Robert Bell I (Bell-884) (hereafter RBI) was born in 1736, probably in the Cumberland Valley of Pennsylvania, and died in 1816 in Davidson County, Tennessee. In 1748 his family moved to Amherst County, Virginia and subsequently to Caswell and Guilford Counties, North Carolina.
In 1762 he received a land grant of 360 acres on the Haw River in Guilford County, North Carolina from John Carteret, 2nd Earl Granville. He lived on this land about nine miles from Guilford Courthouse. He owned a slave and was apparently a moderately prosperous farmer. In 1770 he sold this land to a Samuel Bell.
RBI married twice: first in 1764 to Catherine Walker with whom he had six children (she died in 1770), second in 1774 to Mary Boyd with whom he had thirteen children. Catherine Walker's family can be traced to the Scotch-English Borderlands, but little is known of Mary Boyd.
In the Revolutionary War, RBI served as a captain in the North Carolina Militia under General Griffith Rutherford and also as a lieutenant in the Continental Line under General Nathaniel Greene. He was commended for meritorious service in the Battle of Eutaw Springs in a letter from General Greene to Governor Richard Caswell of North Carolina. 
In 1785, RBI and his family, together with his brother, Samuel Bell II, moved to Sumner County, Tennessee and subsequently about 1798-99 to the Mill Creek area of southeastern Davidson County, Tennessee where he lived on a North Carolina land grant of 640 acres which he had purchased from another veteran. In recognition of his own military service, he received a North Carolina land grant for 2,568 acres in Davidson county, which he sold.
Robert Bell (RBI) "died of the cold plague in January, 1816, in his 80th year" in Davidson County, Tennessee.
The source for RBI's birth date is his son Rev. Robert Bell II (Bell-920) as related to Draper . Apparently based on family lore, E. H. Bell believed RBI was born in the Cumberland valley of Pennsylvania . Fred Hawthorne thought he came from Virginia 
Evidence that RBI lived in Caswell County is provided by Draper  who says that RBI moved to Caswell County North Carolina in 1771 and later to Guilford County, but gives no date for the second move.
Likewise providing no source, Parks  has:
Foote  mentions RBI's presence in Caswell County and subsequent removal to Guilford County.
Evidence that RBI lived in Guilford County comes from several, not clearly independent, sources.
Hofmann, Margaret M., The Granville District of North Carolina 1748-1763, Abstracts of Land Grants, Vol. 3, p. 43.
The date is apparently inconsistent with Draper , as cited above, unless RBI took the land grant before he relocated.
Hofmans's work and its historical background are described below in Colonial Land Records (1600s-1763), State Library of North Carolina:
Smith  says, presumably based on examination of public records,
Smith may have looked at Hofmann, quoted above, and apparently records to land transactions and census. She does not cite sources.
Draper  has:
This, together with the birth date of 1736, also from Draper  implies a date of 1764 for the first marriage. This is shortly after RBI obtains the land grant in Guilford County.
The date of the second marriage is provided by Robert Bell, "North Carolina, Marriages, 1759-1979".
Data pertaining to the children of RBI comes from G. G. Bell  and Smith . It appears that Smith may have obtained her information from G. G. Bell  who says her information came from George Emmett Bell (Bell-1092). In most cases, existence of the children has been verified by public records cited in their profiles.
The evidence for RBI's military service is considered and a narrative based on this evidence is provided.
The earliest coherent record of RBI's military service is provided by Draper :
Parks  has:
At this point, Parks  cites
The first item cited is John Bell - Jonesboro Whig 02/19/1845; the second has not yet been located in the Tennessee State Archives.
The source of the Parks  account of the Battle of Eutaw Springs is not evident and at variance with standard accounts (e.g. Middlekauff, The Glorious Cause) on several points. Most saliently, the standard accounts do not mention the participation of French troops. However, the pension application of Joseph Denny in "Constructed History of Captain Robert Bell"  mentions " a French Colonel...Malmedy" who is also named in the application of James Stewart in connection with Eutaw Springs.
Booraem, Young Hickory, p. 112 and related citations mention "a Frenchman named Malmady" in connection with "two units of North Carolina militia" returning home from Eutaw Springs.
The "French Colonel ...Malmedy" / "a Frenchman named Malmady" mentioned here is very likely Col. Marquis Francois DeMalmedy. Apparently, though indeed a "French Colonel", he was not associated with the French government's military forces in North America. Parks  writes of a "French regimental commander" suggesting that this is the commander of a French regiment. Another interpretation is that he was a Frenchman commanding a regiment, possibly North Carolina militia. The second interpretation appears to be in accord with other accounts.
