William B. Bell


William B. Bell

Death 2 Apr 1899 (aged 59)
Burial Cleveland, White County, Georgia, USA
Memorial ID 14822101 View Source
Suggest Edits

Inscription on tombstone states that he was "Brutally Murdered."

It appears that W.B. Bell, who at one point was a pharmacy salesman in Atlanta, was a prominent citizen. He is listed as the president of a company that had been formed in 1889 to build a railway from Cleveland to Lulu.

In 1899 W.B. Bell was killed in a beating in Habersham County. Si Smith was accused of his murder and Smith's friends spirited him away to a hideout in Rabun County, with a posse in pursuit.

At some point, the trail grew cold but W.B's son, Tom, gathered some friends and pursued Smith in Rabun County. They found him there and took him back to Habersham County to face justice. Smith admitted killing Bell, but claimed it "was justified." A judge there ruled that it would not be safe for Smith to remain there so he was sent to the jail in Hall County for safekeeping.

Late one night in July 1899, a mob of 40 people woke the Sheriff of Hall County at the jail. One of the men claimed to be a sheriff of a nearby county and they purported to have a prisoner that needed to be put in the jail. The unsuspecting jailkeeper let them in, and when he did so the mob rushed the cell where Smith was held, pulled out weapons and began firing into his sleeping form. They then quickly dispersed.

The coroner held an inquest hearing with no result. It was said that the body of Smith was "riddled with bullets." One of Tom Bells friends, who went with him to capture Smith, was charged with the killing, but a jury aquitted him.

Tom Bell, who became a local hero and gained much fame for capturing his father's killer, went on to become one of the most powerful congressmen in the history of the state of Georgia.
Special thanks to Rhonda B. who sent this info to me.

Family Members


In their memory
Plant Memorial Trees


  • Created by: Evening Blues
  • Added: 4 Jul 2006
  • Find a Grave Memorial 14822101
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for William B. Bell (28 Jun 1839–2 Apr 1899), Find a Grave Memorial ID 14822101, citing Cleveland Cemetery, Cleveland, White County, Georgia, USA ; Maintained by Evening Blues (contributor 46587085) .