Tom Bell

Tom Bell

Tom Bell was born in Parkhead, Glasgow, in 1882. After leaving school at the age of 15 he started an apprenticeship as an iron moulder in Glasgow's Springfield steelworks. He continued his education by attending evening-classes at Andersonian College where he studied English Literature, French, Geology and Astronomy. After reading Charles Darwin and Thomas Huxley he became a committed atheist. He also lectured for the left-wing Plebs' League.

In 1900 Bell joined the Independent Labour Party. He became a committed Marxist and so three years later he moved to the more radical Social Democratic Federation, an organization led by H.L. Hyndman. Bell also lectured for the SDF at factories and shipyards. In 1904 Bell joined the Associated Ironmoulders of Scotland, in 1904.

Bell eventually became one of the leaders of the Socialist Labour Party (SLP), an organization that had been inspired by the writings of Daniel De Leon, the man who helped establish the International Workers of the World (IWW). Other leaders of the SLP included John S. Clarke, Willie Paul, James Connally, John MacLean and Arthur McManus.

Bell married Lizzie Aitken, a fellow member of the SLP on 4th February 1910. The following year he became involved in the Clydesbank Singer sewing machine factory dispute, in which 10,000 workers went out on strike in protest at the company's decision to cut the pay of the workforce. Singers broke the strike in three weeks. Arthur McManus and Willie Paul were considered to be ring-leaders of the strike and along with 500 other workers they lost their jobs at the company.

Tom Bell was opposed to Britain's involvement in the First World War and took part in the campaign against conscription. During this period Bell was working in London and Liverpool.

In 1915 a group of Scottish socialists, including Willie Gallacher, John Muir, David Kirkwood, Neil MacLean and Arthur McManus, formed the Clyde Workers' Committee, an independent organisation of the rank and file. The CWC attempted to confront Government demands over dilution and conscription. In December 1915, McManus spoke at an anti-conscription rally in George Square, Glasgow. All the speakers were arrested on public order offences but were later released without charge.

In February 1916 the CWC became involved in a dispute at Beardmores Munitions Works in Parkhead. The government claimed that the strike was a ploy by the CWC to prevent the manufacture of munitions and therefore to harm the war effort. On 25th March, Arthur McManus, David Kirkwood, Willie Gallacher and other members of the CWC were arrested by the authorities under the Defence of the Realm Act. Sir Frederick Smith was the prosecutor. Tom Bell argued that: "It is doubtful if a more spiteful, hateful enemy of the workers ever existed... he threatened to send them to the front to be shot." The men were eventually court-martialled and sentenced to be deported from Glasgow to Edinburgh.

Tom Bell returned to Glasgow in 1916 and immediately became a member of the Clyde Workers Committee and joined in the struggle against the government. After David Lloyd George replaced Henry Asquith as prime minister the CWC issued a statement that "no proposals from Lloyd George be entertained unless the Government took over all munition works and gave the workers part control of the works management."

Senior members of the CWC, including Willie Gallacher, David Kirkwood and Arthur McManus helped organize production in Beardmore's Mile End Shell Factory. Kirkwood later remarked: "What a team! We organized a bonus system in which everyone benefited by high production... The factory, built for a 12,000 output, produced 24,000. In six weeks, we held the record for output in Great Britain, and we never lost our premier position.

John MacLean was opposed to this strategy. He wrote: "Lloyd George's purpose is to coax you to relax your Trade Union rules about non-union workers. The dangers... are the weakening of your unions and the lowering of your wages." Tom Bell agreed with MacLean and he concentrated his energies on improving the pay and conditions of the workforce. In 1917 he led a national strike of engineers and foundry workers in their demand for a forty-seven hour week. Bell joined forces with Willie Gallacher to form the Clyde Emergency Committee (CEC) to run the strike. Bell traveled to London and successfully carried out successful negotiations with the Ministry of Munitions.

1919 Bell was elected president of the Scottish Ironmoulders Union. He also become national secretary of the Socialist Labour Party and editor and director of the organization's newspaper, The Socialist. Bell played a leading role in the Clydeside agitation for a forty-hour week. On 31st January 1919 Bell organized a demonstration march to George Square. There was a police baton charge and the leaders of the march were arrested.

Bell had been impressed with the achievements of the Bolsheviks following the Russian Revolution and in April 1920 he joined forces with Willie Gallacher, Arthur McManus, Harry Pollitt, Helen Crawfurd and Willie Paul to establish the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB). McManus was elected as the party's first chairman and Bell and Pollitt became the party's first full-time workers.

In 1922, Tom Bell and Arthur McManus, attended a special conference of the Executive Committee of the Communist International (Comintern), at which it was decided to reorganise the party. It was then decided that Bell should stay in Russia for several months as a foreign reporter and representative of the CPGB.

Bell was executive member of the Communist Party of Great Britain. Bell was also on the Political Bureau and was responsible for the propaganda work of the party. He was also head of the Education Department and organised classes in Marxism. He was also appointed editor of the party's monthly paper, The Communist Review. As a result of this work he decided to move to London.

On 4th August 1925, Bell and 11 other activists, Jack Murphy, Wal Hannington, Ernie Cant, Tom Wintringham, Harry Pollitt, Albert Inkpin, Arthur McManus, William Rust, Robin Page Arnot, William Gallacher and John Campbell were arrested for being members of the Communist Party of Great Britain and charged with violation of the Mutiny Act of 1797.

