Samuel Bell was probably born in Scotland or Ulster in the early 1700s. His father may have been James Bell or possibly Matthew Bell.
Samuel's son Robert was born on December 1736 in Cumberland Valley, Bedford, Pennsylvania. Samuel's first wife died before 1746, when Samuel married Mary "Mollie" Blackner. They had seven children, born in Virginia and North Carolina. By 1762, Samuel had moved to what is now Guilford County, North Carolina, where he died in 1780.
birth locations for his children with Mary are probably mostly North Carolina (although the WikiTree profiles for the children seem to alternate between Virginia and North Carolina). Paula Snyder noted that since "he is not believed to have moved to NC until about 1759 [they] were probably mostly in VA.... His son, Samuel Bell II may be the only one born in NC."
This biography presents a very simple view of details discussed below, and assumes that the research presented below applies to one Samuel Bell.
Samuel Bell I (SBI) was born about 1710 - 1720 probably in Scotland or Ulster. SBI appears in the Cumberland Vally of Pennsylvania in 1736 and in Nelson County, Virginia in 1752. From here SBI moves, first to Caswell County North Carolina about 1759, then to Guilford County North Carolina about 1762. He dies there in 1780. Locations are present day counties.
SBI probably marries twice and has eight children. He was a landowning farmer who joined in purchasing land for the Presbyterian Church in Nelson County, Virginia. He served as elder of the Church in Guilford, North Carolina and as member of the Committee of Public Safety.
It is possible that SBI can be identified as Samuel among four brothers, James II (Bell-3890), Thomas (Bell-3886), Joseph (Bell-3888) and Samuel. who appear in Pennsylvania and Virginia sometime before 1742. Thomas Bell appears in Franklin County, Pennsylvania in 1742. Joseph Bell appears Augusta County, Virginia about 1740, moving from Lancaster County Pennsylvania. At least three, possibly all, appear together in Nelson County and nearby Augusta County, Virginia in 1752. Thomas moves from Nelson County, Virginia to Woodford County Kentucky where he dies in 1795. James II and Joseph remain in Augusta County Virginia where they die: James II, in 1792; Joseph after 1796 . These are possibly the sons of a James Bell I (Bell-3885). Thomas and Samuel appear to have immigrated from Scotland via Ulster. James II and Joseph may have been born in Pennsylvania.
A speculative narrative explaining the above is this. Four sons of James Bell I, James II, Thomas, Joseph and Samuel, arrive in Pennsylvania about 1730. They come ultimately from Scotland via Ulster. John Walker III (Walker-157) whom the Bells have known in Scotland arrives about the same time. Possibly all or some travel together.
Joseph Bell and John Walker III go to Cecil County Maryland / Lancaster County Pennsylvania, arriving there before 1740. The other Bells, James II, Thomas and Samuel, go to Franklin County Pennsylvania arriving there before 1742. All marry there; Thomas, Elizabeth Weir; Samuel, Mary (Blackner or Montgomery). Robert Bell I, son of Samuel and Mary, is born there in 1736.
Joseph Bell and John Walker III move to Augusta County Virginia about 1740. By 1752 James II has also moved to Augusta County Virginia; Thomas and Samuel to adjacent Nelson County, Virginia.
Thomas Bell moves from Nelson County, Virginia to Woodford County Kentucky where he dies in 1795. James II and Joseph remain in Augusta County Virginia where they die: James II in 1792; Joseph after 1796 .
Samuel Bell and John Walker move, first to Caswell County North Carolina about 1759, then to Guilford County North Carolina before 1762. Robert Bell I marries John Walker III’s daughter, Catherine (Walker-163) in Caswell County about 1762. Samuel bell dies in Guilford County in 1780. John Walker III (Walker-157) dies 1787 in Walker's Creek, Fincastle, Washington County, Virginia.
The information appearing here is “penciled in” in accord with the above summary and with the discussion in NOTE 7 below.
