Calhoun County

1891 Biography - Henry Bell

HENRY BELL, Postmaster at Byerton, Calhoun County. Each year brings people from almost every known country, who come to America seeking the perfect freedom and superior advantages offered in the mercantile circles here, and as a rule they become pleased with “Uncle Sam's" country and fail to return to their native land. Among those who have crossed the ocean to find a new home and new customs is numbered the one whose name heads this sketch. His birth occurred in Buckinghamshire, England, December 23, 1834, and his parents, William and Maria (Cheese) Bell, were also natives of England.

Mr. Bell was the youngest of the ten children born to his parents and remained in his native place up to the time when he was near his seventeenth birthday, receiving a good English education but none of the educational advantages offered in colleges. He quit the school room at the early age of fifteen and about a year later, in 1852, went to Australia while the gold excitement was raging, and remained in that country until 1858, during which time he succeeded admirably, and afterward spent six weeks in Queensland, sailing for America at Christmas time in the year 1858. After an ocean voyage of about three months he landed in San Francisco, Cal., where he engaged in gold mining, but without success. He discovered the breeding place of a species of whale in Lower California and for a time engaged in capturing whales and getting the oil from them, in which industry he cleared $1,500. He then returned to his native country. In 1863 he left England and upon coming to America came at once to Calhoun County, reaching this county in the month of August. He has continued to reside here up to the present writing and has met with marked success in most of his business transactions.

Our subject was married June 15, 1862 to Miss Emily F. Peck, and their marriage has been blessed with three children, viz: Henry, Amy and Thomas. He is a member of the Democratic party but inclines to some of the Independent ideas. He is a public-spirited man and is active in trying to advance the educational and religions advantages of his county.

Mr. Bell is a self-made man and has engaged in a number of industries during his long business career. For a number of years he ran a wood yard at Silver Creek on the Illinois River, and in 1874 took possession of his present estate. He owns one hundred and fifty-nine acres of land, most of which is in a splendid state of cultivation, and besides this he is interested in a general merchandise business, carrying a stock valued at $4,000. He handles merchandise, agricultural implements, etc., and the sales will average from $6,000 to $7,000 per annum. His store is forty-four feet in length by twenty feet in width and is two stories high. He was appointed Postmaster under the Hayes administration and his office is called the Byerton Post-office, and he has served during the years that intervened between that date and this. He is a genial-mannered, agreeable gentleman who wins friends easily and is very popular in this community.

Extracted 23 Mar 2017 by Norma Hass from Portrait and Biographical Album of Pike and Calhoun Counties, Illinois, published in 1891, page 676

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