is a transcription of an audio recording of the history of the Bell Family, or a portion of it.  That portion is mostly Cicero Bell and his family starting about 1890.  Cicero is my Great Grandfather, the audio recording is the voice of his second son, Oren Bell.  Oren was probably in his 80’s when he taped this, his memory still very good.  Mary Ann, who is the daughter of Ben, another of Cicero’s sons, had asked Oren to do this.  Virgil, Cicero's youngest son, gave me a copy of the tape several years ago and it is a treasured addition to the old trunk in the attic.  My Grandpa is Stan, another son, born 109 years ago today, August 1, 1907 on the "old Dutton farm".

It was this history that lead me to search for the deeds to the different properties Cicero & Allie bought and sold in a 10-15 year span in Wayne and Pulaski counties of southern Kentucky.  In Oren's words...

"Mary Ann, I’m going to attempt to give you the story of the Bell Family as I sit here beside my desk.  I’ll just give it to you as it comes to my mind.
 I want to begin the story by telling you about the marriage of my father and mother.  Cicero Bell married Mittie Ramsey in 1900.  The first thing that my father did after their marriage was to build a new home for them.  He built a log cabin on Pea Ridge in 1890, soon after their marriage.  My father built this log cabin out of poplar logs which were rather valuable, and they built it on Pea Ridge not far from his mother’s home.  The cabin was so constructed as to have two rooms.  While we lived in this cabin, my brother and I were born.  Frank was born February 7, 1892 and George Oren was born January 14th, 1894.  Father was a kind of a restless man.  He was never satisfied to stay anywhere too long.  He never stayed too long in any place we lived.  He had an uncle who lived in Smith County, Texas and in 1895, he decided that he would go to Texas.  And so he gathered the family and off we went to Texas.  
When we arrived in Texas, we visited his uncle known as “Lishe” Bell.  We spent a little time with them, then my father rented a farm and began to do the kind of farming that they did in that part of Texas.  As I remember, the things that they grew were a little different than we were used to.  Now the crops that they had was cotton, goober peas and other small crops such as sweet  potatoes and things of that kind.  He continued to farm until 1900.  In the mean time, my little sister was born.  She was given the name of Leavey.  In September of 1900 tragedy came to our home.  My mother was again pregnant,  and on the 10th of September my mother gave birth to a little boy.  But she was at the same time ill with malaria.  And the baby’s birth and the malaria was too much for her and she died.  Then the next day, the baby also died.  They were both buried in the same casket and buried in a little rural cemetery outside Flint, Texas.   Just a month after the burial of my mother, my little sister Leavey also died.  She had taken sick and was sick long enough that she could not survive.  They were all 3 buried in a country graveyard that was called the Rather Cemetery.
 My father was very discouraged after the death of the family and he decided to go back to the old home in Kentucky.  At that time, Grandma Bell and my Great Grandmother were living on Pea Ridge in their home and we returned to their home and for a time we lived with them.  We lived with them until my father married again.  In the fall, my father married a young widow by the name of Allie Vickrey.  She had a son that was born in 1899, Bill Vickrey.
 Living with a Great Grandma gave me an opportunity to find out some things about the eariler life of the Bells.  My Great Grandma was a very interesting person.  She was in her 90’s, but was very active and alert.  She loved to tell us about the early days of her girlhood days in Virginia and of the early days in Kentucky.  She and her family moved from Virginia to Kentucky in a real early day.  They moved into Kentucky by way of the Cumberland Gap into Southeastern Kentucky.  They moved westward along the south border of Kentucky through the Blue Ridge Mountains and along the southern border until they came to Wayne County, Kentucky.  In Wayne County they settled on a strip of land known as Pea Ridge.
 At the early day, this area of Kentucky was covered with forest.  The settlers had to clear the land before they could grow any crops.  The timber country was also filled with a great many wild animals.  The animals that were present in that part of Kentucky were bear, fox, wolves, panthers and other smaller animals.  These animals made it very difficult for the pioneers to have any domestic animals such as chickens, sheep, hogs or cattle.  The settlers had to devise some means of killing off the wild animals.  The plan they used was rather unique.  They would select a good size tree, climb up the tree about 15 feet, and saw it off.  And on top of the stump, they would build a platform.  The platform was so built that no one could go up the tree and get on the platform.  To get on the platform they had to use a ladder.  They would use the ladder and go on the platform, and take with them onto the platform their guns and some fresh meat.  The guns they used in those days were single loading, muzzle loading rifles.  They did not have the kind of modern rifles that we have.  The frest meat that they took up on the platform was smelled by the animals and caused them to gather around the platform.  The pioneers could shoot the animals without fear.  By this means, they were able to thin out the wild animals so that they could grow domestic animals and could care for them.  I was about 7 years old when we lived with Grandma.  She was a good story teller and I was an eager listener.  
Cumberland River at Mill Springs, July 6, 2016
After my father’s second marriage, we moved to my step-mother’s acreage, which was located on Otter Creek about 5 or 6 miles from my Grandma’s home.  The acreage was too small to sustain a family, so the folks sold the acreage and we moved to a new farm which was located on the turnpike between Monticello and Burnside.  It was sold and we moved to this new home on the turnpike and settled near Mill Springs.  They bought an old farm that had a big house on it that had been used as a hospital during the Civil War.  This new farm was known as the Rogers farm.  Here we lived for a period of about 4 years.  During that period, Ben and Ed were born.  We lived there for sometime and we were on the move again.  The farm was sold and we moved to Somerset.  Here father bought a general merchandise store.  After about a year in the store, my father was dissatisfied with that and wanted to go back to the farm.  So the store was sold.