"Robert Bell came here from Caswell County in 1762 and located on Sugar Tree Creek (Jordan's Branch). His children appear to have been Samuel, Robert, Francis and James. Robert, Sr. died shortly after the Revolutionary War and his sons moved to Tennessee. Rev. Robert Bell, a noted Cumberland Presbyterian minister, was the son of Robert, Jr., who had married Mary Boyd in 1775. Hon. John Bell, United States Senator from Tennessee, was the son of Samuel.
Samuel Bell, a brother of Robert, Sr., located on the Reedy Fork in 1762. His children were James, Francis, Thomas, Samuel, John, Mary and Agnes. James married Mary Carson in 1773; Thomas married Elizabeth Carson in 1774; John married Jane, daughter of Samuel Scott, Jr., in 1778; Mary married William Donnell, son of Robert, the 2nd, in 1773; Agnes married Henry Reed in 1766. Samuel, Sr., died just at the close of the Revolutionary War, and the most of his children moved to Tennessee."
Note that the list of children of Robert and Samuel intersect on Samuel, Francis and James. The only evidence for the existence of Robert Bell Sr. is Rankin. Other accounts are consistent with Rankin's Robert Bell Sr. being the son of Samuel Bell and the children of Samuel Bell being the union of the lists Rankin provides for his Robert Bell Sr. and Samuel Bell. It appears that Rankin (or his sources) took a father and mature adult son to be brothers.
This is the view taken in this data base. Here Samuel Bell I (Bell-3884) is taken to be the father of Robert Bell I (Bell-884) who is Rankin, 1934's Robert Bell Jr.
In the following references to this data base intended to be in accord with this interpretation were inserted by Sneed-20 and are subject to correction. Robert Bell Sr. is identified with Samuel Bell (Bell-874).
"Robert Bell (Bell-884) came here from Caswell County in 1762 and located on Sugar Tree Creek (Jordan's Branch). His children appear to have been Samuel (Bell-1372), Robert (Bell-884), Francis (Bell-1123) and James (Bell-1373). Robert, Sr.(Bell-874), died shortly after the Revolutionary War and his sons moved to Tennessee. Rev. Robert Bell (Bell-920), a noted Cumberland Presbyterian minister, was the son of Robert, Jr. (Bell-884), who had married Mary Boyd (Boyd-305) in 1775. Hon. John Bell (Bell-924), United States Senator from Tennessee, was the son of Samuel (presumably Bell-1372).
Samuel Bell (Bell-3884), a brother of Robert, Sr. (Bell-874), located on the Reedy Fork in 1762. His children were James (Bell-1225), Francis (Bell-1226), Thomas (Bell-1229), Samuel (Bell-1232), John (Bell-1230), Mary (Bell-1344) and Agnes (Bell-1231). James married Mary Carson in 1773; Thomas married Elizabeth Carson (Carson-387) in 1774; John married Jane (Scott-988), daughter of Samuel Scott, Jr. (Scott-989), in 1778; Mary married William Donnell (Donnell-10), son of Robert, the 2nd (Bell-884), in 1773; Agnes married Henry Reed (Reed-874) in 1766. Samuel, Sr. (Bell-874), died just at the close of the Revolutionary War, and the most of his children moved to Tennessee."
"Samuel Bell (Bell-3884), born ca 1720-30, probably in Ireland. He moved from Caswell Co to Guilford Co, NC in 1762, as did his brother Capt. Robert Bell. Their families became members of the Buffalo Presbyterian Church in Guilford Co. Samuel married Mary . He served as a ruling elder of the church, and was a witness to the church trials (records of Buffalo Pres. Records 1773-1796). He was a Revolutionary War pensioner (Col Recs. Vol. 22, p 58). He served as a member of the Safety Committee of the country, and was accused of killing a man, but proved innocent, as the victim was a British spy."
The first two sentences apparently come from Rankin, 1934 . I have not tried to find the records referenced in the third sentence. The source for the fourth sentence is not apparent.
G. G. Bell (Bell, 1977) Chapter 13 (pp. 231-275) is devoted to the descendants of Samuel Bell I (Bell-874) beginning with those mentioned by Rankin, 1934.
