Josiah Bell, Woodman of Mereworth,Kent

In former blogs, I have written about John Billinghurst alias Bell, born 1800, the illegitimate son of Sarah Billinghurst, of Mereworth, Kent. See ‘The Story of an Alias-John Bell, Mereworth, Kent’ and ‘More on the Alias of John Bell, Mereworth, Kent’.
The following year Sarah Billinghurst married Josiah Bell, in St Lawrence, Mereworth. They had a daughter Elizabeth born 1803, whose story is told in ‘A Life Cut Short-Elizabeth Bell, Mereworth, Kent.’

In this blog, I continue the family story about their son, Josiah Bell who was born in 1806.

Josiah Bell, the second child, and son of Josiah and Sarah Bell (nee Billinghurst) was born in Mereworth in 1806. By his time his father was 52 years of age and his mother 42 years.
Josiah Bell was baptized at St Lawrence, Mereworth on 31 August 1806. He grew up in Mereworth and was only ten years of age when his father died. No doubt Josiah took on the care of his mother and sister from an early age, but by the time he was in his early twenties, he had lost both his sister and mother.
Josiah Bell married at St Mary’s, East Farleigh, on 29 January 1832, a cousin, Ann Bell, the daughter of Robin and Mercy Bell (nee Cox). She had been baptized at East Farleigh on 10 November 1811.

They had a large family all of whom were baptized at St Lawrence,
Mereworth.
⦁ Sarah Bell, b 1832
⦁ Catherine Harriet Bell, b 1835
⦁ Josiah Bell, b 1837
⦁ James Bell, b 1838
⦁ Ann Bell, b 1840
⦁ Mercy, b 1843
⦁ Thomas, b1847
⦁ Robert Bell, b 1849
⦁ Mahalah, b 1851
⦁ George, b 1854
⦁ Frederick, b 1856

Josiah and Ann Bell remained in Mereworth, when Ann Bell’s parents, Robin and Mercy Bell (nee Cox), and most of her siblings emigrated to New South Wales on the Woodbridge, in 1838.

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The Baptismal Font, St Lawrence, Mereworth
Copyright-Nola Mackey, 2004

Josiah and Ann Bell and family can be found in the 1841,1851,1861,1871 Census Return for Mereworth, where Josiah is described as a ‘Wood Labourer’. We know his father was also recorded as a ‘Woodsman’ in several parish documents.

Josiah bell died and was buried in the Mereworth churchyard on 24 March 1874. His headstone is inscribed with “He was for 43 years a bellringer at this church”.

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The weathered headstone of Josiah Bell, St Lawrence Churchyard.
Copyright- Nola Mackey,2004

After Josiah Bell’s death, his wife Ann, found employment as the Monthly Nurse. In the 1881 Census she was not at home, but in the household of John Humphrey’s, with his wife Mary Ann and their infant daughter, Edith. She is recorded there as 72 years of age but would have been about 70 years.
In the 1891 Census, Ann Bell was living in Kent Street. Her invalid daughter Ann, and her youngest son, Frederick Bell and his family were living with her.
Ann Bell died in 1895 and is buried in the Mereworth Churchyard, possibly beside her husband, but her grave is unmarked.

 

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More on the Alias of John Bell, Mereworth, Kent

In this blog, I try to answer the question concerning the alias used by John Bell or Billinghurst of Mereworth in the blog “The Story of an Alias- John Bell, Mereworth, Kent.”
I had struck this problem of interchanging of surnames and the use of an alias in earlier Bell research.
One theory I had concerning ‘aliases’ was that perhaps a girl had an illegitimate child, who was baptized in her maiden name and when the girl later marries, the child then takes the surname of the new husband or attaches it as an ‘alias’. An ‘alias’ means that he or she is also known by another name.
If my theory was right in this case I would be looking about 1800 for a female “Billinghurst’ who had later married a man with the surname Bell.

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St Lawrence, Mereworth, 2004. Image Copyright- Nola Mackey

I found in the Mereworth Parish Marriage Register, on 9 November 1801, Sarah Billinghurst married Josiah Bell.

A further search of the Mereworth Baptism Register found John, the illegitimate son of Sarah Billinghurst, baptized on 2 November 1800.
Perhaps it should be noted that John is believed to have been Sarah’s first child. She would have been between 35 and 36 years of age at the time.

