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California Genealogy and History Archives

Sacramento County



From the humble tasks that fall to the lot of the boy raised on a New York state farm, to the weighty responsibilities associated with the management of a large commercial enterprise, the development of the personal interests of Mr. Bills has resulted from his unceasing industry, unwearied perseverance and untiring energy, qualities that almost invariably bring to their fortunate possessor a certain degree of material success. As boy and youth he learned the difficult task of saving the small wages possible to unskilled labor; as a man he was ready to invest these small savings in a manner suggested by his own discriminating foresight, so that he laid the foundation of his own ultimate prosperity by personal efforts and sagacious judgment. Since the autumn of 1894 he has been a resident of California and has engaged in the buying and selling of fruit, an industry in which he has had long experience and thorough training.

Into the home of D. F. and Marietta Bills at Ithaca, N. Y., Charles B. Bills was born May 5, 1863. At the age of six he was sent to the public school and by regular promotions he rose to the grammar department, which he completed at the age of thirteen. Not having the means necessary to carry on high-school studies he began to work on farms by the day and continued in the employ of strangers until 1884, when at the age of twenty-one years he rented his father's farm. Upon the death of his father in 1891 and the settlement of the estate, he closed out his interests in the east and settled in Chicago, where he found employment with a fruit commission house, that of Porter Bros. Co., with whom he continued as a laborer until the spring of 1893, when he was promoted to be a traveling salesman. In the interests of the company he came to California in the fall of 1894 and assumed charge of the branch of the business at San Jose, continuing there until 1901, when he was transferred to San Francisco and given charge of the coast branches owned by the company. The failure of the firm in 190.5 ended his long connection with their interests.

Upon his arrival in Sacramento in 1905 Mr. Bills entered enthusiastically into the work of organizing the Pioneer Fruit Company and since then he has served as the president of the concern. During the first year of the company's existence seven hundred cars of fruit were shipped, but so rapid has been its growth that in 1910 forty-two hundred ears were shipped to the general markets of the world. To manage these large and growing interests a keen intelligence is necessary, nor are determination, energy and industry less essential, and we find that Mr. Bills possesses all of these qualities in large measure. To their exercise may be attributed his high degree of success.

While living in Chicago Mr. Bills formed the acquaintance of Miss Ella C. Carman, a resident of that city. After their marriage, March 19, 1895, they established a home in San Jose, later in San Francisco and eventually became citizens of Sacramento, where they own a beautiful home at No. 2609 .M street. They are the parents of two children. The daughter, Florence, has received excellent educational advantages in a private school. The son, Robert C, is a pupil in the high school of Sacramento. The family holds membership with the Protestant Episcopal church and Mr. Bills has been honored with the office of trustee of the northern diocese of that denomination. For some years he has been an active member in the local camp of the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks. Politically he votes with the Republican party in both general and local elections. Recognizing his qualifications for the public service, his party chose him as nominee for state senator a few years after his removal to Sacramento and he was duly elected in the fall of 1908, serving the regular sessions of 1909-11 and the special session of 1911. During his term he was Chairman of the Agricultural, Horticultural and Trees and Vines and member of the Finance, Public Buildings, Good Roads and Hospitals and Asylums. At the expiration of his term he had won a high reputation not only among members of the legislature, but also among the people of the district and though his renomination was asked for, not only by his own party but by business men from the other party, he refused to be a candidate for renomination. This clearly indicates his diligence as an official, his trustworthiness as a representative and his prominence as a citizen. 

History of Sacramento 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: William L. Willis
Historic Record Company, Los Angeles, California (1913)

Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011