Happy Birthday, John Bidwell!

Bidwell1866-w-hatAugust 5th marks 200 years since the birth of John Bidwell, California pioneer and founder of Chico.  So wish him a “Happy Birthday!” (wherever he is), and maybe pay a visit to his home, Bidwell Mansion State Historic Park sometime soon.

Looks pretty good for 200, doesn’t he? Evidently, he was the type that ages well. According to Annie Bidwell’s diary entry for August 5, 1893:

General’s birthday. 74 –
Scarce a gray hair in his rich brown hair, and not a bald place! Dressed in white today he is the picture of freshness, roses on his cheeks & happiness in his eyes, and fun & wisdom in his conversation.

That “rich brown hair” with “not a bald place” is certainly better than most men in their 70s can claim. It must have been all the casaba melons he ate.


The Bidwell Mansion Association had a party for General Bidwell on Sunday, August 4th. Here are a few photos from the event:

bidwell-200- (75)Nick Anderson is the man himself.

Nick has portrayed John Bidwell since 2013. He delights in being the General and is always ready and willing to play the part. The BMA is happy and grateful to have him on board.






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Robyn Engel is our current Annie Bidwell. It’s not easy to find a woman who can measure up to Annie in height, so we are very glad to have Robyn on the crew.

Robyn and Nick also played John and Annie in the Pioneer Day Parade.









Free ice cream and cake were served, and Inday’s provided Filipino food for those who wanted to purchase it. There were games on the lawn, photo opportunities with John and Annie, and music by the Chico Community Band.

Inside Bidwell Mansion visitors viewed three historical authentic vignettes.

General Bidwell (Nick Anderson) discussed cannery workers and chewing gum with his cannery foreman, Mr. Field (Mike Swann).


Annie’s friend Belle Royce (Lisa Saldano) asked Annie (Robyn Engel), “Why are you such a fraud?” (Was she?)

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Ruby Daily, Annie’s secretary (Marquita Goodman), got the better of Florence Proud, the cook (Nancy Leek), in the kitchen.

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The Bidwell Mansion Association owes a big Thank You to everyone who helped out, participated, and enjoyed the birthday party.

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Left to right: Lisa, Marquita, Robyn, Nick, Nancy, Mike, and Adrienne Glatz, president of the BMA.







About nancyleek

Nancy is a retired librarian who lives in Chico, California. She is the author of John Bidwell: The Adventurous Life of a California Pioneer.
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2 Responses to Happy Birthday, John Bidwell!

  1. I’m so thrilled that I was able to play his piano when I visited the mansion.

  2. Chez Bob says:

    I’m glad you played his piano.

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