|Birth: ||Jun. 3, 1839, USA|
|Death: ||Mar. 9, 1918|
MRS. ANNIE E. K. BIDWELL.-A prominent place among the women who have left their impress on the development of Butte County and the State of California must be accorded Mrs. Annie E. K. Bidwell, wife of the late Gen. John Bidwell, one of the foremost men of the state, and one whose services to Butte County were of exceptional importance. She bore her full share in making this a great commonwealth and her name is held in loving remembrance in the hearts of the children of the Golden West, and will continue so to be through generations to come.
Mrs. Annie Ellicott Kennedy Bidwell was born at Meadville, Pa., June 30, 1839, a daughter of Joseph Calm Griffith Kennedy and Catherine Morrison Kennedy. The former was appointed by General Taylor to draw up the form for taking the first United States census, and then was named superintendent of the census by President Fillmore. He also proposed the International Congress of Statistics and went to Europe to organize this congress. Mr. Kennedy was presented a medal by King Christian IX, of Denmark, in recognition of his services in the statistical field, and this was one of his daughter's most cherished possessions. He was of Scotch and French extraction, and her mother was Scotch-Irish and French. There were five children in the Kennedy family, of whom Mrs. Bidwell was the last to pass on to that land from whence no one returns.
When Annie E. Kennedy was ten years old her family removed from Pennsylvania to Washington. There she entered Mme. Breshaw Burr's School. From the time she was a child until she completed her education she spoke French. She treasured her French books and refreshed her French with them into her declining years. Her work among the less fortunate began at the early age of fifteen when she taught in a mission in an abandoned part of Washington. Her religious tendencies also were early developed, as she became a member of the Presbyterian Church when she was fifteen and was active in its ranks until the time of her death.
Miss Kennedy met General Bidwell at her home when he was a member of the Thirty-ninth Congress, from 1865 to 1867, during which he served as chairman of the agricultural committee. She became his bride on April 16, 1868, in Washington. Present at the ceremony were President Johnson, General Grant and General Sherman. President Lincoln, whose untimely death had occurred but a few years previous, had been numbered among her close friends at that period of her life. After the ceremony, the General and Mrs. Bidwell spent some days in New York before sailing for California via Panama. The trip to San Francisco was made in twenty-one days; from that port they came via boat and rail to the home that was her residence the remainder of her days. This mansion had been built by the General to receive his bride.
Mrs. Bidwell entered enthusiastically into the life of California. She assisted her husband in laying out his great orchards, carrying a surveyor's flag for him and going with him everywhere. Perhaps no Californian woman has been as active in the affairs of Nation, State, County and local community, as was Mrs. Bidwell during her lifetime. The organizations with which she was affiliated were many, and the movements for the betterment of mankind to which she lent a helping hand in their early struggles were numerous. She never lost her touch with world affairs, and for many years she visited Washington every two years. In all her activity she never forgot her church in the Indian village, which she visited every Sunday. It was known as the Second Presbyterian Church of Chico, and she was its pastor. She taught the Indians by chart and pictures.
She was a member and vice president of the National Woman's Indian Association, now the National Indian Association, since its organization in 1874. She conducted her own Indian Mission here since 1875, and was appointed pastor in 1879. The honorary presidency of the Northern California Indian Association was conferred upon her.
Perhaps closest to her heart of all her many interests was the cause of the Prohibition party. She was a member of the National, State and local W. C. T. U.; a member of the Prohibition State Central Committee of California, and a presidential elector of the Prohibition party in 1912. She gave liberally of her means to numerous prohibition campaigns, and she was vice-president of the California Dry Federation. She was also honorary president of Butte County W. C. T. U. It was her great pride that her husband was so honored by the Prohibitionists of the nation that they made him their national standard-bearer, in 1892, by nominating him for the presidency, and he received the remarkable vote of 270, 847, at that time.
Another cause for which she labored was equal suffrage for women. She was a life member of the National Woman Suffrage Association, and held an honorary office in this organization. She was also a charter member and the first vice-president of the California Equal Suffrage Association.
Her varied activities extended to: State Superintendent of Evangelistic work since 1913; honorary member of the Native Daughters of the Golden West, which organization named its Chico parlor in her honor; honorary member of the Ladies of the Maccabees; member of the Geographical Society; member of the Academy for the Advancement of Society; charter member of the Woman's Auxiliary Society of California Pioneers; charter member of the Daughters of the American Revolution in California; and member of the Women's Relief Corps.
Mrs. Bidwell gave with a liberal hand, so liberal, in fact, that a large part of the Bidwell estate has been deeded away. Many are the residents of Chico who owe her a debt of gratitude, for the aid which formed the foundation for their present circumstances of comfort. Parks, driveways, playgrounds, church and school sites, and gifts of other lands and moneys were lavished by this noble woman upon her fellows, and the City of Chico was perhaps the chief beneficiary. Most notable of her gifts to the city was Bidwell Park, hundreds of acres of sylvan beauty, unsurpassed in their natural grace, extending along Chico Creek from the city for ten miles, and into the foothills, including about twenty-four hundred acres. In its confines stands a tree--Sir Joseph Hooker Oak--declared to be the largest perfect oak tree known to naturalists in the world.
Ranking next in the list of beneficiaries were the Indians of Rancho Chico. On Sacramento Avenue a tract was set aside as an Indian village, where the Indians were provided for handsomely by Mrs. Bidwell, who mothered and in many ways aided them. Personally she had taught them, built them a church, preached to them in words they could understand, and sacrificed for them largely of her time and money, that their lives might be made better and happier.
Thus has passed one of California's foremost women, who died on March 9, 1918, at her mansion in Chico, mourned by the people of an entire county, who paused in their labors to do her reverence. Source: "History of Butte County, Cal.," by George C. Mansfield, Pgs 426-428, Historic Record Co, Los Angeles, CA, 1918.
Joseph Camp Griffin Kennedy (1813 - 1887)
Catharine Morrison Kennedy (1815 - 1897)
John Bidwell (1819 - 1900)
Joseph Morrison Kennedy (1837 - 1892)*
Annie Ellicott Kennedy Bidwell (1839 - 1918)
Sarah Jane Kennedy Alexander (1843 - 1912)*
John Reynolds Kennedy (1844 - 1877)*
Helen Ann Kennedy (1846 - 1850)*
Maintained by: Adriana
Originally Created by: JMC
Record added: Dec 02, 2007
Find A Grave Memorial# 23217965
Photograph shows Annie Bidwell standing in front of the Bidwell Mansion, Chico, Butte County, CA. ca. 1914.Source: Meriam Library Special Collections Department, California State University, Chico.|
Added: Jun. 20, 2016
Mechoopda Indians--Maidu--Chico Annie Bidwell (on far right) with the Indians of Rancho Chico, Butte County, CA.Source: Meriam Library, California State University, Chico.|
Added: May. 29, 2016
Annie had a long, productive, and very interesting life. Friends with the likes of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and a couple of presidents, she moved to California where she took up residence in the house her husband built for her, Bidwell Mansion. Look forwa...(Read more)|
Added: Apr. 13, 2013
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