John Bell Papers

Finding aid prepared by Stephanie Clayton.
The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens
Manuscripts Department
The Huntington Library
1151 Oxford Road
San Marino, California 91108
Phone: (626) 405-2191
Email: reference@huntington.org
URL: http://www.huntington.org
© 2009
The Huntington Library. All rights reserved.


Descriptive Summary

Title: John Bell Papers
Inclusive Dates: 1855-1930
Bulk Dates: 1871-1918
Collection Number: mssBell, John papers
Creator: Bell, John
Extent: 3 boxes and 49 volumes.
Repository: The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Manuscripts Department
1151 Oxford Road
San Marino, California 91108
Phone: (626) 405-2191
Email: reference@huntington.org
URL: http://www.huntington.org
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.

Administration Information

Access

Open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information, contact Reader Services.

Publication Rights

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.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], John Bell papers, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

Acquisition Information

Purchased from William P. Wreden, July 24, 1963.

Biographical Note

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.

Arrangement

The collection is arranged in the following series: Documents, Diaries, Correspondence and Ephemera (Boxes 1-3); Volumes

Indexing Terms

The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the Huntington Library's Online Catalog.  

Personal Names

Bell, John
Goff, Dinah W. (Dinah Wilson), 1784-1856
Rolph, James, 1869-1934

Corporate Names

California Cured Fruit Association (1900-1903)
Tabernacle (Salt Lake City, Utah)

Subjects

Chinese -- Nevada
Christian poetry, American
Home economics
Irish Americans -- Archives
Insurance agents -- California
Insurance agents -- Indiana
Ocean travel -- History -- 19th century -- Sources
Prune -- California
Railroad travel -- United States
Society of Friends

Geographic Areas

Acapulco Bay (Mexico)
California -- History -- Sources
Colón (Panama)
Geysers, The (Calif.)
Ireland -- History -- Rebellion of 1798 -- Personal narratives
London (England)
Puntarenas (Costa Rica)
San Jose (Calif.)
Sierra Nevada (Calif. and Nev.)

Genre

Business records -- United States
Diaries -- United States
Letters (correspondence) -- United States
Manuscripts -- United States


Container List

 

Documents, Diaries, Correspondence and Ephemera

Physical Description: Boxes 1-3
Box 1

Documents, Diaries and Correspondence

Folder 1

Bell, Hannah B. Cooper. Commonplace book (1855-1912)

2 items.
Folder 2

Bell, John. Book of poetry (1866-1868)

1 item.
Folder 3

Bell, John. Diaries (1871-1881)

4 items.
Folder 4

Cooper, Anna J. Autograph album (1887-1895)

1 item.
Folder 5

[Cooper, Anna J.] Diary (1894-1901)

1 item.
Folder 6

Legal Documents (1881-1920)

4 items.
Folder 7

Baldwin, F. B. Letter to Gilbert Sayres (1879, Dec. 2)

Damaged.
Folder 8

Bean, James. Six letters to John Bell (1892)

Folder 9

Bean, Joel, 1825-1914. Two letters to John Bell (1892)

Folder 10

Bell, Hannah B. Cooper. Letter to William Cortelyou [undated]

Folder 11

Brun, Samuel. Two letters to John Bell (1882)

Folder 12

Curry, Charles Forrest, 1858-1930. Letter to John Bell [between 1898 and 1910]

Folder 13

Gray, George T. Letter to Hannah B. Cooper Bell (1913, Feb. 17)

Folder 14

Peckham, J. A. Letter to Hannah B. Cooper Bell (1908, June 1)

Folder 15

Raymond, Ray. Letter to "Dear Friend" (1930, July 30)

Folder 16

Reeves, James E. Two letters to John Bell (1877)

Folder 17

Travis, Charles. Four letters to Hannah B. Cooper Bell (1889-1891)

Folder 18

Travis, Charles. Three letters to John Bell (1886-1889)

Folder 19

Travis, Charles. Letter to William J. Worman (1883, Apr. 9)

Folder 20

Watt, Rolla V. Letter to John Bell (1888, Nov. 30)

Box 2

Ephemera

Folder 1

Bills and Receipts (1871-1913)

39 items.
Folder 2

Certificates from San Jose (Calif.) (1893-1911)

10 items.
Folder 3

Ephemera: American Central Insurance Company (1890-1912)

9 items.
Folder 4

Ephemera: Bell's Land, Loan and Insurance Agency (1874-[1902])

11 items.
Folder 5

Ephemera: Miscellaneous (1890-1910)

16 items. One in oversize.
Folder 6

Promissory Notes (1876-1895)

9 items.
Folder 7

Property Taxes of Hannah B. Cooper Bell: Jamaica (N.Y.) (1883-1896)

11 items.
Folder 8

Property Taxes of Hannah B. Cooper Bell: Long Island (N.Y.) 1886, Apr. 5)

1 item.
Folder 9

Property Taxes of Hannah B. Cooper Bell: New York (N.Y.) (1898-1908)

4 items.
Folder 10

Property Taxes of Hannah B. Cooper Bell: San Jose (Calif.) M. O'Brien Subdivision (1900-1930)

33 items.
Folder 11

Property Taxes of Hannah B. Cooper Bell: San Jose (Calif.) Montgomery Street (1911-1930)

