John Bell and Sarah Hardin- Another Postmaster and His Wife

Today’s blog post is about my paternal 4th great grandparents, John BELL and Sarah HARDIN who were married in January of 1822.  I have never found a marriage certificate for them.  The date given is one I have received from other researchers.  I mentioned this couple in an earlier blog post.  As I was writing this week I realized that in recent posts I’ve forgotten to tell you which line leads me to each of these ancestors.  For John and Sarah, I descend through John and Sarah’s son Quincy, through Quincy’s daughter Eliza (whom I recently wrote about here), and Eliza’s daughter (and my great-grandmother) Bessie.  I’ll try to remember to include an ancestral line in future posts. 

John BELL was born about 1795 possibly in North Carolina or Kentucky.  I don’t know for sure who his parents were.  There is much about John that I haven’t been able to figure out.  I have yet to find a birth or marriage record.  His burial location is on private property and in the 1970’s the then-owners of that land destroyed the headstones and the Bell family cemetery.  This information comes from researcher Shirley Davis who visited with the people who owned the land at that time.

Sarah HARDIN was born about 1806 in Rutherford County, North Carolina to Hardy and Tabitha (ROBERTS) HARDIN.  Their last name is also commonly spelled HARDEN.  Sarah has been easier to research than John but there is still much about Sarah that I don’t know.  She is buried in the same location as John so there are the same difficulties with no one knowing exactly where that is.

John and Sarah lived in Sweetwater, McMinn County, Tennessee at the beginning of their marriage between 1820-1830.  In 1838 they moved to Greene County, Missouri with their children- Quincy, Calvin, Serena, Elvina, Catherine, Alexander, James, Sarah, and Hannah.  After the family moved there, Phebe and Mary were born.

John was the first Postmaster at the Dallas, Missouri, Post Office (Greene County).  The first Postmaster appointment I can find for him was at the Dallas (Missouri) Post Office on 19 December 1844.  He as there until 27 May 1846.  The following day John SMITH replaced him at Dallas Post Office.  On 15 January 1847, John was appointed Postmaster at the post office in St. Paul, Missouri.  Another researcher (Shirley Davis) has said that the St. Paul Post Office was on John’s property.  As I’ve said in previous blog posts, the postmaster often kept the post office in his own home.  John’s property was Southwest of Marshfield, Missouri, on the James River.  I believe it is that area that is known as Bell Ford, which you will see on several of the family records.  There is also a place called Bell Spring that was named after our Bell family.  Here is a map showing Bell Springs Road and Bell Ford Road.

Bell Hardin post - bell springs map

Here is a zoomed-out map of the same area.  #1 is Marshfield, Missouri.  #2 is Fordland, Missouri.  #3 is Seymour, Missouri.

bell hardin post zoomed out bell spring map.jpg

This map will give you a better idea of location.  Within this triangle of Marshfield-Fordland-Seymour is where John and Sarah HARDIN BELL lived and where Bell Springs and Bell Ford are located.  My guess is they lived closest to where #4- High Prairie- is.  When I looked for St. Paul (the name of the post office John ran out of his home) the Geographic Names Information System indicated that St. Paul Cemetery is located in a place now called High Prairie.  So this is my best guess as to where they lived.  St. Paul Post Office didn’t exist for very long and there is no longer a place in Webster or Greene County, Missouri going by the name St. Paul.  The area shown in the map would, of course, also be the general area where the Bell family cemetery is located.  These maps were found at Any Place America’s website.

I’ve read that John ran the St. Paul Post Office until his death.  Government records show that he was Postmaster there until 30 November 1848.   However, the will transcription given by Shirley Davis shows that John died “on or about” 7 September 1848.  The Postmaster records for this time period are difficult to read so it is very possible that John had no gap in employment as a Postmaster.  In addition to being difficult to read, the records aren’t indexed.  At this time though, these are the only records I’ve found of his employment as Postmaster.  The census records for his era do not list types of employment so this may be all we ever learn of what John did for a living.  

After John’s death in 1848, Sarah remained in Greene County, Missouri.  In 1855, Webster County, Missouri was created from part of Greene County, Missouri.  This area included the place where Sarah BELL lived.  As far as I can tell, Sarah remained there until her death.  Her adult daughters lived with her for much of her life.  At least one of the daughters never married.  Sarah and John, along with some of their children and grandchildren, were buried in the Bell family cemetery which is on private property.  (See above discussion.) 

Here is a teaser for the next time I post about Sarah.  She had two little girls living with her in the 1870 census- Sarah C. DeSHZER and Cynthia A. BELL.  I don’t know who these girls are but I suspect they are grandchildren.  Notice that living close to Sarah was her daughter Elvina BELL JACK.  I believe the woman living in between Sarah and Elvina was one of Sarah’s other daughters but I haven’t been able to prove or disprove that theory.  Here is a screenshot of that census:

bell hardin census image

(Screenshot from Ancestry.com)

There is so much more to know about this family but I’m going to stop here for now.  I plan to return to this family later in the year to finish their story.

 

Until next time,

Lisa @ Days of Our Lives blog