Biographical Sketch of Colonel Hiram Parks Bell
Hiram Parks Bell

Hiram Parks Bell, attorney, State Senator, Confederate soldier, author, orator, Mason, Confederate and United States Congressman, was born 19 January, 1827, in Jackson County, Georgia. He was one of twelve children of Joseph Scott Bell and Rachael Phinazee.

Bell first came to Forsyth County in 1838, when his father migrated along with other family members. The Bell family eventually made their home at Allensville(later Vickery), a Methodist community in the lower section of Forsyth county, near Shiloh Church. At the age of twenty, Bell entered the Cumming Academy where he remained for almost two years before accepting a teaching position at the academy in Ellijay. During this time, he read law in preparation for the bar examination. On 28 November, 1848, at the age of twenty-two, he was admitted to the Georgia Bar at Spring Place by Judge Augustus R.Wright. On 22 January, 1850 he married Virginia ("Jennie") Margaret Lester, one of his classmates. Hiram Parks Bell continued teaching at Ellijay but returned permanently to Cumming in the later part of that year and purchased a home in Cumming(now the Kemp House).

In 1861 Lawyer Bell was one of two delegates(with Hardy Strickland) representing Forsyth County at the Georgia Secession Convention. In October, 1861, Bell was elected State Senator from the Thirty-Ninth District, composed of the counties of Forsyth, Cherokee, and Milton. He later resigned to join the army, feeling as his brother-in-law Cicero Lester did, that he would "not be satisfied until he does." On March 20, by popular vote, Bell was elected Lieutenant Colonel of the Forty-Third Regiment of Georgia Volunteer Infantry. In December, during a heated engagement, Bell received a serious gunshot wound in the left leg., nearly losing his life due to complications from gangrene. Disabled from service, he convalesced in a private home until he was able to return home to Georgia. In May of 1862, he was promoted to the rank of Colonel. A candidate for Congress in October, 1863, he was elected Ninth district Congressman and took his seat in the Second Confederate Congress at Richmond, in December of that year.

After the war, Colonel Bell engaged full-time in his law practice, traveling extensively over the counties in the Blue Ridge Circuit. In 1872, he was the people's choice to represent them in the Forty-Third United States Congress, from Georgia's Ninth District. Again, through a special election held March 13, 1877, to fill the vacancy in the House of Representatives created by the resignation of Benjamin H. Hill (who went to the United States Senate), Bell was officially declared the elected Representative to the Forty-Fifth Congress by an executive proclamation  issued on 27 March, 1877. In 1900 -- at the advanced age of 73 years -- Bell was again chosen for the Georgia Senate, representing the Thirty-Ninth district.

With the expiration of this term in the legislature, his political career had spanned more than half a century. At home in Cumming -- loved and respected by his community and his fellow Georgians --  Colonel bell spent his twilight years counseling young attorneys, writing, and practicing law in partnership with Colonel F. Theo Wills.

Hiram Parks Bell has three published items to his credit, which can be located in the Library of Congress: in 1874, the "Atlantic and Great Western Canal. Speech of Hon. Hiram P. Bell ... in the House of Representatives, February 14, 1874" (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1874); in 1878, "Pensions to the Soldiers of the Mexican and Indian Wars. Speech of the Hon. H.P. Bell, of Georgia, delivered in the House of Representatives, February 9th, 1878" (Washington, DC: Darby & Duvall, 1878); "Men and Things, by Hiram P. Bell, being Reminiscent, Biographical and Historical"  (Atlanta, GA: Foote & Davies Co., 1907).

Hiram Parks Bell passed away on 16 August, 1907, in his eightieth year and sixteen years after the death of his beloved Jennie. the names Stephens, Cobb, and Hill are prominent on the pages of georgia's history, sometimes overshadowing the achievements of other public figures. A tall monument in the Cumming City cemetery, modestly inscribed, marks the resting place of such a man -- a true pioneer patriot who, through native intellect and ambition, climbed from a backwoods farm laborer to the rank of scholar and statesman. He rightfully earned the title accorded him by his colleagues and historian Lucien Lamar Knight. He was they said, truly "one of Georgia's most distinguished sons." In 1996, 89 years after his death, Colonel Bell was again honored when Forsyth County formed the Hiram Parks Bell Judicial District.

It would seem that in some places the deeds of great men are still remembered and honored....

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