John Bidwell (1819-1900) was born in Chautaugua County, New York, and was living in Ohio when he decided to seek his fortune in California in 1841. He journeyed west as part of the first emigrant train going overland from Missouri to California, where he found work at Fort Sutter. He sided with governor Micheltorena in the 1844 revolt but aided the Bear Flag rebels in 1846. After serving with Fremont, he returned to Fort Sutter. Among the first to find gold on Feather River, Bidwell used his earnings to secure a grant north of Sacramento in 1849, and he spent the rest of his life as a farmer at “Rancho Chico,” becoming a leader of the State’s agricultural interests. A Democrat and Unionist during the Civil War, Bidwell served in the U.S. House, 1864-66, and was the Prohibition Party’s candidate for governor (1890) and President (1892). Throughout his life in California, he was a friend to Native American tribes.
- John Bidwell history
This account was adapted from John Bidwell’s own writing in the publication Echoes of the past about California.
- Historical Background of the Bidwell-Bartleson Party
Prior to the year 1841, only a few emigrants had made the westward journey overland to Oregon and California. The formation of the Western Emigration Society in 1841, however, permanently changed this situation.
- Pictoral Bidwell-Bartleson Trail Guide
A trail guide by Roy D. Tea for the Bidwell-Bartleson Party from Soda Springs to Silver Zone pass.
- Text-only Bidwell-Bartleson Trail Guide
A trail guide by Roy D. Tea for the Bidwell-Bartleson Party from Soda Springs to Silver Zone pass. This is a text only version for the Pictorial Bidwell-Bartleson Trail Guide, but made for easy printing.