James H. Bell was born on 1 May 1847 in Tennessee. During the Civil War he served in Company D, 29th USCT. In approximately 1867, he came to Illinois and lived in Champaign for the remainder of his life. He was a minister from 1872 to 1902. Bell died on his sixty-fourth birthday on 1 May 1911 of tuberculosis. The funeral Was held on 4 May at the Salem Baptist Church, with interment at Mt. Hope Cemetery, Urbana.