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California Genealogy and History Archives

Sonoma County


James Bidwell

The name of Ira Bidwell is too well known in Sonoma county to need special mentioning, for his deeds and accomplishments are a part of the history of this part of the state, nevertheless a brief account of his life may be found elsewhere in this volume. A son of this well-known pioneer, James Bidwell was born on the paternal homestead in Alexander valley March 27, 1852. With his older brother John he secured such educational advantages as the early conditions afforded, but when still quite a small boy was competent to do much of the farm work formerly delegated to older hands.

In 1879, when the father divided his property among the children, James Bidwell began work independently, his portion of the ranch amounting to three hundred acres. He still owns the land, and superintends its management, although the actual work is performed by his two sons, Charles E. and James E. Twenty acres of the land is in vineyard, and large crops of hay and grain are gathered annually, and the land not under cultivation is used as pasture land for the twenty head of cattle which are being fattened for market. In 1904 Mr. Bidwell purchased and located upon the ranch which is now his home, consisting of one hundred and ten acres of very productive land in Alexander valley. Thirty acres are in vineyard, and the remainder of the land is given over to grain, with the exception of twenty acres in alfalfa. A dairy of twenty cows of fine breed adds considerable to the annual income of the thrifty owner, who is one of the most progressive and up-to-date ranchers in the valley. The combined efforts of father and sons have worked a vast change in conditions to Sonoma county, for all are experienced agriculturists and as natural pioneers and leaders have forged ahead and accomplished what others with less courage dared not undertake.

Mr. Bidwell formed domestic ties in 1879 by his marriage with Miss Lucy Martin, a native of Tennessee, and three children have been born to them, Charles Edward, James Eugene and Linnie. The eldest, Charles Edward, was born in 1881; his marriage on October 8, 1902, united him with Miss Kittie Coombs, of Healdsburg, and they have one son, Leslie, born October 23, 1903. James Eugene, born February 10, 1882, married Miss Anna Peck, of Healdsburg, in 1899, and they had two children, Henry, born January 20, 1901, and Charles, born November 23, 1902. His second marriage occurred January 8, 1909, and united him with Mrs. Amanda Rose, of Santa Rosa. By his activity as a citizen and his capability as a rancher the elder Mr. Bidwell has added luster to the honorable reputation established by his father during the pioneer history of our commonwealth.

History of Sonoma County, California
Biographical Sketches of The Leading Men and Women of the County Who Have Been Identified With Its Growth and Development from the Early Days to the Present
History By: Tom Gregory
Historic Record Company, Los Angeles, California (1911)

Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011