Vol. 9, No. 2 April, 1980 --- FORGE: The Bigelow Society Quarterly --- Page 27



Eugene Allen 10 Biglow, David Carlton Orvis 9 , Adoniram Judson 8  , Barna 7 , Silas 6 , Solomon 5 , Samuel 4, Samuel 3, Samuel 2, John 1)

Eugene Allen 9 Biglow, Theodosia Isabel 8, Marcus James 7, Thomas A. 6 , Gale 5 ( Jabez 4 , Gershom 3, Joshua2, John1)

I am an authentic Bigelow. My mother, Theodosia Isabel Bigelow, was born in Grindley, California, on September 27, 1881, the daughter of Marcus James Bigelow and Clara Parlin. She married David Carlton Orvis Biglow, who was born on Sherman Island near Antioch, California, on November 2, 1875. He was the son of Adoniram Judson Biglow and Martha Monroe. My grandfather, Adoniram, landed from a trip "around the Horn" on October 10, 1849. I was born in San Francisco, California, 10 October 1908.

I have been a lawyer for forty-one years and I am still in active practice, or at least semi-active, as I have turned the management over to my son, Michael Judson Biglow, a 1970 graduate of the School of Law, University of California at Berkeley, who was born during my term in the military in Cincinnati, Ohio, on July 14, 1935. My wife is Martha Schweiss, who was born and lived through high school in Virginia City, Nevada, the historic mining town which furnished President Lincoln with the gold used to help fight the Civil War. Having reached adulthood in 1929, I was just the right age to have caught the trauma of the Depression, the Roosevelt years, and World War II. After the war I had some bad years because of a health problem which developed during my military term.

As a Consequence of events, the details of which would bore you, I worked as a credit man for Commercial Credit Corporation, and later as an insurance adjuster for the Employers Liability Assurance Corporation, during and between graduating from college and getting secure enough financially to complete my law training I practiced law in San Francisco for a short time but then went to Mexico where I operated a placer gold mine. As the war grew closer to the United States, we could not get materials needed to operate, so we sold out and returned to the States I bought a garage in Los Angeles as a war business, and just when things were going successfully, I received my notice at age 34 1/2 and a week later was in the military. In retrospect one really has little control over his destiny--time and events seem to shape one's life. When asked if I would have done it differently, my only answer is: If you do your best every day, events will control your destiny is spite of what you do or do not do.

Following the war I could not practice law for reasons of health, but I could fly and work on airplanes. Since I had acquired a Commercial Pilot's License and an Aircraft and Engine Mechanic's rating, I spent ten years in the flying business, first as a mechanic and then as a Fixed-Base Operator with a small fleet of aircraft in the crop-dusting business flying Stearmans, Pipers, and other military surplus aircraft. When governmentally-imposed acreage controls resulted in my business being reduced, I sold out and returned to the practice of law.

The range of events which have controlled my life have had an effect on my practice of law: I am quite comfortable in many fields and find that it is more of a help than a handicap to have had so many turbulent years--it is as if someone had been forcing me to become versatile so I could do a better job for my clients.

When I started this I intended to write just about my grandparents, but I thought it best since this is all "family" that I identify myself so that you could 'see" who was doing the story.

My mother's line was Joshua Bigelow and Elizabeth Flagg, and my father's was Samuel Biglow and Mary Flagg. This was the second generation. My father was the tenth generation, and my mother the ninth generation. It seems that Bigelows tend to marry and have their children late in life so the generations move slightly slower than average. My great-grandfather, Thomas Allen Bigelow, was born in 1802!

