The picture on the left is a new photo I obtained from a book called: American Portraits
Legend: "John Bigelow (1817-1911); Editor, writer, diplomat; Courtesy Library of Congress, Brady-Handy Collection".   Excite Reference Encyclopedia

     "John Bigelow of Union"...I call him that because he went to Union College in Schenectady,NY. So did my son Jeffrey Jon Bigelow. Jeff graduated with a BA in Geology in 1995. During my son's years at Union, I "discovered" John in a book of Union "Worthies". A "Worthy" was one who attained some measure of success and attended Union. John Bigelow was attending school in Hartford, CT for 3 years with little to show for it and was looking for something else. His older brother David was attending Union at the time and told John that if he would quit Hartford and come to Union, he wouldn't be sorry. And he wasn't!! He attended Union from 1834-1835 and graduated from Union in 1835. He later gave a speech to the graduating class of Union 1856. He told this story about David and his coming to Union and other interesting anecdotes that I can't remember. Perhaps later.

Note: Lewis makes mention of a John Bigelow who was apparently an inspector at Sing Sing prison.(see below)

Note2: 05/04/2000 I received correspondence from Charles Hubert, who came to own a Steinway piano once owed by John Bigelow (see below)
Note3: interesting message from Panama.(see below)

     According to the Grolier Encyclopedia and other sources:} John Bigelow, b. Malden, N.Y., Nov. 25, 1817, d. Dec. 19, 1911, was an American diplomat and writer. After a brief career as a lawyer, he became (1848) part owner and editor, with William Cullen Bryant, of the New York Evening Post; for a dozen years thereafter, he wrote editorials vigorously supporting free trade and denouncing slavery. In 1861 he went to Paris as consul general under the Lincoln Administration and in 1865-66 served as the U.S. minister to France. While in France, Bigelow was instrumental in generating support for the Union cause and in discouraging Napoleon III from undertaking an imperial expedition to Mexico. In the latter half of his life, Bigelow produced a valuable analysis of French relations with the Confederate navy (1888), biographies of Edouard Laboulaye (1889) and Samuel TILDEN (1895), and two books reflecting his devotion to the philosophy of the Swedish theologian Emanuel SWEDENBORG. He also edited the works of Benjamin Franklin in ten volumes (1887-88); his Life of Benjamin Franklin (1874) is a version of the famous Autobiography that Bigelow had edited from a manuscript discovered in 1868. His own autobiography Retrospections of an Active Life, was published in five volumes between 1909 and 1913.

The following is the article from "The Bigelow Family Genealogy" Vol II, page 224, Scanned by Don Bigelow of MI (including the picture below)

Forgotten First Citizen

John Bigelow at "The Squirrels." ca: 1905

# 16312.74    John7 Bigelow, son of Asa6 ( David5, David4, John3, Joshua2, John1) and Lucy (Isham) Bigelow, was born at Malden-on-Hudson, Ulster, NY on 25 November 1817. He is known as "The Forgotten Citizen" as he had an outstanding career as a lawyer, editor, appointed by President Lincoln to be Consul at Paris (1861); in 1864 from Charge d'Affaires to Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to the Court of Napoleon III.

     In 1865, he was Minister to France and was effective in blocking Confederate State's efforts to build ships in Europe. In 1868, he published the "Autogiography of Benjamin Franklin" and in 1874 a 3 volume set: "The Life of Benjamin Franklin Written by Himself". He was instrumental in exposing the graft of the "Tweed Ring" in NY. He spent three years living in Germany giving his 6 children some European education.

     Returning to New York, he was elected to the office of Secretary of State for New York (04 November 1875). At the age of 70 his major and most fitting occupation was the development of the New York Public Library. He was a staunch supporter of the Panama Canal idea and did much to settle the American dispute between the two Canal routes. He was a great friend of the young Bunau-Varilia who later brought the proclamation of Independence to John's home and the flag of Panama was made in John's home for the newly proclamed state - Panama.

     Thirteen times, after his 70th birthday, he made trips to different parts of Europe, traveled throughout America, Mexico and to Yucatan. John had always believed that the inherent capacity of negroes and whites was the same. He believed that democracy could not flourish, if any group was suppressed. He agreed to serve as President of the Board of Trustees of the Calhoun Colored School, in Alabama.

     Then, after years of dedicated effort and with John in the forefront, the cornerstone was laid for the New York Public Library - he was 85 at the time. At the age of 93, he walked beside President William Howard Taft and with 600 guests he attended the completion ceremonies of the Library.

     Over 88 published works and many manuscripts of his are on file. Living abroad for many years in his career, it is not strange that a list of his friends should be a roll call of the leaders of his time, American, British, European.

     John died in New York City on 19 December, 1911. He married Jane Tunis Poultney on June 11 1850. She was the daughter of Ivan and Jane (Tunis) Poultney and born January 16 1829 at Baltimore, MD. She died on 03 February 1889 in New York City.

Children of John and Jane Tunis BIGELOW

16312.741     Poultney, b 1851 NY, NY; d I853 from a fall off a ladder in family library.

16312.742    Grace, b II Aug 1852 NY, NY.

16312.743    John, b 12 May 1854 NY, NY; d 29 Feb 1936 Washington, DC; m 28 April 1883 Mary Braxton Dallam; 4 children.

16312.744    Poultney, b 10 Sept 1855 NY, NY; d 29 May 1945 Malden, NY; m (1) 16 April 1884 Edith Evelyn Jaffrey, 3 children, (2) 07 April 1911 Lillian Pritchard; res. NY.

16312.745    Jenny (Jane), b 21 June 1859 Paris, France; d_; m 28 April 1886 Charles Edward Tracy; res. NY City; 2 children.

