Georgia Street

Horace Bell (1830-1918), one of L.A.’s more colorful figures, named this street after his wife. Georgia Herrick (1845-1899) was born in Springfield, MA and may have grown up in Albany, NY or in New Albany, IN, where her future husband hailed from. (Details are scant.) Bell, who would become an attorney and newsman, was a real firebrand: entire books could be written about his wild life – and they have been, including two memoirs. The couple married in New York in 1862 while Horace was a Union officer in the Civil War; Georgia moved to New Orleans with him and got closer than most military wives to the heat of battle. A year after the war, the Bells came to Los Angeles and set up house at Figueroa and Pico. Nearby Georgia Street was christened in 1874 on Bell land. It was renamed Georgia Bell Street in 1883 to avoid conflict with another Georgia Street, now defunct. Horace Bell, ever the agitator, made a huge stink when Charles Forman tried to change Georgia Bell Street to Nevada Street in 1897, so City Council offered a compromise: change it back to good old Georgia Street. Georgia Herrick Bell died of dysentery at 54, survived by her husband and eleven children. It must be said that the Bells were a troubled family. For starters, the 1870 census marked Georgia as “insane”, although in an 1887 libel case, she testified that she was merely seeing a doctor in Alameda for “female diseases” (possibly postpartum depression) that year. Yet there is more: Of the five Bell sons, Walter went to jail, Albert went to an asylum, Canby wound up homeless, and Charles – a justice of the peace – killed himself after being charged with kidnapping and violating his mentally ill niece. Only Horace Jr. lived a long, quiet life. Horace Sr. was perhaps not the best father.