John Bell, son of Captain David Bell by his wife, Florence Henderson, and grandson of William, the progenitor of the family, was born in Augusta county, Virginia, about 1758; married in Botetourt county, Virginia, about 1788, Jane Mills, a daughter of John Mills, Sr., and sister of Captain John Mills, of the Revolutionary army. John Bell removed from Virginia to Fayette county, Kentucky, about 1790. By the will of his father, Capt. David Bell, a military survey of 2,000 acres, for services in the French and Indian war, located on Shannon's Run, a branch of Elkhorn Creek, in Fayette (originally Fincastle) county, was devised to him and his brother, James Bell. They secured this land almost in its entirety, and James Bell continued to reside on a portion of it until about the year 1840. John Bell farmed on an extensive scale and raised a large family of children. He died in March, 1835, at "Stoncleigh." his handsome estate near Lexington, and his widow, Jane (Mills) Bell, also died there in 1836.
James Franklin Bell, son of John, was born in Fayette county, Kentucky, September 13, 1803, and died near White Sulphur, in Scott county, Kentucky, November 13, 1866. He farmed successfully in Fayette, Franklin, Scott and Woodford counties, and, like his father before him, was long a Ruling Elder in
the Presbyterian church. His wife, Mary Jane Wilson, was a native of Scott County, Kentucky, a daughter of Captain John Wilson, and granddaughter of Richard Wilson, of Pennsylvania, a near kinsman of Hon. James Wilson, the "Signer" and Supreme Court Justice.
John Wilson Bell, the eldest son of James Franklin Bell, became the father of General James Franklin Bell, the subject of this sketch. Born in Franklin county, Kentucky, on May 8, 1829, he died at Shelbyville, Kentucky, on January 3, 1904. He was twice married. His first wife, Sarah Margaret Allen, mother of General Bell, was a daughter of Dr. Joseph Fawcett Allen, by his wife, Sarah Anne Venable, both of Shelby county, Kentucky. Sarah (Venable.) Allen was a granddaughter of Colonel John Cowan of Lincoln and Mercer counties, Kentucky. Colonel Cowan was of Scotch-Irish descent and was a prominent leader among Kentucky pioneers. He came from Pennsylvania to Kentucky at a very early day, was a captain of militia in Lincoln county. Virginia, (now Kentucky), during the Revolution and later held the rank of Colonel in the Kentucky militia. John Wilson Bell married, secondly, Jane Hardin Logan, a granddaughter of Mark Hardin and a great-granddaughter of Governor John Adair of Kentucky. Preserving the traditions of his family, John Wilson Bell, for many years before his death, was a Ruling Elder of the Presbyterian church at Shelbyville. His long and honorable career was devoted to the engrossing activities of farm and country life. Two of his brothers, Captain Joseph Nelson Bell and Captain David Brainard Bell, served during the Civil war, in the Confederate army, as also did their brother-in-law, Henry Simpson Halley. All three were ideal soldiers.