Grandfather Adoniram Judson Biglow was born in Hubbardton, Vermont, in the year 1821. He emigrated to California between March and October, 1849, at the first of the Gold Rush. Gold was discovered at Sutter's Creek in the Spring of 1848. Given the communication of the time and the rate of travel, Grandad was one of the first to arrive in California. He first started a soap factory in San Francisco and later sold out and moved to Sacramento. Somewhere along the line, and I have never been able to determine when, his bachelor brother, Parcellus Kendrick Biglow, also came West, and the two were associated much of the time. When Grandad died in 1891, he appointed by will Parcellus Kendrick to be the guardian of my father, David Carlton Orvis. Grandad was something an historic figure. Having noted that there was a shortage of domestic bees in the State of California for the propagation of plant life, he determined to alter the situation In the next ten years he made two transcontinental trips to bring bees from the East Coast to California. He was California's pioneer bee man. He made the trek by sea to the Isthmus of Panama, walked across to the Istmus, and boarded other ships to continue. On the second trip he married Martha Monroe of the Vermont Monroes and brought her West. Her father was a preacher and had seven daughters, most of whom came to California. I have not seen any of the progeny since I was in my teens One of the sisters married a Poindexter, another a Billings, and a third a Brann. All were located in the San Francisco Bay area.

Grandad Adoniram Judson was an intellectual type and a doer. He wrote a brochure on the care and management of bees in transit with particular attention to the way to insure their survival when carried on mule-back across the steaming jungles of Panama. Although certainly timely writing from information painfully acquired, it is now gloriously obsolete.

California's Great Valley of the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers is 450 miles long north and south, 50 to 100 miles wide east and west, and is completely surrounded by mountains--Coast Range on the West, the Siskiyous on the north, the magnificent Sierra Nevada on the east, and the Tehachapis on the south (just north of Los Angeles). The only break in the mountains is where the San Joaquin River, which flows north, and the Sacramento River, which flows south, join and flow through the Carquinez Straights into the San Francisco Bay and out through the Golden Gate. Near where the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers join lies roughly a right-angled triangle, approximately forty miles on the sides, terminating at the cities of Antioch, Stockton, and Sacramento In 1849 this area was all swamp, interspersed by many little, interconnecting rivers. At low tide the land was above water, and at high tide it was under water four to six feet, depending upon the season It contains a thousand miles of rivers.

Grandad Adoniram Judson and a man named Upham saw where this swampland, now known as the Delta, could be reclaimed by building a levee to keep the water out at high tide. They hired Chinese Coolies (the railroads having just been built, thousands were released and available to work) and with wheel-barrows and two-horse scrapers they built a levee and reclaimed about 6,000 acres of land lying at the confluence of the Sacramento and the San Joaquin Rivers. This project commenced about 1870. If you will look at your California map near the town of Antioch, you will see a road from Antioch to Sacramento. This road from Antioch crosses the San Joaquin River onto Sherman Island, the name my Grandad and Upham gave to the reclaimed land. Sherman Island was the first of the Delta to be reclaimed. My 1920 the entire Delta was reclaimed. The levees permit intensive farming; the crops include pears, apples, tomatoes, grain, corn, beans, soy beans, and much of the asparagus reaching the East Coast comes from this area.

When he was in his early sixties Grandad sold out to Upham and purchased the land that now is the eastern half of the Town of Antioch. Grandad died in 1891.

My father, David Carlton Orvis Biglow, received his share of the estate, and attended Stanford University where he was graduated in Law one year after the pioneer class. Herbert Hoover was one year ahead of him and was manager of the football team on which my father played. Charles Dole of the Dole Pineapple family from Honolulu was another class member and football player. Father was a farmer at heart, and after five years as a government employee following college, he returned to farming and was a professional ranch manager. We always lived on large ranches, usually 10,000 to 13,000 acres It was interesting and pleasant, although I was never a farmer at heart.

