The Bell Letters
James B. Bell had six children (Robert, John, Henry, Eliza Jane, Francis, and James T.), all Union Loyalists except for one son, Henry. He joined the Confederacy and moved to Mississippi and joined in with cousin Andrew Lowrimore. James B. and wife Elizabeth Lowrimore raised their children in Winston County. Henry's brothers, sister, and father all tried to convince Henry to rethink his feelings to no avail. There are seven known letters sent to Henry, who turned them in to the authorities in his community. They were then sent to Governor Moore on July 10, 1861 with a letter signed by A.W. Irvin from Lodi, MS. They are now on file in Montgomery.
"Dear Sir, Enclosed please find a treasonable correspondence from Kansas P.O. Walker Co., Ala. to a citizen of our community, Mr. Henry Bell signed by James B. Bell, John Bell, and Robert Bell which the undersigned regard as dangerous and forward the same to Your Excellency in order that you may be advised of the existence of such sentiment in your State and to enable you to investigate or take such cause in the premises as your judgment and duty may dictate. Mr. Henry Bell to whom the ___ documents were written ___ ___ these individuals reside in Black Swamp Beat in Winston Co. Ala but the Kansas Walker Co. is their P.O."
Robert died in Andersonville on August 3, 1864 (Prisoner of War), John died on August 17, 1864 in Rome, GA, Henry died March 24, 1863, James T. died on July 24, 1864, and James B., their father, died September 15, 1862, all of their deaths occurring during the Civil War. Francis was the only male who survived, and his descendants can still be found in Winston County. These letters have little punctuation, gaps, and blanks, and were written to Henry trying to convince him to come home and change his ways.
John Bell is writing to Henry in Choctaw County, MS
This April the 11th 1860 (1861?)
State of Ala winston county
Dear brother and sister i this day i take my pin in hand to draf you a few lines in ancer to our leter we are all well and i hope when these few lines cumes to hand tha may find you all well and a doing well times is hard hear and there is such a dis steer bene hear a bout our union that there is no chances to sell eny thing henry you never Sed nothing in your liter a bout what you was whether you was youning or diSuning we are uning here and we are are far linkern we are no dis uning hear we are wil ling to be a gavernd by a man that will do as linkern ses he will do he ses that he was elected for the united States and he is a going to be a presidennt for all or nun and i say huraw far lindern henry i want you to doo all you can for mee about that lnd if you can fix eny way to Satisfy oliver and take the land your self try do So and it will all be _____ so no more at this time Joh Bell to henry write.
James B. Bell is writing to son, Henry.
Kansas P.O. C Ala.
April 21st 1861
My dear affectionate son I hav just Recsived a letter from you which gave me great satisfaction to hear from you. but Alas to my sorrow you have priverd to be a cesessionest which I hoped you would be as far from as the north from the south. O my God would that you could see where you stand and turn to the sure and just that Blaced good old Union which our fore fathers fought bled and died to Establ our liberty peace and comfort. ‘O would we then soon trample that sacred peace and union under our feet. God forbid my son.
My son dont be angry with me for I truly fear that our peace is done here on this earth. suffer me to adrs you in a fatherly good manner as I have Been living Along time and have Been a close abserver in my time I can see what is coming up just as fast as the ____ of time can Roll it on but I have not the language to ExpreSs it . O, that I had so that I could convince you where you stand and what you are doing.
Consider my son what you are doing consult your own judgment and dont listen to the persuasions of others. those large negro holder that just gives one side of the question they will speak to you as what glories would be in the South if you will just help us and Blaspheme the union that sacred union to the lowest degnade, view it my son.
O my son I am sooner to think that you are sorrow that I am a union man would to God my son that you were unionist for you are the only disunion son that I have In Existance and I hope you will take all things Into consideration & turn with me for I belive that I am Right.
My son you stated in your letter & seemed to Indicat that we were all I a land of heathern where we did not no anything and could not get the news. suffer me to Inform you that we are not & I thank God for it though If times keep on we will be as might just a will be if the South cares her disigns into Executions which I hope she will never be able to do. I get the general new from all quarters of the East and am tolerably well inlighten. but is the South Inevensile turn! for this reason I will tell you – enly! For I dont think It is right.
