From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Bell, Robert F.

(born: 1862  -  died: 1931) 

Robert F. Bell was the first African American police officer in Lexington, KY, joining the force in 1918. He is also referred to as R. F. Bell. Locals referred to him as "Senator Bell." His picture was included in the Lexington Police Department photo dated April 12, 1937, courtesy of Amanda Elliott, at the former Lexington History Museum - in the Black and White Photographic Collection. In 1907, R. F. Bell was a betting commissioner for J. A. Drake, A. B. Gates, and A. B. Hutchinson of New York [sources: The Negro Population of Lexington in the Professions, Business, Education and Religion by L. Harris, p.[10] in photocopy c.2 of title at UK Special Collections; and "Colored Circles" in the Lexington Leader, 10/27/1902, p.2].

Robert F. Bell also bought and sold real estate. He was the husband of Florence Searcy (b.1883 or 1884), they married in 1904, and the couple's home was located on E. Fifth Street in Lexington, KY [source: 1910 U.S. Census]. The family included a son named Searcy; a daughter named Florence R. Bell in the census records, and her name later appears as Roberta; and a sister-in-law named Carrie Searcy also lived with the family. By 1920, Robert F. Bell was a widow. Florence Searcy Bell had suddenly died February 23, 1912, she is buried in Cove Haven Cemetery [sources: Kentucky Death Index, 1911-2000; and Florence Searcy Bell in Find A Grave]. Robert F. Bell never remarried, he died at his home after a long illness on September 28, 1931 [sources: "Colored Notes," Lexington Leader, 09/29/1931, p.12; and Kentucky Death Index, 1911-2000].

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Fayette County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Lexington, Kentucky in Wikipedia.


Cited in this Entry

NKAA Source: The Negro population of Lexington in the professions, business, education and religion
NKAA Source: Lexington leader (newspaper)

Related Entries Citing this Entry

NKAA Entry:  The Gem Theater, and the Lincoln Theater (Lexington, KY)

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Bell, Robert F.,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed December 4, 2020,

Last modified: 2020-02-05 18:03:29