Unexpectedly finding an ancestors name in an unexpected location while searching for something else in old newspapers is a perfectly acceptable reason for going down the rabbit hole. When that ancestor is a preacher, you know you're going to easily find his name in newspapers - a lot. His service at funerals, weddings, special church events and every time he accepts a new pastorate can all make the paper. With enough online searchable old newspapers, you can follow the breadcrumbs of a minister through his entire career.
My Grandpa's older brother was Uncle Oren to family, but professionally he was known as "Rev. G. O. Bell". Years ago he recorded on audio cassette a family history which I've posted before as Amenuensis Monday - Oren Bell's Recorded History. He leaves out quite a bit of his own personal history in his recording. I've learned more about the places he lived and the churches he served from various online Nebraska newspapers.
|Omaha World Herald, May 7, 1921|
|Nebraska State Journal, Cotner Column, March 12, 1922|
|Omaha Morning Bee, August 26, 1922|
|Nebraska Evening Star Journal, May 29, 1924|
It was Ord, Nebraska where I accidentally found Uncle Oren. In his oral history he didn't say he had ever lived in Ord. The earliest I found his name in the Ord Quiz was in February of 1924 (prior to his graduation from Cotner), with just a note in the news from the Christian Church of "Mr. Bell's bible school class" having a party. In June, 1925 the birth of Oren & Viola's third child was announced in the church news column. Their oldest, Dorothy was born in 1921, next was David in 1923, then Robert followed later by Oren Duane in 1927. That would be my Great Grandmother Allie Bell who traveled from Aurora to stay with them for a while when Robert was born.
|Ord Quiz, June 4, 1925|
In 1926 he moved from Ord to Exeter and he apparently took even more classes at Cotner. Exeter is right at an hour drive from Lincoln with the I-80 speed limit at 75 mph. It may have taken him a little longer in 1926. I am wondering if there were correspondence courses available in those days.
|Ord Quiz, February 1926|
|Norfolk Daily News, April 30, 1927|
THE REV. L. BERRY RESIGNS PASTORATE
THE REV. G. O. BELL OF EXETER ACCEPTS CALL TO CHRISTIAN CHURCH
The Rev. Lawrence Berry, who has been pastor of Park Avenue Christian church since September, 1924, has resigned in order to attend Yale divinity school at New Haven, Conn., where he expects to receive his B. D. degree. He will be succeeded by the Rev. George O. Bell, of Exeter. Mr. Berry graduated nearly two years ago from Cotner College, being student-pastor of the church at that time.
The resignation takes effect June 15, as it is necessary for the Norfolk pastor to be at New Haven at that time in order to take a pastorate which he will supply during his course which begins the last week in September.
The Rev. Mr. Bell, who held special meetings here before Easter, has accepted the unanimous call to the Norfolk church and plans to be here by the time Mr. Berry leaves. The local church has made a larger percent of growth during the pastorate of Rev. Mr. Berry than it has in any like period since its organization.
There are plenty of search results for "Rev G O Bell" in the Norfolk Daily News from 1927 through 1935. Online access to that newspaper was only temporary and I didn't keep copies. He kept busy with his services at funerals, weddings, special church events, prayer meetings, and his weekly radio broadcasts.
In the 1940 census Uncle Oren was living in Bargersville, Indiana. Not in newspapers, but through a simple Google search I found his name in the book "Christian Chronicles: Bargersville First Christian church, 1861-2006". He began his pastorate there in 1935 and continued until 1941.
I saw Uncle Oren just a few times when I was young, and I don't really remember him. He was living in Oklahoma in the 1970's and 1980's. Through online Oklahoma newspapers I found him there in March of 1941 when he performed a wedding as pastor of the First Christian Church in Kingfisher, Oklahoma. He spent the rest of his life near Oklahoma City. Before finding all of these newspaper clippings, all I knew about his career was from his oral history and this from his obituary:
"Rev. Bell held pastorates at the First Christian Church in Kingfisher, MWC, and Capitol Hill in OK C. Between pastorates, he was also the director of rural church work for Okla. Christian Missionary Society."In the family history which he recorded when he was in his 80's, he spoke slowly and deliberately telling his story from memory. I can imagine during his sermons his deep baritone voice soothed the congregation until a perfectly-timed sudden rise in volume startled awake any parishoner who had had a late Saturday night.
He passed away in 1988 at age 94 and is buried in Resthaven Gardens in Oklahoma City. Viola died in 1979. I don't know what year he retired, but he had a long respectable career serving as Pastor for several congregations in three different states.