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James L. Bell papers

Collection number: ahc.MSS848f

Scope and Content

This collection documents the life of James L. Bell and Bell family genealogy. Included are letters to Bell from William J. Hilburn, a fellow soldier; Captain Charles K. Maddox, under whom both Bell and Hilburn served during their military service; Walter A. Wiley; and A. T. Spalding, a pastor at Second Baptist Church in Atlanta. There is also research on the Bell family, gathered by James L. Bell’s great-granddaughter Edith H. Cook, that traces the family back to the 18th century. Cook also created a timeline of Bell’s estimated whereabouts during the Civil War. Documents also include articles on Bell from the Atlanta Journal, the Atlanta Constitution, and the Railway Conductor that highlight his military service and experience as a conductor.


  • 1876-1983, undated


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Reproduction and Use

Unpublished manuscripts are protected by copyright. All requests to publish, quote, or reproduce must be submitted through the Kenan Research Center.

Administrative/Biographical History

James Lorenzo Bell (1837-1918) was born in Jackson County, Georgia, to William Bell (1767-1845) and Eliza Bell (1804-1864). In 1860, he moved to Atlanta and began working for the Atlanta and West Point Rail Road Company. On May 31, 1861, Bell enlisted as a private in the Seventh Georgia Infantry. Bell claimed that during the Battle of Fair Oaks in Virginia in October 1864, he captured the 19th Wisconsin Federal Infantry Regiment and thereby attracted the notice of General Robert E. Lee who promoted him to sergeant. After the war, Bell returned to the Atlanta and West Point Rail Road Company where he worked as a passenger conductor for fifty years. He married Alice Magnon and they had one daughter, Eva. In 1893, Eva Bell married Mauson Wilson, and they had four children: Mrs. Paul T. Harber, Alice, Helen, and James.


2 folder(s)



System of Arrangement

This collection is arranged alphabetically according to titles supplied by staff.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift, 2012


MSS 848f was previously processed as MSS 27f.

Description Control

This collection was processed in 2019.

James L. Bell papers
Hallie Lonial
April 2019
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Kenan Research Center at Atlanta History Center Repository

130 West Paces Ferry Road
Atlanta GA 30305