Bidwell Mansion Timeline

August 5, 1819:

John Bidwell born in Chautauqua County, NY


Bidwell family moves to Erie, PA, Ashtubula, OH, and Greenville, OH.


John attends school in Ashtubula and then becomes a teacher around Greenville.


John travels west and eventually settles, obtains land, and teaches in Platte Co, Missouri.

June 30, 1839:

Annie Ellicott Kennedy born in Meadville, Pennsylvania.

May 1841:

Bidwell-Bartleson party leaves for California, consisting of 69 immigrants.

November 4, 1841:

Party arrives at Marsh’s Ranch in California. They are the first group of American Pioneers to successfully cross overland into California, opening up California to American immigration.


John works for John Sutter in transferring Fort Ross property to Sutter’s Fort.

Spring 1843:

John visits Chico Area for the first time.

June 1846:

Bear Flag revolt takes place in Sonoma. John travels from Sutter’s Fort to Sonoma to take part; he drafts a short “constitution” for the group. In July, the Bear Flaggers are absorbed into the Mexican-American war.


John plays important role in war as part of the California Battalion. He finishes war as a Major.

Spring 1847:

John returns to northern California. He begins farming on Farwell Grant, south of Chico, near Durham. He gathers and plants fruit trees, and digs first irrigation ditch in Sacramento Valley.

January 24, 1848:

Gold discovered by James Marshall at Sutter’s Saw Mill in Coloma. John learns of discovery in early March while on a visit to Sutter’s Fort. He claims to be the first to bring news of gold discovery to San Francisco.

April 1848:

While returning to ranch, John finds gold on Feather River at Hamilton, downstream of present day Oroville.

July 4, 1848:

John discovers rich gold deposits on Feather River at Bidwell’s Bar. This is the first major gold strike outside of the Coloma/American river area. Opens up northern Sierra Nevada mines.


John buys half of Rancho del Arroyo Chico, stops mining and shifts focus to agriculture.

Mechoopda tribe moves onto the Ranch.

John is elected to California Constitutional convention, but is not able to attend. He then is elected and served in the first California State Senate.


California statehood – John travels to Washington D.C., where he helps lobby for statehood.


Bidwell purchases remaining half of Rancho Chico.

Rancho Chico hosts the drafting of a treaty with local Native American tribes. Treaty is later secretly denied by the US Senate.


Rancho Chico attacked and burned by hostile Native Americans. Old Adobe built in fall, serves as hotel and residence until Mansion completed. Original flour mill built across from Old Adobe.


John lays out town site south of Rancho Chico, founds the town of Chico.


John elected to Charleston Convention, Democratic Party election convention. He leaves in disgust over party divisions that will contribute to the outbreak of the Civil War.


John is commissioned as Brigadier General of CA state militia.

The Lewis children are kidnapped south of Chico. The ensuing backlash against Native Americans in Butte County leads to local tribes being forcibly removed to Round Valley reservation. The “California Trail of Tears” leaves from Rancho Chico. Bidwell advocates for local tribes and attempts to calm local aggression. Mechoopda are allowed to stay and Rancho Chico becomes refuge for Indians from across the north state.


John attends Baltimore Convention, which re-nominates Lincoln for president. He is part of the group that notifies the President of the decision. He then is able to visit General Grant’s front lines in Virginia.

John is elected to the US House of Representatives, to represent California’s 3rd District in the 39th Congress.


Bidwell serves in Congress. He is put in charge of the Committee on Agriculture.


John meets Annie Ellicott Kennedy. Her influence leads John to convert to Christianity and adopt prohibition.

Before leaving for D.C., Bidwell begins construction of Mansion.


John returns to California. He makes a run for Governorship, but does not receive Union Party nomination. Largely removes himself from politics.


Bidwell Mansion is completed.

April 16, 1868:

John and Annie Bidwell are married in Washington D.C., leave for California shortly after.


City of Chico is incorporated.


Annie Bidwell begins actively working with members of the Mechoopda tribe.

John Bidwell runs for Governor of California on the Independent, “Dolly Varden”, Party ticket.


John Muir visits the Bidwells for the first time. They become close lifelong friends.


Fire completely destroys Chico Flour Mills. The mill is rebuilt the following year.


Local boycott enacted against Bidwell products because of his employment and support of local Chinese. Boycott peters out after several months.


Bidwell donates 8 acres if Rancho Chico to become the northern branch of the State Normal School, today known as California State University, Chico.


John Bidwell runs for Governor on the Prohibition Party ticket.


John Bidwell runs for President of the United States on the Prohibition Party ticket.

April 4, 1900:

John Bidwell dies after a heart attack while working on Rancho Chico. He is 80 years old when he passes away.


Annie Bidwell donates Bidwell Park to the City of Chico. Susan B. Anthony attends ceremony.


Annie Bidwell donates 24.72 acres, including Bidwell Mansion, to the College Board of the Presbyterian Church of the United States of America to be used as a co-educational Christian school after her death.

March 9, 1918:

Annie Bidwell passes away in Bidwell Mansion at the age of 78.


The Presbyterian Church sells the mansion and 10.21 acres for $10, 000 to be used as a dormitory for the then Chico State Teachers College.


Chico State Teachers College uses the mansion as dormitories.


The school begins using the mansion for classrooms, offices, and social functions.


Chico State Teachers College becomes Chico State College.


In the early 1950’s, civic groups started a focused lobbying effort for the transfer of Bidwell Mansion property from Chico State College to the Division of Beaches and Parks. After 11 dedicated years, the Bidwell Mansion officially became part of the Division of Beaches and Parks, now known as the Department of Parks and Recreation.


In March of 1964, the department classified the unit as Bidwell Mansion State Historic Monument and held dedication ceremonies on May 7, 1966.


In May of 1966, Rancho del Arroyo Chico and the Bidwell Adobe were listed as California Historical Landmark #329.


        The Bidwell Mansion is reclassified as a State Historic Park.


Bidwell Mansion was placed on the National Register of Historic Places along with Rancho del Arroyo Chico and the Bidwell Adobe (#329.5)


The current visitor center is completed and opened to the public.


Renovation of the mansion with removal of the post-1900 addition.


The kitchen, dining room, and staff quarters are restored according to the 1865 Bidwell Mansion blueprints.