16312.746    Ernest, b_1861 Paris; d 21 July 186-5.

16312.747    Annie, b 30 Nov 1863 London, Eng.;d 1922; m 23 Oct 1889 Butler Kenner Harding.

16312.748    Flora, b 18 Oct 1868 Highland Falls, NY; d_; m (1) 15 Dec 1886 Charles Steward Dodge, (2) 06 June1905 Lionel Guest; 2 children..

Mrs. John Bigelow
Clapp, Margaret A., Forgotten First Citizen: John Bigelow (1947; repr. 1968).
Howe,Bigelow Family of America; Biographical Encyclopedia of U.S.
Subject: A Bigelow reference FYI
Date: Wed, 16 Feb 2000 13:39:09 -0800
From: "Ron Roizen"   <  >
Hi Rod...
W. David Lewis' book, FROM NEWGATE TO DANNEMORA : THE RISE OF THE PENITENTIARY IN NEW YORK, 1796-1848 (Ithaca: Cornell U. Press, 1965), makes mention of a John Bigelow who was apparently an inspector at Sing Sing prison.  Bigelow, Lewis writes, was an innovator, and among other things sought to allow prisoners a ration of chewing tobacco.  "[I]t will be the source of great happiness to the poor devils," wrote Bigelow in his diary in February, 1846 (quoted in Lewis, p. 242ff).
Lewis describes Bigelow on p. 241 as follows:  "Bigelow was young, well educated, and idealistic.  He had tried his hand at being a lawyer, a writer, and a journalist, and at this stage of his career was dissatisfied with his accomplishments.  At first, he appears to have accepted the inspectorship primarily as 'an office which without complicating my position in politics establishes me in the confidence and respect of men whose consideration it is desirable to maintain,' but soon became genuinely interested in penal problems."
Lewis' footnotes note that an MS diary of this John Bigelow is available at the New York Public Library.  Also noted are two books:  (1) Margaret Clapp, FORGOTTEN FIRST CITIZEN: JOHN BIGELOW, Boston, 1947 and (2) John Bigelow, RETROSPECTIONS OF AN ACTIVE LIFE, New York, 1909-1913.
All the best, Ron Roizen
Subject: 1864 Steinway Grand Piano purchased by Mr. John Bigelow, Nov. 23, 1864.
Date: Sun, 30 Apr 2000 23:01:57 -0400
From: Charles Hubert   <  >

Hi Rod:
     I was wondering if the piano I'm restoring could have belonged to John Bigelow the editor, author and diplomat. The serial number on the piano is 9,400. see Steinway ledger below for first and second owner. According to the ledger Mr. John Bigelow was the first owner. The second owner was L. B. Laxton of Troy, NY. I haven't found any information on Mr. Laxton but I do know that the piano was in Troy NY at least until 1901 because on the side of one of the keys is written: "Ferguson, repaired, 1901, Troy, NY"
     I purchased the piano 18 years ago in Long Lake New York. My wife and I were camping in the Saranac Lake area and I
saw the piano for sale in a "bargain newspaper." The person I purchased the piano from, Mr. Elwin Jenness, said that the piano was in the house that his family had purchased. The previous owner's name was Mr. Bob Donahue who was a music teacher at the local Long Lake public high school. I called the Long Lake school system and they think that Mr. Donahue graduated from the Crane School of Music in Potsdam, NY in the 40's and purchased the piano from the music school. When he purchased the piano I do not know. How and when the Music school obtained the piano I don't know either.
     Anyway, that's the history I have on the instrument right now. Any info. you could add would be helpful. Thank you, and much appreciated.
Charlie Hubert
218 High Rd.
Kensington, CT
phone: 860-223-3081


See John7 Bigelow's Speech link for more history on John, his father Asa, and other relatives. John's speech at a Centennial of the Town of Marlborough in 1903, gives life and detail to the lives of his and our ancestors.

The Bigelow Page, John and Poultney Bigelow A brief history of the Bigelows.A brief biography and an example of the writings of John Bigelow and a brief biography and an inventory of the papers of Poultney Bigelow (his son)

The Unfailing Moral Standard - John Bigelow The Golden Rule. The Unfailing Moral Standard. - from "Toleration" by John Bigelow (1817 - 1911)

John Bigelow of Union

Subject: Research on John(7) Bigelow
Date:  07 Aug 2002 00:37:44 +0200
From:     Marc de Banville <>
 Dear Rod,
Thank you so much for maintaining this site. My name is Marc de Banville,
I am a French documentarist, living in Panama, and working currently on
a 52 minutes documentary about Philippe Bunau-Varilla, who was a friend
of John 7 Bigelow.
I would like to know if you have some documentation on the John
Bigelow/PBV relationship. More precisely, are they prime sources
(letters, writings, interviews) about the crucial november 1903 days and
about a previous trip in 1900 to Paris?
Last but not least. Philippe Bunau-Varilla mentionned that during his
1886 visit to Panama, John Bigelow came in with his daughter Grace. I
looked all around, but it was impossible to me to find anything else
about Grace than a birthdate in august 1852. Who was she? What happened
to her? Was she really with John in 1886 in Panama, or was it Jane?
If you can help me in this investigation, I would be very pleased.
With my best regards
Yous sincerely,
Marc de Banville
Via Argentina 61
Rep. de Panama

Modified - 09/18/2004
(c) Copyright 2004 Bigelow Society, Inc. All rights reserved.
Rod  Bigelow - Director
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Rod Bigelow (Roger Jon 12 Bigelow)
Box 13    Chazy Lake
Dannemora, N.Y. 12929
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