Friday, May 13, 2016

Elijah Bigelow (1810-1895): Wealthy early Oakland settler

Emma Bigelow's tombstone on the Bigelow plot; Ladies Relief Society

Elijah Bigelow was one of the early settlers of Oakland and one of its wealthiest land owners.

He was born in Newton, Massachusetts on September 9, 1810.  In 1852, he sailed aboard a steamer from New York City to California. He settled in San Francisco where he opened a grocery store on Front Street, eventually opening stores at other locations. In 1863, he headed across the Bay and settled in Oakland, where he opened a successful real estate business.

He settled at what is now 14th and Brush, making his homestead one of the first north of 7th Street. His home was considered to be on the distant outskirts of the city. He subdivided his property in numerous large tracts and created the Oakland Homestead Company.  In 1877, the Daily Alta California listed him as one of the wealthiest land owners in Oakland, along with fellow Mountain View Cemetery denizens Edson Adams, Walter Blair, George Blake, Frederick Delger, James De Fremery, John Felton, A.K.P. Harmon and Samuel Merritt. 

In 1872, he donated a large piece of land at 14th and Franklin Streets to the Ladies' Relief Society, who provided various compassionate services to children, poor women and the elderly living in Oakland. The gift was in honor of his wife Emma. The Society decided that it wanted something farther from the city center, so Bigelow swapped that land for 3-acre site on Telegraph Avenue well to the north near today's Pill Hill District. The home was Oakland's first nonsectarian charitable facility.

You can read my post about the Ladies Relief Society at Plot 26 HERE.

Sources: Oakland Tribune, City of Oakland, Daily Alta California

No comments: