John Bell and the Red River Baptist Church Minutes Log
Received Bro. John Bell By Letter.... Sat. April 20,1805.
Saturday September 17,1808.....Appointed brethren Bell, T. H. Darden to attend the Union
Meeting on the West Fork Friday before the second Lord's day in October......-Accordingly
the church appointed a committee composed several of the members appointed did not attend, after some talk had thereon, it was unanimously agreed by the church and said Stratton and Darnall that the following Brethren Emmanuel Skinner, Geo. Neville, Hiias Fort, Sen., John Bell, Willie Holland, Jonathan Darden, and John Hinton be a committee to try to settle the dispute.....Dispute amicable settled ....Committee discharged.
September 4,1815.....Dissatisfaction expressed by Bro. Bell to him with Bro. Fort, that
Bro. Bell Absented his seat given him......The Church called on Bro. Bell and Goyne and
Sister Goyne for their reasons for absenting themselves from their seats our last communion. They came forward and gave general Satisfaction.
Saturday October 14,1815.....After sermon by Bro. S. Fort, the church met. Chose Bro. Poole
moderator. The business between Brethren J. Bell and J. Fort taken up.....a committee to
inquire into the cause of grief between the two Brethren and report to the church. (It was requested to be marked out and is to make it unreadable).
Friday July 19,1816..........Bro. John Bell informed the church that there is a report in
circulation that he had taken unlawful interest for money lent Benjamin Batts which report Bro. Bell says is false, in as much as he never lent Mr. Batts a cent of money nor received a cent of interest from him at all Bro. Bell was then called on to inform this church what he supposed gave rise to said report. He said some time about the first of June past, he purchased a Negro girl from said Batts for which he gave said Batts S100, but did not get possession of said Negro for several days afterwards. Batts insisted the Negro was worth more and insisted to have liberty to sell her again. At last Bell told him if he then sold the Negro, he must pay him, (Bell) $150. Bell then had the Negro in possession and bill of sale for her. Some days afterwards, Mr. Batts and Bell counted out $120 and observed that he was satisfied with that. He then gave up the Negro and burnt the bill of sale. After some talk on the matter it was postponed for consideration till tomorrow. This being the time of the Union Meeting at this place............
Saturday July 20,1816..........The church with the Brethren who were present
unanimously justified Bro. Bell in what he did............
Saturday February 15,1817..............the church agreed to carry on the building of a
meeting house 40 feet long by 38 feet wide. And appointed brethren John Bell. Elias Fort, Jr., William Deloach and Messrs. Hardy Gizzard and John Gardner commissioners to act in
the behalf of the church to carry on said building at their discretion as to measure and form except the length and breath already described........
Saturday May 17,1817........Appointed Brethren John Bell, Azariah Dunn to attend the
Union meeting Head Muddy River next Friday.................Agreed by the church that
commissioners go on to have a low division made in the S. East corner which is allotted for the Negroes. Also, to have the house fitted with new benches and new pulpit and doors with lock and Key, the other bolt inside............
Saturday November 15,1817........On Motion agreed to reconsider the case of John Bell as
decided in July 1816. On motion agreed to set Bro. Bell aside for a hearing on this matter of taking usury, he having been found guilty by the jury on the Circuit Court for the County of Robertson, as such, we think the cause of religion as the religion's cause suffers in his hands........deferred till our Wednesday meeting.
Wednesday December 3rd, 1817.......The reference from last meeting concerning Bro. Bell
was taken up after considerable talk on the subject and all the evidence addressed the question was taken whether the evidence addressed the question was taken whether the charge against Bro. Bell was supported or not? Whereupon it appears that a majority of those members who voted, said the charge was not supported, but a majority of the church who were present did not vote at all.
Sunday December 21,1817.........Bro. Bell motioned for liberty to talk to the church, which
was granted. He observed that we had received a member yesterday who did not walk according to the Apostolic Order. And in order to relieve the minds of his worthy Brethren who appeared to be faithful, he wished to withdraw himself from the church with several other contemptible words against the church............
