Saturday, March 29, 2008

Happy Birthday Grandma Bell!

Music "Holy, Holy, Holy" dedicated in memory of my great grandmother Bell. This is a hymn that she would have sung in praise to God.
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Bell Bullock Johnson (1890-1982)
My great grandmother Bell Bullock Johnson was born 118 years ago on March 29, 1890 in the Drewry area of Vance County, NC to Andrew and Luvenia Jeffress Bullock. She was the mother of my maternal grandmother Emma. Three siblings were born before her: Mollie (1883-1977), John (1885-1957), and James (1887-1931). Six other siblings were born after Grandma Bell: Channie (1892-1966), Mima (1894-1960s), Nancie (1896-1950), Andrew (1899-1972), Bessie (1901-1991), and Joseph (1905-1932.)

On February 11, 1914, Grandma Bell married George Johnson (1893-1932,) the youngest son of Plummer Johnson (1846-1917) and Susie Jerman Johnson (1858-1939) of Ridgeway, NC. Grandma Bell settled in Ridgeway and remained there the remainder of her life. Her husband’s ancestors lived in Ridgeway for many years possibly dating back before the Civil War

Six lovely children were born to George and Bell Johnson: James (1915-1915), Willie (1917-2000), Charlie (1919- 2004), Emma (1922- ), Mary (1927-1986), and George “Richard” (1932-1992).

On February 28, 1932, during the Great Depression, Grandma Bell’s husband died leaving her with four children and pregnant with another. After the birth of their son on April 30, 1932, her mother Luvenia took care of her three youngest children. Grandma Bell returned to Ridgeway and worked as a Cook for Charlie Herring, the son of German immigrants in Ridgeway. Her two oldest sons, Willie and Charlie, were ages 12 and 14 at the death of their father. They returned to Ridgeway with their mother and worked to help support the family.

Like her mother Luvenia, Grandma Bell was a strong believer in holy living and faith healing. She was a member of Pentecostal Holiness churches and testified of being “saved, sanctified, and filled with the Holy Ghost.” In 1912, she became a founding member of Union Chapel Holy Church. Prior to that she was a member of Morning Star Holy Church in Middleburg area of Vance County. She believed strongly in the ministry of Oral Roberts, an Oklahoma evangelist, and his teachings on faith and healing. She didn’t believe in watching television except to watch Oral Roberts. She only used her radio to listen to Oral Roberts and other religious broadcasts. Grandma Bell believed in keeping the Sabbath holy, which meant not doing any work or cooking on Sundays. She hated listening to gossip and would tune it out by humming a song.

When interviewed in 1980 by a reporter for a church publication about her life, Grandma Bell said, “I don’t want my light to get dull, I want my light to shine bright so men can see the good works and glorify the Father. I ain’t got no bad works, but I want my light to shine bright. I let my light shine so that black and white can see Jesus in me.”

Grandma Bell Bullock Johnson died on July 4, 1982 in the Warren General Hospital located in Warren County, NC. Her funeral was held on July 9, 1982 at Union Chapel Holy Church, Ridgeway, NC and she was buried in the church cemetery.

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