Monday, April 19, 2010

Alexander Graham Bell

Alexander Graham Bell
"I'm not your ancestor!!"

My paternal great grandmother, Lorena Murch Fuller ("Gram"), was an avid genealogist. She had a family bible with tons of documents and family tree information. I feel that she would have loved the Internet, and its rapidly evolving methods of cataloging family history.

Gram had always said that there was a family relation from her side, to that of Alexander Graham Bell ("AGB"). Below is a very geeky explanation of my research in an attempt to confirm or refute that claim:

First, here is what I can confirm:

-Gram's mother was Rosa Bell Holland.

-Rosa's paternal grandmother was named Jane Bell, born in 1794 in Dover, Maine, according to Census records, and also according to Rosa's birth certificate (although the Town of Dover can't verify Jane having been born there).

-According to another person's family tree data on Ancestry (no documents, mind you), Jane's father was John Bell, born 1766 in Scotland.

-John Bell had three children, supposedly. Jane, John, and Henry. Henry was born in Nova Scotia (New Scotland)...just two years after Jane was born in Dover. This leads me to believe that Jane may have actually been born in Nova Scotia. (On an interesting side note, Jane’s daughter Margaret married Alexander Bell, Henry’s son. An instance of 1st cousins marrying).

Anyhow, now for what we historically know from AGB's family tree, which is as well documented as any other famous person's, and rests almost entirely in Scotland:

-AGB only had two daughters, who married into the very wealthy Grosvenor and Fairchild names, and neither name appears in our tree to date.

-AGB’s father, Alexander Melville Bell (“AMB”) had two other sons, who died in their 20’s of tuberculosis, Edward and Melville. Edward had no children. Melville had a son, Edward, who died at age 2.

-AMB had a brother, David Charles Bell, born in the Orkney Islands, who had 12 children, and settled in Washington DC. All of David's kids were born between 1840 and if there's a blood relation to Jane Bell it has to go back further than this generation.

-Jane Bell would have been roughly the same age as AMB’s father, Alexander Bell (“AB”). AB's wife was not Jane Bell (remember, Bell was Jane's maiden name). Jane could have been a potential sibling of AB. I haven’t yet discovered proof. I’ve only found AB’s siblings to be named Helen and James. I’ve also discovered a Jane Bell that was AB’s daughter that died at 2 years of age. She may have been named after our Jane Bell. But if Jane is indeed AB's sister, that would mean that AB's father would have to be John Bell from Scotland.

-There is evidence that AB's father was actually named David Bell, from Scotland, where he was born and died.

Now, we're left with only two possibilities:

-David Bell is Jane's AND AB's father, and he somehow came to Nova Scotia or Maine to have her, while also having AB one year prior, IN SCOTLAND.

-John Bell is indeed Jane's father, and is probably a brother or first cousin to David Bell.

I see no evidence that confirms the above two scenarios. Until I come across other information, I have to believe that Gram's assertion that she's related to AGB to be a legend or 'wishful thinking', especially since she was actually born 40 years after him, and it's hard to believe that the sheer volume of Scottish records required from the above assertions would have made it to her family bible.

Sorry Gram...


  1. I'm related to Alexander Graham Bell as well. I've only started looking into things but have been told since I was young about him, FDR, and our relation. My grandmother is a Rosa, English for the Dutch Roosa, and my grandfather is a Miller. Guess I should get off my lazy butt and start researching!

  2. Im living in South Africa and have also been told from young that im related to alexander graham bell. My father had an aunty called Launa Bell White. Where is the best place to go get information?