University of Texas, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History

A Guide to the James Hall Bell Papers, 1849-1908

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Bell, James Hall
Title: James Hall Bell Papers
Dates: 1849-1908
Abstract: Papers concern the life of Bell (1825-1892), attorney, Texas Supreme Court justice, and secretary of state of Texas, and the affairs of Edward Bingham Wright (1838-1914), Union soldier and Presbyterian minister, including correspondence, business papers, legal papers, and memoranda.
Accession No.: AR 64-89, 91-261
Extent: 1 inch
Language: Materials are written in English.
Repository: Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin

Biographical Note

James Hall Bell, lawyer and justice, the son of Mary Eveline (McKenzie) and Josiah Hughes Bell, was born at Bell's Landing (now Columbia) on January 2, 1825. In 1837 he entered St. Joseph's College at Bardstown, Kentucky, but returned to Texas on the death of his father in 1838. He attended Centre College, Danville, Kentucky, from 1839 to 1842, when he returned to Texas and served under Alexander Somervell in repelling the Mexican invasions of 1842. Bell studied law with William H. Jack and entered Harvard University in 1845. He returned to Texas in 1847 and formed a partnership with Robert J. Townes to practice law at Brazoria. From 1852 to 1856 Bell was district judge, and from August 2, 1858, to August 1864 he served as associate justice of the Texas Supreme Court. He was secretary of state under A. J. Hamilton from August 7, 1865, to August 17, 1866. At the time of the Coke-Davis controversy in 1873, Bell interviewed President U. S. Grant and is said to have persuaded Grant not to intervene in Texas in behalf of Edmund J. Davis. After Reconstruction, Bell engaged in mining in Mexico. He died in Austin, Texas, on March 13, 1892.

Information taken from Handbook of Texas Online entry on Bell.

Scope and Contents

Papers include correspondence, business papers, legal papers, and memoranda. Papers relate to Bell's personal and family life; European travels; mining operations; affairs of the Houston Tap and Brazoria Railroad; Congressional pensioning of Wright, including correspondence between Albert Sidney Burleson and Ira Hobart Evans; and especially the political, economic, military, and governmental affairs of Texas during Reconstruction.


Access Restrictions

Unrestricted access.

Index Terms

Bell, James Hall.
Wright, Edward Bingham.
Austin, Texas.
Brazoria County, Texas.
Military Service – Compensation.
Texas--Supreme Court.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

James Hall Bell Papers, 1849-1908, Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.

Detailed Description of the Papers



2K255 Correspondence and legal documents, 1849-1889, 1907-1908, and undated