The next statement was that you had been __Terated on I wish you had told me In what way & manner the northhad Ever Intruded on you & what time & what was the case of this I believe I know you say that the north has taking your Negros when has Ala. or Mip ever ___arg negros just tell me of one It is the fronteer states that has suffered by them states if any has why did they seat. ___ick up you did not hear them hollow out for the Southernors ___no, they pled for the South to hold on and fly off to stay and see If them states wouldnt rescind that law, why Dident those southern sister cut then states off. They could have done it if they unconstitutional law. no, that wasent the Idie with them I till you my son It is office seekers that has caused the hole of this. thy must fly off hav a southern confedracy and have a presedent In the south to rule over us In ___ ___ what they have already done we the south has to pay what the united states had to pay. how are you going to stop all this, where is your force to do it where are your arms where are your B____ of war and In fact I dont see any chance for you. The north has them all & all the materials to work with & the men to ___ so I think the chance of the south is but slim but 7 states and half of them is for the union & a great portion has got to crave for the war to ___ommence as there is no chanc for peace & as Ala has ceseded there is about 1 half of the Counties a going to cesede from the state for they have the same Right as the state had to secede from the untied states they will go Back to to Tennessee! not Back (haverwill) to be cut off to Tenn! For it is not come off nor has (haverwill) The States that have seceded. S.C. Ala Missp g. A. L. A. & florida. It is doubtful any Being off for they cannot come out only In the same way that they went In by petition. I am sure there is not one done that just one or two said it was off and it is slaves that why did they not let the people have the vote on it. cant you see that the few ruled the hole state They dont let us have nothing to say In public concerns state and If ____ ____ ____ have that they will take more & press a little harder as we could ____ it that is the way they are working the thing. what is the Reason they not let us have vote on it. Because they ____ the union would carry and the be –nonsintes- in there Designs. and for my heart I believe lincoln will make a fair president, give him a trial and see what he does and if he dont administration right then I say take him out hang him as high as negro swing him between ____ the heavens and Earth; he has no power on things. Congress congress has to Empower him before he can do anything. he can only veto and 2 thirds of the house will take the power away from him Then. what has Davis done why they in 15,0000.00 millions of Bonds to be sole and our childrens children will be taxed to pay off the Bonds. 29 millions of debt hanging over Ala cant more than pay the intrest on it, lincon has never done that yet. he hasent put the tarf on us yet nor taxet but still he is the object of scorn & for the ____ he is just as fair blood as any. If he is negro It looks like the south Exceptly as they are _____ of negros. I am not a avolitaineast you ____ to cencer me. I don’t care for the negros [the last page of this letter is missing.]
Eliza Jane Bell writes to her brother Henry.
the State of Alabama Winston County April 21, 1861
Dear brother If you could but Simpathise with me after hearing that you have Rebeled against the government that you have been bornd and Raised under it is a hart rending thing to me I did not think I had a brother in the world that would done to Do sutch a thing I can but hope that you will Return as the prodigal son did when he was prest with hunger So I hope that you will come back before you are prest Back but if you dont it wont be long before you will be prest back by force with Shame I wrote to you to pick out me a Sooter before I got there but if there is none but disunion men there for God Sake let them alone for I would disdain to keep company with a disuinist for if he will cecede from the government that has allways sustaned his Rights he would Cecede from his family he would not Claim a union with them he would say after while I am a cecede God forbid that I Should ever get such a Sooter or that for I Can but put my Centements here for the world to see.
May the time hasten to Roll a Round when all the true men of America may be bound together in one Soled band of Republic and all the Cecessionist that can se and wont see may tha fall to the ground as a fig tree casteth his untimely fruit to the ground when Shaken by a mity wind.
Please Read my Centiments to those young gentlemen that claim them Selves to be disunionist
I can State futher that it would not be worth while for you to pick me a Sooter in that in lighted land where tha are old So intelagent for tha would not have a Sooter that came from this hethern land when people Cant hear any thing nor know any thing.
Brother dont think Hard of me when you Read my letter. But change back that opinon of yours to the Rite one. I have to wrighte my sentiment as they are but dont let sucession do a way the love between Brother and sister so non But remain your Sister Elizza Bell.
P.S. write me as soon as you get this & let me hear from you so farewell
[At the bottom of this letter is written: "Henry Bell is my name and fight I will before I will submit to black republican princible my i will first." A.L. Lowrimore signed his name three times.]
