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.
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.
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- Bidwell Mansion State Historic Park (SHP) web site
- City of Chico General Services Department - Park Division
- Guide to the Bidwell Family Papers at The Bancroft Library
- Annie Kennedy Bidwell: An Intimate History by Lois Halliday McDonald. 2004, Stansbury Publishing, Chico, California. ISBN 0-9708922-7-6
- Review of Annie Kennedy Bidwell: An Intimate History