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Frank Edwin Bell Family
 
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Frank Bell Family

Written by Doris Moberley
 



 

 

On December 7, 1910, Frank Edwin Bell and Nora Lee Schmerber boarded the train locally known as “The Red Fish Special” in Matagorda, Texas, to travel to Bay City, Texas to be married. They took a horse-drawn carriage from the depot to the court house. Elizabeth Schmerber, mother of Nora, came with them to give her consent and witness the marriage. The honeymooners spent the night in Bay City at the Nuckols Hotel, and then returned to their new home at Stewart Switch below Wadsworth where Frank was employed by the Stewart Canal Company.


Frank Edwin “Pa” Bell was born on September 27, 1883, and was the son of William Mathew Bell (1857-1911) and Sarah Virginia Gove Bell (1864-1894). Nora “Ma” Bell was born on January 15, 1894, and was the fifth child of John Moran Schmerber and Elizabeth “Lizzie” Vogg Schmerber.


Frank Bell’s father and mother, William Mathew Bell and Sarah Gove Bell were married in Matagorda on June 19, 1882, and were living on the Matagorda peninsula when the 1886 storm struck the coast. Later they moved to a farm on the west side of Caney Creek below Sargent. William Mathew was the son of Steve Wesley Bell and Emily Hobbs, and he had two brothers, Thomas Wesley (1853-1875), Peter Edwin (1859-1927) and one sister, Catherine Elizabeth Bell Webber (1855). Sarah Gove was the daughter of Humphrey P. Gove (1832) and the granddaughter of Thomas N. Gove (1792) and Emily Yeamans Gove (1840). Sarah had a brother, Thomas P. (1861), a sister, Elenor (1866), and a twin brother and sister, William and Margaret (1869).


William Mathew and Sarah Gove Bell were the parents of four other sons: William Humphry (January, 1885-1929); Ira Thomas (March 24, 1889 – 1971); Charles Keller (May, 1887 – 1965); and Marshall Morgan (February 21, 1891-1964). After Sarah’s death in 1894, William married Addie Bondwell and they were the parents of Olsie, Ada, and Maggie.


A few years after Frank’s mother died, he went to work on his uncle Ed Bell’s boat as a deck hand. At that time the fisherman worked in small groups and alternated taking their catch to Port Lavaca, Texas, where the fish were sold to be shipped by railroad to markets. One late evening as they were distributing the money received from the sale of their catch, the winds began to blow and the tides started to rise. During the night the storm became so fierce that they had to chop the mast from their boat to keep it from turning over. This evening was on September 8th to 10th, 1900, and was the storm that almost destroyed Galveston, Texas. The situation was so desperate after the storm that the United States Army drafted all able-bodied young men and sent them to Galveston to keep order and bury the dead. Frank, seventeen at the time, was one of the young men drafted, and recalled it as one of the worst experiences of his life.


In the early 1920s “Pa” was employed by the Freeport Sulphur Company in Freeport, Texas, but by the mid-1920s he was employed by Texas Gulf Sulphur Company and moved his family back to Old Gulf, Texas. After a short stay in Benavides doing exploration, Texas Gulf Sulphur sent him to Boling Mound where in 1928 a large deposit of sulphur was found. Texas Gulf Sulphur decided to move their operation from “Big Hill,” Old Gulf, Texas, to the new location at Newgulf, Texas, and “Pa” Bell moved his family there in January, 1929.


In 1932 “Pa” and “Ma” Bell moved their family back to the old home place located on the shore of Matagorda Bay between Matagorda and Old Gulf, affectionately known by the family as “Poverty Hill.” “Pa” Bell worked for a time for Jefferson Lake Sulphur Company and New Iberia Sulphur Company, and after struggling through the “great depression” went to work for Parker Brothers Shell Company in 1939.


When the August 30, 1942, storm hit the Matagorda area the Bell home was destroyed and the family was forced to move to Boling, Texas, until they were able to find a home in Bay City, In December, 1942, the Bell family moved to Bay City. “Pa” continued to be employed by Parker Brothers until the age of eighty-five, and on January 5, 1971, he succumbed to congestive heart failure, just a little more than a year after “Pa” and “Ma” celebrated their sixtieth wedding anniversary.


Nora Lee “Ma” Bell had centered her life around her family and her church, and was a charter member of the Church of God of Prophecy. The church was first located on the road between Matagorda and Old Gulf, but was moved to Bay City in 1937 along with the membership. On December 8, 1974, the church was moved to its present location at Sixteenth Street and Sycamore. If you travel north on Sycamore Street, you can see the steeple that “Ma” Bell gave to the church rising toward the sky. “Ma” Bell died on January 14, 1976, after a short illness with cancer.


Frank Edwin and Nora Lee Bell were the parents of nine children:

Irene Elizabeth Bell Jinks (October 6, 1911 – March 7, 1989)
Floyd Edwin Bell
Gladys Virginia Bell Mangum Lane (August 20, 1917 – June 22, 1979)
Doris Lee Bell Moberley
Ellanora Bell Hartsfield
William Mathew Bell
Nell Joyce Bell Middleton
Robert Virgil Bell
Donald Moran Bell.
 

 

Copyright 2011 - Present by the Bell Family
All rights reserved

Created
Aug. 14, 2011
Updated
Aug. 14, 2011
   

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