Politics and money: Is there bound to be corruption?

Edited by Rhonda Bletner - [email protected]

BELLVILLE — Coming off the 2022 Primary Election we’ve seen some unadmirable political tactics. Does power breed corruption?

And for those who live in small idyllic villages and towns, it might be tempting to think: Not here, not us. But even back in 1878, we can see, our roots are a little soiled.

September, 25, 1878

The Ohio Liberal

Long. Long years ago, possible twenty or twenty-five years, when the village of Bellville was divided into two school districts, under the old school law, John Morrow, a citizen of the village was then employed as a contractor to erect some outbuilding or do some repairing. His bid for the same was presented year after year to the different school boards of the village, all of whom repudiated said bill as he claims, but many of the best men of village are of the opinion that Mr. Morrow had been paid for all the work he performed.

In the year 1875 the school board consisted of George S. Bell, Morrow’s son-in-law, and Henry Glosser, all loyal Republicans.

Mr. Morrow again presented his bill, which had been outlawed long years before. This time was more fortunate, and the bill, with interest counted up to that date, amounted to about $237, was allowed and paid by said school board for the benefit of Dr. Whitcomb, who was bail on one of John Morrow’s notes.

This dishonest transaction was known to many of the leading citizens of Bellville, both Democrats and Republicans, and all bounced these conniving heroes for the misapplication of the school funds belonging to the village.

Last year a few of the best citizens of the village made complaint to the State School Commissioner that the school funds of their village had been embezzled by a former board a few years before, and the State School Commissioner appointed Hon. M. May to thoroughly investigate this matter, take testimony and report the same to the Judge of the Common Pleas Court, which he did promptly, and the case was then brought before the grand jury. The grand jury, after hearing the evidence, found indictments against all four of these loyal Republicans of Bellville, who so grossly embezzled these school funds.

All of them, except Geo S. Bell, are now under bonds of $1,000 for their appearance at the next term of court. It must be borne in mind that Geo S. Bell, now snugly located in Washington City, holding a fat office under Hayes’ administration, has an indictment hanging over his head for embezzling the school funds of his native village. (Thus reported the Ohio Liberal)

George S. Bell was a son of William and Susan Bell. Merchant in Bellville until 1875 when chosen to be a clerk at Ohio Penitentiary. 1876 was Steward of Central Ohio Insane Asylum. 1877 accepted an important federal position in Washington.

Editor’s note: Perhaps another newspaper article will tell if Bell was held accountable.


Edited by Rhonda Bletner

[email protected]