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John and Annie Bidwell

Annie and John Bidwell, January 1897 - Photo courtesy of Bidwell State Historical Park and California State University Chico
  • John Bidwell: 1821 - 1900.
  • Annie Bidwell: 1839 - 1918.
  • John Bidwell was a rancher, politician, philanthropist, and amateur botanist and geologist. A pioneer settler in California, he led the first wagon train to California in 1841. He was a U.S. representative, and the 1892 Presidential candidate on the Prohibition Party ticket.
  • John's wife, Annie Bidwell, was a civic leader, philanthropist, suffragist, and temperance reformer. She also carried on a long correspondence with John Muir.
  • The Bidwells met John Muir on an 1877 botanical expedition to Mt. Shasta and the headwaters of the Sacramento River with famed Harvard botanist Asa Gray and his wife, and British botanist Sir Joseph Hooker. Thus began a life-time friendship of thirty-seven years.
  • After John Bidwell's death, expressing her own and her late husband's desire, Annie Bidwell donated over 2,000 acres of their ranch along Chico Creek to the City of Chico, on the condition that it be used exclusively for a public park. With additional lands added later, Bidwell Park is now one of the largest city parks in the country; certainly the largest on a per capita basis. Their home, the Bidwell Mansion, was eventually made into a State Historic Park.
  • Michael J. Gillis. "John Muir and the Bidwells: The Forgotten Friendship". Dogtown Territorial Quarterly, 1995 Spring, pages 4-5, 18-23. Reprinted by John Muir Center for Regional Studies, in "John Muir Newsletter, Spring 1996."

  • Visit Bidwell Mansion State Historic Park in Chico, California. For more information:


  • A recent biography is: Annie Kennedy Bidwell: In Intimate History by Lois Halliday McDonald (2004)
Portrait of John and Annie Bidwell taken January 1897.
Image Courtesy of: Bidwell Mansion State Historical Park
and Special Collections Dept. Merriam Library, CSU, Chico
Phone: (530) 898-6342.


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