BELL, BENONI (deceased). - The past fifty years have worked many changes and nowhere else is this more evident than in Sangamon County. Half a century ago much of the land that now sells for prices that would have seemed impossible then was in a wild state, a good deal of it covered with heavy timber. Roads were few and transportation difficult in many sections. Water was the motive power used by the mills, and those intending to operate them sought a location along a stream. One of the men who was "forehanded" enough to realize the possibilities of Sangamon County and to secure some of its land before the price became prohibitive, was the late Benoni Bell, who resided on Section 25, Woodside Township.
He was born in Berkeley County, W. Va., July 24, 1822, being a son of Zebulon and Rachel (Swingle) Bell, natives of Berkeley County, West Va. Married September 20, 1821, and she was born December 20, 1801, and he born November 18, 1799. They were among the early pioneers of Woodside Township, coming to Sangamon County in May, 1834, making the trip overland in a wagon. The trip was a slow one and many stops were made along the way. When the new home was reached there was not much to gladden the eyes of the weary travelers, but being accustomed to hard work, and realizing that here land could be obtained at a low price, they did not complain, but commenced at once to make a home for their little family. Woodside Township remained their home until their deaths. Both were most excellent people, who were a credit to their community.
Benoni Bell went to school in both his native place and Sangamon County, in the latter attending the log school of the neighborhood, where comforts were lacking but earnestness was not. The children of that day thought nothing of walking miles through the snow to school, delighted at having the opportunity. While attending school he assisted his father and learned the wagon making trade, at which he worked until 1861. On June 14th, of that year he purchased the homestead of forty-five acres on Section 25, Woodside Township, and there for twenty years operated a grist mill, farming to a certain extend during that period. He then gave up his milling to spend more time farming, but at the time of his death, he had been retired for ten years. He passed away June 18, 1910, and his remains were interred at Oak Ridge Cemetery, Springfield.
On October 12, 1859, Mr. Bell was married at Madison, Ind., to Mrs. Angelica (Taylor) Settle, born December 17, 1833. She lost her father at an early age, her mother lived until about 1900. Two children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Bell: Charles E., born October 8, 1868, died July 31, 1873, having been kicked by a horse; and Ada Hannah, born February 5, 1872. Mrs. Bell resides on the homestead which consists of forty-five acres of very valuable land. She is a lady of kindly disposition, devoted to her home, and has many warm personal friends in the neighborhood.
Mr. Bell was a Republican and served as School Director of his township fro many years. Fraternally he was an Odd Fellow, and was interested in his lodge. Although he did not care to run for public office, Mr. Bell was very active in county affairs, always being willing to give of both time and money to advance its interests, and to inaugurate improvements. Some of the most desirable changes were effected through his instrumentality, and when he was called away those associated with him felt his loss very deeply, for they knew the county had lost one of its most reliable, loyal, true-hearted citizens, as well as they a true and tried friend.