Nestled in the southwestern part of Calhoun County, Georgia lies the land of the Bell family. The heritage of the ownership of these properties is as rich as that of the land itself.
Bell Plantation actually started in Scotland almost 1,000 years ago. The Bells were part of the McMillan Clan and fought with William Wallace at the Battle of Stirling in 1297. Five hundred years later, the English exiled the Scottish Highlanders to America, and the Bells were with them. They first came to North Carolina, and later to Georgia.
Hugh Bell was the son of Revolutionary War veteran John Bell. Hugh married Rebecca Viggra when she was 15 years old, and she birthed her first child at age 16 in 1805. In 1825, Hugh and Rebecca brought their family from Evans, GA, and they bought their first tract of land on Pachitla Creek in 1826. The Bells had their 17th child, Andrew Jackson Bell, in 1841 when Rebecca was 52 years old.
“Jack” Bell was among the first from Calhoun County to enlist in the Confederate Army, joining the 12th Georgia Infantry in June 1861. Of 300 men that served in the Calhoun Rifles, Jack was one of only 9 men surviving to surrender at Appomattox.
After the war, as well as being a planter and landowner, Jack owned various agribusiness interests including a cotton gin, the Bell grist mill, and a mercantile store. Jack made investments in land with his first purchase in 1868. In 1871, he purchased the land where the present-day Bell Plantation headquarters is located. In total, he owned almost 10,000 acres. During this year, he also married Lucretia Little. They lost all of their sons, but three daughters survived to adulthood.
Eva Mae Bell married John Warren Andrews in the 1880s and they farmed near Jack’s home. Donnie Andrews was their daughter. She married Olan Sanders from Carnegie, GA. They moved to Edison, raising three children, including Don Sanders.
Olan Sanders was successful in agribusiness, building on the land-management traditions of his father - Oscar Sanders - and his wife’s family. In the early 1900s, Olan and Donnie owned a general store and shingle mill at the Turman crossroads. Olan farmed much of the same ground as Jack Bell had, raising peanuts, corn, and wheat. He was a champion cattleman, favoring the Black Angus breed.
The Farm Life
Row crops were the mainstay of agriculture on Bell Plantation until the 1970s. But changes in agriculture and a new generation of stewardship were about to shift the property in another direction.
Timber management came to Bell Plantation in 1972 when Don Sanders planted the first managed pine timber on the property and that is now being managed for pine pulpwood, saw-lumber, and pole production. The Bell property has been recognized for stewardship in land management and silviculture.
Hunting has long been a tradition for the Bells. In the 1960s and ‘70s, dove abounded in the area, in the 1980s and ‘90s, the deer population rose, and many champion deer have been harvested from the property. Later, the maturity of the timber tracts gave rise to hunting for bobwhite quail.
Special events for church, civic, and business groups have been hosted at the property. Bell Plantation supports our nation’s military through the Purple Heart Outdoor Tour and other events. We are also pleased to honor those serving in the law enforcement community. The Military & Police Appreciation Day is also a highlight of activities at the property.