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Below is a family biography included in the book, The History of Adair County, Missouri published by Goodspeed Publishing Company in 1888.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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Maj. Benoni W. Bell, a farmer and stock raiser of Clay Township, was born in Belmont County, Ohio, in 1822, and is the fourth of nine children of William B. and Rebecca (Wheat) Bell, natives of Maryland, and born in 1782 and 1780, respectively. They were married in 1814, and a year later removed in a two-horse cart to Bemont County, Ohio, where the father died August 6, 1846. He was a volunteer in the War of 1812, in the eastern division. He was on guard at the bridge leading to the city of Washington at the time of the crossing of Gen. Ross. During the war he carried a gourd for a powder-flask, which his father, James, carried for the same purpose in the war for independence. He was justice of the peace for twenty years, and county commissioner some time. He was a man of considerable prominence and information, and was engaged in farming and stock raising. The mother was partly reared in the city of Washington, being there at the time the city was burned by the British, and was an eye-witness to the killing of Gen. Boss. Gen. James S. Wheat, of West Virginia, a nephew of Mrs. Bell, was born in the city the day of its destruction, and Mrs. Bell, being in the house at the time, waved a white flag on the approach of the British troops, for the protection of the family in case of sickness. In October, 1800, she came to Missouri, where she died in 1873. She was a lady of rare accomplishments, finely educated, a fluent conversationalist, of high morality, and was personally and familiarly acquainted with Gen. Washington, and was an active and consistent member of the Methodist Episcopal Church from her youth. She often listened to the words of the eccentric Lorenzo Dow, and also often heard the distinguished divine, Bishop Asbury. Her husband was a member of the same church as she, was of a generous and genial disposition, and a liberal supporter of all charitable and worthy enterprises, and had the implicit confidence of the community. Our subject remained at home until he was twenty-six years of age, receiving a good common-school education, and was married in 1848 to Miss Arminda E., daughter of Abner and Sarah Moore, natives of Maryland. Mrs. Bell was a native of Belmont County, Ohio, where she was born August 8, 1830. In 1849 our subject removed to Iowa, and in 1856 came to Adair County, locating in Clay Township, sixteen miles northeast of Kirksville, where he has a fine farm of 380 acres, all the result of his own industry and management. At the opening of the Civil War he espoused the Union cause, and on July 5, 1861, joined the Home Guards, and that night assisted in the taking of Kirksville. He remained in the service of the Home Guards until August, 1862, when he organized Company I, Fiftieth Enrolled Missouri Militia, Col. Wirt, of which company he was made captain, which office he held until the fall of 1863, and distinguished himself by his gallantry and meritorious conduct in the capture of Bill Dunn’s guerrilla band in Schuyler County. In November, 1863, he was promoted to the majorship, and transferred to the Eighty-sixth Enrolled Missouri Militia, receiving his command July 1, 1864. He was afterward stationed at Kirksville, and operated in Northeast Missouri and in Iowa until the downfall of the Confederacy, after which he returned to his peaceful farm life. During a portion of the years of 1875 and 1876 he engaged in mercantile trade at Adair, but his leading occupation has been agriculture and stock handling. He was reared a Whig, and cast his first presidential vote for Gen. Cass, but since the war has been a Democrat. He is a long-standing and prominent member of the Masonic fraternity, and both he and his wife are members of the Methodist Episcopal Church. During a portion of his residence in Iowa Maj. Bell was located in Muscatine, where he engaged in freighting between Muscatine, Des Moines, Fort Dodge and other western points.

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This family biography is one of 150 biographies included in the Adair County, Missouri portion of the book,  The History of Adair, Sullivan, Putnam, and Schuyler Counties, Missouri published in 1888 by Goodspeed Publishing Co.  For the complete description, click here: Adair County, Missouri History, Genealogy, and Maps

View additional Adair County, Missouri family biographies here: Adair County, Missouri Biographies

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