As there were no records in the Parish Chest Accounts concerning the birth and care of John Billinghurst it may be that Josiah Bell was his father, but he didn’t claim him at his baptism. Whatever the case he certainly took responsibility for him.

After John Billinghurst died in 1860, all his children in subsequent Census Returns, Marriage and Burial Registers are recorded with the Surname of ‘Bell’.

In the 1861 Census Returns for Mereworth, are Thomas Bell aged 26 years, his wife Mary, and daughter Matilda. Also living in the same household are Thomas Bell’s brothers, George, Alexander, Josiah, Henry and Alfred Bell, and his sister Fanny Bell.

In later Census Returns the children are all married and are scattered throughout the village with their own families under the surname ‘Bell’.

The Story of an Alias – John Bell, Mereworth,Kent

I have mentioned in former blogs that I have been able to trace one of my ancestral family lines back to the Middle Ages. This is one of my Maternal Lines by the very common surname of ‘Bell’. This was done long before computers and the Internet. It has taken many years, to locate and review many records. Along the way, I have had the pleasure of finding many cousins of varying degrees, all of whom have helped me in some way sort out and put together the incredible history of a family, who resided in a small area of Kent for over six hundred years. In the 19th Century due to the Industrial Revolution, harsh weather conditions, and other economic reasons many were forced to emigrate, literally for their own survival, to all points of the globe.

One set of records in England we find very useful for family history research are the 19th Century Census Returns. Although the first Census was taken in 1801, the information collected was, in reality, a head count and not very useful to help with information on families. 1811, 1821 and 1831 Census Returns were very similar. However, the 1841 Returns had information on individuals which made it much more useful for putting together family groups. 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901 and 1911 Census Returns give much information on individuals and are a great record for putting together and tracking family groups.

Although many of our Bell families emigrated to the United States of America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa before the 1841 Census was taken, it was important for us to find and document all our family branches, who had not emigrated, but remained in Kent or had moved to other places in the British Isles. The Census Returns could help with this project.

The birthplace of my 4X Great-grandfather Thomas Bell, (b 1782), the son of Thomas and Ann Bell (nee Lawrence), was Mereworth, Kent. This is a rural village near Maidstone.
Mereworth Village3 (2)
Mereworth Village-Copyright, Nola Mackey, 1980

I made a collection of all individuals with the Surname of Bell who stated their place of birth as Mereworth, in 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901 and 1911 Census Returns. From these Census Returns, I was able to calculate the approximate year of birth for each individual. Using the English Birth, Death and Marriage Indexes I was able to find the Registration numbers and send to the Registrar of Births, Deaths, and Marriage for certificates, which helped to clarify and sort out family groups. I also utilized copies of the parish registers of baptism, marriage, and burials I have for Mereworth. Using these documents I was able to reconstruct many branches of the Bell family.

However, one family recorded in the 1851 Census at Kent Street, Mereworth, just did not seem to fit, although they claimed to have all been born at Mereworth.

This was the family of John Bell, aged 52 years, an agricultural labourer; his wife, Sarah, aged 38 years and children; Thomas, aged 14 years; Alexander aged 11 years; Josiah, aged 6 years; Henry, aged 3 years and Frances aged 1 month.

BELL, John,1851,Mereworth,Census Returns

1851 Census Returns for John Bell and family, retrieved from Findmypast, 31 January 2018

 

However, I could not find this family group in the 1841 nor the 1861 Census.

After listing the names and calculating the year of birth I was ready to search the Mereworth Parish Registers. To my great disappointment, I only found one baptism, Josiah, the son of John and Sarah Bell, baptized 19 February 1845. Were these children actually born and baptized elsewhere but had lived at Mereworth most of their lives? What was I missing?

