Arch L. Bell, Ph. D., superintendent of the Ottawa (Kan.) public schools, has had an educational career of exceptional interest, for his high position in educational attainments and his prominence among the educators of the state have been obtained without ever having attended a college or university. By example rather than by precept has he most powerfully taught all of his associates the power and possibility of accomplishment. He was born in London, Ontario, Canada, Sept. 29, 1863, and is a son of Thomas and Elizabeth (Lloyd) Bell. He was reared and educated there until fifteen years of age, or in 1878, when he accompanied his father and family to Kansas, where they located on a farm near Circleville, Jackson county. His mother died in Canada, and his father had married a second time before coming to Kansas, Sarah Lloyd becoming his second wife. Arch L. Bell herded cattle until nineteen years of age, when, threatened with tuberculosis, he left the farm, and with the small sum he had paid his way as he walked weakly to Atchison. From there he went up the Missouri river, walking, taking passage on steamboats, making short stages until he reached the Black Hills of Dakota, where he obtained the job of driving the stage from St. Pierre to Deadwood. After that he worked on the railroad, firing a locomotive. With health fully recuperated, he returned to Jackson county, Kansas, and for two terms attended the agricultural college at Manhattanhis nearest approach to a collegiate education by actual attendance. He returned to his home and after farming a short time engaged in teaching. He began when twenty-six years of age as a country school teacher and with but a meager educationone just sufficient to obtain a third grade school certificate. An earnest desire for proficiency and an ambition not to be second but first in the profession he had chosen spurred him to seek means for obtaining a college education. He took both a Chautauqua and a correspondence course, but neither was satisfactory. In the meantime he had secured a second grade license and had become superintendent of the public schools at St. Mary's, Kan., an advance from his position in the country school. He was successful in organizing a high school there, and as it grew he grew with it, teaching the higher subjects as they were introduced. Somehow he got into touch with the Illinois Wesleyan University, just how he has forgotten. He tried to matriculate, but failed in the entrance requirements. Nothing daunted he at once began equipping himself by self-study to meet those requirements, and in 1893 was admitted as a non-resident student. Non-residence work required one-third more ground to cover than in residence work. Dr. Bell completed the course and received the degree of Ph. B. in six years, or in 1899, having continued his work as a teacher all the while. He then started in on post-graduate work, still having one-third more ground to cover to gain the same point. In 1906 he was awarded his Master's degree. Still not content, he kept on plodding, and in 1910 Illinois Wesleyan University conferred on him the degree of Ph. D. His post-graduate work alone covered fifty-six volumes, and so thoroughly had he prepared that he easily and successfully passed the two days of questioning by the assembled faculty of the university and wrote fifty separate examinations. His thesis on "The Evolution of the Monroe Doctrine" covered 6,000 words. In the meantime he had built up a fine high school at St. Mary's, where he remained ten years. The following two years he was superintendent of the Wamego, Kan., schools, and then in 1904 he took charge of the Ottawa, Kan., schools, which under his able and efficient management rank among the best schools of the state.
On Aug. 29, 1888, Dr. Bell was united in marriage with Miss Gertrude Lloyd, who had been a teacher in the Atkinson, Ill., schools eight years. Dr. and Mrs. Bell have six children: Alice K., an alumnus of the Ottawa High School and of Ottawa University, and now a teacher of mathematics in the Hiawatha Academy at Hiawatha, Kan.; Alma L., Arnold A., and Kathryn E., all of whom are students in the Ottawa High School; Rachel and Theodore F., who are in the grades. Dr. Bell and his family are all members of the Congregational church. He is a Republican in politics, but is not a partisan, and supports the men and measures which accord with his convictions. He is a Mason, being a member of the blue lodge, chapter, and Tancreed Commandery, of which he is eminent commander. He is district deputy Grand High Priest of the third district of the state.Pages 1252-1254 from volume III, part 2 of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed December 2002 by Carolyn Ward. This volume is identified at the Kansas State Historical Society as microfilm LM195. It is a two-part volume 3.
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