Among the representative men of Lancaster county, a leader in both political and professional life, is Dr. John W. Zell, the popular and appreciated physician of Fairmount, Pa. For many years Dr. Zell has taken active part in all the progress and development this section and is well known and beloved, having been for forty-six years identified with the people of this locality in one of the closest relations of life.
Dr. Zell comes of German ancestry, although he is a product of Lancaster county, born in Colerain township, Dec. 27, 1829. His parents were Isaac and Elizabeth (Swift) Zell, both of whom were also natives of this county, the mother having been born in the historic old home of the great inventor, Robert Fulton.
Grandfather Adam Zell was a miller by occupation, and for many years he was engaged in the milling business, in Honeybrook, Chester county, where he reared a large family who became useful and respected members of society. They were known as: John, Samuel, Levi, Adam, Margaret, Henrietta and Isaac.
Isaac Zell, born in 1791, was a prominent man in his locality for many years, as merchant, teacher, and local preacher in the M. E. Church. His wife was born in 1801, and they both lived worthily until advanced in years, the mother of Dr. Zell dying at the age of ninety-four. She was the devoted mother of a large family: Joseph S., deceased ; Emmor E., deceased ; Dr. John W.; Dr. E. M., a dentist of Little Britain township ; Isaac B., deceased; Dr. Amos B., of Little Britain township ; Daniel, of Perrytown ; Dr. D. A., of Little Britain township; Martha, deceased; Elizabeth, unmarried ; and Dr. Samuel Allen, a dentist of Hinkletown, the others dying in infancy.
Dr. John W. Zell was reared on the farm, but agricultural pursuits did not appeal to him in his youth, and after gaining a good, common school education, he entered the Pennsylvania Medical College in 1853, graduating from that then noted institution in 1855. Returning to Lancaster county he immediately began the practice of his profession, and in this locality he has remained for a period of forty-six years. During this time many changes have taken place and many of the old friends of Dr. Zell have passed away, but new associations have been formed and few men in this locality possess more vigor of mind or body. The Zell family is not only one of the oldest but also one of the most intelligent in the county, and one which has had an unusual leaning toward professional life. Dr. Zell, like many other young men, had his own way to make in the world, being one of a large family, but with the pluck, perseverance and energy bequeathed him by sturdy ancestors, he carved out a path to fortune and prominence. Dr. Zell owns two good farms in this neighborhood, both of them well improved.
The first marriage of Dr. Zell was in 1865, to Miss Mary R. Patterson, of Britain township, a daughter of James Patterson, who was a near neighbor and warm friend of President James Buchanan. Her death occurred in 1870. Dr. Zell married for his second wife Mary Bell Johnson, of Little Britain, who was born in 1834. No children were born to either union. Mrs. Zell is descended from one of the oldest families in lower Lancaster county, her mother being an Andrews of Colerain, and her father an extensive farmer in Little Britain. Dr. Zell has always been an ardent advocate of the principles of the Democratic party, and has always conscientiously supported the men and measures of that great organization. For many years he has been identified with the Methodist Church of which he is a trustee, and he is fraternally connected with both county and State medical societies and also with the American Medical Association. Dr. Zell served also as president of the Lancaster City and County Medical Society. Few men have more personal friends than Dr. Zell, his kind heart having caused him to give way to so many generous impulses that he is recognized as not only the skilled physician of this vicinity, but also as the sympathizing and helpful adviser. His hospitality is liberal and few hosts are more entertaining.
Source: Biographical Annals of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania: Containing Biographical and Genealogical Sketches of Prominent and Representative Citizens and of Many of the Early Settlers (Chicago: J. H. Beers & Co., 1903), p. 1889.