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Mini Biographies of Scots and Scots Descendants (B)
Margaret Alice Bell


Margaret Alice Bell (1870-1954)

Margaret Bell was my great grandmother. She is my only family link outside of Georgia for about two centuries. The following is a few pages written in her own hand on stationery headed “Austin, Texas”:

To my friends this is a Sketch of my Life

I was born Margaret Alice Bell. But first I must tell you something of my background. My Grandfather came from Tennessee in an early day to Texas. Brought his slaves established a home at Richmond Texas in Ft. Bend County. Got settled under Austins Claim where he might be protected. But joined Sam Houston to gain their freedom from Mexico. My Father was born at Richmond Texas in Ft Bend County in 1845. Then when Old Abraham Lincoln and Jeff Davis got up their Nations trouble he volunteered to fight for his country. After the Civil War was over George Donald Bell married my dear Mother in 1866. But I must tell you my mother was Margaret Jane Brown. My Sister Talitha Earning Bell was born in 1868 in Old Mexico where my father had migrated to get away from the carpetbaggers and in 1870 I was born in Old Mexico not far from Mexico City. and as I told you I was Margaret Alice Bell. There my Dear Mother died. Then my father with two baby girls came back to Richmond Texas in Ft Bend County. By this time his mother and Dad has passed on but my Father was glad to get back to civilization. Now the earliest of my recollection, Father lived in Waco, Texas. Step Mother insisted that Father, then in total darkness from the wound he got in the Civil War, take Sister Tabitha and me to an Orphanage below Houston down the Bay in a little boat every other day. That was a sad experience for me to kiss my Father good bye and to know that I wouldn’t see him any more for years maybe never. I was heart broken of course. I was young but had a horror of being left among total  strangers. There for the first time in my young life I remember seeing the tears roll down my blind Daddy’s face. Sister Talitha and I were in school there from 1879 until 1886. I remember there was a widow lady came to the  home to teach school. She had a beautiful little daughter. We children loved the child very much. But the little girl happened to a terrible accident. She swallowed a Tin Whistle it cost the child her life. The mother Mrs. Dorhety was grief stricken. Well Mrs. Dorhety the childs mother took a liking for my sister Talitha and persuaded Sister to go to her home with her in Galveston. Sister went to Galveston, joined the Catholic Church, took up nursing. I never did see her any more. In 1886 Father came for me. Then my sister was lost the Galveston Flood in 1900. At that time my father lived near Corsicana in Navarro Co. There I met a young man Mr. Hiram Peters. In 1887 he and I were married. To this union were born three children. George Donald Peters was born in 1891 died in 1893

Savannah Bell Peters was born in 1894

William Hugh Peters was born in 1897

(end of Margaret’s document)


Savannah was my Grandmother. She died in October 1933.

Margaret Bell Peters lost her first husband to typhoid pneumonia in 1899. She remarried Charles Arrington, but apparently divorced a few years later (1901-1903). She married again to Joe M. Berry in 1911. Leonard Berry, one of her children from this marriage provided more information about Margaret’s active life.


Left to Right Clockwise: Hugh, Savannah, Margaret, and Joe Arrington 20 September 1907

Margaret’s father George Donald Bell fought for the 2nd Texas Infantry. I was able to obtain his pension records from the Texas State Archives. They state that he enlisted on 12 September 1861 and was assigned as a private in Co. H of the 2nd Texas. George Bell was discharged from this regiment June 1862 at Camp Priceville (Mississippi).  He had been wounded “in one eye” during the battle of Shiloh.

This pension was applied for by his widow “Mary Ann Bell” (who would have been Margaret’s step mother she mentions in her account). The form doesn’t ask for her maiden name, but it states she was born in Missouri and moved to Texas when she was one year old. Mary Ann had married George on 4 July 1872 in Navorra County, TX. It also states that George Donald Bell died on 14 February 1897 in Dewitt County, TX. Mary Ann died on 25 September 1922. The $14 pension was collected by her daughter, Mrs. G.A. Carrington that year.

Margaret was 2 when her mother, Margaret Jane Brown, died while they were in Mexico. George and the two daughters moved back around 1872 and lived near Corsicana. George remarried and moved to Waco about 1878 where he went totally blind. Margaret and Talitha were sent to Bayland Orphans Home near Lynchburg, TX east of Houston. The sisters attended school for about five years here (there were no free public schools in Texas at this time). Margaret rejoined her father and stepmother after school, but Talitha became a nurse in a Catholic hospital in Galveston. All trace of her was lost after the 1900 Galveston hurricane which destroyed much of the island. Margaret also became a nurse. She had two more children from her brief marriage to Charles Arrington, one pictured above. Margaret worked as a nurse in private homes and worked in the State Home for the Insane for about a year. She also worked for the State Orphans Home, was a hostess in the Robinson Hotel in Frost, TX, and operated a boarding house from 1917 until 1929.

Margaret Alice Bell Berry died in Austin May 1, 1954 four months before I was born. The surnames Bell and Brown are both Septs of MacMillan. I also have a Baxter ancestor from another family branch which, I guess, makes me a “triple MacMillan” in addition to the Colquhoun and Cameron connections. As all you other amateur genealogists know, the final answer is never achieved. My next step in this genealogical puzzle is to find out who was Margaret Bell’s grandfather who originally came from Tennessee to settle in the soon to be Republic of Texas, and maybe before that who came over from Scotland.


Margaret Bell in August 1931

Thanks to Tom Hodges for this information


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