Additional information is provided by applications for Revolutionary War pensions by men who served with RBI:
and by a narrative constructed from other pension applications:
These are of some interest independently of RBI. They suggest a picture of repeated, intermittent military service in militia units by a group of men, many of who seem to be acquaintances. Note that the pension applications were produced more than fifty years after the events they describe.
These sources present a somewhat fragmented picture of RBI's military service. A more coherent account can be structured around the following chronological list of battles associated with RBI in the sources:
RBI is a commissioned officer in the NC militia at the beginning the Revolutionary War and served until the end..."When the Revolution broke out he commanded a company and served throughout the war" . He apparently held the rank of captain ("commanded a company") but it is not clear what prior military experience would justify this rank. It is not unlikely that he served in the Anglo-Cherokee War in 1760-1761 before settling in Guilford County, though there is no evidence for this. We are told he "was much of a military man" .
In 1776 RBI serves with General Griffith Rutherford in the Cherokee Campaign "...went with his company on Gen. Rutherford's campaign in '76 against the Cherokees" . It is likely that RBI served with the Guilford Regiment (North Carolina militia), under Colonel James Martin [Rutherford]. We are told "...there was no fighting, for the S. C. troops had met & defeated the Indians previous to Rutherford's joining them - however the North Carolina troops [presumably the Guilford Regiment among them] burnt some Indian towns, destroyed corn - " . James Dougan who also served under Captain John Collier also in the Guilford Regiment confirms this account of the campaign ].
In 1777 Dougan volunteered to serve three months as Ensign under Captain RBI. They "...rendezvoused at Salisbury and were stationed at Camden S. C." . James Stewart apparently served under RBI at the same time, though he is uncertain of dates..."...enlisted a tour of three to the aid of South Carolina months [?], JOHN PAISLEY, colonel; ROBERT BELL, captain; and ROBERT CURRY, lieutenant; individual's self, 1st sergeant, and marched through Martinsville, Salisbury, Charlotte, Camden and after passing Camden, was met by a continental officer and sent back and stationed near Camden, and there remained, as further service was not demanded until the three months expired. This took place shortly after the Cherokee expedition date not recollected." . These events probably occurred in summer / fall of 1777. Apparently, RBI was home long enough to father a child (James Bell, born 08/1777) in early 1777.
These accounts (whose dates might be questioned) put RBI at Camden in 1777 before the Siege of Charleston and the Battle of Camden. There is no evidence that he participated in either of these events. Nor is there any evidence of RBI's activities between 1777 and 1781. It appears likely that he participated in the guerrilla activity characteristic of the war in the South at this time. He fathered one child during this time (Hugh Bell, born 05/01/1779, my 2X great grandfather), so he may not have been far from home.
Subsequently, RBI was apparently foraging for supplies during the battle of Guilford Courthouse..."He was temporarily absent from the army after a supply of corn... and "...in a private capacity..."often out against the Tories"  at the Siege of Ninety-Six. It is not clear what this is telling us about RBI's role in the Siege of Ninety-Six. One interpretation is that he had left the regular military and joined irregulars who were active against loyalist (Tory) irregulars.
In 1781, prior to the Battle of Eutaw Springs, RBI is joined by at least two men who had previously served with him: John Denny... "In June, 1781 he volunteered again under Captain Robert Bell and marched to join General [Nathaniel] Green at Camden." ; and James Stewart..."...he next volunteered his service for the space of three months to the aid of South Carolina under the command of Captain ROBERT BELL, Lieutenant ROBERT CURRY, Ensign GEORGE NICKS, self 1st sergeant, and advanced to the state line. Ensign NICKS being what was then called a "ticket man" refused to cross the state line and returned. This applicant was then advanced to the place of ensign and marched to Camden, joined by Colonel MALMEDY and our Lieutenant CURRY left us. This applicant was advanced to the then vacant office. Here Captain BELL was advanced to major and this applicant was advanced to captain,but remained uncommissioned. General [Nathaniel] GREENE then on his march from the High Hills of Santee, fell in with us and we advanced to the Eutaw Springs and fought in that memorable battle early in September 1781." . Camden was apparently along the line of march from North Carolina to Eutaw Springs.