19 items.
Box 3

Ephemera

Folder 1

Property Taxes of John Bell: New York (N.Y.) (1901)

1 item.
Folder 2

Property Taxes of George L. Cooper: Jamaica (N.Y.) (1881-1885)

4 items.
Folder 3

Property Taxes of John L. Cooper: Jamica (N.Y.) (1871-1879)

17 items.
Folder 4

Property Taxes of John L. Cooper: Long Island (N.Y.) (1873-1882)

6 items.
Folder 5

Property Taxes o Joseph P. Cooper: Union (N.Y.) (1883)

1 item.
Folder 6

Publications (1847-[1902])

6 items.
Folder 7

Road Assessment of Hannah B. Coooper Bell: Road District No. 4 (1900-1910)

9 items.
Folder 8

School District Taxes of Hannah B. Cooper Bell: Jamaica (N.Y.) (1887-1897)

9 items.
Folder 9

Street Assessment Recepits: San Jose (Calif.) (1889-1890)

4 items.
 

Volumes

Physical Description: 49 volumes
Volume  1

Balance Book (1879-1883)

1 item.
Volume  2

Cash Book of John Bell, No. 1 (1879-1881)

1 item.
Volume  3

Cash Book of John Bell, No. 4 (1881-1882)

1 item.
Volume  4

Cash Book of John Bell, No. 5 (1882-1883)

1 item.
Volume  5

Cash Book of John Bell, No. 7 (1886-1888)

1 item. Fragile.
Volume  6

Cash Book of John Bell, No. 8 (1888-1892)

1 item.
Volume  7

Cash Book of John Bell, No. 9 (1892-1897)

1 item. Fragile.
Volume  8

Cash Book of John Bell, No. 10 (1898-1902)

1 item.
Volume  9

Cash Book of John Bell, No. 11 (1902-1913)

1 item.
Volume  10

Cash Book of John Bell (1913-1914)

1 item.
Volume  11

Cash Book of John Bell (1914-1916)

1 item.
Volume  12

Cash Book of John Bell (1916-1918)

1 item.
Volume  13

Cash Book of John Bell (1918-1919)

1 item.
Volume  14

Cash Book of John Bell (1919-1920)

4 items. Includes three notes.
Volume  15

Cash Book of John Bell (1921-1923)

1 item.
Volume  16

Day Book of John Bell, No. 3 (1879-1880)

1 item.
Volume  17

Day Book of John Bell, No. 4 (1880-1881)

1 item.
Volume  18

Day Book of John Bell, No. 5 (1881-1882)

1 item. Fragile.
Volume  19

Day Book of John Bell, No. 6 (1882-1884)

1 item. Fragile.
Volume  20

Day Book of John Bell, No. 7 (1884-1885)

1 item. Fragile.
Volume  21

Day Book of John Bell, No. 8 (1885-1888)

1 item.
Volume  22

Day Book of John Bell, No. 9 (1888-1889)

1 item.
Volume  23

Day Book of John Bell, No. 10 (1889-1891)

1 item.
Volume  24

Day Book of John Bell, No. 11 (1891-1895)

1 item. Fragile.
Volume  25

Day Book of John Bell, No. 12 (1895-1897)

1 item.
Volume  26

Day Book of John Bell, No. 13 (1897-1902)

16 items. Envelope in back contains 15 pieces of paper that were cut up from miscellaneous items.
Volume  27

Day Book of John Bell, No. 14 (1902-1908)

1 item. Fragile.
Volume  28

Day Book of John Bell, labeled "Journal" (1908-1910)

1 item.
Volume  29

Day Book of John Bell (1910-1913)

1 item.
Volume  30

Day Book of John Bell (1913-1915)

1 item.
Volume  31

Ledger of John Bell (1871-1874)

1 item.
Volume  32

Ledger of John Bell (1873-1875)

1 item.
Volume  33

Ledger of John Bell, labeled "Journal" and "ACCS" (1873-1875)

1 item.
Volume  34

Ledger of John Bell, No. 1 (1880-1881)

1 item.
Volume  35

Ledger of John Bell, No. 2 (1881-1885)

1 item.
Volume  36

Ledger of John Bell, No. 4 (1891-1897)

1 item. Fragile.
Volume  37

Ledger of John Bell, No. 5 (1897-1904)

1 item. Fragile.
Volume  38

Ledger of John Bell (1904-1906)

1 item.
Volume  39

Ledger of John Bell (1906-1912)

2 items. Fragile and damaged. Includes loose accounting notes.
Volume  40

Ledger of John Bell (1916-1923)

1 item.
Volume  41

Ledger of John Bell (1923-1928)

4 items. Includes loose accounting notes.
Volume  42

Ledger of John Bell [undated]

1 item. Some pages cut from book.
Volume  43

Letter Book of John L. Cooper (1878)

1 item.
Volume  44

The Merchant and Tradesman's Remembrancer (1877-1879)

1 item. Fragile.
Volume  45

Notary's Record Book of John Bell (1880-1904)

1 item. Fragile.
Volume  46

Notes and Bills Payable (1895-1924)

1 item. Fragile.
Volume  47

Policy Register (1910-1917)

1 item.
Volume  48

Register of Policies (1901)

1 item. Fragile.
Volume  49

Watt's Combination Expiration Register of John Bell (1888-1910)

1 item.