I am researching my Bell family line which were California 49'er's from MO. They owned land and sold it in 1853, it was located in Bell's Valley, Yuba County CA. According to Yuba County History this valley was named for the notorious highwayman "Tom Bell" who used is as a get away route. I have just found a book titled "California Desperadoes- Stories of Early Outlaws in Their Own Words" by a William B. Secrest that has a chapter about Tom Bell and his gang. It states "Thomas J. Hodges, who later adopted the name Tom Bell, was born in Rome, Tennessee about 1823. He acquired some medical training before serving in the Mexican War, then went to California in 1849." The book goes on to say Tom was caught and hung the same day -Oct. 4th 1856.
In the CA 1850 Washington Township, Yolo Co. census is a Thomas J. Hodges age 24 born in TN living in the household of a George M. Bell and family.