It is not clear where G. G. Bell gets the birth dates for her Samuel (b. 1720) and Robert (b. 1722). Rankin does not give any dates. Draper, 1841-44 reports Rev. Robert Bell (Bell-920) as relating
"Maj. Robt. Bell was born in Penn...at 12 years of age his father moved to Amherst County, VA. subsequently to Caswell, & in '71 to Guilford County, N.C. When he, Maj. B., was about 34 years old. At the age of 28, he had married Miss Catherine Walker, "
which would give a birth date of 1737 for Robert Bell I (Bell-884) 'This, in turn suggests that Samuel Bell I (Bell-3884) ("his father" above) would have been born before 1717.
This is an account of the NC community into which Samuel and Robert Bell moved ~1762. It deals only with the period 1750-60. So Bells don't appear. But, the discussion of data sources is relevant to what more might be learned about the Bells. Specifically, note 14, p.8 gives a pretty discouraging account of what is available.
The discussion of of the land grant basis for the settlement is interesting and probably applies to the Bells as well. There is an interesting map on p.3, I but I can't precisely locate what's on it on any modern map I have. The area appears heavily wooded on Google Earth and the streams are small and hard to see.
These records suggest  marries in his birthplace 1733 and has a child there in 1746. They show no evidence that  and  are in Scotland after their birth. Perhaps worth noting, is that John Walker III (Walker-157), the (likely, but not certain) father of Catherine Walker (Walker-163) (RBI's first wife), was born in Wigtown, Scotland, 1707. He was about the same age as SBI. Family ties in the "old country" could connect  with John Walker III.  is just marginally old enough.
These records are transcriptions of originals provided by the LDS Family Search website. They are admittedly "incomplete". Whether this means the originals are incomplete, the transcription coverage is incomplete, or both is not clear. I'd guess those for Scotland would be more complete than those for Ulster.
Dates are are "baptism/christening date" so the actual birth date is earlier. I don't know how much earlier this might have been for early 18th century Scotch Presbyterians.
None of these look like an obvious candidate. But, of these, I think  looks most probable.
He marries in Cumberland Valley, Bedford, Pennsylvania ~ 1735-6 and RBI is born there 12/1736. RBI's mother dies before ~1746.
It is possible that there are other children who die as infants. But, no source mentions others. This suggests that RBI's mother may have died shortly after his birth, perhaps in childbirth.
The evidence for the place is Edmund Hayes Bell (NOTE 3 on RBI web page (Bell-884)). The date is from Draper, 1841-44 (NOTE 7) as related to him by RBI's son Rev. Robert Bell II.
SBI moves to Amherst, Virginia (1746 - 1748) and then to Caswell, North Carolina (1762 - 1771).
This is also from Draper, 1841-44, who places the arrival of SBI and RBI in Guilford County, North Carolina at 1771. I think it more likely that Rankin's date of 1762, presumably based on parish records, is correct.
SBI marries again in Amherst, Virginia or Caswell, North Carolina. Children by the second wife are: Agnes and James (1747) who appear to be twins, Francis (1750), Thomas (1751), Samuel II (1753), John (1755), Mary (1757). All are born in Caswell, North Carolina, except Francis who is born in Lynchburg, Virginia.
One wonders why SBI waits so long to remarry. In this society widowers with small children usually remarry promptly. This suggests the first wife dies only shortly before 1746.
SBI's family is complete when he and RBI relocate to Guilford, North Carolina in ~1762 (possibly later). RBI is at least 26 years old and lives apart from the SBI family on his own farm. He obtains this farm as a "land grant". He marries his first wife Catherine Walker. We don't know when, but their children are all born after 1762. It looks like he marries, gets title to a farm, moves and starts a family. In 1770 he sells this (some or all?) land to SBI or SBI's son Samuel Bell II.
RBI apparently operates independently of SBI. One might easily imagine a distant, but cordial, relationship with a father whose attention is primarily focused on his second family. Perhaps, RBI is a bit more economically aggressive than his father (SBI) and initiates the relocation.
