25 November 2014

The Capture Of David Bell

 Excerpts of the incident were incorporated in an article about David's son, Horace Bell, which was published in the Los Angeles Herald on 16 November 1901 (as well as other sources).

Louisville, KY, Area

In the 1820's David Bell bought land in Harrison County, Indiana, on the Ohio River.  It was thought that the Bells assisted in the escape of fugitive slaves.

"...he [Charles, a slave] was not in the blacksmith shop in Brandenburg, the cry was raised that he had run away. It happened that on the same Saturday starting early the elder Bell [David] rode on horseback across the country to New Albany and thence by ferry to Louisville for the purpose of cashing a draft... .  On his journey back on Monday...he was met by a party of Kentuckians or slave hunters...hunting for the missing blacksmith. They stopped the old man and proceeded to ask him where he had been and for what.  He returned the curt answer, "It is none of your business."' [Source]

"...a body of armed men surrounded the Bell house at night and carried Mr. Bell and his son, Charles...off to the Brandenburg, Kentucky, jail."

On 25 November the grand jury of Meade County, Kentucky, returned 6 indictments against David J. Bell, Charles A. Bell and Oswald Wright:


People on the Indiana side of the river became indignant and a border war was threatened. Homes of other Indiana men were invaded by the Kentucky mob, and finally a company of 500 men organized under the command of Colonel William C. Marsh, with the intention of capturing the town of Brandenburg, and setting the prisoners free.

That rescue fizzled; another plan was in the works.

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