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1858 Dr. William Samuel Bell


colorseal sm(Lived ?--1861)

Following service in the Mexican War, Dr. William S. Bell made his home in Chattanooga.  Bell did not establish a medical practice in Chattanooga; rather he opened Bell’s Distillery along the western slops of Cameran Hill.  The corn whiskey distillery’s product was shipped throughout the state of Tennessee.   One historic report states that Dr. Bell’s plant could produce three hundred gallons of whiskey a day.   

Bell served as alderman in 1857, before his election to Mayor in 1858.  Continuing the trend of city leaders throughout the 1850s, Mayor Bell and the city board of alderman worked to enlarge Chattanooga’s place as a southern rail hub.  In 1858, the East Tennessee, Virginia and Georgia Railroad completed its route into the city.  The Mayor and alderman also completed details with the Western & Atlantic and the Nashville & Chattanooga railroad companies to build a depot in the city.  The city donated land along Ninth Street, across from the Crutchfield Hotel, for construction of the Union Depot.

When the Civil War erupted, former Mayor Bell volunteered for service and was assigned to a Confederate medical division.  While stationed in Memphis, Bell died from injuries received from a cannonball strike.

Photo by Phillip Stevens and Matt Lea