It is possible that Rankin's (NOTE 1 SBI web page) sources, encountering SBI and RBI about 1762 in Guilford, North Carolina, mistakenly took SBI's oldest son by a previous marriage for his younger brother. This is would not be surprising, given that SBI's other children were more than 11 years younger than RBI and RBI was an established family man in his own right.
The names of SBI's two wives remain unclear. However, it is petty clear that Mary Montgomery / Blackner is the second wife of SBI and not the mother of RBI. Her birth date is 1728, so she is far too young. It is possible that Octavia Donnell confuses Esther Montgomery with the wife of SBI. It looks like 'Blackner' might be the more probable name.
The birthplace of SBI's son Francis is an aberration. However, note that SBI's wife (second, by this account) was born in Lynchburg, Virginia. This is ~85 mi. from Caswell NC. I suppose this might not be too far for a pregnant woman travel for a visit, perhaps in a time of family crisis.
I wouldn't "bet the ranch" on this scenario. But, it might provide a starting point for looking / thinking further.
This examines the evidence linking linking James II (Bell-3890), Thomas (Bell-3886), Joseph (Bell-3888) and Samuel Bell, probably brothers, possibly the sons of a James I, to SBI (Bell-3884). A “working assumption” is that SBI is the father of Robert Bell I (Bell-884) (RBI), though this is not certain.
The discussion provides a chronology of the documented location of the individuals in question.
There is no known documentary evidence of any of the individuals prior to 1736.
1736-48 Cumberland Valley of Pennsylvania
Draper, 1841-44 locates SBI “in Penn” at the birth of his son RBI in 1736 and for 12 succeeding years. A "genealogical note" by Edmund Hayes Bell ( NOTE 1 on [[[Bell-1279]]), NOTE 3 on (Bell-884)) locates him in “the Cumberland Valley in Pennsylvania” at the birth of this son.
This assumes that SBI was the father of RBI and resident at the time / place of his birth. The Cumberland Vally is a big place. Chambersburg, Franklin County, Pennsylvania (below) is about in the middle of it.
Railey, 1968 says the Bell brothers arrive in “near Canacadig, Pennsylvania” and all marry soon thereafter.
This locates all Bell brothers in Franklin County, Pennsylvania (see immediately below); no documentary evidence is provided. Draper, 1841-44 says SBI was there four years earlier. Samuel does not appear in the account of Railey, 1968 after this point.
“Joseph Bell came from Lancaster, Penn., [to Augusta County Virginia] about 1740. He was one of several brothers born in Penn., whose father emigrated from the north of Ireland to America some years previously...The other brothers of Joseph Bell settled in Ohio, Ky., and Tenn., and have left descendants in those States; among them was the late Hon. John Bell of Tenn., a candidate for the Presidency in 1860”
SBI was the great grandfather “Hon. John Bell of Tenn” (Bell-924). This strongly suggest that Joseph was the brother of SBI. See below 1748.
1742 Chambersburg, Franklin Pennsylvania
Coke, 1993 locates Thomas Bell in Canacadig, Pennsylvania “near present day Chambersburg, PA”.
This suggests that Thomas Bell and SBI could have both resided in Franklin County, Pennsylvania ~1740. Google does not know more than this about Canacadig, Pennsylvania.
According to an email received 10/23/2012 from Aaron McWilliams who is an Archivist with the Pennsylvania State Archives, it is his believe that "Canakadig" is a variant spelling of Conococheague, which is a creek in present day Franklin County. He further stated that the area was settled in the 1730's and is referred to as the Conococheague settlement.
“...Item I give and bequeath to my well beloved son, Matthew Robertson, Two hundred and forty acres of land as it well best answer of that part of my land lying nest to James Bells for the only use of him and his heirs....
Signed sealed published pronounced & declared by the said James Robertson as his last Will & testament in ::the presence of us the subscribers. James Robertson
(Vizt.) Jno. Reid
At a court helf for Albemarle County the 11th day of June 1752 This last will and testament of James Robertson deced was presented into court by...”
Evidently, Thomas and Samuel are present. James is only shown to own land adjacent to that mentioned in the will. It is plausible, but clearly not evident, that the three are related.
