Over his long life, (90 years!) Dr. Bell made it his mission to serve. Born in Ohio in 1838, Bell’s family moved to Abingdon, Illinois when he was about fifteen years old.
At eighteen, Bell started studying medicine with Dr. Andrew McFarland, Superintendent of the Insane Asylum of Jacksonville, Illinois. During the end of his training, the Civil War broke out and Bell served the 10th Illinois Infantry as Assistant Surgeon during the years 1861 and 1862.
Also in 1861, Bell married a girl he was courting in Jacksonville, Elizabeth Eagle. Once Bell was released from war duties, the young couple lived in Jacksonville and then in Cambridge before resettling in Naperville in 1868.
While already practicing medicine, it was during this time that Bell received a medical degree from the Hahnemann Homœopathic Medical College of Chicago. Soon after, he went into partnership with Dr. Charles Nauman, another Hahnemann student, which continued for about ten years, until 1884.
In 1881, Bell and a partner took over a drug store on Jefferson Avenue which had previously been operated by Frank Morse, a druggist, and Dr. Hamilton Daniels. Dr. Daniels house is now one of the featured buildings at Naper Settlement, moved from its former location on Washington Street. Morse has many connections to Naperville’s earliest settlers, including being brother-in-law to Robert Naper, Joseph and Almeda’s son, through his sister, Amelia.
Bell’s partner at the drug store was William Wallace Wickel and the shop was known as Wickel and Bell. Apparently Wickel became the sole owner within a year or two and continued operating the drug store until 1915 when he turned it over to his son-in-law, Louis Oswald, who changed the name of the store. Louis eventually ceded ownership to his own son-in-law, but they kept the name Oswald’s, which is what the pharmacy is still known as today, although it is no longer on Jefferson Avenue.
In addition to practicing medicine and owning a drug store, Bell also served as a village trustee and alderman. He was president of the Nichols Library board, presiding over its grand opening, and was elected Master of the local Masonic lodge, Euclid, more than once.
His wife Elizabeth passed away in 1908 after 47 years of marriage and a few years later, at age 73, Bell married a local wido