Marcus James Bigelow, my maternal grandfather died in 1931 at the age of 92. This puts the year of his birth in upstate New York as the year 1839, when John Marshal was still Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court He crossed the plains by ox-cart in 1857. I have a letter written by his older brother to Allen Bigelow and Emily Wallace, his parents, instructing them on how to prepare for the transcontinental trip. Allen was fifty-five years of age when he made the trip with his wife and children. I have never been able to learn which route they took, except that they ended up at the foot of Mount Shasta in northern California. Therefore, I believe that after crossing Utah they must have taken what is known as the Oregon Trail and then dropped into California from the north. In any event they settled at Weed, a little community on the northwest slope of Mount Shasta They went into the logging business and were active in the manufacture of lumber during the booming Gold Rush era. When things slowed, they moved to Gridley, which is about 100 miles south and in the Sacramento Valley, and there engaged in farming. In commemoration of them there are two public names: Bigelow Falls, which is on the east slope of Mount Shasta (near the famous chalets later built by William Randolph Hurst) and Bigelow Road, which is near an area called Pennington, not far from the town of Gridley. Grandmother Clara Parlin was 13 years younger than Marcus James and was born in Clipper Mills, a gold mine camp in the Sierra Nevada east of Oroville, California. She was born in 1852 and was the first Anglo child born in that area.

Grandad Bigelow and Clara were very musically inclined. Grandad was a hoedown fiddler, and grandmother played the organ and sang In an era when everyone made his own entertainment, they were in great demand because of their musical skills. As a small child as late as 1914 I can recall their playing.

Grandad was a "steam engineer," as they called men who were skilled in keeping the early power equipment running I recall one annual job he had, which was to man the county road equipment, fire the boilers, and operate the steam engine used to heat and spray the roads with oil. This was before the days when the roads were filled with rock ballast to form a base. He learned to drive an automobile at age 74 and drove very fast. In fact, everyone was afraid to ride with him. He never wrecked a car (except once) and considering his age, did admirably. The first car he had was a 1908 Buick; he later sold it and bought a 1918 Model T Ford. In those days one bought gasoline from a handcart in a garage. We drove into a garage in Antioch, filled with gas and we were going to back out. He was driving and I was sitting on the right. I was about eight at the time He said, "You watch your side, and I will watch mine." We started backing up, and he was going to hit the door on my side. I said, 'Grandad, go ahead." I kept saying it louder until we crashed into the wall. I was furious and said, "Grandad, I told you to go ahead," and he said, "I thought you meant, "go ahead and back up."

Grandad Bigelow was very active in the Masonic Order and was Master of his Lodge for eight consecutive terms. He was always active in the Lodge, and on his fiftieth year as a member received a large silver service. I am most fortunate in having inherited one of the teapots I am also grateful that I have Marcus James' and Clara's library table, Morris chair, and an ornate marbletop dresser, while my cousin, Richard Wallace Campbell of Gridley, has Clara's reed pump organ.

Marcus James remained very active until into his eighties and then gradually developed hardening of the arteries of the cerebrum and could remember only old times but did not know any of his family. He was eighteen years of age when he crossed the plains and remained single until his early thirties.

Marcus and Clara had five children. They were:


Florence 1873-1948 Married Richard Campbell of Gridley, California.

Arthur 1875-1947
(1) Married Mamie ? , Son Marcus, 1902-1965.
(2) Married Bertha Sanders, daughter Bertha Lou, born 1918.
(3) Married Emma Franzen, no issue.

Ralph 1878-1943 Married Lenna Sanders, two children, Carl & Helen.

Theodosia Isabel 1881-1970
(1) Married D. C. O. Biglow, sons Orvis 1906-1926, and Eugene Allen 1908
(2) Married Herbert D. Young, no issue.

Parlin 1883-1902 No issue.

Florence and Richard had two sons, Richard Wallace Campbell and Clare Campbell. Clare married but has no children. Richard Wallace Campbell married twice and had a son, Lawrence Campbell, of Sacramento, California. Lawrence and his wife, Louella, have five daughters. Richard Wallace Campbell married Gena Facciano and they have two children, Richard Campbell and Deborah Campbell Killips

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First Posted- 01/04/98
(c) Copyright 1998 Bigelow Society, Inc. All rights reserved.
Don Bigelow - Director

Modified - 07/17/2005
(c) Copyright 2005 Bigelow Society, Inc. All rights reserved.
Rod  Bigelow - Director