Sep 30, 2021 - Sale 2580

Sale 2580 - Lot 230

Price Realized: $ 5,000
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 1,500 - $ 2,500
(TENNESSEE.) Memorandum book of clock dealer and Cherokee land agent David Bell. [2], 111, [2] manuscript pages (including some blanks). 4to, original 1/4 calf, minimal wear, titled "D.N. Bell's Memorandum Book" on front board; minor foxing. Tennessee, 1836-42, with a few notes through 1875

Additional Details

David Newton Bell (1797-1882) came to Tennessee as a young boy and became a prominent citizen in the Chattanooga area. The first 25 pages of this memorandum book are devoted to his work as a clock wholesaler from 1836 to 1839. In partnership with G.C. Torbett, he bought clocks in bulk from famed Connecticut clockmakers Eli Terry & Co. and Silas Hoadley, as well as the lesser-known Mark Leavenworth. From Hoadley he ordered dozens of "square tops," "scroll tops," and the pricy "alarm Franklins," and from Terry he ordered "brass clocks" and "spiral bells," which were then shipped to retailers in Nashville and smaller Tennessee towns such as Carrollville, Blair's Ferry, and Athens. Clocks were ordered with or without "waits" (weights) to allow for one day, 30 hours, or 8 days between winding; ornamented glass is sometimes specified. These accounts were all crossed off as settled by 1842.

In 1838, Bell embarked on a yet more lucrative venture, selling land in the Ocoee District in Polk, Bradley and Monroe Counties, in the state's southeast corner. This land had been vacated by the 1835 Cherokee Removal Act and the ensuing Trail of Tears, and opened for settlement on 1 October 1838. Pages 30 to 43 are a long list of Ocoee tracts which Bell "entered" on behalf of various settlers and investors, mostly in 160-acre lots, after paying "entry money" and "good will money." Many of the entries are annotated with notes on their "disposal," such as "Fractional township sold by a decree of court, I bought 25 acres and sold 20 to Vaughan." One tract which Bell bought in 1838 for $2600 is noted as sold in 1875 for $13,000. Pages 50 to 110 contain transcripts of grants issued by the state of Tennessee to Bell, 1839-1840. Finally, in the rear of the volume is a two-page list of land still in Bell's possession as of 1871: 10 lots totaling more than 1,000 acres. Laid in is a single 1842 receipt issued to Bell by the "Entry Taker's Office" for the Ocoee District in Cleveland, TN, on a form printed in Athens, TN.