Lucy & Ann Bell

Congressional Cemetery1862

Historic Congressional Cemetery

Historic Congressional Cemetery
Washington, DC, United States

Lucy Bell (d. June 8, 1862) was born into slavery near the beginning of the American Revolutionary War. By 1850, Lucy Bell had claimed her freedom. She was the mother to at least five children, including Daniel Bell, who paid $100 for his wife, eight children and two grandchildren to escape in the Pearl incident The Pearl- the largest recorded nonviolent escape attempt by slaves in United States history. On April 15, 1848, seventy-seven slaves attempted to escape Washington, D.C. by sailing away on a schooner called the Pearl but were apprehended days later before they were able to leave the Chesapeake Bay.
Ann Bell (d. May 3, 1873) was Lucy Bell’s daughter. Ann Bell was most likely the first in her family to arrive in Washington, D.C. It is believed that she arrived in 1813 with the permission of Gabriel Greenfield. Ann Bell conducted herself as a free person after she moved to D.C. until 1836, when the Greenfield family claimed that Ann was enslaved. On December 24, 1836, Ann Bell filed a freedom suit in D.C.’s circuit court. The summons went unanswered because the defendant, Gerard Truman Greenfield, primarily resided in Tennessee, not Washington. Ann Bell’s case focused on her freedom and whether or not she was freed by the 1815 will of Gabriel. P. T. Greenfield. In 1840, Ann Bell’s petition for freedom went to trial. The jury gave Ann Bell a verdict in support of her freedom because she purchased real property, built a house, and hired a servant from the defendant. On April 15, 1840, Ann Bell was granted her freedom, making her the only member of the Bell family to successfully win her court case. Ann Bell lived with her great-niece, Caroline (Daniel Bell’s daughter), in 1870. Ann Bell died on May 3, 1873.


  • Title: Lucy & Ann Bell
  • Creator: Congressional Cemetery
  • Date Created: 1862, 1873
  • Location Created: Washington, DC

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