"CAMPBELL, Florence Louise Bigelow (1873-1949) Painter. Born in North Butte (now Pennington), Sutter, California on Nov. 11, 1873. Florence studied at the Mark Hopkins Art Institute in San Francisco in the 1890s. Flower paintings were her specialty. After her marriage to Richard Campbell on 1 August 1900, she stopped painting to raise a family. She died in Butte County, CA on Sept. 25, 1949." [Excerpt from draft of 2002 third edition of "Artists in California 1786-1940," by Edan Milton Hughes, before we gave him additional information in August 2001. This is a two volume set of over 1,200 pages in which an entry and brief bio has appeared on Florence.] http://www.artbusiness.com/hughes203.html]
The San Francisco School of Design was created in 1874. In the mid-1890s it moved to the Mark Hopkins mansion and was called the Mark Hopkins Art Institute until it burned in 1906 (SF Earthquake?). Then it was named California School of Fine Arts until the 1960's when it became the San Francisco Art Institute as it exists today.
After studying painting, she wanted to become a teacher by attending Chico Normal Teachers College (now California University at Chico). However, her parents could not afford to send her. To help her education several years before they married, Dick Campbell secretly borrowed $2000 from an Irishman, Trotter Holliday, who lived on the Harkey Ranch. Trotter Holliday was a heavy drinker who accidentally caused a fire which burned up his house, him and his niece, Mary Turle, who was packed and ready to go to Ireland. In settling Trotter's estate, his heirs found the $2000 loan to Dick and required his father to pay it off immediately. Dick had planned to pay it over time and had to work it out on the ranch.
Before they married, Florence did teach school in Neroly, Contra Costa Co. where her parents had moved. She had her father's traits in being slow, patient, deliberate, and like her father, enjoyed playing cards socially with friends. She maintained an immaculate, well furnished home and was always well dressed. She gained her way by quiet persistence. Dick was a good provider and husband to her. She enjoyed the newest labor saving home appliances as they were invented.
She had a high-class appearance and personality; it was in her genes. Genealogy research reveals that from humble and remote Pennington, Sutter Co., her Bigelow ancestors do descend from the earliest Massachusetts Pilgrims and back to European kings and queens, which was not known during her life. She is the oldest child of Marcus James and Clara Isabelle (Parlin) Bigelow, both of whose parents came to CA during the gold rush. (http://bigelowsociety.com/rod/tom6b2a2.htm)
She was a devout Presbyterian who regularly attended alone, even when she had to crank the car engine by hand to start it. That was hard and risky work before electric starters. She lived in her 373 Kentucky St., Gridley home for six years after Dick died. Her son, R. Wallace, lived with her when he returned from serving in Europe in the Army during WWII. Larry also stayed with them both for two summers while working on the ranch with his father.
Florence and several school classmates remained close friends. They liked to play cards and go for a drive. On her last day, she went on a drive to Portola in her new Oldsmobile sedan with several classmates and Tom Channon. "Dad" Channon was a 99-year-old local legend. Gridley planned a big celebration for his 100th birthday in a few days. The driver of her car was George ?, an old classmate visiting from New Jersey, who had not driven for many years in New Jersey, but still had NJ license to drive. On their last trip up the Feather River Canyon on winding highway 70, he was driving on the trip back after dark. He said an oncoming car forced him off the steep canyon road. The evidence at the scene did not support his story. The lights of an oncoming car around a curve on the inside lane may have distracted his view of the curving road. Instead of turning left, the car drove straight off the curving road and over the steep side of a deep ravine. The car amazingly struggled at high speed, while staying near the steep top rim of an inside canyon curve for about 120 feet trying to get back up to the road with the rear driving wheels slipping lower than the front wheels, as it defied gravity in not immediately rolling over tumbling down the steep ravine. Then, it stopped just short of the best spot to get back up on the road. The right side doors opened, Florence and Tom Channon fell out, as the car slid far down the steep canyon over them causing their deaths. The driver and two other passengers held on inside the car and escaped injury. Cars had no seat belts in 1949, and inside door handles could be pushed down to open unintentionally.
There were early warnings of George's serious driving limitations, while Florence enjoyed his company. He ripped out one whole side of her garage while backing out. Clare had always filled her car with gas. Neither George nor Florence knew the location of the gas filler cap to add gasoline to her car. George insisted that gas should go in the radiator cap in front of the engine, even after Larry showed him the gas filler cap under a cover in the rear fender. He argued that the radiator cap was next to the engine that used the gas, that gas should not go into an opening in the rear of the car so far away from the engine. To prevent gas going into the radiator, Larry (high school freshman, age 15) protested so strongly that they reluctantly decided to wait for Clare's return to fill the car with gas, rather than let Larry put it in the rear tank opening. In New Jersey, driver's licenses were automatically renewed without testing for safe driving; and he had not driven for many years, especially at night on curving mountain roads. Florence was in very good health at age 76; as well as Tom Channon at 99.
"Services held Wednesday afternoon in the Block Funeral Home for Mrs. Florence Louise Campbell were largely attended and there were many beautiful floral tributes. Rev. T.M. Jolley of the Marysville Presbyterian Church spoke. Burial rites of the Order of Eastern Star were carried out under the direction of Mrs. Janie Price, worthy matron. Other members of the Vernon Chapter taking part were Donald Hills, patron; Elsie Clegg, chaplain; Margaret King, Lila Herrington, Vera Higgins, Mary Spellman, Colleen Crawford, star points. Mrs. W.H. Block sang, "The End of a Perfect Life." Florence Campbell born 76 years ago in Pennington, was also a member of a pioneer Sutter County family. She is survived by two sons, Richard Wallace and Clare Bigelow, grandchildren Larry Campbell and Clarice Deal, and a sister Theodosia Bigelow Young (sic, should be "Biglow" not Young; "Aunt Ted" Bigelow married a Biglow) all of Gridley."
1870–1943 (m. 1900)
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