By this time Colonel Bell had demonstrated his devotion to the public good and his eminent fitness for public service, and upon his retirement from active service in the army he was elected to the Second Confederate Congress in November, 1863. He served on the Committees on Privileges and Elections and Post Offices and Post Roads.
In Congress, as in all previous public positions, Colonel Bell served with distinction and to the eminent satisfaction of the people.
After secession the people of his district believed they could not do better than continue the public service that had been so entirely acceptable, and Colonel Bell was chosen the first Senator from the Thirty-ninth Senatorial District of this State.
In November, 1872, he was enthusiastically elected to the Forty-third Congress of the United States and after an interval of one term was elected to the Forty-fifth Congress. He served on the Committees on Coinage, Weights and Measures, Banking and Currency, and Education and Labor. During this service he was appointed Congressional member and chairman of a committee of experts to determine the relative merits of printing by steam and hand power. As a member of the United States Congress he participated in the discussion of the great questions of public interest pending before Congress and the country He made speeches in favor of the construction of the Western and Atlantic Canal, in favor of the remonetization of silver, in favor of the distribution among the States for educational purposes of the proceeds arising from the sale of public lands, in favor of pensions to Mexican soldiers, against the resumption of specie payment, and against the military invasion of the Legislature of Louisiana, and an argument before the Senate Committee on Revolutionary claims that ultimately resulted in the payment to Georgia of the principal of the Trezevant claim. (Ed. goods that had been confiscated during the American Revolution.)
He was a member of the Electoral College in 1868 that cast the vote of the State for Seymour and Blair, and was a delegate to the National Democratic Convention that met at St. Louis and nominated Tilden and Hendricks in 1876.
The last political position held by Colonel Bell was as State Senator, again representing the Thirty-ninth District. He was made chairman of a joint Committee on Constitutional Amendments and took active interest in all measures of special concern to the State government.
Colonel Bell was quite as much a devout Christian gentleman as distinguished patriot and statesman. He was a prominent member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, and he took an active interest in his local church as well as prominent part in the deliberations of the denominational conferences.
He was a trustee of the Wesleyan Female College, the leading Methodist college for women in the South, from 1874 forward, and a trustee of Emory, the State Methodist college for men, for the same period of time. For years he was one of the trustees or the Orphanage under the control and support of his denomination, located at Decatur, this State.
When asked to account for the wonderful career built upon such scant prospects and unfavorable beginnings, Colonel Bell promptly replied: "It came to me as an inspiration at the age of fourteen while plowing, barefoot, in a new ground on a rocky hillside."
There have been many similar inspirations born in the souls of struggle in boys and young men that were not attended by the energy and determination that made effective every step in the hard was this distinguished citizen traveled. These have fallen by the wayside and the world has never known and will never know what they might have accomplished for themselves their country and the kingdom of God, if they had only been brave under difficulties and persistent after defeat.
Hiram Parks Bell was born in Jackson county, this State, January 19, 1827. He was happily married to Miss Virginia Lester January 22, 1850. To this marriage were born six children, three of whom are living.
Mrs. Virginia Lester Bell died April 30, 1888, and Colonel Bell was united in marriage to Miss Anna Adelaide Jordan, of Eatonton, June 11, 1890.
Colonel Bell died at the home of his son, Judge George Bell, in Atlanta, on the 16th day of August, 1907.
W. J. Northen.
Col. Hiram Parks Bell
Perhaps the best description of Col. Bell is laid down by former Georgia Governor William Northen in his series title Men of Mark
Men of Mark in Georgia
A Complete and Elaborate History of the State from its settlement to the present time, chiefly told in biographies and autobiographies of the most eminentmen of each period of Georgia's progress and development
William J. Northen, LL.D.
Ex-Governor of Georgia
Covering the Period
from 1733 to 1911
A. B. Caldwell, Publisher
Hiram Parks Bell Jan 19, 1827 – Aug 17, 1907
The life of Hiram Parks Bell furnishes a distinguished illustration of the possibilities open to young men of native ability, coupled with integrity, industry and determination to succeed. Mr. Bell demonstrated that life is not closed and success forbidden to those who are born without wealth and commanding social position. The future of every young life, Mr. Bell believed, is dependent more upon the individual than upon others. Family and friends and money, oftentimes, make the way less difficult and laborious, but the absence of these things not only does not make the successful life less deserving, but far more worthy, because of being built by personal effort under great hindrances and difficulties.
It is hoped that the time will never fully come in this purely democratic country of ours when a man shall be measured by the money he has, and not by his culture and his character.
Joseph Scott Bell, the father of Hiram Parks Bell, was a farmer of the early times, with very limited means and, if possible, more limited learning. He bought a small farm on credit in 1838, at the beginning of the financial panic caused by Jackson's removal of the United States bank deposits, and in the general disasters that followed, the family was kept in direst straits. From eleven years of age, for nine consecutive years Hiram Parks knew nothing but toil and struggle for the bare maintenance of physical existence for himself and his father's family. From Monday morning until Saturday night of each week, and every week in each of these nine years, he kept industriously at it, - splitting rails, clearing ground, building, rolling logs and doing all kinds of necessary farm work, spring, summer, fall, and winter. The only sunlight that came into his life for its first twenty years was six months tuition at a school of the very lowest grade. Having this little insight into the better view, he obtained the consent of his father to have for himself the year preceding his majority, with the agreement that his father should be relieved of all further responsibilities for his support and maintenance.
Inspired by an ambition that necessity and poverty had thus far suppressed, he entered the village academy at Cumming, in the county of his present residence, (Ed. Forsyth), going in debt for his board, tuition, books and clothing. Mr. Joseph K. Valentine, the teacher, was an accomplished Greek, Latin and English scholar and, for two years, he did much to start anew the life that had been burdened with toil without profit and hopes that seemed, until now, without possible promise of realization.
