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The Bell Family

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Calvin Bell was born in Mississippi in 1821. He was the only slave of Colonel McCrea from Jasper County, Texas and served with the colonel on the battlefield during the Battle of Galveston (January 1, 1863) and the Battle of Sabine Pass on (September 8, 1863). In civilian life, McCrea was a clerk and taught Bell elementary math.15 During the last year of the war, Bell was placed in the Clear Creek containment camp where he assisted on cattle drives.16

After the end of the Civil War, Bell became a cowboy at the Butler Ranch. In April 1868, he began assisting on Chisholm Trail cattle drives. Bell's knowledge of math enabled him to sort, count, and record cattle with many different brands.17

Eunistine "Katie" Johnston was born in Germany in March 1834. She was an employee on the Butler Ranch where she and Calvin met. Eventually, they married and moved to The Settlement in 1874.
Calvin Bell

Calvin Bell
(click to view full size)

In 1878, Calvin Bell registered a cattle brand and is considered the first freed slave to do so in Galveston County.18 The brand was a U-shape, possibly in honor of his wife's first name. Calvin's original branding iron was donated to the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. in 2013.19
The Bell Brand

 

 

 

Calvin Bell's cattle brand at the Smithsonian
(click to view full size)

Katie Bell

Katie Bell
(click to view full size)

1893 Daily News Article

1893 Daily News Article
(click to view full size)

After Katie's release in January 1896, she and Calvin lived in separate houses. Katie lived with three of their sons, and seventy-eight year old Calvin lived with his oldest son, William.24

In total, Calvin and Katie had seven children. Two of their daughters, Flavilla and Mary Ann, married into another Bell family25 living in the 1867 Settlement. One of their sons, Calvin James, married into the Caldwell family.26
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