Bell, Paul Carlyle (1886–1952)

By: Ernest E. Atkinson

Type: Biography

Published: November 1, 1994

Paul Carlyle Bell, Baptist minister and school founder, son of W. C. and Minerva (Kelly) Bell, was born at Rio Frio, Texas, on December 9, 1886. He attended Baylor University, where he studied three years in the academy and completed a B.A. degree in classical studies in 1914. While in Waco he worked with Mexican missions under the supervision of Mrs. A. J. Barton, wife of the pastor of the First Baptist Church. Bell served the Mexican church at Bridgeport, Texas, from December 1912 to June 1913, then became pastor of the Mexican Baptist Church in Bastrop. He was married to Ida Perle Elliott of Bridgeport on June 3, 1914; they had six girls and a boy.

In fall 1914 Bell and his wife enrolled as students at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, where they remained for just a short time before returning to Bastrop. Bell served from 1919 to 1923 as pastor of the First Mexican Baptist Church, Austin. He returned to Bastrop and served as a pastor there from 1923 to 1935 and from 1937 to 1941. He pastored simultaneously the Bastrop Baptist Church (1925–28) and the Mexican Baptist Church. From 1935 to 1937 the Mexican church was pastored by Pascual Hurtiz, from Mexico, while Bell directed the school he had established there.

Bell's first educational endeavor at Bastrop was an elementary school for Mexican children. He subsequently built buildings and founded an industrial school for theological and ministerial training in Bastrop known as the Mexican Baptist Institute. The same building served as the church and the school, which began in 1926 with one student and continued to operate until May 1941. Even though the institute lasted for only fifteen years, it filled an important need for theological preparatory training for Mexican ministerial students. An orphanage housed in the school was begun about 1927 and lasted until 1936, when Bell was forced to close it.

Ida Perle Bell died in 1940, and Bell married Gladys Harmon of South Carolina on November 14, 1941. He was invited by the Home Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention to direct Baptist work in Panama. He accepted the invitation, went there in late 1941, and served until his retirement in January 1952. He then returned to Lufkin, Texas, where his oldest daughter, Ida Ruth, lived. Bell died on July 24, 1952, after a number of operations for a brain tumor. He was buried at Fairview Cemetery, Bastrop, beside his first wife.

Baptist Standard, October 30, 1930. Bastrop Advertiser, November 11, 1926.
  • Education
  • Founders and Pioneers
  • School Founders
  • Religion
  • Baptist

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Ernest E. Atkinson, “Bell, Paul Carlyle,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 25, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

November 1, 1994