At the Battle of Eutaw Springs "...Maj. Bell fought...under Gen. [Andrew] Pickens at the close of which, he was placed in command of the guard that conveyed the prisoners 22 miles to a place of security. They had marched 6 miles before engaging making 28 miles march that day, beside the engagement. [One might suspect that, as an officer, RBI rode, rather than walked.] Gen. [Nathaniel] Greene in consideration of Bell's good services promoted him to a Majority in the regular service." 
Note that the accounts of Stewart  and Draper  do not agree on the circumstance of RBI's promotion to major. G. G. Bell  and E. H. Bell  suggest there was no promotion. Draper  suggests that the promotion accompanied a transfer from militia to regular (Continental Line) service. This is the only evidence that RBI held the rank of major. NC records indicate was a lieutenant in the Continental Line at the end of the War. The title "Captain" by which he is usually know pertains to his rank in the NC militia. E. H. Bell  suggests that RBI was in regular service ("Continental Line") throughout the war. Further insight into this question is provided in the discussion of the activities of Col. Marquis Francois DeMalmedy.
Draper  has:
The fort Draper mentions is likely known as Isaac Bledsoe's Fort which was located in Bledoe's Lick - now Castalian Springs where a historical site Bledsoe's Fort Park. An interesting chapter in the development of this area from the book titled The Appalachian Frontier: America's First Surge Westward by John Anthony Caruso can be read at http://newfoundpress.utk.edu//pubs/caruso/chp13.pdf
Robert Bell is listed in 1787 as owning 1990 acres of land in Sumner Co. - Source: Sumner County Tax Book -Original book at the Sumner County Archives, Catalog # 976.847SN-T link is at http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~tnsumner/sumn1787.htm
Vondrak-7 10:08, 2 February 2015 (EST)
Parks  has:
RBI's Estate Settlement suggests he was a prosperous farmer who owned a mill. He owned two slaves.
RBI apparently died of what we would now call 'influenza' in January of 1816 at the home of John Edmiston (Edmiston-5) in Hermitage, Davidson, Tennessee.
The daughter mentioned is apparently Rebecca (Bell-910 ). Edmonson is apparently John Edmiston (Edmiston-5), father of RBI's daughter-in-law, wife of his son Samuel (Bell-918). Draper  mentions "4 corpses". This accounts for only three. Nathaniel (Bell-914) survives so the fourth could not be his corpse.
An account of the influenza epidemic occurring at the time of his death and treatment (bloodletting) provided to those suffering from it appears in The Epidemic, a contemporary newspaper account apparently written by a physician.
RBI died intestate. His children agreed on a disposition of his estate appearing below and in Estate Settlement.
DAVIDSON COUNTY, TN - WILLS - Robert Bell, Jan 1817
Written: January 1817 Recorded: August 21, 1818
Warranty Deed Book M p. 341 from Metropolitan Nashville/Davidson County Archives 3801 Green Hills Village Drive Nashville, TN 37215
Transcribed by Paula Norman Snyder Paulas1218@aol.com April 12, 2009, 10:08 pm References to this data base provided by JDS (Sneed-20 18:08, 10 June 2011 (EDT)])
Samuel Bell and others: Heirs of Robert Bell (Bell-884) Decd. to each other Registered August 21st 1818
We the subscribers, the children and legal representatives of Robert Bell deceased lately of Davidson County do hereby for our selves and our heirs covenant and agree that whereas said Robert Bell departed this life intestate after having provided during his life time for part of his children and leaving others without such provisions - Now we do hereby agree that the plantation in said County where said Robert lived shall be allotted and set apart to his three sons William Bell, Nathaniel Bell and Abraham Bell and that William Bell shall have the home mill erected on said land and fifteen acres in that corner of the tract as near a square as can conveniently be done to include the mill and the remainder to be equally divided between said Nathaniel and Abraham and their heirs and said William is also to have his equal share of a tract of eleven hundred and fifty acres on the Tennessee River if it should ever be obtained with such of his children as have not been sufficiently advanced in the life time of their father and it is also agreed that for and in consideration of the above transfer said William Bell, Nathaniel Bell and Abraham Bell will claim no more of said estate real or personal and will pay up to the others, or to the administrator of said estate the amount of what they severally purchased at said estate, and ??? do hereby agree that all the rest and residue of said estate including the residue of said land on Tennessee and the personal property shall be distributed in proper proportion amongst such of the children of said deceased as shall not have received what would be their equal proportion in his life time, exclusive of the said William, Nathaniel & Abraham.
