Scope and Content
Title: John Bell Papers
Inclusive Dates: 1855-1930
Bulk Dates: 1871-1918
Collection Number: mssBell, John
3 boxes and 49 volumes.
The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.
1151 Oxford Road
San Marino, California 91108
Phone: (626) 405-2191
Abstract: This collection contains the papers of Irish immigrant John
Bell (born circa 1830), who was an insurance and loan agent in Richmond, Indiana, in
the 1860s-1870s and in San Jose, California, beginning in 1875-6. Includes diaries chronicling Bell's
oceanic travel to Central America and his overland journey from Indiana to California, as well as documents, correspondence,
ephemera, and 49 volumes related to Bell's business in both San Jose and Richmond.
Language of Material: The records are in English.
Open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services
Department. For more information, contact Reader Services.
The Huntington Library does not require that researchers request permission to
quote from or publish images of this material, nor does it charge fees for such
activities. The responsibility for identifying the copyright holder, if there is
one, and obtaining necessary permissions rests with the researcher.
[Identification of item], John Bell papers, The Huntington Library, San Marino,
Purchased from William P. Wreden, July 24, 1963.
John Bell was born about 1830 in Ireland and immigrated to the United States with
his father before his 21st birthday. He was an insurance and loan agent in Richmond,
Indiana in the 1860s and 1870s. He moved to San Jose, California between 1875 and
1876 and continued working as an insurance and loan agent. Sometime after 1881, he
married Hannah B. Cooper, John L. Cooper's widow, and helped raise her two
daughters, Elizabeth P. and Anna J. Cooper. John and Hannah B. Cooper Bell had a
daughter of their own named Mary Elma.
Scope and Content
The collection contains 330 items. The manuscripts and diaries are arranged
alphabetically by author and consist of 13 items including John Bell's account of
his ocean voyage from New York to Central America, his overland journey by train
from Indiana to California and his stay in London. The correspondence is also
arranged alphabetically by author and consists of 27 letters, most of which were
written to either John or Hannah B. Cooper Bell. The ephemera is arranged
alphabetically by type and consists of 219 items, most of which are receipts and
statements for property taxes in both the states of New York and California. The
ephemera includes the publications: "California Prune Surprise: 100 Recipes for
Delicious Prune Dishes" published by the California Cured Fruit Association; "Divine
Protection through Extraordinary Dangers, During the Irish Rebellion in 1798" by
Dinah Wilson Goff who was John Bell's great-aunt; "An Appeal for the Ancient
Doctrines of the Religious Society of Friends," written in 1847; "The Testimonies of
Friends," written in 1860; and two insurance manuals. Other ephemera relate to John
Bell's business and family life in San Jose. There are 71 items in the volume
section arranged alphabetically by title and then chronologically. Forty-nine of
these items are volumes relating to John Bell's business in both San Jose (Calif.)
and Richmond (Ind.). The other items are notes included in the volumes.
Subjects include: Acapulco Bay, Mexico; California Cured Fruit Association; Chinese
in Nevada; American Christian Poetry; London; Colón, Panama; The Geysers,
California; Home economics; Insurance agents; Irish Rebellion of 1798; Ocean travel;
Prunes in California; Puntarenas, Costa Rica; Quakers in California; Railroad
travel; James Rolph; San Jose, California; Society of Friends; Sierra Nevada;
Tabernacle of Salt Lake City, Utah; and Women from 1870-1920.
Materials addressed to or written by Hannah B. Cooper are listed under Hannah B.
Cooper Bell; materials referring to H. B. Bell are referring to Hannah B. Cooper
Bell; some of the cash books include short entries regarding the Bell family.
The collection is arranged in the following series: Documents, Diaries,
Correspondence and Ephemera (Boxes 1-3); Volumes
Goff, Dinah W. (Dinah
California Cured Fruit Association
Tabernacle (Salt Lake City, Utah)
Chinese -- Nevada
Christian poetry, American
Irish Americans -- Archives
Insurance agents --
Insurance agents -- Indiana
Ocean travel -- History -- 19th
century -- Sources
Prune -- California
Railroad travel -- United
Society of Friends
California -- History
Ireland -- History --
Rebellion of 1798 -- Personal narratives
Puntarenas (Costa Rica)
San Jose (Calif.)
Sierra Nevada (Calif.
Business records -- United
Diaries -- United States
Letters (correspondence) -- United
Manuscripts -- United