I was not able at the time to locate the appropriate Mereworth Marriage Register, but I was able to get some names and dates from the surviving Marriage Banns Book. I was able to purchase various Bell marriage certificates for Mereworth, which included those of; John Bell to Ellen Sales; Thomas Bell to Mary Ann Watson; Harry Bell to Dorcas Emery and Eliza Bell to William Sudds. On each certificate, the father’s name was given as ‘John Bell, a labourer.
The only Bell marriage I was able to extract from a surviving church Marriage Register at Aylesford, Kent, was that of Fanny Bell to Edgar Wilson in 1871. She gave her father’s name as ‘John Billinghurst’ not ‘John Bell’. I then tried for a baptism entry at Mereworth for Fanny or Frances as the daughter of John Billinghurst. There it was. ‘Frances, daughter of John and Sarah Billinghurst, baptized 9 March 1851. As the 1851 Census was taken in early April- she was most likely the ‘Frances Bell’ aged 1 month’ in the Census.

I continued searching the registers for ‘Billinghurst’ and ‘Bell’ and found the following:-

⦁ James, son of John and Sarah Billinghurst, baptized 10 Sept 1843, buried 29 Sept 1843.
⦁ Josiah, son of John and Sarah Bell, baptized 19 Feb 1845.
⦁ Henry William, son of John and Sarah Billinghurst, baptized 30 Apr 1847
⦁ Frances, daughter of John and Sarah Billinghurst, baptized 9 Mar 1851.
⦁ Alfred, son of John and Sarah Billinghurst, baptized 19 February 1854, buried 7 February 1864.
I could not find baptism entries for Thomas and Alexander Billinghurst or Bell as sons of John and Sarah.

I then searched for a marriage of a John Bell or Billinghurst who married Sarah ‘Unknown’ before the 1843 baptism, of the first known child, of this couple.
I found a marriage of a John Billinghurst (a widower) to Sarah Marshall on 13 November 1842 at Holy Trinity, Maidstone.

I then found a John Billinghurst married Eliza Miller on 17 August 1823 at All Saints, Maidstone.

A search of the Mereworth Parish Registers for children of this couple found the following:-.
⦁ Elizabeth Bell born 1824
⦁ John Billinghurst, born 1826
⦁ George Josiah Billinghurst, born 1828
⦁ Sarah Ann Billinghurst, born 1830
⦁ Eliza Billinghurst, born 1833
⦁ Thomas Billinghurst, born 1835
⦁ Alexander Billinghurst, born 1839.
I was then able to find John and Eliza ‘Bell’ and their children in the 1841 Census at Mereworth.

Living next door was the Marshall family with a daughter named Sarah, who is most likely to be the Sarah Marshall who married John Billinghurst in 1842, after Eliza Billinghurst died and was buried at Mereworth on 14 November 1841.

Sarah Billinghurst died at Aylesford and was buried at Mereworth on 17 October 1856 aged 43 years. John Billinghurst died and was buried at Mereworth on 1 July 1860.
This explains why I was not able to locate the family of John and Sarah Billinghurst or Bell in the 1861 Census.

As often happens in family history research, we answer one question but bring to light more puzzles and questions. Why were the names ‘Bell’ and ‘Billinghurst’ so interchangeable in this family?

Bell Ancestors Coming Down-Under- South Australia

 

In former blogs, I have blogged about the emigration of various branches of our Bell Family to United States, Canada, and Australia. This emigration story spanned nearly a century and was virtually global in range.

The 1830’s were a terrible time period for our Bell ancestors in Kent, England. Many families who faced with starvation or the newly erected Workhouses, saw emigration as their only opportunity and salvation. However, they didn’t have the means to emigrate.

Fortunately, through various avenues several immigration schemes were being put forward by colonial governments particularly in Australia. Several of our Bell family took advantage of these schemes to emigrate.

George Bell (b1806) the second son and child of John and Mary Bell (nee Kemp) of Mereworth, Kent married Jane Hunt on 25 December 1827. They had a number of children all born at Mereworth; Jane (b1828), John (b 1830), Mary (b1832), George (b 1834) and Ann (b1837).

By 1837 this family had to rely on parish assistance to survive. The alternative was to go into the Malling Workhouse.

They wished to emigrate to New South Wales with other family members, but unfortunately, they could not satisfy some of the conditions for a free passage. Their children were too young for employment when they arrived. However, no such restrictions were proposed by the South Australia (Land) Company who were paying free passages for emigrants to come out to the newly formed free colony of South Australia.

George Bell was the right age and calling for a free passage, but the company was not prepared to pay the passage of his wife and children. The Mereworth Parish Overseers came to the family’s assistance and paid their passage. They also paid all the other costs of emigrating.

