16B2A.26 Marcus James 7 BIGELOW, son of Thomas Gale Jabez Gershom Joshua John and Jane Emily (WALLACE) BIGELOW, was born 29 October 1840 at New Lebanon, Columbia, NY. In June 1846, age 5, his family and the Hogeboom family moved to Genoa, DeKalb, IL where his parents farmed 120 acres. In the spring of 1857, Marcus (age 16) went overland by ox cart with his parents to CA. His older sister, Jane Eliza was being courted by Joseph Hogeboom. He decided to marry Jane, leave his family in Genoa, and go with the Bigelows the next morning.
A letter survives, written by Ralph Bigelow to Allen Bigelow and Emily Wallace, his parents, instructing them on how to prepare for the transcontinental trip. They took the northern trail with easier mountains to cross. They entered CA along Goose Lake near the CA/OR border and settled in Weed, Siskiyou, CA near his older brother, Ralph, who had preceded them to CA. Allen was age 55 when he made the trip with his wife, children, and son-in-law, which was old for this difficult crossing in those days. We descendants who live in sunny CA, not cold IL, owe him our sincere thanks.
In Weed, a little community on the northwest slope of Mount Shasta, they went into the logging business and the manufacture of lumber during the booming Gold Rush era. This must be where Marcus first learned to keep the sawmill machinery running as the beginning of his long career. When things slowed, they moved by 1860 to North Butte (now Pennington), Sutter, CA , which is about 100 miles south in the Sacramento Valley on a smaller mountain slope, and there engaged in farming, where Joseph and Jane Hogeboom were also most successful.
In commemoration of this family there are two public names: Bigelow Falls, which is on the east slope of Mount Shasta (near the famous chalets later built by William Randolph Hurst) and Bigelow Road, which is on the North side of the Sutter Buttes in an area called Pennington (then North Butte), not far from the town of Gridley.
1870 Census, Marcus is single, living in New York Township (Brownsville P.O.), Yuba, CA as a mill machinist in a lumber mill. The home is owned by Amasa P. Willy, Lumberman and occupied by other workers in the mill, one of whom has a wife and child. This lumber mill is located near the Parlin family where he met his future wife, Clara. On 13 March 1872 (age 31) he married Clara Isabel Parlin (age 19) at Clipper Mills, Yuba, CA. Clara was born at Woodville (now Woodleaf), Yuba, CA on 10 July 1852 to 49er parents, first white child born in that vicinity, a gold mine camp in the Sierra Nevada mountains east of Oroville, CA.
In 1880, he and Clara with three children are farming in Hamilton (now East Gridley), Butte, CA near the Andrew W. and Martha (Moore) Campbell family. H e was a gentleman farmer who enjoyed playing cards with friends more than farming, thus he was not too successful at farming. He moved and worked slowly. He would quit work early in the day and go into Porter's Soda Fountain and bar in Gridley to play cards with his friends for entertainment, not gambling. They never had electric lights in their home. He could not both play cards and farm, so the farm got mortgaged to Bonslett, and they moved to Oakley (Neroly) near Antioch, CA.
Marcus and Clara were very musically inclined. Marcus was a hoedown fiddler and Clara played the organ and sang. In an era when everyone made his own entertainment, they were in great demand because of their musical skills. Their grandson, Eugene Biglow, as a small child as late as 1914, can recall their playing. Marcus was also a "steam engineer," as they called men who were skilled in keeping the early power equipment running. Eugene recalls one annual job he had to man the county road equipment, fire the boilers, and operate the steam engine used to heat and spray the dirt roads with oil. This was before the days when the roads were filled with rock ballast to form a base.
He learned to drive an automobile at age 74 and drove very fast. Everyone was afraid to ride with him. He only wrecked a car once, and considering his age, did admirably. His first car was a 1908 Buick; he later sold it and bought a 1918 Model T Ford. In those days one bought gasoline from a handcart in a garage. We drove into a garage in Antioch, filled with gas and we were going to back out. He was driving and Eugene was sitting on the right. I was about eight at the time. He said, "You watch your side, and I will watch mine." We started backing up, and he was going to hit the door on my side. I said, "Grandad, go ahead." I kept saying it louder until we crashed into the wall. I was furious and said, "Grandad, I told you to go ahead," and he said, "I thought you meant, "go ahead and back up."
Marcus Bigelow was very active in the Masonic Order; was past Secretary in North Butte Masonic Lodge No. 230. Served 6 terms in 1878, 1882 - 1886. On his 50th year as a member received a large silver service. Eugene is most fortunate in having inherited one of the silver teapots. I am also grateful that I have Marcus James' and Clara's library table, Morris chair, and an ornate marble-top dresser, while my cousin, Richard Wallace Campbell of Gridley, has Clara's reed pump organ.
Marcus James remained very active until into his eighties and then gradually developed hardening of the arteries of the cerebrum and could remember only old times but did not know any of his family.
He died in Gridley, Butte, CA on 8 June 1933 at the age of 92 years, 7 months, and 9 days.
Clara Isabelle Parlin Bigelow
1852–1931 (m. 1872)
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