Henry C. Bell, who has been serving as United States internal revenue collector at Sacramento since 1898, has been prominent in the industrial and public life of this state for nearly thirty-five years during which time he has gained a high reputation for business integrity, executive ability and genuine worth of manhood. Since his early achievements as a soldier boy in the Civil war he has been an active worker in every enterprise to which he has put his hand, and among other things to his credit is that of being one of the first to place California fruit culture among the profitable industries of the state. Since taking his present office he has shown his fitness for his duties and responsibilities, and has given universal satisfaction.
Mr. Bell was born in Pennsylvania, October 3, 1846, and comes of English descent. His father, John Bell, was also a native of Pennsylvania, where he followed farming, and died in 1878, at the advanced age of seventy-eight years. During the war of 1812 he served as teamster for the United States army. Mr. Bell’s mother, ann (King) Bell, was born in Pennsylvania and died in 1877. Her brother, Dr. King, was a surgeon during the Civil war, and was a prominent physician in Pittsburg until his death. Two of Mr. Bell’s brothers are deceased, and his brother Franklin, who was wounded in the Civil war, was a hardware merchant and a rancher, and is now retired and living in Palo Alto.
Mr. Bell was educated in the public schools of Pennsylvania, and in 1863, at the age of sixteen, enlisted in a company of Pennsylvania infantry and took part in a number of engagements before his discharge. In 1864 he re-enlisted and was enrolled with the signal corps, with which he remained until his discharge, August 15, 1865. He was in front of Richmond for eleven months, on signal and dispatch duty, and during the winter of 1864 was stationed back of Portsmouth. Mr. Bell spent the winter of 1865-6 in Kansas, and in the following spring went to Boulder, Colorado, and engaged in freighting and teaming across the plains for four years. In 1870 he came to Marysville, California, and clerked for six years, and then embarked in the grocery business at Oroville, which he continued for fifteen years. He was one of the promoters of the Oroville Citizens’ Association, which introduced the citrus industry in 1886, and the results of their work and the subsequent cultivation have had a marked effect on the prosperity of the state. Prior to 1886 only a few boxes of seedlings were raised, but now the product is measured by the carloads. Mr. Bell sold his interests in Oroville at the time of his appointment to his present office.
He has been active in the interests of the Republican party, especially while in Butte county, and was a delegate to several state conventions. He was elected a member of the board of supervisors of Butte county in 1892 and served four years. In 1898 President McKinley appointed him collector of internal revenue for the fourth district, with headquarters at Sacramento, and he has been capably serving in that position ever since.
Mr. Bell was married at Central House, Butte county, California, October 7, 1876, to Miss Minnie Hutchings, a native of Canada and a daughter of the late Finneas Hutchings, a farmer of Butte county. They have two daughters: Mrs. Edith I. Asher and Miss Minerva Bell, the latter at Mills Seminary. Mr. Bell is a Mason of high degree, belonging to the blue lodge, the Knights Templar and the Mystic Shrine. He was one of the organizers of the Grand Army of the Republic at Oroville, and was the first commander of the post, serving for two terms.
Source: Leigh H. Irvine; A History of the New California Its Resources and People, 2 Volumes; New York and Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company, 1903.