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COMANCHE COUNTY, KANSAS: HISTORY & GENEALOGY
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John D. and Martha Ann (Bird) Bell

The Bell Family of Wilmore, Comanche County, Kansas: Bertha, at left, and Martha stand in back, John D. Bell and Bessie are in front.
The Bell Family: Bertha, at left, and Martha stand in back of John D. Bell and Bessie.
Photo source: Comanche County History, page 249.


John D. Bell was born at Mt. Airy, Surry County, North Carolina, on September 4, 1857. He was the third son of William and Lavina Bell. His brothers were: Robert S. Bell, Frank Bell, and Charlie Bell, and one sister, Jennie Bell Armstrong.

Martha Ann Bird Bell was born near King's Point, Dade County, Missouri, on September 24, 1857. She was the daughter of Robert and Jane Bird, one of thirteen children.

When John D. Bell was a lad of ten years of age, he moved with his parents to Marshalltown, Iowa, where he resided for one year, then moved with his parents to Laclede County, Missouri, and later to Dade County, Missouri. His parents were of the Quaker Faith. When a young man, he came to Comanche County. He worked for the Comanche Pool and rode up the old Chisholm Trail as a horsewrangler. He freighted from Hutchinson, Iuka, Dodge City and various other points.

He homesteaded the old home place just one mile West of Wilmore in 1883.

In December 1885, John D. Bell returned to Dade County, Missouri, where he was united in marriage to Martha Ann Bird. He brought his bride to her new home in Kansas, and together they shared the hardships of the early days. Four children were born to this union -- Bertha Ann, Bessie Jane and two babies who died in infancy.

John Bell spent his life farming and raising cattle and was quite successful in his chosen occupation. He lived a very fruitful life.

He was honorable in all his dealings and his word was never questioned. He was one of the most well known residents of the community and was a great pioneer. He loved to hunt and fish and spent many hours tramping up and down Mule Creek as long as he was able.

He was well known for his generosity. Often he sacrificed his own comfort to help a needy friend. He was especially a friend of young homesteaders who settled in the Wilmore Community. He held a vast knowledge of early day experiences and had a very special manner in relating his stories.

John Bell was a prominent member of the Masonic Lodge, the Wichita Consistory, No. 2, and the Midian Shrine.

Mr. and Mrs. Bell lived on the homestead until 1913 when they moved to their home in Wilmore. They both spent their declining years at the home of their daughter, Bertha Ann and her husband, Thomas C. Pepperd, at their home just one-half mile northwest of Wilmore.

Martha Ann Bell died June 4, 1927 at the age of 70 years. John D. Bell died April 20, 1936, at the age of 79 years. Both died at the Pepperd home. They are buried in the Wilmore Cemetery.

-- by a Granddaughter, Comanche County History, page 249.


The Wilmore News, June 10, 1927.

ANOTHER KANSAS PIONEER IS CALLED AWAY

The death Saturday morning of Mrs. J. D. Bell removed another of the few remaining pioneer women of this county and ended a career marked by all the experiences of an early settler. Although her condition was known to be serious, her sudden passing was a great shock to relatives and friends.

Funeral services were held at the T. C. Pepperd home, Monday evening at five o'clock. The Rev. T. F. Sowers of the Baptist church delivered a fitting message of sympathy and comfort. Rev. A. Burrill in personal reminiscences of by-gone days paid a noble and lasting tribute to Mrs. Bell. Pastor C. G. Large offered the prayer of comfort and consolation, and Pastor Ben H. Davis invoked divine blessing upon separating friends.

In spite of the claims of the season an unusually large crowd paid community tributes to the departed and sincere sympathy to the bereaved husband and daughters.

Mrs. Martha Ann Bell was born in Dade county, Missouri, September 24, 1867, the fourth of the eleven children of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Bird. All her childhood was spent in Dade county, near Kings Point, where she received her schooling.

On December 21, 1884, she was united in marriage to John Bell of Sun City, Kansas. To this union were born four children, two of whom died in infancy, and Mrs. T. C. Pepperd and Mrs. Henry Booth, who now reside near Wilmore.

The entire married life of Mr. and Mrs. Bell was spent in Southwestern Kansas, along Mule Creek valley. The early development of Comanche county bears the stamp of Mr. Bell in every line. Mr. and Mrs. Bell came to this section of the state in the spring of 1885 as real pioneers. Sun City was then the nearest post office. First as stockman, then as farmers and now as business leaders. Mr. and Mrs. Bell have left their imprint on every phase of community life.

For the past three years Mrs. Bell has been a patient sufferer from partial paralysis. During most of this time she and her husband have resided with their daughter, Mrs. T. C. Pepperd. Death came to Mrs. Bell June 4, 1927, as a severe shock to relatives and friends. On the preceding Friday night, she appeared more alert and more cheerful than she had for weeks. The hopeful condition continued Saturday morning. About 9:45 o'clock she requested her husband to raise her a bit for relief. She was planning to rise for breakfast. Without a cry, a moan or struggle, she lay back suddenly and departed this life.

She leaves to mourn her loss her husband; her two daughters, Mrs. T. C. Pepperd and Mrs. Henry Booth; one sister and two brothers at Yampa, Colorado, one brother at Pueblo, Colorado; one sister and two brothers at Lockwood, Missouri; one sister at Greenfield, Missouri; one brother, Mat Bird, near Coldwater, Kansas; six grandchildren and a host of friends.


