James Franklin Bell
(January 9, 1856 – January 8, 1919) was Chief of Staff of the United States Army
from 1906 to 1910.
Bell was a major-general
in the Regular United States Army
, commanding the Department of the East, with headquarters at Governors Island
, New York
at the time of his death in 1919. He entered West Point
in 1874, and graduated 38th in a class of 43 in 1878, with a commission as second lieutenant
of 9th Cavalry Regiment
, a black unit.
Bell was born to John Wilson and Sarah Margaret Venable (Allen) Bell in Shelby County, Kentucky
. His mother died when he was young. Thereafter, two most important women in his life were the black woman who looked after him as a child and the white woman who became his step mother.
During the Civil War, Shelby County was split between Union and Confederate factions. The extended Bell family was strongly in favor of the secession. After the firing on Fort Sumter, John Wilson Bell and his brothers drew lots to determine who would remain at home to look after their parents and who would join the Southern armies. John lost and remained at home. Young James Franklin, "Frank" as he was known to family and friends, thus grew up in a milieu in which slavery was not only accepted and practiced but strongly defended.
He attended the public schools in......