Chapter 4.  The Bell Family in La Crosse

Just as the Pruett family was migrating to La Crosse, so too was  the Bell family.  Although Evaline Bell's obituary states that she came to La Crosse with her parents (James and Rebecca Bell) in April 1857, it appears that they settled prior to that date.  Evaline's sister, Hattie died of typhoid fever on December 10, 1856 and is buried in Mormon Coulee. Eveline's grandmother Rebecca Bell, who was living in La Crosse city (
5th and Division street),), died 13 days later of the same cause.  Rebecca is buried in Oak Grove cemetery. 

Note:  requesting article about the moving of mer tomb to Oak Grove.  There is another headstone )quite worn) next to it:  click here

Rebecca was married to James Bell (tombstone verification). Although it is not known where James is buried, their son George F. is buried in the same area of Oak Grove (section 5). [28]   James obituary was record in the paper:  DD Page 1C5:  8/11/1866:  Died:  In this city, of paralysis, James Bell, aged 71 years.  Funeral from the residence of George T. Bell on 6th street, between State and Main, to-morrow at 3 o'clock p.m.  Friends of the family are invited. [Note:  no mention of Eliza)

Eveline's parents John Bell (1817-1879) and Elizabeth Walters Bell (1810-1889) came from Butler County, Pennsylvania. John Bell and Elizabeth Walters were married April 27, 1837.  The 1840 Census of Buffalo Township, Butler County confirms that John owned $1,000 in real estate and that they had two daughters, Harriet "Hattie" and Eveline.

The 1840 census of Huntington county, Huntingdon township lists James M. Bell, with a daughter between 10-20 and another female (Rebecca?) between 20 and 30.  [She actually would have been 42 at the time fo the census.]  I couldn't find them in the 1850 census.

Eveline Bell (married in 1859 to Abraham Pruett, my ancestors) was almost 20 years old at the time of Rebecca and Hattie's deaths in 1856.  (The 1999 image above  is of the only old house left at 5th and Division streets so it is uncertain if this was Rebecca's original home. )

Another researcher (Donna Rust) sent me information from an obituary for George T. Bell, who is believed to be the son of Rebecca and James Bell:   "Deceased was born in Newcastle, Pa., March 8, 1835 and came west with his parents in 1846, locating at Galena, Ill.  The same year, when a boy of but ten years, he came to LaCrosse alone on a steamboat trip.  In 1854 he removed here with his parents and located permanently...."  This tells me that James and Rebecca left Pennsylvania in 1846 and it explains why they are not in the 1850 census. Rebecca died two years later.  Her son John and Elizabeth moved to La Crosse in 1857. 

In the 1850 census, John and Elizabeth Bell have seven children.  Her obituary mentions that they moved to La Crosse in 1857 (one year after the death of her grandmother, Rebecca and sister, Hattie). It is also recorded in her obituary that they were living for three years at 5th and Division street, the same address for  Rebecca (and it is assumed James). The 1860 census lists them in Greenfield with eight children:


The Pruett/Bell family Bible has a partial letter from John Bell to Emma, dated 1876.[30]  They were devout members of the Methodist Episcopal Church (and 'quarterly tickets" from 1847 were found with John and Elizabeth's names.  This church was probably in Pennsylvania, "founded A.D. 1784."  Elizabeth's obituary documents their move to Wisconsin as well as their move to Mormon Coulee:

BELL:  At her residence in Mormon Coulee, town of Shelby, Sunday evening, November 5th, 1889, Mrs. Elizabeth Bell, relict of the late John Bell, aged seventy-nine years, five months, and thirteen days.  The deceased was born in Butler County, Pennsylvania in the year 1810, and at the age of twenty-seven married John Bell of New Castle, Pennsylvania.  They removed to the west in 1857 and settled in this city, for there years living at what is now the corner of Fifth and Division streets.  In 1860, Mr. Bell purchased a farm in Mormon Coolie and removed there.  Mrs. Bell at the age of twelve years, united with the Methodist church and up to the hour of her death was a most exemplary Christian.  She was the mother of nine children, seven of whom survive her to mourn her loss.  For a number of years she has been a patient sufferer and passed over the river firm in the belief of the principles of the church which since her childhood's days had been her choice.  The funeral was held Tuesday afternoon, internment was made at the Mormon Coulee cemetery."[31]


John Bell[32] purchased a farm in Mormon Coulee in 1860.