Theodore Stout Bell was born in Fayette County, KY, the son of John Tingley and Rachel Stout Bell. He graduated from Transylvania University in 1832, and came to Louisville shortly thereafter. He was said to have attended the first case of cholera in Louisville. He was a co-editor of the Louisville Medical Journal, and in 1857 was appointed Professor of Theory and Practice of Medicine at the University of Louisville Department of Medicine. During the Civil War he served as the President of the Western Division of the U.S. Sanitary Commission, and had charge of one of the hospitals in Louisville. He continued to practice medicine and teach at UofL until his death.