ALEXANDER G. BELL
There is but one chief ruler of a country be he king, emperor or president, and therefore the number who attain eminence in such a direction is small. Comparatively few achieve high rank in military circles, but the business field is limitless and a man may win a commanding position in the industrial, agricultural or commercial circles if he but follow the course for which he is suited, and guides his unremitting efforts by sound judgment. This Mr. Bell has done and today he is ranked among the successful and leading fruit-growers of Placer County.
Born in New York City, on the 9th of December, 1837, he has exemplified in his life many of the sterling characteristics of his Scotch ancestry. His parents, James and Jannet (Gibson) Bell, were both natives of Scotland and were married in that country, where was born unto them a son, James. With their little child they immigrated to the United States in 1832 and after a short time spent in New York City removed to Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, where for some years the father engaged in business as a mason, contractor and builder. He took a contract for the construction of a large aqueduct and successfully executed the work. He departed this life in the sixty-sixth year of his age, while his wife attained the age of seventy-nine years. They were consistent members of the Presbyterian Church and in that faith they reared their family, which number three sons and a daughter, the latter now Mrs. Anna Bell Pearcy, of Connellsville, Pennsylvania. Two of the sons are residents of Allegheny, Pennsylvania.
Alexander G. Bell, the fourth member of the family, is indebted to the public-school system for his early educational privileges, while his business training was received in the Iron City Commercial College, in which he was graduated in 1854. In 1856 he came to California, crossing the Isthmus of Panama in October and later arriving in San Francisco, whence he made his way to Placer County. On the middle fork of the American River he engaged in mining and became actively interested in mining and prospecting at Dutch Bar Hill. He and two companions took out two pounds of gold each day for five weeks. He afterward engaged in mining in El Dorado County at the Spanish Dry Diggins, also at Greenwood, and he is now the owner of mining property at the last named place.
During the construction of the Central Pacific Railroad Mr. Bell took a contract for furnishing wood to the company at various places along this line. In that enterprise he met with prosperity. He became a pioneer in the ice business on the summit; also at Cuba, where he organized the Peoples Ice Company. This company shipped ice all over the state and Mr. Bell became the manager of the office at San Francisco, of which he had charge for ten years. On the expiration of that period he assisted in consolidating the company with the Union Ice Company, and he is still a stockholder in the latter, managing its office at Colfax. He is now also the manager for a large fruit-growing company, which has eight hundred and forty acres of fruit land and is extensively engaged in the raising of Bartlett pears and table and wine grapes, and also has a winery in which the fruit is converted into wine which brings the highest market prices, owing to the excellence of the quality. He has forty acres planted to choice table grapes, one hundred acres in wine grapes and a very extensive orchard of Bartlett pears. He is well versed on the subject of horticulture, especially concerning the best methods of cultivating the fruits mentioned and his opinions are received as authority in this section of the country. Mr. Bell is also prominently engaged in mining interests and is president and manager of the Gold Nugget Mining Company. He has a good residence in Colfax and makes his headquarters in that town.
Mr. Bell was happily married, in May, 1877, to Miss Amelia Winkleman, a native of Greenwood Valley, El Dorado County, and a daughter of Jacob Winkleman who was of Swiss lineage and became one of California pioneers of 1849. Mrs. Bell has considerable artistic talent, especially in oil painting, and has taken a number of prizes for her work. Many pictures of great merit adorn the walls of their pleasant home, which in its attractive furnishings indicates the cultured and refined taste of the inmates. Unto Mr. and Mrs. Bell have been born two children, Carl Gibson, a mining engineer, and Jannet, who is now in college. Mr. Bell is an active member of the Ancient Order of United Workmen and in politics is a Republican. He has done his full share in the development of the resources of the state and in his life has exemplified the true western spirit of enterprise and progress. His indefatigable energy and resolute purpose have enabled him to work his way steadily upward and today he stands among the most prominent businessmen and respected citizens of Placer County.
Transcribed by Gerald Iaquinta.
© 2010 Gerald Iaquinta.