“1838 – An Account of Moneys Spent by me for the parish of Mereworth to assist in clothing and other expenses attending so many poor families who were emigrating from this parish to New South Wales”

Pd the Emigration Committee for passage for five children belonging

To George Bell                                                                                                              £15.00

Pd Mr. Carr a bill for list shoes etc for G Bell                                                              13. 4

Pd Mrs. Browning a bill ditto                                                                                          14. 6

Pd Mr. Viner a bill for G Bell                                                                                           £2. 12. 6¾

Pd Mr. G Morphew a bill for tools for George Bell                                                            18. 7

Pd Mr. Farrant for ditto                                                                                                     £2. 16. 2

Pd J & T Dutt a bill ditto                                                                                                            9. 6

Pd Mr. Hy Shirley a bill for tin for G Bill                                                                               4. 10

Pd Mrs. Capan for allowance for G Bell and family at T(own) Malling                              1. 10

Pd Mr. Samuel Glover bill for Bell                                                                                     £2. 17. 6

Gave George Bell and family to receive at landing in South Australia                      £3. 10. 0

Gave the man to pay for breakfast for himself and George Bell, his wife and

family on rode (road) to Deptford                                                                                       £1. 1. 0

Pd Mr. George Harryman a bill for meate (meat)for Mrs. Bell                                              2. 6

Pd Mr. Wolf a bill as part for Mereworth going to Deptford with emigrants                  14. 0

Pd Mr. Durrell a bill at Meeting of South Australia Company                                             6. 0

Pd Mrs. C Goodwin a bill for George Bell                                                                          £5. 16. 6

Pd Mr. Hards a bill for Mrs. Bell                                                                                                11. 3

Paid for George Bells bed and bedding                                                                              £4. 10. 0

This gives us a very detailed account of the costs involved in emigrating

Clothes and shoes,  as well as the necessary tin lined trunk for the clothes to keep them dry on the voyage. Tools for George Bell to bring out with him to use in his employment.

The bed and bedding for the voyage and the family’s settlement in Australia. For the family to stay overnight at Malling and their transport to Deptford. From there the emigrants were taken to Gravesend to embark on the emigrant ship.

Barque

Image from https://www.google.com.au believed to be Barque Falls of Clyde now preserved as a museum ship in Hawaii. Retrieved 15 July 2017

 A Barque has three or more masts with square sails on the foremast and fore and aft sails on the after mast. Generally in the range of 250-700 ton capacity.

 

George and Jane Bell and family embarked on the Resource, a barque of 417 tons built in Calcutta in 1804. It was owned by Mr. T Ward of London. The ship left London about 15 September (1838) under Captain Boyle and arrived in Port Adelaide on 23 January 1839. On board were more than 140 immigrants, many poor farming families from Kent and other places in England.

Shipping…

JAN. 23.—Barque Resource, Capt. Boyle, from

London, 7th October, with 140 emigrants and passengers.

Trove: Southern Australian (Adelaide, SA: 1838 – 1844) Wednesday 30 January 1839 p 2 Article From <http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/result?l-state=South+Australia&l-decade=183&l-month=1&l-year=1839&q=%27Resource%22>

South Australian Shipping…

Resource, from London, Captain Boyle, arrived 23 January, with one hundred and forty-three emigrants, six adults and fourteen children died during the voyage.

Trove: The Sydney Herald (NSW: 1831 – 1842) Wednesday 6 February 1839 p 2 Article From <http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/result?q=%22Resource%22&l-decade=183&l-year=1839&l-state=New+South+Wales&l-month=2&s=0>

Sudds Cousins Emigrate to America

In a former blog I wrote about the family of John Bell(b1822) Mereworth, Kent, England, who had married in Staplehurst in 1851, Harriet Hatcher. They had three children John (b.1851), Elizabeth (b.1853) and Mary Ann (b.1855) before they emigrated to the United States of America in 1856-7.

At the end of the blog I suggested they were probably not the first in the Bell family who had emigrated to America.

After assessing the large collection of documents my cousin Glenda and I had collected on the various branches of the Bell family, I narrowed down my ‘possible’ families.