John Campbell later wrote: "The Government was wise enough not to rest its case on the activity of the accused in organising resistance to wage cuts, but on their dissemination of “seditious” communist literature, (particularly the resolutions of the Communist International), their speeches, and occasional articles. Campbell, Gallacher and Pollitt defended themselves. Five of the prisoners who had previous convictions, Gallacher, Hannington, Inkpin, Pollitt and Rust, were sentenced to twelve months’ imprisonment and the others (after rejecting the Judge’s offer that they could go free if they renounced their political activity) were sentenced to six months." It was believed that this was a deliberate action of the government to weaken the labour movement in preparation for the impending General Strike. After the failure of the strike Bell went back to Moscow. In 1929 he returned to Britain and was appointed to the newly formed political bureau of the CPGB.

Bell was involved in the struggle against the growth of fascism in Europe. During the Spanish Civil War he played an active role in the National Council for Democratic Aid and the International Class War Prisoners Aid. Both these organisations were formed to give aid to interned anti-fascist prisoners during the conflict. Bell was also the author of The History of the British Communist Party (1937).

Tom Bell served at the headquarters of the Communist Party of Great Britain in London during the Second World War. Plagued by ill-health, he returned to Glasgow where he died on 19th April 1944.

It was, indeed, an inspiring sight to look upon the delegates in the Great Hall at Cannon Street Hotel, especially when one’s thoughts turned to the schemes and plots against labour that have undoubtedly been hatched here by the junkers of Capitalism in Britain. The spectacle itself brought a feeling of compensation to those of us who took up the task of Communist unity nearly two years ago, and when the resolution to form the Communist Party was carried with acclamation, one felt for the moment that nothing else mattered.

Naturally, I was a bit disappointed in the decision to affiliate with the Labour Party. I would have liked it to have been otherwise, because I believe it would have been better for the new party to have demonstrated at the outset that it had no intention of following the same old lines adopted by the Socialist parties of this country before the war. Also because I think we are strong enough to challenge the Labour Party and to give a straight and independent lead and so rally into one camp those workers who have lost all faith in the idea of a peaceful transformation in social institutions. I am certain, of course, that we shall strike a different line from the past, but we would have been saved much unnecessary explanations to many of our comrades had we won on this issue.

The optimism which I maintained to the last regarding our chances of winning the new party to our views on Labour Party affiliation has been amply justified by the narrow majority against us. The failure itself is the responsibility of those elements who were so self-opinionated as to keep away from the convention, while making a virtue of non-affiliation.

However, the main object has been achieved in the formation of a party that will at last definitely link up the Communists of Great Britain with the main army, whose headquarters are at Moscow.

I appeal to all members of the late Communist Unity Group to loyally accept the decisions of the convention; throw their proven weight and strength into the new organisation, and, while maintaining the independence of their views, help forward the raising of the Communist Party towards the day when Communism will triumph in this country.

The increasing alarm in capitalist circles at the growing possibilities of a Labour Government is becoming more and more manifest. Not a day passes but press, politician and captains of industry make reference to this (for them) calamity that is creeping over present-day society. They predict the end of all things should the Labour Party come to power. And, as we think, for very good reasons. It is customary on the part of many who profess Marxism to laugh at such bourgeois fears. What possible reason, it is asked, is there for apprehension in capitalist circles? And in face of the incompetency, the muddling and even open treachery of a number of Labour Leaders, there is certainly much reason for doubting. It is true there is often little to distinguish between, say, a speech by Ramsay MacDonald and Baldwin, or Sidney Webb and Sir John Simon. And if social changes depended upon the speeches of our Labourists, the ruling class could very well go to sleep, secure in the possession of their gains and privileges. But the great social changes imminent are neither likely to consult nor consider the desires of bourgeois or Labourist. Social changes are inherent in the very grain of our modern industrial system. Their class character may not always be apparent. They may be arrested for a time; they cannot be turned back.

Because of this we, who are working for the release of the forces making for social revolution, or for the removal of those obstacles which stand in the way of social change, cannot afford to under-estimate this alarm in the bourgeois camp. It would be a fatal mistake, for example, to attribute the speeches of Churchill or Lloyd George (who never fail to ring the alarm bell) to mere hysteria or demagogy. There is always a method in the madness of these apparent political harlequinades. On the other hand, encouragement in the belief that the Labour Party is either not fit to govern, or, if allowed to do so, would prove more bourgeois than the capitalists themselves, is to renounce the very fundamental basis of our working-class movement, namely, the struggle for power. Such an attitude is tantamount to supporting reaction. And we must frankly say it is a disease in some quarters of our Party. It finds its reflex especially in the doubts and fears as to the correctness of the tactic of the United Front, with special reference to the criticisms of the Labour Party.

Then with regard to the point of the Labour Party and its obligations to the Labour movement. The Communist Party was the first to bring into the open and draw attention to the criminal decision on the part of the Labour Government as soon as they took office, to cut themselves adrift from the organised Labour Party and the general Trade Union Congress to which they owe their positions and to whom they ought to have been responsible; to disown the Labour movement and to declare quite openly that they held their office in trust for His Majesty, King George, and not for the organised Labour movement of this country. Comrades, the importance of this cannot be minimised.

