Saturday, October 21, 2017

Whitthorne Levi Bell (1880-1961)

Portrait from the 1933 Tennessee Assembly composite.

   A recent cull through the archives of the Tennessee General Assembly has yielded a host of new names, and the 1933 session of the assembly has proven to be a veritable goldmine. Serving in that session were Ditzler Billoat Brown, Watterson Grady Sidwell, Thepher Jerard White, Skipwith Taylor Foote, and today's"honoree" Whitthorne Levi Bell. Unfortunately, details on Bell's life remain difficult to come by, hence why his article here will be on the short side!
  The son of William Levi and Martha Caroline (Whitaker) Bell, Whitthorne Levi "Whit" Bell was born in Waynesboro, Tennessee on August 16, 1880. Nothing could be found in regards to Bell's schooling or early life, excepting notice of his marriage in the early 1900s to Izora (Downing) Bell (1880-1963). The couple's lengthy union produced seven children, James Paul (1903-1943), Whitney Louise (1905-1938), Hazel K. (1908-1979), Aaron Burwell (1911-1981), William Howard (1913-1973), Delphia Elizabeth (1915-1988) and an infant daughter who died in 1907. 
   A former vice president of the First National Bank of Hohenwald, Tennessee, Whit Bell also served as Wayne County commissioner of highways and accounts in 1931. In the following year Bell was elected as a Democrat to the Tennessee General Assembly. Representing the 17th district (comprising the counties of Wayne, Lewis, Maury and Giles), Bell served during the 1933-35 session and during that term introduced house bill #780 to "protect deer and turkeys, certain county", which would later be signed into law by the Governor. 
  Following his term Bell was a campaign manager in Wayne County for Prentice Cooper's successful 1940 run for Governor. A Mason and member of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, Whit Bell died on November 10, 1961 at age 81. His wife Izora survived him by two years and following her death in September 1963 was interred alongside him at the Bell Cemetery in Wayne County.

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