One person of interest was William Daniel Sudds, the youngest son of Paul and Jane Sudds (nee Bell). His mother, Jane Bell (b.1778) was the eldest daughter of Thomas and Ann Bell (nee Lawrence) of Mereworth, Kent, England. This couple, Thomas and Ann Bell was also Glenda and my 4X great-grandparents, although down through different children.

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St Lawrence, Mereworth,Kent-Copyright Nola Mackey 2004

William Daniel Sudds (b.1811)known as Dan Sudds, is believed to have emigrated to New York about 1845. There he married a Mary Unknown and had a number of children including Emma (b.1846); Addison (b.1849); Josephine,(1852; Rachel (b.1854); Jennie (Jane) b.1856; Daniel (b.1859). This family also migrated to Michigan where two more daughters Maud (b.1860) and Elsie (b.1864) were born. The family resided at Chocolay, Michigan for a number of years. Dan Sudds died in 1868.

Dan Sudds would have been a first cousin to the former mentioned John Bell(b.1822) and also to my ancestor George Bell who emigrated to Australia in 1837.

Dan Sudds elder brother Iden (b.1804) married Jane Huggett in 1825 and had a number of children including Jane (b.1826); Mary Ann (b.1827); William (b.1828); Iden (b.1830); Sarah (b.1831); Isaac (b.1833); Ann (b.1836); Eleanor (b.1837); Catherine (b.1838); Emma (b.1841); Amos (b.1842); Caroline (b.1844); Frederick (b.1846) and Amy(b.1848).

We have been able to establish that the above mentioned Mary Ann Sudds(b.1827) married David Kennedy and Sarah Sudds (b.1831) married Jeremiah Wells. These couples emigrated to Canada c 1860. As yet I have not been able to establish if Mary and David Kennedy had any children, but she died in Ontario in 1895.

Jeremiah and Sarah Wells had a number of children including the following born in Ontario:- Julia (b.1863); Jessie (b.1865); Mary (b.1868);Mark (b.1869); and Minnie (b.1870).

I have been a member of the Kent Family History Society for over forty years. Over the years I have purchased most of their books and CD resources and in more recent years have been involved in the Global Branch of the Society. There members can post questions and problems concerning their family research on the Society’s website. I was most fortunate to have several KFHS members living in USA and Canada answer my queries and I was able to make further headway with my research over there

As well as the above mentioned Sudds families and connections, I found other Sudds families emigrating from Mereworth and Wateringbury, Kent. About 1875 Frederick Charles (b.1851) and Martha Sudds and his brother Timothy Sudds (b.1842)and his wife Sarah emigrated to the USA. They first settled in Michigan, but had moved to Ravenna Portage in Ohio by 1878. They remained there for several years, where Timothy was a saloon keeper. In about 1887 the families moved to Cook, Illinois.

Meanwhile back in Wateringbury, Kent, Frederick and Timothy’s younger brother Nathan (b.1854) had spent some time in the army, as a wheelwright. He was stationed in Malta, where he met and married a local girl, Carmella. They had a daughter, Elizabeth, born in Malta before they were shipped back to Kent about 1880. A son, Nathan, was born the following year. Then two daughters were born, Emily and Ann, in 1883 and 1885 respectively.

Soon afterwards the family decided to emigrate to USA and joined Nathan’s brothers and their families in Illinios. The family later settled in Thornton, where a number of children were born and by 1900 a total of ten children were living at home with the parents.

Although it was fun tracking down other twigs and branches of the far flung ‘Bell Family Tree’, Glenda and I decided it was time we returned to our more immediate family connection in Kent and Australia. There was still plenty of research to do.

More Bell Family Going to America

In a previous blog I wrote about George, Harry and Edward Charles Bell, sons of George and Harriet Bell (nee Collins) of Mereworth, Kent, England, who had immigrated to the United States of America between 1890 and 1909.

I also acknowledged the incredible work my Bell ‘cousin’, Glenda B. of Idaho, had undertaken to help to solve the immigration riddle of George, Harry and Edward Charles Bell and find their families.

We know that Harry and Edward Bell went to Owossa, Michigan because their elder brother George Bell and his family had settled there.

The question then arose to the reason George Bell had immigrated there in 1890. There seemed to be no obvious reason, however, when we studied the pattern of immigration of the Bell families to Australia, we found that family nearly always went to family, already established there.