We know what Jimmie Thomas is; we know what Johnny Clynes is; we know what these erstwhile leaders of the Labour movement who are in office at the present time, but we must emphasise this fact, we will not lose an opportunity of drawing the attention of the workers to the fact that those people who have been put into office, whether for good or ill, to express the organised will of the Labour movement—that as soon as they get into some particular bourgeois office they have been prepared to kick the ladder from beneath their feet and go right over, to the camp of the bourgeoisie. We want to get the workers to understand that when their leaders are pushed forward to take office they do so on behalf of the organised workers as a whole, and that they should hold their positions in trust for the working class, and be prevented from separating themselves from the organised working class. Yon get, for example, MacDonald as soon as he is in office writing about the importance of the benchers, and all kinds of beautiful phrases of democracy and so forth, and all the time contained in this beautiful writing was inherent a repudiation of definite Party control over the leaders of the organisation, paving the way for the day when he would be able to stand up and say, “I hold my position in trust for His Majesty, King George,” and I am not responsible to the Labour Party or the General Trade Union Congress, although I am quite willing to consider sympathetically any proposal or resolution that the Labour Party has do put before me.

We have also got to place on record the fact that as soon as the Labour Party in the 1922 election got its magnificent vote, we got then the first indication that the Labour Party leadership at all events was going to travel along the lines of the old Liberal Party. It issued its manifesto, and declared it had now to carry forward the great principles of radicalism. The result is that to-day we see the Labour Party being converted into a Liberal Party in order to justify its claims to carry forward the great traditions of radicalism. In the same way you get MacDonald at the Independent Labour Party Conference in the absurd position of going there as Prime Minister and simply talking to it in the same manner that Lloyd George talked to the Trade Union Congress when he bad occasion to use that Congress.

Thomas Hastie Bell 1867-1942

A short biography of leading Scottish anarchist Tom Bell, a marine engineer and propagandist who travelled the world, finally settling in the US.

Thomas Hastie Bell was born in Edinburgh in 1867. He should not be confused with another Tom Bell, fellow Scot , Red Clydesider and one of the founders of the Communist Party. He acquired fluency in French, Italian, Spanish and German thanks to his job as a ship’s engineer, visiting all the Mediterranean countries, South Africa, the United States and South America.

As a young man he joined the Scottish Land and Labour League and in the 1880s became an anarchist through his association with the Socialist League. He was active in the Freedom group in London. In 1892 he returned to Edinburgh and carried on intense anarchist propaganda with J. Blair Smith and McCabe. He established a friendship there with Patrick Geddes, the biologist and town planner and persuaded him to bring over Elisée Reclus, the anarchist and geographer, to lecture at Edinburgh University. Emma Goldman mentions Bell “of whose propagandistic zeal and daring we had heard much in America”.

Staying in Paris he had urged French anarchists to have open-air meetings, but they were reluctant. He went to the Place de la Republique, one of the most central and busiest squares, after having distributed handbills about meeting there the following Sunday afternoon. There was a big crowd there, also plenty of policemen. He climbed up a lamp-post padlocked to a crosspiece and started speaking. The police called for a file, but he continued speaking till his voice gave out and then nonchalantly produced the key. Police then threatened him with prosecution for “insults to the Army and the law” but all Paris laughed and the authorities decided not to prosecute. After 2 weeks in jail he was expelled as “too dangerous a man to be allowed loose in France”. He married the anarchist John Turner’s sister Lizzie.

On the visit of Tsar Nicholas II to Britain, Bell went with McCabe to Leith where he was landing. Separated and although surrounded by Highlanders, territorials and infantry, Bell and McCabe got through to the Tsar’s carriage and shouted in his face “Down with the Russian tyrant! To hell with all the empires!”. Again the authorities were not inclined to prosecute, because a Scottish jury would probably throw out any charges.

In 1898, Bell, who suffered from asthma all his life, went back to London and got a job as the (long-suffering) secretary to the man of letters Frank Harris, famous for his friendship with Oscar Wilde and his womanising, as revealed in his Life and Loves. Harris is suspected of stealing Bell’s experiences as a cowboy near the Mexican border for his own fake cowboy memories.

Through Harris, Bell got to know Edward Carpenter, Havelock Ellis, George Bernard Shaw and others. Bell wrote a book about Wilde in his Oscar Wilde Without Whitewash in memory of those times, unfortunately never published. After 7 years in that position, he had a disagreement with Harris over the latter’s biography, which he thought was unjust to Wilde.

He went to New York in 1905, and in 1911 finally settled in the United States for good, becoming a farmer in Phoenix, Arizona. He spent the last 20 years of his life in Los Angeles. Both Bell’s wife Lizzie Turner and his sister Jessie Bell Westwater emigrated with him to the USA and were involved in the movement. Throughout his life he remained active in the movement, maintaining lifelong friendships with Kropotkin, Emma Goldman, Alexander Berkman and Rudolf Rocker.

Rocker said, “I saw him again in Los Angeles, when he was an old man. He was ill. His mop of red hair and his bushy beard were now white. His giant frame (he was well over six foot) was bent. But his mind was active he was still working and speaking for the movement”.

In a letter to the Yiddish anarchist paper Die Fraye Arbeter Shtime in 1940, Bell declared, “We become in our old age crabby, blind, deaf, lame or asthmatic. And our movement is now completely overwhelmed in a gigantic world-wide wave of reaction. But, ah, when I look back to the glorious days and the glorious comrades of our young movement, I am stirred to the depths by affection and pride”.

