Bow Bell

Bell, Bow
Franklin County, Mississippi
1893
CRRJ 04-033

Background
Bow Bell, born about 1850, was a farmer from Amite County like his grandson, Eugene Bell. By 1880 Bell was married with two sons and three daughters.

In the Fall of 1892, Bow Bell was severely whipped by a gang of White-cappers in Amite County. In response, Bell sought a criminal complaint against his assailants. In March 1893, D.W. Fenn of Amite County, among others, was indicted on charges of assault and battery at Amite Circuit Court. Two men; Cicero McGhee and Bell’s own son, testified as witnesses to the assault alongside Bell.
Bow Bell thereafter moved to live on the property of Mr. Cage McGehee in Franklin County. Around 8am on Monday July 10th 1893, Bow Bell was reportedly ploughing on the land of Mr. Eugene Scott; specifically “bottom” land, surrounded by a dense growth of cane. He was ambushed by two separate parties, armed with shotguns, who murdered Bell with several close-proximity shots. The parties’ tracks were traced back toward the Amite County line.

Legal Situation
Following the murder of Bow Bell, both McGhee and Bell’s son altered their testimony to deny any knowledge of the assault. When the case of the State v D.W. Fenn et. al. was called the District Attorney, Frank Alexander (F.A.) McLain of Gloster, opted to drop his prosecution through lack of a witness. Governor J. M. Stone, an advocate against White-capping, wrote to McLain enquiring as to why the case had been dismissed.

Governor J. M. Stone

Governor J. M. Stone

Frank Alexander McLain

Frank Alexander McLain