Herbert H. 9 Bigelow

Founder of Brown & Bigelow

16315.2371     Herbert Huse 9 Bigelow, son of Andrew Steele 8 ( Zelotes 7, Zelotes 6, Daniel 5, David 4, Lt. John 3, Joshua 2, John 1) and Celestia (Huse) Bigelow was born 18 May 1870 in Blooksfield, Orange County, Vermont, The oldest of three children, he was to lose his father while only four years of age. Some years later the family moved to Iowa. Herbert received his early education in Vermont and Iowa schools. He worked his way through Grinnell College in Iowa by selling, during vacations, the book "In Darkest Africa" by Henry Stanley, "Review of Review" magazine, and calendars for a company based in Red Oak, Iowa. Also see article by ROD at Herbert Huse 9 Bigelow......

The year 1894 saw Bigelow married to Nina Penny of Fullerton, Nebraska, where Herbert briefly had an interest in a lumber yard. They went on a honeymoon to the Black Hill, but Bigelow prudently stocked up on calendars along the way.

He continued in this business until he met a St. Paul printer named Hiram Brown. (see below) The two men shortly came to a business agreement, and organized as Brown and Bigelow, with Brown investing $3000 and Bigelow investing $1500. Brown was never active in the business, and died in 1905. Bigelow's wife Nina having died in 1897, he then married Mrs. Frances Gillette, a widow, and her son Leon was adopted by Bigelow.

Brown and Bigelow expanded rapidly, constantly seeking larger quarters, until by 1904 it employed over 400 persons. It was shortly after this that Bigelow purchased Quality Park, and erected its modern building.

Other than purchasing a large farm, Bigelow continued to live abstemiously, plowing all the company profits back into the business. In its early days Brown and Bigelow was a model facility with large areas of glass and light, landscaped grounds and recreational facilities (both indoors and out) for its employees. It is said that Bigelow was a very paternalistic employer and admired Elbert Hubbard (the business man's philosopher), and wished to accomplish what Hubbard had done in his New York plant.

Herbert Bigelow was absolutely opposed to the unionization of any industry, for in his business there was no need of a union to protect the working-man's rights. He was equally outspoken on the subject of income tax. As early as 1905 Bigelow inveighed against taxes on either income or earnings. He considered such taxes an immoral penalty on initiative. Instead, he proposed a tax on what he considered unearned increments, that is, taxes on the property of landholders who merely sit back waiting for development to increase the value of their holdings.

Inevitably, Herbert Bigelow met head-on with the U.S. government, which was having difficulty enforcing its 1913 income tax law. The law W2S being widely ignored, and in the post Teapot Dome era, in the early 1920,s, the federal government chose to prosecute a few selected businessmen from each geographic area. One of these was Herbert Bigelow, who expected to be fined, but instead was sentenced to three years in prison. He served the minimum eight months at Leavenworth penitentiary, and it is typical of the man that while he was in prison he spent his time and money ameliorating the lot of his fellow-prisoners and their families. In particular, he became interested in one Charles Ward.

For many years after Bigelow's release from Leavenworth, the company followed the policy of employing ex-convicts whom they considered worth rehabilitating. Among these was Charles Ward who rose. first to general manager, and eventually company president after Bigelow's death.

Early in 1934 Bigelow's adopted son Leon died. In August of the same year Herbert's wife Frances died after a long illness, and a month later Bigelow himself died by accidental drowning in Bass Lake, Minnesota. (Note Newspaper accounts of Herberts death put his death in 1933)

He left an estate of three million dollars. One third went to his sister Helen (Mrs. Robert Porter Galloway) whose husband had joined Brown and Bigelow, coming from National Cash Register Company. One third, plus the farm, went to Charles Ward. The remaining third was divided between Leon Bigelow and Leon's son Herbert Bigelow II. (The latter died at age 40 in a car accident ) There were numerous other bequests, both large and small, to employees and relatives, including Herbert's sister Gertrude, who never married. Sole family survivor at present is Helen's son Herbert Galloway, a plastics manufacturer.

Material for this article was contributed by a ranking company member who volunteered that these facts could be checked in any large public library and that he himself is undertaking a definitive study of the life of Herbert H. Bigelow. Our thanks to him for details on the life of an enigmatic and purposeful man.