At the end of the two years tuition, Mr. Bell became himself a teacher. He took charge of the academy at Ellijay and taught for two years, thus establishing more firmly what he had learned, and broadening his information somewhat along literary lines.
While teaching he studied law, and was admitted to the bar November 28, 1849, at about twenty-two years of age. He entered upon the practice of his profession January 1, 1851, at Cumming, Forsyth county, this state. He had never been on the inside of a courthouse nor a college building until after he was twenty years of age.
The first public position to which Mr. Bell was called was as a delegate to the Secession Convention of 1861. By this convention he was elected Commissioner to Tennessee, with instructions to present the Ordinance of Secession as enacted by Georgia, with reasons for its adoption by Tennessee, and to ask cooperation in the positions taken by the Georgia Convention.
He was elected to the State Senate October, 1861. In 1862 he organized a company of which he was made Captain, and which became Company I of the Forty-third Georgia Regiment in the Confederate service.
Because of this connection with the Confederate Army he resigned his seat in the State Senate in October, 1862, that he might remain with his regiment, then stationed at Georgetown, Kentucky. His distinguished service gave him rapid promotion in the army. After serving as Captain he became Lieutenant-Colonel upon the organization of the Forty-third Regiment of Georgia Volunteers in March, 1862. He was wounded and disabled on December 29, 1862, at the battle of Chickasaw Bayou, near Vicksburg. He was promoted to the Colonecy of his regiment upon the death of Colonel Harris, who was killed at Baker's Creek. This position and all subsequent connection with the army Colonel Bell was compelled to resign because of the serious nature of his wounds.
Hiram Parks Bell
by Frank Clark 2015
Though he is today considered Cumming's most important citizen, the Hiram Parks Bell name had faded in the 20th century under the weight of World Wars, Cold Wars, dust bowls, depression and a litany of protest movements which vied daily for our attention. His life and achievements seemed a world apart and he gradually faded from the public consciousness to be remembered only by those for whom history is never dated.
But on October 10, 1993 twenty four men from the Cumming, Georgia area voted to name their newly chartered "Sons of Confederate Veterans" camp for Colonel Hiram Parks Bell, reintroducing him to a new generation of Forsyth County residents. This was done to not only honor his service and sacrifice to his regiment, the 43rd Ga., but in recognition of his role as Commander of the local "United Confederate Veterans," the organization from which the SCV was born. Col. Hiram Parks Bell, Camp 1642, Georgia Division, SCV has now passed the 25 year mark and has done so with a long list of achievements behind them and a bright future ahead. In 2004 the camp acted on a long-standing goal and opened the "Hiram Parks Bell Southern History & Genealogical Research Center, Inc." Commonly known as the Bell Center, it is open to the public free of charge, six days a week, and offers over 6,000 volumes of genealogy and history as well as several cabinets of historical and military artifacts to aid the researcher in not only finding their "roots" but also in understanding the times in which their ancestors lived.
That same year 13 local ladies formed a chapter of the "United Daughters of the Confederacy" and, once again, honored Col. Bell by naming their chapter for him. The men of SCV camp 1642 and the ladies of UDC chapter 2641, sharing common goals, often work together as in their annual observance of Confederate Memorial Day on April 26th.
Colonel Bell received statewide recognition when Act number 653 of the 1998 Georgia General Assembly divided the Blue Ridge Judicial Circuit into two separate sections naming the Forsyth county section the Bell-Forsyth circuit.
Early in the new millennia the City of Cumming embarked on an ambitious project along with local sculptor Gregory Johnson to cast and erect three bronze statues to honor historic men who were important in the early days of Cumming. The first figure, Hon. John Forsyth, namesake of the county, had been a Georgia Governor and was influential in the establishment of Forsyth County in 1832 from lands that had been part of the Cherokee nation. Hiram Parks Bell was chosen as the next figure to be honored and his heroic statue stands at the Cumming City Hall facing Main Street. He is shown holding a copy of his book, "Men and Things" in his right hand and the cane that compensated for his shattered left leg, in his left. Camp 1642 played a role in the sculpture as the artist, Gregory Johnson, was not certain as to which leg had been injured. Old photos have often been reversed and left can easily be right. We were able to provide him with the surgeon's report from which he drew the information he needed. We also aided in the funding of the statue which was done by private subscription and were awarded an artist mark for our contribution. The series later included Chief Sawnee, whose Bronze statue can be seen at the Visitor's Center on Sawnee Mountain.
On January the 19th, 2015, the 188th anniversary of Col. Bell's birth, the SCV, UDC, Bell descendants and history minded citizens will gather at the Bell obelisk for an Iron Cross dedication. The Iron Cross is a traditional Confederate marking given in special recognition of Col. H. P. Bell's lifelong service to the South and its citizens.
Colonel Hiram Parks Bell has now been honored and remembered in the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries; quite an achievement for the 14 year old bare foot boy who dreamed to play a greater role with his life as he plowed a furrow on the rocky fields of his father's Georgia farm in 1840.
The Bell Center
In March of 2004 the newly established "Bell Center" republished "Men and Things," a series of chapters detailing the momentous decades that marked Col. Bell's life span: from plow to field school; academy to law degree; and military man to statesman. The book was originally published in 1907, the year of Col. Bell's death. Various chapters had been excerpted and included in other historical papers over the years but the book, intact and complete, was a rare find. The Bell Center added an index and a previously unpublished picture of Col. Bell in his Masonic apron and published the new volume making this unique view of history easily available.
Click the picture to watch Col. Bell's
Iron Cross Dedication