Tuesday January 13,1818..............On Motion the case of Bro. Bell was taken up (which is
as follows) whereas, the jury of the Circuit Court for Robertson County found Bro. Bell guilty of violating the law of usury, as such we think the cause of Christ and Religion in the hands of Bro. Bell, and agreed at our November meeting to reconsider the business which was investigated and postponed from time to time until now. Now, although we cannot clearly see that Bro. Bell was guilty of taking usury, yet for the veneration, we have the courts and have for our country, we publicly reprobate the idea of any of our members violating the statute laws of our country. As such we reprove Bro. Bell for giving cause of offense. Bro. Sugg Fort then preferred two charges with their specifications, that is to say, covetousness and treating the church with contempt on Sunday of our last meeting. Specification to the first charge. That Bro. Bell coveted and because he had it in his power, took $20 or thereabouts more than he let Bats have as stated by Bro. Bell July 1816. Charge second. Specification. First, in saying we received a member yesterday (i.e.) our last meeting, who did not walk according to the Apostolic Order. Second, in saying
hard contemptuous words against the church. Third, in attempting to withdraw his fellowship from us. Bro. Bell was found guilty of the first charge, but gave satisfaction for the second charge and the specification, the question for the second charge and the specification. The question was taken whether Bell's acknowledgment were satisfactory for the first charge? Answer. No. Whereupon, the vote was taken and he, the said John Bell, was excommunicated from our fellowship. George James, Clerk P. T.
Friday October 16,1819...........Agreeable to the request of John Bell who was excluded
from us some time ago, the church agreed to ask help from the following churches (to wit) Spring Creek of Red River, Spring Creek of the Sulfur Fork, Half Pone, Spring Creek of
West Fork, Drakes Pond, Mount Gilead to sit with us in council on the occasion..............
The Case of John Bell should be laid before them and us for investigation. After this (the helps) have received all the information on the subject that we could give them with the charges we had against said Bell, we requested them to withdraw and report to us their opinion on the subject. They accordingly withdrew. After being out for some time, they brought in the following report. Chose Bro. Daniel Gunn moderator and Joseph Richeson Clerk. Formed the following opinion (to wit).
First: The committee are of the opinion that the church acted correctly in the first charge for acquitting John Bell. Unanimous vote.
Second: From evidence before us, the committee are of an opinion that said Bell was reprobable by majority 17 to 4. The minority to go with the majority. Third: From all the evidence we have had this committee all of an opinion that said J. Bell was not guilty of covetousness, which report the church did not receive, not being satisfied. We agreed to postpone the business till next conference. Received Bro. John Andrews by letter. Dismissed in order. Elias. F. Deloach, Clk.
Saturday February 19,1820.............The Case of John Bell was taken up. The church still
refused to receive the report of the committee on him...............
Saturday November 16,1822.......Received Jesse Gardner, Sen. and Benj'n Batts by
Saturday March 19,1825..............Bro. Batts case taken up. He not being present, we are
of the opinion that our labor of love toward Bro. Batts has been sufficient, and he not complying with our requests to come and see us, we therefore excommunicate the said Benjamin Batts from our fellowship............
Interesting side bar, Lucy Bell is never listed on the membership roll of the Red River Baptist Church. John Bell is not listed on the membership roll after 1818 and his death is not mentioned in the minutes of the Red River Baptist Church. One can find the deaths of slaves and masters listed but it seems that John Bell's name was stricken from the record. Kate Batts is not listed among the members of the Red River Baptist church.
Ingram's 1894 book stated that church was often held in the Bell and Johnston homes. Lucy Bell may have been a member of the Methodist Church since the Gunn Brothers (Methodist preachers) seemed to be an important part of the Bell family's life and two or more of the Gunn's daughters married Bells. John Johnston was received by experience July 17,1818 into the Red River Baptist church and excommunicated him on September 19,1818. James Johnston (old sugar mouth) is not listed as a member of the Red River Baptist Church but is considered as a spiritual leader by the Bells as reported by M. V. Ingram.
Sources: Minutes of Red River Baptist Church (1791—1826) Robertson County, Tennessee, Transcribed by Mary Holland Lancaster, Records of Red River Church at the Mouth of Sulfork of Red River In Tennessee County, Typed by Mrs. H. P. Allen W. P. A. Project 65 44-2126 November 30,1936