Chapter LV
History of Bell Township 

Bell was the twenty- fourth township organized, and was taken from Young in 1857. It was called for Hon. James H. Bell, a prominent citizen of the township. It is bounded on the north by McCalmont township, on the east by Henderson and Gaskill, on the west by Young, and on the south by Indiana county.

This township closely resembles Young, both in size and shape. The Mahoning Creek, flowing across it from east to west, splits it into two nearly equal parts. The southern area is traversed longitudinally by the valley of Canoe Creek, of which Ugly Run is an important tributary. The northern part of the township has only small streams, all of which flow southward into the Mahoning. The surface generally is smooth and there are no coal beds of any value in Bell township. The Lower Barren Measures cover nearly the whole of the township, and the only rock of any material value to be found being a stratum of good limestone.

Early Settlement. - The early settlers in what is now Bell township were Nathaniel Tindell, a native, of Connecticut, who came with Dr. Jenks in 1818, Jesse Armstrong, Jacob Bowersock, Daniel Graffius, J. Gano, and John Hess, who came sometime after. Most of these have been noticed in the chapter on the early settlers of the county, or in the history of Young township. The first land was cleared, by Daniel Graffius, and the first improvements made by J. Bowersock. The first person born was Mercy Ann Tindell, and the first couple married was Daniel Graffius and Miss M.J. Rhodes.

The first saw- mill was built in 1828, by John Hess and J. Bowersock, and the first grist- mill was erected in 1833, at what is now Bell’s Mill Station, on the Buffalo, Rochester and Pittsburgh railroad. James H. Bell, in 1840, started the first store in the township, at Bell’s Mills.

The first lumber was taken out by Jesse Armstrong. The first grave- yard was located on the farm of F. Rinehart, and Jacob Rinehart was the first person buried there.

The first school house was built in 1830 and the first church at Grubes in 1870.

Among the prominent settlers of Bell township was Hon. James H. Bell, who came from Ireland about the year 1812, and settled in Armstrong county, from whence he removed to Jefferson county in 1831 locating at the present site of Bell’s Mills. He was like the majority of the early pioneers, almost devoid of means when he settled in the pine forest of Jefferson county, but by untiring perseverance he soon succeeded in paying for his land, and then built the grist and saw- mills on the Mahoning Creek, opposite his residence, which gave the place its name. He was largely engaged in lumbering for many years, and was an honest, upright man. A Democrat in politics, he was one of the leaders of the party in Jefferson county, and in 1853 was appointed one of the associate judges to fill a vacancy, and at the ensuing election was elected to that office. Judge Bell died in 1877. He left a family of two sons and seven daughters. Captain John T. Bell, the eldest of the family, resides in Punxsutawney, and William E. Bell at Bell’s Mills.

Henry Brown is another of the prominent business men of the township, whose biographical sketch appears in another portion of this work. He has been largely connected with the lumbering and farming interests of the township.

Present Business. - There are three grist- mills in the township owned and operated by W.E. Bell, A. Dunmire and L. Elbel, and the saw-mills of Henry Brown and A. Kremkraw. The former cuts 20,000 feet per day and the latter 10,000. L. Elbel has a store at Bell’s Mills and I. Kremkraw one at Kremkraw’s Mills. There has never been a hotel in the township nor are there manufactories or shops of any kind. There are two post-offices in Bell township, Bell’s Mills and Canoe Ridge. The latter was moved from Indiana county in 1887. There are also five school houses and two churches, with a cemetery at Carey’s.

Farms. - Farming being the principal occupation of the citizens of Bell township the farms are generally in a state of good cultivation. Among the best tilled, and with the best improvements, are those of Jacob Hoeh, Adam Snyder, Henry Brown, Jacob, Joseph and John Grube.

Elections. - The first election in Bell township was held in 1857, with the following result: Justice of the peace, John Couch, A. Rudolph; constable, Andrew Wilkins; supervisors, John Milliron, I.C. Jordan; auditors, Henry Brown, William Johnson, John T. Bell; town clerk, Andrew Wilkins; judge of election, Joseph McPherson; inspectors, Samuel Graffius, Henry Grey; school directors, John T. Bell, James McCracken, Samuel Steffy, David McKee, Alexander Findley, Israel Graffius; assessor, Israel Graffius; overseers of the poor, Adam Kuntz, Abraham Graffius.

At the election held February 15, 1887, the following persons were elected: Justice of the peace, Samuel States; constable, Thomas J. Wilkins; supervisors, J.T. Ritenhouse, William Steffy; auditor, Samuel Grube; poor overseer, J.T. Ritenhouse; school directors, Jacob Hoeh and Israel McElwain; assessor, William J. Brown; collector, Jacob Hoeh; judge of election, J.J. Pifer; inspectors, A.J. Beck and D.S. Griffith.

The other justice of the peace in Bell township is G.S. Weaver, and the previously elected members of the school board are Samuel States, Samuel Couch, Adam Weaver and Henry Brown.

Population and Taxables. - The number of taxables in Bell township in 1863 were 145; in 1870, 190; in 1880, 287; in 1886, 297. The population in 1860 was 792; 1870, 785; 1880, 887.

Taxation and Valuation. - The triennial assessment of Bell township for 1886 gives the number of acres of seated land as 10,235; valuation, $40,049 average per acre, $3.90. Houses and lots 3; valuation, $110. Unseated land 513 acres; valuation, $1,598; average per acre, $3.12. Acres mineral, 495; valuation, $3,465; average per acre, $7.50. Number of horses, 168; valuation, $6,220; average value, $27.72. Number of cows, 249; valuation, $2,490; average, $10 oxen, 10; valuation, $240. Number of occupations, 100; valuation, $2,473; average. $24.73. Total valuation subject to county tax $58.381. Money at interest, $8,370.

School Statistics. - The number of schools in Bell township for the year ending June 7, 1886, were six; length of term, five months; number of male teachers, five; number of female teachers, one; average salary of male teachers, $30.40; of female teachers, $29.00; number of male scholars, 152; of female scholars, 109; average attendance, 222; per cent of attendance 90; cost per month 89 cents; thirteen mills were levied for school purposes. Total amount of tax levied, $860.71.

Source:  Page(s) 662-664, History of Jefferson County by Kate M. Scott. Syracuse, N.Y., D. Mason & Co., 1888.

Contributed by Nathan Zipfel for use by the Jefferson County Genealogy Project (

Jefferson County Genealogy Project Notice:

These electronic pages cannot be reproduced in any format, for any presentation, without prior written permission.

Return to the History of Jefferson County Index

Return to the Jefferson County Genealogy Project

(c) Jefferson County Genealogy Project