SIMEON B. BELL, M. D. - One of the most prominent old pioneer settlers of the state of Kansas is Dr. Simeon B. Bell, who came hither in 1856, five years prior to the admission of the state to the Union. He has now attained to the patriarchal age of ninety-one years, and while he retired from the active practice of his profession in 1865, he is still remarkably energetic for one of his age. The world instinctively pays deference to the man whose success has been worthily achieved and whose prominence is not the less the result of an irreproachable life than of natural talents and acquired ability in the line of his chosen labor. Dr. Bell, after having his diploma and books burned during the Civil war, along with his home, reshaped his life into that of a farmer, which work he pursued with both pleasure and profit. It is a well known fact that a great percentage of those who enter business life meet with success or only a limited measure of success. This is usually due to one or more of several causes - superficial preparation, lack of close application or an unwise choice in selecting a vocation for which one is not fitted. In connection with and aside from his life work, Dr. Bell aided materially in advancing the progress and development of this section of the state. He has been particularly generous in connection with philanthropical work and has given immense sums to various charitable institutions. He contributed in money and property no less than one hundred and sixty thousand dollars for the establishment of a medical school at Rosedale. It was long Dr. Bell's cherished ambition and desire to locate upon his property in Rosedale a medical institution. About sixteen years ago, when Dr. Snow was chancellor of the University, the subject offered the state, through him, one hundred and one lots of land, valued at one hundred thousand dollars, on condition that there would be located upon his College Park a medical hospital and school for the teaching of the last two years of the medical course. This offer was accepted by Chancellor Snow and the members of the board of regents and Dr. Bell gave them ten years to begin the work of building, at the expiration of that time the necessary law being passed accepting the gift and locating the school and hospital at Rosedale. It is the hope of this community to make, with the aid of state appropriations, this department of the University the greatest medical school west of the Mississippi river. Dr. Bell intends this munificent gift as a monument to his beloved wife, Eleanor Taylor Bell, and it is the universal hope that he be spared to such time as shall enable him to see the full fruitions of his noble and altruistic dreams and ambitions.
A native of New Jersey, Dr. Simeon B. Bell was born in Sussex county, the date of his nativity being the 13th of May, 1820. He is a son of Jabez and Gertrude (Nichols) Bell, both of whom were likewise born and reared in the state of New Jersey. Of the fifteen children born to Mr. and Mrs. Jabez Bell, thirteen of whom lived to a very old age, four are living at the present time, in 1911. Dr. Bell, the immediate subject of this review; Gertrude, who is the widow of Dr. William Wiley of Nebraska; Phoebe, who is the wife of Jacob Struble, of Ohio; and Hulda J., who is the widow of John Beeson, who was also a Kansas pioneer. Jabez Bell was a mill-wright by trade and he built the old Over-Shot water-proof mills all through the east. In 1832 he removed with his family to Richland county, Ohio, where he was engaged in agricultural pursuits and the construction of mills for the remainder of his life. In politics he was an old-line Whig and he ever manifested an active interest in community affairs.
Dr. Simeon B. Bell was a lad of twelve years of age at the time of his parents' immigration to Ohio. He was reared and educated in Richland county, that state, and after completing the curriculum of the public schools he attended Norwalk Seminary, at Norwalk, Ohio. Subsequently he was matriculated as a student in Starling Medical College, at Columbus, Ohio, in which noted institution he was graduated as a member of the class of 1852, duly receiving his well earned degree of Doctor of Medicine. Immediately after graduation he located at Mansfield, Ohio, where he built up a large and lucrative patronage and where he continued to reside until the spring of 1856, at which time he went to Iowa, where he passed the winter and whence he removed to Kansas in the spring of 1857. At the time of his advent in the Sunflower state of the Union, this now prosperous commonwealth was a territory and it was racked with Civil war. It had been colonized by both free and slave-state settlers and a bloody factional war broke out a few years previous to the great Civil war. The Topeka Constitution, prohibiting slavery, was formed in 1855 and the Lecompton Constitution, sanctioning slavery, in 1857. In 1859 the Wyandotte Constitution forbidding slavery was adopted and two years later the state was admitted to the Union. From the foregoing it will be seen that Dr. Bell came to Kansas at the most exciting period of its history. He located in Johnson county, near the present site of Stilwell, which is near Aubry, to which he afterward moved. The bitter strife and dissension to which only cases of conscience can give rise was everywhere pressing for solution and a manly, stanch, courageous citizen, such as Dr. Bell, could not other than take an active part - it is needless to say for the cause of emancipation. In fact his life was continually endangered by his stand. He participated in the battle at Brush Creek growing out of these troubles and he was post surgeon for a number of years at Aubry. In 1865 he severed the connections which bound him to Aubry and came to Rosedale, which progressive and attractive little city has since represented his home.
Dr. Bell has been twice married, his first union having been with Miss Eleanor Taylor, who was born in Richland county, Ohio, in the year 1824, and who was summoned to the life eternal in 1866. Their marriage was celebrated in 1846, and the union was prolific of ten children, four of whom are living in 1911, namely: Frederica E., widow of W. P. Brush, maintaining her home at Rosedale; Mary J., also at Rosedale, she being the widow of Alson Filkin; Charles W., engaged in farming at Desoto; and Abbie, wife of L. H. Rose. This admirable woman, Eleanor Taylor Bell, the wife of his youth and the mother of ten of his children, is rightfully given credit for a large part in laying the foundation of the fortune that he has accumulated. In 1866 Dr. Bell was united in marriage to Mrs. Margaret Bellis, who was a native of Ireland. To this union were born two children, - Miranda, who is the wife of Marshall Haddock, of Kansas City, Missouri; and Simeon B., Jr., also of that place.
As previously intimated, Dr. Bell has been a very important factor in connection with all progressive movements projected for the general welfare of Rosedale and Kansas at large. It was through his efforts that the Southwest boulevard was laid out through his land. He donated a tract for that purpose and expended considerable money in the building of the boulevard, it being the only one through from Kansas City, Missouri, to the southwest. In his youth he was one of the members of the Father Matthew Temperance Society in Ohio, an association that has been resultant in a tremendous amount of good. He has always been aligned as a stanch supporter of the Republican party in his political proclivities and it is interesting to note that at the time of his arrival in Kansas there were only five voters in the district. He also served with efficiency as a member of the school board. The greatest work of Dr. Bell, however, is that connected with the founding of the Eleanor Taylor Bell Memorial Hospital at Rosedale, by which his name will be preserved for future generations.
Home Page for Kansas
Search all of Blue Skyways
The KSGenWeb Project