Kathmandu by Thomas Bell – review

W hen he was a student, Thomas Bell wanted to go to Africa to become a foreign correspondent, “but I realised there are very few African countries that British people are ever at all interested in, and those were already covered”. After a pause to shift continents, Nepal seemed to fit the bill. A drunk crown prince had just massacred the royal family, and in the countryside a Maoist insurgency was in full swing. Bell arrived in the capital, Kathmandu, to find a city full of gleaming SUVs – parliamentarians had just voted to allow themselves each to buy one tax-free – and where “on each Buddhist rooftop flies the stripy flag, like a gay pride banner, of Theravada Buddhism”.

It’s a city that’s in the news again – the first anniversary of the shattering earthquake that killed nearly 9,000 people is on 25 April and Bell was there to witness and record the devastation. Now, in Kathmandu, he tells the story of the city both before and, to an extent, after the quake. It’s his attempt to unravel the twisting history of the streets he finds himself in, though the answers he gets aren’t always much more illuminating than the time when he asked an old woman “why a ritual (bewilderingly elaborate in my eyes, though hardly out of the ordinary) was done the way it was. Her answer was duly translated: ‘For the same reason you wash your arse after shitting’.”

But then this isn’t so much a standard history as an amiable ramble around Nepal’s past. It’s a past that lasted longer than most: slavery existed until the 1920s the country was closed to foreigners until 1951. Even in the early 60s, “money was still considered the latest innovation”. Bell’s approach isn’t entirely orthodox – alongside the accounts of 19th-century historians, he includes anecdotes of his friends and neighbours. So it is, we learn, that a friend of his grandfather had a servant to undo the string on their pyjamas and “hold their dick while they pissed, shake the drops off, and put it back for them”.

But it’s all the more readable for it. And he vividly recounts episodes from Nepal’s more recent history, which he covered for the Daily Telegraph. “Since 1951,” he notes, “revolution has been followed by royal coup followed by revolution followed by royal coup followed by revolution.”

He’s there for at least a couple of them, travelling into the hills to meet Maoist rebels during the decade-long civil war, while trying to piece together what’s happening behind the scenes. It’s only after the war ends that he learns about Operation Mustang, an MI6 counter-insurgency operation that supported the monarchy and was, he believes – and tries to provide evidence for – involved in the disappearance of hundreds of people, still missing six years after the war ended.

Bell’s plan was to stay for two years but more than a decade on, he’s still there, acquiring a Nepalese wife and children but losing none of his outsider edge. And it’s this, perhaps, that provides the last third of the book with its firepower. I met Bell when I went to Nepal last year after the earthquake and he’s one of the most trenchant critics of both the shortcomings of the government and the failure of western aid agencies to address those failings. The country is, he says, a “rentier state… stagnant and surprisingly stable”.

A narrow class of educated, urban, high-caste Nepalese have continued to accrue wealth and power, and while aid has flowed into the country, only a tiny amount, he claims, has gone to the people who need it most. Sixty two per cent of children leave government schools without a single qualification and the country languishes near the bottom of more or less every index: one of the most unequal nations on earth among the poorest countries in Asia. “Nepali hill villages are almost always picturesque,” he writes, “bearing no relation to how sad they are.”

Some of the most damning evidence is in one of his footnotes, where he quotes a development expert, professor Mick Moore, giving evidence to the House of Commons international development committee: “I have rarely seen as corrupt a country as Nepal,” he says, which is “partly just people stealing money” but also “people setting the system up so they can stay in power to carry on stealing money”.

Bell writes about how he’d find himself “thinking obsessively” where he’d be during the next, often predicted quake, “when the walls open like curtains of bricks”. In an epilogue, he writes about the 7.8-magnitude earthquake that struck a year ago and how, like so many things in Nepal, it disproportionately affected the poor. Natural disasters happen, but Bell’s anger is at what has followed it. A new constitution, the result of years of negotiation following the end of the war, was rushed through and an opportunity to reset Nepal’s future lost. “It’s one of the most dismal times I’ve known. The same men who are in charge now were in charge a quarter of a century ago.”

It’s a depressing note to end on. The best case scenario, he says, is that “things muddle on”. The only consolation perhaps is that, as his book shows, things always have.

However, Mountain Men is coming back for a Season 8.

The next installment of Mountain Men will premiere on June 6 on the cable network. According to the synopsis of the premiere episode, "Morgan and Margaret fly north to track down the great caribou migration and secure meat Marty preps his trapline for the arrival of his daughter Eustace takes on an apprentice Kidd and Harry rescue horses from a pack of hungry wolves." 

You might notice a name missing from that synopsis and that is because the History Channel has just confirmed that an original cast member did not return for Season 8. 

Fan favorite Tom Oar, 76, made the decision to leave the hit series. But, why?! Tom has reportedly left Montana for the winter to retire with his wife Nancy in Florida. 

Tom Horn: Wyoming Enigma

Tried, convicted and hanged in 1903 in Cheyenne for a murder he almost certainly did not commit, Tom Horn was an enigmatic range detective in the employ of ranchers who controlled large tracts of land in southeastern Wyoming and northwestern Colorado.