James Bell is writing to his nephew, Andrew Lowrimore in Choctaw County, Mississippi.
April the 22 1861
My Dear nephew
a few words to you & I will close you wante me to give your love to all your friends & you wanted to no what they all are in Regard to their pricipals they are all union to A man & full Booded union at that so you have no friends here if your principal In disunion I mean, your father is as strong a union man as ever was so he is not a friend to your principal although he loves you dearly he cannot bid you God speed In that one thing. We are all union men. Andrew you Requested me to give your love to your friends you give my love to all Relalationns In that vicinity & if any I have any union friends there tell them howdy for me. & I will do so for you here But I want you to think for a moment where and what you are doing See if you aint wrong Who are you going to fight. Your own Born Kin your relations It is just like it was in 1775 Read the history about the stamp act & see if you cant foretell what is coming Mr Davis has to hav 1/8 of your cotton now beside the taft they have put on us. no more But Remains your Uncle until Death
P.S. write me & let us hear from you as quick as posably. that all now and if you are not satisfied tell me so in your next letter.
James Bell is writing to son, Henry Bell.
April 22th 1861
My Dear afectionate son it is with pleasure that I right a few more lines to you. my love and affection is not grown cold to toward you, I love you Dearly. but suffer me to Reason with you I cant see nor find any place in the Bible says any thing about negroes It only speaks about slaves and they were not treated like negroes & Beasts. But like humanes If you would take up the history of the united states & Read that and see how that liberty came that you disdain uneto to live under that you have Been Born & Raised under & which ought to Be sweeter to you than honey come see how it was established & what hardships our forefathers has to undergo before obtained. It is a shame to this America, now this quick after tare up things in such a manner. Deslove that union which our forefathers gained us they knew that they could not live long to Enjoy that freedon. But ____ bring one another up that their children would Enjoy it & be free from tyranny,s yoke, & when they had gained freedon & went In to a union and compact of treaties. They had no though that their children would be so near of baring that yoke on their necks in 1861, about 84 years freedon & before 10 years we will Be In bondage if you keep on. In that course no other chance under heaven, unless the God of heaven assist I pray He will hear in our behalf, take up the History of the world henry & look at the instances in that & in evry place where a nation devided if you Exmine you will see that they did not Remain so long for another nation would come In and capture them & take them off Into Bondage & there never has been many nations stood as long as America has but the time is close by when it will fall. I fear it is any how! to this thing has Been a working up for the last 20 years look at the changes they made In it for you look at the History you cannot be decieved, but there is a liability of your being decieved if you lisen to the persuasions of them grandis & not believe the History, you Read nothing bus disunion papers and I have never heard a word of truth In it yet, they dont Bring themselves to the South But put statements In them that are not so. nor never, can be so, I have _____ both sides of the question carefully & without any partiality I was bound to be on thee Rite cause & if every man in the south was a ceader I would remain a union man all the time I am unmoveable in that I dond change with the Majority I go in for the sondness of the thing and not to be Ruled by unnatureal beings who will make you believe that you are wrong if you do go with them, & after they get there plans ____ then you may go to Ruin for, O, they care [a page possibly missing at this point.] they will be able to buy some of those Bonds & then you may be taxt to to pay them off, we wont get shed of them fifty years we cant pay the interest on them let alone the principal.
Henry read my letter and dont get vent at me for writing you such a letter and think for a while & see if you are not wrong & see if you cant view it the same way I do. I would be glad if I could see you now and converse with you on this subject I could show you planer than I can handwrite, so no more at this time bit everby Remain you affectionate Father until Death James Bell.
N.B. this leaves us all well with the Exception foof Bad colds & I hope it will find you all well and doing well. James Bell L.S. Give my love to all Relations in that part & tell them I would like to see them & tell all the union Boys howddy foor me. Write as soon as you get this & let us hear from you James Bell to Henry Bell.
[At the bottom of this page is "A.L. Lowrimore is my name" the message is not readable.]
