Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Mrs. Judge Bigelow

I am busily preparing for our "Mrs. Casey's Tea" this weekend and am just about to pull up a chair with a cup of tea myself to peruse Women's Diaries of the Westward Journey to get ready for a first person portrayal.

My persona is Ann Elizabeth Bigelow, 23, in February of 1860, so for all of you who can't make it to our special event, I'd like to introduce you to her.
(Photo courtesy of The Bigelow House Museum)
Ann Elizabeth White Bigelow was born on November 3, 1836 in Illinois. She traveled west on the Oregon trail with her family in 1851 and arrived in Olympia late that year, just after her 15th birthday. By 1853, at the age of 16, Ann was employed as a schoolteacher for settler’s children in the Packwood family home in the Nisqually Delta near Olympia. On June 18, 1854, 17-year-old Ann Bigelow White married 30-year-old Daniel Bigelow, a Harvard educated lawyer with a practice in Olympia. Daniel Bigelow was an up and coming legislator, who helped re-write the laws of the Oregon Territory to create the new territory of Washington.

Family life began for Ann and Daniel in a tiny, two-room cabin on Daniel’s land claim in Olympia. Soon afterwards, the Bigelows built the neat, two-story home that remains today. Ann’s first baby, daughter Tirzah, arrived in September 1855. Siblings soon followed, and in February 1860, Ann was mother to 2 daughters, Tirzah, 4, and Evaline, 23 months, with another baby on the way. In all, the Bigelows welcomed 9 children, 8 of whom survived to adulthood.

Ann and Daniel Bigelow were both active members in the community, founding the First United Methodist Church of Olympia, and working to support the causes of public education, civil rights, temperance, and women’s suffrage. Daniel’s journal in 1854 famously reads “I hardly see why all who are governed by law should not have a voice in making it.” Ann Bigelow loved violets, and the orchard at Bigelow House yet blooms purple every Spring in memory of one of Washington’s finest female pioneers.
More info about Ann, Daniel and their family can be found at The Bigelow House Museum site (yet another tragedy of the State Parks financial fiasco). I hope I can give this incredible lady the honor that she deserves and I hope you all have enjoyed reading this vignette! I can't wait for the tea!


Mrs. G said...

I wish that we could be there, it sounds so wonderful! Take pictures if you can!


Lauren said...

That sounds like so much fun. What a privelege.