Lance and Jon Bell are the sons of Irving and Marilyn Bell who were not only leading business and community leaders in Santa Fe but also prominent members of the Jewish community.
The Bell family stores were one of several store front anchors just off Santa Fe’s Historic Plaza along with The Guarantee owned by Abe & Marian Silver, another prominent Santa Fe Jewish family. A recent interview with Marian Silver is also posted on our website under Oral Family Histories.
Lance and Jon’s grandfather, Morris and his brother Barney, arrived in New Mexico from Colorado in a covered wagon in 1916. Morris and his wife, Ethel were married in Denver. The first of several Bell’s Department Stores as they became later known, was in Espanola and over time nine stores were located throughout the State. The Santa Fe store remained on the Plaza for sixty years until it was closed in the mid-1980s, after Lance and Jon’s father, Irving, passed away.
For this project, Lance gave NMJHS permission to scan and digitize family photos that include his grandparents who immigrated from Europe, his parents, and extended family members who now live in Albuquerque.
In addition to family photos, NMJHS reviewed some of the wartime correspondence between brothers Irving & Gerald Bell but also with their Mother. The letters currently on the website represent just a fraction of the Bell family correspondence. We hope to be able to scan and digitize not only more letters but also family business records in the near future.
With the generous support of a 2018 New Mexico Humanities Council grant, both Jon and Lance Bell were interviewed by Dr. Noel Pugach, History Professor Emeritus, UNM, and those transcripts will soon be posted in the Oral Family History section of our website.