Photo Album: The Legacy of Grandma Bell

The Bell family leaving their home in Crossgar, County Down for America in 1925
The Bell family leaving their home in Crossgar, County Down for America in 1925

December / January 2008

In this photograph taken in 1925, my mother Kathleen (far left) and her ten siblings pose with their parents, Sam and Ellen Bell, as they leave their home in Crossgar, County Down, Northern Ireland.  The family immigrated to the United States and settled in Chicago where, after only four years, my grandfather died, leaving Grandma Bell to raise a family of eleven children. In spite of suffering the devastating loss of her husband, Grandma Bell was a woman of tremendous faith and fortitude.

The family home was near the stockyards on the south side of Chicago, and Grandma took in boarders who worked in the yards, many of whom were saving money to bring their own families over. She went to mass every morning leaving the older girls, before they went to school, to fix breakfast for the lodgers.

Grandma Bell was a friend to anyone in need of help or a warm meal. She lived to be 94 years old and left a legacy rich in faith, love, and Irish heritage.

Today, my mother, at age 87, is the only one left of her siblings, but she has passed on Grandma’s legacy to her own family of seven children, 24 grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.  She and our dad, Jon, have been married for 60 years and their devotion to each other is a love story that books are written about.  We have a lot to be thankful for and much to be proud of.

Submitted by Maureen Foster, Western Springs, Illinois

3 Responses to “Photo Album: The Legacy of Grandma Bell”

  1. PAUL CASEMENT says:

    Hi
    I googled Sam Bell Chicago Crossgar and this came up. My father James Casement has this photo also, his grandma was a crossgar Bell, Mary-Anne Bell.
    In Crossgar today the town is dominated by Bells and Casements, its been like that for a long time!!
    I have recently made the move and emigrated to Boston but I visit home at least 3 times a year. Its a small world.
    Paul Casement

  2. Teresa bell (nee)casement says:

    My grandmother was Mary-Anne Bell her daughter Teresa davey she often told me the story of Sam and Mary-Ellen going to America. One part of the story was that she was a young girl at the time and that morning in July 1925 she and her grandmother-watched the family going down the Downpatrick street and past their house on their journey.they were watching from the top window.

    • Geri Smyth says:

      So , what is the connection to Granda, Paddy Bell, who lived at number 9 Downpatrick St. Crossgar. He had a brother Sam, who lived at the fork junction of the Ballynahinch Rd and the Belfast Rd, Crossgar. The house is still there. So, what is the connection to the Sam and Ellen Bell who emigrated. My mum was born in 1925 but I remember as a child she said there were Bells who emigrated to USA but I don’t remember if it was Chicago or any or details.

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