Montgomery Bell Takes Over Cumberland Furnace Works

by admin on September 19th, 2003

Selected excerpts from
Cumberland Furnace, A frontier Industrial Village
by : George E. Jackson

Bell,the youngest of ten children, was born o­n January 3, 1769, in West Fallowfield Township ( now Highland), Chester County, Pennsylvania. His parents were John Bell and Mary Montgomery Patterson who were Scotch-Irish Presbyterians.

In 1802 Bell decided to come to Tennessee to stay. He gave his hat business to his nephew, Patterson Bean, sold some of his property and, in September 1802 appointed his lawyer power of attorney to liquidate his remaining assets.

…. Bell apparently worked for Robertson. By 1804, the last of his property in Kentucky was sold. The same year Bell paid Robertson $16,000 for the 640-acre furnace tract.

Montgomery Bell lost no time in making his mark. A year after Bell arrived, Dickson County was formed. He was o­ne of the first justices of the peace, served o­n the committee to select a location for a county set and was appointed to Dickson County's first school board.

Bell's civic duties did not keep him from his iron business. He improved Robertson's Furnace and made plans for his iron plantation to be more self-sufficient. The operation had need of more woodland for charcoal. his gristmill and an up-down sawmill would require more water power. The fact that the county would not permit Robertson to dam Furnace Creek did not stop Bell in 1805 from petitioning the county court to build o­ne. Bell was not o­nly a shrewd business man; he was also mechanically inclined, which played a big part in his success as Tennessee's greatest iron-master prior to the Civil War.

Before 1820, a great portion of Bell's production was for the United States. With help from his brother, Patterson, acting as surety, Montgomery Bell received a contract from the federal government to furnish cannon balls, gun powder, and whiskey.


Order the full version of the book!

Cumberland Furnace, A frontier Industrial Village
By George E. Jackson, copyright 1994 by George E. Jackson
Published by : The Donning Company, Publishers

Any profit from the sale of this book will be equally divided between the Cumberland Furnace Historic Village, Inc., and the Dickson County Historical Society

To order: Send $12.50 ( includes shipping) to :
George E. Jackson
206 Bellwood Cir.
Dickson, Tn. 37055

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