James Hall Bell, lawyer and justice, the son of Mary Eveline (McKenzie) and Josiah Hughes Bell, was born at Bell's Landing (now Columbia) on January 2, 1825. In 1837 he entered St. Joseph's College at Bardstown, Kentucky, but returned to Texas on the death of his father in 1838. He attended Center College, Danville, Kentucky, from 1839 to 1842, when he returned to Texas and served under Alexander Somervell in repelling the Mexican invasions of 1842. Bell studied law with William H. Jack and entered Harvard University in 1845. He returned to Texas in 1847 and formed a partnership with Robert J. Townes to practice law at Brazoria. From 1852 to 1856 Bell was district judge, and from August 2, 1858, to August 1864 he served as associate justice of the Texas Supreme Court. He was secretary of state under A. J. Hamilton from August 7, 1865, to August 17, 1866. At the time of the Coke-Davis controversy in 1873, Bell interviewed President U. S. Grant and is said to have persuaded Grant not to intervene in Texas in behalf of Edmund J. Davis. After Reconstruction, Bell engaged in mining in Mexico. He died in Austin, Texas, on March 13, 1892.
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Austin Statesman, March 15, 1892. Harbert Davenport, History of the Supreme Court of the State of Texas (Austin: Southern Law Book Publishers, 1917). Andrew Phelps McCormick, Scotch-Irish in Ireland and America (1897).
Law, Law Enforcement, and Outlaws
Politics and Government
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
“Bell, James Hall,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed May 22, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
Most Recent Revision Date:
January 17, 2019