James B. Bell is writing to son, Henry Bell
April 27th 1861
Dear Son, it is with pleasure that I seat my self this morning to let you know that we are all well at present hoping when these few lines comes to hand that tha may find you all well and doing well. I received A letter from you and Andrew Lowirmore this morning and was glad to hear that you are well but it was disgusting to me to think that I had Raised A Child that woud Cecede from under the government that he was bornd and Raised under it is Something Strane to me that people Can forget the grones and crys of our fourfathers in the Revoloutin So quick. Henry just think back to the time when our forefatherse walked over the frozened ground bare foot leaving ther blood on the ground when fighting for the liberties that you have enjoyed ever Since you hav had a being in the world God forbid that I ever Should even be Cald a Cecessionist. I had jest as Soon be Cald a tory, as to Comit treson ganst the government that was Sealed with the blood of my fathers. the Scripture informs us that a House Devided against its Self Cannot stand. The Scriptures informs us that the Isralites divided in to Northism & Souhisn’s and She was in bondage in less than ten years. Henry you are out in a Ceceding Country and tha have got you puft up with Cecessionism as tight as a tode. I dont see what you nede to care for you hant got no Slaves. All tha want is to get you puft up and go to fight for their infurnerl negroes and after you do there fighting you may kiss ther hine parts for a tha ceare. Henry you wrote that if we was in a inlighten Country that we could see better. I want you to understand that we ant in a hethen Land or wasent until Ala went out of the union and this ant any nigher a hethern Land than that. Thare is as Smart men in this Country as thare is in Mississippi and as intellagent gentlemen as lives anywhere. henry may time hasten to Roll around when you can se your own intrest and turn your Back upon the Cursed question Caled Cecessionism and Return like the prodigal Son and then Come over and we will kill the fated Calf. So I will Close my few Remarks hoping when you se these few lines that you will no longer a Cecessionist. J.B. Bell to Henry Bell
Robert Bell is writing to his brother, Henry Bell in Choctaw County Mississippi
June 10th 1861
State of Alabama Winston County Dear brother it is this one time more that I take my pin in hand to try to right you a few lines to let you no that I am tolebral well and I hope that when this Comes to hand that it may findes you all well and that you aught to bee when I say what you aught to bee is to not bee and rebel nor a fool the way you hair bin righting hear you air one or the other and you cant deniy it nor you nead not to try to deniy it to mee your side has not got a foundaution that is eney sounder than a soft bull tied in the spring of the year you have not I suppose from the way you have bin riting seen nor heard nothing but disunion secession confederate confederated and confederation and you all haive Swollode it down like Sweet milk and Softe peaches I say hurrow for lincol it has ben Said that lincol was a going to free the negros that is a ly I will say that it seames to me like congress has something to say aboute it first it has bin said that the union men was traitors that I say is a ly again I am a heap freader of the disunions with their helish principals than I am of lincol. he has not said that he was a going to free the negros he has bin beging far peas ever since he was elected he has offered the south more than I wood have dun he has offerd the south eney thing they wood ask for if they would stay in [One full line is unreadable because of fold.] bee as it was with Joseph and his brothers if the south will not do eney thing that is right and fair it is said by you or some of you dis union party that lincol was elected by a large negro vote that is not so and you now it two when I say you I mean you all on the dis union side and all hoo the shoe may fit Can ware it. theair was something said a bout a company being sent out here to do something with the union men Send them on when you git redy and it will bee a too hand again I am not afeard in to it my self come on and you will mete with your uncle feddys theair is no dainger of you a coming or sending on that bysness there is too mutch meanness at the bottom of the disunion party to soot me one man in this county said that he wood live fat among the (women) if the war cum on and he has left the County and I heard of a nother one being shot or shot at for trying to force a woman to it.
I am a union man my self and a union principal and all the rest of the con nect tion here there is not ceding 15 rebels in our beat and I say hurrow for lincon and the union party the dis union party has committed treason You say that lincon was elected by a large negro vot that will not do if that bee the case why did not you brake the election at the start it looks to me like he was lawfully elected when he beat the others all to gether you all had better try to keep your negros as for mine they may go I do not like to smell them so will Rebel is one who opposis lawful authority. Rebel to rise in opposition against lawful authority Rebellion insurrection against lawful authority Secede to withdraw from fellowship secession the act of with draw ing from union the act of joining concord.
this is what I am in for I was bornd and Raised in the union and I exspect to dy with the union principal in mee I will Dy before I will take an oath to support the Southern confedersa when ever lincoln dus eney thing Contray to the Constitution I am then ready and willing to help put him a way from their so i ad no more. Robert Bell