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Samuel Riley Sells (August 2, 1871 – November 2, 1935) was an American politician and a member of the United States House of Representatives for the 1st congressional district of Tennessee.

Sam Riley Sells
Harris & Ewing Collection, Library of Congress
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Tennessee's 1st district
In office
March 4, 1911 – March 3, 1921
Preceded byZachary D. Massey
Succeeded byB. Carroll Reece
Personal details
Samuel Riley Sells

August 2, 1871 (1871-08-02)
Bristol, Tennessee
DiedNovember 2, 1935 (1935-11-03) (aged 64)
Johnson City, Tennessee
Citizenship United States
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Frances Rice Hayward Sells
ChildrenSamuel Hayward Sells

Charlotte Wyman Sells

Lucy McGuire Sells

Frank Hayward Sells
Alma materKing College, Bristol, Tennessee
Military service
AllegianceUnited States United States of America
Branch/serviceUnited States Army
UnitCompany F, Third Regiment, Tennessee Volunteer Infantry
Battles/warsSpanish–American War


Sells was born on August 2, 1871 in Bristol, Tennessee in Sullivan County son of George Washington and Mary Margaret McCrary. He attended the rural schools and King College in Bristol, Tennessee from 1895 to 1890. He studied law, was admitted to the bar, and commenced practice in Blountville, Tennessee. He served as a private in Company F, Third Regiment, Tennessee Volunteer Infantry during the Spanish–American War. He married Frances Rice Hayward on April 25, 1904, and they had four children, Samuel Hayward, Charlotte Wyman, Lucy McGuire, and Frank Hayward.[1]


After moving to Johnson City, Tennessee, Sells engaged in the lumber business. He served as a member of the Tennessee Senate from 1909 to 1911.[2]

Sells was elected as a Republican to the Sixty-second and to the four succeeding Congresses. He served from March 4, 1911 to March 3, 1921,[3] and was an unsuccessful candidate for renomination in 1920. During the Sixty-sixth Congress, he was the chairman of the United States House Committee on Pensions. He was a delegate to the Republican National Convention in 1912, 1916 and 1932.

Resuming the lumber business in Johnson City, Tennessee, Sells also engaged in the manufacturing of shale brick and in numerous other enterprises.


Sells died in Johnson City, Tennessee on November 2, 1935 (age 64 years, 92 days). He is interred at Oak Hill Cemetery.[4]


  1. ^ "Sam R. Sells". Retrieved 2 May 2013.
  2. ^ "Sam R. Sells". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
  3. ^ "Sam R. Sells". Govtrack US Congress. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
  4. ^ "Sam R. Sells". The Political Graveyard. Retrieved 2 May 2013.

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