|Birth Day:||August 5, 1819|
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He fought in the Mexican American War.
Bidwell was born in 1819 in Chautauqua County, New York. His Bidwell ancestors immigrated to North America in the colonial era. His family moved to Erie, Pennsylvania, in 1829, and then to Ashtabula County, Ohio, in 1831. At age 17, he attended and shortly thereafter became principal of Kingsville Academy.
In 1841, at the age of 22, Bidwell became one of the first emigrants on the California Trail. John Sutter employed Bidwell as his business manager shortly after the younger man reached California. In October 1844, Bidwell went with Sutter to Monterey, where the two learned of an insurrection by leader José Castro and ex-governor Juan Bautista Alvarado. In 1845, Bidwell and Sutter joined Governor Manuel Micheltorena and a group of Americans and Indians to fight the insurrectionists, pursuing them to Cahuenga. Micheltorena, Sutter, and Bidwell were imprisoned, and the latter two were shortly thereafter released.
Upon release, Bidwell headed north through Placerita Canyon, saw the mining operations, and was determined to search for gold on his way to Sutter's Fort, where he met James W. Marshall. Shortly after Marshall's discovery of gold at Sutter's Mill, Bidwell also discovered gold on the Feather River, establishing a productive claim at Bidwell Bar in advance of the California Gold Rush. Bidwell obtained the four square-league Rancho Los Ulpinos land grant after being naturalized as a Mexican citizen in 1844, and the two square-league Rancho Colus grant on the Sacramento River in 1845. He later sold the latter grant and bought Rancho Arroyo Chico on Chico Creek to establish a ranch and farm.
Bidwell obtained the rank of major while fighting in the Mexican–American War. He was elected to the California Senate in 1849. He supervised conducting the federal census of California in 1850 and 1860, under national direction by Joseph C. G. Kennedy. Bidwell served as a delegate to the 1860 national convention of the Democratic Party. He was appointed brigadier general of the California Militia in 1863. After switching parties, he was a delegate to the national convention of the Republican Party in 1864. That year he was elected to Congress from California, serving as a Republican member from 1865 to 1867.
In 1865, General Bidwell backed a petition from settlers at Red Bluff, California to protect Red Bluff’s trail to the Owyhee Mines of Idaho. The United States Army commissioned seven forts for this purpose. One site was near Fandango Pass at the base of the Warner Mountains, in the north end of Surprise Valley. On June 10, 1865, what was named Fort Bidwell was ordered to be built there. The fort was built amid escalating fighting with the Snake Indians of eastern Oregon and southern Idaho. It was a base for US Army operations in the Snake War, that lasted until 1868, and the later Modoc War. Although traffic dwindled on the Red Bluff route once the Central Pacific Railroad extended into Nevada in 1868, the Army staffed Fort Bidwell until 1890 to quell various uprisings and disturbances. A Paiute reservation and small community maintain the name Fort Bidwell.
In 1868 Bidwell was about 49 when he married Annie Kennedy, whom he had courted for years. She was 20 years younger and a daughter of Joseph C. G. Kennedy. Her father was socially prominent, a high-ranking Washington official who supervised the United States Census Bureau. Bidwell had met him while working on the California census. The senior Kennedy was active in the Whig party. Annie Kennedy was deeply religious, joining the Presbyterian Church, and committed to a number of moral and social causes. Kennedy Bidwell was very active in the suffrage and prohibition movements.
In 1875, Bidwell ran for Governor of California on the Anti-Monopoly Party ticket. As a strong advocate of the temperance movement, he was the Prohibition candidate for governor in 1880 and presided over the Prohibition Party state convention in 1888. In 1892, Bidwell was the Prohibition Party candidate for President of the United States. The Bidwell/Cranfill ticket came in fourth place and received 271,058 votes, or 2.3 percent nationwide. It was the largest total vote and highest percentage of the vote received by any Prohibition Party national ticket.
John Bidwell’s autobiography, Echoes of the Past, was published in 1900. The Bidwell Family Papers are held at the Bancroft Library.
The actor Howard Negley (1898-1983) played Bidwell in the 1953 episode, "The Lady with the Blue Silk Umbrella" on the syndicated television anthology series, Death Valley Days, hosted by Stanley Andrews. In the story line, Helen Crosby (Kathleen Case) carries official California statehood papers in her umbrella to shield them from ruffians who want to destroy the documents. Rick Vallin played Lieutenant Bob Hastings.
John married Annie Kennedy Bidwell on April 16, 1868 in Washington DC.
Currently, John Bidwell is 203 years, 2 months and 0 days old. John Bidwell will celebrate 204th birthday on a Saturday 5th of August 2023. Below we countdown to John Bidwell upcoming birthday.
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