FL-GenWeb Digital Library and Archives
Gadsden Co. Biographies
BELL, Norman Cawthon
Transcribed from: The History of Florida: Past & Present, The Lewis Publishing Co., Vol.
III, page 10, 1923.
BELL, NORMAN CAWTHON. The largest general hardware business in Gadsden County is the
Bell-Bates Hardware Company, of which NORMAN CAWTHON BELL is president. Mr. BELL began
his business career as a railroad telegrapher, was in the railroad service many years, and
he came to Quincy about eighteen years ago.
He was born near Bainbridge, Decatur County, Georgia, September 17, 1862, son of THOMAS J.
and SIBBIE (CAWTHON) BELL. His father was born in Decatur County and died there in 1913
at the age of eighty-seven. His mother was born in Telfair County, Georgia, in 1835, and
died in 1889. THOMAS J. BELL spent practically all his life in one Georgia community, where
he was a farmer and slave owner, served in a Georgia regiment in Georgia and in Florida
during the Civil war, and was an active member of the Methodist Church.
NORMAN CAWTHORN BELL, eighth in a family of twelve children, had only limited educational
advantages in the country district where he grew up. As a boy he had aspirations for something
better than farming, but he remained on the farm until he was twenty-two. After learning
telegraphy he entered the service of the Savannah, Florida and Western, now part of the Atlantic
Coast Line, and for seventeen consecutive years was on duty for this company at Climax, Decatur
County, Georgia. However, for ten years of this time he was associated with his brother in the
timber business. They specialize in the production and handling of ties and bridge building
material for railroads.
In 1904 Mr. BELL came to Quincy to become associated with his brother-in-law in the hardware
business. The firm of Bell and Bates started with a modest capital and small stock, but business
has grown steadily until it is now the largest of its kind in Gadsden County. It is an
incorporation, and the company has occupied its present large building since 1912. Mr. BELL
has always been a lover of outdoor life. At all times he has endeavored to perform his duties
as a good citizen and while at Climax he served as a steward in the Methodist Church and has
held a similar office since coming to Quincy. During the four years he was on the Quincy City
Council the waterworks and sewerage facilities were installed. He is a Royal Arch Mason and
a democrat in politics.
At Mount Pleasant, Florida, Mr. BELL married Miss LUELLA BATES. She was a very active member
of the Methodist Church. She died April 30, 1914. Her father, MORTIMER BATES, was born in
Virginia, was living in Decatur County, Georgia, at the outbreak of the war and became a captain
in the Confederate army, and after the war lived on a plantation in Gadsden County, Florida,
until a few years before his death he moved to Quincy, Florida, where he died April 30, 1912.
Mr. BELL has three children: JESSIE E., wife of L. L. WILLIS of Quincy, and mother of one son,
BENJAMIN CAWTHON; LEMUEL A., who is in the automobile business at Quincy, and is married and
has two children, MARY LOU and LEMUEL A. Jr.; and Miss EULA, at home with her father.
Transcribed by Nancy Rayburn
©2016 Fran Smith
This page presented August 14, 2010