Charles O. R. Bell, retired, has been for many years a leading figure in the business life of Ogdensburg, where
he was president of Bill Bell & Company, Inc. He was born in this city, a son of George R. and Ellen E. (Howe)
His father was a native of Scotland, and was brought to this country in early infancy by his parents, who were
on their way to Chicago, but on account of illness of his grandfather stopped at Prescott, Ontario, for a short
time. They were induced by Mr. George Parrish to come to Ogdensburg to locate. There grandfather established a
jewelry business in that city in 1818, which was successfully conducted by members of the family for 96 years.
Upon the death of George R. Bell in 1894 it was continued by the son, John E. Bell, until 1914 when it was sold,
and is still in existence. The Bells in Scotland had extensive shipbuilding interests for many years. He had two
brothers, John E., who died in 1913, and Dr. Willard M., who died in 1920. The latter was widely known in the North
Country as an eye, ear and throat specialist.
Charles O. R. Bell has always lived in Ogdensburg. He attended the public schools and at the age of 18 years became
associated with his father in the jewelry business. In 1884, however, he entered the flour milling business conducted
by Rodee & Bill. After seven years as shipping clerk, traveling representative, and accountant, he entered
the firm and the name was changed to Rodee, Bill & Company. He continued in this business for a period of 47
years, when the milling plant and water power was sold to the Niagara Hudson Company. He served as vice president
for 30 years and succeeded James R. Bill as president in 1928. Mr. Bell was also president of the Maple City Milling
Company and president of the Seymour House Corporation.
In 1890 Mr. Bell married Miss Lucy M. Easton of Fargo, N. D.
Mr. Bell is a Republican in politics. He served 12 years on the board of education. He was secretary and treasurer
for many years of the Presbyterian Church, and is still trustee of that organization. He was one of the founders
of the Ogdensburg Country Club, of which he served as secretary and treasurer for the first four years. He is a
Royal Arch Mason and member of the Ogdensburg Lodge No. 128, F. & A. M. He is a member of the Elks Lodge. He
was a member of the Ogdensburg and Century Clubs. He served many years as director of the National Bank of Ogdensburg
until the amalgamation with the Ogdensburg Bank, and is a director in the Ogdensburg Trust Company.
He was identified for 30 years with the Ogdensburg Water Power Property as Referee, also Commissioner for the Improvement
of the Oswegatchie River and the Hydraulic Power thereon.
The North Country
A History, Embracing
Jefferson, St. Lawrence, Oswego, Lewis
and Franklin Counties, New York.
By: Harry F. Landon
Historical Publishing Company
Indianopolis, Indiana 1932