Votes ad Docmets
rhoamas W. e//l Letters
Edited by LLERENA FRIEND
THOMAS W. BELL was born in North Carolina in 1815, the
son of William Adam and Penelope (Davidson) Bell.
Both parents were members of large and close-knit fam-
ilies, "kissing" kinfolk who visited frequently and for long in-
tervals and between visits kept up informative correspondence.
Fortunately for a tiny thread of Texas history, part of their letters
have been preserved, including some score of messages written
from Texas between 1839 and 1843 by an early Texas teacher.
By 1836 William A. Bell was farming near Trenton, Gibson
County, Tennessee. Mrs. Bell's brothers, George and Thomas
Davidson, and her brothers-in-law, W. C. Chambers and John A.
King, were in Grenada County, Mississippi. The two older Bell
sons, Thomas W. and James White (always called White), were
with their kin in Mississippi in the spring of 1839, hoping to
prosper in selling bacon from hogs they had driven from Ten-
nessee. Grenada had been experiencing a wave of prosperity,
partly as a gathering place of frontiersmen "Going to Texas."
By midsummer 1839 that prosperous wave had diminished, and
Thomas W. Bell, discouraged by the failure of his business venture
with his "pork hogs," joined his cousin, James Harvey Bell, and
his uncle-by-marriage, John A. King, to go to Texas.
They traveled overland, traversed to the Redlands, crossed the
Brazos at Old Nashville, and on August 6, 1839, reached Austin,
their destination and the newly located capital of Texas. From
Spicer's hotel "in the suburbs of Austin" Bell wrote his brother
that "we eat venison, have plenty of bread, drink coffee from tin
cups, sleep on the earth, and cover with the skies like most of
For the next three months he passed "away the time tolerably
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 63, July 1959 - April, 1960. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101186/. Accessed July 13, 2014.