Bell was one of the U. E. Loyalist pioneers of this County and one of the
first settlers in the Township of Camden. He was a native of the Parish of
Castleton, in Lidnsdale, Scotland, where he and his
family were staunch and examplary members of the
Presbyterian church. When he left there for the British province of New York,
in May, 1772, he was given a certificate of good standing by Robert
Rutherford, the minister, and countersigned by James Armstrong, elder which
is now in the possession of his great-grandson, M. W. W. Bell, now of
Lexington, Kentucky, and formerly Chief of Police of Napanee. We are indebted
to another great-grandson, Mr. Abraham Sills, of North Fredericksburgh, for a
copy of the same. The old document, now 128 years old, is quaintly worded,
according to the custom at that time, and goes on to specify that
"William Bell and his family, consisting of himself, his wife, and five
children, and his own sister, Isabell Bell, have
lived in the neighborhood of this Parish since their infancy, being born
herein, are free from all public scandal or grounds of church censure to us
known. So that we know nothing whereof they may not be received into any
congregation or Christian society, where providence may cast their lot, and
enjoy all Christian privileges as found qualified."
Of William Bell himself
the minister states that he has been a particular acquaintance, with whom he
was sorry to part, he being always looked upon as religiously well disposed,
a sober, honest and industrious man, a faithful and good worker. The
certificate was dated from the Castleton Manse.
He appears to have reached
America after the agitation of the revolutionists began, but he is said to
have been a British soldier in his earlier days and to have fought in the
ranks in some of the great battles of his country. He therefore refused to
take up arms against the flag under which he and his children were born. He
also received the common treatment of those who remained thus loyal; his property
was all confiscated, and he was compelled to make his escape to Canada, with
HIS PASS FOR CANADA
We have also before us a
copy of the pass he received at Fort Edward, near Albany, before the
unfortunate defeat and surrender of the British General. It reads as follows:
"Permit the bearer, William Bell, of Argyle Town to pass with his family
and effects. He has taken the oath of His Excellency General Burgoyne
manifesto, and oath of allegiance, at Fort Edward, the 5th day of August, 1777.
The balance of the name of
the signer of the pass is now illegible.
He appears to have been of
the earliest settlers in Fredericksburgh. On the old Crown Lands record there
are two of the name: William Bell, Kingston, "Treasury Loyalist,"
and William Bell, Fredericksburgh, Sergeant of King's Rangers, New York,
during the time of the war of the revolution, and on the government provision
list of 1780. But whether the latter may refer to the original William or to
his eldest son, who bore the same name, we know not. There was another
William Bell, also a Sergeant in the 31st Royal Regiment, who became one of
the pioneers of Thurlow, and was, for years a
prominent resident and officer in Hastings county. He lived and died a few
miles east of Belleville, at "Bell's Creek." Whether the two
families were related we do not know.
CAPT. W. BELL'S
Another old document is in
existence dated 106 years ago, 1794, being a Captain's Commission to William
Bell, of Fredericksburgh, son of the original, we believe. He is said to have
been the first Captain of Militia forces in the County of Lennox. The
Commission is signed by Hazelton Spencer, Esq., Lieutenant of County of
Lennox, and countersigned by Bryan Crawford, secretary. They were both
prominent men in their day. Hazelton Spencer, as has been before mentioned in
these columns, was a member of the first Upper Canada legislature,
representing Ontario county, then made up of the islands in front of the old
Midland district. He was also one of the first magistrates ever appointed in
the province. According to the exact wording of that Commission William Bell
was "constituted, appointed, and given commission, and by these
presents, I do nominate, constitute, appoint and give command to you the said
William Bell, Esquire, to be captain of the Militia forces, raised or to be
raised for and within the said County of Lennox, and you are hereby required
to train and discipline the persons to be armed and arrayed by virtue of the
said county, according to the rules, articles and directions of the said
Among the other family
relics now in the possession of Mr. W. W. Bell are the cane, masonic apron, and spectacles belonging to the original
Wm. McC. Bell.
William Bell, second,
married Ann Carscallen, a sister, we believe of the original John Carscallen,
of Camden, of whom we wrote last week. The two men settled on farms near each
other on the south side of the Napanee river and east of Newburgh. Mr. Bell
also built there a substantial stone dwelling house, which is still standing.
The farm is now owned by Mr. H. Finkle, of
Newburgh. They had five sons, all active and well known men in their day.
They were William, John, James, Edward and Daniel Fraser. William lived on
the old homestead. He was the father of Luke Bell, now an old man past 82
years, residing in Sarnia, where his daughter married Henry Ingraham, Esq., Treasurer of Lambton county.
John, also resided in the
vicinity of Newburgh. He was the father of the Late Rev. John D. Bell, for
years a well known and popular Methodist minister who was at one time pastor
of the Western M. Church there. His widow now resides at Brockville. James
lived on a farm just east of Newburgh, on the north side of the Napanee
River. He was the father of the late W. A. Bell who represented Newburgh for
years in the County Council and was at one time Warden of the county. Edward
lived on a farm just west of William, south of the river. He was the father
of Mr. W. W. Bell, at one time Chief of Police at Napanee, and now residing
in Lexington, Kentucky. Daniel F. resided on a large farm near Desmond,
farther in the rear of Camden. He was the father of John W. Bell, M. P. for
many years a prominent member of the township and county councils and also at
one time Warden of the county. He now represents Addington in the Dominion
House of Commons.
There were several
daughters, too, of William Bell and Ann Carscallen. One of them, Isabell, married John Sills, of South Fredericksburgh,
another Andrew Embury, another Asahel
Phillips. John Sills' widow married Martin Hough.
THE SILLS FAMILY
In the old marriage
register of the Rev. John Langhorn, the first minister in these counties, is
recorded the marriage at St. John's church, Ernesttown (Bath), Johanes Sills, of Fredericksburgh, and Isabell Bell of the same township, on the 23d of Feb., 1794. They lived and died on a farm in the
second concession of South Fredericksburgh, now owned and occupied by their
grandson, W. Ryerson Sill. They were also the grandparents of Mr. Nelson
Sills and Abraham Sills, of North Fredericksburgh, south of Napanee, also of
Maurice Sills, of Fredericksburgh, and others we believe. They have numerous
descendants who are now well known citizens of this county.
In the old Langhorn
baptism register there is the record of the baptisms of several of the
children of Johanes Sills and Isabell
Bell. These are William, baptised Sept. 23d 1794;
Peter, June 26th, 1796; George, August 19th 1798; Mary Ann, Sept 14th 1800.
Of the numerous other
members of the well known Bell and Sills families we have not as much
information and there is hardly space here at our disposal to make fuller
mention just now.
NOTE: In our notes
on the Carscallen family in last week's issue there was an error in regard to
the parentage of Henry Carscallen, Q. C., M.P.P. for Hamilton. He is a son of
the late John Thomas Carscallen, who went west in 1883, and settled four
miles east of Hamilton city, where he died in 1894, aged 84 years. J. T. C.
was the only son of Archibald Carscallen and a grandson of the original John
Carscallen, of Camden, to whom special reference was made.