A Guide to the James Hall Bell Papers, 1849-1908
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.
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.
James Hall Bell Papers, 1849-1908, Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.
Detailed Description of the Papers