If these are the same people mentioned in Railey, 1968, it would appear that Thomas, not James, was in Augusta County. However there is a will dated 1787 of a James Bell, Augusta County, Virginia.
Another document, Reid Family, mentions (likely the same as above) Samuel
“11 Feb 1752 John McWhorter to Alexander Patton for 90 pounds, 120 acres bought from James McCanne 10 Sep 1747. Patented 10 Jul 1745, save 1 acre sold to John Reid, James Robertson, and Samuel Bell for Presbyterian Church of Rockfish – schoolhouse and cemetery."
If 1746 were correct, Samuel Bell would have been in Nelson County Virginia before SBI arrives in this vicinity in 1748. Reid Family appears to quote the original document. The text of the original does not appear in Albermarle Deeds which covers the period 1748 - 1784. This suggests that the date 1752 is not correct. I suspect Owens, 2012 may derive from Woods, 1901.
The location of the land parcels which are the objects of these transactions is not entirely clear. Reid Family indicates that the object of the transaction it describes is the site of the Presbyterian Church of Rockfish. Reid Family tells us “(This old church and cemetery are still in existence.)”. Owens, 2012 and Bell, 2012 locate the church in Nellysford, Nelson County, Virginia. That the objects of the transactions described in Albermarle Deeds are also in present day Nelson County is plausible, but not indubitable.
Railey, 1968 and will of James Bell locate James Bell in Augusta County, Virginia. In 1752, present day Nelson County was totally within Albermarle County which was bordered by Augusta County on the north west. James Bell could have owned distinct parcels of land in both counties, one parcel at the county line. Or these could be different James Bells.
Bell, 2012 places the above transactions in context and suggests that there may be other documents connecting the three Bell brothers and SBI.
1759 Caswell County North Carolina
UPPER HYCO/GRIERS PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
National Register of Historic Buildings
UPPER HYCO Church, the first organized church still in existence in Caswell County was organized in 1753, Located near the headwaters of North Hyco Creek, Samuel BELL, and his brothers removed from Pennsylvania and settled on the forks of Hyco Creek. They were staunch Presbyterians. The first church services were held under bush arbors and homes of the members.
Albermarle Deeds indicates “Samuel Bell of County of Orange in North Carolina” selling land he owned in Nelson County Virginia.
At this time, Caswell County was part of Orange County. It is possible (but not clearly evident) that the parcel conveyed here is the same (or part of) that which Albermarle Deeds shows a Samuel Bell buying in 1752.
Coke, 1993 mentions other transactions associated with the move.
“After moving to North Carolina, Samuel Bell d1780 sold some of his Nelson Co Va land in 1759 (Albemarle Co Va deed 2p81) and sold the rest of his Nelson Co Va land in 1765 (Amherst Co Va deed Bp45). This last deed (1765) was witnessed by Thomas Bell & David Meriwether in Amherst Co Va.”
<1762 Caswell County North Carolina
Draper, 1841-44 says SBI moves from “Amherst Co VA” to “Caswell NC & in '71 to Guilford County, N.C.” No exact date is given for the move to Caswell County. Rankinn puts him in Guilford County North Carolina in 1762.
A plausible interpretation of this is that Samuel Bell = SBI moves from Nelson County Virginia to Caswell County North Carolina sometime before 1759 and sells his land Nelson County Virginia after he has moved. This appears to be the most convincing evidence that Samuel Bell = SBI.
Note that this identification, based solely on land transactions, is independent of the assumption the SBI is the father of RBI (Bell-884). Indeed, assuming this identification, Draper, 1841-44 would provide circumstantial evidence that SBI is the father of RBI in that it places the birth of RBI near the location of SBI at the time of his birth.
"some time between 1753 and 1760, Samuel Bell, with his brothers and son-in-law, Donnell, removed from Pennsylvania, and settled in the forks of Rico.”
omitting the intermediate location of Nelson County Virginia.
The “son-in-law Donnell” mentioned appears to be William Donnell (1746-1798) (19053) husband of Mary Bell (1757-1828) (19510), daughter of SBI. But, the dates are implausible. Perhaps, it should read “future son son-in-law”. They marry in 1770. Perhaps, Perhaps, the Donnell family with William at age ~ 14 accompanies Samuel Bell.