Even today, he has a reputation as a killer hired to exterminate cattle rustlers, but in his own words his work was “that of a detective”—to patrol the range and look for cattle that were out of place—that is, away from the customary ranges of their owners.

Horn remains controversial for two reasons: first, because of doubts that he actually killed 14-year-old Willie Nickell at Iron Mountain, northwest of Cheyenne, on July 18, 1901, and second, because of the questionable nature of his trial. By then, he already had led an eventful life in a West that was evolving from frontier territory to a place more settled and economically developed.

Born in Scotland County, Mo., in 1860, Horn left home at the age of 14, according to his own account, and ended up in Arizona Territory by way of various livestock and stage-driving jobs, in Kansas and New Mexico. He was smart, tough and had an excellent ear for speech, quickly picking up Spanish and, later, some of the Apache language.

While still in his teens, he went to work for Al Sieber, chief of scouts for the U.S. Army in its campaigns against the Apache. In 1886, Horn escorted the Army column that captured the famed Apache leader, Geronimo, for the final time.

In 1891, the Pinkerton National Detective Agency hired Horn to pursue bandits who had robbed the Denver and Rio Grande train near Cañon City, Colo. Over the next decade, Horn did other jobs for the Pinkertons.

Tom Horn came to Wyoming in the late 1880s or early 1890s, his services apparently solicited secretly by prominent ranchers. Ranchers Ora Haley, John Coble, Coble’s partner Frank Bosler and, probably, the huge Swan Land and Cattle Company almost certainly were among his employers.

At that time the owners of large herds of cattle were struggling to survive in a business that just a decade before was making them rich. In the 1880s, they ruled their ranges like private fiefdoms. Most had little concept of the true carrying capacity of those ranges, however, and stocked them with more cattle than the land could support.

Cattle prices peaked in 1882, drawing more money to the industry and bringing more cattle to the land. Soon there was a beef glut. Prices began to fall, yet no one could think of anything to do but acquire even more cattle—weakening the ranges further and driving prices farther down. When a bad drought in 1886 was followed by the terrible winter of 1886-1887, the cattle business was nearly wiped out.

Many ranchers went out of business. Many longstanding cowboys and more recent immigrants to the Territory took up homesteads and other small land claims of their own. The once-powerful Wyoming Stock Growers Association found both its membership and its revenues from dues shrinking drastically.

Some of the cattlemen who survived began publicly blaming all their problems on cattle theft. Rustling was definitely a factor, but only one of many difficulties facing ranchers who owned large tracts of land. Claiming they were forced to make an example of thieves, cattlemen lynched homesteaders Ella Watson and Jim Averell on the Sweetwater River in 1889. When that crime went unpunished, leading men of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association led a private army of 50 men into Johnson County in northern Wyoming in 1892 to kill suspected rustlers there. They murdered two men, but those crimes, too, went unpunished.

Association Secretary Thomas Sturgis echoed a viewpoint common among the association’s members, and often repeated by newspapers under their control, when, in 1886, he blamed the problem on sympathetic juries that would not convict cattle thieves:

[I]t is very difficult to get an indictment from a grand jury [even] with pretty definite evidence as to the guilt of the party charged with stealing cattle. … There seems to be a morbid sympathy with cattle thieves both on the bench and in the jury room….[

It would be impossible for the Association . to undertake to bring the parties referred to, to justice. In the first place, we have no money at our disposal. … Circumstances have forced cattlemen to look to themselves for protection outside of any association.…

Public outcry against the Sweetwater lynchings and the Johnson County Invasion was widespread. After the invasion, in the elections of 1892, the cattlemen’s political hold on the state weakened. And suddenly sheepmen, too, were bringing their flocks onto ranges cattlemen had long thought of as their own. But many cattlemen’s attitudes toward their difficulties appear not to have changed much. They still thought rustlers were the cause of their woes, but they began to deal with those woes in secret. Enter Tom Horn.

While no fixed date has been established for Horn’s arrival in Wyoming, the correspondence of U.S. Marshal Joseph P. Rankin shows Horn was in the state by May 1892, when Rankin deputized him to investigate a murder in the aftermath of the Johnson County invasion. Rankin believed Horn was working for the Pinkertons at the same time.

By 1895, Horn was most likely working for private interests when he was suspected of murdering two settlers. The first, William Lewis, was an immigrant from England who settled on Horse Creek northwest of Cheyenne. In previous years, Lewis had been jailed for stealing clothing and cheating a boy at a faro game. At the time of his death Lewis was suspected of cattle theft, and was under a court order to refrain from butchering cattle.

On July 31, as Lewis was loading a skinned beef into a wagon, three shots hit him.

Tom Horn was suspected, and subpoenaed to appear at the coroner’s inquest in Cheyenne. More than a dozen witnesses testified, including Horn and rancher William L. Clay. Clay and Horn both testified that Horn had been in Bates Hole south of Casper at the time of the murder. Horn was exonerated.

Two months later, Fred U. Powell, who homesteaded west of the Laramie Range and in Albany County, was shot and killed. Powell’s hired hand, Andrew Ross, was the only other person on the ranch at the time. Ross testified at the inquest that he heard one shot, found his employer’s body and fled.

Powell’s wife, Mary, and young son, Billy, were in Laramie at the time of the murder. But at the inquest Billy was in court and, upon seeing Tom Horn, cried out, “Mama, that’s the man who killed Daddy.” How the boy could make a statement like that when he was not present at the murder remains a major question, but the prosecutor in Horn’s trial years later would use it against the detective. Despite Billy’s sudden outburst, Horn was not charged in connection with the Powell murder.

