Clock Tower

Out of the Clock Tower



Hello and welcome to the Greene County Archives' blog, "Out of the Clock Tower".  Please join us as we share information on archival issues, news, special events, and highlights from our collection.

Before the archives program began in Greene County in 1996, permanent records were stored in every conceivable space, in basements, garages, and closets. Usually they were in boxes of various shapes and sizes, although seldom adequately labeled, but occasionally they were just in loose piles of books and papers. Most notable were the old records stuffed into the clock tower of the County Courthouse, where they shared their home with pigeon droppings.

Now, there is a clean, environmentally controlled, well appointed location for the county archives, where our historical records are housed in standard sized boxes on steel shelves. We have taken note of their journey in the name for our blog.

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Nov 26

Stephen Bell: A Pioneer and Founder of Bellbrook

Posted on November 26, 2018 at 8:54 AM by Melissa Dalton

Stephen Bell was one of the pioneer founders of Bellbrook, and a “mayor” of Springfield in Clark County, Ohio. Bell was born on August 18, 1774 in Sussex County, New Jersey. When Bell was about 20 years old, he moved to Pennsylvania. It was there that he met and married Hannah Scudder in September 1795.

Stephen and Hannah had eleven children – John, William, Charles, Aaron, Rebecca, Mary, Naomi, Permelia, Cassandra, Benjamin, and Franklin. In 1810, Stephen and his family moved to the new state of Ohio, settling in Xenia. When war broke out in 1812, Stephen served as a soldier under Captain Robert McClellan as part of the Volunteer Company of Ohio Militia.

After returning from the war, Bell continued his work as a millwright and farmer. Bell built many mills along the Miami River, and gained prominence in the county. Bell, along with Henry Updyke and James Clancey, laid out Bellbrook in 1816. Then in 1818, Bell was elected to the Greene County State Legislature. Bell also served as a county commissioner from 1822 to 1828 (Fig 1).

Fig 1. 1820 U.S. Census Record (JPG)
Fig 1. U.S. Census 1820 with Stephen Bell outlined (Ancestry.com)

In 1832/1833, Bell sold the family farm, buying the farm adjacent to his (Fig 2). Stephen and Hannah stayed there, but when Bell took ill in 1838, they planned to move to Iowa; however, Hannah’s death in 1839 changed his plans. Shortly thereafter, Bell married Wealthy Daugherty, moving to Springfield in Clark County, Ohio (Fig 3). Stephen and Wealthy had one child, Marcella in 1840. Again, Bell was a prominent figure in Clark County, and although Springfield was not a city until 1850, he served as the President of the City Council in 1845.

Fig 2. 1830 U.S. Census Record (JPG)
Fig 2. U.S. Census 1830 with Stephen Bell outlined (Ancestry.com)

Fig 3. Marriage Record of Stephen Bell and Wealthy Daugherty (JPG)
Fig 3. Marriage Record of Stephen Bell and Wealthy Daugherty in 1839 (Ancestry.com)

Stephen Bell passed away in November 1852 (Fig 4) and was buried in a mausoleum in Greenmont Cemetery in Springfield, Ohio. Not long after Bell’s death, a young girl was buried with him. The general belief is that the girl is his step-granddaughter. One article claims the girl is Wealthy Caroline Pelan, his step-granddaugther through his second marriage. However, her exact identity is unknown.

Fig 4. Will of Stephen Bell (JPG)
Fig 4. Will of Stephen Bell (JPG)
Fig 4. Will of Stephen Bell (Ancestry.com)

By 1927, Bell’s mausoleum had fallen into disrepair. When Bell’s granddaughter, Anna Anderson, learned of the shape of her grandfather’s burial site, she made arrangements to have Bell reburied in Bellbrook Cemetery. In 1961, a local Boy Scout troop placed a memorial stone at Stephen Bell’s grave to honor one of the founders of Bellbrook.

Until Next Time…

Sources:
Ancestry.com
Guy, S. C. & Minning, P. E. (2017). The two burials of Stephen Bell. Ohio Genealogical Society Quarterly, 57(3), 259-264.
Robinson, G. F. (1902). History of Greene County, Ohio. Chicago: S.J. Clarke Publishing Company.

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