|Death: ||Oct. 22, 1838|
George Washington Bell was born in Richmond, Virginia on October 22 1838, but there is no evidence to show he lived in Virginia beyond his first few years of life. His formative years were spent in rural Illinois but Bell presented "a genial Southern courtliness of manner" inherited from "a Virginian ancestry". He spent most of his adult life in the northern states. At the age of 23, when the Civil War began the call went out for volunteers. George Bell's father, Major William H. Bell, having resigned from the U.S. Army at the outbreak of the American Civil War, on May 28, 1861, was a Major of Ordnance commanding troops at the St. Louis Army Arsenal. St. Louis, being divided between Union and southern sympathies, it placed great stress on governmental agencies and soldiers alike, and all individual loyalties were questioned.
As such, George decided to enlist for military service joining the 64th Illinois Volunteer Infantry, known as "Yates Sharpshooters" and was assigned to Company B under the name George E. Bell; creating an error in his middle initial. He remained with that same company throughout his enlistment. The Yates Sharpshooters was a volunteer unit organized at Camp Butler, Illinois, as a Battalion of 4 Companies in December 1861 with two more Companies mustered in on December 31, 1861. On October 12, 1861, Washington Arsenal was notified, by the direction of President Lincoln, to send to Illinois 500 Harpers Ferry rifles, Model 1855. Most of the 500 rifles provided to Illinois were issued to the 64th Illinois Infantry; the Yates' Sharpshooters.
Bell was discharged on July 21, 1864, but while in the 64th Illinois Bell had been promoted; so that when he left the military he supposedly did so with the rank of Colonel.
After the war, Bell married his first wife Hanna, 22 years of age who died in 1879, and had three children; Eugene, Seymore and Blanch.
Upon his retirement from Consul service, Bell returned to the United States and then to England, later returning to Sydney. George Bell returned to the United States in 1896 and 1899, visiting Washington State on both trips. With the 1896 trip undertaken "to attend to private affairs", Bell left immediately for South Bend upon his arrival at San Francisco, staying for only the briefest of visits.
In Australia, George Bell acknowledged his first marriage, which had ended with his wife's death in 1879. However, it was not known in Australia that he had remarried in 1880. That wife, who may have been with him in South Bend, did not accompany Bell to Australia. In Australia, Bell was described publicly as a widower. It is possible Bell may have gotten a divorce, but all evidence found to date suggests the second marriage may have still been in effect when he remarried, on December 23, 1898 at the age of sixty years, to his second wife Mary O'Sullivan; who happened to be his live in nurse, and was only twenty years old at the time. He lived with Mary in Sydney until his death on July 7, 1907. His American wife Mary, of Iowa, outlived her husband. A resident of Iowa, Mary Bell was widely known as the widow of George Bell, former Minister to Australia.
Bell died in Sydney on Edward Street in North Sydney on July 7, 1907 at age 69. George W. Bell was buried in the Gore Hill Cemetery, grave 16, in the Church of England section E. Upon his death, Mary being his lawful wife was granted a veteran widows pension.The general unawareness of his given names, George William, was such that when he died in 1907, his obituary writer named him as George Washington Bell. The name perhaps reflects as well the degree to which Bell had come to personify America for Australians and he has been known by that name ever since.
View his memorial on www.acwv.info.
Gore Hill Cemetery
New South Wales, Australia
Created by: James Gray
Record added: Oct 05, 2009
Find A Grave Memorial# 42710645