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California Genealogy and History Archives

Sonoma County


George Kinsey Bell

Over half a century has come and gone since Mr. Bell came to Sonoma county, and during that time he has been continuously engaged in agricultural and horticultural enterprises not far from Healdsburg. In response to the promptings of advancing age, he has relinquished the management of his ranch to younger hands, and since May, 1910, has been living retired in Healdsburg, enjoying a well-earned rest in the city which he has seen grow from a mere settlement to be one of the thriving centers of activity in this prosperous commonwealth.

The blood of a long line of southern ancestors flows in the veins of George K. Bell, his ancestors for many generations being natives of Kentucky, and in that state both his father and mother were born and reared. Later years, however, found the parents in Missouri, and at the time of the birth of their son George K., in 1836, were residents of Jackson county. Educational advantages of that time and place were so meagre as to be unworthy of the name, and all that Mr. Bell ever acquired in this direction has been the result of his own individual efforts. His father was a farmer, and with the other children in the family he contributed his efforts towards its maintenance until the year 1854, when as a youth of eighteen years he started for the west with two of his brothers and another lad. Their course was the one generally in vogue at the time, across the plains with ox-teams, the brothers taking with them a band of cattle, which the lad above-mentioned assisted in driving as part payment for his transportation. The journey was not without its hardships and trials, but these were no longer remembered when they heard that the party that immediately preceded them were massacred by the Indians.

The journey ended, Mr. Bell came to Sonoma county and near Mill creek engaged in the stock business on land upon which he squatted, the land at that time not having been surveyed for apportionment to settlers. Later, when the land had been surveyed and the government could give title to land, Mr. Bell purchased three to four hundred acres near Healdsburg, from which he sold off portions from time to time, until now he has only fifty acres, of which thirty acres are in grapes, which he sells to the winery. The portion of the ranch not in vines is in pasture and woodland. As has been stated, in May 1910, Mr. Bell rented his ranch to a tenant, and has since resided in Healdsburg, free from all anxiety and care.

In 1866 Mr. Bell was united in marriage with Miss Martha E. Bice, a native of Missouri and the daughter of Cornelius and Mary Jane (Koger) Bice. Mr. Bice bought his family to Sonoma county and settled near Healdsburg in November, 1853. At the age of eighty-four years the mother still lives on the ranch three miles south of Healdsburg, in the house which her husband built, preparing the lumber by hand. Mr. Bice died in 1875. Five children were born of the marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Bell, but of the number two died in childhood. Marguerite E. became the wife of William Kelley, a rancher, who with his family recently removed to Healdsburg in order that the daughter, Irene, may receive good school privileges. Mary Ellen became the wife of William Stein, and they have one son, William Kinsey. The only son is Charles K. Bell. Politically Mr. Bell is a believer in Democratic principles, and although he has always been actively interested in all the activities of the community in which so much of his life has been passed, he has still had no ambitions for public-office holding, neither has he ever allied himself with any secret order. It must not be gathered from this statement that Mr. Bellís life has been a narrow or selfish one, on the contrary no one has been more interested in the upbuilding of county and state than has he, every measure of this character meeting with his hearty support and cooperation.

History of Sonoma County, California
Biographical Sketches of The Leading Men and Women of the County Who Have Been Identified With Its Growth and Development from the Early Days to the Present
History By: Tom Gregory
Historic Record Company, Los Angeles, California (1911)

Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011