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05/23/2024 10:10 AM
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Home / Speaker Biographies / William P. Schell

House Speaker Biographies

Photo credit:

Schell, Hon. William P.  The Annals of Bedford County, Pennsylvania.  Bedford, Pa.: Gazette Pub. Co., 1907.

Photo credit:

Schell, Hon. William P.  The Annals of Bedford County, Pennsylvania.  Bedford, Pa.: Gazette Pub. Co., 1907.


William P. Schell

Born: February 18, 1822, Schellsburg, Bedford County, PA.  Died: November 15, 1908, Bedford, Bedford County, PA. Member of the House: Bedford, Fulton, and Cambria Counties, 1852-1853 and 1877-1878.  Affiliation: Democrat.

William Peter Schell was born February 18, 1822, in Schellsburg, Pennsylvania, a town his grandfather, John Schell, founded.  Schell’s father, Peter Schell, represented Bedford County in the Pennsylvania House from 1820-1823.  William Schell attended Marshall College (which later merged with Franklin College to become Franklin & Marshall College in 1853), and studied law.  He was admitted to the Bedford County Bar on October 8, 1845.  On January 13, 1851, he became the first person admitted to the Fulton County Bar and became District Attorney of that county the same year.  He married the former Margaretta T. Reamer, and the couple had several children, including Harry W., Ettie T., Frank R., Nancy (Nannie) Reamer, Oswald H., and William P., Jr.

Schell was elected to the House in 1852, and represented Bedford, Fulton, and Cambria Counties as a Democrat from 1852-1853.  On January 4, 1853, Schell was elected the 75th Speaker of the House for the 1853 session.  During his Speakership, Act 141 established a permanent office of State Printer.  The House initiated publication of the debates held on the floor of the House in addition to the House Journals that were already published.  These volumes came to be known as the Legislative Record and the Legislative Journal.

Schell served in the Pennsylvania Senate from 1858-1860, and returned to House service from 1877-1878.  According to the 1878 House Journal, Schell resigned from the House effective May 3, 1878.  Schell was elected Pennsylvania Auditor General in 1877, a position which he held from 1878-1880. 

In addition to political office, Schell was president of the Clarion River Oil Companies.  In 1907 a book written by Schell, titled The Annals of Bedford County, Pennsylvania: Consisting of Condensed Sketches of the Most Important Events which Occurred During the Century from January 1750-1850, was published.

William P. Schell died on November 15, 1908.  He is interred at Bedford Cemetery in the city of Bedford, Bedford County, Pennsylvania.

Historical Member Biography

To view this Speaker's House Historical Biography, click here.