An inventory of RBI's estate, apparently in preparation for sale, appears below. It is from this inventory that we learn that he owned two slaves,
DAVIDSON COUNTY, TN - WILLS - Robert Bell Estate Inventory
"Record Book Davidson County, Tennessee # 4 page 447 from Metropolitan Government Archives 3801 Green Hills Village Drive Nashville, TN 37215
Robert Bell decd. Inventory Recorded 23rd April 1816
March 25th 1816. A true Inventory of the goods and chattles of the estate of Robert Bell decd.: 1 Negro man, 1 Negro woman, 41 head of horse kind, 11 head of Cattle, 17 head of Sheep, 26 head of Hoggs, 1 waggon and gear, 1 Jack Screw, 1 desk and bookcase, 1 Cupboard, 1 Table, 9 chairs, 2 beds and furniture, 2 bedsteads, 1 whip saw, 1 cross cut saw, one wheel fan, one currying knife, three barshear-ploughs, two shovel ploughs, 2 nalocko, 3 weeding hoes, 1 log chain, two Broad axes, 3 pole axes, one foot adze, one Howell, 5 augers, 1 hand saw, one tenant saw, 2 pots, 2 kettles, 2 ovens, one pair fire dogs, 1 frow, two Iron wedges, one pair of fire tongs, 2 flat irons, 3 ladles, 1 loom, 1 slay, 1 looking glass, 1 cotton wheel, 1 stone hammer, pot rack, 1 Brass Serve, 1 wheel oieve, 1 Briar sythe, 1 long Sythe, one cuting knife, two rifle guns, five raw hides, 1 flax hackle, two drawing knives, four brewing tubs, two slates, one Spoon moulds, 1 pair of Sadle bags, one sword, a Small quanty of corn, one note on John Gordin of six dollars, 1 note on Elijah Linkhorn of Six dollars, 1 proved account on Santee eleven dollars 30 cents, 1 Note on Shaw $10.00, 1 due bill on James Stuart of ten dollars 31 cents, 1 crib of corn.
State of Tennessee, Davidson County Court April Sessions 1816 This Inventory of the estate of Robert Bell decd. was returned into court By Samuel Bell and John Bell admr. and ordered to be recorded Testa __Nathan Ewing Clerk of
Photos of a record of sale of RBI's estate appear to the right on this page. A transcription is in preparation.
Items appearIng in the sale record appear to be largely identical to those appearing in the inventory above. A notable exception is books which appear in the sale record but not in the inventory.
By far, the most valuable items sold were the two slaves, a male selling for $730, a female selling for $5(?)60.
Many items appear to have been purchased by members of RBI's family.
With the exception of a Bible, there is no itemized list of books sold. However, Parks , apparently citing record of the estate sale pictured at right, tells us:
For an account of the community in Guilford County, North Carolina in which the Bells lived see:
A free download is available here.
General historical background is provided by:
This is a standard source on the American Revolution useful in placing family information in context.
Specific to the Revolution in the South are:
Specific information about the Battle of Cowpens is provided by
It is a somewhat romanticized account by a popular historian. However, it is well sourced and appears to be accurate on essential facts like location and dates of battles.
Information about General Griffith Rutherford under whose command RBI served is provided by:
A free download is available here.
More about Rutherford is provided by:
Daughters of the American Revolution, DAR Genealogical Research Databases, database online, (http://www.dar.org/ : accessed May 23, 2015), "Record of Robert Bell (Lt.)", Ancestor # A008776.
I believe there is some misinformation about Mary Boyd Bell and her daughter Rebecca Bell who died in 1816. Rebecca Bell was probably not Mary Boyd Bell's last child, her last child most probably was Jane Bell born in 1795 when Mary was about 41. It has been suggested that Mary Boyd Bell died either in childbirth or shortly thereafter with Jane. I have done a fairly thorough search of the records here, but have not found anything revealing her death. Rebecca Bell was old enough when she died to have an estate settlement. She was not married but was presumably over the age of 21. I'm not sure why she was deemed to have owned the things in her estate.
Paula Snyder Sent from my iPhone 05/27/15
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On 20 Dec 2017 at 19:52 GMT Liz (Noland) Shifflett wrote:
On 27 Jan 2017 at 23:14 GMT Robin Lee wrote:
On 13 Oct 2015 at 20:55 GMT Liz (Noland) Shifflett wrote:
On 13 Oct 2015 at 18:39 GMT Karen (McWhorter) Wilhelm wrote:
The profile needs a very thorough makeover and probably more profiles of people mentioned.
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