Hi Phyllis - lovely to meet you! Robert John Bell is my husband's grandfather, so your Joseph's brother Richard is my husband's great grandfather.
Robert John changed his name later to John Robert Bell by scratching out the details on his birth certificate, but we got a copy of the original so that is how we found out his birth name. This also told us that he was born in 1880, not 1882 - these Irish, they sure give you the run around. He lived in Christchurch, New Zealand but was married to Esther Mabel DAWSON in Dunedin, NZ in 1912. He died in 1959 in Invercargill while staying with a daughter. He is buried at the Sydenham Cemetery here in Christchurch.
Richard Bell's father (and your Joseph's too) was John Bell but I have no knowledge of his mother. Richard married Martha CAMPBELL on 23 March 1877 at Pomeroy, Northern Ireland and Richard died 28 March 1883 at Coolhill, Co Tyrone. Only a few weeks ago I discovered the Probate dated 22 Sept 1883 where in his will he left his brother Joseph Bell one shilling. The witnesses to the will were John Hinchey, Farmer, Tullyalbun (I think that is what it reads) and James Campbell, Farmer, Farratar (a neighbouring townland). James Campbell may have been his father in law, but the Hinchey I have no knowledge of.
In 2000 we travelled to Northern Ireland and found the farm (now the Knox family farm) in Killeshill and under the bed they had an old leather suitcase which had the mortgage documents relating to the Bell family and the Knox family. Truly an amazing experience, and there is a small hill on the property and on the top are the remains of the foundations of the Bell home. There is a barn built on the site now but some foundations are still visible, as is the stone fence and gateway. We stood at the gateway and looked across to the most beautiful view of rolling Irish countryside - bright green and just magical. The Knox's still call the hill 'Bell's Hill' - their own name for it so the name does still live on!
Robert John's brother James, b1882, settled in the US and lived in Pennsylvania and married Isabella McIntyre. James died in 1952. There were only the 2 Irish boys in the family that we know of, and with their father dying in 1883 that sounds logical. Their mother died in 1898 but I can find no record anywhere of that.
We do indeed live in New Zealand. We live in Christchurch in the South Island. Christchurch is quite an English style of city, with the river Avon meandering through the centre of town and lots of parks and gardens. It is quite beautiful and we have a harbour close by which is part of an extinct volcano. Maybe you could have a look on the internet to see our city.
I would be really appreciative if you could possibly send a copy of your photo of Joseph to us - it would be just wonderful to see him. If you can email it, we are firstname.lastname@example.org
, if not I will contact you with our address.
Once again, lovely to be in contact with you,