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Below is a family biography included in History of Shawnee County, Kansas and Representative Citizens by James L. King, published by Richmond & Arnold, 1905.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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Stephen A. Bedwell, Jr., owner and proprietor of the Bedwell Private Asylum, which is a beautifully located institution in the eastern limits of Topeka, is a gentleman well and favorably known all over the State. Mr. Bedwell was born in 1852, in Platte County, Missouri, on his father’s farm which extended many miles and was bounded by the Buchanan County line. He is a son of the late Stephen and Christina (Pennington) Bedwell.

The parents of Mr. Bedwell were both of German extraction but of Tennessee birth. They subsequently moved to Platte County, Missouri, where the father successfully engaged in farming for years, but spent his last years in honorable retirement at Leavenworth, Kansas, where his death took place in 1891. Of the family of six sons and three daughters, four sons and two daughters still survive. Francis Bedwell, an older brother of our subject, opened a private asylum at Leavenworth, which was the first institution of its kind in the State. This he has removed to Kansas City and it is the best equipped and most modern asylum there.

Our subject spent his boyhood in the manner of farmer boys, the summers claiming his time on the farm and his winters being spent in school. When eight years old he went to Atchison County, Kansas, and had the advantages afforded by the Atchison City schools. When he had reached his majority he was employed by his brother who was interested in his early asylum projects, and it was through the experience gained there that the younger brother was encouraged to open a like institution at another point. In 1889 he moved to Shawnee County and settled in North Topeka, opening up a small asylum. He received so many applications from patients that in 1898 he purchased an old family residence, which he remodeled, improved and added to until he had spent fully $7,000 in making it what it is,—a delightful spot for both sick and well.

The Bedwell Private Asylum is beautifully located on the eastern limits of East 10th avenue, in the edge of Topeka township. In 1896 Mr. Bedwell purchased a tract of 10 acres, then but partly improved, and subsequently added 20 acres, which he uses for gardening purposes, the latter tract of land being valued at $200 an acre. The asylum proper is modern throughout, is heated by furnaces and private water-works insure plenty of hot and cold water. There are 25 clean, airy, sanitary rooms at all time ready for patients, and Mr. Bedwell has accommodated as many as 52 and, on an emergency, 100 can be provided for. Beautiful shade trees surround the institution and every medical care is provided. It has been so often demonstrated that environment has so much to do with cure, that medical men are each year insisting more and more on just such conditions as can be found at the Bedwell Private Asylum.

Mr. Bedwell was married in November, 1894 to Ella M. Dibbell, who belongs to a very prominent family of Topeka. She was born in New York. They have three children, viz: Mrs. Leslie Byers, of Topeka, who has one daughter, Oma; and Effa and Selina, young ladies at home.

In his public attitude, Mr. Bedwell is a “good roads man.” He is a member of the Fraternal Aid. For a number of years he has been a member of the township School Board and is generally recognized as one of the most public-spirited as well as substantial men of his locality.

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This family biography is one of 206 biographies included in History of Shawnee County, Kansas and Representative Citizens by James L. King, published by Richmond & Arnold, 1905.  For the complete description, click here: Shawnee County, Kansas History, Genealogy, and Maps

View additional Shawnee County, Kansas family biographies here: Shawnee County, Kansas

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