SBI is in Guilford County North Carolina
SBI dies in Guilford County North Carolina
Thomas Bell and family move from Nelson County Virginia to Woodford County Kentucky Railey, 1968.
If one accepts the identity Samuel Bell = SBI, then the account of SBI ancestry in Scotland suggested in NOTE 6 is untenable. None of the families suggested there show any brothers of the son Samuel with names matching the account of Railey, 1968.
SBI and son John are mentioned in Guilford North Carolina Deeds Guilford North Carolina Deeds. It appears that SBI sell a parcel to John for a nominal sum and John resells it to two men for a significant sum.
Text: Family Group Record FamilySearch Ancestral File v4.19 Search Results | Download GEDCOM Husband's Name Samuel BELL (AFN:1DXT-HRJ) Pedigree Born: Abt 1720 Place: , , , Ireland Died: 1780 Place: , Guilford Co, N.c. Married: Bef 1750 Place: Father: Mother: Wife's Name Mary (AFN:1DXT-HSQ) Pedigree Born: Abt. 1729 Place: <Lynchburg, , Va> Married: Bef 1750 Place: Father: Mother: Children 1. Sex Name F Mary BELL (AFN:1VZJ-CGS) Pedigree Born: 1757 Place: , Caswell, North Carolina Christened: Place: Of Lynchburg, Lynchburg, Virginia 2. Sex Name M John BELL (AFN:1VZJ-C3J) Pedigree Born: 1755 Place: , Caswell, North Carolina Christened: Place: Of Lynchburg, Lynchburg, Virginia 3. Sex Name M Samuel BELL (AFN:1VZJ-CFL) Pedigree Born: 1753 Place: , Caswell, North Carolina Christened: Place: Of Lynchburg, Lynchburg, Virginia Died: Abt 1785 Place: 4. Sex Name M Thomas BELL (AFN:1VZJ-CDD) Pedigree Born: 1751 Place: , Caswell, North Carolina Christened: Place: Of Lynchburg, Lynchburg, Virginia Died: Aft 1787 Place: 5. Sex Name F Agnes BELL (AFN:1VZJ-BXJ) Pedigree Born: 1747 Place: , Caswell, North Carolina 6. Sex Name M James BELL (AFN:1VZJ-C7C) Pedigree Born: 1747 Place: , Caswell, North Carolina Died: 18 Dec 1820 Place: , Limestone, Alabama 7. Sex Name F Mary BELL (AFN:1VZJ-CC6) Pedigree Born: 15 Mar 1738 Place: Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 8. Sex Name M Francis BELL (AFN:1DXT-HZR) Pedigree Born: 27 Aug 1750 Place: Lynchburg, , Va Died: 24 Aug 1838 Place: , Jackson Co., Ga Buried: Place: Old Liberty Ch.c, Chestnut Mt., Hall Co, Ga The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Joe - I just reread my post... edit any/all of it, but I especially wanted you to review what I said in  (and Paula & Jim, but I just realized they're not PMs, so they won't get this... I'll send an e-mail to them).
hi y'all - I took a stab at a *very* brief bio. please review/edit my comment at , as I got confused (reading everything, it seems that SBI isn't SBI?).
Also, I wasn't sure whether the children are all his... Agnes isn't? So that would change the number.
I think maybe a timeline section following the bio, with sources/comments, might be good. We could list the info in the data fields & other info with certainty/sources (e.g., Birth: 1715 estimated based on [I couldn't tell] ... Death: 1780, <a href="http://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Space:Coke%2C_1993">Coke, 1993</a>).
Cheers, Liz (P.S. If you reply, it may be Saturday before I get back to you.)
Thanks so much for all the information provided on this page and for all the research that has gone into it. But.....it would sure be nice if it could now be better summarized at the top and then referenced to the Notes that could follow. I am a descendant and am quite interested in this family line. Right now it is almost too much to scroll through and mentally absorb. Just my feeling. Thanks.