Merton Bell, who is engaged in the retail drug business in Weed, has had a varied career since he left his home in the Hoosier state, having had his share of both fortune and misfortune, but he is now well established and is doing well. He was born in Richmond, Indiana, on the 19th of July, 1889, and is a son of Charles C. and Ada C. (Bartling) Bell. His father, who was a native of Ohio, was a railroad man of many years’ experience, and on his retirement located in Chico, California, where he and his wife now resides.
Merton Bell attended the grade schools of Indianapolis, Indiana, and spent two years in high school after which he entered the Indianapolis College of Pharmacy, from which he graduated in 1907. He made up his mind to establish his permanent home on the Pacific coast, but found it necessary to first earn the money with which to make the journey. He worked in various drug stores in ten different states and landed in California in 1909. After a short stay he went to Hawthorne, a mining town in Nevada, where he established a drug store. This provided a success, but three years later his store was destroyed by fire, after which he located in Butte City, California, where he bought the drug store owned by Dr. Gatliff, who is today the oldest practicing physician in that locality. After conducting that store for four years, Mr. Bell sold it and in 1917 entered the service of his country, joining the aerial gunners as an instructor, subject to call to various camps in that capacity, being on what is known as detached service. He held the rank of sergeant and prior to being mustered out, in 1919, was designated as reserve military aviator at Kelly field, Texas.
On his return to civil life, Mr. Bell located in Chico, where he became manager of the Motor Sales Company, which position he held for two years. Returning to Butte City, he bought the drug store which he had sold prior to the war and ran it until 1926, when for the second time he was burned out, losing everything. During the following two years he engaged in the automobile business in Stockton, after which he came to Weed and bought his present drug store. He carries a stock valued at between eight and ten thousand dollars, including a full line of pure drugs, proprietary remedies and druggist’s sundries, besides the auxiliary lines now carried in an up-to-date drug store. He is an able and experienced pharmacist, is prompt and courteous in his service, and caters to the tastes and the requirements of his patrons, so that he commands the largest trade in his line in this section of the valley.
There is now under construction a new railroad line connecting the Western Pacific lines and those of the Great Northern, thereby opening up a vast area untouched by modern transportation. Realizing the possibilities of the new district and its need of a new drug store, Mr. Bell has recently established the only drug store in the town of Bieber, completely stocked to meet all the requirements of the inhabitants, and conducted under the name of the Bieber Drug Company.
In 1926 Mr. Bell was united in marriage to Miss Irma Hallifax, a daughter of Charles and Alice (Alexander) Hallifax. Mr. Halifax was the organizer of a wholesale company in Sacramento, handling teas, coffees, spices and similar lines, but later sold his interests in the business and he and his wife now live at Corning, where they conduct an ice cream parlor. Mr. and Mrs. Bell are the parents of two children, Merton, Jr., and Bob. Mr. Bell is a member of Chico Lodge, No. 423, B. P. O. E., at Chico, and Weed Post, No. 71, A. L. Hunting and fishing are his favorite sports and he has the reputation of generally bringing home abundant evidence of his skills as marksman and angler. He is distinctively public-spirited, giving his active support to every movement proposed for the advancement of the community along either material or civic line, and is regarded as one of Weed’s most substantial and dependable citizens.
Transcribed by Craig Hahn.
© 2005 Craig Hahn.