But these crimes, and rumors of other killings, had by 1895 already solidified Horn’s intimidating reputation.

In 1914, Philadelphia physician Charles Penrose, who briefly accompanied the 1892 invasion of Johnson County but left before the killing began, wrote his recollections. Penrose included a vivid description of Horn as he was in 1895, as told to him by W. C. “Billy” Irvine, president of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association during the 1890s.

At the time, Wyoming Governor W.A. Richards was experiencing cattle thefts on his own ranges in northwest Wyoming. As Penrose recounts Irvine’s story, Richards and Irvine encountered each other walking toward the Capitol, where both the governor and the Stock Growers Association had offices at the time:

When we reached the building he said, “Come into my office I want to see you.” He immediately laid his troubles at the ranch before me [Irvine told Penrose], and we discussed the situation quite fully.

He finally said he would like to meet Tom Horn, but hesitated to have him come to the Governor’s office. I said, “Stroll in my office at the other end of the hall at three o’clock this afternoon, and I will have him there….” [At the meeting] the Governor was quite nervous, so was I, Horn perfectly cool. He talked generally, was careful of his ground he told the Governor he would either drive every rustler out of Big Horn County, or take no pay other than $350 advanced to buy two horses and a pack outfit. When he had finished the job to the Governor’s satisfaction, he should receive $5,000, because, he said in conclusion, “whenever everything else fails, I have a system which never does.” He placed no limit on the number of men to be gotten rid of. This almost stunned the Governor. He immediately showed an inclination to shorten the interview. [After Horn left] the Governor said to me, “So that is Tom Horn! A very different man from what I expected to meet. Why, he is not bad‑looking, and is quite intelligent but a cool devil, ain’t he?”

Horn continued to work as a detective through the late 1890s. In 1900, many historians have concluded, Horn murdered two suspected cattle thieves, Matt Rash and Isom Dart, in Brown’s Park, where the Colorado, Utah and Wyoming borders intersect. A foreman for the ranchers who hired Horn was quite firm, in an account written down 20 years later, that Horn had done the crimes. The crimes received little notice in Wyoming.

After the Nickell murder in July 1901, the county commissioners in Cheyenne hired sometime stock detective and sometime deputy U.S. Marshal Joe LeFors, to investigate that crime.

In December 1901, LeFors received the first of several letters from a former boss in Miles City, Mont., that spoke of a need for a range detective to investigate rustling in the area. LeFors forwarded the letters to Tom Horn, apparently to induce him to respond.

Apparently taking the bait, Horn went from John Coble’s place in Bosler where he had been living at the time to Cheyenne on Saturday, Jan. 11, 1902, probably stayed up all night drinking and accompanied LeFors to the U.S. Marshal’s office on 16th Street (now 210 West Lincolnway) the next morning.

LeFors secreted two people, a stenographer and a witness, behind a locked door. Over the course of a couple of hours, LeFors led Horn into making a series of incriminating remarks about the Nickell killing. The most damaging was, “It was the best shot that I ever made and the dirtiest trick I ever done.” The stenographer recorded and transcribed these comments, which were used as key evidence in Horn’s trial.

The trial, held just before the November 1902 election, was tainted by politics. Prosecutor Walter R. Stoll and presiding judge Richard Scott were both up for re-election. Public interest was intense, and the event received widespread newspaper coverage in Wyoming and Colorado.

Horn’s lawyers included some of the best known in the state, including John W. Lacey, a former chief justice of Wyoming Territory, and T. Blake Kennedy, later a federal judge. But they had a client who on the stand became his own worst enemy. Horn’s oversized ego apparently caused him to challenge the prosecutor, and Horn’s own testimony destroyed an alibi placing him 20 miles from the site of the murder just an hour after it happened.

Horn’s lawyers closed by emphasizing that all the evidence was circumstantial, and that Horn’s supposed confession was nothing but drunken boasts.

Stoll, in closing arguments for the prosecution, posited that Horn killed Willie Nickell in order to keep the boy from reporting on his presence in the area. The jurors accepted this as a motive, but in all likelihood, given the anti-Horn press coverage and their poorly enforced sequestration, they made up their minds before they left the courtroom to deliberate.

Horn was hanged at the Cheyenne jail on Nov. 20, 1903. Although he might have murdered Willie Nickell, he probably did not. There was no direct material or testimonial evidence to prove that he did commit the crime.

The confession he gave to LeFors was given while he was drunk, Horn was a known boaster, and neither LeFors nor any other authorities tried to investigate anyone else. (The Nickells, for example, had been feuding for years with their neighbors the Millers. A strong case can be made that Jim Miller mistook Willie Nickell for his irascible father, Kels, that morning in 1901, and shot him to settle old scores.) Horn, it seems clear, was convicted because his reputation made him an easy target for the prosecution.

Horn remains an enigma because of the lingering controversies over whether he killed Willie Nickell and over the nature of the trial.

Even more important than questions of his guilt, however, was the political shift in Wyoming shown by the fact that Horn, friend of the barons, was convicted and executed. Their power, once substantial, was on the wane. Ordinary Wyoming citizens were growing intolerant of their heavy-handed actions.

