In 1827 John and William Bell purchased 1,000 acres (4.0km2) of land on which Bells now stand. This land was purchased for one dollar and acre. Bells Depot, then in an area called Haywood County, was founded in 1855 and was named in honor of William Bell who built the first dwelling in town.
In the early eighteen fifties, before the American Civil War, stage coaches were running between Brownsville and Trenton with a stop in Bells Depot.
The first merchant in Bells Depot was C.C. Clay, who began selling goods in 1859. During the Civil War years no business was transacted at Bells Depot as all the stores were closed.
A full company of soldiers was organized at Bells Depot at the start of the Civil Water. It was known as Company G, 27th Regiment of Tennessee Infantry and it saw action in the Battle of Shiloh, the Battle of Franklin and many others. Only three men out of the 170 survived.
Bells Depot was incorporated in 1868 with Hardy L. Windburng, as the first mayor. Newspaper service began in 1874 when the “Bellville Enterprise” was established.
Then in 1880, by an act of government, the word “Depot” was eliminated from the name of the city and Bells was made a part of the Crockett County instead of Haywood County. In 1887, the population of Bells was about 600 people. It was the largest and most important town in the county. Land was worth $9.72 an acre. At the time Bells was one of the leading cotton markets and trading centers in West Tennessee. Also the first bank was founded this year.
Utilities came into being in Bells in 1898 when telephone service was furnished inhabitants. Then in 1910 railroad service came into Bells. The Fire Department was organized in 1913. This was followed closely in 1915 by the formation of the Bells Light and Water Company. The electric power was turned on at dark and off at midnight.
William Bell died in 1859 at the age of 52 years old. Mary Bell died in 1882 at the age of 68 years old.