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Bell family


Biographical Note

Sarah James Kent, daughter of James Randal Kent, married Francis Bell, a cattle buyer from Staunton, in 1855. Together Sarah and Francis had four surviving children: twin sons, James Randal Kent Bell and Samuel Hays Bell in 1858, a daughter, Mary Louisa Bell in 1861, and Francis Frank Bell in 1864. They built a home on the land in Pulaski given to Sarah by her father. They lived at Mountain Home until the mid-1870s, when in 1872 Francis Bell purchased land from the Darsts and the Cloyds, their new home, Rockwood, was built c. 1876.

The four Bell children were well educated and all attended college for some period of time. Public schools were non-existent at this time, so a governess, Mary Eliza Sedgewick taught them while they lived at Mountain Home. James Randal Kent and Samuel Hays Bell both attended Washington College in Lexington from 1875 to 1877. Mary Louisa Bell went to Mary Baldwin College in Staunton. Frank Bell attended the Virginia Polytechnic Institute before transferring to the Virginia Military Institute and graduating with the class of 1885.

Sarah James Kent Bell died in April of 1884; Francis Bell followed her nine years later in 1893. In their will, all their land and properties were to be divided by the four children as they saw fit. James Randal Kent Bell received the Mountain Home properties, Samuel inherited the land in Augusta County, and Rockwood was split between Frank Bell and Mary Louisa Bell.

James Randal Kent Bell married three times. His first wife was Maria L. Sedgwick, the daughter of their governess, Mary Eliza Sedgewick, Maria died shortly after the birth of their daughter, Mary Peck Bell. His second wife was Lida Howell Whitsett, Lida died in January of 1902. Together they had five children, Amelia Louise, Elizabeth Kent, Sarah Frances, James, and Francis Joseph. The name of James R. K. Bell's third wife is unknown. All of his children were born at Mountain Home and grew up there.

Samuel Hays Bell married Bessie Arbuthnot on May 18, 1893. Together they had four daughters, Sarah James, Elizabeth, Mary Lou, and Margaret. They lived in Staunton on the land inherited from Francis Bell. Samuel Bell died in Staunton on June 26, 1903.

Mary Louisa Bell married Dr. Kent Black at Rockwood November 14, 1894. Dr. Black graduated from the Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College in 1875, he worked as physician and surgeon at the school until 1890. Dr. Black died in 1909, following his death Mary Louisa Bell Black moved back to Pulaski to live with her family, she died at Rockwood December 12, 1943.

Frank Bell married Ellen Gordan Kent, the granddaughter of David Fenton Kent, in 1889. They had eight children: Sarah Kent Bell born September 28, 1890, Gordon Cloyd Bell born January 16, 1892, Ellen Howe Bell born February 12, 1893, Francis Bell born August 16, 1894, Mary Lou Bell born July 1, 1896, Elizabeth Cloyd Bell born September 7, 1897, Samuel Hays Bell born May 16, 1901, and Agnes McGavock Bell born September 1, 1905. Frank Bell worked in the cattle business just like his father and grandfather, he was an accomplished business man and over the years he bought up the rest of the Rockwood property from his sister, Mary Louisa Bell Black. He died at Rockwood on December 21, 1939, just a few months after the celebration of his fiftieth wedding anniversary.

Frank Bell's son, Gordon Cloyd Bell married Mary Eliza Withrow on November 16, 1918. They had four sons, Edgar Withrow Bell, Gordon Cloyd Bell Jr., David Kent Bell, and Andrew Mathews Bell. Gordon Bell Sr. was a farmer and overseer of farm lands, he also served as the President of the Bank of Dublin. Mary Withrow Bell died September 30, 1938. Gordon Cloyd Sr. then married Lucy Preston King in October of 1942, they lived for a time in Phoenix, Arizona where Gordon Cloyd Bell Sr. died in 1965.

Edgar Withrow Bell, the eldest son of Gordon Cloyd and Mary Withrow Bell was born on October 27, 1919. He grew up in Dublin and attended Lees-McCrea College in North Carolina. He wrote articles about music trends and opened "The Record Bar" at Wysor Electric Appliance Co. in Dublin. He also served as a postal worker in Arlington where he died in November of 1971.

Gordon Cloyd Bell Jr. was born in Dublin on May 13, 1921. He was a farmer and overseer of the Withrow and Bell lands in Pulaski County, VA. He also served on the board of the Bank of Dublin. He attended the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and Furman College before entering the armed services in January of 1943 and served with the Black Panther Division during World War II. Gordon Cloyd Bell Jr. died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in September of 1967.

David Kent Bell was born in Dublin on April 5, 1925. David attended the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and graduated with the Class of 1949. He also served in the armed services during World War II. He married Beverly Ann Gould from Baltimore, together they had two children: Sheri Lynn Bell born April 30, 1957 and James Gordon Bell born March 3, 1959. David Kent and Beverly Gould divorced and he married Helga Lewandowski. David Kent Bell died January 26, 2003.

Andrew Mathews Bell was born in Dublin on July 14, 1932. He died October 26, 1948.

Ellen Howe Bell was born February 12, 1893. She attended Mary Baldwin College. Ellen married Orrin Rankin Magill on September 30, 1915. Through the National YMCA, they moved to China where they lived for many years. Upon retiring, they moved to Blacksburg where they often entertained Chinese students attending Virginia Tech. Ellen Howe Bell Magill was elected the 1962 Mother of the Year in Blacksburg. She died January 19, 1968.

In 1918, Gordon Cloyd Bell married Mary Eliza Withrow. She was the granddaughter of James W. Withrow of Greenbrier County. James Withrow was born in Lewisburg, in what is now West Virginia, on October 23, 1818. Though not a licensed attorney he served as a judge and for many years, the Master Commissioner of the Circuit Court. He also represented the county in the state legislature where he served on the Judiciary Committee. He married Mary Jane Kincaid and had two sons, Edgar Daingerfield Withrow and Heber K. Withrow, and three daughters, Mrs. Helen Feamster, Miss Mary J. Withrow, and Mrs. Lucy Withrow Montgomery. James Withrow died June 26, 1901.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Bell, Kent, Cloyd, Withrow Family Collection

Identifier: Ms-2008-040
Abstract The Bell, Kent, Cloyd, Withrow Family Collection contains the personal papers and financial records of members of four prominent families. Included are members of the Bell, Kent, Cloyd, and Withrow families, as well as, materials from related families and acquaintances. This is a diverse collection containing materials dating from 1780 to 1998. Items of interest include several Land Deeds and Warrant from the late 18th Century, including one signed by Benjamin Harrison, then Governor of...
Dates: 1780 - 1998