The following data is extracted from Racine, Belle City of the lakes, and Racine County, Wisconsin : a record of settlement, organization, progress and achievement.
Caledonia Township was the birthplace of John Bell as well as the place of his present residence, his home being on section 19. He was born November 29, 1858, a son of Valentine and Agnes (Vohn) Bell, both of whom were born in the Rhine country of Germany in 1813. They were reared and married in the fatherland and on coming to the new world established their home in Caledonia Township, where the father secured twenty acres of land, which he purchased for a dollar and a quarter per acre, and to which he subsequently added ten acres. The homestead comprises eighty acres, John Bell having bought fifty acres. Valentine Bell successfully engaged in farming until his death in 1884. For a decade he had survived his wife, who passed away in 1874. They were members of St. Louis Catholic Church of Caledonia Township and in politics Mr. Bell was a democrat. He came to the County in pioneer days, cleared his land, built a log cabin and as the years went on won a substantial measure of success. He was a well educated man and had been a teacher in his native country, where his father, Valentine Bell, followed the occupation of farming, never coming to the new world. In the family of Mr. and Mrs. Valentine Bell, Jr., were six children, of whom three are living: Sebastian, who resides upon a farm in Caledonia Township; Lena, the wife of John Michaels, of the same Township; and John, of this review.
The last named acquired his education in the parochial and district schools and took up farm work, to which he had been reared and which he has always followed. His entire life has been given to the work of the fields and he has eighty acres of rich and productive land which he has brought to a high state of cultivation. He has upon his place a nice home and substantial outbuildings for the shelter of grain and stock. These he erected himself and otherwise he has improved his place, making it a valuable modern farm. He carries on general agricultural pursuits, raising all kinds of grain and also specializing in cabbage. He likewise does considerable dairying, shipping milk to the Horlick plant, and his intelligently directed business affairs are winning for him substantial success.
In 1877 Mr. Bell was married to Miss Mary Swick, a native of Milwaukee County, and to them were born thirteen children, of whom twelve are yet living: Joseph, a mail carrier of Racine ; Willie, who died leaving a wife and three children who are residents of Racine; Toney, who is agent at the Goodrich dock in Racine ; Frank, who is now in South Dakota for the benefit of his health; Agnes, the wife of Edward Bloom, a machinist working in the shops of Racine; Louie, who is employed by a dairyman at Elkhorn, Wisconsin; Louisa, the wife of Erney Johnson, who is employed in his father's shoe store in Racine; Hugo, who is engaged in the painting business at Elkhorn ; Leo, in Racine; Marie, who is in Racine with her brother Toney; and Peter, Helen and Edward, all at home.
The parents are members of the Catholic Church, being identified with St. Louis church in Caledonia Township. In politics Mr. Bell is a democrat and has served in several local offices. For four years he was on the side board and for three years was chairman. He also served on the board of health for a year as chairman and for six years as its secretary, and he is now serving on the state highway committee. He is interested in every plan and measure for the upbuilding and development of County and state and lends active aid and co-operation to many movements for the general good. In his own business life his career demonstrates what can be accomplished by determination and energy, for he started out empty handed and was worked his way upward to success, wisely using his opportunities and gaining advancement by reason of his indefatigable energy and perseverance.
Source: Racine, Belle City of the lakes, and Racine County, Wisconsin : a record of settlement, organization, progress and achievement