John W. Bell
Source: History of Northern Wisconsin: Containing an Account of Its Settlement, Growth, Development, and Resources, an Extensive Sketch of Its Counties, Cities, Towns and Villages, Their Improvements, Industries, Manufactories, Biographical Sketches, Portraits of Prominent Men and Early Settlers, Views of County Seats, Etc. Chicago: Western Historical Co., 1881.
HON. JOHN W. BELL, retired, Madeline Island, P.O. La Pointe, was born in New York City, May 3, 1805, where he remained till he was eight years of age. His parents then took him to Canada, where his father died. He had gotten his education from his father, and served an apprenticeship at three trades—watchmaking, ship-building and coopering. He then moved to Ft. La Pointe, and started a cooper shop, where he remained till 1835, when he came to La Pointe, on the brig "Astor," in the employ of the American Fur Company as cooper, for whome he worked six months, when he took the business into his own hands, and continued to make barns as late as 1870. It was in 1846 or 1847 that Robert Stewart, then Commissioner, granted him a license, and he opened a trading post at Island River, and became interested in the mines. He explored and struck a lead in the Porcupine Range, on Onion River, which he sold to the Boston Company, and then came back to La Pointe. In 1854 he was at the treaty between the Chippewas of Lake Superior and the Mississippi River, and was appointed Enrolling Agent on their new reservation, on the St. Louis River, where he went, but soon came back, as the Indians were not willing to stay there. He was then appointed by the Indians to look up their arrearages, and while at this work visited the national capital. He was appointed County Judge for La Pointe County, and held till 1873. He was elected on the town boad in 1880. Has been Register of Deeds a great many years. Has held most all the different county and town offices, and at one time held or did principally the business for the whole county. He has seen La Pointe in all of its glory dwindle down to a little fishing hamlet; is now Postmaster at his island home, where he occupies a house put up by the old fur company. He was married in 1837 to Miss Margaret Brebant, in the old Catholic Church, by Rev. Bishop Barraga. They had seven children—John (deceased), Harriette (now Mrs. La Pointe), Thomas (deceased), Alfred (now Town Clerk), Sarah E., Margaret (deceased), and Mary (now Mrs. Denome).
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