The Wilmore News, April 24, 1936.

J. D. BELL,
PIONEER RANCHMAN AND CITIZEN,
CLAIMED BY DEATH

The community was saddened Monday morning when the grim reaper came and took J. D. Bell, one of the most beloved and respected citizens from it's midst. Mr. Bell had been in the Ashland hospital last week suffering from hardening of the arteries. He was brought to his home Saturday and passed away peacefully Monday morning.

Mr. Bell had spent many years in this community where he had made a countless number of friends and acquaintances.

Funeral services were conducted from the home Wednesday afternoon at 2:30 with Rev. J. P. Woods in charge.

Casket bearers were Albert Oller, C. O. Masterson, C. H. Austin, Wm. Booth, C. V. Lott and R. E. Terry.

Honorary pall bearers were several intimate and old time friends. Geo. Overocker, Dick Rich, Wm. Pepperd, T. J. Foree, Jim McCay, Frank Phillips, Jay Botts, Perry Wall, L. D. Helbert, C. E. Richardson, Sam Booth, Tom Griffin and W. N. Howard.

Flower girls were Dorothy Masterson, Evelyn Wall, Helen Frances Fausett, Blanche Larimer, Mace Adler and Maxine Barber.

A male quartet composed of Ray and Earl Bigbee and Valtos and Royce Richardson sang three songs, "The Home Over There" and "Going Down the Valley," "O, Think of the Beautiful Land."

Burial was made in the Wilmore cemetery. The Masons had charge of the services at the cemetery.

There were many beautiful floral offerings.

The Wilmore News joins the many friends in expressing sympathy to the bereaved relatives.

The following obituary was furnished.

Obituary.

John D. Bell was born at Mt. Airy, Surry Co., North Carolina, Sept. 4, 1875 and departed this life, Monday, April 20, 1936, at 11:00 A. M., at his home near Wilmore after a weeks illness. Age, 78 years, 7 months and 16 days.

When a lad of 10 years of age he moved with his parents to Marchtown, Iowa, where he resided for a year, moving with his parents to Laclede County, Missouri. Then later to Dade County, Missouri. In 1879 he came west locating in Barber county. He freighted from Hutchinson, Iuka, Dodge City and various other points. He also worked for the Comanche County Pool, riding the old Chisholm trail. He homesteaded the old home place just west of Wilmore in 1883 where he afterwards lived until he moved to Wilmore in 1913. He still owned the homestead at the time of his death.

In December, 1885 he returned to Dade County, Missouri, where he was united in marriage to Martha Ann Bird. He brought his bride to her new home in Kansas, and together they shared the hardships of those early days. Four children were born to this union, Bertha Ann and Bessie J. Two other dying in infancy. Mr. Bell was the third son of Wm. and Lavina Bell. Uncle Bob Bell, as he was known to all, passed away in Wilmore in 1933. His widow still lives in our little city. Mr. John Bell was the last member of his family. His sister passed away last Thanksgiving. Mr. Bell's parents were of the Quaker faith.

Mr. Bell spent his life farming and cattle raising and was successful in his chosen occupation. He was a member of the Masonic lodge and also of the Consistory at Wichita. He lived in this county 57 years and had Mrs. Bell lived they would have celebrated their golden wedding last year.

He leaves to mourn his loss two daughters, Mrs. Tom Pepperd and Mrs. Henry Booth and six grandchildren, Mrs. Frances Ridge and Geneva Pepperd and Florence, Helen Mae, John and Chas. Booth. Mrs. Bell preceded him in death nine years ago, having passed away June 4, 1927.

Mr. Bell had a large acquaintance. It is doubtful if there was a man in this part of the state better known. He lived an active life and appeared to be many years younger than he was. He enjoyed life and had many friends. He shall be greatly missed. He spent over half a century here and his going will lave a vacant place that can never be filled. He was an old landmark that has been removed - like changing the channel of a river - felling a forest or cutting down a mountain - It will just not seem like Wilmore with John Bell gone.


BELL, Martha A. : September 24, 1857 - June 4, 1927; 'Mother'
Note: Wife of John D.: Born Martha Ann Bird to Robert and Jane Bird
Comanche County p. 249
Lot #188, Powell Township Cemetery, Wilmore, Comanche County, Kansas.

BELL, John D. : September 4, 1857 - April 20, 1936 : 'Father'
Note : Husband of Martha Ann (Bird) Bell. Son of William and Lavinia Bell
Comanche County History, p. 249
Lot #188, Powell Township Cemetery, Wilmore, Comanche County, Kansas.

BELL, : June 1887 : 'two infant babies of John D. and Martha A. Bell : Gone But Not Forgotton'
Note : This is a lamb stone : This stone is in Lot #209, I think. L.B.Sommers lays between this stone and John and Martha Bell : L.B. is in Lot 209 and John and Martha are in Lot #188.
Obituary: Bell infant, The Western Star, June 25, 1887

Gravestone of John D. & Martha A. Bell, Wilmore Cemetery, Wilmore, Comanche County, Kansas. Photo by John Edward (Ed) Schrock, used with permission of Janet Schrock Hubbard.
Gravestone of John D. & Martha A. Bell.

 


Robin Bell Powell, powell@odessaoffice.com, is researching the Bell family.

Red Cross Fund Oversubscribed, The Wilmore News, 28 June 1917.


Thanks to Shirley Brier for finding, transcribing and contributing the above news article to this web site!

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