Annie Bidwell

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Annie Kennedy Bidwell, school-girl in Washington, D.C.
Annie Bidwell 1910.jpg

Annie Kennedy Bidwell (1839–1918), with her husband John Bidwell, was a pioneer and founder of society in the Sacramento Valley area of California in the 19th century. She is also known for her contributions to social causes, such as women's suffrage, the temperance movement, and education. Annie Bidwell was a friend and correspondent of Susan B. Anthony, Frances Willard, and John Muir.

Born Annie Ellicott Kennedy, she was the daughter of Joseph C. G. Kennedy, a politician in the Whig party, who served as director of the United States Census for 1850 and 1860. The Kennedy family lived in Washington, D.C. from Annie's 10th year.

Annie Bidwell's strong religious beliefs motivated her to dedicate herself to social and moral causes. From her teenage years, she was associated with the Presbyterian Church. She was later to commission the building of a Presbyterian Church in Chico, California.

Annie Kennedy married John Bidwell on April 16, 1868 in Washington, D.C. Their wedding guests included Elizabeth Cady Stanton, then President Andrew Johnson and future President Ulysses S. Grant. After their marriage, Annie returned with her new husband to his home in Chico, California.

The Bidwell Mansion in Chico is now preserved as a state historic park. While Annie and John Bidwell resided in the mansion, they were hosts to many prominent figures of their era, including: President Rutherford B. Hayes, General William T. Sherman, Susan B. Anthony, Frances Willard, Governor Leland Stanford, John Muir, and Asa Gray.

Annie was concerned for the future of the local Mechoopda Native Americans during the life of her husband, and was active in state and national Indian associations. An amateur botanist, Annie Bidwell collected the first known specimen of a small annual plant which was then named Bidwell's knotweed (Polygonum bidwelliae), after her.[1]

After her husband's death Annie remained a beloved citizen of Chico, the town her husband founded.

Her final act of benevolence was to donate to the city of Chico on July 10, 1905, some 2,238 acres (almost ten square miles) of land, along with a Children's Park in downtown Chico. Since then the land has remained in the public trust and is now known as Bidwell Park.

Quote: “[Bidwell] has always been in sight as a patriarch of the old style, steadfast upright, towering in massive grandeur of character amid his fellow pioneers like a Sequoia amid its companion firs and pines. And so I think his name will stand in history – a benevolent master builder – the Washington of California.” – John Muir, 1905

Quote: ”Day so lovely I passed a couple of hours in the grounds, and as the sun lowered, went to the glass room in the tower for a n hour, to enjoy grand scenery and sun-warmth.” - Annie Bidwell

Born:June 30, 1839 in Meadville, Pennsylvania Died: March 9, 1918 Full name: Annie Ellicott Kennedy(Maiden name) Early Life: The second child of four children. Her father was in charge of the United States Census in 1850 and 1860. Annie grew up in Washington D.C. and attended finishing school. She converted to Presbyterianism, when she was a teenager, and she supported the temperance movement. She volunteered as nurse when the Civil War broke out. When John Bidwell arrived in Washington in D.C. and he was working with Annie’s father. He had many visits to the family’s house for dinners and they dated for a very long time. They got married at her family’s home on April 16. 1868. Annie encouraged John to become a Christian and to give up alcohol. Together they lived in a mansion in Chico, California. She was very active in society.

Role in Society: She was a member and vice president of the National Women's Indian Association. Was active in the state and national Indian associations. She was a botanist and she found a first specimen that was named Bidwell’s knotweed. Was a supporter of the women’s suffrage and the temperance movement. She instructed the building of the Bidwell Memorial Presbyterian Church completed in 1909 and she was a dedicated Presbyterian. Annie Bidwell donated about 2,000 acres to a park in Chico, the city that her husband found. Hosted many important figures such as John Muir and Susan B. Anthony. She taught local tribe members how to read, write, and sew. She made close bonds with the members. She advocated for Indian rights. Annie left land and money for the Indian tribe. She provided leadership in the causes she supported.

Husband(John Bidwell): Was a Union general. He was a rancher, politician, philanthropist, botanist, and geologist and he led the first wagon trail to California in 1841. He was a U.S. representative, and the 1892 Presidential candidate on the Prohibition Party ticket. He found Chico, California and he loved Annie Bidwell very much. They had a very loving relationship. Wrote letters to each other when she went out of town.

Their Mansion: Lived in a three-story mansion with 26 rooms at Rancho del Arroyo Chico. Their mansion has complete gas lighting with 19th century modern plumbing and water systems. Some guests that visited the mansion were Rutherford B. Hayes, General William T. Sherman, Susan B. Anthony, Frances Willard, Governor Stanford, John Muir, and Asa Gray.

Role in Society: She was a member and vice president of the National Women's Indian Association. Was active in the state and national Indian associations. She was a botanist and she found a first specimen that was named Bidwell’s knotweed. Was a supporter of the women’s suffrage and the temperance movement. She instructed the building of the Bidwell Memorial Presbyterian Church completed in 1909 and she was a dedicated Presbyterian. Annie Bidwell donated about 2,000 acres to a park in Chico, the city that her husband found. Hosted many important figures such as John Muir and Susan B. Anthony. She taught local tribe members how to read, write, and sew. She made close bonds with the members. She advocated for Indian rights. Annie left land and money for the Indian tribe. She provided leadership in the causes she supported.

References: http://www.heidelberggraphics.com/Stansbury%20Publishing/annie%20bidwell%20oth.htm http://bidwellmansionpark.com/history/john-annie/ http://www.oac.cdlib.org/findaid/ark:/13030/tf8x0nb314/ http://vault.sierraclub.org/john_muir_exhibit/people/bidwells.aspx http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=460 https://www.newsreview.com/chico/close-to-annie/content?oid=32592

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