If a similar pattern was present in the USA, what family did George Bell go out to in Owossa, Michigan in 1890?

Glenda was to team up with me again to try and solve this intriguing question.

While researching George, Harry and Edward Charles Bell, Glenda had collected information on all persons with the Bell surname, particularly in the Owossa area. One person who seemed to stand out and claimed our interest was a ‘John Bell’. From various USA Census Returns we knew he had come from England. His wife Elizabeth, a son John, and daughters Elizabeth and Mary Ann Bell were also listed as having been born in England. However, the youngest daughter, Harriet, was claimed to have been born in Michigan about 1859. This gave us an approximate time span for the family’s emigration to Michigan.

Glenda was able to use indexes and files in the Michigan State, City and University Libraries as well as employ the services of local historians to gather a large collection of cemetery, funeral home, census and newspapers records for this family. From those records she put together a detailed biography and timeline for John Bell and his family.

Glenda shared this material with me and I was able to use it along with other documents I held, to gain further clues for research back in England. I then purchased marriage, birth and death certificates from the Maidstone Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages, which confirmed my hypothesis for this family.

We were finally able to establish that John Bell (b.1822), the youngest son of John and Mary Bell (nee Kemp), of Mereworth, Kent, a carpenter by trade was living at Staplehurst, Kent, when he married Harriet Hatcher on 8 September 1851. Their children were John (b.1851); Elizabeth (b.1853) and Mary Ann (b.1855). At that time, life in Kent was difficult, with little employment and no opportunities.

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Staplehurst Parish Church – Copyright, Nola Mackey,2004

John and Harriet Bell decided to immigrate to the United States of America. John Bell travelled to London where he bought a steerage passage on the Palestine which sailed for New York. He arrived there on 12 May 1857. He is believed to have immediately gained employment and sent the money home for Harriet to purchased a passage for herself and the children on the Palestine the following year. This ship left London and sailed to the German port of Bremen where several German immigrants came on board before sailing for New York. The Palestine arrived in New York on 29 May 1858.

Soon afterwards John and Harriet Bell joined many other families on a wagon train west to Michigan and settled in the frontier town of Saginsaw. Harriet Bell died soon after arrival, at the birth of their youngest daughter. She was named Harriet in memory of her mother. John Bell needed someone to care for his young family and married Elizabeth Parkinson at Oakland on 21 March 1860.

The family moved on to Owosso, where John Bell later bought a block of land. After much hard work and perseverance John and Elizabeth Bell built up a large market garden of more than ten acres. John sold the produce in town from a cart and was well known and respected in the community.

Their children married and lived in Michigan.

John Bell (b.1851) married Mary Conklin in 1888, but had no family. He died in a rail accident in 1895.

Elizabeth Bell (b.1853) married Andrew Case in 1871 and had a number of children: Edward George,b.1872; Selina Lillian, b.1873; Bert Lee, b.1876; John Henry, b. 1878; Chester, b.1882; Theodore Leonard, b.1884; Lawrence Andrew, b.1888; William Nelson, b.1895 and Harlan I, b.1899.

Mary Ann Bell (b.1855) married William Clark Munro and had two sons: Francis Eugene, b. 1877 and Chester William, b.1887.

Harriet Bell (b.1859) married Byron Le Clear and had a son John, b. 1887.

Glenda was again able to trace and contact descendants of these families. They had been interested in family history and had done a lot of research in USA, but had not been able to find where the family originated in England.

Imagine their surprise when we contacted them and were not only able to show them where the family came from, but also where they fitted into this huge ‘family tree’, which reached back to the 16th Century.

Although these families were not on our Bell Family line, Glenda and I believed it right we should share our knowledge and research with other family members.

In recent years these families have put considerable material on-line about their families.

John Bell (b.1822) was the younger brother of George Bell’s Grandfather, Thomas Bell (b.1803), and therefore a Great-uncle to George Bell. We believe this is the family George Bell went out to Ossowo, Michigan in 1890. John Bell died in 1895 a few years after George’s arrival.

However,were John and Harriet Bell the first in our Bell family to emigrate from Kent to the United States of America, or had they also gone out to family?

 

Bell Ancestors -Going to America.

Over the forty plus years I have been researching my Bell ancestors I have located and corresponded with ‘cousins’ all over the world.