 Now mother had a sister that lived in Tallulah, Illinois and they had been corresponding and her sister had been telling her about the opportunities in the state of Illinois.  So off we went to Illinois.  After a visit with the Bryant’s we settled in a little town by the name of Farmers City.  We didn’t find much work there, only a few odd jobs.  So after a short time, my father decided to move again.  We moved to the town of Champaign.  Now Champaign and Urbana are twin cities.  My father rented a home in-between the two towns, and found work in a railroad shop near Urbana.  We rented a home and lived there for a few months.  My father worked in the railroad shop and earned a fair salary for those days.  He earned $2.00 a day.
 After a few months, his earnings were sufficient to take us back to Kentucky.  So off we went, back to Kentucky.  The folks settled in a little village south of Somerset known as Ferguson.  I didn’t stay with the family that time, I went on down to my mother’s sister in Wayne county and went to school for one term.  While I was away, my father worked in the railroad shop and in his spare time, built a new home in Ferguson.  But after a while, my father preferred the farm rather than the shop, so he sold his new home and bought another farm.  This time north of Somerset, about a mile and a half out of town.  It was known as the old Dutton farm.  Here we lived for some time.  I was now 15 years of age.  I got a job with a store in Somerset, and for a year or two I delivered groceries for a company by the name of Carter and Ham.  The folks sold the Dutton farm , however it was here that Virgil and Stanley were born.  After about 4 years, they sold the Dutton farm and bought another one not far away.  The farm was known as the old Tom Meese place.  At this farm, the boys attended school and we continued to work in the town of Somerset.
 In the summer of 1910, the folks were on the move again.  They rented their farm, the old Tom Meese place, and I joined them and we moved to Oklahoma.  The Bryant’s, whom we had visited in Illinois, in the meantime had moved from Illinois to Oklahoma and they had settled near Wellston, a town about halfway between Tulsa and Oklahoma City.  We stayed with the Bryant’s for a while and picked cotton.  However, I found that my skill as a cotton picker wasn’t very good.  So, we decided to move on.  My father had a sister and her husband who lived in Kansas (now this was Carson Alcorn and Aunt Laura) and so we made the trip from Oklahoma to Kansas.  We went by train and arrived in Oberlin, Kansas and was met there by Uncle Carson who took us to his home and we lived with them for a short time.
 We then moved to a home that my father rented from Clum Rose north of Ionia.  We began to pay rent on various farms and searched around for a place to live.  Finally, my father rented a farm from a man by the name of John Stevens.  He farmed this farm for a year.  While he was farming the Stevens farm, I worked for a man by the name of Alvey Rose.  I started to work for him by cutting a half a mile of  hedge, getting posts out of the hedge rows.  After a year, my father was ready to go back to Kentucky.  So, they moved from Ionia back to Kentucky.  Frank and I stayed in Kansas.  I continued to work for Alvey Rose and Frank worked for Wiley Alcorn.  Alvey Rose’s wife was an M. D. but was no longer practicing.   She saw that I needed additional education and encouraged me to get back to school.  And in the spring of 1913, I went to a Teacher’s Normal in Mankato Kansas.  Under the tuterage of Mrs. Rose I had covered the material for the 7th and 8th grade during the winter of 1912.  In the summer of 1913, I attended this Normal school in Mankato and took a teacher’s examination.  I passed everything in the examination except Kansas history.  In the fall I took my grades from the teachers exam, presented them to the superintendent of  the high school of Mankato, a man by the name of J. J. Haney(?)  He looked over the list of grades and permitted me to enter high school.  I was then 19 years old.
 To provide my living while attending school, I worked in a store.  I clerked for S C Smith & Co.  out of the school hours and on the weekends.  I graduated from Mankato High school in the spring of 1917.  The folks, in the meantime, had to come back to Kansas and were living on a farm that belonged to Clum Rose.  In the fall of 1917, and the spring of 1918, I taught school.  Taught the harmony school,  which was right near the Rose family  stayed with the Roses.  I went to Camp Funston soon after my school was out, and joined the Army YMCA, and was made camp supply secretary.  There was a great stir about that time because the war was over.  War was over on November 11, 1918.  But I continued in Funston and helped to salvage the YMCA materials and to sell the Y building.  I came home from the war service September 1, 1919.  Then on September 7, Viola Noon and I were married.  The folks were in Kansas and a farm was rented to the folks by the Roses.  Frank and I were more or less independent.  Frank and Chloe wer married and their children were being born.
 All of the family moved to Nebraska.  First the Alcorns, then came the Bells.  They moved into an area known as Giltner.  I graduated from Cottner College in 1924.  Soon after, we moved to Norfolk.  As Pastor of the Park Avenue Christian Church.  Ben and Marie came to Norfolk and I married them.  By this time all of the family, the folks, Frank & Chloe, Ben & Marie, lived in Giltner.  Franks’s family were about all grown.  The boys had been in the war service, but were back at home in and around Giltner.  My father died in 1944 and was buried in Giltner.  Just 10 years late, Frank died of cancer and was also buried in the Giltner Cemetery.

 Mary Ann, from this time on, I’m sure know as much about the Bell family as I do.  So I’m going to close this at this point.  I hope that you get some good out of what I have said.  Thanks for asking me.  I’m glad to do it.  Oren Bell"

 Thank you, Mary Ann!

Read about the deeds from Wayne County - "On the waters of Meadow Creek"
Read about the deeds from Pulaski County - "On the waters of Pitman Creek"

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