Tom Bell - History

Always looking for any unusual (fluted shaft, rope shaft, pencil shaft, potbelly shaft, etc.) shaped Candlestick style Telephones like shown to the left and any Charles Williams Jr. tap bells, coffin style telephones or other early Bell Telephone Co. equipment.

The "Old Man" and his "Best Telephone Buddy" checking out a Gray Telephone Pay Station Co. Cabinet Model No. 1 "Silver Dollar" Pay Station. A 1900 Western Electric Type 85F fiddleback with a 7A Nickel coin collector can be seen in the background.

Roots: I was born in a small rural Alabama town. I joined the US Marines in 1961 at age 17, and spent 6 years as an Air Borne Navigator, mostly in C-130's at Cherry Point, NC & Iwakuni, Japan. I spent the next 33 years with the Federal Aviation Administration as an Air Traffic Controller all over the Southeast, retiring in North Carolina.

I have collected old stuff since I was 11 years old and am still going strong 65 years later. I started with stamps, moved to coins, and by the time I was in my early 20's, I was collecting telephones. I have been fortunate enough to assemble a small collection of rare and wonderful old phones from the pre-1900's.

As my collector interest changed over the years, I moved into other areas, including Cash Registers, Slot Machines, Penny Arcade, Gum Ball and other Coin Op collectibles. I also like Firefighting collectibles, Music Boxes and Phonographs, Carousel Horses, and Barber Shop stuff.

I never lost interest in telephones and today, they are still my main interest. I am always looking for quality items that fall within my areas of interest. I mostly buy and trade, but occasionally sell. Should you have anything that you consider odd or unusual in any of these areas and wish to dispose of them, I would appreciate your contacting me via my contact page. Thanks for looking and have a great day.

On this day in Jamaican History: Thom Bell songwriter of “‘La-La (Means I Love You)” fame was born in Jamaica

On January 25, 1943, songwriter, record producer, and music arranger Thomas Randolph Bell, better known as Thom Bell, was born in Kingston, Jamaica. Bell was the driving force behind the “Philadelphia sound,” R&B, soul, and pop music in the 1960s and 1970s.

Bell’s songwriting credits include ‘La-La (Means I Love You)’ by The Delfonics (1968),‘Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time)’ by The Delfonics (1969), ‘Stop, Look, Listen (To Your Heart)’ by The Stylistics (1971), ‘You Are Everything’ by The Stylistics (1971), Betcha by Golly, Wow’ by The Stylistics (1972), ‘I’ll Be Around’ by The Spinners (1972), ‘I’m Stone in Love with You’ by The Stylistics (1972), ‘Break Up to Make Up’ by The Stylistics (1973), ‘You Make Me Feel Brand New’ by The Stylistics (1974), and ‘The Rubberband Man’ by The Spinners (1976).

Along with these songs, Bell produced others like ‘Could It Be I’m Falling in Love’ and ‘Games People Play’ for The Spinners, Ronnie Dyson’s ‘Just Don’t Wanna Be Lonely’, Dionne Warwick’s ‘Track of the Cat’ album, James Ingram’s ‘I Don’t Have the Heart’, and Elton John’s ‘The Thom Bell Sessions’ EP.

Together with Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, Bell was one of the major initiators of the lush soul style known as the Philadelphia sound, which was one of the most popular and influential genres of the 1970s.

Bell studied classical music and at the age of 19 worked as conductor and arranger for Chubby Checker. After a few months, he started to write original songs for Checker and ultimately joined the singer’s production company. When that company dissolved, Bell became a session pianist at Cameo Records where he worked with the Delfonics, a local soul group. After their manager created the Philly Groove label in 1968, Bell joined as a producer, working on the Delphonics classics like “La Means I Love You” and 1970’s “Didn’t I Blow Your Mind This Time.”He produced two singles for the group on the Moonglow label as well.

After Bell joined the record production firm run by Gamble and Huff, he worked as an arranger for performers including Jerry Butler, Archie Bell & The Drells, The O’Jays and Dusty Springfield. He arranged some of the early big hits, including the O’Jays’ “Back Stabbers”, on Gamble & Huff’s own record label, Philadelphia International Records, which launched in 1971.

Bell began producing another local group The Stylistics by 1971 on the Avco Records label. He had partnered with Linda Creed by then, and this partnership with participation from Russell Thompson Jr. The Stylistics lead singer generated three exceptional albums and made them one of the era’s dominant songwriting teams.

In 1972, Bell agreed to produce The Spinners for Atlantic Records. The group had been with Motown Records but joined Atlantic when they didn’t get enough attention from Motown. This led to a very successful collaboration that lasted for seven years and eight original albums. With Bell, the group produced five gold albums with songs like “I’ll Be Around”, “Could It Be I’m Falling in Love”, “Games People Play”, and “The Rubberband Man”. In 1975, Bell received a Grammy for Best Producer of the Year.

Also in 1975 Bell produced an album with Dionne Warwick, “Track of the Cat.” This was a year after Bell, Warwick and The Spinners made “Then Came You,” which topped Billboard’s Hot 100 charts and reached Number 2 on the R&B chart.

Bell had gone on to success with Deniece Williams, with her R&B #1 and Top 10 re-make of The Royalettes’ “It’s Gonna Take a Miracle” in 1982


Our story begins little more than 200 years ago when hardy pioneers began venturing into the wilderness North of the Ohio River. Heavily wooded hillsides and deep ravines meant the Bell Acres area never became heavily populated and was commonly referred to as the “hills back of Sewickley” or “back in the country” where farming was the way of life.

