Bell was elected governor of Texas in 1849 and again in 1851. A few months before the expiration of his second term in 1853 he resigned to fill the vacancy in the United States Congress caused by the death of David S. Kaufman. He remained in Congress from 1853 to 1857. On March 3, 1857, Bell married Mrs. Ella Reeves Eaton Dickens, the daughter of a wealthy North Carolina planter, William Eaton, and the widow of Benjamin Dickens. Bell moved to her home at Littleton, North Carolina. At the outbreak of the Civil War he was offered a commission as colonel of Confederate forces by Jefferson Davis, but he refused to serve and spent the war years on his wife's plantation. In 1891 the Texas legislature voted Bell a donation and a pension in appreciation for his services to the republic and the state. Bell County was named in his honor. Bell died on March 8, 1898, and was buried in the cemetery at Littleton. His and his wife's remains were removed to Texas in 1930 and reinterred in the State Cemetery at Austin. In 1936 the state of Texas erected a memorial to Bell, which stands at the southwest corner of the courthouse grounds in Belton.
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Texas State Cemetery