Hazel Bell Wines
At a glance:
Born: 1885 - Paradise Valley, Humboldt County, Nevada
Hazel Bell Wines was born in Paradise Valley, Humboldt County, Nevada, to William John Bell and Freely Clementine Choate, who resided in the nearby mining town of Silver City. Freely’s family lived in Paradise Valley, so she had gone there for Hazel’s birth. Eventually the Bell family moved to Winnemucca, where William had made considerable money on gold and silver from the Buckskin Mine in northern Humboldt County. Later, Hazel’s father added a saloon to his various Winnemucca holdings.
Hazel graduated from Humboldt County High School in 1902 and went on to the California State Normal School in San Jose, California, graduating on June 23, 1904. She then received her Nevada Teacher’s Certificate on September 16, 1904.
The young teacher first went to the small mining camp of Kennedy. After a year there, Hazel moved to Ruby Valley in Elko County, where she taught for the next two years. Like many teachers before and since, she found maintaining order in the classroom a trying experience. She often recounted the story of “one angry valley rancher who even came calling with his rifle after I disciplined his six-foot son.” Once the rancher saw the petite but determined young lady before him, he backed down.
It was during this period that Hazel met Stanley L. Wines, who owned the stage line between Halleck and Ruby Valley. He also served as Justice of the Peace for the area. Hazel and Stanley were married on June 22, 1907, in Winnemucca at the home of the bride’s parents.
Hazel returned to Winnemucca for the birth of her first two daughters, Margane and Marian. Her son, S. Vernon, was born in Halleck. Daughters Merle and Genevieve were later born in Ruby Valley.
Busy raising five children, Hazel nevertheless made time for the interests she loved, including china painting, watercolors, and fishing. She also learned the art of politics as she followed the political career of her father, who served in the Nevada state senate from 1907 to 1915.
From 1920 until the Depression, Stanley and Hazel divided family life between Salt Lake City, Utah, and northeastern Nevada’s Buckskin Mine. Stanley built an apartment house in Salt Lake called “Bell-Wines” on First South between Fifth and Sixth East. After wintering in Salt Lake City, the family moved to the Buckskin Mine each summer. There the children could ride horses or climb to the top of Buckskin Mountain, where one can stand and see as far as Oregon, Idaho, and California. Sometimes, Hazel sent her children to take food to the Basque sheep herders working below.
Once, the children trapped a groundhog and took it home for the winter to Salt Lake City. Since the groundhog could not be tamed, they could never let it out of the cage. It even bit the finger of the postman who tried to pet it. The next summer, they returned the groundhog to Buckskin. It never looked back after being let out of the cage.
During the Depression the Wines lost the apartment house. The family moved to Reno, where Stanley became a construction contractor. Hazel cared for the children and made time to organize “The Native Daughters.” This group of Reno women made it their business to preserve Nevada’s historical papers and properties. She also supported her father’s many political activities.
Hazel’s father “Johnny” Bell was a Democrat who attended many of the National Democratic Conventions. He was a close friend of Senator Pat McCarran, another good Irish Catholic and Democrat. Bell wanted the senator to appoint Hazel postmaster of Humboldt County in Winnemucca. In 1933 the family even moved to Winnemucca in anticipation. When Hazel did not get the appointment, Bell began calling the Senator McCarran “that shanty Irishman” instead of “Pat.”
Striking out on her own politically, Hazel ran for the Humboldt County Assembly seat in 1934. She loved the campaigning. Taking one of her children with her, she went to every ranch in the area. She won the election and served one term in the legislature, introducing six bills, one of which passed both houses of the Legislature. Although it was vetoed by Governor Griswold, her Nevada Historical Bill would have provided for an appropriation of $15,000 to restore to the Nevada Museum and Historical Library, the relics, documents, and pictures which had originally been collected by the Nevada Historical Society. Her efforts drew attention to the fact that these historical treasures were gathering dust in Reno’s State Building.
Hazel Bell Wines passed away in San Francisco, California, in April of 1949. She asked that the date of her passing not be recorded.
Researched and written by Jane Ellsworth Olive. Posted to Web site February 2011.
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