In 1854, a group of Ohio Township residents successfully petitioned the court to cede from Ohio and form Sewickley Township, not to be confused with Sewickley Borough that was organized the previous year. The new Sewickley Township included what is today Bell Acres, Leet, Leetsdale, Edgeworth and portions of Sewickley Heights and Sewickley Hills.

After the secessions of what became neighboring communities, the remaining Sewickley Township progressed at its own unhurried pace. For much of the 20th century, the township remained rural with scattered farms and one-room schools. Shopping and business were conducted in nearby Sewickley and Ambridge.

Sewickley Township transitioned into Bell Acres Borough in 1960, becoming a highly desirable residential community noted for valuing its parks and natural areas. Part of the Quaker Valley School District, the 5.5 square mile borough with a population of approximately 1400 residents is located above the Ohio River twenty miles Northwest of Pittsburgh. The following articles tell the story of the people and events that created the community we call home. Enjoy!

Bell Acres History is a series of brief articles on a variety of topics related to Bell Acres and the surrounding area.

Back in the Country…Bell Acres Stories offers a more detailed look at the 200 years of history that shaped Bell Acres Borough.


In November of 1973, Rick Zehetner founded a new private ambulance service on Milwaukee’s Northwest side, along with two partners. Due to Rick’s knowledge and experience, the new ambulance service was immediately successful.

During 1975 there was much discussion in the community as to what direction the City of Milwaukee should take regarding provision of ambulance service because of the new Federal ambulance standards, the old Police ambulance had to go. In October Rick presented a proposal for the City to license and regulate private ambulance service providers so that they could participate in the City’s new EMS system. The proposal called for the Milwaukee Fire Department Rescue Squads and engine companies to be first responders, calling in the licensed private ambulance service to make the conveyance.

The proposal went nowhere!

On January 1st, 1976 Rick and his partners bought a competitor, Bell Ambulance, and ran it as a separate business on the Southwest side of Milwaukee.

During 1976 and 1977 Rick had a series of meetings with Milwaukee Health Commissioner Dr. Constantine Panagis and Common Council President John Kalwitz to discuss private ambulance participation in the City EMS System. They liked his plan, and recommended it to the Common Council and to Mayor Henry Maier.

On January 1st, 1977 Rick bought his partners’ interest in Bell Ambulance, and became the sole owner. Bell had a rented station and an office at 57th and National Avenue our entire fleet consisted of two 1976 Dodge vans and one 1977 Dodge van!

In the fall of 1977, Rick’s idea for private ambulance participation in the Milwaukee EMS System was adopted by City ordinance. On January 1st, 1978, the new Milwaukee EMS System with Private Ambulance Participation became effective, with Bell Ambulance as one of the inaugural licensed participants.

Since then Bell Ambulance has been working closely with The Milwaukee Fire Department to provide high quality, efficient and cost-effective EMS service to the citizens of Milwaukee! In the last several years this relationship has become a true partnership, focusing more on patient outcomes, and ignoring petty rivalries.

Since then… We have grown from rented quarters on the Southwest side, to nine modern locations in Milwaukee and Waukesha Counties. Bell Station #3, at Vel R. Phillips Avenue and Walnut Street in Milwaukee is the largest ambulance station in Wisconsin, with a capacity of 24 ambulances.

Since then… We have grown from three van ambulances to a fleet of 65 late model ambulances, all custom designed and built to our specifications.

Since then… We have grown from doing predominantly non-emergency transports to providing BLS emergency and non-emergency private and 911 transports to providing ALS Paramedic emergency and non-emergency transports to providing service to the Children’s Wisconsin Critical Care transport team to becoming the largest Critical Care Paramedic transport service in the state!

Since then… We have grown from one dispatcher to as many as seven on duty at once. Our dispatchers staffing our new dispatch center at Station #1 have been certified and accredited by the International Academy of Emergency Dispatch as EMD. This assures that each request for emergency service is properly handled and coordinated.

Since then… We have grown to become the largest ambulance provider in the State of Wisconsin, with more than 400 employees, answering more than 100,000 calls for ambulance service each year.

We have grown. because we strive to exceed every client’s expectations.

We have grown. because we provide the best service, with the best equipment, and the best people!

Bell South Corp Selected Important Corporate Changes

01/01/1984Owners of AT&T on 12/31/1983 received 1/10 share of Bell South for every share of AT&T held. Their cost basis in the shares was deemed to be 13.5319% of their previous cost basis in AT&T.
05/22/19843 for 1 Stock Split
02/23/19873 for 2 Stock Split
04/04/1989Merged in Mobile Communications Corp of America. Shareholders of which received .702 shares of Bell South for each share of their company.
11/08/19952 for 1 Stock Split
12/24/19982 for 1 Stock Split
05/28/1997Merged in Wireless Cable of Atlanta Inc. Shareholders of which received .483 shares of Bell South for each share of their company.
12/29/2006Acquired by AT&T. Shareholders of Bell South received 1.325 shares of AT&T for each share of Bell South.

*For a visual chart of AT&T Inc. /Southwestern Bell/SBC corporate changes, visit AT&T Inc Chart.