As well as tracing my direct line back to Medieval times, I have spent many hours researching other branches of the family to show kinship and help others find their roots.

On a trip to England in 2004, we met with Joan W and Ivy P who were descended from John Bell (b.1780), the eldest brother of my Great-Great-Grandfather Thomas Bell (b.1782), whose sons James and George Bell emigrated to Australia in 1837.

One afternoon while sharing photographs Ivy showed us one of her father, Edward Bell, taken with two ‘uncles’, reputed to have emigrated to America. She said her father had been in the Royal Navy and had visited the United States during World War II, and she believed that was when the photograph had been taken. In recent years her family had often wondered what had happened to these ‘uncles’, and if they had married and had family.

The above mentioned John Bell (b.1780) had married Mary Kemp in 1801 and had remained in Mereworth, Kent. They had five children all born at Mereworth. Their grandson, George Bell (b.1833) married Harriet Collins at Mereworth in 1861 and had a family of ten children before Harriet Bell died in 1878. George Bell then married Sarah Ann Woofe and had further children.

When researching this family years before, I had come across parish records that had a notation beside sons,George Bell (b.1868) and Harry Bell (b.1871) that said, “Emigrated”, although there was no date or place recorded. Now with this photograph perhaps we had another clue.

Family of George and Harriet Bell(nee Collins), Mereworth, (England) in the 1871 Census

George Bell Family 1871 Census

[Image accessed from Findmypast,19 March 2017

http://search.findmypast.com.au/record?id=gbc%2f1871%2f0918%2f0085&parentid=gbc%2f1871%2f0013974388&highlights=%22%22 ]

Family of George and Harriet Bell (nee Collins), Mereworth,Kent,England in the 1881 Census.

George Bell Family 1881 Census

[Image accessed from Findmypast,19 March 2017

http://search.findmypast.com.au/record?id=gbc%2f1881%2f4300030%2f00284&parentid=gbc%2f1881%2f0004505075&highlights=%22%22 ]

I had another Bell cousin,Glenda B. in Idaho, USA, whose mother had emigrated from Australia as a War Bride after World War II. Glenda and I had shared family research by ‘snail-mail’,for many years, long before the Internet. I explained the problem about the ‘uncles’ to her and asked if she could help.

Using the Golden Rule with family research,Glenda began with the 1930 USA Census. At that time it was not indexed and was filed in State,County and Ward order only. As we had no idea where to start, she started with the eastern states and worked westward. After much searching over several days,Glenda with the assistance of her husband,Jim, was able to track through many thousands of records to finally find them in Owosso, Michigan.

From there,Glenda searched through earlier Census for further information on these two men and their families. In the 1900 Census she found that George Bell had his brother, Edward Charles Bell living with him.

I had previously purchased from Maidstone,Kent,the birth certificate of Edward Charles Bell, who was the youngest son of George and Harriet Bell(nee Collins). His mother had died soon after his birth.

It was at this stage Glenda contacted the Owosso City Library and the Shiawassee County Library for assistance in tracing cemetery records, funeral homes, death and funeral notices and obituaries in local records and newspapers. She also looked at city trade directories. Glenda shared this material with me and I in turn was able to share with Joan and Ivy,who were delighted we had not only found these men, but had been able to put together so much information about them.

Glenda then mailed personal letters of inquiry to all the people, on the then current voting rolls in the Owosso area, who had the ‘Bell’ surname. To our delight some of her letters were answered. She found grandchildren of the three brothers, who had emigrated to the United States in the 1890’s.

Glenda put an enormous amount of time and effort to trace and help this branch of our Bell family to find their roots, for which we are very grateful. Much of the material she collected is still not on the Internet and is not easily available even today, which makes her dedicated work even more valuable to the family. Glenda passed away in 2014.

The wonderful outcome of all this research was that Ivy’s family were able to contact and then meet and visit with some of their American ‘cousins’. They found the ‘family likenesses’ quite unbelievable.

Ivy and Joan were granddaughters of John Bell (b.1861) the eldest brother of George,Harry and Edward Charles Bell, who emigrated to America, and so these men were indeed ‘Uncles’ to Ivy and Joan’s fathers.

What a wonderful conclusion to a little family mystery.