The above information was current in 1974

from the South Bend Trib 9-21-1933


Woman Also Dead in Canoe Trip in Minnesota.

Herbert H. Bigelow Chairman of the board of the Bigelow Press here and St. Paul, Minn., capitalist, evidently drowned in a northern Minnesota lake after a bitter struggle, according to searchers who recovered his body.

The bodies of Mr. Bigelow, aged 63, and Mrs. Ralph Mather, 39, also of St. Paul, were recovered late Wednesday from Basswood lake, 20 miles north of Ely, Minn. Search was continued for Howard Schaeffer, woodsman guide of Ely.

The trio drowned last Saturday when their canoe, lashed by high wind and waves, overturned while they were returning from a fishing trip into Canada. Mrs. Mather's husband, returning in another canoe, escaped uninjured.

The body of Mr. Bigelow was found about 500 feet from Chicago island, near the spot where the overturned canoe of the party had been found. The news was flashed to Ely from a radio equipped launch aiding in the search. Basswood lake is in international body of water between the United States and Canada.

The searchers who found the bodies said it appeared that Mr. Bigelow fought against drowning for sometime, inasmuch as he had removed part of the heavy clothing which he wore. The clothing probably was removed after the canoe capsized and while he clung to its side.

The bodies were to be taken to St. Paul today.

Second Article From the South Bend N. T. 9-22-1933


C. J. Jackson, President of Local Branch, to Attend Funeral.

Claude J. Jackson, president of Bigelow Press, Inc., of South Bend, will leave for St. Paul, Minn., Friday night to attend the funeral Saturday afternoon of Herbert H. Bigelow, chairman of the board of the printing company, who lost his life last Saturday while fishing on Basswood lake near Ely, Minn.

The funeral service will be held at 2:30 p. m. Saturday from the home of R. P. Galloway, treasurer of the Brown & Bigelow Co., of St. Paul.

Mr. Bigelow and two companions were in the fishing boat when it capsized on the lake during a storm' last Saturday. His companions who perished with him were Mrs. Ralph Mather, socially prominent of St. Paul, and Howard Schaeffer, a guide from Ely, Minn.

The bodies of Mr. Bigelow and Mrs. Mather were recovered from the lake on Wednesday but according to reports received by Mr. Jackson from St. Paul, Friday morning, the body of Schaeffer has not yet been found.

Mr. Bigelow went north for a rest and a vacation two weeks ago accompanied by Mr. and Mrs. Mather. Mr. Mather was in another boat when the mishap overtook the Bigelow boat.

Mr. Bigelow was a St. Paul millionaire who held extensive investments in the printing business both in St. Paul and South Bend. He became interested in the printing business here three years ago and was a frequent visitor in this city.
Subject: Bigelows and Browns
Date: Thu, 29 Jul 1999 17:12:38 PDT
From: "Barbara Brown" <  bbrown60@hotmail.com  >
I found your web page and would like to see if you might have some information that would assist me in finding a great grandfather of my husbands.
I have been searching for the parents of a Benjamin R. Brown, b.1853 in Ohio for some time. The reason I think he may have some connection to the Bigelow family is just a wild guess.  My reasoning stems from the fact that Ezra and Eliza Jane (Bigelow) Brown had a son named Emmet Bigelow Brown b. 1851.  The similarity here is that my Benjamin R. Brown named his second son (my husband's grandfather) Emmet Bigelow Brown.  I was wondering if you think there could be a possible connection.  I noticed in your family tree that Ezra and Eliza Jane had four children.  Do you know if this list could possibly be missing other children? Or do you have information that suggests that it is a complete list?
I know from the l880 census that Benjamin R. Brown was living in Delaware co. Ohio with his first wife and son Ura (born 1875).  My husband's grandfather Emmet Bigelow (Ben's son by a second wife) was born in 1892 in West Va.

I can't believe that this is only a coincidence.  Any thoughts or suggestions? Please respond to the following:
BBrown60@hotmail.com        Thanks!

Modified - 10/30/2001
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Rod  Bigelow - Director

Rod Bigelow (Roger Jon12 BIGELOW)

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Massena, N.Y. 13662
bigelow@slic.com Rod Bigelow at SLIC 
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