Thursday, August 3, 2017

Character Profile...Hooley Bell (Lucien Burr Bell)

Researching "Jesus Wept" was often a heartbreaking experience.  The light moments were there,  thankfully due to amazing characters like "Hooley" Bell.
 Born Lucien Burr Bell, he was the son of John Adair Bell, one of the signers of the Treaty of New Echota.  A lawyer and businessman in his own right, Bell was called to Washington D.C. in 1866 to speak on behalf of the Cherokee Tribe.

From Chapter  15  -   The Inevitable
Fall 1866, Washington D.C.

Hooley Bell, Dartmouth educated son of John Adair Bell, was being sworn in at the hearing to be questioned by the Congressional panel.

     "Please state your name!"  Ordered the chairman of the solemn assembly.

     "Captain Lucien Burr Bell, Sir,"  answered Bell loudly, saluting the august committee. 
     "People who know me call me Hooley.  That's Cherokee for Bell."

     "What is your trade, calling, or occupation?" The chairman demanded.

      Bell replied, "Various things. I practice law a for office
      occasionally.         Now and then take a hand at poker and never miss a horse race, if I get to it." 

 He paused a moment, cleared his throat as his eyes surveyed the room.
      "The rest of the time I spend in trying to fool God like you white folks do."                     [snip]


A freed slave named Daisy relays a story about Bell in Chapter 3, The Trail where They Cried

  "My mother was a slave girl from Georgia pick up by the Bells when they left that country 'bout 1838 with the rest of the Indians before I was born.  Old master was John Bell Jr.  The mistress was Charlotte Adair Bell and dey was Cherokee Indians of the Deer Clan.  Them Adairs was all smart people.  Some of 'em went to college! 

     The old woman leaned forward and began to laugh.  "Cousin Hooley Bell was payin' for his nephew Harv Shelton's edu-cation at Dartmouth one time.  Harv said he'd been doin' some serious thinking since he'd been at that fine school and he figured he jes' couldn't accept some of dat religion he'd been taught no mo' and dat he didn't believe what he thought he once did.
He asked Hooley what he must do.

Cousin Hooley told that boy, 'Come on home! Ya can go to hell in Tahlequah as easy as ya can go to hell at Dartmouth!'" [snip]

 From CHAPTER 16   -   Beginning Again
The South rebuilds after the Civil War

At the war's end, Hooley Bell went back to Rusk County, Texas (The Cherokee plantation of Mt. Tabor)   and planted a failed cotton crop, typical for that year.
The following year he moved to Delaware District, Cherokee Nation, and farmed for several years, then to Tahlequah where he served as President in the Cherokee Senate, often arguing on behalf of his people in Washington D.C.
 "Cousin Hooley" passed two months before his Uncle Jim Bell in 1915 and is buried at Vinita, Oklahoma.